Week 20

After the siksha ceremony, there must be a feeling of a sense of achievement in the members, and a feeling of greater commitment. Those who did not commit themselves yet, should be also encouraged to continue, and not be made to feel like failures. Intangible ways of encouragement can go a long way in making them want to progress. Giving them association and being very friendly, caring and concerned about their general welfare normally draws out their heart. Engage them in services that interest them.

Satsanga :  15 minutes

Since the group has been with each other for 4 months, they should be familiar with one another. By now the gentle encouragement and the Krsna sevak seminar must have established in them some desire to read Srila Prabhupada’s books.

You can now make the sharing of what they read during the week be the mainstay of your ice- breaker session, as they will also be sharing realizations on what they have read. But for those who are newer members or still resisting reading, or for visitors, you can keep a ice-breaker question handy, so that no one stays tongue-tied!

Question for the non readers: “What is the best compliment you have ever received?’

 

Kirtana : 15 minutes

The regular members should have learnt the kirtan tune by now. You can add more simple tunes for your kirtan, and teach the members to play the karatala, mridanga , etc.

Distribute the sheet containing the pranama mantras and the Hare Krsna mantra as well as the glorifications at the end of the kirtana to the newer members.

 Continue with the offering of incense by every member to the Alter Deities or Deity pictures.

Japa…. 15 minutes

Read out first, the following passage from:

                            Sri Namamrta  - The Nectar of the Holy Name

Page 122 para no: 20

It creates a spiritual atmosphere in the world

Chanting of the holy name evokes the Vaikuntha atmosphere, freeing the world from material hankering, envy and anxiety:

(Pracetas to Lord Visnu]: Whenever pure topics of the transcendental word are discussed, the members of the audience forget all kinds of material hankerings, at least for the time being. Not only that, but they are no longer envious of one another, nor do they suffer from anxiety or fear.

Vaikuntha means: “without anxiety,” and the material world means full of anxiety. As stated by Prahlada Maharaja: sada samudvigna-dhiyam asad-grahat. The living entities who have accepted this material world as a residence are full of anxiety. A place immediately becomes Vaikuntha whenever the holy topics of the Personality of Godhead are discussed by pure devotees. This is the process of Sravanam Kirtanam visnoh [SB  7.5.23], chanting and hearing about the Supreme Lord Visnu. As the Supreme Lord Himself confirms:

                                                Naham tisthami vaikunthe 

                                                     Yoginam hrdayesu va

                                                      Tatra tisthami narada

                                                Yatra gyanti mad-bhaktah

“My dear Narada, actually I do not reside in My abode, Vaikuntha, nor do I  reside within the hearts of  the yogis , but I reside in that place where My pure devotees chant My holy name and discuss My form, pastimes and qualities.”

Because of the presence of the Lord in the form of the transcendental vibrations, the vaikuntha atmosphere is evoked. This atmosphere is without fear and anxiety. One living entity does not fear another. By hearing the holy names and glories of the Lord, a person executes pious activities, Srnvatam sva-kathah krsnah punya-sravana-kirtanah (S.B. 1.2.17). Thus his material hankerings immediately stop. This sankirtana movement started by the Society for Krishna Consciousness is meant for creating Vaikuntha, the transcendental world that is without anxiety, even in this material world. The method is the propagation of the sravanam kirtanam process throughout the world. In the material world everyone is envious of his fellow man. Animalistic envy exists in human society as long as there is no performance of sankirtana-yajna, the chanting of the holy names- Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

                                                                                                            S.B. 4.30.35S

You can play Srila Prabhupada’s chanting to accompany your japa. That way there will be better concentration and spiritual energy while chanting. As, many of them may be chanting 4 malas at home, they maybe struggling to concentrate, and so they can get the habit of chanting along with Srila Prabhupada.

Spirtiual 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  : 17                      

                                                        From        “Bhagavad - Gita As It is”

By His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

               BG Ch 9 Text 26

patram puspam phalam toyam

yo me bhaktya prayacchati

tad aham bhakty-upahrtam

asnami prayatatmanah

If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it.

For the intelligent person, it is essential to be in Krsna consciousness, engaged in the transcendental loving service of the Lord, in order to achieve a permanent, blissful abode for eternal happiness. The process of achieving such a marvelous result is very easy and can be attempted even by the poorest of the poor, without any kind of qualification. The only qualification required in this connection is to be a pure devotee of the Lord. It does not matter what one is or where one is situated. The process is so easy that even a leaf or a little water or fruit can be offered to the Supreme Lord in genuine love and the Lord will be pleased to accept it. No one, therefore, can be barred from Krsna consciousness, because it is so easy and universal. Who is such a fool that he does not want to be Krsna conscious by this simple method and thus attain the highest perfectional life of eternity, bliss and knowledge? Krsna wants only loving service and nothing more. Krsna accepts even a little flower from His pure devotee. He does not want any kind of offering from a nondevotee. He is not in need of anything from anyone, because He is self-sufficient, and yet He accepts the offering of His devotee in an exchange of love and affection. To develop Krsna consciousness is the highest perfection of life. Bhakti is mentioned twice in this verse in order to declare more emphatically that bhakti, or devotional service, is the only means to approach Krsna. No other condition, such as becoming a brahmana. a learned scholar, a very rich man or a great philosopher, can induce Krsna to accept some offering. Without the basic principle of bhakti, nothing can induce the Lord to agree to accept anything from anyone. Bhakti is never causal. The process is eternal. It is direct action in service to the absolute whole.

 Here Lord Krsna, having established that He is the only enjoyer, the primeval Lord and the real object of all sacrificial offerings, reveals what types of sacrifices He desires to be offered. If one wishes to engage in devotional service to the Supreme in order to be purified and to reach the goal of life—the transcendental loving service of God—then one should find out what the Lord desires of him. One who loves Krsna will give Him whatever He wants, and he avoids offering anything which is undesirable or unasked. Thus meat, fish and eggs should not be offered to Krsna. If He desired such things as offerings, He would have said so. Instead He clearly requests that a leaf, fruit, flowers and water be given to Him, and He says of this offering, “I will accept it.” Therefore, we should understand that He will not accept meat, fish and eggs. Vegetables, grains, fruits, milk and water are the proper foods for human beings and are prescribed by Lord Krsna Himself. Whatever else we eat cannot be offered to Him, since He will not accept it. Thus we cannot be acting on the level of loving devotion if we offer such foods.

 In the Third Chapter, verse thirteen, Sri Krsna explains that only the remains of sacrifice are purified and fit for consumption by those who are seeking advancement in life and release from the clutches of the material entanglement. Those who do not make an offering of their food, He says in the same verse, are eating only sin. In other words, their every mouthful is simply deepening their involvement in the complexities of material nature. But preparing nice, simple vegetable dishes, offering them before the picture or Deity of Lord Krsna and bowing down and praying for Him to accept such a humble offering enables one to advance steadily in life, to purify the body, and to create fine brain tissues which will lead to clear thinking. Above all, the offering should be made with an attitude of love. Krsna has no need of food, since He already possesses everything that be, yet He will accept the offering of one who desires to please Him in that way. The important element, in preparation, in serving and in offering, is to act with love for Krsna.

 The impersonalist philosophers, who wish to maintain that the Absolute Truth is without senses, cannot comprehend this verse of Bhagavad-gita. To them, it is either a metaphor or proof of the mundane character of Krsna, the speaker of the Bhagavad-gita. But, in actuality, Krsna, the Supreme Godhead, has senses, and it is stated that His senses are interchangeable; in other words, one sense can perform the function of any other. This is what it means to say that Krsna is absolute. Lacking senses, He could hardly be considered full in all opulences. In the Seventh Chapter, Krsna has explained that He impregnates the living entities into material nature. This is done by His looking upon material nature. And so in this instance, Krsna’s hearing the devotee’s words of love in offering foodstuffs is wholly identical with His eating and actually tasting. This point should be emphasized: because of His absolute position, His hearing is wholly identical with His eating and tasting. Only the devotee, who accepts Krsna as He describes Himself, without interpretation, can understand that the Supreme Absolute Truth can eat food and enjoy it.

Discovery:

1) Why do the truly intelligent people want to be Krishna conscious?

2) What is the qualification necessary to attain this?

Understanding:

1) Why does Krishna want us to offer Him food? How does He want us to offer it to Him?

2) From whom will He accept these foodstuffs?

3) What does He want us to offer Him?

4) What are the spiritual benefits of offering food to Krishna and then partaking of it?

5) Why do impersonalists feel that God cannot eat? What  is special about Krishna’s senses?

6) Explain how Krsna’s hearing the devotee’s words of love in offering foodstuffs is wholly identical with His eating and actually tasting it.

Application:

1) Discuss the differences between prasadam and non- prasadam

Preaching Session: 15 minutes

Read out the following passage:

                                       Preaching is the essence

                   His Divine Grace A.C. Bhakti Vedanta Swami Prabhupada                 

Page 24

“Understanding the purpose of the Lord, the devotee preaches:”

Bewildered by the modes of material nature, the ignorant fully engage themselves in material activities and become attached,. But the wise should not unsettle them, although these duties are inferior due to the performers’ lack of  knowledge.

Men who are ignorant cannot appreciate activities in Krsna consciousness, and therefore Lord Krsna advises us not to disturb them and simply waste valuable time. But the devotees of the Lord are more kind than the Lord because they understand the purpose of the Lord. Consequently they undertake all kinds of risks, even to the point of approaching ignorant men to try to engage them in the acts of Krsna consciousness, which are absolutely necessary for the human being.

                                                                                                            Bg.3.29(pp.194-195}

Share your preaching activities for the week. Ask the group to also come up one by one with their preaching home- work. Any home visits, new members, book distribution, etc.

 You can engage the senior ones among them to help the junior devotees by assigning them to teach them kirtan or get them to start chanting, reminding them to attend the programs regularly etc.

A sustained effort from the very beginning will get them to have the preaching mood and spirit, which is very essential if you want the Bhakti Vrksa to progress along the conceived lines.

Prasadam: 20 minutes

As the spiritual edification is all about offering food to Krsna, there will be greater appreciation of prasadam now. So you can discuss informally about

the value and glories of  honoring  prasadam.

Since some of them must have just started to be vegetarian, they may not have enough recipes to cook vegetarian food. You can share some vegetarian recipes with them. This will enthuse them to cook vegetarian food and gradually also offer it to Krsna.

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