Week 58

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 gives you joy in the fact of multiplying?” 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 what tunes he is going to sing, so that you can guide him/her suitably. You can teach them some tunes too if necessary. Since the aspect of bhakti was stressed in singing the Hare Krsna maha mantra, it is to be hoped that by now people have the proper mood towards the holy names. Now it would be appropriate to also train them to sing it attractively.

Japa…. 15 minutes

You can ask another of the devotee to read out the following passage below and then conduct the japa session by leading the japa and later making the enquiries of some of the devotees’ japa and their realizations on their progress

Sri Namamrta  - The Nectar of the Holy Name

                                                            Page 385

By chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, one’s heart becomes cleansed, one’s love for Krsna and eternal relationship with Him is revived, and one goes back to Godhead.

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 

Page 96, Vaisnava Behavior, the 26 qualities of a devotee

By HH Satsvarupa Das Gosvami

Continued from last week’s spiritual edification:

5) A devotee is faultless:

How could anyone claim to be without fault?  But a devotee who is surrendered in body, mind and words to Krsna is always executing Krsna’s will and repeating Krsna’s message; so as Krsna, the Supreme Perfect is faultless, so the fully surrendered devotee is faultless. Those things that appear as faults in the devotees do not mar his faultlessness.

It is possible for a rascal to masquerade as a faultless pure devotee, to try to show himself as an advanced spiritual leader .and to cheat people for his own profit. But an intelligent devotee can detect such a fraud. A pure heated devotee, or someone sincerely following his orders, will not act to harm or abuse anyone. Despite the presence of rascals, we should go ahead whole heartedly honoring and following the instructions of the pure devotee. In the guise of holy men and devotees, imposters have come, but that does not mean that there is no real devotee. The real devotee is known by his acts strictly in accordance with parampara. He will never abuse the honor, service, or money he receives on behalf of Krsna; we can trust him with our life. He will do good for all humanity, because he will live and preach the message of Krsna.

6) A devotee is magnanimous, vadanya

Without endeavoring for anything else, one should merge all his desires into the service of Krsna by the standard process of devotional service, beginning with hearing and chanting, under the guidance of an expert spiritual master. The science of surrender is a blissful process and as a result, the devotee becomes a lover of Krsna. The givers of this devotional process are indeed magnanimous.

Because we are living in the material world, a world of difficulty, a world governed by the forces of illusion and evil, there are always difficulties in distributing the magnanimous gifts of Lord Chaitanya. But the devotees’ desire to distribute Lord Caitanya’s  gifts, whatever the difficulties, is another indication of the nature of their magnanimity.

Lord Chaitanya and His followers know that love of God is the greatest of all things, and they go on distributing it without self-motivation, without disappointment, and without being checked. Their magnanimity knows no bounds, and the good fortune of those who receive their gifts is unparalleled.

7)A devotee is mild, mrdu

The devotee avoids the chase after illusory material pleasure and its resultant suffering.  He remains peaceful because he is satisfied in Krsna consciousness. A man who already has a million dollars does not become frantic trying to obtain or enjoy the pleasures of a thousand dollars. His temperament is mild because he has nothing to gain and no one can deprive him of his Krsna consciousness.

A devotee is also mild in his dealings with others. Of course there is a saying “A Vaisnava is as soft as a rose and as hard as a thunderbolt..” So sometimes, when responding to blasphemous person, for example, he is not mild. Lord Caitanya was not mild when He ran with the Sudarsana cakra to kill Jagai and Madhai. But the devotee is generally mild in his responses, especially when there is a question of tolerating some wrong doing against himself. His mild disposition is toward events is also compatible with the quality of meekness, or humility.

He does not get into a great huff if personally inconvenienced but tends to react mildly, like Haridasa Thakura in relation to the men who were ordered to cane him in twenty- two market places. That mildness comes again not from timidity but from deep self- satisfaction.

Like the great ocean, he is Pacific. Others get agitated and rant over worldly happenings, personal frustrations, and misgivings, but the devotee depends upon Krsna and tries to carry out His order. Thus a non- violent, undisturbed, transcendental mildness is another attractive feature of the devotee.

8) A devotee is clean, suci

Of course, this means clean inside and outside. The devotee’s mind, heart, intelligence, body, clothes, living place, place of work, place of worship, his personal and business dealings- all should be suci, clean. “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” may be a homely proverb, but it has wisdom for those interested in spiritual life.

External cleanliness is important, but it has to be done in connection to Krsna. The high standard of cleanliness in worshipping the Deity in the Temple indicates the devotee’s devotion. ….Out of pure devotion, the devotee wants to make the best and cleanest offering of worship to the Lord.

Cultivation of knowledge other than pure devotional service, as well as the desire to gain material reward even from religious endeavors, are considered impurities and oppose the conclusion of pure bhakti. Srimad Bhagavatam (1.2.17) praises the process of chanting and hearing as quickly cleansing the heart of all unwanted, dirty things.

When Narada Muni was trying to regain the vision of the Lord Krsna in his meditation, the Lord spoke to him and told him that a devotee ha to be completely “free from all material taints” before he could expect to see Him. In this age Lord Caitanya’s magnanimous distribution of the chanting of Hare Krsna provides us with the most effective method for cleaning the dirty mind and heart and thereby gives us a pure vision of Krsna.

Discovery:

1)      How can a devotee be faultless?

2)      What are the symptoms and activities of such a pure devotee?

Understanding:

1)      Why do we say that Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His devotees are the most magnanimous?

2)      How is the pure devotee able to be always mild and undisturbed? How are his dealings with others?

3)      When is he not mild?

4)      In what areas of our lives must we exercise cleanliness? Why?

Application: Share your realizations on the Vaisnava qualities discussed and how it has inspired you to follow them in your life.

Preaching Session: 15 minutes

Read out the following passage:

Preaching is the essence

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhakti Vedanta Swami Prabhupada

Page 58

If preachers of Krsna consciousness are sincere devotees of Krsna, the Krsna consciousness movement will spread by Krsna’s grace.

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 Vrndas to be started by the trainee leaders shortly

Prasadam: 20 minutes

Assign another 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