By Madhava Smullen
Historically in ISKCON, the only book distribution marathon was held in December, leaving the rest of the year rather quiet on the book distribution front in many parts of the world. Recently, however, Global Duty Officer for book distribution Vaisesika Dasa and the BBT Marketing, Communications and Innovations team have been introducing new campaigns throughout the year to give devotees special impetus to reach goals in disseminating transcendental literature.
These now include Be A Gardener from January to Gaura Purnima (March), in which devotees focus on distributing Sri Caitanya-caritamrita sets; the Bhadra or Go to Goloka campaign, which runs from the day after Gaura Purnima until Bhadra Purnima Day (September 20th in the US this year) and focuses on Srimad-Bhgavatam sets; and Live to Give, or the Prabhupada Marathon, from September 22nd to the end of the year, which includes Gita Jayanti. These campaigns are generally first launched in Vaisesika Dasa’s home temple of ISKCON Silicon Valley in California, and gradually gather steam worldwide.
This year the Bhaktivinod Thakur campaign runs from May 26th to July 10th (Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur’s Disappearance Day). It provides an interim point for devotees around the world to check their progress in the Bhadra campaign, and to celebrate the genius of the Vaishnava Acharya Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur.
Bhaktivinod Thakur is known for effecting the resurgence of Gaudiya Vaishnavism in India in the late 19th and early 20th century. He is also credited, along with his son Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati – Srila Prabhupada’s guru – with pioneering the propagation of Gaudiya Vaishnavism in the West and its eventual global spread.
“Srila Prabhupada mentions Bhaktivinod Thakur many, many times as being instrumental in bringing Lord Chaitanya’s movement to the world,” says Vaisesika Dasa. In one September 3rd, 1971 lecture, Prabhupada commented, “We should adore, we should worship Bhaktivinod Thakur, because in the modern age he reintroduced the disciplic succession.”
The Bhaktivinod Thakur campaign first originated at ISKCON Silicon Valley in 2007, when devotees there held their first Monthly Sankirtana Festival. “It was around the theme of Bhaktivinod Thakur, and culminated on his Disappearance Day,” Vaisesika says. “And we noticed that by praying to him, singing his bhajans, and taking shelter of him, as per the instructions of Srila Prabhupada, we were noticeably empowered. And the results were flowing by his mercy, as Prabhupada said they would.”