By Acarya Dasa
Every year all the ISKCON temples and centers worldwide hold a marathon during the month of December, which corresponds to the Christmas season in the Western world. During that time they profusely sell Srila Prabhupada’s books in order to spread the essence of Vedic wisdom. But on Padayatra India book distribution is a daily ongoing process, in fact it’s the heart of padayatra. Harinama sankirtana and book distribution go hand in hand. During this month we padayatris enhance our book distribution for the pleasure of Srila Prabhupada. This year we were in the state of Karnataka in South India during the December marathon.
School students get inspired by the holy name
On December 17th we were at Subramanya where there is a school named Jnanadeep. The specialty of that school is its daily morning recitation of the Bhagavad-gita by all the students. As the school principal got news that padayatra was in town he personally came to invite us for a small school program in order to chant and also read our Bhagavad- gita As It is to the children. When we reached there we were warmly welcomed by the staff of the school. As we had gone with the cart of Their Lordships all of students assembled in the yard around the cart; the children were amazed to see our big Kankrej oxen with their huge towering horns. They danced with us to the sound of the holy name and many of them took a Bhagavad-gita. The teachers were also very much interested in the program and they also bought Bhagavad -gitas from us. In the evening the children came with their parents for the Gaura arati. The principal had also called newspaper reporters and the next day there was an article about Padayatra India in the well-known local newspapers.
The Lord sends us help in time of need
Sullia (also spelled Sulya) is a beautiful small town and the taluk headquarters in the Dakshina Kannada district. It is surrounded by the evergreen mountains of the Western Ghats range and is located at a distance of 89 Km from Mangalore. As the roads were going through hilly and jungle areas it was very difficult to walk. There were no lights on the road, it was very scary. As we reached the town at 9 pm we tried to communicate with the people there, but nobody could understand our Hindi, and no padayatri spoke Kannada. Finding no place for accommodation we were about to camp out in an open area. It was very cold also, so I was worried about the oxen who would have to stay in the cold all night long.
Suddenly a man came. He was a pharmacist by profession and fortunately he could understand Hindi. He told us to go to the Aayyapa temple. There we met Mr Madhava, who helped us with our accommodation. He was very happy to see us in his town. He had attended the religious convention at Dharmasthali in Udupi and had a desire that padayatra should come to his town. Next day he was with us in nagar sankirtana and he inspired people to buy a Bhagavad-gita. Within just one hour we distributed 500 Bhagavad-gitas, and after that, our stock of Gitas was finished. Then I went to nearby Mangalore and brought more Gitas. At 10.30 pm a few people came and asked for Bhagavad-gita. Mr Madhava had called famous news reporters and the next day news of padayatra were flashed in many newspapers. In Sullia we distributed an amazing 720 Gitas in one day. I thought this was the special mercy of Sri Sri Nitai Gaurasundara during the month of the book marathon. I have the experience that, even though we keep distributing books throughout the year, in December some special events always take place that greatly increase our book distribution scores.
Instant Ratha-yatra and darsana of the holy river Kaveri
From December 22 to 24 we were at Madikeri, a hill station town in Madikeritaluk and a popular tourist destination. It was very cold there, the temperature was going down to about 11° C. Saciputra Dasa, a disciple of Jayapataka Maharaja preaching in that area, welcomed us. He called about 50 Nama-hatta devotees and the next day they organized a Ratha-yatra festival; many people participated in the procession and took books from us. Normally we have our own cooking team, but the devotees insisted on cooking for all of us so our padayatris were free to preach and distribute books. Saciputra Dasa also took us to Talakaveri the source of the holy river Kaveri. The river originates from a spring feeding a tank, which is considered to be a holy place to bathe on special days.The temple there is dedicated to Goddess Kaveriamma.
Buddhist monks enjoy harinama and the Bhagavad-gita
On December 28th we were in the town of Kushalnagar, 34 km from Madikeri. There is a Tibetan Monastery, locally called the Tibet Camp, around 6 kms from Kushalnagar. This Tibetan settlement at Bailkoppa or Baylkuppe is the second largest Tibetan settlement outside Tibet, with over 7,000 monks and students. The 40 feet tall golden Buddha statues are the major attractions. As we went on sankirtana in the area many monks came forward for darsana of our Lordships, which they enjoyed a lot. They were enchanted by our harinama and dancing, and discussed with us the padayatra program and objectives.. They said, ‘we also have dedicated our lives to Lord Buddha, so we are similar.’ They also bought Bhagavad-gitas from us. Thus many books were distributed there. We had many such good experiences during this month of December, by the arrangement of Sri Sri Nitai Gaurasundara.
December book score
Maha big books: 8440
Big books: 356
Medium books: 2
Small books: 1787
Total Books: 10,585
The top 3 book distributors during the month of December