You should have been creating a family feeling among your Bhakti Vrksha members by having periodic vyuha programs, picnics, get togethers etc as has been mentioned in the modules. This goes a long way in building up close spiritual relationships which is the chief impetus for devotees to commit themselves more and more to Krishna consciousness.
Satsanga: 15 minutes
Engage one of the senior devotees of your group to lead the Satsanga.
For those who are still a little new to the group or are somehow not reading yet, you could ask the question: . “Tell us one thing that you learned in your childhood that is now useful in your spiritual life..”
You can ask another devotee to read out the following passage. Let him conduct the japa session by leading the japa. After japa, He should ask two or three devotees from the group to share their progress in their daily chanting.
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.
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 issues etc, to substantiate the topic.
FROM “BHAGAVAD-GITA As It Is
BY DIVINE GRACE A.C. BHAKTIVEDANTA SWAMI PRABHUPADA
Bg. Ch-6 Text-40
Partha naiveha namutra
Vinasas tasya vidyate
na hi kalyana-krt kascid
durgatim tata gacchati
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: O Son of Prtha, a transcendentalist engaged in auspicious activities does not meet with destruction either in this world or in the spiritual world; one who does good, My friend, is never overcome by evil.
In the Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.5.17) Sri Narada Muni instructs Vyasadeva as follows:
tyaktva sva-dharmam caranambujam harer
“If someone gives up all material prospects and takes complete shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, there is no loss or degradation in any way. On the other hand a non-devotee may fully engage in his occupational duties and yet not gain anything.” For material prospects there are many activities, both scriptural and customary. A transcendentalist is supposed to give up all material activities for the sake of spiritual advancement in life, Krsna consciousness.
One may argue that by Krsna consciousness one may attain the highest perfection if it is completed, but if one does not attain such a perfectional stage, then he loses both materially and spiritually. It is enjoined in the scriptures that one has to suffer the reaction for not executing prescribed duties; therefore one who fails to discharge transcendental activities properly becomes subjected to these reactions.
The Bhagavatam assures the unsuccessful transcendentalist that there need be no worries. Even though he may be subjected to the reaction for not perfectly executing prescribed duties, he is still not a loser, because auspicious Krsna consciousness is never forgotten, and one so engaged will continue to be so even if he is lowborn in the next life. On the other hand, one who simply follows strictly the prescribed duties need not necessarily attain auspicious results if he is lacking in Krsna consciousness.
The purport may be understood as follows. Humanity may be divided into two sections, namely, the regulated and the non-regulated. Those who are engaged simply in bestial sense gratifications without knowledge of their next life or spiritual salvation belong to the non-regulated section. And those who follow the principles of prescribed duties in the scriptures are classified amongst the regulated section. The non-regulated section, civilized and non-civilized, educated and non-educated, strong and weak, are full of animal propensities. Their activities are never auspicious, because while enjoying the animal propensities of eating, sleeping, defending and mating, they perpetually remain in material existence, which is always miserable. On the other hand, those who are regulated by scriptural injunctions, and who thus rise gradually to Krsna consciousness, certainly progress in life.
Those who are following the path of auspiciousness can be divided into three sections, namely (1) the followers of scriptural rules and regulations who are enjoying material prosperity, (2) those who are trying to find ultimate liberation from material existence, and (3) those who are devotees in Krsna consciousness.
Those who are following the rules and regulations of the scriptures for material happiness may be further divided into two classes: those who are fruitive workers and those who desire no fruit for sense gratification. Those who are after fruitive results for sense gratification may be elevated to a higher standard of life—even to the higher planets—but still, because they are not free from material existence, they are not following the truly auspicious path. The only auspicious activities are those which lead one to liberation. Any activity which is not aimed at ultimate self-realization or liberation from the material bodily concept of life is not at all auspicious.
Activity in Krsna consciousness is the only auspicious activity, and anyone who voluntarily accepts all bodily discomforts for the sake of making progress on the path of Krsna consciousness can be called a perfect transcendentalist under severe austerity. And because the eightfold yoga system is directed toward the ultimate realization of Krsna consciousness, such practice is also auspicious, and no one who is trying his best in this matter need fear degradation.
1) What is Krishna’s assurance to those engaged in spiritual activities?
1) Why is taking up the path of devotional service the most important thing? How does Srila Narada explain this fact in comparison to doing one’s occupational duties?
2) What will happen materially in his next birth to a person who gives up material duties for a spiritual life, but is unable to attain perfection in his spiritual life either?
3) What happens to his spiritual life in his next birth?
4) What happens to a person performing his material duties properly, but no devotional service to the Lord?
5) Why is it bad to lead an unregulated life?
6) Explain the 3 kinds of people leading a regulated life of following scriptural injunctions.
7) Which categories of people among these regulated people are actually following the auspicious path? Why?
8) Which is the most auspicious goal? Why can we be fearless if we have such a goal?
Application: How important is Krishna consciousness to you? Please share your views.
Preaching Session: 15 minutes
Read out the following passage:
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 their confidence as well as in giving the necessary feed back on how effective they were and where they need to improve. Your judgment of their performance is very important for them to understand the correct standards of 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 good
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.
Fix up which devotee is going to accompany you for the week.
You can enquire from the group their progress in their book distribution, prasadam distribution, street Sankirtan, etc. These experiences will give them exposure to dealing with new people and gaining contacts for inviting them to different programs, especially the outreach programs and the new vrindas to be started by the trainee leaders shortly.
Prasadam: 20 minutes
You can entrust the planning and organizing of cooking and serving prasadam as well as the cleaning up with the trainee leaders. They should consult with you before finalizing the menu so that they are trained to organize the prasadam well. Otherwise they might consider it a difficult task to start a vrinda of their own. If they gain experience in managing prasadam, they will not hesitate to enthusiastically start one. Make sure the menu is simple and easy to be prepared by themselves.
Immediately after the devotees have left the program kindly fill in the following from:
Please enter the details about your members attending this week:
Current Siksa status