“Book distribution is saṅkīrtana. Kīrtana means ‘glorification’ and sam means “complete.” Glorification of Kṛṣṇa is complete when many devotees participate. Also, complete glorification means glorifying not only Kṛṣṇa’s name but also His form, His qualities, His pastimes, His entourage, His paraphernalia — everything related to Him. Distribution of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s books is complete glorification of Kṛṣṇa because Śrīla Prabhupāda’s books glorify Kṛṣṇa fully – His name, form, qualities, pastimes, and so on.”
HH Girirāj Swami
Prabhupāda said “Books are the basis, utility is the principle, preaching is the essence, purity is the force.” Book distribution represents the mood of the gopīs of Vṛndāvana. The gopīs don’t serve Kṛṣṇa directly but say to their girlfriends “No! You serve, You serve Kṛṣṇa.” In the same way, when we distribute books we express the mood of the gopīs, which is the highest form of love. We give everyone these books so that their dormant love for Kṛṣṇa is awakened so that they can serve Him. In the Bhagavad Gītā, Kṛṣṇa says “There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be one more dear.” (18.69), referring to anyone who gives this supreme secret of bhakti to others.
When preaching to an individual, they may give you a few minutes of their time but there is only so much you can tell them about Kṛṣṇa consciousness. If you manage to give them Prabhupāda’s books, they will be able to learn so much more by taking Śrīla Prabhupāda’s association. Our lives have literally lit up and we have become so enlivened as a result of these transcendental books so it is only natural to give to others that which has made us so blissful. Śrīla Prabhupāda said book distribution is “bṛhad mṛdaṅga”. When you play mṛdaṅga, it is heard next door but when you distribute books the glories of Kṛṣṇa are heard all over the world.
On my first saṅkīrtan in Shepherd’s Bush, I was very much looking forward to the experience but at the same time, I was quite anxious about how to give a spiritual book to a busy Londoner. However, with the thought that I am not actually giving the book, but I am just an instrument in this service, and if I make the endeavour then Kṛṣṇa and Prabhupāda will act through me to give the book, some people were able to acquire this invaluable literature.
There was also live kīrtana to attract the people and passers-by got to hear the holy names of the Lord. I also played mṛdaṅga for a little while when I wasn’t distributing books. At the end, the whole group (about fifteen of us) went on harināma and in this way, the holy name and Kṛṣṇa’s books were spread all over Shepherd’s Bush.
Saṅkīrtan is an experience not to be missed. It is what the Hare Kṛṣṇa movement is essentially about, so I encourage everyone to participate, experience the mercy and take part in Mahāprabhu’s mission to spread the holy name in all the towns and villages of the world.
– Shyam Mehta, studying Dentistry at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry