Unflinching Book Distribution

By ISKCON Sankirtana Leaders Team – India - 9.12 2016

This December, devotees in India face a unique challenge in distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books. Due to recent actions taken by the Government of India viz., the demonetization of large currency notes, everyone here is literally in a cash crunch, whether or not one is a millionaire as per the bank accounts. And distributing books in such a scenario could be tough if we follow the usual techniques of hand to hand distribution on streets, or at doors, which depend on collecting cash. This could potentially have a large impact on the annual scores for India in 2016 (the 50th anniversary of ISKCON!), because it is an open secret that MOST of the book distribution in India happens during the December marathon!

However, by the grace of Krishna, there are several other arrangements that can be made to overcome this temporary difficulty. For those who desire to serve the Lord without flinching despite all opposing circumstances and reasons to flinch, He gives all intelligence to serve Him. Surely, this is a test for us to show our sincerity and pray for the intelligence to do this service, which Srila Prabhupada loves so much. Here are some ways that we could adopt this year to boost the book distribution enthusiasm and results:

Technology to the rescue:

Temples could immediately register to obtain multiple card swiping machines to facilitate payments on spot. These machines are well used already and people trust making payments using card swiping machines. Even vegetable-cart peddlers in cities have begun to use these machines following the demonetization move!

Another option, which could be tried, is that devotees could also use their smartphones with mobile data to accept payments for books via free “Mobile Point of Sale” apps such as ePaisa (www.epaisa.com) which enable commercial transactions in a secure environment. While this is a new experience for some Indians, it could be a hit with the younger/tech-savvy folks. This could be the future of money!

Bulk sponsorship:

India has been a particularly charitable country when it comes to book distribution. The Gita Daan Yagna program has been successful across India in recent years due to large donations. At marathon rates, one could distribute nearly 1000 Big books for a single donation of 1 lakh Indian rupees. This approach still has potential to succeed and requires just as much tact and enthusiasm as was needed before to get donors to support the program. The impetus of doing charity to help schools, hospitals, and prisons receive Bhagavad Gita still makes a convincing argument in India, and donations can be accepted via cheque, demand draft, or online transfer. Let’s bank on it!

Factories and Companies:

A tried and tested method, which has been used by exemplary temples such as ISKCON Chowpatty and ISKCON Pune, is to approach the top management of local factories and companies, and facilitate book distribution to the employees via the employer. Interested employees give their name and employee number, and the employer deducts their salary for the book donation and pays the temple the corresponding amount. This method too can easily accommodate the transaction via cheque, demand draft, or online transfer.

Bunches like bananas!

Using the sales principle made famous in the book “Our Family Business – The Great Art of Distributing Srila Prabhupada’s Books” by His Grace Vaisesika Prabhu, devotees could try making an entire set of Srila Prabhupada’s books; put in all books from “Introduction to Bhagavad Gita” to “Nectar of Devotion”. The entire set would easily be priced at INR 10,000 or more, and since such large transactions are easily and safely made using cheque, demand draft, or online transfer, we again obviate the need for cash. We must try this at least once!

Where attention goes, energy flows!

This time, we have to give more attention to how we distribute books, because every minute on the field can be an opportunity for purification and deepening our Krishna consciousness. HG Vaisesika Prabhu, a seasoned book distributor is sharing valuable tips and practical guidance on book distribution via brief video podcasts at http://tiny.cc/2016-Marathon-Tips. Please check out and use these tips and share this link with your devotee friends. Also, the ideas brainstormed above are just a tiny slice of what is possible if we put our brains and hearts together this year for the pleasure of Srila Prabhupada! Please share YOUR ideas on how to make book distribution in 2016 larger than ever, even in the face of this intriguing financial situation India is in.

ISKCON Sankirtana Leaders Team – India