During the second week of April (7-13th), Cochabamba, Bolivia, South America received a visit from five representatives of the Spanish anguage branch of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. ISKCON News had the opportunity to interview the five participants and get to know about the plans and surprises that await Latin America and Spain in 2014.
The Spanish language BBT meets every year in different parts of Latin America. “Our first meeting was in Chosica (Peru) in 2006, ” explains Hanuman das (BBT trustee and Director of BBT Spain-Portugal), “there we first met as BBT Latin America and Spain,” a meeting that inaugurated a new era in the service of Srila Prabhupada’s publishing company in the Spanish language.
The meeting this year was held at the headquarters of the new BBT’s store house in Bolivia; a beautiful home located fifteen minutes from downtown Cochabamba, residence of Mathuresh das, temple president of Cochabamba; a place which also operates as Villa Vaikuntha. “We intend to increase the enthusiasm for book distribution where we go and also a place where we can stay focused and calm,” says Aravindra das Director of BBT Central America. “As BBT we want to inspire more sankirtan whereever we go and we also have virtual meetings when is necessary.”
This year the meeting was attended by Hanuman das, Aravindra das, Nandakumar das (BBT’s Director, Brazil), Caturama das (BBT’s Co Director, Andean Zone) and Gaura Vani devi dasi (Director dept Spanish Language BBT). Lamenting the absence of a guest representing Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay Chile, the five participants discussed more than thirty issues, covering a wide variety of areas: organization, management evaluation of each office, programming impressions projects editing, projection translations, trademark, organization, accounting, etc.
The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust is organized language-based, therefore there are several BBTS in the world: India, North Europe, Mediterranean Europe, America, Australia and Latin America (including Spain and Portugal).
The BBT for the Spanish language works since 1972 and is headed by Hanuman das who is the trustee of the language and the link between this specific BBT and BBT Global: “There was a time when Venezuela was world champion in book distribution” informs Hanuman, “this means that the potential of book distribution in the region is very large. We just have to try to keep book distribution alive.”
Currently, the BBT for the Spanish language is organized into five units: 1) Mexico; 2) Central America (with its office in Panama and also includes Venezuela and Colombia); 3) Andean Region (Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia); 4) the Southern Cone (Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile and Argentina where the office is); and 5 ) the Office of Spain which also includes Portugal.
According to Hanuman das, there are more than fifteen thousand devotees of ISKCON in Latin America registered, “this means that although we may not have many resources, we are very rich in human capital” continues to explain that the planning meeting this year sought to unite the members to work together in the areas of education, graphic design, technology and book distribution.
Although this BBT began over forty years ago, it is just seven years ago that a process of unification of efforts started. In Latin America the same books were printed in different offices and each office ran separately with monetary and energy costs: “This meant an unnecessary waste of resources, efforts and time” Hanuman das explains, “for example, there were many different impressions of the same book, whereas now we work together, we can print larger quantities of the same book achieving lower costs and improving the quality of each of them.”
According to Gaura Vani devi dasi there are many positive aspects in the process of globalization within Latin American BBT, some of them are “that the work that one does not is not done again unnecessarily. We make only one translation per book. It’s much better now. We also enrich each other in terms of culture, knowledge and wisdom. At the production level this process has shown to be extremely positive. And at the distribution level is also being very positive” not least because this process of unification involves the standardization of various systems: “administrative, productive and accounting systems are also more united.”
This year, the effort to unite and coordinate the work of the Spanish speaking countries in America included Brazil, the Giant of the South, whose BBT representative is Nandakumar das, “”In Brazil we live as in a box. It is a large box but is usually isolated from the rest of the continent” he explains, “with this coordination effort we all are one. We can strengthen each other, therefore globalization of BBT in the region is very good for us too” asserts Nandakumar, who also explains the disadvantages of maintaining Brazil as a separate universe within the continent: “we’re not in sync with the changes that are happening out there. We are always alone.” This, despite the fact that the Brazil BBT is considered a leader in terms of sales strategy and market opening, there “90% Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad Gitas are sold in national (national, large) bookstore chains along with the Nectar of Devotion and Nectar of Instruction” celebrates Hanuman das during a presentation on the giant of the South.
Srimad Bhagavatam NEW EDITION. BBT has finally signed the contract to print a new edition of the most awaited Ten First Cantos of Srila Prabhupada’s Srimad Bhagavatam in Spanish. This new print will arrive in Latin America at the end of 2014.
New storehouse in Ecuador. BBT has confirmed the opening of a new store house in Ecuador this year.
New BBT office in Chile. BBT has confirmed the opening of a new office in Santiago de Chile (Chile) from 2014. This facility will process of receiving newly printed books from Asia (mainly India and China) to South America.
Bolivia continues Sankirtan marathons. This activity is promoted by the Spanish BBT, started on 2011 and has received sakirtaners from all over Latin America very year since then. It has helped to increase the book distribution in the Central Andean country by 150%, usually occurs during the whole month of September (Spring season in the region).
ILAEV Sankirtan oriented Shastric School in Mexico. A very successful project held in Cueramaro, México by Aravindra and Gaura Vani (married couple) has already graduated more than a hundred students since the school’sopening.
Central America Bus Tour. As part of the training received in ILVS, students can take part ina Bus Tour in Central America. It will take place during August starting from Mexico.
New Publishing Company in Brazil. Sankirtan booksis a very creative and original initiative with various years of experience has become a model to be emulated by Spanish speaking countries of the region.
Jan 22, 2023
Bhaktivedanta Institute for Higher Studies