December Book Marathon

Srila Prabhupada inherited the mission to distribute books on Krishna consciousness from his spiritual master, and passed it on to his disciples.

 

With powerful determination, Srila Prabhupada acted on his guru's ideas for printing and distributing books. Before departing for America in 1965, with little financial support he began translating and publishing the Srimad-Bhagavatam, a monumental work about God and His devotees. He carried a trunkload of the first three volumes with him as he crossed the Atlantic on an ocean freighter to America. Alone in his early days in the West, he was not shy about selling the three-volume set to anyone who showed genuine interest.

 

In 1972, the Macmillan Company published Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is. It received acclaim from scholars at many leading universities and quickly gained popularity. It can now be read in over one hundred languages.

 

Soon after, Krishna: The Supreme Personality of Godhead was printed in Tokyo. Known in ISKCON as "the Krishna book," it is Prabhupada's summary study of the Tenth Canto of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, which describes Krishna's activities on this planet fifty centuries ago. When Prabhupada was presented the first carton of the Krishna book, one book was missing—the disciple delivering the books from Japan had sold one to a businessman on the plane.

 

“Ah, this is very auspicious," Prabhupada said. "The first book has already been distributed.”

 

He told his disciples to sell the rest of the books, not even keeping one for himself.

 

But his disciples were unsure how to sell the books. Then one day two devotees got the idea to trade a book for a tank of gasoline. The station attendant readily agreed, and they became convinced that the books could be sold in other ways.

 

Devotees tried selling the books at concerts and found interested customers. It was exciting for them to share Krishna in this way. They sold the book by talking about the philosophy it contained and felt deeply connected to their spiritual master by doing so. News spread from temple to temple that distributing books was a great way to please Srila Prabhupada. The excitement grew. Many locations for book distribution were attempted—shopping malls, parking lots, fairs, airports, and so on.

 

There were few vegetarians then, and terms such as yoga, karma, and guru were new. Americans were pledging themselves to rapid material advancement through science and technology. Yet Srila Prabhupada’s books, which denounce the godless life of materialistic sense gratification, poured forth like a sudden flood from an unlimited ocean.

 

Though Srila Prabhupada departed from this world in 1977, the distribution of his books has increased, especially in the former Soviet Union and more recently in India. By some estimates, nearly one billion books have been sold.

 

 

 

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