Week 50

As the days are nearing for the vrinda to divide, and for devotees to make solid commitments in siksha of taking Guru Ashraya as well as in taking up services of responsibility, the air must be full of mixed feelings of excitement, anticipation, nervousness and the pain of separation. Understand what they are going through and empathize with them in their sharing of emotions. You can encourage, inspire, and cheer them up to meet the challenges successfully. Since the preaching mood has been instilled in them through training, they will be strong to face the demands made on them.

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 about one thing that you learned the hard way, through direct experience.

 

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 259

The test of the real change of heart from chanting the holy name is one’s detachment from material enjoyment :

[Saunaka Rsi to Suta Gosvami]: “If one’s heart does not change, tears do not flow from his eyes, his body does not shiver, nor his hairs stand on end as he chants the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, it should be understood that his heart is as hard as iron. This is due to his offenses at the Lotus feet of the Lord’s holy name.”

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta /Sarasvati Thakura, commenting on this verse, which is quotation from Srimad –Bhagavatam (2.3.24), remarks that sometimes a maha-bhagavata, or very advanced devotee, does not manifest such transcendental symptoms as tears in the eyes, although sometimes a Kanistha-adhikari, neophyte devotee, displays them artificially. This does not mean, however that the neophyte is more advanced than the maha-bhagavata devotee.

The test of the real change of heart that takes place when one chants the Hare Krsna maha-mantra is that one becomes detached from material enjoyment. This is the real change. Bhaktih paresanubhavo viraktir anyatra ca [SB 11.2.42]. If one is actually advancing in spiritual life, he must become very much detached from material enjoyment. If it is sometimes found that a Kanistha-adhikari (neophyte devotee) shows artificial tears in his eyes while chanting the Hare Krsna mantra but is still completely attached to material things, his heart has not really changed. The change must be manifested in terms of one’s real activities.

                                                            Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Adi-lila 8.25

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.

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-17 Text-20,21 and 22

TEXT 20

datavyam iti yad danam

diyatenupakarine

dese kale ca patre ca

tad danam sattvikam smrtam

TRANSLATION

Charity given out of duty, without expectation of return, at the proper time and place, and to a worthy person is considered to be in the mode of goodness.

PURPORT

In the Vedic literature, charity given to a person engaged in spiritual activities is recommended. There is no recommendation for giving charity indiscriminately. Spiritual perfection is always a consideration. Therefore charity is recommended to be given at a place of pilgrimage and at lunar or solar eclipses or at the end of the month or to a qualified brahmana or a Vaisnava (devotee) or in temples. Such charities should be given without any consideration of return. Charity to the poor is sometimes given out of compassion, but if a poor man is not worth giving charity to, then there is no spiritual advancement. In other words, indiscriminate charity is not recommended in the Vedic literature.

TEXT 21

yat tu pratyupakarartham

phalam uddisya va punah

diyate ca pariklistam

tad danam rajasam smrtam

TRANSLATION

But charity performed with the expectation of some return, or with a desire for fruitive results, or in a grudging mood, is said to be charity in the mode of passion.

PURPORT

Charity is sometimes performed for elevation to the heavenly kingdom and sometimes with great trouble and with repentance afterwards: “Why have I spent so much in this way?” Charity is also sometimes given under some obligation, at the request of a superior. These kinds of charity are said to be given in the mode of passion.

 There are many charitable foundations which offer their gifts to institutions where sense gratification goes on. Such charities are not recommended in the Vedic scripture. Only charity in the mode of goodness is recommended.

TEXT 22

adesa-kale yad danam

apatrebhyas ca diyate

asat-krtam avajnatam

tat tamasam udahrtam

TRANSLATION

And charity performed at an impure place, at an improper time, to unworthy persons, or without proper attention and respect is said to be in the mode of ignorance.

                                                           PURPORT

Contributions for indulgence in intoxication and gambling are not encouraged here. That sort of contribution is in the mode of ignorance. Such charity is not beneficial; rather, sinful persons are encouraged. Similarly, if a person gives charity to a suitable person but without respect and without attention, that sort of charity is also said to be in the mode of darkness.

Discovery:

1)      Describe charity in the modes of goodness, passion and ignorance.

Understanding:

1)      What is the purpose of giving charity?

2)      Who is worth giving charity to?

3)      What kinds of charities are forbidden in the scriptures?

Application:

        1) Discuss some charities that devotees can perform. Ask everyone to give suggestions.  Ask them to share with everyone the charities they are already performing, or those they would like to give.

Preaching Session: 15 minutes

Read out the following passage:

                                       Preaching is the essence

                   His Divine Grace A.C. Bhakti Vedanta Swami Prabhupada                  

Page 57

To become an empowered preacher, one must be favored by Lord Caitanya or the spiritual master:

Whoever heard Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu chant, “Hari, Hari” also chanted the holy name of Lord Hare and Krsna. In this way, they all followed the Lord, very eager to see Him. After some time, the Lord would embrace these people and bid them to return home, after investing them with spiritual potency. Being thus empowered, they would return to their own villages, always chanting the holy name of Krsna snd sometimes laughing, crying and dancing. These empowered people used to request everyone and anyone-whomever they saw-to chant the holy name of krsna. In this way all the villagers would also become devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Simply by seeing such empowered individuals, people from different villages would become like them by the mercy of their glance. When these individuals returned to their villages, they also converted others into devotees. When others came to see them, they were also converted. In this way, as these men went from one village to another, all the people of South India became devotees.

This spiritual potency is the essence of the pleasure potency and the eternity potency. By these two potencies, one is empowered with devotional service. Lord Krsna Himself, or His representative, the unalloyed devotee, can mercifully bestow these combined potencies upon any man. Being thus endowed with such potencies, one can become an unalloyed devotee of the lord. Anyone favored by Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was empowered with this bhakti-sakti. Thus the Lord’s followers were able to preach Krsna consciousness by divine grace.

            In order to become an empowered preacher, one must be favored by Lord Sri Caitany Mahaprabhu or His devotee, the spiritual master. One must also request everyone to chant the maha-mantra. In this way, such a person can convert others to Vaisnavism, showing them how to become pure devotees of the Supreme Personality Godhead.

                                                Cc. Madhaya 7.98-104 ( Madhya: 3, pp 49-52)

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

Always announce the names of the devotees who have helped in sponsoring, purchasing, cooking, offering and distributing the prasadam and in cleaning up Normally though everyone benefits greatly by these services, they tend to be  left unnoticed or unappreciated and taken for granted.

Appreciation can enthuse the devotees to serve Krsna better, and also inspire more people to join in the services, and taste the nectar of doing so. The ones who acknowledge their services also feel good for having done so.

Please enter the details about your members attending this week:

No:

Members

Attendance

   Current Siksa status

Remarks