Week 7

As mentioned in the guidelines for running a Bhakti Vrksa, you should have started maintaining the report sheet given at the end of every week which has the details about the members, their attendance and their spiritual progress.

By studying the report, you should know who the regular members are and how well they are progressing in their spiritual commitments.

Generally, we are targeting in this module that everyone should at least be a Shraddhavan by the end of the 8th lesson. In other words, in about 2 month’s time, every member should at least be a Shraddhavan, which is chanting one mala of japa every day, and attending the weekly program regularly. A few may want to go faster in their spiritual commitments, and they should be encouraged to do so.

Let there always be some of Srila Prabhupada’s books in the room, close to where you are all seated, some Back to Godhead magazines, etc, so that if somebody is eager to start reading from the very beginning, they can be encouraged to do so.

Sat sanga  : 15 minutes

Positive messages

Materials: Pen and paper

This activity helps in promoting trust in the group.

Give a piece of paper to each group member. Ask everyone to write a positive message about the group and the experience of interacting with the other group members. Collect all papers, shuffle them, and redistribute them, and ask each person to read the message aloud.

Kirtana : 15 minutes

Continue as in the previous weeks by distributing the sheet containing the Pranama mantras and the Hare Krsna mantra as well as the glorifications at the end of the Kirtana.

Also the offering of incense by every member to the Altar Deities or Deity pictures can be done .

Make sure that everyone is singing and taking part. You can encourage them to sing along, if they are not doing so.

Japa…. 15 minutes

Read out first, the following passage from:

                            Sri Namarta  - The Nectar of the Holy Name

Page 13

The Hare Krsna mantra is especially suited to deliver us from the dangers of the Kali-yuga:

Only the dvijas (the brahmanas) and the devas (the demigods) can be delivered from material existence by the instructions of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Whatever is spoken by the Supreme Personality of Godhead is mantra and is suitable for delivering the conditioned souls from mental speculation. The conditioned souls are engaged in a struggle for existence (manah sashtanindriyani prakrti sthani karsati(Bg. 15.7).

Deliverance from this struggle constitutes the highest benefit, but unless one gets a mantra from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, deliverance is impossible. The beginning mantra is the Gayatri mantra. Therefore after purification, when one is qualified to become a brahmana (dvija), he is offered the Gayathri mantra.

Simply by chanting the Gayathri mantra, one can be delivered. This mantra, however is suitable only for the brahmanas and the demigods.

In Kali-yuga, we are all in a very difficult position, in which we need a suitable mantra which can deliver us from the dangers of this age.

Therefore the Supreme Personality of Godhead, in His incarnation as Lord Caitanya, gives us the Hare Krsna mantra….. In His Siksastaka, Lord Caitanya says, “param vijayate Sri-Krsna-sankirtanam:” All Glories to the chanting of Sri –Krsna-sankirtana!”

The maha-mantra – Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare / Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama  Rama Hare Hare – is directly chanted by the Lord Himself, who gives us this mantra for deliverance.

We cannot invent any means to be delivered from the dangers of material existence… Sparks are beautiful as long as they are in the supreme fire. Similarly, we have to remain in the association of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and always engage in devotional service, for then we shall always be brilliant and illuminating. As soon as we fall from the service of the Lord, our brilliance and illumination will immediately be extinguished, or at least stopped for some time.

When we living entities, who are like sparks of the original fire, the Supreme Lord, fall into a material condition, we must take the mantra from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as it is offered by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. By chanting this Hare Krsna mantra, we shall be delivered from all the difficulties of this material world.

Srimad Bhagavatam- 8.6.15                      

You can do a full round of japa with them. Please chant the Panca Tattva Mantra 3 times before chanting the japa and ask them to follow you. Relish the holy names yourself and keep eye contact with the members from time to time to encourage and enthuse them.

Spiritual Edification -   45 minutes

Please read out the passage and start asking the questions.(Do not explain it to them.)  Let the people assembled find out the answers from the passage themselves. Please engage everyone in answering, you can ask two, three people to add to the same answer. Move from one person to the next and give them sufficient time to think. You could ask leading questions for them to go deeper and clearer in understanding the subject matter and in giving relevant replies.

The application question has to be answered by everyone.

This is the most important part of the discussion, and so you must provide sufficient time of at least 15 to 20 minutes for it.

You should at last sum up all the points and give more points that you have

SPIRITUAL EDIFICATION SECTION

FROM “The Laws of Nature” p.38 -44”

BY H.D.G. A.C. BHAKTIVEDANTA SWAMI PRABHUPADA

The way of knowing God

In the Vedic disciplic succession, the spiritual masters always base their statements on what they have heard from authoritative sources, never on personal experience. Trying to understand things by one’s own direct experience is the material process of gaining knowledge, technically called pratyaksa. The Vedic method is different. It is called sruti, which means “to hear from authoritative sources.” That is the secret of Vedic understanding.

With your imperfect senses you should not try to understand things which are beyond your experimental powers. That is not possible. Suppose you want to know who your father is. Can you find out by experimenting? Is it possible? No. Then how can you know who your father is? By hearing from proper authority, your mother. This is common sense. And if you cannot know you material father by the experimental process, how can you know the Supreme Father by the experimental process? Krsna is the original father. He is the father of the father of the father, all the way down to you. So if you cannot understand your immediate father, the previous generation, by the experimental process, how can you know God or Krsna in this way?

People search for God by the experimental process, but after much searching  they fail. Then they say, “Oh, there is no God, Iam God.” But the Isopanishad says that one should try to learn about God not by the experimental process but by hearing. From whom should one hear? From a shopkeeper? From fanatics?No. One should hear from those who are dhira. Dhira means “one whose senses are not agitated by material influence.”

So if you want real knowledge, you should take knowledge from the litrature known as Vedas. (The word Veda means knowledge.”) Part of the Vedas are the 108 Upanishads, out of which eleven are very important. Of those eleven, the Upanishad stands first. In the word Upanishad, upa means “near.” So the knowledge in the Upanishad will take you nearer to Krsna.

In learned society the Vedas are accepted as sruti, or primary evidence. The Vedas are not knowledge established by the research work of contaminated, conditioned souls. Such people have imperfect senses and so they cannot see things as they are.

They simply theorize, “It may be like this. It may be like that.” That is not knowledge.

Knowledge is definite, without any doubt or mistake.

Conditioned souls commit mistakes, become illusioned, and cheat. How do they cheat? When one who does not understand the Bhagavad Gita writes a commentary on it, he is cheating the innocent public. Someone has a title as a scholar, so he takes advantage of the popularity of the Bhagavd Gita and writes a commentary. Such so- called scholars claim that anyone can give his own opinion. But in the Bhagavad –gita Krsna says that only His devotee can understand the Gita. So these so-called scholars are cheating.

The conclusion is that if you want genuine spiritual knowledge, you have to approach a bonafide spiritual master who has realized the Absolute Truth.

Discovery

1)      Mention 2 ways in which we can obtain knowledge.

2)      How have the Vedas come down to us?

3)      Who should we hear the Vedas from?

       Understanding

      1)With an example, explain why we cannot understand  God , on our own.

2)Which literatures give us real knowledge about God? Why are these literatures perfect?

 3)Who can really understand the Bhagavad Gita? Why?

 4) Why should we be selective in whom we hear the Bhagavad Gita from?

Application

1) Have you found a path which will take you to God? Share your realizations.

Preaching Session :  15 minutes

Read out the following passage:

                            Preaching is the Essence

                His Divine Grace A.C. Bhakti Vedanta Swami Prabhupada

Page 14

After being saved, the devotee should preach Krsna consciousness:

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu also advised Vasudeva to preach about Krsna and thus liberate living entities. As a result, Krsna would very soon accept him as His devotee.

Although Vasudeva Vipra was a leper and had suffered greatly, still Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu cured him. The only return the Lord wanted was that Vasudeva preach the instructions of Krsna and liberate all human beings. That is the process of the International Society for Krsna consciousness. Each and every member of this society was rescued from a very abominable condition, but now they are engaged in preaching the cult of Krsna consciousness…. If one wants to be recognized as a devotee of Krsna, he should take to preaching work, following the advice of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Then one will undoubtedly attain the lotus feet of Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu.Then one will undoubtedly attain the lotus feet of Sri Krsna Caitanya , Lord KrishnaHimself, without delay.

Cc. Madhya 7.148(Madhya:3, pp. 74-75)

1)You can share your experiences during the week in preaching and giving mercy to new people.

2) You can request each member to bring an acquaintance or contact along with them the following week for the program. Discuss and suggest possible contacts like friends, neighbours, relatives or colleagues at work.

3)Give them guidelines on how they could approach people and  invite them.(Please see the chapter “Starting a Bhakti Vriksha group) for guidelines on this.

4)In the  the succeeding week you can  enquire during the same session about what they did during the week about this.

Do not feel discouraged and do not express your disappointment  if some of them do not perform this service during the week. Just be encouraging always. This is because preaching is totally  a new activity for them and the taste to do so will appear gradually with association and inspiration. They must not feel pressurized to do it, but must learn to love doing it. Otherwise they will not be successful.

Prasadam :  20 minutes:

As you have done in the previous week, request them to chant the prasadam mantra before honoring the prasadam.

Serving prasadam is another intimate way of showing your care and concern for them, so do take  personal care to see that everyone is served properly. Your service attitude will rub off on them and soon they will want to take part in the prasadam service voluntarily. This is very good for their progress in developing a service attitude to Krsna and the Vaishnavas and help in their rapid spiritual advancement.

Please enter the details about your members attending this week:

No:

Members

Attendance

Current Siksa   status

Remarks