Week 41

The devotees who are progressing as per schedule need to be given training on how to preach confidently and expertly to new people. The idea is that by the end of 64 weeks, quite a few of them will be ready and will agree to lead Bhakti Vrksha on their own, though under the supervision and direction of you who will then be acting in the role of a sector leader. You have to engage them from now on in conducting different parts of the program, and you can witness how they perform and must correct them wherever they go wrong.

You can ask one devotee to lead the Satsanga, another devotee the kirtana, a third, the spiritual edification session, etc. After a few more weeks you can also ask them to lead the preaching sessions.

In the subsequent weeks, you can shuffle the names of all the eligible candidates for receiving the training, and in this way develop the communication and leadership skills in them.

Have a meeting with all the possible trainees and give them a briefing on how each part of the program is conducted. They can go through the instructions that are there in the modules.

Since they are doing it right before you, they will not be too diffident about making mistakes, as you are there to correct them. Also the other members will feel comfortable due to your presence, and will not mind them conducting it.  

Satsanga:  15 minutes

Engage one of the senior devotees of your group to lead the Satsanga.

Let them go through the following instructions before conducting it.

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:   Describe an episode in which you lied to someone or someone lied to you. How did you feel after?   

 

Kirtana: 15 minutes

Assign another senior devotee of the group to lead the Kirtana. Let them be responsible for the Kirtana session by ensuring that the new members get the copies of the mantras being sung, and that they offer the incense to the Deities, etc. 

 

Japa…. 15 minutes

You can ask another of the devotee to read out the following passage below and then conduct the japa session by leading the japa and later making the enquiries of some of the devotees’ japa and their realizations on their progress. :

                            Sri Namamrta  - The Nectar of the Holy Name

Page 220

The spiritual consciousness of the sleeping conditioned soul can be relieved by the transcendental sound of the maha-mantra.

            Spiritual existence is eternal, whereas the body is not. It is said that the spiritual atmosphere is avyakta, uumanifest. How, then, can it be manifest for us? Making the unmanifest manifest is this very process, of Krsna consciousness. According to Padma Purana,

                                                atah sri-krisna-namadi

                                            na bhaved grahyam indriyaih

                                                sevonmukhe hi jihvadau

                                            svayam eva sphuraty adah

                                                            {BRS.3}

“No one can understand the transcendental nature of the name, form, quality and pastimes of Sri Krsna through his materially contaminated senses. Only when one becomes spiritually saturated

by transcendental service to the Lord are the transcendental name, form quality and pastimes of the lord revealed to him.” (Bhakti-rasamtra-sindhu 1.2.234)1.2.234)

“No  one can understand Krsna as He is by the blunt material senses. But He reveals Himself to the devotees, being pleased with them for their transcendental loving service unto Him.

In this verse, the word indriyaaih means “the senses.” We have five senses for gathering knowledge (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin), and five senses for working (voice, hands legs, genitals, and anus). These ten senses are under the control of the mind. It is stated in this verse that with these dull material senses, we cannot understand Krsna’s name, form, and so forth. Why is this? Krsna is completely spiritual, and He is also absolute. Therefore His name, form, qualities, and paraphernalia are also spiritual .Due to material conditioning, or material bondage, we cannot presently understand what is spiritual, but this ignorance can be removed by chanting Hare Krsna. If a man is sleeping, he can be awakened by sound vibration. You can call him, “Come on, it’s time to get up!” Although the person in unconscious, hearing is so prominent that even a sleeping man can be awakened by sound vibration. Similarly, overpowered by this material conditioning, our spiritual consciousness is presently sleeping, but it can be revived by this transcendental vibration of Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

                                                                                                The Path of Perfection

Ask some of the devotees to share about their japa and how they feel about it. You can cover a few devotees every week, so that everybody is covered and at the same time, it does not go beyond the japa session.

Spiritual Edification- 45 minutes

 Ask one of the most serious devotees to conduct this session. Everyone will get their turns, but a serious devotee will set the right precedent for the other trainees to follow. Also the group will enjoy the experience. They might be apprehensive to be led by someone other than whom they are used to. Make sure that you are also present during the discussion and take part in it as a regular member. You can also correct the trainee leader wherever he goes wrong very discreetly, so that he does not feel too embarrassed. Since the trainee leader is with his fellow students, he will not mind being openly corrected. Once they become leaders of new groups your correction will have to be in private.

Please ask the trainee leader to go through the following instructions and the passage well in advance and discuss with you about extra points on the topic before the session.

Please read out the passage and start asking the questions. (Do not explain it to them.)  Let the people assembled find out the answers from the passage themselves. Please engage everyone in answering. You can ask two, three people to add to the same answer. Move from one person to the next and give them sufficient time to think. You could ask leading questions for them to go deeper and clearer in understanding the subject matter and in giving relevant replies.

The application question has to be answered by everyone.

This is the most important part of the discussion, and so you must provide sufficient time of at least 15 to 20 minutes for it.

You should at last sum up all the points and give more points that you have.

The Bhakti Vrksha leader should at last sum up all the points and give more points that he has.

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.  You can have a discussion for them separately. If there is only one new member, you can have a discussion with him. 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-35

yaj jnatva na punar moham

evam yasyasi pandava

yena bhutany asesani

draksyasy atmany atho mayi

TRANSLATION

Having obtained real knowledge from a self-realized soul, you will never fall again into such illusion, for by this knowledge you will see that all living beings are but part of the Supreme, or, in other words, that they are Mine.

PURPORT

The result of receiving knowledge from a self-realized soul, or one who knows things as they are, is learning that all living beings are parts and parcels of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Sri Krsna. The sense of an existence separate from Krsna is called maya (ma—not, ya—this).

Some think that we have nothing to do with Krsna, that Krsna is only a great historical personality and that the Absolute is the impersonal Brahman. Factually, as it is stated in the Bhagavad-gita, this impersonal Brahman is the personal effulgence of Krsna. Krsna, as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the cause of everything.

In the Brahma-samhita it is clearly stated that Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the cause of all causes. Even the millions of incarnations are only His different expansions. Similarly, the living entities are also expansions of Krsna. The Mayavadi philosophers wrongly think that Krsna loses His own separate existence in His many expansions. This thought is material in nature. We have experience in the material world that a thing, when fragmentally distributed, loses its own original identity. But the Mayavadi philosophers fail to understand that absolute means that one plus one is equal to one, and that one minus one is also equal to one. This is the case in the absolute world.

 For want of sufficient knowledge in the absolute science, we are now covered with illusion, and therefore we think that we are separate from Krsna. Although we are separated parts of Krsna, we are nevertheless not different from Him. The bodily difference of the living entities is maya, or not actual fact. We are all meant to satisfy Krsna. By maya alone Arjuna thought that the temporary bodily relationship with his kinsmen was more important than his eternal spiritual relationship with Krsna. The whole teaching of the Gita is targeted toward this end: that a living being, as Krsna’s eternal servitor, cannot be separated from Krsna, and his sense of being an identity apart from Krsna is called maya.

 The living entities, as separate parts and parcels of the Supreme, have a purpose to fulfill. Having forgotten that purpose since time immemorial, they are situated in different bodies, as men, animals, demigods, etc. Such bodily differences arise from forgetfulness of the transcendental service of the Lord. But when one is engaged in transcendental service through Krsna consciousness, one becomes at once liberated from this illusion. One can acquire such pure knowledge only from the bona fide spiritual master and thereby avoid the delusion that the living entity is equal to Krsna.

Perfect knowledge is that the Supreme Soul, Krsna, is the supreme shelter for all living entities, and giving up such shelter, the living entities are deluded by the material energy, imagining themselves to have a separate identity. Thus, under different standards of material identity, they become forgetful of Krsna. When, however, such deluded living entities become situated in Krsna consciousness, it is to be understood that they are on the path of liberation, as confirmed in the Bhagavatam (2.10.6): muktir hitvanyatha-rupam svarupena vyavasthitih. Liberation means to be situated in one’s constitutional position as an eternal servitor of Krsna (Krsna consciousness).

Discovery:

1) What  knowledge  can we get from a self realized soul?

Understanding:

1)      What do some people wrongly say about Krishna? What is the absolute truth according to them?

2)      What is Brahma Samhita’s explanation of the Absolute truth?

3)      Why do the Mayavadis think that Krishna becomes fragmented when He expands Himself into various expansions? Explain with an example.

4)      What do we think is our identity when we are in Maya?

5)      When are we actually liberated?

Application:

1)    Do you sometimes have to battle with 2 identities that you have at present, one material and the other spiritual? Share an experience of such a conflict and which identity prevailed at the end.

Preaching Session : 15 minutes

Read out the following passage:

                                       Preaching is the essence

                   His Divine Grace A.C. Bhakti Vedanta Swami Prabhupada                  

Page 43

Krsna consciousness should be distributed to everyone, without discrimination:

With great respect, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu requested Advaita Acarya, “Give Krsna consciousness, devotion to Krsna, even to the lowest of men [candalas].”

This is Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s order to all His devotees. Krsn-bhakti, devotion to Krsna, is open to everyone, even low-class men like candalas. One should follow this order in the disciplic succession stemming from Sri Advaita and Nityananda Prabhu and distribute Krsna consciousness without discrimination throughout the world.

There are different kinds of men, beginning with the brahmana and going down to the lowest platform known as candala. Whatever one’s position, everyone in this age of Kali needs to be enlightened in Krsna consciousness. That is the greatest need of the day. Everyone is acutely feeling the pangs material existence…. Everyone is feeling the resultant pinpricks of Kali-yuga brought about by human society’s indulging in illicit sex, meat-eating, gambling and intoxication. Now is the time for the members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness to distribute Krsna-bhakti all over the world and thus follow the orders of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. The Lord has ordered everyone to become a guru (Cc. Madhya 7.128)…. Everyone in every town and village should be enlightened by the instructions of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Krsna consciousness should be distributed to everyone discriminately. In this way, the entire world will be peaceful and happy, and everyone will glorify Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, as He desires.

The word candala actually refers to a dog-eater, who is considered the lowest of men. Even candala can be enlightened in Krsna consciousness due to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s benedictions. Krsna-bhakti is not the monopoly of a certain caste. Everyone is eligible to receive this great benediction given by /Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Everyone should be given a chance to receive it and be happy.

                                                            Cc. Madhaya 15.41 (Madhaya:6,p.20)                                                                                                                                            

Discuss how the different senior devotees felt after conducting the different features of the Bhakti Vrksha program. The other members will also appreciate what is going on and what is also in store for them as they progress along. There will be a lot of cooperation among all of them due to this. Draw up a roaster of which devotee will conduct which aspect of the program for the coming weeks.

As for the home visits, you can entrust some of the senior devotees who have been accompanying you in the last few weeks, to take along the junior devotees (chanting 4 rounds at least and are regularly attending the Bhakti Vrksha) for the visits, so that the junior devotees will also get trained in this aspect of preaching.

You can start taking the senior devotees now, one by one with you as you make the home visits to the members of your group starting with the junior most. This will create a lot of bonding, will help remove anarthas faster and make them inspired to progress faster in their Krishna consciousness.

You can also encourage them in their book distribution, prasadam distribution, street Sankirtan etc, wherever possible. These will give them exposure to dealing with new people and gaining contacts for inviting for festivals, etc, and also for their new prospective Bhakti Vrksha.       

Prasadam: 20 minutes

You can also entrust the planning and organizing of the prasadam with the senior members. They should consult with you before finalizing the menu etc, so they get trained to organize prasadam as well. Otherwise they might consider a difficult task to do if they were to start a Bhakti Vrksha of their own. And such a glorious service as conducting a Bhakti Vrksha may be stopped due to apprehensions about prasadam.

If they are experienced with managing prasadam, they will not hesitate to enthusiastically start a Bhakti Vrksha of their own. Make sure the menu is as simple and uncomplicated as possible, so that it is easy for everyone to follow.

Immediately after the devotees have left the program kindly fill in the following from:

Please enter the details about your members attending this week:

No:

Members

Attendance

   Current Siksa status

Remarks