Week 55

Ensure that all the members who are leading different parts of the Vrinda they are well prepared to do so before they arrive for the program. This will necessitate your discussing with them how they are going to proceed. Also ensure that all of them get a chance to do different parts of the program during the different weeks so that they get enough experience and expertise to conduct the entire program. Maintain a file with all their names written down. The next column can be the dates on which the Vrnda was conducted. The third column can mention the particular part of the Vrnda which was lead by them. Make sure that they get all the parts of the Vrnda to conduct.

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.

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, “What did you learn about cultivating new people during this cycle of the group?” 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 341

Chanting Hare Krsna not only frees one from false ego, but elevates the soul to its eternal, constitutional position of pure devotional service.

Spiritual Edification- 45 minutes

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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 

Vaisnava behavior in Different relationships

Page 12, Vaisnava Behavior, the 26 qualities of a devotee

By HH Satsvarupa Das Gosvami

Serving the Spiritual Master

Continued from last week

The Vaisnava guru is regularly serving Radha and Krsna. He arranges for Their swing for Jhulana yatra, and he helps to decorate Srimati Radharani, Lalita, and Visakha in the groves of Vrndavan. He directly takes part in these pastimes and encourages his disciples to join him. In another way – as a preacher, arranging for sankirtana-the spiritual master is attempting to bring the fallen souls back into their constitutional position, and he urges them to enter their relationship with devotees of Radha and Krsna in Vrndavan.

This is especially accomplished when the spiritual master engages devotees in chanting the Hare Krsna mantra:” Oh, Radharani! Oh, Krsna! Please engage me in Your service.” When the disciples assist the spiritual master in these activities, they are also acting as assistants of the gopis. The spiritual master has the responsibility of directly assisting the intimate servants of the Lord, and the disciples participate, under his direction, as servants.

The higher realizations about the devotee’s eternal relationships with Krsna in the spiritual world will be fully revealed in the course of time, and one should patiently wait while laboriously serving the guru in many different ways. Certainly the spiritual master is serving Radha and Krsna, and certainly his sincere disciples are assisting him; but too many questions about the particular rasas will only serve as mental distractions and will not be beneficial or even comprehensible. The disciple’s main work is to assist the spiritual master in rescuing the fallen souls, who in most cases have not the slightest spiritual understanding. By directly assisting the spiritual master in preaching, the disciple will become eligible to understand more and more about Krsna.

The sastras and the sadhu affirm that the spiritual master should be honored as much as God, and therefore we accept. If we accept that God should be honored as God, the greatest, then we should not have ant difficulty in accepting his “viceroy.” As long as he is genuine, the citizens must accept his words as coming directly coming from the king. Similarly, the spiritual master must be accepted on the strength of his symptoms and credentials.  He must be in disciplic succession from a bona fide spiritual master, and he must act and speak always as the representative of Krsna. To such a genuine representative of Lord Krsna  we should offer our obeisances.

“Anyone therefore, who takes shelter of the lotus feet of a pure devotee by accepting the pure devotee as his spiritual master can be at once purified. Such devotees of the Lord are honored equally with the Lord because they are engaged in the most confidential service of the Lord, for they deliver out of the material world the fallen souls whom the Lord wants to return home back to Godhead. Such pure devotees are better known as vice-lords according to revealed scriptures. The sincere disciple of the pure devotee considers the spiritual master equal to the Lord, but always considers himself to be a humble servant of the servant of the Lord. This is the pure devotional path.

It is true that in kali yuga the light of knowledge is covered by clouds of fraudulent practice, but it is also true that genuine representatives of the light of the Bhagavatam are streaming forth as the sincere and ardent followers of Srila Prabhupada. When we hear about and see for ourselves the genuine symptoms and credentials of a real spiritual master, we should gladly accept him and honor him as the most respectable personality. And we should appreciate his transcendental identity. This view is upheld “in all revealed scriptures and followed by all authorities.”

At least 3 times a day the formal prayers should be offered, but the remembrance and praise of the spiritual master should be continual. Especially after receiving his orders, the disciple should think about these orders constantly and not be disturbed by anything else. According to Vishwanatha Chakravarthi Thakura, the order of the spiritual master is the life and soul of the disciple. Meditation on his order is the perfection of meditation, and sincere attempts to carry out that order are the perfection of human society.

When the spiritual master is pleased, then the disciple’s highest objectives are achieved and he becomes more encouraged to go on carrying out the orders of the spiritual master. He wants to please his spiritual master more and more, and there is no limit to the exchange. By this reciprocal energy, the preaching of Krsna consciousness is going on. A disciple’s satisfaction to please the previous spiritual masters in disciplic succession is secured when he faithfully practices and preaches. To the degree a disciple carries out the spiritual master’s order he can satisfy guru and Krsna and subsequently satisfy himself.

If the spiritual master is displeased with a disciple, then that disciple’s progress is blocked.

The secret of success in devotional service is to follow the order of the guru. Otherwise, a devotee becomes asara, or useless. One should mold his life so that all his thoughts and actions are directed toward carrying out the orders of the spiritual master. In this way, one realizes directly his eternal relationship with Krsna. This is the essence of Vaisnava behavior.

Discovery:

1)      In what ways is the Vaisnava guru engaged in serving Radha and Krsna?

2)      How does the Vaisnava guru engage devotees in the service of  Sri Radha and Krsna?

Understanding:

        1) What is the benefit of serving and assisting the guru in his various services to Radha and Krsna?

2) Why should we worship the Vaisnava guru as good as God Himself?

3)      Why should we try to please the spiritual master?

4)      How can we please the spiritual master and all the previous Acharyas?

Application:

       1) On the basis of the previous week’s spiritual edification as well as this week’s, list out the qualifications of an ideal Vaisnava guru and an ideal disciple. Share your plans about taking shelter from a bona fide Vaisnava Guru.

Preaching Session : 15 minutes

Read out the following passage:

Preaching is the essence

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhakti Vedanta Swami Prabhupada

Page 52

We are protected when we execute our duty to preach:

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 Vrkshas 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

Assign a 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:

No:

Members

Attendance

   Current Siksa status

Remarks