In the hills of New Vrindaban, West Virginia, a group of devotees are harnessing modern technology to bring Krishna consciousness into homes everywhere.
The newly-launched Bhaktivedanta Vedic Library (https://bhaktivedantavediclibrary.org), offers audiobooks of ISKCON Founder-Acharya Srila Prabhupada’s works for free, to stream or download onto your laptop, smartphone or other electronic device. It also offers helpful introductory video guides on various elements of the process of Krishna consciousness.
Srila Prabhupada once called the printing press “the brihad bridanga,” or “great drum,” because it could spread the glories of Lord Krishna and His Holy Name all over the world. The Bhaktivedanta Vedic Library wants to use today’s Internet technology in the same spirit of outreach and giving.
Tulsi Das, an early Srila Prabhupada disciple who served as the temple president in San Diego and Los Angeles and was responsible for the unique “Temple of Understanding” in Durban, is behind the project.
Bhaktivedanta Vedic Library is a free resource that can be used by temples, preachers and individuals
He has designed it as a useful educational tool for temples, preachers and their congregations, and also for individual use by the whole spectrum from novices to devotee families.
BVL isn’t just Tulsi Das, however. In development since 2014, the project currently engages almost a dozen devotees in different roles including narrator Damodara Das, professional sound engineer Dwijamani Das, as well as other sound editors, video editors and writers. It also has its own small sound studio and video editing department.
Audiobooks offered on the site at present include the Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Srimad Bhagavatam Cantos 1 through 5, Adi-lila of the Caitanya Caritamrita, The Teachings of Lord Caitanya, Krsna - The Supreme Personality of Godhead, The Nectar of Devotion, and Sri Isopanisad. The audiobooks are narrated without background music, making them useable by dyslexic listeners. Many include the option to listen to either translations and purports, or just the translations.
All of Srila Prabhupada’s books have already been recorded – the remainder are currently in the editing process, soon to be added to the website.
And the audiobooks are not all the site has to offer. Tulsi Das comments: “We’ve always felt that if new people are listening to Prabhupada’s books, they’re going to wonder, ‘It says to chant Hare Krishna, how do I do that?’ Or, ‘It says I should be eating prasadam – how do I do that?’”
Thus the website also includes video presentations teaching the viewer japa and kirtan by having them chant along with Srila Prabhupada in karaoke style; Prasadam / Sacred Cooking “How To” videos, and presentations of Prayers and Stories taken directly from the Krsna Book using only Srila Prabhupada’s own words.
The “Prasadam” section features brand new, original instructional videos produced by Advaitacharya Das and his sons Abhay and Halavah, who are professionals working in the film industry. Advaita, a relateable and likeable host, guides viewers in how to prepare some of Lord Krishna’s favorite dishes such as halava, sweet rice, kofta balls, Gauranga potatoes, kichari and dahl. He also teaches them why and how to offer their food.
Meanwhile Prayers and Stories are video presentations condensed directly from Krsna Book and Bhgavad-gita using Srila Prabhupada’s own words, combined with BBT classic artwork. Previews into the beautiful texts, they are posted weekly as Facebook and Youtube promos, meant to entice viewers to click through and listen to Srila Prabhupada’s books on audio. There’s also a video series of topical Srila Prabhupada lectures, used in the same way.
“We’ve gotten a great response from those audio visual presentations,” says Advaitacharya. “It’s a very digital world today, a lot of people are on handheld devices, communicating through Facebook and Youtube. And Prabhupada’s ideas lend themselves well to short audio visual presentations of 2 to 4 minutes. We are inspired by people like Sivarama Swami, who just got 4 million hits on one of his latest video blogs, and hope to follow in his footsteps.”
In the future, the Bhaktivedanta Vedic Library will have a series of video presentations on the basics of Deity worship in the home. It also aims to add lifestyle videos introducing the public to Krishna consciousness through the personal stories of devotees with interesting lives and services. Eventually it will include everything a brick and mortar library would provide, all centered around Srila Prabhupada’s core teachings.
The BVL is a growing project that’s looking for more narrators to provide different audiobook options for listeners, as well as skilled individuals to work in the video department.
But as much as it grows, it will always adhere to the tradition of the world’s library concept, and will never sell or charge for any of its services.
“Our goal is to stimulate peoples’ interest in reading Srila Prabhupada’s books, and ultimately to make His teachings an important part of their lives,” Tulsi Das says.
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To offer your skills or resources in service of the project, click here: https://bhaktivedantavediclibrary.org/contact/
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