Fortunate People, an organization that keeps in touch with those who receive Srila Prabhupada’s books on the street, has added an inspirational new feature to its Facebook page: videos of first timers chanting the Hare Krishna mantra.
Fortunate People was launched in May 2013 when Shaktyavesha Avatar Das, a London-based book distributor, saw a possible answer to a major problem in ISKCON book distribution – follow-up.
“We are sowing so many seeds, but we are so poor at harvesting them,” commented ISKCON guru Jayadvaita Swami.
“We’re distributing hundreds of thousands of books,” Shaktyavesha said before starting the project, “But we don’t see, at least in the UK, many people coming back.”
Shaktyavesha began asking people he met on the streets of London to “Like” the Fortunate People Facebook page on their smartphones on the spot just after receiving a book. He also handed out Fortunate People business cards for those who didn’t have smartphones, so they could like the page on their computers later.
The page grew from 100 followers to over 2,000 today. On it, an “online care team” of mature devotees gently connect with newcomers, make friends, and try to make the book they just bought relevant and appealing to them. They also introduce them to various aspects of Krishna conscious culture.
A particularly attractive aspect of the page has been the photos Shaktyavesha posts of people just after they received Prabhupada’s books.
“When I was distributing books on the street,” he says, “I would show the photos to people, and they would warm to the shining, happy faces so much that they’d take a book too.”
Now, Shaktyavesha and other London book distributors have taken things to a new level.
“During this December’s book distribution marathon, we’re investing a little more love and care into those favorable souls we meet on the street, asking them to chant the maha-mantra,” he says. “We also film their first chant, in an effort to spread love and peace all over the world.”
Shaktyavesha is inviting his Facebook friends to join in by distributing a book to a person new to Krishna consciousness – “They can be a friend or a stranger” – and right after that introducing them to chanting, filming it, and uploading it to the Fortunate People Facebook page.
“You can then nominate three other friends to join this loving Hare Krishna network,” he says. “You’re guaranteed the most rewarding experience!”
Once there are enough clips, Shaktyavesha, an award-winning filmmaker, plans to create a December marathon video of at least 108 people chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra for the first time.
“The project has already given so much inspiration to local UK devotees and devotees worldwide,” he says.
To watch the videos and for more info, visit https://www.facebook.com/fortunatepeoplesmile/
Aug 06, 2022
Brahmatirtha das Director, Bhaktivedanta Institute for Higher Studies