Bhrigupati Dasa has spent thirty of his thirty-four years in ISKCON selling Srila Prabhupada’s works. He’s distributed 200,000 books, collected over $500,000, and has been the top distributor in North America four times.
At the 2005 Gaura Purnima Festival in Mayapur, he was awarded the Global Excellence Award for book distribution.
So what set Bhrigupati Dasa on his long and illustrious spiritual career? It began in 1973, the way most Krishna conscious journeys do—with one of Prabhupada’s books. On his way back home to the Bronx one evening, Bhrigupati was intercepted in the subway station by a devotee brandishing Teachings of Lord Caitanya.
From the moment he opened it, he felt so inspired that he read the book without pause throughout his train ride, while walking to his house, while sitting propped up in bed until he finally finished it at 2 a.m. the next morning.
The next day, determined to lay his hands on one of those “Srimad-Bhagavatams” mentioned in the book, Bhrigupati gathered his life savings of thirty-three dollars and returned to the subway station. Sure enough, another devotee approached him, handed him a rose and asked for a donation.
In one swift motion, Bhrigupati took the rose, handed over the thirty-three bucks, and asked, “How many Srimad-Bhagavatams could you give me for this?” When the devotee had finished staring in shock, he handed Bhrigupati three books and invited him to the Sunday Feast.
“I started off in a chanting party, occasionally handing out Back to Godhead magazines and small books to bystanders,” Bhrigupati says. “It wasn’t long before I had realized that I was distributing more than chanting, and moved on to full-time book distribution.”
Through the years of service that followed and the challenges that came with them—such as tackling different cultures and worldviews in Australia and England—Bhrigupati simply stuck with it, feeling Krishna working with him and helping him along the way.
He advises new book distributors to do the same. “I meditate on the Bhagavad-gita, as if I’m Arjuna and Krishna is talking to me,” he says. “It’s a personal reciprocation with Krishna, and it constantly yields miracles, without fail.”
One difficult day, for example, Bhrigupati approached a young woman who said that she wanted a book but didn’t have any money on her, so he’d have to wait until her boyfriend arrived.
“I was skeptical,” he says. “I thought the boyfriend might never turn up, and if he did, he’d probably just refuse the book.” But minutes later, a brand new Rolls Royce pulled up, and out stepped a smartly dressed Indian gentleman. Taking a Bhagavad-gita immediately, he asked Bhrigupati if he’d been to India.
When he replied, “I’ve been to all the holy places,” the man said, “So you’re a member of ISKCON then?” and pressed a crumpled piece of paper into Brighupati’s hand.
“When he’d gone, I didn’t dare open my hand yet. Instead, I kept trying to distribute books, and despite how badly the day had gone before, managed to sell two more Bhagavad-gitas to two other couples for twenty dollars each,” Bhrigupati says. “Then I finally opened my hand. There was a one-hundred-dollar bill in it.”
Bhrigupati sees book distribution as a blessing and doubts he’ll ever stop. Today, he and his wife Chandravali travel across the US in a motorhome distributing books at schools and music festivals—some, such as Banaroo, south of Nashville, Tennessee, are attended by over 100,000 young people every year.
Bhrigupati is a firm supporter of traditional book distribution but also of new innovative methods like Vaisesika Prabhu’s Smart Table program. He hopes they will help more devotees realize how simple and blissful distributing books really is.
“We could have another dozen or two full-time distributors in America, and we wouldn’t be stepping on each other’s toes,” he says. “ The opportunity is unlimited.”