IT RAINS BTG'S ALL OVER KOLHAPUR
The city of Kolhapur has been witness to many major political events that shaped the history of Maharashrra. The city recently added another feather to its cap – a spiritual one this time. During the recently held 'Sneha Sammelan' (see BTG April 2007), the devotees from this town in southern Maharashtra had expressed an ardent desire to secure a record number of BTG subscriptions as part of a 'BTG Marathon'. And with the arrival of Nrsimha Caturdasi in May, they indeed stood up to their words. 140 enthusiastic congregation devotees toiled hard for two months. And the result: a whopping 3500 subscriptions!
Rupa Vilas Dasa informs, "We had originally set a target of 1000 subscriptions for the month of May. But as the drive gained momentum, there was no stopping us. Waves of surprise would sway us daily when we would hear the daily accounts of devotees striving for more and more. It is then that we decided to aim straight for the stars."
Many elderly devotees like Gandhari Devi Dasi, who couldn't venture out, were not to be left behind and contributed by using the phone. Their enthusiasm proved beyond doubt that devotional service is really a function of the soul, not the body. Others, like Shri Joshi, heard about this endeavour from their friends and immediately decided to jump on the bandwagon. It had only been two months since they had started attending the weekly program at the local temple, but not to be left behind, they managed to get more than 50 subscriptions.
Vrndavana Ananda Dasa adds, "Since this (drive) was something that we ourselves had pledged to, we were bound to perform extraordinarily to prove ourselves. There was no question of doing something ordinary. We had to show that Kolhapur will always be special when it comes to distributing BTG's. And the final number, I think, says it all." It does.
All this was accomplished by devotees whilst taking care of their usual day-to-day duties. Mothers had to cook, and fathers had to work for their families. Indeed, looking at the fervour of these devotees, one can understand that the residents of Kolhapur didn't have much of a choice but to comply.
To commemorate this outstanding achievement, the India BTG team celebrated a special function on the 19 July, when all the participants of this outstanding effort were honoured by a personal gift. The gifts distributed were in line with the achievements of the participants; some received a Deity of Lord Sri Krsna, while some received a sturdy travelling bag as a reward.
However, the story would be incomplete without a mention of the man-behind-it-all. Shri Anand Gosavi, father of Vitthal Deva Dasa, member of BTG Marathi team, provided back end support for all the devotees out on the field. In fact, he set up a small office of sorts at his home. As the devotees secured subscriptions, the reporting would take place here at me end of each day. It wasn't easy keeping track of who helped whom to become a member. One look at the mountain of letters on the desk of Mr Gosavi and one can make out the activity that must have gone on here during the said period. With a smile on his face, Mr Gosavi shrugs off any recognition, "This is what I should be doing anyway!" Hearing this brings a smile of contentment to your face. Mr Gosavi was felicitated with a special award of a shawl and a coconut, as is the tradition in this part of the country. Everyone present couldn't agree less about the importance of his selfless service in making this herculean effort successful.
So, next time someone needs inspiration to distribute BTG, he can head straight to Kolhapur – it offers much more than an eager citizenry; it presents the example of a community who, bound together by love and service, broke all boundaries to distribute Srila Prabhupada's magazine to one and all. Other cities of India, are you listening?
Compiled by Nandadulal Dasa