Sastra-Dana, the US program that places donated copies of Srila Prabhupada’s books in public locations where they are properly kept and read, is now supplementing its main course with a lighter snack: its own full-color newspaper.
Sastra-Dana already stocks books in libraries, schools, motels, hotels, hospital waiting rooms, government offices, coffee shops, and nail and hair salons. But its newspaper, 16 Rounds, could find an even larger audience.
“Newspaper racks can be found at all street corners in every city and town in the US,” says editor Mahat-Tattva Dasa. “We set out to different locations in San Diego to see how much they are in demand, and wherever we went – restaurants, bars, grocery stores, yoga studios, clothing stores, and more – we found people reading newspapers.”
Sastra Dana staff got the idea when they realized how many religious and spiritual organizations use papers to spread their message and connect with an audience. At their base in San Diego alone, Mahat-Tattva noticed many Christian and Jewish newspaper racks at stores and other secular locations. And alternative community publication The San Diego City Beat prints and sells 50,000 copies a week.
“I thought, if they can do it, why can't we?” Mahat-Tattva says.
The resulting 16 Rounds newspaper, based directly upon Srila Prabhupada’s teachings and aimed at the 16 to 35 age group, is already making an impact on the people of San Diego. “It’s only just out, but already I seem to see people reading it everywhere,” says Mahat-Tattva. “A group in the nearby town of Ocean Beach, a thirty-year old man walking out of a clothing store, and most memorably a guy sitting in his Mercedes Benz, his shiny, expensive shoes sticking out through the car window, his seat reclined way back, his expression serious as he contemplated the content of our paper.”
Readers are already sending in letters, with one commenting, “I’m halfway through the first issue of 16 Rounds and it’s a pleasure to read. I enjoyed the article on evidence of reincarnation, and I think any intelligent person who reads it will see the logic in reincarnation.”
ISKCON book distribution strategist Vaisesika Dasa thinks the paper will go a long way. “I found 16 Rounds to be one of the most useful preaching tools I’ve ever seen. It’s kept everywhere young people hang out, it’s topical, it’s succinct, and it takes them to the next step.”
The next step is to read Prabhupada’s books and visit San Diego’s “Krishna Lounge,” where every Thursday at 7pm guests can “relax and take a break from the material stresses of life” by chanting, eating a vegetarian feast, and taking part in spiritual conversation.
To contribute to 16 Rounds in content, services, or funds, visit www.sastradana.com/donate.