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Making Prabhupada Available to Everyone
By Sravana das

There has been some recent controversy over the pirating of ITV videos by Gargamuni and Brahmananda who are selling the videos in India. I strongly disagree with Nrsimhananda's suggestion that they be banned from all ISKCON temples, for the following reasons:

1) Many devotees feel that no one should be able to own a copyright of their spiritual master's lectures, photographs, or video footage. Whether or not it is illegal according to United States and international copyright law many devotees strongly feel that access to these books, letters, video, and audio recordings should not be restricted and that they should be freely available.

2) The prices being charged for the video and audio recordings, and the Vedabase are exorbitant and beyond the financial means of most devotees. Take for example the Vedabase, which is the collected anthology of Srila Prabhupada's books, letters, conversations, and lectures. The entire Vedabase software fits onto one compact disc. A blank compact disc costs less than fifty cents. One can copy a compact disc on a home computer with a CD burner in about ten minutes. Why is the Bhaktivedanta Archives charging $600.00 for the Vedabase that costs fifty cents and ten minutes to produce? Perhaps they should drop the price of the Vedabase from the ridiculous amount of $600 to a more reasonable price - say $49.95. Because they charge such high prices devotees are forced to buy the pirated copies.

3) The BBT, Bhaktivedanta Archives and ITV are all about 2-3 years behind today's media technology. For example - from the Bhaktivedanta Archives you can purchase Srila Prabhupada's lectures with one or two lectures per tape or CD. Why would a devotee spend $5.95 on one CD disc with two lectures on it when they could get the entire 1200 hours of Prabhupada's lectures, bhajans, and kirtans for only $108? MP3 technology has been available for a few years now yet the archives have been extremely slow to put out MP3 versions of Prabhupada's lectures.

The same goes for the videos - DVD technology has been available for several years yet to my knowledge ITV has not released one Prabhupada DVD video yet. Of course when there is an opportunity someone will come and take advantage of it. You can now own a 30-disc set of Prabhupada videos for a fraction of what it costs to purchase the tapes independently.

4) Even GBC members are purchasing these videos and audio lectures. How do you expect the rank and file devotees to follow your instructions when even the topmost leaders of our movement are not willing to follow?

5) If you are successful in your mission to punish Brahmananda and Gargamuni other devotees will continue selling the videos. Already there are several websites where you can purchase the MP3 lectures and VCD videos for a reasonable price. If you shut them down - then another one will appear. In the midst of such chaos in the ISKCON movement devotees are hungry to get Srila Prabhupada's association.

It's time for the devotees at BBT, the Bhaktivedanta Archives, and ITV to wake up and smell the incense. If you don't get with the times and start offering up-to-date, reasonably priced volumes of Srila Prabhupada's teachings you'll lose everything.

Your servant

Sravana das

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