Week 46

It is very important to train the devotees in their sadhana practices, as well as in rendering practical services properly. You will have to have  a few sessions separately with them to check up on their regularity of performing the Mangala Arathi, Guru Puja, Sandhya Arathi, etc, that they know the exact procedures of conducting the Arathis, the different mantras for offering bhoga to the Lord, honoring  prasadam, etc,.

They should also be taught the tilaka mantras and asked to wear them everyday (they could apply with water on the forehead when they go out for work, they should wear the Tulasi neck beads (could be hidden if they wish), but must wear it for their protection).

You should also ensure that all of them know the different Arathi songs that they know to play at least the karatala well, and know how to set up the altar.

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 one thing that you learned in your childhood that is now useful in your spiritual life..”

 

 

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.

Japa…. 15 minutes

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.  .

                            Sri Namamrta  - The Nectar of the Holy Name

Page 227

Chanting the Hare Krsna mantra brings one to the point of full surrender to the lotus feet of krsna.

[Haridasa Thakura to the reformed prostitute]: “Chant the Hare Krsna mantra continuously and render service to the tulasi plant by watering her and offering prayers to her. In this way you will soon get the opportunity to be sheltered at the lotus feet of Krsna.”

At least five thousand years ago, Lord Sri Krsna expressed His desire that everyone surrender to Him (Sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja [Bg.18.66]. Why is it that people cannot do this? Krsna assures us, aham tvam sarva-papebhyo moksayisyamima sucah: “I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.”

  Everyone is suffering from the results of sinful activities, but Krsna says that if one surrenders unto Him, He will protect one from sinful reactions. Modern civilization, however, is interested neither in Krsna nor in getting relief from sinful acts. Therefore men are suffering. Surrender is the ultimate instruction of  Bhagavad-gita, but for one who cannot surrender to the lotus feet of Krsna, it is better to chant the Hare Krsna mantra constantly, under the instruction of  Haridas Thakuara……. although Krsna wants everyone to surrender to His louts feet, because of people’s sinful activities they cannot do this. Na mam duskrtino mudhah prapadyante naradhamah: [Bg. 7.15] rascals and fools, the lowest of men, who engage in sinful activities, cannot suddenly surrender to the lotus feet of Krsna. Nevertheless, if they begin chanting the Hare Krsna mantra and rendering service unto the tulasi plant, they will very soon be able to surrender.

One’s real duty is to surrender to the lotus feet of Krsna, but if one is unable to do so he should adopt this process, as introduced by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His most confidential servant. Namacarya Srila Haridasa Thakura. This is the way to achieve success in Krsna consciousness.

                                                            Sri Caitanya-Caritamrta Antya-lila 3.137                                                                                                                            

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 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.

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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.

SPIRITUAL EDIFICATION 
FROM   “BHAGAVAD-GITA As It Is

BY DIVINE GRACE A.C. BHAKTIVEDANTA SWAMI PRABHUPADA

Bg. Ch-7 Text- 7

TEXT 7

mattah parataram nanyat

kincid asti dhananjaya

mayi sarvam idam protam

sutre mani-gana iva

TRANSLATION

O conqueror of wealth, there is no truth superior to Me. Everything rests upon Me, as pearls are strung on a thread.

PURPORT

There is a common controversy over whether the Supreme Absolute Truth is personal or impersonal. As far as Bhagavad-gita is concerned, the Absolute Truth is the Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna, and this is confirmed in every step. In this verse, in particular, it is stressed that the Absolute Truth is a person.

That the Personality of Godhead is the Supreme Absolute Truth is also the affirmation of the Brahma-samhita: isvarah paramah krsnah sac-cid-ananda-vigrahah; that is, the Supreme Absolute Truth Personality of Godhead is Lord Krsna, who is the primeval Lord, the reservoir of all pleasure, Govinda, and the eternal form of complete bliss and knowledge.

These authorities leave no doubt that the Absolute Truth is the Supreme Person, the cause of all causes. The impersonalist, however, argues on the strength of the Vedic version given in the Svetasvatara Upanisad (3.10): tato yad uttarataram tad arupam anamayam/ ya etad vidur amrtas te bhavanti athetare duhkham evapiyanti. “In the material world Brahma, the primeval living entity within the universe, is understood to be the supreme amongst the demigods, human beings and lower animals. But beyond Brahma there is the Transcendence, who has no material form and is free from all material contaminations. Anyone who can know Him also becomes transcendental, but those who do not know Him suffer the miseries of the material world.”

 The impersonalist puts more stress on the word arupam. But this arupam is not impersonal. It indicates the transcendental form of eternity, bliss and knowledge as described in the Brahma-samhita quoted above. Other verses in the Svetasvatara Upanisad (3.8–9) substantiate this as follows:

vedaham etam purusam mahantam
aditya-varnam tamasah parastat
tam eva viditvati mrtyum eti
nanyah pantha vidyateyanaya

yasmat param naparam asti kincid
yasman naniyo no jyayosti kincit
vrksa iva stabdho divi tisthaty ekas
tenedam purnam purusena sarvam

“I know that Supreme Personality of Godhead who is transcendental to all material conceptions of darkness. Only he who knows Him can transcend the bonds of birth and death. There is no way for liberation other than this knowledge of that Supreme Person.

 “There is no truth superior to that Supreme Person, because He is the supermost. He is smaller than the smallest, and He is greater than the greatest. He is situated as a silent tree, and He illumines the transcendental sky, and as a tree spreads its roots, He spreads His extensive energies.”

 From these verses one concludes that the Supreme Absolute Truth is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is all-pervading by His multi-energies, both material and spiritual.

Discovery:

1)What are the pearls compared to? What is the thread compared to?

Understanding:

1)    Mention all the scriptural evidences given here to prove that God is a person and that He is the supreme controller of both the material and spiritual worlds.

2)    What are the benefits of knowing these facts about the supreme Lord?

3)    What are the disadvantages of not knowing or understanding thee facts about the supreme Lord?

4)    How do the impersonalists interpret the scriptures to prove that God is impersonal?

5)    How can we explain to them their mistaken understanding?

Application:

The absolute truth is ultimately impersonal. Refute this statement with scriptural evidences, logic and realizations of great devotees.

Preaching Session: 15 minutes

Read out the following passage:

                                       Preaching is the essence

                   His Divine Grace A.C. Bhakti Vedanta Swami Prabhupada                  

Page 47

The preacher is very dear to the lord:

“Therefore, my dear young friends….. Show mercy to all living entities by enlightening them in devotional service, thus becoming their well-wishers.”

The Lord says in Bhagavad-gita (18.55), bhaktya mam abhijanti yavan yas casmi tattvatah: “One can understand the Supreme Personality as He is only by devotional service.” Prahlada Maharaja ultimately instructed his class friends, the sons of the demons, to accept the process of devotional service by preaching the science of Krsna consciousness to everyone. Preaching is the best service to the Lord. The Lord will immediately be extremely satisfied with one who engages in this service of preaching Krsna consciousness. This is confirmed by the Lord Himself in Bhagavad-gita (18.69). Na ca tasman manusyesu kascin me priya-krttamah:” There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be one more dear.”

If one sincerely tries his best to spread Krsna consciousness by preaching the glories of the Lord and His supremacy, even if he is imperfectly educated, he becomes the dearmost servant of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is bhakti. As one performs this service for humanity, without discrimination between friends and enemies, the Lord becomes satisfied, and the mission of one’s life is fulfilled. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu therefore advised everyone to become a guru-devotee and preach Krsna consciousness (yare dekha,tare kaha ‘krsna’-upadesa). That is the easiest way to realize the Supreme Personality of Godhead

                                                                  Bhag. 7.6.24 (VII:2, pp. 31-32)

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 the prasadam with the senior members. They should consult with you before finalizing the menu so that they get trained to organize the prasadam well. Otherwise they might consider it a difficult task to do when they start a vrinda of their own.   And such a glorious service as conducting a vrinda may be stopped due to apprehensions about prasadam.

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

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