Week 59

Ensure that all the members who are leading different parts of the Vrnda 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 from your servant leader that most impressed you?” 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 401

Whether one chants knowingly or unknowingly, the holy name will free one from all reactions to sinful activities.

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 119, Vaisnava Behavior, the 26 qualities of a devotee

By HH Satsvarupa Das Gosvami

Continued from last week’s spiritual edification:

9) A devotee is without material possessions, Akincana

The six Gosvamis of Vrndavan are classic examples of renunciation in Krsna consciousness. Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami were highly placed government ministers, and Raghunatha dasa was the son of a very wealthy land owner. They gave up all their material possessions as insignificant and lived in Vrndavan wearing only loin cloths and subsisting as mendicants.

It was Rupa Gosvami, however who enunciated the principle of renunciation through using things in the service of Krsna. When one is not attached to anything, but at the same time accepts everything in relation to Krsna, one is rightly situated above material possessiveness. On the other hand, one who rejects everything without knowledge of its relationship to Krsna is not as complete in his realization.

The underlying axiomatic truth is that Krsna is the Supreme Proprietor. Anyone’s claim to own possessions, therefore, is a kind of madness or thievery.

As stated in the Isopanishad, Mantra 1, “Everything in the universe is controlled and owned by the Supreme Lord. One should therefore, accept those things that are assigned to him as his quota.” 

But what is that “quota”? Although the scriptures allow for limited sense gratification and material possessions, that sanction does not constitute pure devotional service. Ultimately Krsna’s last instruction is to give up even those religious concessions. : “Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender to Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.” Bg 18.66

The highest realization is to see everything as Krsna’s. The daring, inspired, and compassionate devotee, is not satisfied to see that it belongs to Krsna , but he works to use all things in the service of the Lord- so that the whole world can benefit.

10)A devotee performs welfare work for everyone, sarvopakaraka

Srimad Bhagavatam (10.22.35) enjoins: “It is the duty of every living being to perform welfare activities for the benefit of others with his life, wealth, intelligence and words.” The Vishnu Purana (3.12.45) states: “By his work, thoughts and words, an intelligent man must perform actions which will be beneficial for all living entities in this life and the next.”

The devotee distributes Krsna consciousness to everyone, thus proving its universality. Lord Chaitanya has given this duty of giving Krsna consciousness to everyone: bharata bhumite haila manusya-janma yara

Janma sarthaka kari kara para upakara

 “One who has taken his birth as a human being in the land of India (Bharata-varsa) should make his life successful and work for the benefit of all the people.. “

His Divine Grace A.C Bhakti Vedanta Swami Prabhupada is, without exaggeration, a transcendental worker who stands supreme in the application of “Para-upakara.”

For thousands of years the most valuable knowledge of bhakti-yoga remained within India. Even Lord Caitanya traveled only within India.  People outside of Bharatavarsa were considered uncivilized mlecchas even persons who considered themselves Vaishnavas did not think it possible to deliver these fallen mlecchas.

The good wishes, prayers, intentions, and self-sacrificing activities of the devotees bring about immense good for all persons in the material world.

11)A devotee is peaceful, santa

Srila Prabhupada calls the verse “Bhoktarama yagna tapasam”  from BG 5.29, the peace formula..

 The 3 realizations about God: 1) Whatever work we do is actually meant to be offered to Him.  We have to give up once and for all the ridiculous pretense of being the supreme enjoyer and recognize the reality of the almighty Godhead. To come to this awakened state of recognizing that we are part and parcel of God and that we should serve Him brings peace.

2) The Supreme Personality of Godhead is the owner and controller of all the planets, and men and nations should not claim they are proprietors. To claim ownership without any reference to the supreme proprietor Krsna,   is a fraud.

3) Krishna is the friend of all living beings. One who acknowledges these 3 attributes of Krsna and also serves and worships Him, “attains peace from the pangs of material miseries.

Once we make peace with God , then we can also be peaceful with ourselves.

So peaceful does not refer to a physically idyllic setting that may in fact be shattered at any moment. Peaceful is the condition of that soul at peace with Krsna, and it is possible for the devotee who sees Krsna as everything. Srila Prabhupada writes in Bhagavad Gita, “Realization that there is no existence besides Krsna is the platform of peace and fearlessness.”   Krsna consciousness means that a devotee can always think of Krsna and chant Hare Krsna whether he is in heaven or hell. This rare peacefulness is the blessing of Krsna for whoever enters His devotional service and gives up the unpeaceful world of material desires.

12) A devotee is surrendered to Krsna, Krishnaikasarana

Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya describes that Lord Chaitanya came to teach renunciation, knowledge of Himself, and the science of surrender, Bhakti yoga.. Chanting Hare Krsna is to surrender the speaking, the hearing, and the mind in the yajna of the holy name.  Lord Chaitanya taught that we should avoid the 10 offenses in chanting and dedicate our lives to the instructions of the spiritual master.

Surrender is not whimsical but authorized and scientific.  If we practice, we will learn how to surrender.  A devotee engaged in a life of full surrender to Krsna has many things to do and does not waste a moment. His goal is to completely surrender to Krsna so that he can be rid of all material desires and serve Krsna more and more in the footsteps of the servant of the servant of the servant of the gopis.

Discovery:

1)      How did the Six Gosvamis set an example of renunciation?

Understanding:

1)      How does Srila Rupa Gosvami recommend renunciation through using things for Krsna? Why did he call this real renunciation?

2)      Why is doing welfare work for others important?

3)      What kind of welfare work are we supposed to do? Why?

4)      How did Srila Prabhupada exhibit this quality?

5)      How is a devotee able to be peaceful?

6)      How can we surrender to Krsna? What is the goal of a fully surrendered devotee?

Application:

1) Mention any devotee/s that you know who have any of these Vaisnava qualities. Discuss how you plan to acquire these qualities.

Preaching Session: 15 minutes

Read out the following passage:

Preaching is the essence

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhakti Vedanta Swami Prabhupada

Page 59

A sincere devotee is empowered by the Lord 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  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