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CHAPTER - 6
Sankirtana in Practice
Report to Shri Shri Radha-Mddhava
My most dear Shri Shri Radha-Madhava and Sakhls, and Shrila Prabhupada, Please accept my most humble obeisances prostrated in the dust of Your lotus feet. All glories to You who are the Lords of the world!
Please accept this report and kindly be merciful upon the devotees of the North European Sankirtana Zone. Your devotees distribute Your transcendental books throughout the year, except for the Mayapur Festival time. Generally distribution starts off humbly in January as the people readjust themselves after the Christmas season and the devotees recover from their efforts during the Prabhupada Marathon. The normal sankirtana day includes two hours of reading from Shrila Prabhupada's books, a class, and six to eight hours of distribution. During the colder seasons the traveling sanklrtaners stay overnight in sankirtana tlats or hotels, and during the warmer seasons they stay in their vans at night. About one-third of the devotees in the zone directly engage full time in the sankirtana mission, while the remaining devotees support the sankirtana mission through preaching programs in and around the temple.
There are five marathons throughout the year. The first is a Gaura-purnima marathon that lasts for two weeks. The second is another two-week marathon for Nrsimha-caturdasl. For Janmastaml/Vyasa-puja there is a three-week marathon, and in October there is a three week marathon for all the ISKCON gurus. During these marathons, the number of devotees going out may or may not increase, but almost everyone in the zone participates in the Frabhupada Marathon (formerly called the Christmas Marathon) for the last five weeks of the year. During this most intense sankirtana experience, the programs are shorter and the mood is to increase distribution more and more. The devotees distribute ten to thirteen hours a day and think of distribution even while eating and dreaming. The mercy of Your Lordships is readily apparent during marathon times. People who would ordinarily never buy a book take one or more. They often dance down the street with the books in their hand, and some even advertise the glories of the books to others, saying, "Look at these books! I have just met a most wonderful person selling them. You too should buy a book." The standard distribution price is twice the BBT price. These books are valuable and not given out cheaply, because people respect books purchased for the right price. The emphasis in the zone is on maha-big and big books, for all the devotees are eager to support the BBT's program to translate and publish books in over twenty different languages* and fund the Mayapur Project. Every devotee is fully aware that the BBT sends twenty-five percent of the price of each book to support this most important project of Shrila Prabhupada's in Mayapur. It inspires the devotees to distribute more and more books.
The sankirtan men avoid cheating methods. They don’t change people up or allure them with stories of starving children. They sell the books on their merit and present the philosophy as it is. This straightforward preaching strengthens the devotees and protects them from the attacks of the demons, who always want to stop book distribution at all costs. The sankirtana movement is anandambudhi-vardhanam. For example, Switzerland has a population of only about six million people. In that mountainous land, the small number of regular sankirtana devotees (approximately eight to fifteen full-timers) have distributed more than two million maha-big and big dooks during the last twelve active sankirtana years, and the devotees are confident that they will increase in the future. The more books people get, the more their desire increases to get more. Many positive effects have come from street distribution, and the set distribution program has been steadily increasing. Besides full-set sales, many people buy eight to ten books right on the street, and this enables the distributors to have such high daily scores. Many new bhaktas have joined directly from the street distribution. Our goal is to distribute many millions of books and thus force the demoniac society to change its sinful ways and surrender unto Your lotus feet. Rohinlsuta Prabhu once complained to me that every person he approached one day in Zurich already had books, and it was hard to distribute. It is a problem in such a small land.
One of the most inspiring things for the sankirtana devotees is that the temple presidents personally go out on sanklrtana during the marathons. Without the presidents' full involvement in the sankirtana-yajna, it is hard to create the proper sankirtana mood in the temple. Almost all the presidents in the zone are former traveling sankirtana men who have taken up the leading roles in the temples in order to expand the sankirtana movement. The presidents and sanklrtana leaders work closely together. Their combined efforts in preaching and management well support the book distribution, and the devotees on the street feel secure and inspiered.Every weekend the sankirtana devotees hold a sankirtana meeting for an hour or more and discuss the latest sankirtana techniques and philosophy.Your wonderful sankirtana devotees uplift this ISKCON movement by spreading Your glories everywhere. Please bless all Your dedicated sankirtana men and women throughout the world and grant them the mercy available at Your lotus feet. All glories to the sankirtana devotees!