Why do Hare Krishnas Distribute Books?
When he began the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Srila Prabhupada wrote out its seven purposes. The first of these was: “To systematically propagate spiritual knowledge to society at large, and to educate all people in the techniques of spiritual life in order to check the imbalance of values in life, and to achieve real unity and peace in the world.”
These are skills sorely missing in today’s world. Universities, which form the mold for our society and educate our leaders, are teaching millions of students about business, engineering, architecture, politics and everything in between. I even once met a student enrolled in an accredited course on The Beatles.
Yet no university teaches clear information about the values of life, the soul, or God. I recently spoke to the professor of religion at a prominent university, who told me that even he did not believe in God. So it’s no surprise that more and more people are turning towards atheism.
But there is a remedy. According to Srila Prabhupada and his spiritual master Srila Bhaktisidhanta Sarasvati, who both emphasized distributing books, the absolute truth contained in the Bhagavad-gita and other Vedic scriptures can inspire peace and unity within society.
Krishna explains in the Bhagavad-gita that we are not these bodies, but the souls within; each one of us is a part of God, and we are all His servants. Thus, the wise man sees everyone equally. It’s knowledge that’s just as essential as it is simple – knowledge that is the answer to all our problems, yet that can be found nowhere else but within the pages of Prabhupada’s books.
Another of ISKCON’s purposes is: “To propagate a consciousness of Krishna (God), as it is revealed in the great scriptures of India, Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam.”
These days, understanding of God is very vague. When I ask university students if they believe in God, most say that they believe there is some higher power, but that they have no idea what it is.
Prabhupada’s books, however, are very precise: GOD IS A PERSON – and the most beautiful one. He is also the supreme controller, the creator, the cause of all causes, the knower of past, present and future, and the best well-wishing friend of everyone. What’s more, Prabhupada’s books give us information of His activities, His place of residence Goloka Vrindavana, and the many names He has according to His nature and activities. All this information–and more contained in the books–has the potential to guide people to inner happiness and peace.
Yet another of ISKCON’s purposes is: “To publish and distribute periodicals, magazines, books and other writings, with a view towards achieving the aforementioned purposes.”
Which brings us to why ISKCON devotees all around the world engage in a book distribution marathon for December. As Prabhupada once said, “An intelligent person will ask three things – ‘Why am I here? What is the goal of life? And what happens at the time of death?’” To abate the suffering of such intelligent people and to answer their questions, Krishna devotees distribute books which contain the answers wherever the public are – in shopping areas, concerts, universities, and more.
Why December? Well, it’s the month when Jesus, a great devotee of God, appeared. It’s also the month that generous Saint Nicolaus took birth, and as such the main time of year that people all over the world give and receive gifts.
In the month of December alone, we distribute just as many books as we did in the previous four months. People look at them and think, “Which of my friends or family members would appreciate this book?”
As one of our mottos in Krishna consciousness goes, “Utility is the principle.” We may not be Christians, but we can still utilize this time of gift-giving to let people all over the world know about the Father of Christ. Srila Prabhupada’s books make great gifts, because they give us all the information about God and how to go back to Him that we need.