(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 08 November 2017, Mayapur, India, Russian Morning Class, Srimad Bhagavatam 8.6.10)
In the Bhagavad-gita (7.4), we find a list of material elements: earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and the false ego. These are Krsna’s separated energies. Then we find in the next verse (Bhagavad-gita 7.5), a description of the living being and what they are doing. They are exploiting the universe. We like to think of ourselves as innocent people who are misunderstood but Krsna, in the Bhagavad-gita, has another judgment. According to Krsna, we are manipulative and exploitative and somehow or other making so many arrangements to manoeuvre ourselves to a greater position. If others are suffering, we do not really care that much. We care a little because it feels good to be charitable.
We see on the news how people are dying and go on having a cup of coffee and a piece of cake. You have to be quite insensitive to do that! So a change of heart is required to start thinking of the welfare of others. This is why sankirtan is very powerful. This is why book distribution is a very powerful tool in this movement. Not only is the book itself powerful propaganda, it is also fully transcendental and anyone who touches a book can become purified.
Prabhupada was reading the Krsna Book and said to Srutakirti, “This is such a wonderful book. Anyone who reads this book, they will become a pure devotee! Anyone who reads one chapter of this book can become a pure devotee. Anyone who reads one page of this book can become a pure devotee. Not only that, anyone who reads one sentence can become a pure devotee.” And then Prabhupada said, “Anyone who reads one word can become a pure devotee.”
I met Srutakirti in Vrindavan and we were talking about this pastime. Srutakirti said, “Yes, Prabhupada said it to me several times about different books – about the Krsna Book, about Nectar of devotion and other books.” Srutakirti then said, “Obviously Prabhupada knew that I wasn’t reading.”
Anyway, so these books are very potent and anyone who gets such a book is greatly benefitted. But the person who distributes the book is even more benefitted because that person is taking austerity for the welfare of others and is finally learning how to stop manipulating things for their own advantage and is making a sacrifice to give out the mercy.
In some parts of our movement, book distribution is a little out of fashion. There are many other ways to reach out to people. Times have changed and there are other interesting strategic ways to reach people and all good. But, book distribution is like a cold shower whereas some of these other preaching tactics are nice, warm showers. Cold showers get the blood circulation really going. We can consider that there is a special purification when doing book distribution. It is this spirit of giving the mercy to others which should be our focus.