Week 15

As the devotees are given more responsibilities and services to do at the beginning of the program, they will start looking forward to coming ahead of time for the program. This will also enable the members to co-operate in doing services together, while having pleasant exchanges amongst themselves about the week gone by. This creates a proper setting for good devotee associations to flourish, and helps greatly in their spiritual advancement, as they will feel like following those who have gone ahead of them in Krsna consciousness.

So do encourage them to do services, like getting things ready for the altar, making arrangements for prasadam distribution, cleaning up the place or getting the spiritual edification sheets, etc for distribution.

Satsanga :  15 minutes

After you have introduced any new visitor that may have come, ask them this question: “In which specific way have you grown in Krishna consciousness during the last 3 months?” 

This question is especially valuable to you as you can make a note of each person’s progress in Krsna consciousness, areas which you were not yet aware of. Also it is a very rewarding experience for the members to think about and articulate about their spiritual growth. This will help them to be reflective and introspective about their spiritual life, rather than just carry on with it as a matter of ritual. Also they can learn from each other’s realizations.

Share an interesting and inspiring point from what you have read from Srila Prabhupada’s books during the week; many more should be now willing to borrow/ buy the books to read them during the week. Encourage them to share their discoveries and realizations from Srila Prabhupada’s books.

Your enthusiasm and appreciation, of their participation  however small initially,  is a  very important factor in gradually making  all of them  take up reading Srila Prabhupada’s books seriously.

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 continue with the offering of incense by every member to the Altar Deities or Deity pictures.

Japa…. 15 minutes

Read out first, the following passage from:

                            Sri Namarta  - The Nectar of the Holy Name

                                            Page-49-50

In Kali-yuga, constant shanging of the holy mane is more effective that the yoga system for controlling the mind:

The mind is cancala, flickering, and it changes very strongly. Therefore Arjuna admitted that controlling the mind is not at all possible; this would be as difficult a controlling the wind. For example, if one were in a boat moving according to the wind on a river or the sea, and the wind were uncontrolled, the tilting boat would be very much disturbed and extremely difficult to control. It might even capsize. Therefore, in the bhava-samudra, the ocean of mental speculation and transmigration to different types of bodies, one must

first control the mind.

      By regulative practice one can control the mind, and this is the purpose of  yoga system (abhyasa-yoga-yuktena [Bg. 8.8]). But there is a chance of failure with the yoga system, especially in this age of kali, because the yoga system uses artificial means. If the mind is engaged in bhakti-yoga, however, by the grace of Krishna one can very easily control it. Therefore Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has recommended, harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam [Adi 17.21]. One should chant the holy name of the Lord constantly, for the holy name of the Lord is non-different from Hari, the Supreme Person.

      By chanting the Hare Krishna mantra constantly, one can fix the mind on the lotus feet of krsna (sa vai manah krsna padaravindayoh), and in this way achieve the perfection of yoga Otherwise, the flickering mind will hover on the platform of mental speculation for sense enjoyment, and one will have to transmigrate from one type of body to another…

  Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.1.42

Chant loudly together one mala on the beads after chanting the Panca tattva mantra 3 times.

At the end of chanting, you could ask them about their experience of chanting the maha mantra on beads at home... whether they had increased the number of malas that they chanted. Encourage those who are a little willing, to try increasing one more mala for the following week. Though nobody can or should force anyone to chant, your kind enquiries about their progress and encouragement to keep increasing in small steps will motivate them to try chanting more.

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 

From Te readings in Vedic Literature

By HH Satsvarupa dasa Gosvami

Excerpts from pages 49 to 53

The teachings of the Acharyas:

An acharya is a teacher of Vedic knowledge. He imparts the teachings of the sastras and himself lives by those teachings. The care of the Vedic parampara(the passing down of Vedic knowledge) has always been assigned to the acharyas.; therefore they are personal representatives of that knowledge.

Sankara

Sankara AD (788- 820) was a Shaivite (follower of Shiva) born in an orthodox South Indian brahmana family. When still a young boy, he became an ascetic, and it appears, compiled two major works (VivekaChintamani and Sarirakabhasya). He traveled widely in India and died in the Himalayas at age 32.

At the time Shankara appeared, Buddhism had received the patronage of the Indian emperor Ashoka and had thus spread throughout India. Shankara sought to reform and purify religious life by reasserting the authority of Vedic scriptures, which Buddha had completely rejected.

Shankara’s interpretation of Vedic literature is known as Advaita-Vedanta. He taught that the jivas or living entities are themselves the Absolute Truth (Parabrahman) and ultimately there is no variety, individuality, or personality in spiritual existence. He

taught that the supposed individuality of both the Supreme being and jiva, is false. Shankara’s philosophy is sometimes considered a compromise between theism and atheism, since it would have been impossible to restore the Vedic literature’s theistic conception just after the Buddhist’s complete atheism.

Ramanuja

Ramanuja AD (1017- 1137) was a south Indian brahmana who taught and traveled widely. For a time he was the chief priest of the Vaishnava temple of Sri Ranga, in southern India. He wrote 3 major commentaries: Vedanta Sangraha(on the Vedas),        Sri bhasya(on Vedanta sutra), and Bhagavad-gita bhasya (on the Bhagavad –gita). He is best known for his strong presentation of Vaishnavism and for his opposition to the impersonal monism of Shankara.

Ramanuja expounded Visistadvaita, or qualified non – dualism. He taught that there is a difference between Parabrahman (Supreme Brahman) and the jivas, and there is a loving relationship between the Supreme and the jivas.. His qualified oneness shows that the Absolute includes both what is changing( the material world and the jivas) and what is changeless( the transcendental Lord.) Ramanuja taught that through God’s grace the jiva can transcend the material world and attain the eternal abode of Vishnu.

Madhva

Like Ramanuja, Madhva(A.D. 1239-1319) belonged to the Vaishnava tradition and devoted himself to combating Shankara’s impersonal philosophy.

Madhvacharya’s Purnaprajna- bhasya establishes a type of Vedanta philosophy called suddha- dvaita (pure dualism).

In his teachings, he describes three entities- the Supreme Lord, the jiva, and the material world. Even more emphatically than Ramanuja , Madhva maintained that God and the jivas are eternally distinct. He held that the Lord is transcendental to the material world, which is a product of his inferior energy. At the same time, the jivas are also distinct from matter, for they are superior, spiritual energy of the Lord.

Madhva maintained that although the jivas are superior to matter, they are distinct from the Lord and are his servitors.  Whereas the Lord is independent, the jivas are totally dependent on him. Madhva taught that the Lord creates, maintains and annihilates the cosmos, and at the same time, in His original eternal form as Bhagavan Krsna, the Lord remains superior to manifest and un manifest matter. In addition Madhva explained that each person molds his own karma. And through bhakti, one can eliminate all his karma and return to his original position of serving the Lord in the eternal spiritual world.

Chaitanya

In the late sixteenth century, with the advent of Krsna Chaitanya, in Bengal, Ramanuja’s and Madhva’s theistic philosophy of Vaishnavism(worship of Vishnu or Bhagavan) reached its climax. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s philosophy of acintya beda abeda –tattva completed the progression to devotional thiesm. Ramanuja had agreed with Shankara that the Absolute is one only, but disagreed by affirming individual variety within that oneness. Madhva had underscored the eternal duality of the Supreme and the jiva: he had maintained that this duality endures even after liberation. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in turn, specified that the Supreme and the jiva are inconceivably simultaneously one and different.”(acintya bhedabheda) They were equal in quality, but not   in  quantity.

Chaitanya (A.D. 1486 – 1534) was born in Navadvipa, Bengal.  He took the renounced order at the age of twenty four. His spiritual master, Isvara Puri, was a disciple of Madhavendra Puri, who came in the line of Madhva. His immediate followers ( the six Gosvamis: Rupa, Sanatana, Jiva, Gopala Bhatta, Raghunatha Bhatta and Raghunatha Dasa) compiled extensive literatures and thus documented Chaitanya’s philosophical system according to Vedic evidence. Himself, Chaitanya wrote only 8 verses, on the ecstacy of devotion to Krsna. His disciples understood Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to be Bhagavan Krsna Himself in the form of a devotee.

Discovery:

1)      Who is an acharya? Name the 4 Acharyas mentioned, as well as the period to which they belonged.

2)      Name the literary contributions of each of these Acharyas.

Understanding:

1)      How is Shankara’s philosophy different from the others? Why did he expound such a philosophy?

2)      How did Ramanujacharya modify Shankara’s theory?

3)      What point did Madhava emphasize with regard to Bhagavan and the jiva?

4)      How did Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu synthesize both Ramanujacharya’s and Madhva’s conclusions?

Application:

           Which of these philosophies appeals to you most? Why?

Preaching session : 15 minutes 

Please read out first the passage given below:

                    From          Preaching is the Essence

                His Divine Grace A.C. Bhakti Vedanta Swami Prabhupada

Page 17

 The devotee must preach ; this will help him advance in self-realization:

      “If a living entity is developed in krsna consciousness and is merciful to others, and if his spiritual knowledge of self-realization is perfect, he will immediately attain liberation from the bondage of material existence.”

        In this verse the word daya jivesu, meaning mercy to other living entities, indicates that a living entity must be merciful to other living entities if he wishes to make progress in self-realization. This means he must preach this knowledge after perfecting himself and understanding his own position as an eternal servant of Krsna. Preaching this is showing real mercy to living entities. Other types of humanitarian work may be temporarily beneficial for the body, but because a living entity is spirit soul, ultimately one can show him real mercy only by revealing knowledge of his spiritual existence. As Caitanya Mahaprabhu says, jiverasvarupa haya-krsneranitya-dasa.’  “Every living entity is constitutionally a servant of Krsna.” One should know this fact perfectly and  should preach it to the mass of people. If one realizes that he is an eternal servant to Krsna but does not preach it, his realization is imperfect. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta sarasvati Thakura therefore sings, dusta mana, Tumi kisera vaisnava? Pratisthara tare, nirjanera ghare, tava hari-nama kevala kaitave. “My dear mind, what kind of Vaisnava are you? Simply for false prestige and a material reputation you are chanting the Hare Krsna mantra in a solitary place.” In this way people who do not preach are criticized. There are many Vaisnavas in Vrndavana who do not like preaching; they chiefly try to imitate Haridasa Thakura. The actual result of their so-called chanting in a secluded place, however, is that they sleep and think of women and money. Similarly, one who simply engages in temple worship but does not see to the interests of the mass of people, or cannot recognize devotees, is called a kanistha-adhikari:

                                            Arcayam eva haraye

                                           Pujam yah sraddhayehate

                                           Na tab-bhaktesu canyesu

                                          Sa bhaktah prakrtah smrtah

                                                    (Bhag. 11.2.47)

Bhag.4.29.1b (IV: 4, p. 1482)

 

Share with the members about what preaching you have done during the week either to new people or to the devotees themselves. Share your insights and realizations.

Let everyone also share what they have done during the week, however small. The phone calls they have made or the people they have spoken to, or invited etc, the successes or the difficulties they have encountered.

If they have experienced some success and they share it, find out how they did it. Not only will others learn from their experiences, it is also very encouraging to them and will inspire them to do more. If there are some mistakes in their approach, this too will get corrected.

Please give them assignments for preaching for the forthcoming week.

Prasadam:  20 minutes

After the prasadam has been distributed and everyone is busy honoring it after reciting the prasadam mantra, go around and enquire how they like the prasadam, among other things. Hear their realizations on how they are appreciating the taste of prasadam as a spiritual experience. It is important for them to appreciate and have the right respectful attitude toward prasadam.

If any member has sponsored the prasadam, announce it and thank them for the service. If anybody has any special occasion to celebrate that day like birthdays , wedding anniversaries, announce that and sing a Krsna conscious greeting like “Hare Krsna to you”, and “may Krsna bless you, dear” etc, set to the standard tune of wishing people on birthdays.

This will make them very happy and also give them the idea to celebrate these occasions in a nice Krsna conscious way, which will also benefit them spiritually.

Immediately after the devotees have left the program, kindly fill in the following form:

Please enter the details about your members attending this week:

No:

Members

Attendance

   Current Siksa status

Remarks