Week 43

Attending the weekly Bhakti Vrksha now must be very exciting for the members as there are so many prospective leaders being trained to lead. This must have already sparked a sense of responsibility and adventure in them.

Make an announcement about the Vyuha program that is to be conducted in the following week. Discuss and allot responsibilities and services. You can make a team to discuss the various services to be performed. You can just check up in the end if every detail was covered. You can then co-ordinate with the other Vrinda leaders for having the joint program.

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: “If you were to ask Krishna to change one thing in the world today, what would that be?.

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 222

Chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra revives one’s dormant, eternal Krsna consciousness:

The transcendental vibration established by the chanting of Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsan Krsan, Hare Hare/Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare is the sublime method for reviving our transcendental consciousness. As living spiritual souls, we are all originally Krsna conscious entities, but due to out association, with matter from time immemorial, our consciousness is now adulterated by the material atmosphere. The material atmosphere, in which we are now living, is called maya, or illusion. Maya means “that which is not.” And what is this illusion? The illusion is that we are all trying to be lords of material nature, while actually we are under the grip of her stringent laws. When a servant artificially tries to imitate the all-powerful master, he is said to be in illusion. We are trying to exploit the resources of material nature, but actually we are becoming more and more entangled in her complexities. Therefore, although we are engaged in a hand struggle to conquer  nature,  we  are ever more dependent on her. This illusory struggle against material nature can be stopped at once by revival of our eternal Krsna consciousness.

Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare is the treancendental process for reviving this original, pure consciousness. By chanting this transcendental vibration, we can cleanse away all such misgivings within our hearts. The basic principle of all such misgivings is the false consciousness that I am the lord of all I survey.

Krsna consciousness is not an artificial imposition on the mind. This consciousness is the original, natural energy of the living entity. When we hear this transcendental vibration, this consciousness is reivied. This simplest method of mediation is recommended for this age…… No other means of spiritual realization is as effective in this age of quarrel and hypocrisy as the chanting of the maha-mantra: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

                                                                        The Science of Self -Realization                                                                                            

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 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. If there are 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-6 Text-18

TEXT 18

Yada viniyatam cittam

atmany evavatisthate

nisprhah sarva-kamebhyo

yukta ity ucyate tada

TRANSLATION

When the yogi, by practice of yoga, disciplines his mental activities and becomes situated in transcendence—devoid of all material desires—he is said to be well established in yoga.

PURPORT

The activities of the yogi are distinguished from those of an ordinary person by his characteristic cessation from all kinds of material desires—of which sex is the chief. A perfect yogi is so well disciplined in the activities of the mind that he can no longer be disturbed by any kind of material desire. This perfectional stage can automatically be attained by persons in Krsna consciousness, as stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (9.4.18–20):

sa vai manah krsna-padaravindayor
vacamsi vaikuntha-gunanuvarnane
karau harer mandira-marjanadisu
srutim cakaracyuta-sat-kathodaye

mukunda-lingalaya-darsane drsau
tad-bhrtya-gatra-sparsenga-sangamam
ghranam ca tat-pada-saroja-saurabhe
srimat-tulasya rasanam tad-arpite

padau hareh ksetra-padanusarpane
siro hrsikesa-padabhivandane
kamam ca dasye na tu kama-kamyaya
yathottama-sloka-janasraya ratih

“King Ambarisa first of all engaged his mind on the lotus feet of Lord Krsna; then, one after another, he engaged his words in describing the transcendental qualities of the Lord, his hands in mopping the temple of the Lord, his ears in hearing of the activities of the Lord, his eyes in seeing the transcendental forms of the Lord, his body in touching the bodies of the devotees, his sense of smell in smelling the scents of the lotus flowers offered to the Lord, his tongue in tasting the tulasi leaf offered at the lotus feet of the Lord, his legs in going to places of pilgrimage and the temple of the Lord, his head in offering obeisances unto the Lord, and his desires in executing the mission of the Lord. All these transcendental activities are quite befitting a pure devotee.”

 This transcendental stage may be inexpressible subjectively by the followers of the impersonalist path, but it becomes very easy and practical for a person in Krsna consciousness, as is apparent in the above description of the engagements of Maharaja Ambarisa. Unless the mind is fixed on the lotus feet of the Lord by constant remembrance, such transcendental engagements are not practical. In the devotional service of the Lord, therefore, these prescribed activities are called arcana, or engaging all the senses in the service of the Lord. The senses and the mind require engagements. Simple abnegation is not practical. Therefore, for people in general—especially those who are not in the renounced order of life—transcendental engagement of the senses and the mind as described above is the perfect process for transcendental achievement, which is called yukta in the Bhagavad-gita.

Discovery:

1)      When is a person said to be situated in perfect yoga?

Understanding:

1)      How do persons in Krishna consciousness achieve this perfection automatically? Explain with the example of king Ambarisa.

2)      When is it possible for us to be always engaged in transcendental engagements?

3)      Why is it much easier for devotees to achieve the transcendental state than the impersonalists?

Application:

List all your activities in Krishna consciousness during the day. What are the times that you remember Krishna?

Preaching Session: 15 minutes

Read out the following passage:

                                       Preaching is the essence

                   His Divine Grace A.C. Bhakti Vedanta Swami Prabhupada                  

Page 46

The preacher is recognized by Krsna:

If one gives the conditioned souls a chance to become Krsna conscious, all his activities are approved by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is extremely pleased…. Following the examples of the previous acaryas, all the members of the Krsna consciousness movement should try to benefit the conditioned souls by inducing them to become Krsna conscious and giving them all facilities to do so… By such activities, a preacher or anyone who endeavors to spread Krsna consciousness is recognized by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As the Lord Himself confirms in Bhagavad-gita…. “For one who explains the supreme secret to the devotees, devotional service is guaranteed, and at the end he will come back to Me. There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be one more dear.”

                                                                        Bhag. 6.4.44 ( VI:1,pp 246-247)                                                                                                                                                                               

Ask the devotees who conducted the various parts of the Bhakti Vrksha 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 Sankirtan 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