Srila Prabhupada Letter to Ramesvara Prabhu, October 25th 1974

Srila Prabhupada Letter to Ramesvara Prabhu

“Please accept my humble obeisances. There have been two letters from GBC men to Srila Prabhupada regarding street chanting and book distribution, and there seems to be some discussion about the two. Srila Prabhupada has said that book distribution is more important than street chanting. Book distribution is brhad kirtana. It is literally kirtana in the sense that the books are spoken and therefore, anyone who reads a book is hearing. Because his books are recorded and transcribed Srila Prabhupada calls his books spoken kirtanas, or recorded chanting. So book distribution is also kirtana and should not be considered less than kirtana. The reason book distribution is greater than chanting is because the effect is wider. A purchased book goes into a person's home and will be read by others, whereas street kirtana only benefits those in the vicinity who hear. Two cases are cited. In Portugal one boy, who is only 11 years old, has become a devotee. He offers prasadam and is translating Bhagavad-Gita As It Is into Portuguese with the help of his mother. He got several of our books at a book-store in Lisbon and has asked his father who is just now coming to USA to get him all available Srimad-Bhagavatams. Prabhupada remarks that our books went there to Portugal but we did not, but still he has become a devotee. Then in Tokyo airport Prabhupada tells how one Japanese youth approached Srila Prabhupada and asked if he could speak with Srila Prabhupada. When Prabhupada said yes, the boy asked, 'Where do you get all the knowledge that is in your books?' So by comparative study, book selling is more important.

Srila Prabhupada also pointed out that in the West sometimes the street chanting is considered as a farce. Also in India. At first street chanting was tried but was met with mostly derogatory reaction. Therefore, there is mostly life membership preaching in India, which is of course book distribution. But on no account should street chanting be stopped. Prabhupada has never said that street chanting should be stopped. The chanting can go on for a little while and when a crowd is drawn books can be distributed. When I mentioned to Srila Prabhupada that when last in Los Angeles, there was the system of book distribution all week long and on weekend nights full street kirtanas, he said that was a good system. Regarding the claim that devotees have difficulties maintaining Krsna consciousness by only doing book selling with not enough street chanting, Prabhupada remarked that if things deteriorate that is another thing, but it is not the fault of book distribution. Book distribution must not be neglected.

Your servant,
Brahmananda Swami, Personal Secretary
Seen by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami”

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