A Society Based On Literature Distribution

( – A Society Based On Literature Distribution

by Madhudvisa dasa

I was recently invited to visit the Australian headquarters of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. It’s a large complex in Sydney with about 270 people living on the site. The center of the complex is a huge printing press printing their magazines: Watchtower and Awake!

, twice a month in more than 25 languages. The magazines are available in Australia in 82 languages and world-wide they print in over 160 languages! They distribute well

I often distribute Srila Prabhupada’s books in Sydney’s Town Hall station and in recent years we share the spot with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. It appears to me the general public are far more interested in purchasing and reading Srila Prabhupada’s books about Krishna than their “Watchtower.” However, although the public seem quite disinterested in their literature they distribute an enormous quantity of it world-wide. So when Shaun invited me to visit their Australian headquarters I was interested to see how they managed to print and distribute so much literature first-hand.

I discovered to be an “active” Jehovah’s Witness one has to distribute literature. They seem to value more the hours spent in distributing the literature and preaching then the actual quantity of magazines sold. Every member is called a “publisher” and the mission of the “publishers” is very clear. To distribute the magazines and preach to the general public. Most of this is done door-to-door…

They have more than 100 administration centers world-wide [mostly called “Bethel”] which print their literature in 160 different languages and administer the “Kingdom Halls” in their area, supplying them with literature and their other needs.

These administration centers have a live-in “staff” of dedicated witnesses who work for no salary. Here in Sydney there are 270 witnesses living in the center including all types of professional and skilled people. There is a fully staffed legal office, a very large design office which designs and builds new Kingdom Halls for Australia, the Pacific Islands and even India. They have all sorts of tradesmen, builders, carpenters, electricians, etc., etc… They have an automobile repair department which repairs and maintains the cars and a large gardening department that maintains the grounds complete with very nice flower and vegetable gardens. The entire complex was built by their own men… They regularly build entire Kingdom Halls in three days… They organize all the materials to be delivered to the site, arrange the volunteers and build the whole thing in three days…

As for the printing the main press can print 19,000 32 page full-color magazines per hour and they have another smaller press which is used for printing languages they don’t print in very large quantities. In Japan they have a press printing almost 100,000 magazines an hour…

The only cost is the paper and the ink… The press equipment is paid for long ago and is operated and maintained by volunteer witnesses who live on the site. So the magazines cost well under 10 cents each to produce…

Everything is clean and very well organized. They say “Jehovah is a God of order.” So they keep everything very nicely maintained and in order. The whole complex is very clean and perfectly maintained.

The management is quite centralized in Brooklyn NY. In Australia they receive all the magazines printed here electronically from Brooklyn and simply make the plates and print them. There is no layout or design work done here and although they have a “writing desk” in Australia [one of 12 in the world] all articles must be submitted to the Brooklyn office.

Their management system seems to be quite authoritarian with the members surrendered to “do the needful.” We were shown around the complex by Chris who started living at Bethel eighteen months ago. He was a carpenter building houses in Perth but now he works as a housekeeper cleaning passages and stairways in one of the residence buildings and as a tour guide.

He would have preferred to work in the printing department, but he is happy to work in whatever position the management require him to work in… He says it is best to “go with the flow…”

Unfortunately the philosophy they preach is not very satisfying. Shaun and his wife were trying to understand why it was that good people suffer and why it is that sometimes babies suffer horrible deaths… Their only answer is it all happens by chance. They believe Jehovah does not cause it and they don’t believe in Karma… They don’t believe in Hell and can’t imagine how a “loving God” could create such a place. The most amazing thing for me is they don’t even accept the existence of an eternal soul. They think everyone “dies” and when Jesus comes back he will resurrect only the Jehovah’s Witnesses…

It is quite bewildering to me. In many ways they are preaching the same thing as the atheists. The atheists claim there is no life after death. They claim one simply dies. The witnesses agree. The atheists claim there is no eternal soul. The witnesses agree. The atheists claim there is no Hell, the witnesses agree. The atheists say everything happens by chance and there is no karma involved in any suffering we may experience. The witnesses agree…

So with such a faulty philosophy which is really not very interesting to the general public they are still able to distribute more than 40,000,000 magazines a month…

I wonder what is the potential of Krishna consciousness, such a perfectly logical philosophy which I find the general public are truly very interested in… Surely we could distribute more than 40,000,000 of Srila Prabhupada’s books and magazines a month if we actually made that our main business? I am convinced we can do it… And it will change the world…

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