Week 29

From now on the training is a little more focused as the members have to be trained as effective leaders and mature devotees all within the next 6 months, so that they can start leading a group as well as take Guru Asraya! It is not difficult to achieve, and can be achieved with the right mood and techniques.

You should arrange for the siksha ceremony for distribution of the siksha certificates to the members at the Sunday program in the Temple, or any other centralized program or festival of the yatra, so that the members get the mercy, appreciation and blessings of senior Vaishnavas. Also, being recognized for their spiritual achievement will greatly encourage them to further progress in their spiritual life.

Please see the siksha forms and certificates on how to go about the siksha ceremony.

Though the ideal standard has been mentioned here, you may fall short in your achievements due to various factors like variability in the kinds of people and culture you are dealing with, as well as due to circumstances beyond your control. But you can be rest assured that by setting out to “hunt for the rhinoceros”, you might at least land up with a deer! If you “shoot a rhinoceros”, that is to your credit, but if you fail in getting the rhinoceros, you will still do creditably, since your aim is high.

You should make arrangements (through sector sevaks or senior devotees if there) to have regular study classes in the Bhagavad Gita for the members on a day separate from the Bhakti Vrksha. Most of the members should be ready to come for the extra day in order to get a deeper understanding of the shastra. Though must of them must be reading Srila Prabhupada’s books at home, the study classes can ensure their proper understanding and application and aid in the rapid spiritual advancement of the members.

Even those who have not yet committed themselves to the Krsna Sadhaka level may come for these study classes.

Satsanga :  15 minutes

Share an interesting and useful point that you have learnt from Srila Prabhupada’s books during the week, and ask others also to do so in turn.  By now most would have started reading Srila Prabhupada’s books and sharing a point from them every week. This should definitely have increased their enthusiasm for reading the books as well for sharing them with the fellow group members. This must be having multiple effects of making the members come closer, improving the self confidence of the members in communicating their thoughts, as well improving their knowledge. In fact you should be experiencing punctuality among the members in attending the Bhakti Vrksha program every week.

For those who are still a little new to the group or are somehow not reading yet, you could ask the question:  “If you could ask just one question to Srila Prabhupada, what would that be?”

This question could be answered individually on paper, before sharing, so that people are not influenced by what others say.

 

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 142

Regardless of social position, one should chant the holy name to overcome the spell of maya and attain the transcendental platform:

Following the orders of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Govinda, His personal servant called for all the poor beggars, who were unhappy due to their poverty, and fed them sumptuously. Observing the beggars eating prasada, Sri Caitnaya Mahaprabhu chanted, “Hari bol” and instructed them to chant the holy name. As soon as the beggars chanted the holy name. “Hari bol,” they were immediately absorbed in ecstatic love of Godhhead. In this way Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu performed wonderful pastimes.

Krishna conducts the material world under the three modes of material nature, and consequently there are three platforms of life: higher, middle and lower. On whatever platform one may be situated, one is tossed by the waves of manterial nature. Someone may be rich, someone may be middle class, and someone may be a poor beggar – it doesn’t matter. As long as one is under the spell of the three modes of naterial nature, he must continue to experience these divisions.

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu therefore advised the beggars to chant “Hari bol” while taking prasada. Chanting means accepting one’s self as the eternal servant of Krsna. This is the only solution, regardless of social position. Everyone is suffering under the spell of maya; therefore the best course is to learn how to get out of the clutches of maya……

One can overcome the spell of maya and attain the transcendental platform by agreeing to engage in the devotional service of the Lord. Devotional service begins with sravanam kirtanam; therefore Sri Caitnaya Mahaprabhu advised the beggars to chant the Hare Krsna maha-mantra for elevation to the transcendental position. On the transcendental platform, there is no distinction between the rich, the middle class and the poor.

                                                            Sri Caitnaya-caritamarta Madhya-lila 14.44-46

Chant a mala of japa together loudly after chanting the Panca tattva mantra 3 times together. Enquire from the members after the japa, how they feel now after chanting 8 minimum rounds at home everyday. You could ask one or two members to share their realizations. The others you could ask in the subsequent weeks.

Spiritual Edification- 45 minutes

If there are new comers to the group, then you should give them a brief introduction on Krsna consciousness and a summary of what you have been doing so far. It is better to give them the first week’s edification to go through. If there are more than one member, you can facilitate a discussion between them separately. This should not be difficult as the other members are also going to be discussing in smaller groups as you will find out below:

You should divide the group into 2 or 3 groups and make them sit in circles. Make sure that the group is evenly distributed with regard to the number of senior, junior and new members in them.

Distribute the sheets containing the spiritual edification to the members.  You could ask a senior member in each group to be the group spokesman/woman.

The leader of each group has to facilitate the participation of all the members, encouraging each one to answer the question addressed to them. Let the leader take down their points. This procedure is only for the Discovery and understanding sessions.

After this the whole group can sit in a circle. You can ask the leaders to read out the consolidated answers of their respective groups for each of the questions.

After this, you can ask each one of them to answer the application question one by one.

You can then sum up the spiritual edification lesson once again and add more points relevant to the topic. You can also include interesting pastimes of the Lord and his devotees, current topics etc, to substantiate the topic.

SPIRITUAL EDIFICATION  : 16

From   “Bhagavad-gita  As it is

BY DIVINE GRACE A.C. BHAKTIVEDANTA SWAMI PRABHUPADA

Bg. Ch-4 Text – 28

TEXT 28

Dravya-yajnas tapo-yajna

yoga-yajnas tathapare

svadhyaya-jnana-yajnas ca

yatayah samsita-vratah

TRANSLATION

Having accepted strict vows, some become enlightened by sacrificing their possessions and others by performing severe austerities, by practicing the yoga of eightfold mysticism, or by studying the Vedas to advance in transcendental knowledge.

PURPORT

These sacrifices may be fitted into various divisions. There are persons who are sacrificing their possessions in the form of various kinds of charities. In India, the rich mercantile community or princely orders open various kinds of charitable institutions like dharma-sala, anna-ksetra, atithi-sala, anathalaya and vidya-pitha.

In other countries, too, there are many hospitals, old age homes and similar charitable foundations meant for distributing food, education and medical treatment free to the poor. All these charitable activities are called dravyamaya-yajna.

There are others who, for higher elevation in life or for promotion to higher planets within the universe, voluntarily accept many kinds of austerities such as candrayana and caturmasya. These processes entail severe vows for conducting life under certain rigid rules. For example, under the caturmasya vow the candidate does not shave for four months during the year (July to October), he does not eat certain foods, does not eat twice in a day or does not leave home. Such sacrifice of the comforts of life is called tapomaya-yajna.

There are still others who engage themselves in different kinds of mystic yogas like the Patanjali system (for merging into the existence of the Absolute), or hatha-yoga or astanga-yoga (for particular perfections). And some travel to all the sanctified places of pilgrimage. All these practices are called yoga-yajna, sacrifice for a certain type of perfection in the material world.

 There are others who engage themselves in the studies of different Vedic literatures, specifically the Upanisads and Vedanta-sutras, or the Sankhya philosophy. All of these are called svadhyaya-yajna. or engagement in the sacrifice of studies.

 All these yogis are faithfully engaged in different types of sacrifice and are seeking a higher status of life.

 Krsna consciousness, however, is different from these because it is the direct service of the Supreme Lord. Krsna consciousness cannot be attained by any one of the above-mentioned types of sacrifice but can be attained only by the mercy of the Lord and His bona fide devotees. Therefore, Krsna consciousness is transcendental.

Discovery:

1)      Name the different types of sacrifices people perform in order to elevate themselves. Mention the Sanskrit names of these different sacrifices as well.

Understanding:

1)      Describe each kind of sacrifice and what benefits they give the performers of the sacrifice.

2)     What is common among all the above mentioned sacrifices? How is Krsna consciousness different from them?

3)     How can serving the Lord benefit us?

Application:

       1) Are you convinced that spreading Krsna consciousness is the best welfare  work? Why or why not?

Preaching Session: 15 minutes

Read out the following passage:

                                       Preaching is the essence

                   His Divine Grace A.C. Bhakti Vedanta Swami Prabhupada                 

Page 25

One who preaches the gospel of Bhagavad-gita is perfect in pure devotional service:

Krsna wants everyone to surrender unto Him, and devotional service means preaching this gospel all over the world. The Lord says openly in Bhagavad-gita (18.69): na ca tasman manusyesu kascin me priya-krttamah. One should preach the gospel of Bhagavad-gita for the benefit if all. Bhagavad-gita is spoken by the Lord so that human society can be perfectly organized from all angles of vision-politically, socially, economically, philosophically and religiously. From any point of view, human society can be reformed by the Krsna consciousness movement: therefore one who spreads this philosophy of Krsna consciousness for the benefit of all conditioned souls in the universe is perfect in pure devotional service.

                                                            Cc.Madhya 19.167 (Madhya: 7, pp. 349-350)

With more devotees now on the Krsna sadhak level, you can start entrusting more preaching responsibilities to them.

Making phone calls to remind the new members of the Bhakti Vrksha programs, enquiring the well being of the newer members during the week and slowly encouraging them to start chanting, visiting new members in their homes to give them some association and encouragement etc. can be all be distributed to the senior members of the group.

The juniors could try to get their colleagues at work, or their neighbors, friends, relatives, etc. to bring them to the program.

So after you share your preaching work done for the week, entrust all the members with their respective responsibilities for the week, and note it down. You should ask them for the report the subsequent week and give them further tasks to do.

Discuss any doubts or queries they may have about their preaching services.

You can also engage all of them in book distribution  to their friends and acquaintances.

Prasadam : 20 minutes

Let the entire distribution of the prasadam, including the cooking, be organized by the members themselves. They can take turns every week in doing the services. You can ensure that no one is burdened and at the same time every body gets a chance to share in the services. Do not force any one to do the services, but ask for volunteers.

If children volunteer to read out the prasadam mantra, they can be given turns to do so. Devotees repeat each line after them.

You can spend time giving your association to the members while everyone honors the prasadam.

Please enter the details about your members attending this week:

No:

Members

Attendance

   Current Siksa status

Remarks