An innovative new project called “Go Matsya” has instigated fast growth in distribution of full sets of Srila Prabhupada’s Srimad-Bhagavatam, and the idea is catching on around the world.
BBT Trustee and Sankirtan Strategist Vaisesika Das created the project, which aims to “preserve Vedic culture through mass distribution and education.” Started in ISKCON Silicon Valley, California in January 2017, it is named after Lord Vishnu’s fish avatar, Matsya, who once saved the Vedas from a demon who tried to steal them.
“There are many people who when they buy the Bhagavatam, would want their friends and relatives to also have a set,” explains Vaisesika. “So we decided that rather than just offering the Bhagavatam, we would offer them the opportunity to help distribute it.”
Devotees explain how this transcendental knowledge can make the world a better place, but also how over time scriptures can become lost. They then tell people how they can help preserve the scriptures.
In a kind of spiritual multi-level marketing approach, the Go Matsya project has three levels. An Advocate supports the cause by simply getting a Srimad-Bhagavatam set and installing it in their home. A Distributor gets a Bhagavatam set for themselves but also recommends getting one to others who they think will be interested. And finally an Organizer actually goes door to door to make other Advocates and Distributors.
A happy Silicon Valley family recieves a full Bhagavatam set
“What we’re really selling is the opportunity to do this highest kind of service,” Vaisesika says.
Go Matsya mostly approaches members of the Indian community, who, in contrast to people enrolled in other, mundane types of multi-level marketing, are delighted to be involved.
“There are very pious Indians all over the world, who are intrigued by this opportunity, because they appreciate the culture they come from and would like to see it preserved – they’re just not sure how,” says Vaisesika. “Some have names such as Dwivedi, Trivedi or Chaturvedi, and come from previous generations who memorized the vedas, so it’s in their blood. They have geat respect for scripture. And when they see that we’re not just presenting a book, but an opportunity to help preserve the Vedic culture, which comes through the cream of the Vedas – the Srimad-Bhagavatam – they’re extremely happy.”
Westerners recently introduced to Krishna consciousness, who are already familiar with it but do not yet have a full set of Bhagavatams, also become involved.
Another family happy to welcome the Srimad Bhagavatam into their lives
ISKCON outreach leaders around the world are already picking up on the project, and it has already spread from Silicon Valley to Chicago, Naperville, Toronto and London. Several hundred full sets of Srimad-Bhagavatam have been sold and installed in people’s homes.
A special campaign called “The Bhadra Campaign,” held on September 5th, further boosted distribution, with devotees selling 117 full sets of Bhagavatams in Silicon Valley on that day alone.
The campaign is based on a statement in the twelveth Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam that: “If on the full moon day of the month of Bhadra one places Srimad-Bhagavatam on a golden throne and gives it as a gift, he will attain the supreme transcendental destination.” The purport further elaborates, “One should place Srimad-Bhagavatam on a golden throne because it is the king of all literature.”
Thus on the day of Bhadra Purnima, devotees ask people to sponsor a Bhagavatam set to give to someone else. To enhance the authenticity of the campaign, they provide a miniature golden throne imported from India, allowing people to place one book on it while giving the set as a gift, thus following the scriptural precept.
The Bhadra Campaign flyer
“For years, we’ve sold hundreds of thousands of Bhagavad-gitas collectively around the world on Gita Jayanti, because of the inspiration that day provides,” Vaisesika says. “Now, we have a day that inspires mass distribution of the Bhagavatam in a similar way.”
The Bhadra Campaign has also piqued interest far and wide. ISKCON leaders in Mumbai, India, are set to launch it in a major way next year, including online readings of the Srimad-Bhagavatam that continue all the way up until Bhadra Purnima.
As far as the overall Go Matsya project, ISKCON guru Devamrita Swami, who has long championed selling full Bhagavatam sets, recently wrote on a GBC conference that the effort would fulfill Srila Prabhupada’s cherished desire.
“I have also heard that you are making plans for a very large order of my books from the BBT to be sold on a door to door basis on the style of the encyclopedia sales,” Prabhupada wrote in January 1977. “If you can do this it will revolutionize our book distribution and afford greater spreading of Krsna Consciousness than any book distribution thus far. I want that every respectable person has a full set of Bhagavatam and Caitanya Caritamrta in his home.”
Why else are devotees so eager to place Srimad-Bhagavatam in people’s homes? Vaisesika explains that the Vedas are not comprehensible in this age, and so the Srimad-Bhagavatam, the mature fruit of Vedic knowledge, was written by Srila Vyasadeva on the order of his spiritual master Narada Muni.
“It is mentioned in many places that the Srimad-Bhagavatam is an incarnation of Krishna, and that especially in this Kali Yuga, it gives people direct association with Krishna in the spiritual world,” Vaisesika says. “Also, when you move the Srimad-Bhagavatam into your life, all negative astrological influences and influences from past karma become diminished, and eclipsed by the power of the Bhagavatam.”
With the increasing popularity of the Go Matsya project, Vaisesika comments: “What I see happening is a growing awareness within ISKCON in the importance of placing full sets of Prabhupada’s books in people’s homes, as well as the means to do so. There’s also a recognition that it’s something people are waiting for – they want something meaningful in their lives.”
“As Victor Hugo said, ‘There’s nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come,” Vaisesika concludes. “And Go Matsya’s time has come.”[ book-distribution ] [ matsya ] [ sankirtan ]