Now approximately forty million of Srila Prabhupada's books have been printed and distributed in more than thirty languages. What are these books actually?
When he began them in India, one of his associates asked him, "Why bother? Aren't there enough Vedic scriptures?" But most of the Vedas had never been translated into English and given elaborate commentary. His spiritual master had asked him to preach to the people in the West. Srila Prabhupada felt that with these books he could create a revolution in consciousness. He had faith in the potency of the words of Krsna.
The Bhagavad-gita had already been translated dozens of times into English. Again the question was asked, this time by an American woman: "What is the need for another Bhagavad-gita in English?" As Srila Prabhupada explained, it had never before been given in the spirit in which Krsna Himself had spoken the Bhagavad-gita. It had never been translated and explained by a pure devotee of Krsna. He felt there was a great need to deliver the Bhagavad-gita as it is, because despite so many Bhagavad-gitas in English, no one had ever become a devotee of Krsna by reading them.
Srila Prabhupada wrote more than sixty books English translations and commentaries on the Vedic scriptures: Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Srimad-Bhagavatam in twenty-nine volumes, Caitanya-caritamrta (describing the life and teachings of Lord Caitanya) in seventeen volumes, The Nectar of Devotion, the Krsna books, and many, many more.
In America alone, more than eight million books have been distributed. Who has them? Where are all these books? Many are owned by people who bought them not so much because they went out thinking, "Today I will buy a translation of the Vedas,"but because they were approached by Hare Krsna devotees and handed these books. Forty million, almost all passed out by the ubiquitous devotee book distributors, on streets or in parking lots or airports. Forty million books spread all over the world in people's homes, on bookshelves. (Srila Prabhupada said he wanted a Krsna book a collection of the pastimes of Krsna in story form in every home.) And they are in virtually all the public and university libraries.
The books are scholarly, deep philosophy. Too deep? Even the greatest sages can't know everything about Krsna. Srimad-Bhagavatam is the science of God. But Srila Prabhupada has made it simple, explaining it just as he heard it from his spiritual master and just as he has experienced it in his personal realization of Krsna. Once a devotee related to Srila Prabhupada that often people said they admired the books' Sanskrit verses but thought it all a little too deep for themselves. On hearing this, Srila Prabhupada reflected and replied, "Yes, Srimad-Bhagavatam is very deep."
And yet these books work. I know a policeman in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, who faithfully reads Srila Prabhupada's books; over the months he has given up smoking, intoxicants, and even meat-eating, and he regularly chants the Hare Krsna mantra.
Many books are at first put aside on the shelf and not read, or they are passed from place to place unread … but finally someone starts to read one. A marine in the barracks, a service station attendant with time on his hands, a fashion model in Denmark, a hermit on Vancouver Island, a student writing a report.
To people who join the Krsna consciousness movement, these books are their bible. But to compare other scriptures to the Vedic literatures is like comparing the pocket dictionary to the unabridged international dictionary. Look up "the soul" or "life after death," or look up an explanation for creation, or try to inquire how God is great in any of the world's other scriptures you will get scanty information compared to what Srila Prabhupada has given.
To the atheists, to the various exploiters of humanity, and to the sensualists, these books are formidable opposition. But what can the opponents do? It is too late: Srila Prabhupada's books are already there, and they are working, as the Srimad-Bhagavatam says, "to create a revolution in the impious civilization." The media's barrage against the Hare Krsna movement as a dangerous, mindless cult has certainly affected many people, but it is superficial propaganda. It will pass, like last year's newspapers, whereas the message of the Gita and the Bhagavatam will not pass. Rather, the knowledge in these books will become more and more effective. And to those books that have already been distributed, more and more are being added every day by sincere devotees who continue to distribute them.
Srila Prabhupada used to say that if a person reads one page of these books, his life could become perfect. Open one at random, and see what they say. From Srimad-Bhagavatam, First Canto: "When there are too many materialistic activities by the people in general all over the world, there is no wonder that a person or nation attacks another person or nation on slight provocation. That is the rule of this Age of Kali, or quarrel. The atmosphere is already polluted with corruption of all descriptions, and everyone knows it well…. The quarrels are not due to the issues in question but to the polluted atmosphere of this age: systematically there is propaganda by a section of the people to stop glorification of the name and fame of the Supreme Lord. Therefore, there is a great need to spread the message of Srimad-Bhagavatam all over the world to do the supermost good as well as to bring about the desired peace in the world." SDG