Week 52

By now all the members of the Bhakti Vrksha must be attending the study classes and so must also be quite regular in reading Srila Prabhupada’s books and in discussing their understanding and realizations in the study classes. Hence the ice- breaker sessions are now mostly going to deal with the devotees’ realizations, experiences about their spiritual development as well as of the other members, challenges they faced, what they learnt from the Bhakti Vrksha, and from each other, etc…as now the devotees will have some realized knowledge and experiences to share with the members with whom they also have grown closer to.

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.

You can ask every one this question, “Share a moment in the life of this Bhakti Vrksha group that had a big impact on your personal life”. Please proceed from one devotee to the next giving each one a minute to answer this question. If someone continues longer, you can request them to share their experiences during Prasadam time, as others also would have to speak.

 

Kirtana: 15 minutes

Assign another senior devotee of the group to lead the Kirtana. Let them practice to sing different tunes of the Hare Krsna maha mantra, to play the karatalas properly and also the mridanga if possible. Check in advance with the devotee who is going to lead, what tunes he is planning to sing. You can teach him some tunes if necessary. Since the aspect of bhakti was stressed earlier in singing the Hare Krsna maha mantra, it is to be hoped that by now people have the proper mood towards the holy names. It would be appropriate to also train them to sing attractively

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 337

The Holy Name Invokes an Attitude of service to the Lord

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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 

The seven purposes of the International Society for Krsna consciousness

Founder Acharya HDG A.C. Bhakti Vedanta Swami Prabhupada

1)      a)To systematically propagate spiritual knowledge to society at large and

b) to educate all peoples in the techniques of spiritual life,

c) in order to check the imbalance of values in life and

 d) to achieve real unity and peace in the world.

2)      To propagate a consciousness of Krsna, as it is revealed in the Bhagavad Gita and the Srimad Bhagavatam.

3)      To bring the members of the society together with each other nearer to Krishna, the prime entity, thus to develop the idea within the members, and humanity at large, that each soul is part and parcel of the quality of Godhead (Krsna),

4)      To teach and encourage the Sankirtana movement, congregational chanting of the holy names of God as revealed in the teachings of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

5)      To erect for the members and for society at large, a holy place of transcendental pastimes, dedicated to the personality of Krsna.

6)      To bring the members closer together for the purpose of teaching a simpler and more natural way of life.

7)      With the view towards achieving the aforementioned purposes, to publish and distribute periodicals, magazines, books and other writings.

Discovery:

1) What is the very first purpose of Srila Prabhupada’s in forming ISKCON?

 2) Mention all the purposes of ISKCON one by one.

Understanding:

1) In what ways do you think that the first purpose of ISKCON can and have been to a certain extent achieved?

2) What do you think is the primary motive of Srila Prabhupada’s for forming ISKCON?

3) What aspects of this legal charter are an integral part of the Bhakti Vrksha preaching or in other words, how does the Bhakti Vrksha system of preaching fulfill the purposes of ISKCON?

 Application:

1)      How do you think you can help in fulfilling these purposes of ISKCON?

      2)  Please have these purposes framed and mounted on a wall in your home or on a desk. Seeing and reading it everyday will make these purposes firmly fixed in your mind and will inspire you to fulfill your commitments to Srila Prabhupada.

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:

You can encourage some of the devotees in the group who are most enthusiastic and qualified, to start outreach programs in their homes or elsewhere. You can start it off for them and then they would easily able to take it up independently after one or two such classes.

The format can be simple: a) Kirtan, reading out some short passage from one of the edifications without having a discussion (Can give a short explanation for it); teach them a sloka from the Bhagavad Gita with a short explanation of the meaning of the verse, and prasadam. They should interact with the people during prasadam time. Japa can be gradually introduced after 2 or 3 weeks if the members look receptive.

Gradually after 4 or 5 weeks, the classes can be made interactive by asking them a few questions. After about 8 weeks, you could think of making the group into a regular vrinda .

Alternatively, you can have a permanent out reach program with kirtan, lecture, prasadam and interaction with the members. All the members who show some seriousness could be requested to attend the new Bhakti Vrksha which are likely to be started shortly by the trainee leaders.

You can encourage some of the devotees in the group who are most enthusiastic and qualified, to start outreach programs in their homes or elsewhere. You can start it off for them and then they would easily able to take it up independently after one or two such classes.

The format can be simple: a) Kirtan, reading out some short passage from one of the edifications without having a discussion (Can give a short explanation for it); teach them a sloka from the Bhagavad Gita with a short explanation of the meaning of the verse, and prasadam. They should interact with the people during prasadam time. Japa can be gradually introduced after 2 or 3 weeks if the members look receptive.

Gradually after 4 or 5 weeks, the classes can be made interactive by asking them a few questions. After about 8 weeks, you could think of making the group a regular Bhakti Vrksha group.

Alternatively, you can have a permanent out reach program with kirtan, lecture, prasadam and interaction with the members. All the members who show some seriousness could be requested to attend the new Bhakti Vrksha which will be started shortly by the trainee leaders.

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

Always announce the names of the devotees who have helped in sponsoring, purchasing, cooking, offering , 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, inspire more people to join in the services, and taste the nectar while performing their services.. The ones who acknowledge others services also feel good for having done so.

            Please enter the details about your members attending this week:

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Members

Attendance

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