By Anuttama das
Mayapura, West Bengalâ€”Trustees of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust (BBT), the publishing arm of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, reported today at ISKCONâ€™s Governing Body Commission Annual General Meeting in Mayapura, West Bengal, that its international sales for the year 2007 had increased by 28% over the previous year.
The BBT exclusively publishes the books and other source materials of Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder-acarya of ISKCON. North European BBT Trustee, Brahma Muhurta Dasa, gave a one-hour report highlighting the yearâ€™s most significant achievements. His report was followed by a two-hour discussion on the opportunities and challenges for increasing book sales in 2008 and beyond.
Approximately thirty GBC Members and twenty other ISKCON and BBT officials attended the presentation. Also present for the meeting were a dozen of the most successful book distributors from around the world.
Brahma Muhurtaâ€™s power point presentation highlighted the Trustâ€™s progress on six continents. Color charts, graphs and photographs were interspersed with video clips of book distribution events in Stockholm, London and Los Angeles.
The most surprising news perhaps, was that 2007, nearly 76% of BBT sales were made in India. Also, India reported printing more than 1,600,000 Bhagavad-gitas last year.
â€śThis is a phenomenal increase in book publication and sales for India,â€ť said Brahma Muhurta, â€śbut it also challenges our other international divisions to keep up with India.â€ť
Much credit was given to the congregations of Indiaâ€™s major temples, including New Delhi, Juhu (Mumbai), and Chowpatty (Mumbai). Each of those congregations took part in ISKCONâ€™s international book marathon during the month of December. December is known as Gita-Jayanti month in India, during which Lord Krishna is understood to have spoken the Bhagavad-gita. Each of those temples reported over 150,000 â€śmaha bigâ€ť books (large hard bound volumes) sold in that period.
Both Radhanatha Swami and Gopal Krishna Goswami, GBC representatives for much of India, offered appreciation for their congregational members who have taken Srila Prabhupadaâ€™s instruction to distribute his BBT books very seriously.
â€śI have never seen our Chowpatty temple members more inspired,â€ť said Radhanatha Swami, â€śthan they were during the 2007 December book marathon.â€ť
Additional highlights of the BBT report for 2007 included:
Â· First ever printing of â€śScience of Self-Realizationâ€ť in Mongolian
Â· First ever Kazakh â€śBhagavad-gitaâ€ť printing
Â· First ever printing of â€śScience of Self-Realizationâ€ť in Arabic
Â· Entire Russian â€śSrimad Bhagavatamâ€ť is now available, and the Russian â€śCaitanya Caritamrtaâ€ť will be published in 2008
Â· 40% increase in Spanish books sold in South America
Â· 18 volume Srimad Bhagavatam will be reprinted in English in 2008
Â· BBTâ€™s website, Krishna.com, hosted 1,320,000 visitors during 2007
The final two hours of the BBT presentation were facilitated by Navina Nirada Dasa, a seasoned book distributor from Switzerland, and Vijaya Dasa, ISKCONâ€™s Minister of Book Distribution. Ten other leading distributors contributed to a dialogue with the GBC in discussing how book sales can increase during 2008 and beyond.
Discussion focused on the need to facilitate increased book sales by congregational members, supporting ISKCON members that have dedicated their lives to the distribution of Srila Prabhupadaâ€™s books, and increasing training and other infrastructure for book distribution.
Report from the 1st day of the GBC meetings 2008
(Written by Ananda Tirtha Das)
The first day of the 2008 Governing Body Commissionâ€™s Annual General Meeting began today at 10:00 am with kirtan lead by Madhu Sevita Prabhu and arati offered to Srila Prabhupada by Bhakti Charu Swami.
Second Vice-chairman Bhakti Vaibhava Swami opened the meeting by reading from Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.5:
â€śO sages, I have been justly questioned by you. Your questions are worthy because they relate to Lord Krsna and so are of relevance to the world’s welfare. Only questions of this sort are capable of completely satisfying the self.â€ť
Chairman Bhanu Swami welcomed everyone and made some general announcements. Absent members are BB Govinda Swami, Giridhari Swami, Harivilas Das, Niranjana Swami, and Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu. Madhudivsa Prabhu is the only guest.
Maharaja gave a brief summary of the Executive Committeeâ€™s work this year, the challenges as well news of new temples opening in India in Manipur, Punjabi Bagh, Ghaziabad, Anantapur and the Mayapur Academy opening.
The morning session was entirely devoted to a presentation by the BBT (see the above separate report on this).
The afternoon session began at 4:00 pm with a DVD presentation by Sivarama Swami on the activities in Hungary. The Hungarian devotees are widely recognized as authorities on Indian culture in their country and are expanding their activities into Romania and Turkey. The Hungarian Prime Minister invited the devotees to accompany him, as representatives of Indian culture in Hungary, on a state visit to India along with top ministers and businessmen.
Hari Sauri Prabhu made a fascinating presentation on behalf of Bhaktivedanta Archives detailing all the complex procedures required to conserve and protect all of Srila Prabhupadaâ€™s writings, audio and video recordings. Additionally, the Archives compile Srila Prabhupadaâ€™s teachings in different interesting formats (such as the Vedabase), making Srila Prabhupadaâ€™s teachings more accessible.
Hari Sauri impressed upon the assembly that no matter what the cost or endeavour involved, continuing this work is of utmost importance. The Archiveâ€™s goals are to complete transferring and converting all media to digital format, conserving and preserving the remaining paper-based items, completing cataloguing, updating and releasing the new VedaBase, training new staff, and, ultimately, securing endowments to maintain the collection permanently, and building a permanent facility, modeled after the US Presidential Library & Museum for conservation and preservation, while allowing public access.