Caution! Beware! Reading quotes from “If You Want to Please Me…” or “Distribute Books, Distribute Books, Distribute Books,” can put a person in an altered state of awareness during the holiday season. And if you read them out loud others may become similarly affected.
The other day a devotee read these words aloud as we listened:
There is no doubt about it; to distribute books is our most important activity. The temple is a place not for eating and sleeping, but as a base from which we send out our soldiers to fight with maya. Fight with maya means to drop thousands and millions of books into the laps of the conditioned souls. Just like during the war time the bombs are raining from the sky like anything…
Everyone was a little struck just by the sound of it. Why do these old words sound like some fresh poetry? It is only a paragraph taken from a letter written by Srila Prabhupada in 1973. It does not rhyme; it has no meter, and it refers to bombing!
Srila Prabhupada surely saw our weaknesses: Westerners with opulence, influence and just plain misplaced aggression. He knew we needed more than a mild temple life to make us satisfied. His words “Just like in war time the bombs are raining from the sky like anything,” capture and engage our imagination.
Movements other than the sankirtana movement simply cannot engage the potential spiritual energy in the hearts of mankind so completely. For example, the New Age Movement has many persons practicing yoga, organic diets and personal self-improvement. How very powerful it has been over the last so many years! Modern people’s strong desire for a quality life style finds hope in elaborate seminars, retreats, study, association, crystals and candles.
They get an improved sense of well-being. They may learn for the first time that they are something other than their mind. They may start to consider healthier choices when they fill their stomachs. They try yoga asanas and breathing to cut down on the stress of career and poor relationships.
Devotees know their new-found information is an old wine in a new bottle. If they are something other than their material mind, as they may discover, then what is the identity of the soul? If going organic is their new fascination, how can they learn that their food should be an offering to God? A sequence of asanas and breathing is a good cure for a headache, but without knowing the Yogesvara, it is all sadly lacking.
Prabhuapda explains in Bhagavad-Gita, “without Krsna Consciousness they do not even know what are the causes for material happiness.” And so the New Age continues, but because it has no all-encompassing engagement such as devotional service and the distribution of Krsna conscious information, its disciples remain self-improved but stuck on self-improvement.
“Being full of contradictions, all forms of religion but bhagavata-dharma work under conceptions of fruitive results and distinctions of “you and I’ and “yours and mine.” The followers of Srimad-Bhagavatam have no such consciousness. They are all Krsna conscious, thinking that they are Krsna’s and Krsna is theirs.”
We took birth in an age of popular innovations such as fast food (cow slaughter) and nuclear weapons (human slaughter). We need deeper purification than we even know. Srila Prabhupada could see exactly what we needed, he was a book distributor himself and he understood its potential for engaging us. Practically, he invented it. He traveled all over India distributing Srimad-Bhagavatam and then he came to America and distributed it here.
“Fight with maya means to drop thousands and millions of books into the laps of the conditioned souls.” He could understand that book distribution would engage us in a way that we would be physically, actively and very sincerely approaching others who have the same contamination as ourselves.
That is perhaps the single most truly beautiful and addicting quality of book distribution: the more you work for others, the more it works on you. It puts you in an altered state of awareness. If you are truly out there for the purpose of benefiting the people you meet, if that is actually your pleasure, your happiness, and your meditation, you are the luckiest person in the world, and Krsna is in your hand.
your servant, Karuna Dharani dd