Week 42

You have to make them aware that shortly the group will be multiplying and that many of them could become Bhakti Vrksha leaders after being properly trained. The study classes that you are conducting should also have given them sufficient incentive to gain more knowledge of the Bhagavad Gita as well as the Srimad Bhagavatam and other smaller books of Srila Prabhupada’s more systematically.

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: “Tell us of a time when you felt blessed by the Lord.”

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 221

By chanting the holy name, one’s heart is purified and one’s original Krsna consciousness is awakened:

            The understanding of Krsna consciousness is innate in every living entity, and it is already developed to some extent when the living entity takes a human body. It is said in Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhaya-lila 22.107):

nitya-siddha Krsna-premasadhyaKabhu naya

                        sravanadi-suddha-citte Karaye udaya

 “Pure love for Krsna is eternally established in the hearts of living entities. It is not something to be gained from another source. When the heart is purified by hearing and chanting, the living entity naturally awakens.”

Since Krsna consciousness is inherent in every living entity, everyone should be given a chance to hear about Krsna. Simply by hearing and chanting—Sravanam Kirtanam—one’s heart is directly purified, and one’s original Krsna consciousness is immediately awakened. Krsna consciousness is not artificially imposed upon the heart, it is already there. When one chants the holy name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the heart is cleaned of all material contamination.

                                                                        The Nectar of  Instruction Text-4                                                                                                                              

Spiritual Edification- 45 minutes

Ask one of the most serious devotees in the group to conduct this session. All the senior devotees 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 will as it is be a little 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.

The application question has to be answered by everyone.

The Bhakti Vrksa 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. 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-5 Text-29

bhoktaram yajna-tapasam

sarva-loka-mahesvaram

suhrdam sarva-bhutanam

jnatva mam santim rcchati

TRANSLATION

A person in full consciousness of Me, knowing Me to be the ultimate beneficiary of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods, and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attains peace from the pangs of material miseries.

PURPORT

The conditioned souls within the clutches of illusory energy are all anxious to attain peace in the material world. But they do not know the formula for peace, which is explained in this part of the Bhagavad-gita. The greatest peace formula is simply this: Lord Krsna is the beneficiary in all human activities. Men should offer everything to the transcendental service of the Lord because He is the proprietor of all planets and the demigods thereon. No one is greater than He. He is greater than the greatest of the demigods, Lord Siva and Lord Brahma.

In the Vedas (Svetasvatara Upanisad 6.7) the Supreme Lord is described as tam isvaranam paramam mahesvaram. Under the spell of illusion, living entities are trying to be lords of all they survey, but actually they are dominated by the material energy of the Lord. The Lord is the master of material nature, and the conditioned souls are under the stringent rules of material nature. Unless one understands these bare facts, it is not possible to achieve peace in the world either individually or collectively. This is the sense of Krsna consciousness: Lord Krsna is the supreme predominator, and all living entities, including the great demigods, are His subordinates. One can attain perfect peace only in complete Krsna consciousness.

 This Fifth Chapter is a practical explanation of Krsna consciousness, generally known as karma-yoga. The question of mental speculation as to how karma-yoga can give liberation is answered herewith. To work in Krsna consciousness is to work with the complete knowledge of the Lord as the predominator. Such work is not different from transcendental knowledge.

Direct Krsna consciousness is bhakti-yoga, and jnana-yoga is a path leading to bhakti-yoga. Krsna consciousness means to work in full knowledge of one’s relationship with the Supreme Absolute, and the perfection of this consciousness is full knowledge of Krsna, or the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

A pure soul is the eternal servant of God as His fragmental part and parcel. He comes into contact with maya (illusion) due to the desire to lord it over maya, and that is the cause of his many sufferings. As long as he is in contact with matter, he has to execute work in terms of material necessities. Krsna consciousness, however, brings one into spiritual life even while one is within the jurisdiction of matter, for it is an arousing of spiritual existence by practice in the material world. The more one is advanced, the more he is freed from the clutches of matter.

 The Lord is not partial toward anyone. Everything depends on one’s practical performance of duties in Krsna consciousness, which helps one control the senses in every respect and conquer the influence of desire and anger. And one who stands fast in Krsna consciousness, controlling the abovementioned passions, remains factually in the transcendental stage, or brahma-nirvana. The eightfold yoga mysticism is automatically practiced in Krsna consciousness because the ultimate purpose is served. There is a gradual process of elevation in the practice of yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi. But these only preface perfection by devotional service, which alone can award peace to the human being. It is the highest perfection of life.

Discovery:

1)      What 3 things do we need to know for attaining peace from material anxieties?

Understanding:

 1) Why should Lord Krishna be the beneficiary in all our activities?

 2) Why do living entities in the material world serve Maya instead?

 3) What happens when they are under Maya?

 4) How can one come out of Maya’s control?

 5) Why is action in Krsna consciousness considered to be the highest perfection of life?

Application:

1) Share your realizations on the times you feel anxious or depressed. Can you think of how you can preach to yourself in those moments?

2)Discovery:

Understanding:

1)Why should  Lord Krishna be the beneficiary of all our activities?

2)How can Krishna control  everything?

3)What is our understanding of Krishna and ourselves when we do Karma yoga?

4)Why are we forced to suffer in this material world?

5)How can we begin our spiritual existence even when we are working for our material necessities?

6)5) How can we come to the transcendental stage?

7)Why is performing devotional service superior to performing the eight fold yoga system?

Application:

1) Share your understanding of how  Krishna consciousness is helping you develop peace and happiness in your life.

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Preaching Session: 15 minutes

Read out the following passage:

                                       Preaching is the essence

                   His Divine Grace A.C. Bhakti Vedanta Swami Prabhupada                  

Page 44

The Krsna consciousness movement should be spread everywhere, to everyone, without restriction:

In distributing love of Godhead, Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates did not consider who was a fit candidate and who was not, nor where such distribution should or should not take place. They made no conditions. Wherever they got the opportunity the members of the Panca-ttava distributed love of Godhead.

………here is an authoritative statement that in distributing love of Godhead one should not consider whether the recipients are Europeans, Americans, Hindus, Muslims, etc,. The Krsna consciousness movement should be spread wherever possible….Sri Caitnaya Mahaprabhu desired that His name be spread in each and every town and village on the surface of the globe.

                                                            Cc. Adi 7.23 (Adi: 2,pp. 17-18)         

Ask the devotees who conducted the various parts of the Bhakti Vriksha now, to share their realizations on their new experiences. You can also ask for the group’s evaluation of the various trainees’ performances. Since all of them are their peers, no one will mind this kind of evaluation. On the other hand it can be very helpful in boosting the confidence as well as giving the necessary feed back on how effective they were and where they need to improve. Of course your judgment of their performance has to be also said so that they understand the correct standards for evaluation. For example, it is not necessary that a good speaker is the best leader, but that one who facilitates well is the one who is.

Ask for the report of the home visits of the senior devotees along with juniors to some new contacts’ homes.

Continue taking a senior devotee along with you to visit more junior devotees’ homes.

You can enquire from  the group their progress in their book distribution, prasadam distribution, street Sankirtana etc, These will give them exposure to dealing with new people and gaining contacts for inviting for festivals, etc, and also for the new prospective Bhakti Vrksha by the trainee leaders shortly.       

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