Week 40

Many of the devotees who attended your seminar on Srila Prabhupada Asraya should have committed themselves to that level. You can ask them to fill in the siksha forms (the format is available in this book). You can apply for a certificate with the Temple president’s signature for them from the yatra for taking on the commitment. You can request for the certificates to be handed out during the Sunday/Sat/Fri weekly programs in the yatra, so the members will feel the gravity of their commitment and will feel enthused by the cheering of so many devotees.

If for some reason this is not possible, you could hand it out at the Vyuha program which will follow in 2 weeks’ time. You could invite a senior devotee to come, attend the program and also address them for a while. The senior devotees can also participate in the other interactive programs, so that the members get his/ her personal association too.

Timely handing out of the certificates is very important if you want to keep up the pace of their spiritual advancement, our complacency can delay their spiritual growth!

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:  What makes you most angry? What do you do with the anger?   

 

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 219

The Holy Name Revives One’s Dormant, Eternal Krsna Consciousness

As a snake-bitten man is brought back to consciousness by the chanting of certain mantras, so one in the unconscious state of material life can be revived by hearing the maha-mantra:

            In the Garuda purana the stress on hearing is expressed very nicely. It is said there:

“The state of conditioned life in the material world is just like a man lying unconscious, having been bitten by a snake. This is because both such unconscious states can be ended by the sound of a mantra.” When a man is snake-bitten he does not die immediately, but first becomes unconscious and remains in a comatose condition. Anyone who is in the material world is also sleeping, as he is ignorant of his actual self or his actual duty and his relationship with God. So materialistic life means that one is bitten by the snake of maya, illusion, and thus, without any

Krsna consciousness, he is almost dead.

Now, the so-called dead man bitten by a snake can be brought back again to life by the chanting of some mantra. There are expert chanters of these mantras who can perform this feat. Similarly, one can be brought back into Krsna consciousness from the deadly unconscious state of material life by hearing of the maha-mantra: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

                                                                                    The Nectar of Devotion

As many of the devotees of your group have committed to chanting 16 malas, you can ask their realizations on chanting and how they make the time to chant everyday. You can guide them to do better, and also those who are chanting less rounds will feel inspired to keep improving their chanting. Encourage them to chant in the early morning hours of the day (Brahma muhurtha hour) when their minds will also be fresh and calm after a good night’s rest. To begin with they should chant at least 8 rounds before they start the day’s work. They should gradually come up to the level of chanting all their rounds in the morning. Help them to schedule their day, so that they can fit in japa, Mangala Arathi as well as reading of the Bhagavad Gita, as well as Sandhya Arathi (if possible) daily.

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-4 Text-34

tad viddhi pranipatena

pariprasnena sevaya

upadeksyanti te jnanam

jnaninas tattva-darsinah

TRANSLATION

Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized souls can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth.

PURPORT

The path of spiritual realization is undoubtedly difficult. The Lord therefore advises us to approach a bona fide spiritual master in the line of disciplic succession from the Lord Himself. No one can be a bona fide spiritual master without following this principle of disciplic succession.

The Lord is the original spiritual master, and a person in the disciplic succession can convey the message of the Lord as it is to his disciple. No one can be spiritually realized by manufacturing his own process, as is the fashion of the foolish pretenders. The Bhagavatam (6.3.19) says, dharmam tu saksad bhagavat-pranitam: the path of religion is directly enunciated by the Lord. Therefore, mental speculation or dry arguments cannot help lead one to the right path. Nor by independent study of books of knowledge can one progress in spiritual life.

 One has to approach a bona fide spiritual master to receive the knowledge. Such a spiritual master should be accepted in full surrender, and one should serve the spiritual master like a menial servant, without false prestige. Satisfaction of the self-realized spiritual master is the secret of advancement in spiritual life. Inquiries and submission constitute the proper combination for spiritual understanding. Unless there is submission and service, inquiries from the learned spiritual master will not be effective. One must be able to pass the test of the spiritual master, and when he sees the genuine desire of the disciple, he automatically blesses the disciple with genuine spiritual understanding.

In this verse, both blind following and absurd inquiries are condemned. Not only should one hear submissively from the spiritual master, but one must also get a clear understanding from him, in submission and service and inquiries.

 A bona fide spiritual master is by nature very kind toward the disciple. Therefore when the student is submissive and is always ready to render service, the reciprocation of knowledge and inquiries becomes perfect.

Discovery:

1)      What is the Lord’s advice on who we can choose as our spiritual master?

Understanding:

1)      Why is it so important to accept a Guru who belongs to a proper disciplic succession?

2)      Describe how we must approach a spiritual master and how we must enquire the truth from him?

3)      How do we advance in spiritual realization?

4)      What two things are condemned in our relationship with the spiritual master?

5)      Why is it important to please the Guru?

Application:

What are your thoughts about accepting a living Guru in order to further progress in your spiritual life?

Preaching Session: 15 minutes

Read out the following passage:

                                       Preaching is the essence

                   His Divine Grace A.C. Bhakti Vedanta Swami Prabhupada                  

Page 43

The Preachers approach everyone impartially:

…..vedantavadis, or the bhakti- vedantas, are impartial in distributing the transcendental knowledge of devotional service. To them no one is enemy or friend: and no one is educated or uneducated. No one is especially favorable, and no one is unfavorable. The bhakti-vedantas see that the people in general are wasting time

in false sensuous things, their business is to get the ignorant mass of people to reestablish the lost relationship with the Personality of Godhead. By such endeavor, even the most forgotten soul is roused up to the sense of spiritual life, and thus being initiated by the bhakti-vedantas, the people in general gradually progress on the path of transcendental realization.

                                                                                    Bhag. 1.5.24 (1:1, pp.271-2272)

After sharing your preaching activities for the week, you can make plans for the forth coming week in this way:

To take along with you one of the senior preachers who were accompanying you in the past few weeks for visiting new contacts. Only this time, let them do all the talking while you support them in their service, and later on you can give an assessment of how well they did. In this way, they will be quickly trained and gain the confidence to go out on visits on their own and take along the junior devotees in the group along with them.

You can ask the junior members for their reports on who 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

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

Please enter the details about your members attending this week:

No:

Members

Attendance

   Current Siksa status

Remarks