Week 33

There are various practical aspects of devotional service that you need to teach the devotees in your group. How to set up the altar, how to perform the Arathi, how to lead a kirtan, play the karatala and mridanga (if possible),to sing the various songs during the Arathi, how to offer the Bhoga to the Lord, how to apply tilaka on all the 12 parts of the body, how to tie a dhoti or even sari, etc, etc…All these aspects cannot be covered during a regular Vrinda program, and so during the half an hour set aside during the study classes, make sure that the devotees get well trained in all these aspects. If need be you can also invite them to come and learn these things separately on another day from you.

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. 

For those who are still a little new to the group or are somehow not reading yet, you could ask the question:  When someone tells you that you are doing something wrong, what is your usual reaction?

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 151

Vallabha Bhattacarya admitted that those who chant the holy name are qualified as Brahmans and Vaisnavas:

Therefore, Vallabha Bhatta invited Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu for lunch, and the Lord introduced the brothers Rupa and Vallabha to him. From a distance, the brothers Rupa Gosvami and Sri Sanantana fell on the ground and offered obeisances to Vallabha Bhatta with great humility.

When Vallabha Bhattacarya walked towards them, they ran away to a more distant place. Rupa Gosvami said, “I am untouchable and most sinful. Please do not touch me.” Vallabha Bhattacarya was very surprised to at this.

 Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, however, was very pleased, and He therefore spoke to him this description of Rupa Gosvami. Sri Caitany Mahaprabha said, “Don’t touch him, for he belongs to a very low caste. You are a follower of Vedic principles and are an experienced performer of many sacrifices. You also belong to the aristocracy.”

Hearing the holy name constantly vibrated by the two brothers, Vallabha Bhattacarya could understand the hints of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Vallabha Bhattacarya admitted, “Since these two are constantly chanting the holy name of Krsna, how can they he untouchable? On the contnry, they are most exalted.”

Vallabha Bhattacarya’s admission of the brothers’ exalted position should serve as a lesson to one who is falsely proud of his position as a Brahmana. Sometimes so-called brahmanas do not recognise our European and American disciples as devotees or brahmanas, and some brahmanas are so proud that they do not allow them to enter temples. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu herein gives a great lesson. Although Vallabha Bhattacarya was a great authority on brahmanism and a learned scholar, he admitted that those who chant the Lord’s  holy name are bona fide brahmanas and Vaisnavas and are therefore exalted.

                                                            Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya-lila 19.65-71

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 

From   “Bhagavad-gita  As it is

BY DIVINE GRACE A.C. BHAKTIVEDANTA SWAMI PRABHUPADA

Bg. Ch-6 Text-34

 cancalam hi manah krsna

pramathi balavad drdham

tasyaham nigraham manye

vayor iva su-duskaram

TRANSLATION

For the mind is restless, turbulent, obstinate and very strong, O Krsna, and to subdue it, I think, is more difficult than controlling the wind.

PURPORT

The mind is so strong and obstinate that it sometimes overcomes the intelligence, although the mind is supposed to be subservient to the intelligence. For a man in the practical world who has to fight so many opposing elements, it is certainly very difficult to control the mind. Artificially, one may establish a mental equilibrium toward both friend and enemy, but ultimately no worldly man can do so, for this is more difficult than controlling the raging wind. In the Vedic literature (Katha Upanisad 1.3.3–4) it is said:

atmanam rathinam viddhi
sariram ratham eva ca
buddhim tu sarathim viddhi
manah pragraham eva ca

indriyani hayan ahur
visayams tesu gocaran
atmendriya-mano-yuktam
bhoktety ahur manisinah

“The individual is the passenger in the car of the material body, and intelligence is the driver. Mind is the driving instrument, and the senses are the horses. The self is thus the enjoyer or sufferer in the association of the mind and senses. So it is understood by great thinkers.” Intelligence is supposed to direct the mind, but the mind is so strong and obstinate that it often overcomes even one’s own intelligence, as an acute infection may surpass the efficacy of medicine. Such a strong mind is supposed to be controlled by the practice of yoga, but such practice is never practical for a worldly person like Arjuna. And what can we say of modern man? The simile used here is appropriate: one cannot capture the blowing wind. And it is even more difficult to capture the turbulent mind. The easiest way to control the mind, as suggested by Lord Caitanya, is chanting “Hare Krsna,” the great mantra for deliverance, in all humility. The method prescribed is sa vai manah krsna-padaravindayoh: one must engage one’s mind fully in Krsna. Only then will there remain no other engagements to agitate the mind.

Discovery:

1) Describe the analogy of the chariot and the driver with our body and ourselves.

Understanding:

1)      What is supposed to control our minds?

2)      Why is it so difficult to control the mind?

3)      Describe how we can easily control our minds as suggested by Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

Application:

   1) Share your realizations on how the process of Krsna consciousness is helping you to control your mind.

Preaching Session : 15 minutes

Read out the following passage:

                                       Preaching is the essence

                   His Divine Grace A.C. Bhakti Vedanta Swami Prabhupada                 

Pg . 34

Devotee preachers are engaged in the highest welfare work:       

The self effulgent Vaikunta planets, by whose illumination alone all the illuminating planets within this material world give off reflected light, cannot be reached by those who are not merciful to other living entities. Only persons who constantly engage in welfare activities for other living entities can reach the Vaikuntha planets.

From this material world… people can be transferred to the Vaikunthaloka, if they incessantly engage in welfare activities for all other living entities. Such incessant welfare activities can really be performed only in Krsna consciousness. There is no other philanthropic work within this material world but Krsna consciousness, which can engage a person twenty four hours a day.

A Krsna conscious being is always engaged in planning how to take all the suffering humanity back home, back to Godhead. Even if one is not successful in reclaiming all the fallen souls back to Godhead, still, because he is Krsna conscious, his path to Vaikunthaloka is open. He personally becomes qualified to enter the Vaikunthalokas, and if anyone follows such a devotee, he also enters into Vaikunthaloka.

Others who engage in envious activities, are known as Karmis. Karmis are envious of one anotherJnanis are not as sinful as Karmis, but they do not try to reclaim others back to Godhead.

They perform austerities for their own liberation. Yogis are also engaged in self- aggrandizement by trying to attain mystic powers. But devotees, Vaishnavas, who are servants of the Lord, come forward in the actual field of work in Krsna consciousness to reclaim fallen souls… the Lord says that there is no one dearer to Him than those who preach the gospel of Bhagavad-gita to the world.

                                                                Bhag. 4.12.36 (IV:2, pp 529-530)

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 you 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.

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