Surabhi Kunje Devi Dasi is an enthusiastic sankirtan devotee from South Africa. She shares her inspiring journey in discovering the potency of distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books.
For many years in my Krishna conscious journey, I did not know what my individual contribution would be, until I met His Grace Vaisesika Prabhu and read his book, Our Family Business. From his words and writing, it became clear to me that the act of distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books carries a special degree of mercy. Not only is it extremely pleasing to Srila Prabhupada and Krishna when we share love of Godhead with everyone we meet, but this activity also transforms us, the book distributors, by uncovering the best versions of ourselves.
What I love about book distribution is that it can be done at all times, in all circumstances, in some form. I know that I cannot be a big devotee who distributes hundreds of books every day, but I can share this sublime gift with others in a small way during my activities of working to maintain myself. To increase my service of book distribution, I embarked on a #108daychallenge in which I vowed to distribute at least one book every day for 108 consecutive days. Vaisesika Prabhu says that book distribution is high sadhana, and it really became part of my daily sadhana for those 108 days. It focused my intention and prayers during my japa. All I could meditate on was, “How can I serve You by distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books?” I would stand before the Deities daily and pray to Srila Prabhupada and the entire parampara, the six Gosvamis, Lord Caitanya and Radha-Krishna to help me fulfill this vow I had taken. It felt impossible, because I had previously experienced days where no books were distributed, but as hopeless as I felt about my own abilities, I had faith that Krishna would make all the arrangements, and He did. I would hit the streets every day after work, and within half an hour, Krishna always sent the perfect, ripe candidate for spiritual elevation, sometimes in the most deserted places. I could not believe it! Each day, the intensity of my prayers grew, deepening my connection with Krishna and my commitment to this sacrifice. As the days went by, I noticed a change in my vision – suddenly, all my surroundings became fields of opportunity for spreading Krishna consciousness. Whether I was at work, at the mall, on a family holiday, on a flight, at the hairdresser getting ready for a wedding, or at the beach, my only meditation was seeking out someone to whom I could give the greatest treasure. More amazingly, I became more conscious of my own behaviour and dealings with others, with acute awareness that I was now representing Srila Prabhupada at all times. Regardless of where I am, I should only act in ways that reflect his values and teachings. I realized that the best way to attract others to bhakti-yoga is to become a good example. This vow of book distribution showed me who I am meant to be in service to Srila Prabhupada, and who I can be if I continue on this path.
The result of this #108daychallenge was a heart full of spiritual realizations, and the blessing of seeing several souls turn towards Krishna after suffering in this material world since time immemorial. I met all these souls at different points in their journeys – some were just developing their interest in something higher, some were hungry for sacred wisdom, and some had already been reading books that they previously received from other book distributors and this interaction was the final push for them to start going to the temple, associating with devotees and taking up the practices of Krishna consciousness. Wherever we meet people on their individual quests for freedom, they are always benefitted by coming into contact with Srila Prabhupada’s mercy. It is my greatest fortune to be an instrument of this mercy. Book distribution also shows me the urgency of taking my own spiritual practice seriously. You cannot pour from an empty cup. The most successful book distributors naturally ooze enthusiasm, loving generosity, are deeply absorbed, and their consciousness is saturated with devotion. Strong sadhana is the means to this goal for which I aspire. For for me to share Krishna consciousness, I must fill myself up with it by regular reading, attentive chanting, associating with devotees and strictly avoiding all activities that inhibit my spiritual progress. Once having been filled up, I will be able to distribute the overflow, and the ecstasy of spreading Krishna consciousness will bring renewed energy into my sadhana. Sadhana and preaching go hand-in-hand. Each infuses the other with greater vitality and brings lasting happiness.
Even though I spent a small part of my days distributing books, this vow had a huge impact on my spiritual life and proved that tiny increments can make a great difference. It also gave me encouragement that I do not have to wait for all the conditions to be favourable in order to attempt book distribution. It is possible to regularly distribute books even if I cannot go out for 10 hours a day. I can simply try for a few minutes every day and this activity will bring eternal benefit, not only to the recipients of this knowledge, but to me as well.