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Chirstmas Book Marthon

By the end of 1972 the Hare Krishna mission in America is an explosive dynamic movement that is beginning to inundate the world, as predicted by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Traveling parties are being dispatched from practically every temple, inspired by the Radha-Damodara traveling bus. Ramesvara is compiling the monthly BBT newsletter in the mood of transcendental competition. His writing churns up excitement amongst devotees. "Book distribution continues to soar to all time highs, as more than 25 traveling parties roam the countryside, affecting the lives of hundreds of thousands of conditioned souls! Since mid-September we have distributed over 15,000 complete Krishna trilogy sets! And since mid-August we have distributed over 9000 soft Bhagavad-gitas and over 950 hard Bhagavad-gitas. Macmillan too has completely sold out (20,000 Gitas sold commercially) and is reprinting large quantities for the Christmas rush!" During this period before Christmas, a new program begins. It will soon become the standard for every temple - the December book distribution marathon.

Ramesvara: It was on December 22, 1972, that we accidentally discovered the Christmas marathon in Los Angeles. We noticed a great increase in the number of people in the stores, which were staying open sometimes until midnight. We were having an intense competition and prizes in Los Angeles, and it was building up to a fever pitch. I was in front of Zody's in Burbank. So after distributing madly all day long, it was about ten o'clock at night. I had collected about $350 and had distributed 650 magazines. I was convinced this was the new world record in ISKCON and nobody could possibly beat me this day. Even though the store was open until midnight, it had started slowing off, and I was thinking, Maybe I should go back. Undoubtedly everyone is back already. No one has ever stayed out past eight o'clock. They'll all be waiting up for me. I shouldn't keep them waiting up. So in this way my mind was convincing me to go back. I finally arrived at the temple at about ten minutes to twelve, and I burst into the sankirtan room. But the only person there was the secretary, Madhukanta. I said, "Oh, no, everyone went to bed?" He said, "No. Nobody is back yet." I was the first one back! That was the discovery of the first Christmas marathon. It was completely unplanned. No one had instructed anyone to stay out that late. We just did it spontaneously. So in this way we performed the 3-day marathon, the 22nd, 23rd, and 24th of December. During this 3-day period devotees in Los Angeles distribute almost 18,000 pieces of literature. Srila Prabhupada is in Bombay when he receives the news. He writes Ramesvara, "It is scarcely believable that more than 17,000 books could have been sold by one temple in three days! This indicates to me that people are at last becoming a little serious about this Krishna consciousness movement in your country." On the same day, Prabhupada dictates a letter of congratulations to Karandhar, his GBC man in Los Angeles. "I could never have thought it was possible to distribute so many of our literatures. Therefore I can understand it is simply Krishna's blessing for your sincerely working on His behalf."

Similarly, in Boston the book distribution results are astounding since Trai Das has taken over as temple president. Prabhupada writes him from Bombay. I am so much pleased to hear from you that the book distribution has increased five times than before! Similarly, I have heard from Chicago and other places also that they are increasing five times than before. That is very encouraging to me. You are, I can understand, very much enthusiastic to endeavor big things on Krishna's behalf, and all of the new students there at Boston center are also feeling enthusiasm from your example. That is the business of leader: He must be himself always enthusiastic and inspire others to be always enthusiastic. Then he is real leader. And that enthusiastic mood is maintained when everyone is always without fail chanting 16 rounds daily, rising early for mangala-arati, reading books, preaching. [Letter to Trai Das - December 27, 1972] The movement is also having great success in New York since most of the Road Show devotees have now become part of the temple. Prabhupada writes Bali Mardan Goswami after receiving his accounting of the financial position of the temple for the last six months. I am most pleased to note from that income statement that since June your monthly income has doubled and that for six months you have collected $245,000. That is very much astonishing to me, and I can understand from seeing these figures just how much suitable you are for heading up the responsible position of senior man in the New York temple affairs. [Letter to Bali Mardan - December 31, 1972] With such outstanding results can anything stop the growth of the Hare Krishna movement?

Reference: Radha Damodara Vilasa by Vaiyasaki Dasa