Week 31

The study classes you have started for them on a day other than the Bhakti Vrksha should be giving an opportunity for the members to study the books more thoroughly. You could start with the Bhagavad Gita, verse after verse from the first chapter. Read out the Sanskrit sloka line by line with them repeating it, and then the translation .Make them read out one by one the purports. They can read one paragraph at a time and you can ask them to repeat the points. You can explain the purport if need be and also share some realization about its practical application.

The shastra will come alive for them when it is discussed with the others in the group and they will develop a taste for studying Srila Prabhupada’s books. This is very essential for training them to be serious preachers and leaders.

They will also start to participate better in the satsanga as well as in the spiritual edification sessions of the Bhakti Vrksha.

The person who is conducting the study class should preferably have done a Bhakti shastri course, or at least have a good overview of the Bhagavad Gita. But if this is not possible, still you can conduct a study class and have everyone learn the Bhagavad Gita together from Srila Prabhupada’s purports. You can give them a quiz on the chapters covered during the study class itself, or during the bimonthly vyuha programs or doing special gatherings etc. just to make them more enthusiastic about the Bhagavad Gita.

Satsang:  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. 

For those who are still a little new to the group or are somehow not reading yet, you could ask the question:  “What is the thing that you are most grateful for in your life?”

Kirtan: 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 145

Chanting of the holy names delivers one from the effects of sins and of lower-caste birth:

{Suta Gosvami to the sages at Naimisaranya}: Sri Suta Gosvami said: O God, although we are born in a mixed caste, wr are still promoted in birthright simply by serving and following the great who are advanced in knowledge. Even by conversing with such great souls, one can without delay cleanse oneself of all disqualifications resulting from lower births, and what to speak of those who are uder the direction of the great devotees, chanting the holy name of the Unlimited, Who has unlimted potency? The Personality of Godhead, unlimited in potency and transcendental by attributes, is called the Ananta {unlimited}.

The dvija-bandhu, or the less intelligent, uncultured men born of higher castes, put forward many arguments against the lower-caste men becoming brahmanas in this life. They argue that birth is due to previous sinful acts and that one therefore has to complete the terms of disadvantages due to lower birth.

And to answer these false logicians, Srimad –Bhagavatam asserts that one who chants the holy name of the Lord under the direction of a pure devotee can at once get free from the disadvantages due to lower –caste birth…. Offenseless chanting indicates that one

has fully understood the transcendental nature of the holy name and has thus surrendered unto the Lord.

 Transcendentally the holy name of the Lord and the Lord Himself are identical, being absolute. The holy name of the Lord is as powerful as the Lord. The Lord is the all-powerful Personality of Godhead, and He has innumerable names, which are all nondifferent from Him and are equally powerful also.

 In the last word of the Bhagavad-gita the Lord asserts that one who surrenders fully unto Him is protected from all sins by the grace of the Lord. Since His name and He Himself are identical, the holy name of the Lord can protect the devotee from all effects of sins.

 The chanting of the holy name of the Lord can undoubtedly deliver one from the disadvantages of lower-caste birth. The Lord’s unlimited power is extended on and on by the unlimited expansion of the devotees and incarnations, and thus every devotee of the Lord and His incarnations also can be equally surcharged worth the potency of the Lord. Since the devotee is surcharged with this potency of the Lord, even fractionally the disqualification due to lower birth cannot stand in the way.

                                                                                          Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.18.18-19

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 is 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: 18

From   “Bhagavad-gita  As it is

BY DIVINE GRACE A.C. BHAKTIVEDANTA SWAMI PRABHUPADA

Bg. Ch-4 Text – 24

TEXT 24

brahmarpanam brahma havir

brahmagnau brahmana hutam

brahmaiva tena gantavyam

brahma-karma-samadhina

TRANSLATION

A person who is fully absorbed in Krsna consciousness is sure to attain the spiritual kingdom because of his full contribution to spiritual activities, in which the consummation is absolute and that which is offered is of the same spiritual nature.

PURPORT

How activities in Krsna consciousness can lead one ultimately to the spiritual goal is described here. There are various activities in Krsna consciousness, and all of them will be described in the following verses. But, for the present, just the principle of Krsna consciousness is described. A conditioned soul, entangled in material contamination, is sure to act in the material atmosphere, and yet he has to get out of such an environment.

The process by which the conditioned soul can get out of the material atmosphere is Krsna consciousness. For example, a patient who is suffering from a disorder of the bowels due to overindulgence in milk products is cured by another milk product, namely curds. The materially absorbed conditioned soul can be cured by Krsna consciousness as set forth here in the Gita. This process is generally known as yajna, or activities (sacrifices) simply meant for the satisfaction of Visnu, or Krsna. The more the activities of the material world are performed in Krsna consciousness or for Visnu only, the more the atmosphere becomes spiritualized by complete absorption.

 The word brahma (Brahman) means “spiritual.” The Lord is spiritual, and the rays of His transcendental body are called brahmajyoti, His spiritual effulgence. Everything that exists is situated in that brahmajyoti, but when the jyoti is covered by illusion (maya) or sense gratification, it is called material.

 This material veil can be removed at once by Krsna consciousness; thus the offering for the sake of Krsna consciousness, the consuming agent of such an offering or contribution, the process of consumption, the contributor, and the result are—all combined together—Brahman, or the Absolute Truth.

 The Absolute Truth covered by maya is called matter. Matter dovetailed for the cause of the Absolute Truth regains its spiritual quality. Krsna consciousness is the process of converting the illusory consciousness into Brahman, or the Supreme. When the mind is fully absorbed in Krsna consciousness, it is said to be in samadhi, or trance. Anything done in such transcendental consciousness is called yajna, or sacrifice for the Absolute.

In that condition of spiritual consciousness, the contributor, the contribution, the consumption, the performer or leader of the performance, and the result or ultimate gain—everything—becomes one in the Absolute, the Supreme Brahman. That is the method of Krsna consciousness.

Discovery:

1)      What is the qualification needed to go back to the spiritual world?

Understanding:

1)      Describe material consciousness.

2)      Describe how this material veil is removed, with an example.

3)      How do activities in Krsna consciousness become absolute in nature?

4)      How is perfect yagna performed for the Absolute?

Application:

    1)   How can we improve our Krsna consciousness, so that our activities become more and more spiritual in nature?

Preaching Session: 15 minutes

Read out the following passage:

                                       Preaching is the essence

                   His Divine Grace A.C. Bhakti Vedanta Swami Prabhupada                 

The Krsna consciousness movement has been set up to distribute knowledge:

Knowledge is meant for distribution. Although there is already much scientific knowledge, whenever scientists or philosophers awaken to a particular type of knowledge, they try to distribute it throughout the world, for otherwise the knowledge gradually  dries up and no one benefits from it.

India has the knowledge of Bhagavad Gita, but unfortunately, for some reason or the other, this sublime knowledge of the science of God was not distributed throughout the world, although it is meant for all of human society.

Therefore Krsna Himself appeared as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and ordered all Indians to take up the cause of distributing Bhagavad Gita throughout the entire world.

Yare Dekha tare kahaKrsna”upadesh amara ajnaya guru hana tara ei desa

“Instruct everyone to follow the orders of the Lord Sri Krsna as they are given in the Bhagawad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam. In this way become a spiritual master and try to liberate everyone in this land.” (Cc. Madhya 7.128)

Although India has the sublime knowledge of the Bhagavad Gita, Indians have not done their proper duty of distributing it. Now, therefore, the Krsna consciousness movement has been set up to distribute this knowledge as it is, without distortion.

Although previously there were attempts to distribute the knowledge of the Bhagavad Gita, these involved distortion and compromise with mundane knowledge. But now the Krsna consciousness movement, without mundane compromises is distributing Bhagavad Gita As it is, and people are deriving the benefits of awakening to Krsna consciousness and becoming devotees of Lord Krsna.

Therefore the proper distribution of knowledge has begun by which not only will the whole world benefit, but India’s glory will be magnified in human society.

                                                       Bhag. 10.2.19(X:1, p. 144)

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 all be distributed to the senior members of the group.

The juniors could try to get their colleagues at work, 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 cleaning up 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.

Enquire from the members if they are cooking food for the Lord and offering it to Him before honoring the prasadam. Encourage them to cook and offer to the Lord. If someone is doing it regularly, express your appreciation. These are big milestones in their spiritual advancement. Teach them how to do the offering to the Deity pictures if ou have not already done .Also tell them the rules to follow while cooking for the Lord and the consciousness in which it must be prepared.

Give them some vegetarian, non onion and garlic recipes to follow.

You can also ask each of them to share a recipe they know. You can ask one of the members who volunteer to compile the various recipes, type them out for distribution to all the members.

Please enter the details about your members attending this week:

No:

Members

Attendance

   Current Siksa status

Remarks