Week 37

Your Bhakti Vrksha should be a hub of enthusiastic activities now as the members are slowly meeting more days than one together. They should be attending the study classes, and at least a few of them must be attending the Sunday classes of the yatra. Giving them exposure to serving and participating in the bigger festivals of the yatra is also very essential. They should have also started to come along with you, even if only one at a time to your visits to the new contacts.

Apart from that picnics etc on certain week-ends at least once in a month or two months will greatly enthuse them.

All these activities and influence will work miracles in bringing the members together in spiritual consciousness. There are deep lasting spiritual relationships being built.

At the same time, since preaching is very much emphasized in the Bhakti Vrksha, the members will be always ready and looking forward to being expert preachers themselves, so they could give the mercy to more and more people.

Without this preaching urge, the relationships could just become stumbling blocks in one’s spiritual advancement. One may develop a closed mentality and display symptoms of exclusivity about the membership of the group and have a discriminative attitude towards non- members, etc.

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.  Request them to start reading Srila Prabhupada’s Lilamrta, and share points from it.

 

For those who are still a little new to the group or are somehow not reading yet, you could ask the question:  Tell us something that you learned about yourself this year.

 

Kirtana : 15 minutes

You could ask someone chanting 16 rounds already to lead the Kirtana. You could first

ensure that they know how to lead, and then you can encourage them to do so. This will   enthuse them as well as the other members, who will then feel confident to also make progress in their commitments. Also this is part of their training to become good Kirtana singers as well. You can give every week a different devotee to lead the kirtana.

 

 

Japa…. 15 minutes

Read out first, the following passage from:

                            Sri Namamrta  - The Nectar of the Holy Name

Page 163

1.         The Lord Has Innumerable Names {to Indicate Different Functions and Dealings}

Krsna expands Himself into many different names:

{Lord Caitanya to Svarupa Damodara and Ramananda Raya}:

“My Lord, O Supreme Personality of Godhead, in Your holy name there is all good fortune for the living entity, and therefore You have many names, such as Krsna and Govinda, by which You expand Yourself….”

                                                            Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Antya-lila  20.16.

2.                  “ Krsna” Is the Principal Name of  God

                            In his prayer, the author of  Srimad-Bhagavatam first proposes that Lord Sri Krsna is the primeval Lord and that if any transcendental nomenclature for the Absolute Personality of Godhead is to be accepted, it should be the name Krsna, the all attractive…. In Padma Purana it is also stated that of the innumerable names of the Lord, the name of Krsna is the principal one.

                                                                                    Teaching of Lord Caitanya.

As most of the members are approaching the completion of 9 months of regularly attending the Bhakti Vrksha and are all attending the study classes, they are now coming close to taking up the commitment of taking Srila Prabhupada Asraya. Find out how many of them are chanting 16 rounds of japa and encourage the others to start doing so.

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-9 Text-contd…..

In the Vedanta-sutra (3.2.26) this is also described in the following words: prakasas ca karmany abhyasat. “Devotional service is so potent that simply by engaging in the activities of devotional service one becomes enlightened without a doubt.” A practical example of this can be seen in the previous life of Narada, who in that life happened to be the son of a maidservant. He had no education, nor was he born into a high family. But when his mother was engaged in serving great devotees, Narada also became engaged, and sometimes, in the absence of his mother, he would serve the great devotees himself. Narada personally says,

ucchista-lepan anumodito dvijaih
sakrt sma bhunje tad-apasta-kilbisah
evam pravrttasya visuddha-cetasas
tad-dharma evatma-rucih prajayate

In this verse from Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.5.25) Narada describes his previous life to his disciple Vyasadeva. He says that while engaged as a boy servant for those purified devotees during the four months of their stay, he was intimately associating with them. Sometimes those sages left remnants of food on their dishes, and the boy, who would wash their dishes, wanted to taste the remnants. So he asked the great devotees for their permission, and when they gave it Narada ate those remnants and consequently became freed from all sinful reactions. As he went on eating, he gradually became as pure-hearted as the sages. The great devotees relished the taste of unceasing devotional service to the Lord by hearing and chanting, and Narada gradually developed the same taste. Narada says further,

tatranvaham krsna-kathah pragayatam
anugrahenasrnavam manoharah
tah sraddhaya me ’nupadam visrnvatah
priyasravasy anga mamabhavad rucih

By associating with the sages, Narada got the taste for hearing and chanting the glories of the Lord, and he developed a great desire for devotional service. Therefore, as described in the Vedanta-sutra, prakasas ca karmany abhyasat: if one is engaged simply in the acts of devotional service, everything is revealed to him automatically, and he can understand. This is called pratyaksa, directly perceived.

 The word dharmyam means “the path of religion.” Narada was actually a son of a maidservant. He had no opportunity to go to school. He was simply assisting his mother, and fortunately his mother rendered some service to the devotees. The child Narada also got the opportunity and simply by association achieved the highest goal of all religion. The highest goal of all religion is devotional service, as stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam (sa vai pumsam paro dharmo yato bhaktir adhoksaje). Religious people generally do not know that the highest perfection of religion is the attainment of devotional service. As we have already discussed in regard to the last verse of Chapter Eight (vedesu yajnesu tapahsu caiva), generally Vedic knowledge is required for self-realization. But here, although Narada never went to the school of the spiritual master and was not educated in the Vedic principles, he acquired the highest results of Vedic study. This process is so potent that even without performing the religious process regularly, one can be raised to the highest perfection. How is this possible? This is also confirmed in Vedic literature: acaryavan puruso veda. One who is in association with great acaryas, even if he is not educated or has never studied the Vedas, can become familiar with all the knowledge necessary for realization.

 The process of devotional service is a very happy one (susukham). Why? Devotional service consists of sravanam kirtanam visnoh [SB 7.5.23], so one can simply hear the chanting of the glories of the Lord or can attend philosophical lectures on transcendental knowledge given by authorized acaryas. Simply by sitting, one can learn; then one can eat the remnants of the food offered to God, nice palatable dishes. In every state devotional service is joyful. One can execute devotional service even in the most poverty-stricken condition. The Lord says, patram puspam phalam toyam: He is ready to accept from the devotee any kind of offering, never mind what. Even a leaf, a flower, a bit of fruit, or a little water, which are all available in every part of the world, can be offered by any person, regardless of social position, and will be accepted if offered with love. There are many instances in history. Simply by tasting the tulasi leaves offered to the lotus feet of the Lord, great sages like Sanat-kumara became great devotees. Therefore the devotional process is very nice, and it can be executed in a happy mood. God accepts only the love with which things are offered to Him.

 It is said here that this devotional service is eternally existing. It is not as the Mayavadi philosophers claim. Although they sometimes take to so-called devotional service, their idea is that as long as they are not liberated they will continue their devotional service, but at the end, when they become liberated, they will “become one with God.” Such temporary time-serving devotional service is not accepted as pure devotional service. Actual devotional service continues even after liberation. When the devotee goes to the spiritual planet in the kingdom of God, he is also engaged there in serving the Supreme Lord. He does not try to become one with the Supreme Lord.

 As will be seen in Bhagavad-gita, actual devotional service begins after liberation. After one is liberated, when one is situated in the Brahman position (brahma-bhuta), one’s devotional service begins (samah sarvesu bhutesu mad-bhaktim labhate param). No one can understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead by executing karma-yoga, jnana-yoga, astanga-yoga or any other yoga independently. By these yogic methods one may make a little progress toward bhakti-yoga, but without coming to the stage of devotional service one cannot understand what is the Personality of Godhead. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam it is also confirmed that when one becomes purified by executing the process of devotional service, especially by hearing Srimad-Bhagavatam or Bhagavad-gita from realized souls, then he can understand the science of Krsna, or the science of God. Evam prasanna-manaso bhagavad-bhakti yogatah. When one’s heart is cleared of all nonsense, then one can understand what God is. Thus the process of devotional service, of Krsna consciousness, is the king of all education and the king of all confidential knowledge. It is the purest form of religion, and it can be executed joyfully without difficulty. Therefore one should adopt it.

Discovery:

      1) Which is the most potent way to gain enlightenment?

Understanding:

1)      Through the example of Narada, explain how we can gain spiritual enlightenment.

2)       How is devotional service joyful to perform?

3)      How is devotional service o the Lord eternal?

4)      Why is performing devotional service so pure?

Application:

      1)   Which aspect/aspects of devotional service to you enjoy doing the most? Do you find any difficulty in rendering any part of devotional service?

Preaching Session : 15 minutes

Read out the following passage:

                                       Preaching is the essence

                   His Divine Grace A.C. Bhakti Vedanta Swami Prabhupada                 

Page 34

Devotee-preachers are engaged in the highest welfare work:

The self-effulgent Vaikuntha 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 engaged in welfare activities for other living entities can reach the Vaikuntha planets.

From this material world….people can be transferred to the Vaikuntha loka, 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 of one another…,. Jnanis are not as sinful as Karmis.  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, Vaisnavas, 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)

Discuss your visit to a new contact’s house along with one of your Bhakti Vrksha senior members. Ask the senior member also for his/her feed back on how the meeting went and what he learned from the visit. You can ask another senior member to accompany you for the following week. If each of the senior members gets to come a few times to these visits, they will gain confidence and the experience how to deal with the new people. They can then be entrusted to do the visits themselves taking along with them a junior member for training them as well.

Right now you can ask the junior members for their reports on whom they contacted for the week and what they managed to achieve by their effort (invited them for the program, sold them a book or just started to cultivate them in Krsna consciousness, etc). Give them further assignments for the week. If they carry some prasadam along with them while they make these preaching efforts, it is bound to be more effective.

Note down in a book the preaching efforts of everyone. This will help you plan better to cover all the people that need to be visited, and also to train all the members who need training to do the visiting  themselves.

Prasadam: 20 minutes

Always announce the member’s names that have sponsored for the prasadam, especially if it is for some special occasion.

 Encourage them also to make offerings of simple sweets in their homes and distribute it to their friends or acquaintances. It will be a very fulfilling service for them and will enable them to appreciate and understand the glories of prasadam even further.

You can narrate your own experiences as well as the experiences of other devotees as well what you have read from books like “Srila Prabhupada Lilamrta” as well as the BACK TO GOHEAD, etc, the spiritual effects of prasadam on people.

Please enter the details about your members attending this week:

No:

Members

Attendance

   Current Siksa status

Remarks