Week 60

Ensure that all the members who are leading different parts of the Vrnda 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, “Is there something you fear about multiplying? Why or why not?” 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 408

A Devotee Can Be Satisfied In Any Condition of Life Simply by 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.

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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 

Pages 150- 171, Vaisnava Behavior, the 26 qualities of a devotee

By HH Satsvarupa Das Gosvami

Continued from last week’s spiritual edification:

13) A devotee is desireless, akama

The real goal of desirelessness is revealed in the literal meaning of akama, “without lust”. Two words we should consider here are kama and prema. Kama means lust or material desire and prema means love. Love is reserved for Krsna. Affection and attachments for things other than Krsna are always some kind of kama.

Only when one attains prema, love of Krsna, can he come to the platform of desirelessness. Desiring only to please Krsna is akama.

Lord Krsna advises that kama cannot be given up artificially. “The embodied soul maybe restricted from sense enjoyment, though the taste for sense object remains. But, ceasing such engagements by experiencing a higher taste, he is fixed in Krsna consciousness.”

If one sincerely follows the process of Krsna consciousness under the guidance of guru, sastra, and sadhu, he will experience the higher taste and give up material desires even while still on the neophyte stage of devotional service.

Admittedly, until a devotee reaches unalloyed devotional service, he will still sometimes consider the possibility of becoming happy by material desires. How does a devotee persist in resisting Material desires even before he has fully experienced the higher taste of spontaneous Krsna consciousness? The answer is tapasya, austerity.

There are two kinds of happiness: preyah, immediate, and sreyah, ultimate. A mature human being will forego preyah to achieve sreyah. A young adult at college sometimes foregoes  the immediate pleasure of socializing in the evening to study and advance his education. Austerity is like that. A devotee therefore does not begrudge austerity; he willingly struggles to overcome his lower nature. Nothing valuable is achieved without endeavor, and Krsna consciousness is the most valuable thing. The devotee receives immense help from the spiritual master and from Krsna in the heart. The Lord also helps the reluctant devotee by force. If a devotee is sincerely desirous of attaining love of God and yet at the same time has strong material desires, Lord Krsna sometimes intervenes.  “When I feel especially mercifully disposed towards someone, I gradually take away all his material possessions. His friends and relatives then reject this poverty stricken and most wretched fellow.” (Bhag. 10.88.8)

14 ) A devotee is indifferent to material acquisitions, aniha

The quality of aniha, indifference to material acquisitions, is another part of the Vaisnava’s opulence. He doesn’t have to acquire things because he is already situated in devotional service. A devotee may use material things in the service of Krsna, but he does not become attached or dependent on them. He may serve Krsna with millions of dollars, construct buildings, and profusely publish Krsna conscious literatures, but even if he has nothing material to use, he can serve Krsna just by chanting Hare Krsna.

A devotee does the compassionate work of staying within materialistic society, rather than hiding in seclusion to save himself; he moves amid material attractions and disturbances. He therefore must have the quality of aniha. And sometimes approaches persons who are fully absorbed in material life. Sometimes he sits with the karmi and tells him of Krsna consciousness, and sometimes he is offered material attractions and material troubles. But he remains always aniha and also draws the sense gratifier away from material acquisition.

15) A devotee is fixed, sthira

An unsteady neophyte devotee, although able to prosecute devotional practices under favorable circumstances, deviates in the face of strong allurements. The Vedic histories tell of meditating sages distracted by beautiful women. And a devotee also, in the neophyte stage, may fall victim to the attraction of the opposite sex. Or a situation of distress may unfix a weaker devotee. Often devotees are harassed and their preaching disrupted by the non devotees.  If a devotee is fixed, however he will not abandon chanting Hare Krsna, even at the cost of his life. Sometimes devotees quarrel among themselves, and this is another discouragement that might sway a weak devotee from following the spiritual master’s order.

Firm faith in the spiritual master is paramount. One who displeases his spiritual master loses his fixed course and wanders aimlessly like a ship without rudder. Without firm faith in the spiritual master, one cannot be sthira. Prahlada Maharaja, considering his debt to his spiritual master, says, “I was falling into the ways of the common man, and my spiritual master Narada saved me. How could I ever leave him?”

A devotee is fixed in the philosophy of the Absolute truth, not only intellectually but out of love. And as the devotee is fixed on Krsna and no one else, so is Krsna fixed on His devotee. 

We should proceed scrupulously in our chanting and hearing and serving the order of the spiritual master as our life’s duty. Certainly being fixed will come about in this way, be regular practice. As a devotee continues hearing, whatever conviction he lacks will come to him as a gradual realization. When a neophyte devotee chants Hare Krsna, he does not taste the full happiness of chanting the holy names. But as he continues, the original sweetness of the holy name will manifest.

16) A devotee completely controls the bad qualities, vijita sad guna

 The six bad qualities are lust, kama, anger, krodha, greed, lobha, illusion, moha, madness, mada, and envy. A pure devotee controls these qualities by full engagement in the service of Krsna. Although the six bad qualities are material, they can be used in Krsna’s service. This transforms them. The bad qualities are perverted reflections of qualities existing in an original pure state  in the spiritual world.

Lust is epitomized by sex desire. The gopis approached Krsna as a beautiful young boy, and yet we know that this is the complete opposite of mundane lust. We have been warned not to imitate the gopis, so how can we who are trying to practice pure devotional service, understand lust in service to Krsna? In Bhagavad Gita, 70 11, Krsna states , dharma viruddho bhutesu kamo smi:” I am sex life which is not contrary to religious principles.” When kama is controlled, it is not illicit and can be used in Krsna’s service. . In the beginning there may be material desires, but when sex is regulated and used for the service of the Lord, it is transcendental.

 Lust is the spirit soul’s original love for Krsna after becoming contaminated by association with the mode of passion. Even while in the material world, if by the grace of the spiritual master and the Vaishnavas a jiva establishes his relationship with Krsna, he can revive his pure desire. Once the jiva takes up devotional service under the direction of the spiritual master, his lust is transformed into love.

We can enter Krsna’s lila by hearing from authorized sources. To hear of Him in a an un authorized way , however can result in prakrita sahajiya. Prakrita sahajiya is a perverted form of Vaisnavism in which the practitioner tries to approach Krsna while still engaging in mundane sex. Hearing about Krsna’s pastimes with the gopis in the rasa dance is a specific remedy for lust. By engaging in Deity worship in the temple, a devotee can also directly approach Radha- Krsna on the order of the spiritual master.

Anger, Krodha Lust can never be satisfied and therefore it is followed by anger. When anger spreads, the whole body becomes polluted. But anger can also be used in the service of Krsna, by directing it against the enemies of Krsna. The famous example is Hanuman, Lord Rama’s warrior servitor who fought against the forces of Ravana.

Devotional anger may therefore take on the form of fighting. The ksatriya devotee cannot tolerate seeing the Lord’s devotees or innocent persons or creatures hurt.

A devotee may also direct anger against bogus gurus and other misleaders of the people. When a devotee hears bad propaganda against devotional service, he may write articles against the demons or actively preach in another way.

Greed, lobha: A greedy person wants to accumulate as much as possible for himself- much more than he actually needs. Obsessed with taking for himself, he conflicts with others and has no mercy on them. So greed can become a great evil. But because a devotee is greedy to use everything for the Supreme Personality of Godhead’s satisfaction, his greed benefits everyone. A devotee wants the whole world at Krsna’s lotus feet.

Illusion, Moha: The main illusion of the conditioned soul is that he thinks of his body as the self and the material world as his home. This illusion will kill him, just as an animal in the desert is killed running after a mirage of water. A devotee who has a bonafide spiritual master should know and be free of misconception. When Arjuna became enlightened by Krsna’s teachings in Bhagavad Gita, he declared: nasto mohah: “My illusion is now gone.”

Madness, mada: Because of their mad acts for sense – gratification, people have to transmigrate , body after body. For a person to accept his body as the self is crazy, because at the time of death, everything he lived for will vanish.

Envy, matsarya: An envious person is unhappy to see other’s good fortune, and he is happy to see other’s failure. But when one takes to devotional service, he loses his poisonous mentality; he becomes humble and wants to serve Krsna. Sometimes among devotees there is a spirit of competition, but ultimately they are mutual well-wishers and are not disturbing to Krsna.

What does the devotee do if he feels the urge for the bad qualities in the material form? When this happens, we must use self-control. Being able to control the bad qualities is the criterion of Gosvami, or a controller of the senses. A devotee has to gain strength to rightly say “NO!” to desires for material things.

Control of the senses is possible not by dry restraint or mechanical repression, but by transcendental knowledge (jnana) and transcendental taste(vijnana).

Discovery:

1) What is the actual meaning of desirelessness in Krsna consciousness? How can this be achieved?

Understanding:

1)      How can we overcome material desires in the beginning?

2)      How can we see practically the devotee’s indifference to material acquisitions?

3)      What are some of the obstacles devotees face in remaining fixed in devotional service?

4)      How can we progress to becoming very fixed in devotional service?

5)      What are the six bad qualities that a devotee controls? Explain how he can control each of these bad qualities.

Application:

Do you feel encouraged to develop Vaisnava qualities by discussing these qualities of a pure devotee? Explain why. 

Preaching Session: 15 minutes

Read out the following passage:

Preaching is the essence

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhakti Vedanta Swami Prabhupada

Page 61

The secret of success in spreading Krsna consciousness is faith in the order of Guru and Krsna

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 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