Book distribution must go on

I shall never forget the ecstasy when we received the first shipment of Bhagavad-gitas. They were delivered right to the door of the storefront one evening at six o’clock, just before the evening kirtana. Afterwards, I stood up to give the customary concluding announcements. But this time, I held in my hands this beautiful purple-colored book and practically cried as I announced that finally  your labor of love was published and everyone could take advantage of it. Now the world could read the Bhagavad-Gita As It Is, for the first time. You were not in New York but on the West Coast, so I had to mail you three copies, with the satisfaction of knowing you would be pleased even with its abbreviated format.

Then Teaching of Lord Caitanya arrived from Japan. I rented a big truck and drove down to the docks. Amidst all the lackadaisical stewards, I myself had to load one ton of Lord Caitanya’s teachings into the truck and drive back to Second Avenue for all the devotees to come down and joyously carry all the volumes upstairs into the temple.

Next, we set up your own press. We were all amateur, boyish Gutenbergs, printing the first books that set forth the world’s most wonderful religion. The ink we used was like your precious blood  and the paper your divine body, and the finished book that rolled out of the binder was you. Even recently in Calcutta, I visited your Guru Maharaja’s temple and noticed how he had built the press as part of the temple, so that the Deity could see it and even hear it working.

I don’t think we can actually fathom just how important the distribution of these books is to you. It is actually the personal order you received from Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati. It is your spiritual mission and your very life. I can remember your sending me to Pakistan. I had no books, and it was so difficult just to be there trying to preach, and finally I had to leave.

I went to you in Bombay, and you inquired if I had distributed books there. The fact that I didn’t have any with me because I had to travel by road all the way from Europe and could only carry personal copies didn’t matter. “At least did you sell subscriptions to Back to Godhead?” was your question. The purport is that somehow or other, book distribution must go on, even if you don’t have any books and no matter what country you may be in or whatever situation.

From Brahmananda Swami’s Vyasa-puja offering 1980.

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