A Little from a Lot
A Book Marathon Message
By Giriraj Swami
(From a talk on January 11, 2010, Kiev, Ukraine)
yajanti hi su-medhasah
“In the age of Kali, intelligent persons perform congregational chanting to worship the incarnation of Godhead who constantly sings the names of Krsna. Although His complexion is not blackish, He is Krsna Himself. He is accompanied by His associates, servants, weapons, and confidential companions.” (SB 11.5.32)
This verse refers to Lord Caitanya. Those who are intelligent (su-medhasah) will worship this incarnation, Lord Caitanya, by performance of sankirtana-yajna.
Book distribution is sankirtana. Kirtana means “glorification,” and sam means “complete.” Glorification of Krsna is complete when many devotees participate. Also, complete glorification means glorifying not only Krsna’s name but also His form, His qualities, His pastimes, His entourage, His paraphernalia—everything related to Him. Distribution of Srila Prabhupada’s books is complete glorification of Krsna because Srila Prabhupada’s books glorify Krsna fully—His name, form, qualities, pastimes, and so on.
Who worships Lord Caitanya by sankirtana? Those who are highly intelligent. Of course, sometimes someone might not be so intelligent—he might just be fortunate. Here I am not referring to you, but to myself, as I am about to explain how I was engaged in sankirtana.
I began in Boston in 1969. As His Holiness Niranjana Swami mentioned, we should tax our brains to think of different ways to distribute Prabhupada’s books. Srila Prabhupada used to do that, and one area that he considered important was bookstores, and back then he wanted one devotee in each temple to place his books in bookstores.
The Boston temple was very small then, and somehow either Satsvarupa or Brahmananda thought I could try. So I took the books to various bookstores, and I was quite successful, but I was extremely successful in putting Prabhupada’s books in the Harvard Co-Op. They took a huge order, maybe twenty copies of the Bhagavad-gita As It Is and other books. And when Srila Prabhupada heard, he was very pleased. It was the first time, to my knowledge, that he was aware of a specific service that I had done.
Years later, when I was in Madras, although our main program for distributing books in India was life membership, I did go to some bookstores. In fact, Srila Prabhupada was so intent on his books being distributed that he would sometimes write me letters suggesting specific bookstores that I could approach. So, there was a large bookstore on the main street of Madras, Higgenbotham’s Booksellers on Mount Road, and they placed a really large order—about sixty large books. I would periodically visit the store to see if the books were selling, and they were, and then we would supply them more books.
Srila Prabhupada was so pleased that he wrote me a letter: “I am most pleased especially to hear that you are distributing many books. Go on increasing books, and go on increasing my pleasure.” The more we increase the distribution of Prabhupada’s books, the more we increase Prabhupada’s pleasure, and that is our goal. Yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasado: When Prabhupada is pleased, when the spiritual master is pleased, then Krsna is pleased.
Later, I did a college program in Bombay and wrote a report about it to Srila Prabhupada, explaining what I had said to the students. At the time Prabhupada was ill in Vrndavana, and Tamal Krishna Goswami, his secretary, was replying to letters on Prabhupada’s behalf. Tamal Krishna Goswami wrote back that Srila Prabhupada was especially pleased to hear that the students had purchased his books. I had been thinking that Prabhupada might be pleased with what I had told the students, but when I read that Prabhupada was “especially” pleased to learn that students had purchased many of his books, I realized that that is where the real substance is. If they get Prabhupada’s books, they get the complete philosophy and practice of Krsna consciousness—and the inspiration to take it up.
These books are so important, and the order of the spiritual master is so important, that if we distribute the books on the order of the spiritual master, in the way the spiritual master has instructed, there will be great potency in the activity. We must tax our brains how to distribute Prabhupada’s books. And if we take up that order, and actually work to distribute them, we will experience wonderful results.
On my way from America to South Africa, I stopped in England just before the marathon began, and on my way from South Africa to Ukraine, I stopped there again just after the marathon ended. England had a very successful marathon, and their motto was, “A little from a lot.” If a lot of devotees participate, even if each one does only a little, it will add up. Of course, some devotees, who have the time and facility, can do a lot. But others, such as householders, may be able to do only a little. So that’s a good motto: “A little from a lot.” And we may also get a lot from a few. And that is a wonderful combination: a few from a lot and a lot from a few.
We request all of you to please take up this service of book distribution. Be one of the few who do many, or one of the many who do a few. Srila Prabhupada will be pleased with all of you because his guru maharaja wanted this distribution of books. By performing this service of sankirtana, you will certainly be blessed by Srila Prabhupada, the parampara, Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai, and Sri Sri Radha and Krsna.
– Giriraj Swami