BBT Day 2017
By editor - 15.3 2017
Faithful followers of the BBT have adopted March 14th as “BBT Only Day” in recognition of a significant instruction Srila Prabhupada issued to all temples and members of the Society on March 14th 1974 in the following letter:
As is evident from this letter:
· Srila Prabhupada was concerned that devotees (“centres”) producing his books independently was undermining and potentially threatening the viability of the BBT.
· “This must not go on” illustrates an unambiguous desire on his part to stop any printing of his books separate from the BBT.
· He stresses that he created the BBT specifically to be the exclusive medium by which his books, lectures, and so on, are to be published and made available.
· The BBT has an economic role in funding ISKCON projects.
· Diverting revenues elsewhere (by setting up independent printing operations) would undermine the revenue sources for such projects.
To understand the intention of such statements in more detail, it’s worth considering the following:
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura seized on the opportunities afforded by the printing press to support the mass distribution of Krsna consciousness. He called the printing press the “brhad mrdanga”. A regular clay mrdanga can perhaps be heard a couple of blocks away on harinäma, whereas the printing press allowed the message of Godhead to be “heard” at much greater distances. We all know that these books have some kind of life of their own. Curious souls have found them on bookshelfs –unaware of how they got there – triggering the genesis of their spiritual lives. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta had the printing presses installed in the temple room right next to the Deities – an unfathomable action for anyone not acquainted with his logic that the sound of the presses running was every bit as pleasing as the sweetest kirtan.
When Srila Bhaktisiddhanta witnessed early warning signs of the potential fracturing of his preaching institution, the Gaudiya Matha, he expressed his concerns to his disciple, Abhaya Carana Dasa (Srila AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada), in a very interesting way. “All this fighting over who will get which room in our gorgeous Bagh Bazaar temple. I would rather strip the marble from the walls and sell it and use the money to print books. If you ever get money, print books.” The implication is that the publishing enterprise is of paramount importance to the institution. This was clearly an instruction to which Srila Prabhupada attached the greatest significance (as evidenced by his later investment in writing, publishing, and his encouraging the mass distribution of literature).
Srila Prabhupada always saw the production of transcendental literature as an integral part of his mission. For instance, one of the few “belongings” that he brought with him from India to the US on his famous Jaladuta voyage in 1965 were trunks filled with 200 copies of his 1st Canto Srimad-Bhagavatam recently published in India. One of the first services that he engaged his disciples in during the Society’s formative years was the production and distribution of “Back to Godhead” – a newsletter/journal that he had developed decades earlier. When he incorporated ISKCON, he mentioned the publication and distribution of transcendental literature as an explicit primary aim.
Srila Prabhupada officially formed the BBT in 1972 as a separate institution from ISKCON, and he was very concerned that the BBT, like ISKCON, be spared from any and all threats to its survival and any obstruction to the execution of its vital mission.
He explicitly outlined the mission of the BBT – its charter, its mandate, and so on – in its documents of incorporation:
“The Trustees shall collect all proceeds from the sale of my books, that is One Hundred Percent (100%) of all the proceeds from all of the International Society for Krsna Consciousness Temples and divide these into two funds, one half (1/2) for the fund known as the Book Fund and one half (1/2) for the fund known as the Building Fund”.
“The proceeds allocated to the Book Fund shall be used for the following purposes, all in the discretion of the Trustees, in whom I have complete confidence:-
Printing and reprinting of books
Directing and managing all publicity and distribution of my books
Processing all copyrights and legal rights to my books
Allocating funds as they see fit to ISKCON Press and directing the operation of the activities of ISKCON Press in the printing and reprinting of said books”
“Those funds allocated to the Building Fund shall be applied in the sole discretion of the Trustees in the following manner:
Purchase of properties for the construction of new temples or renovation of old temples.”
In line with its mandate, the BBT has delivered 45 years of loyal service to His Divine Grace, and continues to prosper to this day. For example, the global BBT has contributed millions of dollars to build ISKCON temples, including the TOVP; has given grants for the strategic distribution of Srila Prabhupada’s books in third-world countries; has funded scientific research projects; has held art seminars and international symposiums on book publishing and distribution; has maintained the Bhaktivedanta Archives, whose mission it is to “collect, preserve, protect, and allow dissemination of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings, images, and life’s work”; and has overseen the translation of Srila Prabhupada’s books and facilitated their mass publication and distribution throughout the world.
While it is certainly possible to purchase Srila Prabhupada’s books from sources other than the BBT, doing so flies in the face of his expressed wishes. Are any other institutions committed to translating and publishing Srila Prabhupada’s books into all the other languages of the world, or to funding temples and other essential projects?
What’s more, the first editions remain available from the BBT for those who prefer them.
Let’s support the ongoing, vital work of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust in line with Srila Prabhupada’s hopes, vision, and explicit instructions. Yasya prasadad bhagavat prasado, yasya prasadan na gatih kuto ‘pi.
There are so many ways that each of us can contribute to the further prospering of the BBT, which Srila Prabhupada referred to as “his heart.”
Purchasing Srila Prabhupada’s books from the BBT, whether for one’s own use or for distribution.
Reading those books and thus fully appreciating Srila Prabhupada’s incredible gift of the unadulterated message of Godhead.
Letting others know about the positive work of the BBT – for instance, sharing this article with friends.
Becoming a book distributor – whether on a full- or part-time basis or even a sponsor of other distributors.