“BBT Only” Day
In cooperation with the ISKCON GBC, the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust is marking March 14 as the first annual “BBT Only” Day.
This is a day to remember the following important instructions from Srila Prabhupada:
- He formed the BBT to serve as his exclusive publisher.
- He wanted all his books purchased exclusively from the BBT.
His Divine Grace gave those instructions in a letter addressed to all ISKCON temples. The letter was dated March 14, 1974.
March 14 this year will be the fortieth anniversary of that letter.
Every devotee and congregational member of ISKCON should become familiar with that letter and have its importance clear in mind.
“BBT Only” Day is also an opportunity for devotees to remember — or learn about — the value the BBT adds to Srila Prabhupada’s mission in ways other than by publishing books. For example, the BBT. . .
- gives large grants every year for construction and renovation of ISKCON temples
(current project: the new temple in Mayapur)
- provides funding for the Bhaktivedanta Institute
- supports the BBT Sanskrit School started by Gopiparanadhana Prabhu
in Vrindavana to train new Sanskrit editors and translators
- funds the Bhaktivedanta Archives
If you’ve received a copy of Srila Prabhupada’s historic letter, please post it on your bulletin board (or on your wall or fridge). You can also find it online at the “BBT Only” website: www.BBTonly.org.
In 1969, while visiting ISKCON Press, the forerunner of the BBT, Srila Prabhupada said, “This is the heart of ISKCON.”
A devotee said, “You are the heart of ISKCON, Prabhupada.”
Srila Prabhupada replied, “And this is my heart.”
May Srila Prabhupada’s heart be dear to the hearts of us all.
PS: How can you tell a BBT book? By the logo. Books published by others may look nearly the same. But only books published by the BBT display the BBT logo. So look for the BBT logo. It’s your guarantee that what you’re getting comes genuinely from the only publisher authorized by Srila Prabhupada to publish his books: his BBT.
Frequently Offered Objections
Those who won’t like our message are likely to raise some objections. Here are some we’ve heard, along with answers.
1. Objection: Srila Prabhupada wrote, “All printing of ISKCON literature must be by the BBT or under their sanction and approval.” Krishna Books, Inc., is also printing with BBT approval. They have a license from the BBT. So what’s the problem?
It’s true that KBI has a license. That license was wrung unwillingly from the BBT by a former trustee who had badly fallen from the principles of Krsna consciousness. Though fallen, because of a legal technicality he could still legally claim that he was a trustee — in fact, the only trustee — of Srila Prabhupada’s book trust. So the BBT settled the matter by giving that license to the new company he formed — KBI.
When Srila Prabhupada spoke of printing “with BBT approval,” such an unwillingly granted license hardly seems like what he had in mind.
KBI has legal approval. It does not have spiritual approval.
No court can give anyone spiritual authority or declare invalid Srila Prabhupada’s desire that the BBT serve as his exclusive publisher.
2. Objection: What’s this about “BBT only”? Srila Prabhupada’s original BBT has been hijacked, and now the books are published by a newly concocted, unauthorized organization called BBTI.
During Srila Prabhupada’s physical presence, “the BBT” consisted of a worldwide group of BBT entities, all publishing under the authority of Srila Prabhupada and his global “BBT trustees.”
Those entities are what we informally referred to (and still do) as “the North American BBT,” “the Latin American BBT,” “the Indian BBT,” and so on.
In America, in fact, when Srila Prabhupada was physically present his books were all published by ISKCON of Los Angeles, publishing under the BBT’s name and authority.
This same arrangement — various BBT entities publishing Srila Prabhupada’s books around the world — still continues today.
The BBTI serves as the BBT’s licensing agent to license these various other BBT entities in a legally orderly way — a suitable and much-needed function.
But the BBT International doesn’t actually publish books at all. The local BBT entities do, just as during Srila Prabhupada’s physical presence.
3. Objection: The BBT lost all authority when it began publishing “changed books.”
For extensive answers to arguments about “the changed books,” please see http://www.BBTedit.com. And if you prefer the earlier editions, fine — follow Srila Prabhupada’s instruction by buying them from the BBT.
4. Objection: The BBT does not give 50% of its proceeds for construction, the way Srila Prabhupada ordered.
True. The standard we’ve come to is 25%. And that’s a higher percentage than the BBT ever gave when Srila Prabhupada was physically present.
In fact Srila Prabhupada told Harikesa Dasa that 25% would be acceptable.
Why? Suppose you print a book for a dollar. Then you double the price and sell it to the temples for two dollars. Then you give 50% (1 dollar) for construction and the other 50% to reprint the book. Now all your money is gone. Where then will you get money for reprinting books in larger numbers? Where will you get money for printing new titles or books in new languages? And when inflation drives printing prices higher, so that the book you printed for a dollar now costs you $1.20 to print again, so that you get fewer and fewer books for your money, what will you do about that?
So we use 50% for reprinting, we give 25% for construction, and — almost incredibly with such a small percentage — with the other 25% we increase print runs, print new titles, expand into new languages, keep up with inflation, give grants to the Bhaktivedanta Institute, train new translators and editors, support the Bhaktivedanta Archives – and more.
By the way: How much do publishers outside the BBT give for ISKCON construction? And how well does 25% compare with zero?
The general answer to all these objections is that one should follow the orders of the spiritual master, not look for excuses.
Visiting ISKCON Press, the forerunner of the BBT, Srila Prabhupada said that this was his heart. Every devotee should have this image embossed in his mind.
Those who would try to undermine or explain away Srila Prabhupada’s “BBT only” instruction are sticking a knife into his heart. Devotees should understand this too.
5. Objection: BBT books are more expensive. Why should we pay more when we can get books cheaper elsewhere – and in that way distribute more of Srila Prabhupada’s glorious books?
BBT books are in fact very economical. But they do cost more.
Why? Because we follow Srila Prabhupada’s order to sell books to ISKCON centers at twice what the books cost us.
Unlike most authors, Srila Prabhupada didn’t expect any royalties from the sales of his books. But you can think of that extra cost – that markup – as Srila Prabhupada’s royalties. That extra price you pay goes to finance larger print runs, produce new books in new languages and new media, preserve and catalog the manuscripts, audiotapes, and images in the Bhaktivedanta Archives, help fund the Bhaktivedanta Institute, build and renovate ISKCON temples. . . .
By buying elsewhere, you can certainly save some money – but only by disobeying Srila Prabhupada’s direct written instructions and depriving him of his “royalties” — the share of the proceeds he asked be given to expand the BBT’s work of book publishing and temple construction.
If you’re a sincere follower of Srila Prabhupada, which matters more to you – sticking to Srila Prabhupada’s instructions or saving a buck?
The sincere follower makes the spiritual master’s orders his life and soul.