Week 47

These last few weeks of the vrinda are crucial in training and getting the members into the right mood.

A lot has to be achieved in a short time and it is definitely possible if you make them understand the value of the training you are giving them. This happens due to close personal relationships that you are continuing to nurture on them.  Most devotees are especially enthusiastic in the first 3 years of their spiritual life (according to a survey conducted by the Christian cell groups). This is the best time to foster in them unlimited enthusiasm to do devotional service in a humble mood without expecting anything in return.

Example is better than precept and just as children accept their parents as role models in their early years and are deeply influenced by them for life, your example as a devotee and preacher is the most valuable asset you are bequeathing them.

On  the 64th week, we will  consider how the Bhakti Vrksha can be multiplied  and what will happen with the members who are not ready yet to be leaders .

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: “Do you speak to others about your past mistakes? Why or why not?”

 

 

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

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By always chanting the maha-mantra, Krsna will protect us from sinful reactions:

One cannot commit sinful activities and at the same time advance in Krsna consciousness. But Krsna saya, aham tvam sarvpapebhyo moksayisyani:  “ Surrender unto Me, and I shall rescue you by giving you liberation from all kinds of sinful reactions.”

Every one of us, life after life, is knowingly or unknowingly committing sinful activities. I may knowingly kill an animal, and that is certainly sinful, but even if I do it unknowingly, it is also sinful. While walking on the street we unknowingly kill so many ants, and in the course of our other ordinary dealings---while cooking, while taking water, while using a mortar and pestle to crush spices---we kill so many living beings. Unless we remain Krsna conscious, we are liable to be punished for all these unknowingly committed sinful acts.

            If a child unknowingly touches fire, does it mean that the fire will excuse the child and not burn? No. Nature’s law is so strict, so stringent, that there is no question of an excuse. Even in ordinary law, ignorance is no excuse. If we go to court and say, “I did not know that this action was criminal.” this plea does not mean that we shall be excused. Similarly, ignorance is no excuse for transgressing nature’s laws. Therefore, if we actually want to be free from the reactions of sinful life, we must be Krsna conscious, for then Krsna will free us from all sinful reactions. It is therefore recommended, kirtaniyah sada harih [Cc. Adi 17-31]: one should always chant Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare / Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare so that Krsna will save us.

                                                                                    Teachings of Queen Kunti                                                                                                                                    

Spiritual Edification- 45 minutes

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-14

TEXT 14

daivi hy esa guna-mayi

mama maya duratyaya

mam eva ye prapadyante

mayam etam taranti te

TRANSLATION

This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.

PURPORT

The Supreme Personality of Godhead has innumerable energies, and all these energies are divine. Although the living entities are part of His energies and are therefore divine, due to contact with material energy their original superior power is covered. Being thus covered by material energy, one cannot possibly overcome its influence.

As previously stated, both the material and spiritual natures, being emanations from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, are eternal. The living entities belong to the eternal superior nature of the Lord, but due to contamination by the inferior nature, matter, their illusion is also eternal. The conditioned soul is therefore called nitya-baddha, or eternally conditioned. No one can trace out the history of his becoming conditioned at a certain date in material history.

 Consequently, his release from the clutches of material nature is very difficult, even though that material nature is an inferior energy, because material energy is ultimately conducted by the supreme will, which the living entity cannot overcome.

Inferior, material nature is defined herein as divine nature due to its divine connection and movement by the divine will. Being conducted by divine will, material nature, although inferior, acts so wonderfully in the construction and destruction of the cosmic manifestation. The Vedas confirm this as follows: mayam tu prakrtim vidyan mayinam tu mahesvaram. “Although maya [illusion] is false or temporary, the background of maya is the supreme magician, the Personality of Godhead, who is Mahesvara, the supreme controller.” (Svetasvatara Upanisad 4.10)

 Another meaning of guna is rope; it is to be understood that the conditioned soul is tightly tied by the ropes of illusion. A man bound by the hands and feet cannot free himself—he must be helped by a person who is unbound. Because the bound cannot help the bound, the rescuer must be liberated. Therefore, only Lord Krsna, or His bona fide representative the spiritual master, can release the conditioned soul. Without such superior help, one cannot be freed from the bondage of material nature.

 Devotional service, or Krsna consciousness, can help one gain such release. Krsna, being the Lord of illusory energy, can order this insurmountable energy to release the conditioned soul. He orders this release out of His causeless mercy on the surrendered soul and out of His paternal affection for the living entity, who is originally a beloved son of the Lord. Therefore surrender unto the lotus feet of the Lord is the only means to get free from the clutches of the stringent material nature.

 The words mam eva are also significant. Mam means unto Krsna (Visnu) only, and not Brahma or Siva. Although Brahma and Siva are greatly elevated and are almost on the level of Visnu, it is not possible for such incarnations of rajo-guna (passion) and tamo-guna (ignorance) to release the conditioned soul from the clutches of maya. In other words, both Brahma and Siva are also under the influence of maya. Only Visnu is the master of maya; therefore He alone can give release to the conditioned soul. The Vedas (Svetasvatara Upanisad 3.8) confirm this in the phrase tam eva viditva. or “Freedom is possible only by understanding Krsna.” Even Lord Siva affirms that liberation can be achieved only by the mercy of Visnu. Lord Siva says, mukti-pradata sarvesam visnur eva na samsayah: “There is no doubt that Visnu is the deliverer of liberation for everyone.”

Discovery:

1)      What does the material nature consist of?

     Understanding:

1) Why is it difficult to overcome the influence of the material energy?

2)      Why is the conditioned soul called “Nitya baddha”?

3)      Who can help us out of this illusion? Why? How does this happen?

4)      Why are Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva not able to help us be liberated?

     Application: What anarthas have you been able to overcome through devotional service? Kindly share your realizations.

5)Why are the living entities called “nitya baddha”?

6)Why does the conditioned living  being find it very difficult to overcome the influence of the material energy?

7)Why is material energy called divine?

8)How can we get liberated from material nature?

9)Why is Lord Krishna or Lord Vishnu  only able to liberate us and not even such exalted personalities like Lord Brahma and Lord Siva?

Application:

1) Share at least one feature of the material nature (which have been harmful to you) that you have been able to overcome by coming to Krishna consciousness.

Preaching Session: 15 minutes

Read out the following passage:

                                       Preaching is the essence

                   His Divine Grace A.C. Bhakti Vedanta Swami Prabhupada                  

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Krsna is merciful to the preacher: He takes him back home, back to Godhead:

My dear Arjuna, one who is engaged in My pure devotional service, free from the contaminations of previous activities and from mental speculation, who is friendly to every living entity, certainly come to Me.

            A devotee situated in Krsna consciousness knows that only devotional service to Krsna can relieve a person from all the problems of life. He has personal experience of this, and therefore he wants to introduce this system, Krsna consciousness, into human society. There are many examples in history of devotees of the Lord risking their lives for the spreading of God consciousness…..Why such risk? Because they wanted to spread Krsna consciousness, and it is difficult….Now, we can imagine how merciful

Krsna is to those engaged in His service, risking everything for him. Therefore it is certain that such persons must reach the supreme planet after leaving the body.

                                                                                                Bg..11.55 (pp. 591, 593 )

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

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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, 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:

No:

Members

Attendance

   Current Siksa status

Remarks