The next column can contain ratings for their performance: Very good/good/fair/satisfactory/poor. The last column can have your additional comments on their performance.
Engage one of the senior devotees of your group to lead the Satsanga.
You can ask every one this question, “What has been the biggest challenge or difficulty for you in this group cycle of the Vrinda?” 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.
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
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.
Preaching and Behavior
Page 1, Vaishnava Behavior, the 26 qualities of a devotee
By HH Satsvarupa Das Gosvami
Between preaching and behavior there exista a dynamic tension. This is expressed in Sanatana Gosvami’s praise of Haridas Thakura. “Some behave well but do not preach the cult of Krsna consciousness, whereas others preach but do not behave properly. You simultaneously perform both duties in relation to the holy name by your personal behavior and your preaching. Therefore you are the spiritual master of the entire world, for you are the most advanced devotee in the world”.
Srila Prabhupada confirms that his own followers also must preach and behave in an exemplary way. “The qualifications expressed in this connection are that one must act according to the scriptural injunctions and at the same time preach… the members of the Hare Krsna movement chant a minimum 16 rounds a day, which can be done without difficulty, and at the same time they must preach the cult of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu according to the gospel of Bhagavad Gita as it is. One who does so is quite fit to become the spiritual master for the entire world. Cc. Antya 4.102-103
A devotee should not retire to the forest in search of the ideal place for executing Vaisnava behavior. Rather, he should stay in the cities and offer people the chance to go back home back to Godhead. The Srimad Bhagavtam syates that that if a brahmana neglects those who are in want of Krsna consciousness, that brahmana’s spiritual knowledge will diminish, just as water kept in a cracked pot, leaks out.”
If a devotee tries to avoid preaching, he cannot become spiritually advanced. Indeed, Srila Bhaktivinod Thakura has said that a position of a Vaisnava can be tested by seeing how good a touchstone he is- that is by seeing how many Vaishnavas he has made during his life.
“The first preaching work”, Srila Prabhupada wrote in a letter, “is that you yourself should become an ideal devotee”. (April 23rd to Niranjan das)
Only an immature preacher thinks that he can maintain enthusiasm for his outgoing service while at the same time not pay strict attention to the rules and regulations. By keeping all activities Krsna conscious, a preacher will not allow Maya to enter. To think that a Vaisnava can preach and yet remain ignorant of the Vaisnava philosophy or disregard the standard principles of Vaisnava behavior is ludicrous.
Behavior in preaching:
When a television interviewer asked Srila Prabhupada by what behavior one could recognize a true follower of Krsna consciousness,, Srila Prabhupada replied, “He’d be a perfect gentleman, that’s all.” Srila Prabhupada, “one should himself become a perfect gentleman and learn to give proper respect to others.” Bg 13.8-12
Although in ordinary usage, the word gentleman may refer to a man of wealth and aristocracy, we use it here to describe a devotee’s high standard of honorable and considerate behavior. The polite and humble behavior can be appreciated even by a non- devotee. A devotee is not arrogant, boorish or inconsiderate of others.
When Lord Chaitanya came into the company of Mayavadi sannyasis at Benares, He sat down humbly at the doorway until the chief Sannyasi, Prakasananda Saraswati, personally came to invite Him inside.
As a youth Lord Chaitanya soundly defeated a Kashmiri Pandita in debate. But when Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s students began to laugh at the Pandita, Lord Chaitanya silenced them and treated His opponent with honor.
When Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu started a civil disobedience kirtana against the kazi’s order in Navadvipa, He certainly defied the law, but non-violently. Although Lord Chaitanya led 100,000 men in kirtan to the Kazi’s residence, on arriving there, He discussed peacefully with the Kazi, treating him like an honorable leader.
The scriptures advise satyam bruyat priyam bruyat. In the material world only palatable truths should be spoken and unpalatable truths should be carefully avoided. But Prabhupada wrote in a letter, “Devotees always humbly offer respect to everyone, but when there is discussion on a point of sastra, they do not observe the usual etiquette, satyam bruyat priyam bruyat. They speak only the satyam, although it may not necessarily be priyam”. August 9, 1976 to Sumati Morarjee
All things considered, a devotee should try his best to act as a Vaisnava lady or gentleman and behave politely, as did Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. If in the course of sincerely delivering the absolute truth, the non-devotees regard us as unimpressive, then that will not disturb us. A devotee has to please his spiritual master and Krsna, and then everything is complete, even if the world finds him lacking.
1) Why was Haridas Thakura considered to be the most advanced Vaisnava?
2) Who is fit to become a spiritual master?
3) What is our first preaching work according to Srila Prabhupada?
1) Why is it essential for devotees to preach?
2) How can devotees qualify themselves to preach?
3) What does Srila Prabhupada mean when he said that devotees are perfect gentle men?
4) Explain how Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu demonstrated the exemplary behavior of a Vaisnava?
5) How should we speak the truth to others?
1) Share your experiences in preaching to others. How have your dealings been?
2) What responses from the people have you encountered?
3) In what ways do you want to improve your preaching and Vaisnava behavior?
Preaching Session: 15 minutes
Read out the following passage:
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 Vrikshas 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
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
Assign a single trainee leader to organize the prasadam for the succeeding week. They could take the help of the other devotees, but would have to be responsible for the organization and distribution of prasadam as well as the cleaning up at the end of the program.
Please enter the details about your members attending this week:
Current Siksa status