On January 24th, New Vrindaban’s past, present, and future sankirtan devotees came together in the first sankirtan meeting in over ten years. Their purpose was to celebrate the success of last December’s “Live to Give” campaign and to create a plan for how to move book distribution forward in 2021. Knowing Srila Prabhupada’s deep desire to spread Krishna consciousness through the distribution of transcendental literature, devotees are especially inspired at the dawn of the 125th anniversary of his birth to touch the hearts of thousands of people with Srila Prabhupada’s books.
The meeting kicked off with an ice-breaker activity which set the tone for teamwork and fun, which is what book distribution is all about. Jaya Krsna Prabhu was then asked by the facilitators Bhaktins Sharaniya and Sarah to honor all those who participated in the “Live to Give” campaign with beautiful, personalized certificates and gift cards made by Nikunja Vilasini Devi Dasi. Devotees felt appreciated for their contributions and encouraged to do more. A goal-setting session ensued in which devotees were inspired to aim high for the pleasure of Srila Prabhupada. The targets they set for this year are to distribute 10,000 Bhagavad-gitas, 50 Srimad-Bhagavatam and Caitanya Caritamrta sets, and 125 Srila Prabhupada Lilamrta sets.
The next question, of course, was: how are we going to achieve these goals, especially during a pandemic? After a brief and lively brainstorm, three focal areas were identified, and the team split into breakout groups for discussion. The first group, focusing on promotion of book distribution, saw the need to start with “in-reach” in our own community. When devotees feel nourished in their own Krishna consciousness, naturally they will want to distribute it. They suggested making promotional videos for adults and kids alike, focusing on a different theme each month, for example, Caitanya Caritamrta for Gaura Purnima, getting the Pilgrim Department more involved in the sankirtan mission, and going out on weekly harinams to bridge the gap between the devotees and the general public.
The next group discussed how to turn our New Vrindaban devotees into Sankirtan Superheroes by equipping them with the tools for success. This included developing a simple tele-kirtan script, setting up kids’ book tables, posting weekly updates on social media, doing regular devotee care check-ups, and holding Monthly Sankirtan Festivals (MSF) which get everyone out there distributing books in an organized, dynamic, and enjoyable way.
The third group, called Brhat-mrdanga, explored avenues for expanding the out-reach far and wide. From Art galleries to Indian stores, from celebrities to children, the potential venues and audiences seemed almost unlimited. Devotees suggested distributing Bhagavad-gitas to libraries, complementing book tables on college campuses with kirtan and prasadam distribution, and using QR codes to link people to a wider range of information and opportunities to connect with Krishna.
It was encouraging to see devotees old and new come together from different departments and combine their expertise and vision into an aligned book distribution effort. Throughout the meeting, Jaya Krsna Prabhu’s enthusiasm was contagious, and all who participated were extremely enlivened to see such committed support coming from the top level of management. To keep the ball rolling, the second meeting was scheduled for just a week later. The group will reconvene to expand on their ideas, delegate devotees implement them, and make solid plans to get out there distributing books.