This last Live to Give campaign from the BBT ran from September 21st, 2021 through January 7th, 2022. Informally known as the December Marathon, communities across the globe come together to share and distribute the Bhagavad Gita in a collective effort. Each year, a global goal is created to enthuse, inspire and measure our successes in sharing this wisdom. This year, the goal was placed at 2.2 million Bhagavad Gitas.
Several devotees around the world participated. Many full-time sankirtan devotees, traveling sankirtan parties participated as well as families, children, and congregations members participated part-time and weekends for this occasion. This year’s campaign tried many new approaches to preaching and book distribution:
Vaisesika Das, the Global Direct for the BBT – Marketing, Communications and Innovations Team reflected upon the Live to Give Campaign, “It’s been an amazing experience, one that we will never forget how everyone rose to the occasion together. And how we all cooperated with so many cultural, time, temperature, resources political differences. But it’s actually really fun trying to work around all the odds and we’re discovering that work arounds lead to turn arounds, Never make ultimatums always make workarounds and make it work somehow for the operation.”
We are excited to report that the Live to Give Campaign 2021 was beyond successful. With 36 countries and 230 communities participating, the goal of 2.2 million Bhagavad Gitas was smashed with a resounding final number of 2,805,444 copies shared across the globe!
Vaisesika Das shares his thoughts on reaching this goal, “We feel that in the process of doing it, we made breakthroughs in the way that we worked together as a team internationally. Devotees were surprised how good it felt to work all over the world together towards a common goal, and we were able to peak inside and some of Prabhupada’s vision – of how the world could actually be inundated with transcendental literature – in a much bigger way than we have done in the past. It made us feel that our expectations for increasing Book distribution – that we are free to expand those expectations – as much as we like, as long as we are willing to work together, plan for it and incrementally improve the process – we feel Lord Caitanya’s presence in the process and we are very certain now that He will carry whatever we lack and preserve what we have, because Its His mission – he wants it done, Srila Prabhupada wanted it to be done and all we have to do is work together and be enthusiastic and very organized.”
Saumyamayi Devi Dasi, New Zealand
One of the many stories from the streets and carparks of New Zealand
Today I was getting rejected literally the whole day and then this is the last person I approached. I nonchalantly introduced the books and asked for a donation and he said “yeah I know these books. I’ve read Chant and be happy, Easy journey to other planets and Hiding in unnatural happiness” and turns out he got them from monks 2 years ago and loves them! I gave him the Gita and he said he had been really wanting this book and had been waiting to receive it. He knew we don’t sell them at shops so for the last few months since finishing the others, he had been waiting for the day that the Gita would come to him. So I said today’s the day and he happily took it. I said today I was praying to meet someone who was looking for the books and he said “yeah I’m always praying too with the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra.” I gave him the mantra card and he said “yeah ever since I found out about this mantra a few years ago it’s always going thru my mind. I’m always chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, when I’m working, driving, waiting, bored- I always chant Hare Kṛṣṇa!” He said he had heard of the mantra years ago and always wanted to know what it meant so when he got the books he found out more and since then has been chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa. I then asked if he had beads and he said “Nah but I want them, I can’t find any.” So I went to the van and came back to find him already reading the Gita. “You like it?” “Yeah, I’ve wanted to read this for so long! I’m so grateful!” Then I put the beads in his hand and he lit up and I said now you can chant in the morning on beads. He said “yeaaah japa!” So I showed him where to put fingers and we both chanted the mantra together, it was blissful. We exchanged contacts and he hopes to come to mantra lounge program this Friday for the first time.
From ISV-California, USA
Tim and Vickie (standing on right and left of HG Vaisesika Maharaj respectively). They received Bhagavad Gita As It Is during December Marathon, 2020, when we hanged them on every door in our apartment complex. Tim was very happy to receive Bhagavad Gita as a gift along with cookies prasadam. Being a yoga & meditation practitioner both of them appreciated the gift. Three months later, Tim left a note on my door along with very nice vegan cookies as a gift.
In the note, Tim shared deep appreciation for Bhagavad Gita gift. He asked in the note how can he learn to chant Hare Krishna. We visited Tim and Vickie with a copy of Chant and be happy and beads. We also invited them to Bhakti community sessions by His Grace Vaisesika Prabhu. They started joining sessions from March 2020 every Monday and Thursday. Tim also started chanting Hare Krishna.
[ Both Tim and Vickie would eagerly wait for Bhakti Community sessions. They would drink the nectarean sessions delivered by His Grace Vaisesika prabhu. They would also ask relevant questions. I would go see them once in 1-2 months. However, we would exchange texts after every Bhakti community session to share our reflections. As the time progressed, I shared spiritual gifts like prasadam, chanting beads, Srimad Bhagavatam with them. I received presents like organic fruits, track pants, bunnie and more. Tim asked me how he could set up an altar. To keep it simple, I gifted them a picture of Sri Sri Gaura Nitai. I also gave little details on how to offer bhoga. By Sep, 2021, they started offering food to Whom Vickie fondly would address as “Nimai Nitai”. Remember, they have never met any devotee except on Zoom Bhakti Community sessions.
Vaisesika Das introduced Tim and Vickie to deity worship in the temple, Guru Puja as well as our priests devotees in temple.]
Tim and Vickie hold Srila Prabhupada in high esteem. They were deeply touched by the whole experience. They even bowed down to Srila Prabhupada and deities and to HG Vaisesika Maharaja. Both of them are eager to spread Krishna consciousness. In 2021 when they heard about the drive to distribute Bhagavad Gita’s as Christmas gifts, Tim was touched and he wanted to give others what he received. They picked up 3 cases of Bhagavad Gita, packed them with thank you cards, Prasadam cookies and they distributed to their friends and some they put them on doors hoping some sincere seeker would be transformed. They are distributing books to their family and friends, and also inviting them to Bhakti Community.
As the next year begins, relationships are being built with those that have received a Bhagavad Gita. Several follow-up programs are being initiated around the world. Vaisesika Prabhu states, “Our intention is to connect the two – first contact with follow-up so that they are one and the same process – because there are so many sincere people who are reading the books and then need a very accommodating place to go – so that they can start their practice and continue it throughout their life”. In North America, Bhakti Community is offering ongoing classes for newcomers as a follow-up program for book distribution. By carefully nurturing the newcomers, giving them the right dose of spiritual information, now many of them are joining the book distribution teams to give others what they received.
Throughout the year, the BBT – Marketing, Communications and Innovations Team has various campaigns highlighting Srila Prabhupada’s books. To learn more information about these campaigns, please visit the following links to social media:
May 15, 2022
Sunanda Das, Temple of the Vedic Planetarium