By Vijaya Dasa
Hare Krsna Prabhus,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
Just as there are do’s and don’ts for sadhana-bhakti, there are do’s and don’ts for book distribution. I thought it might be good to give you an idea of them. I showed the following list to Vaisesika Prabhu and Bhrgupati Prabhu, and they approved it.
1. Always remember Krsna.
2. Distribute books on their merits.
3. Be friendly, tolerant, and compassionate.
4. Have good sadhana. Try to have all of your rounds chanted before you go out, and also try to read some before going out. “Early to bed, early to rise, makes one healthy, wealthy (spiritually), and wise.” And it gives you time in the morning to do all your sadhana before you go out on book distribution.
5. When approaching people, try to see beyond the body to the soul and the Supersoul.
6. Learn verses that can be helpful on book distribution. Such as SB 10.14.8, SB 1.8.25, SB 4.11.13, BG 13.23,
7. Pray to Krsna, Srila Prabhupada, and your spiritual master to be sincere in distributing books.
8. Dress nicely and act like a gentleman or lady. We’re representing Krsna and Srila Prabhupada.
9. Prabhupada specifically wanted pictures in the books so that people will see them, be attracted to them, and want to give a donation and take a book. Show the pictures and say a little bit about them.
10. Present the books in such a way that everyone you speak to walks away with a good impression of the Hare Krsna movement.
1. If the person you distribute a book to gives double the BBT price, don’t ask for more. This is greed. I have seen devotees ask for more even though they received more than double the BBT price. The person who gives the donation sees the greed and thus sometimes asks for their money back and gives the book back. Really bad. If, however, they give less than double the BBT price, then in a nice way, if you like, ask –once — if they could give a little more. If they don’t, then ask them in a nice way if they would prefer to take a smaller book. If they still want the big book, then let them have it. Krsna will make up for it.
2. Don’t get angry with them if they don’t cooperate.
3. If you’re approaching someone and they clearly express that they aren’t interested, then go to someone else. Don’t continue trying to distribute to the first person. We don’t want to be known as pushy. Vaisesika Prabhu gives this example: “If you want a sweet mango from a mango tree but the mangos are green, you leave them alone. Then eventually they will become orange and ripe. Similarly, some people aren’t interested in Krsna consciousness. So let them be. Maybe they will be ripe for Krsna consciousness in the future. There are others that are ripe.”
4. Don’t waste time with Christians who want to preach to you. You’ll regret it. Wish them well in their spiritual life and tell them we have our own path. There are some Christians, however, and people of other faiths who are open-minded enough to take books. But look out for the preachers.
5. As you offer a book to someone, don’t say, “Here, you get one,” or “Here, we’re passing these out today,” or “We’re giving these out today.” These phrases make it appear as though it’s a free book. But then we ask for a donation, and if they don’t give one we take back the “free book.” We have a terrible reputation for this around the world, and it’s not good. Instead, say, “Here, check this out,” or “We’re showing these to everyone today.” It works just as well, and you feel better that you’re being more straightforward. Prabhupada said, “We should be known as perfect gentlemen,” which means being honest and straightforward. When we go out we are representing Krsna and Srila Prabhupada, so let’s make a good honest presentation as their representatives.
6. Don’t say you’re collecting for food relief or some other welfare cause unless the money you’re collecting is actually going for that cause.