Marathon lecture by H.H Devamrita Swami part 1
Los Angeles December 15th 1999
Book distribution is the distribution of Lord Caitanya’s Sankirtana movement in the modern day. We should not have any doubts about it. This Christmas marathon is a chance given by Krsna how we can increase our service. Now, it is not endless. There is a certain amount of time and during those certain days you can focus on Srila Prabhupada’s mission, Lord Caitanya’s mercy and in this way you get bring your Vaisnava consciousness to a higher level. How is that possible? Because you have the facility how to engage your mind and senses fully in distributing Krsna consciousness to others. We should try to understand how rare that facility is.
Krsna says in the Gita that noone is more dear to Him that the one who distributes His glories to others. So now you have an organized setting by which you can become the most dear to Krsna. That is not an ordinary thing. Here in New Dwarka you have good Sankirtana management, good temple management and the airport facility. All these things combine together to give you a great opportunity to advance in Krsna consciousness. We should not take it for granted. Sometimes it can seem as if “oh, we have seen this airport day after day”, but what I would like to beg you all is that during this Marathon, if you can beg the Deities “please give me new insight into this airport distribution. I have been going to this airport for some time and no doubt it can seem to be the same thing or sometimes it may seem like a grind because there is austerity.” But during this Christmas marathon you beg Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda “give me a new vision, a higher vision of what is going on in this service.” You will be surprised at what happens. The Deities are there for you to beg but you have to know what to beg the Deities for. If you beg the Deities for new insight into this service, “let me see a glimpse of what is really going on”, you’ll be amazed. Krsna will reciprocate with you. It is not that we are sending out waves of devotees on Sankirtana and they are going to get no realization. But you have to know how to ask for the realization. You have to know how to beg for it. You beg Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda “this is the most confidential activity I can be doing, yet sometimes I don’t see it like that, so You please raise my vision and perceptions” and then, if you are fortunate and beg sincerely and you get a glimpse, just a glimpse into the ocean of Sankirtana, you’ll never forget it all your life.
Now this a chance for new devotees to really make a breakthrough. I can tell you from my own personal experience. Bhrigupati Prabhu can confirm. I did Sankirtana seven days a week in New York and I couldn’t do anything. For two years I went out every day and I would do a few books here and a few books there, nothing at all. They used to call me “the hard luck kid.” I was even party leader, I was trying hard, but I just couldn’t get any results. Then one Christmas Marathon, at the start, I prayed to the Deities because for two years I had not been able to do any big books. That was the supreme destination back then, to be able to do a Bhagavatam or a Gita and I was just doing small books, paper back trilogies. So I prayed to the Deities “Please, it’s two years now, I am begging you, just give me a chance; I’ll never forget it.” So I went out to the parking lot of the shopping center and I said “OK, I’m just going to do like to big guys do, the airport distributors, Tripurari, Svavas, all the others. As soon as I drive into the parking lot, I am just going to open the trunk of the car and pull out the big books and whoever is right near, I am going to approach them, without even loading up my book bag. So I did that: the first person took the hard cover book; the second person, third person. By the time an hour or two had passed I had done fifteen hard cover books; I was just trembling in extasy because I knew THIS WASN’T ME!!! After TWO YEARS, SEVEN DAYS A WEEK, doing nothing, there was no way I was going to think I was the doer (laughs). I never forgot this realization all my life. I remember Bhrigupati and another devotee coming up to me and asking “what’s going on? What’s come over you? What’s happened?” because here you have somebody who is just doing a few little magazines, a few little small books a day, and all of a sudden, on the dime, they turn and they are doing quantities of hard cover books. So it continued on and when I got back to the temple the Sankirtana leader Romapada, he was a brahmcari then, he was astonished “what’s going on!?” I knew definitely that Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda, Their mercy is factual. There was no way I could think I was the doer. Impossible. This can happen to anyone. You should not think that you are totally bound by your circumstances and “it will always be the same thing..” You have to make some kind of endeavor to go to a higher level with the help of the Deities. And you have such beautiful Deities here, such beautiful Deity worship. You beg for Their help and your service will go to a higher level, and these marathons are a perfect time for that.
We should take our scores very seriously, not in a material way, but they are showing how Lord Caitanya’s mercy is going out. Sometimes devotees have a misunderstanding about scores; they think “ah, it is a material thing.” But Prabhupada LOVED to hear the scores. When we would read the scores to Prabhupada, he would never say “Oh that’s just quantity, that has nothing to do being a Vaisnava”. He would never say something like that.What did Prabhupada say? Does anybody know, one of Prabhupada’s famous quote in reaction to hearing the scores?
Sura Prabhu: When I hear the scores I become like a young man.
Devamrita Swami: Yes. And another one? “My only solace is the scores”, not “when I hear the scores, oh this is just quantity; it’s just numbers; this is not the real Krsna consciousness movement; it’s time to get beyond those things.” No: “My only solace is the scores.” So your service is directly giving pleasure to Prabhupada’s mission. If we take it as Bhakti, not just ordinary book sales, but Bhakti, which means that in doing this service you have to depend on Krsna, your hearing and chanting has to be very sharp; your attention before the Deities has to be very focused.
So it is a set time, this Marathon. And one thing you can do is that you can tell yourself “Look, I will give it all I got for the next 10 days or so and after that we’ll see what happens. As far as I am concerned, on Christmas day or the 31st, that’s the end of it for me; I can’t see beyond that. I have x amount of days, ten, twelve, fourteen days, and I will give it all I got, and then after that Krsna has got to take care of the situation- I don’t know what is going to happen.” This is the kind of Bhakti that attracts Krsna’s attention.
We have the natural tendency to want to always think “Oh, what will I be doing in 5 years from now or ten years from now. That kind of thinking presses down on your day and reduces your intensity. So a marathon is a great chance to surrender to Krsna by thinking “I’ve got x amount of days; I am not going to worry about anything else for those days. After you can worry about so many things.” You can make a deal with yourself like that: “afterwards I’ll worry what my future will be or this or that; I’ll pick up my anxieties and worries again as well as my self deliberations. But during these days I just put it all aside; I don’t know what is going to become of me after the marathon; that’s up to Krsna, but now I just absorb myself fully.” If you do like that you will see Krsna reciprocate with you without a doubt. Krsna will reciprocate with you. These are the ways how to plunge into the nectar of Christmas marathon. It’s not just a ritual; it’s not just the same old same thing. Rather it is an opportunity for Bhakti if you go about it right. And if you do it this way you’ll certainly feel the blessings of the Lord at the end of the marathon when you come before the Deities. And that you will never forget.
So this is my point, especially for the new devotees out on Sankirtana: you should understand this point, that you want to get some GOD EXPERIENCE. You see, what is making you slow and sluggish is that you still may think that Krsna is theory; Krsna is nice philosophy, is nice theology…No! Through this book distribution you’ll get the most intense experiences of GOD. You’ll become a God realized person. Why? Because you are distributing Krsna ‘s glories. As Prabhupada once explained, it’s not that the distributor is giving out Krsna’s mercy so that people can go back to Godhead but the distributor himself doesn’t go back to Godhead. No. Krsna makes arrangements so that you become more God realized and then you become more effective in your distribution. And because you are more effective in your book distribution, more people get Krsna’s mercy. In this way everything increases all the way around. So don’t make the mistake of thinking “I’m distributing all these books, I am working so hard and what is going to become of me? That’s what slows down the marathon. “What’s going to become of me? Yeah the books are going out, yeah this and that, but what about me and my mind?” No. You don’t want to do like that. You want to understand “I have a chance to experience the divine presence of Krsna beyond theory, beyond religious belief. And how am I doing that? Because I am assisting Lord Chaitanya in distributing the flood of love of God.”
Don’t think that you know your limits during the marathon. I gave you just a small example from my insignificant life: overnight; not even overnight; from one moment to the next, my results changed completely, completely. That could happen to anyone. If you look at this marathon as an opportunity to make spiritual advancement, then everything becomes clear. It’s not that we are just sending out devotees just because there is nothing else to do or because that is the way it has always been done in the seventies’. No. This is BHAKTI YOGA. Bhakti yoga is eternal. What does Bhakti yoga mean? To engage your senses to satisfy the master of the senses. And the Master of the senses says “noone is more dear to me nor will there ever be one more dear than the one who distributes My glories.” So we have to take it from the top; we take it from Krsna.
Now you have Prabhupada’s books, the most effective means for distributing Krsna consciousness. Noon can deny that. We have the chance to personally intervene in people’s suffering just by them taking a book. Sometimes it is said that book distribution is a technique of the seventies. But I ask you “is personally reducing someone’s suffering by putting Prabhupada’s book in their hand just a technique of the seventies?!” Personally reducing people’s suffering is an eternal compassion act of Lord Caitanya. SO as I said in class the other day, as Prabhupada explained in Australia, if the people just take a book in their hand and just appreciate it “this is a nice book”and they don’t even buy it, that is enough to give them a human form of life in their next birth. I couldn’t believe it! I played the tape over and over again, thirty times, saying “what!?!” This is an extraordinary point to remember. You are not just selling books; you are completely intervening in someone’s chain of repeated births and death. You are totally being an instrument in adjusting their karma and changing the whole future of their life. This was the realization that the older book distributors had. You may wonder “how did those older book distributors keep going? They were fortunate because Prabhupada was there.” The real fortunate thing is that they had this realization that they understood the enormity of what they were doing. We can still have that realization today. And naturally without that realization you are going to become a bit dry and you are going to think “what is the point of all this”. But if you beg the Deities and you listen to the senior Vaisnavas, if you study Prabhupada’s statements, you’ll get a glimpse into what this Sankirtana activity is all about. And that is something you will never forget.
Practically, even devotees who have, shall we say, put aside book distribution these days, they all will admit “when I was doing it, those were the best years of my life.” They’ll all admit that. Then, for various reasons they may not be into it now, but the least they admit is “the best years of my life were those years of book distribution.” Now that is a very important point. Even those who are not distributing books, they will admit “the best years of my life were when I was doing it!” So I say “if those were the best years of your life then, let it be everyone’s best years now!! It makes sense, doesn’t it? If those were the best years of your life then, then everybody should have a chance to make it the best years of their life now.
Now, why were they the best years of their life? Because they were fully absorbed in distributing Lord Caitanya’s glories with austerity. This is a problem, you see. Sooner or later we are going to have to understand that Krsna consciousness involves austerity. There is just no way around it. You can package it this way or that way, but sooner or later you have to accept the point that to advance in Bhakti you voluntarily accept inconvenience for Krsna’s pleasure and then the Lord reciprocates with you. This is something every devotee will know, that “Krsna is reciprocating with me.” I don’t know if you notice but after all the scores were read this morning (World Enlightenment day scores), definitely you could feel like “Yes! I am involved in the mainstream of Krsna consciousness.” The mainstream of Krsna consciousness is not what people make it out to be; it is what Lord Caitanya and His representatives make it out to be. This is a very essential point if you are going to survive in book distribution. The mainstream of Krsna consciousness is what the Acaryas make it to be, not what the people in general make it to be. If you try to define your Krsna consciousness according to what the people in general think, you are not going to go back to Godhead. Therefore we look at what the Acaryas say; we take our precepts there; we look at Prabhupada’s example; we look at what Prabhupada asked us to do. Everyone knows how Prabhupada came to America with just a little bit of money in his pockets but with 200 of his three volume Bhagavatam sets. He said “I wasn’t worried because I had those 200 sets with me.” So he is setting the example.