Week 38

Through reading Srila Prabhupada’s books the members must be feeling close to Srila Prabhupada and must be developing faith in him. You can make them know him better by showing a video of Srila Prabhupada. Either Acharya 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or any of the ITV productions of Srila Prabhupada’s recordings available as video cassettes, VCDs and DVDs. Or you can also play some of his lectures during prasadam time. Also it is very important that they read Srila Prabhupada’s Lilamrta. If they can read at least the abridged version, they will come to know more about His Divine Grace and the history of ISKCON.

Make an announcement about the siksha seminar on taking up “Srila Prabhupada Ashraya”, during the following week.

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:  Share about the day of your life that you consider most important.

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.

Japa…. 15 minutes

Read out first, the following passage from:

                            Sri Namamrta  - The Nectar of the Holy Name

Page 164

Of all the holy names of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the name “Krsna” is the most powerful:

Srila Sukadeva Gosvami has concluded the Nineteenth Chapter of the Tenth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam by pointing out five particular Excellencies of Lord Krsna…..The fourth excellence of Lord Krsna’s appearance concerns the glories of His name. It is stated in the Vedic literature that by chanting the different names of Lord Visnu a thousand times, one may be bestowed with the same benefits as by thrice chanting the holy name of Lord Rama. And by chanting the holy name of Lord Krsna only once, one receives the same benefit. In other words, of all the holy names of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, including Visnu and Rama, the holy name of Krsna is the most powerful.

The Vedic literature therefore specifically stresses the chanting of the holy name of  Krsna: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna, Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Lord Caitanya introduced this chanting of the

holy name of Krsna in this age, thus making liberation more easily obtainable than in other ages. In other words, Lord Krsna is more excellent than His other incarnations, although all of them are equally the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

                                                            Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

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 them 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-14

satatam kirtayanto mam

yatantas ca drdha-vratah

namasyantas ca mam bhaktya

nitya-yukta upasate.

TRANSLATION

Always chanting My glories, endeavoring with great determination, bowing down before Me, these great souls perpetually worship Me with devotion.

PURPORT

The mahatma cannot be manufactured by rubber-stamping an ordinary man. His symptoms are described here: a mahatma is always engaged in chanting the glories of the Supreme Lord Krsna, the Personality of Godhead. He has no other business. He is always engaged in the glorification of the Lord. In other words, he is not an impersonalist. When the question of glorification is there, one has to glorify the Supreme Lord, praising His holy name, His eternal form, His transcendental qualities and His uncommon pastimes. One has to glorify all these things; therefore a mahatma is attached to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

 One who is attached to the impersonal feature of the Supreme Lord, the brahmajyoti, is not described as mahatma in the Bhagavad-gita. He is described in a different way in the next verse. The mahatma is always engaged in different activities of devotional service, as described in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, hearing and chanting about Visnu, not a demigod or human being. That is devotion: sravanam kirtanam visnoh and smaranam, remembering Him. Such a mahatma has firm determination to achieve at the ultimate end the association of the Supreme Lord in any one of the five transcendental rasas. To achieve that success, he engages all activities—mental, bodily and vocal, everything—in the service of the Supreme Lord, Sri Krsna. That is called full Krsna consciousness.

 In devotional service there are certain activities which are called determined, such as fasting on certain days, like the eleventh day of the moon, Ekadasi, and on the appearance day of the Lord. All these rules and regulations are offered by the great acaryas for those who are actually interested in getting admission into the association of the Supreme Personality of Godhead in the transcendental world. The mahatmas, great souls, strictly observe all these rules and regulations, and therefore they are sure to achieve the desired result.

 As described in the second verse of this chapter, not only is this devotional service easy, but it can be performed in a happy mood. One does not need to undergo any severe penance and austerity. He can live this life in devotional service, guided by an expert spiritual master, and in any position, either as a householder or a sannyasi or a brahmacari; in any position and anywhere in the world, he can perform this devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead and thus become actually mahatma, a great soul.

Discovery:

1)      What are the symptoms of a true mahatma?

Understanding:

1)      Can the worshipper of a demigod, or an impersonalist be considered a mahatma?

2)      Describe what the aspirations and activities of the mahatma are.

3)      Why are the mahatmas sure to achieve their desired result?

4)      How can one become a mahatma?

Application:

      1)  Would you like to become a mahatma? 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 38

Spreading Krsna consciousness is highest benefit for the society:

My dear Arjuna, one who is engaged in my pure devotional service, free from the contaminations of previous activities and from mental speculation, who is friendly to every living entity, certainly comes to me.

A devotee of Krsna is friendly to everyone. Therefore it is said here that he has no enemy. How is this? A devotee situated in Krsna consciousness knows that only devotional service to Krsna can relieve a person from all the problems of life.  He has personal experience of this, and therefore he wants to introduce this system, Krsna consciousness, into human society. There are many examples in history of devotees of Lord risking their lives for spreading of God consciousness. The favorite example is  Jesus Christ. He was crucified by the nondevotees, but He sacrificed His life for spreading God Consciousness… Similarly, in India also there are many examples, such as Thakura Haridasa. Why such risk? Because they wanted to spread Krsna consciousness, and it is difficult. A Krsna conscious person knows that if a man is suffering, it is due to his forgetfulness of his eternal relationship with Krsna. Therefore, the highest benefit one can render to human society is relieving one’s neighbor from all material problems. In such a way, a pure devotee is engaged in the service of the Lord.

Bhag. 11.55 (pp.591,593)

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 to give 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 play a video of Srila Prabhupada’s from the Acharya series or any other, or you can play one of his lecture tapes while the devotees are honoring their prasadam.

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