Week 28: Seminar

This is a great milestone in the progress of your group members. All their learning in the past months, their conviction and seriousness in Krsna consciousness will be put to test as they have to commit themselves to more and more details of surrender in Krishna consciousness.

The initial months would have gone through a kind of sifting of the members as some of them leave and more members join, etc. This is very natural, and one should not be disturbed as it happens. One should of course be mindful that we are not at fault for   people dropping out. Even if you ensured that, the sifting process goes on till about in 6 months time, you have some serious permanent members who are very much convinced abut the program and are ready to take up this level of siksha. This is because the topics covered during the last 2 months were geared to giving them the basic understanding of why they need to come to a higher level of this siksha.

Please do not let very junior members attend the seminar as they most probably will feel uncomfortable listening to the regulative principles being discussed and may drop out of the program altogether.

Welcome all the members and guests. Make a change in the seating arrangement, as today they would all have to sit in a crowd facing the speaker, rather than in a circle.

Have the black board/ white board ready with chalk or marker as the case may be, for the seminar. Have a chair and table arranged for the speaker. A senior leader, can be the sector leader (overseeing more than 3 Bhakti Vriksha groups) could  present it. Prepare the handouts to be given at the end of the class.

Kirtan:  20 minutes

Request the senior to lead a kirtana for twenty minutes. 

Seminar:       90 minutes

Lesson Module:  For Krishna Sadhak

Aim:     

v     To motivate members to give up intoxication, illicit sex and Gambling.

v     To inspire them to start performing some basic puja and offering after setting up an altar and to do the Tulasi Pooja regularly.

v     To help them take up the vow of keeping Ekadasi Vrata.

v     To start chanting 8 rounds

v     To attend the Sunday program and/or a Bhagavad Gita study group.

Objectives :

At the end of the lesson the participants will be able to:

v     List 4 reasons to give up intoxication.

v     Will agree to perform some basic pooja, offering of foodstuffs and  the Tulasi Pooja daily and will learn it from a senior devotee, in case they don’t know it already.

v     Will commit themselves to observe the Ekadasi Vrata

v     Will agree to attend the week end Bhagavad Gita or Srimad Bhagavatam class and/or a Bhagavad Gita study group.

Conditions:  They will volunteer to commit these things.

Criteria: At least 75% of the members attending the program will agree to take up the Krishna Sadhak certificate immediately.

Assessment:  By orally asking them at the end of the class.

Preparation:    For the lecture session on Intoxication, you can have a flip chart  having photos of different happy looking devotees doing different Krishna Conscious activities.

Also illustrated (if possible) charts for 1) the reasons why people take up intoxication 2) and the ill effects of intoxication.

LESSON OUTLINE :

What

Who

Resources

Time

Brain storm

The whole class

W/B board

10 minutes

De briefing & Lecture

Facilitator

3 Flip charts

 30 minutes

Narration

Fac

Audio cassette, player or reading out the literature given below about Tulasi Maharani

10 minutes

Reading

Fac

The summarized passage from the book on Ekadasi

10 minutes

Sharing Experiences

Two  devotees

…………………

10 minutes

Summing Up and Question & Answer session

Fac

…………………..

 20 minutes

LESSON PLAN :

Brain storm :  Ask for a volunteer to note down the points on the B/W board that the members give on the Topic to be brain stormed: 1) “ Why do people take to intoxication” &”2) ill effects of intoxication”. Add also any points missed out.

De briefing:   Expand on the points given in the brainstorm.

You can make use of 2 illustrated charts with the following basic points:

Chart 1: Reasons why people take up intoxication

1) To overcome boredom, 2) To forget their troubles and problems. 3) Makes them forget reality 4) to gain confidence and a sense of worth. 4) A way to spend the time with friends  5) Social obligation  at parties and official dinners  6) Habit  & Addiction  7)Aids in fantasizing.) 8) A status symbol.

Chart 2

Ill effects of intoxication:

1) Makes you addicted to and dependent on Alcohol. 2) Very bad for liver and general health. 3) Makes unfit to do normal work when under its influence 4) Makes one insensitive and uncaring to others. 5) A real waste of money6) hang over effect 7) Very difficult to drink in moderation.8) So many road accidents due to drunken driving.9) Breaks families as the person becomes irresponsible and uncaring to the family’s needs 10) Induces lot of violence including wife bashing11) Bad example to children. 12) Takes away your dignity and self respect in society

Lecture:  An alternative to intoxication: Staying happy through Krishna consciousness.

Have an illustrated chart depicting the different happy activities in Krsna consciousness as a family: 1)Arathi, 2) chanting, 3) offering bhoga, 4) listening to lectures while driving, 4) thinking of Krsna while at work, 5) having a Bhakti Vrksha  program at home etc….

Explain how Krishna is the source of all happiness and forgetting Him brings misery. You can use the analogy of the child separated from its father; will be only happy when it is re- united with his father. So the need to progress more and more in Krishna consciousness by increasing our commitments step by step, which will automatically give us the real happiness and keep us away from all harmful things  that put us into  deeper misery.

Talk about how illicit sex is the worst of the 4 sins one could commit. It has very grave repercussions on one’s health, mind and emotional well being, materially. Spiritually too one cannot develop the mood of surrender, service and renunciation by engaging in illicit sex which is very much in a sense-gratificatory mood.

Gambling makes us too anxious and disturbed in mind about the outcome of the risks that we undertake. So it is difficult to do devotional service then.

Narration:  Play the introduction narrated in the cassette “The story of Tulasi devi” by HG Amala Bhakta dasa. If you do not possess the cassette, you could read out the following passage:

    

 

Who is Tulasi Devi? A great devotee of Lord Krishna. Yes, but what makes her so great? Why is she worshipped in all ISKCON Temples and in all Vaisnava Temples? What did she accomplish to deserve such worship? What is her special distinction?.

In his summary study of Srila Roopa Gosvami’s book the Nectar of Devotion, Srila Prabhupada in Chapter-11, quotes the Skandha Purana as follows:

 “Let me offer my respectful obeisance’s unto the Tulasi tree which can immediately vanquish volumes of sinful activities. Simply by seeing or touching this tree one can become relieved from all the stresses and diseases. Simply by offering obeisances to and pouring water on the Tulasi tree one can become freed from fear of being sent to the court of Yamaraj, the king of death, who punishes the sinful. If someone sows a Tulasi tree somewhere, certainly he becomes devoted to Lord Krishna and when the Tulasi leaves are offered in devotion at the lotus feet of Krishna there is the full development of the Love of Godhead.”

In Kusha Krata Das’s translation of the book Shri Garga Samitha Canto 2, Chapter 15, Verses 37 to 39 and Chapter 16, Verses 1 to 39, it is mentioned that Chandranana, Srimati Radharani’s friend had heard the scriptures directly from the lips of Garga Muni. Thus Radharani asked her, what kind of worship she should perform to please Sri Krishna  and to bring herself good fortune, virtue and the fulfillment of her wish. After reflecting on this question for a moment, Chandranana told her that service to Tulasi Devi bestows the greatest virtue, good fortune, blessings and offers one Lord Krishna’s company. She advised Radharani to gaze on Tulasi, touch her, remember her, glorify her, bow down before her, offer prayers to her, plant her, and worship her. By doing this Chandranana assured Tulasi would grant her Radharani’s desire and also that any one who serves Tulasi in this nine ways attains the result one would attain if he performs pious acts in many thousands of millions of yugas or ages. Chandranana further said that one who plants Tulasi, liberates his family from the cycle of birth and death. However, as many branches, sub-branches, seeds, flowers and leaves there are on the Tulasi plants that one serves, that many ancestors and descendants in his family for thousands of  Kalpa yugas go to Lord Krishna’s transcendental abode. When one offers to Lord Krishna just one Tulasi leaf he attains the same result as offering him every leaf and flowers that exists.  One who worships Lord Krishna with Tulasi leaves is not touched by sin, just as the lotus leaf is not touched by water.

Yamaraja’s servants will never enter a home that is in the midst of a Tulasi forest. If one plants, protects, waters, sees or touches the Tulasi plant, Tulasi burns away the reactions to sin committed with one’s body, mind and words. Such holy lakes as the Pushkar, such holy rivers as the Ganges, and such deities as Lord Vasudeva reside on a single Tulasi leaf. If one serves the Tulasi plant daily, Sri Krishna will become his submissive servant.

Thereafter to please Lord Krishna, Srimathi Radharani vowed to serve Tulasi Devi by following Garga Muni’s instructions daily for about 6 months. When her vow is completed, she feasted numerous Brahmans and donated to them an enormous amount of wealth. Then in the sky, the demigods sounded their drums and the apsaras began to dance. The demigods showered blossoms on the temples of Tulasi. Next the beautiful four-armed Tulasi who is very dear to Lord Krishna appeared. She had lotus like eyes, a golden crown and glittering earrings and she was seated on a glorious throne on a golden pedestal. When it descended to earth Tulasi embraced and kissed Radharani who was wearing a new Vaijayanthi garland and whose serpentine braids were covered with yellow flowers. Tulasi said to Radhrani, “I am pleased with you and eternally conquered by your loving devotion. Oh lovely one, you very faithfully followed your vow as if you are an ordinary human being. You will attain the desire that fills your heart, mind, intelligence and senses. Lord Krishna will be kind to you. How fortunate you are”.

Radharani then bowed down and prayed, “May I have pure devotion to Lord Krishna’s lotus feet”. Tulasi replied, “Yes you shall”, and then disappeared. Radha, King Vrishabhanu’s daughter went home feeling happy at heart.

Any one who hears this amazing story about Srimati Radharani attains wealth, pleasure, virtue and the supreme spiritual goal of life - Love for Lord Krishna.

 We now conclude the introduction with the following prayers:

“I offer my repeated obeisances unto Vrinda, Srimathi Tulasi Devi, who is very dear to Lord Kesava. O Goddess you bestow devotional services to Lord Krishna and posses the highest truth. O Tulasi beloved of Krishna, I bow before you again and again. My desire is to obtain the service of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna. Whoever takes shelter of you has his wishes fulfilled. Bestowing your mercy on him you make him a resident of Vrandavan. My desire is that you will also grant me a residence in the pleasure groves of Shri Vrandavan dham. Thus within my vision I will always behold the beautiful pastimes of Sri Radha and Krishna. I beg you to make me a follower of the cowherd damsels of Vraja. Please give me the privilege of devotional service and make me a your own maid servant. This very fallen and lowly servant of Krishna prays- “May I always swim in the love of Sri Sri Radha and Govinda”.   

At the end of the introduction explain to the members how Tulasi Devi is worshipped every day  ( the procedure).

Reading about Ekadasi:  

From the Book “Ekadasi, the day of Lord Hari”  byKrsna Balaram Swami

See below for the Text:

Arjuna asked Krishna, “O Lord, according to you, a thousand Vedic sacrifices do not equal even one Ekadasi fast. How can this be? How has Ekadasi become the most meritorious of all days?”

“Lord Sri Krishna replied, “I will tell you why Ekadasi is the purifying of all days. In the Sathya Yuga there once lived an amazingly fearsome demon called Mura. Always very angry, he terrified all the demigods, defeating even Indra, the king of heaven; he brought all the other devatas like Vivasvan, the Sun God, the eight Vasus, Lord Brahma, Vayu the wind God,and Agni, the fire God. With his terrible power, he brought them all under his control.

Indra and  the other demigods approached Lord Siva, who guided them to Lord Vishnu .

Lord Vishnu accompanied the Devas and advanced to Mura’s capital city of Candravati.

But Mura and his demons struck the demigods severely and they had to all abandon and flee in ten different directions.

At last the chief demon Mura began fighting with the Lord. When the Lord could not defeat him with various kinds of weapons, He wrestled with Mura for one thousand celestial years, and apparently fatigued, left for Badrikashrama. When the Lord was resting in a cave Mura followed the Lord to the cave, and made plans to kill the Lord. At that time a young girl manifested herself from the Lord’s body who was bright complexioned and challenged the demon. She shattered all the demon’s weapons and deprived him of his chariot and as he came running towards her with his bare hands, she chopped off his head.

The Lord woke up and seeing the demon dead was very pleased with the maiden and asked her what boon she would like to have. The maiden replied, “O Lord, if you are pleased with me and wish to give me a boon, then give me the power to deliver from the greatest sins that person who fasts on this day.”

The Supreme Personality of Godhead replied, “All my devotees in this world will surely fast on your day, and thus will become famous through out the three worlds and finally come and stay with me in my abode. Because you, My transcendental potency have appeared on the eleventh day of the waning moon, let your name be Ekadasi. If a person, fasts on Ekadasi, I will burn up all his sins and bestow upon him my transcendental abode.”.

Krishna concluded to Arjuna, “From that time onwards, the Ekadasi became most meritorious and famous all over the universe.O Arjuna, if a person  strictly observes Ekadasi, I kill all his enemies and grant him the highest destination. For all eternity there will be no better way of worshipping Lord Vishnu  than observing a fast on Ekadasi.”

Explain how one can observe the Ekadasi, and some basic recipes to make to observe the fast.

Sharing Experiences & realizations

Bring 1 senior devotee to come and explain how he benefited from attending the Friday Bhagavatam class/ study group. Bring a junior devotee to share how he is benefiting in spiritual life as he has started attending the Friday Bhagvatam class/ study groups.

Summing up:   Mention how chanting is the basis of our spiritual lives. The more we chant , we are pleasing Krishna more and more and are becoming closer and dearer to Him. So making a bigger commitment is necessary if we want to progress in our spiritual lives. Read some quotes from the Namamrta.

Ask for questions regarding this  :whether they have any problem accepting this vow to chant 8 rounds.

Help with their doubts or obstacles to performing this every day. Give practical solutions

and guidance.

Also they can start simple worship to the photos of the Parampara at home by offering dhoop, deep and flowers. They can also start offering at least fruits everyday to the Lord.

The procedures for doing these things should have been taught to them in their study classes. (Go through the chapter on “The Study class”.

Assessment:     

Enquire how many would like to volunteer to take up Krishna Sadhak certificates.

Then distribute the application forms for the Krsna sadhak and request them to fill it up and make their commitments with their signatures.

They are then eligible to receive the certificates.