Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu predicted that His Sankirtana movement would spread to every town and village and that the whole world would be flooded with Love of Godhead. Prithvite ache yata nagaradi grama / Sarvatra pracara haibe mora nama (Chaitanya Bhagavata Antya 4.126).  Srila Prabhupada wanted to carry out the instructions of his spiritual master to preach in the English speaking world and he was the one empowered to accomplish Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s prediction that His holy name would spread all over the world..

In a lecture dated May 1st, 1973 at Mumbai, Srila Prabhupda has said “…natural tendency for, to love Krsna is there in everyone’s heart. So our Krsna consciousness movement is how to invoke that natural tendency to love Krsna. That is our business…”. The objective of the bhakti vriksha program is to invoke this natural tendency.

The Bhakti Vriksha system is a humble effort by bhakti vriksha practitioners to systematically spread Krsna consciousness by empowerment. The whole subject is logically presented for a fresher to start his Krsna consciousness path and progressively advance by regular guidance and mentoring by the bhakti vriksha sevak.

The following guidelines, program schedule, compilation of topics along with lead question and Srila Prabhupada’s teachings relevant to the topic is used by the bhakti vriksha sevak to be well prepared for the weekly meetings.

Ambience

The Bhakti vriksha sevak/host has to create the ambience and mood for devotion before the members start coming in for the weekly program. A simple yet attractive altar could be set in a place where everyone can have darshan. It would be nice if the program could be held in the same room where the altar is. This would bring a nice spiritual atmosphere and facilitate the members to offer arati (ghee lamp/incense-agarbatti) to their Lordships while kirtan is going on.

The MOST IMPORTANT THING is to start the program ON TIME – start at the TIME COMMITTED. This is very important because the members also realize that we respect and value their time.

Seating arrangement

The Bhakti vriksha sevak/host could layout the mats or carpets for people to be seated.  Chairs could be kept for those people who cannot sit on the floor. The idea is everybody should feel comfortable and wanted, so that they look forward to the weekly programs enthusiastically.

The Bhakti vriksha sevak could request the members to be seated in a circlular fashion. This helps in the interacting with everyone.

Program schedule

The program schedule could be explained to all members before the program starts. Based on the convenience of the members the components of the program could be interchanged except ice-breaker. The purpose of having these inter-active programs is to make the members participate and get involved. Keeping this in mind the program components can be interchanged.

Recommended Program Schedule

Activity Description

Time spent

Kirtan & aarti

15 Min

Ice breaker

15 Min

Interactive session

60 Min

Japa

15 Min

Importance of preaching

15 Min

Prasadam

15 Min

Total

2 Hr 15 Min

Kirtan

Kirtan, like in any ISKCON program, involves a lead singer and the group singing responsively. We could sing the invocation prayers to Srila Prabhupada, Panchatattva mantra and Hare Krsna maha-mantra.

The sheets having Srila Prabhupada’s pranam mantra, Panchatattva mantra and Hare Krsna mahamantra have to be circulated in the language which the members are comfortable in reading. The tune should be simple for everyone to follow. During kirtan the members could be encouraged to offer agarbatti to the photos/deities in the altar.

Ice breaker

Ice breakers could be questions, games or anything which reveals interesting details about people’s history, thought process, life and values, and can sometimes provide insights into their personality. This would help the Bhakti vriksha sevak to assess how much a member can absorb and therefore mentally plan the interactive session accordingly. Every ice breaker should have a conclusion and interface with the topic for the week’s discussion. For further details, The Book of Ice-breakers published by ISKCON Congregational Development Ministry could be referred.

Interactive Session

The interactive session is based on the passage which is generally from Srila Prabhupada’s books and his teachings.  The bhakti vriksha sevak has to circulate the lesson sheet, consisting of a passage for the week with lead questions, excerpts from Namamrta book and excerpts from Preaching is the essence book.  This has to be in the language in which the member is comfortable in reading. The discussion should be in the language which all the members understand.

The members could be asked to read one paragraph each. After which they could be given 5 minutes to read the whole passage by themselves before starting the interaction. The questions given under Discovery, Understanding and Application are lead questions for better facilitation. They could be broken down into smaller questions based on the passage for better interaction with the members. As a takeaway the bhakti vriksha sevak has to summarise the right Krsna conscious message.

Application part of the interactive session is an important component of bhakti vriksha. During this session members learn to practically implement the topic they discussed in their day to day life.  The Bhakti vriksha sevak should inspire every participants to shares their views in response to the Application questions. The Bhakti vriksha sevak can provide a tailor made solution for each member’s practical application. If required, the tailor made solution could be discussed with the members individually.

It is prudent to follow a prescribed flow of activities in each bhakti vriksha session. Given the varied kinds of persons (with different tastes, attitudes and levels of understanding) who attend these sessions, it is important that the topics follow a pre-defined flow. Also, it must be ensured that not too many new subjects are introduced or sought to be discussed in these sessions, otherwise it would make it difficult for the participants to absorb and thus feel left behind.

For every lesson the bhakti vriksha leader is provided the material for his preparation for the program.  There is also train the trainer program conducted in selected centers so that the leaders are aware of the methodology to facilitate the bhakti vriksha. Devotees interested in the material for leaders may email anadi.jps@gmail.com

Japa

Before the Japa Session, the bhakti vriksha sevak could read the excerpts from the Namamrta book in the lesson. This would help the devotees appreciate the importance of chanting the Lord’s holy name.

Importance of Preaching

An extract from the book “Preaching is the essence” has been included in the lesson. The bhakti vriksha sevak reads from this so that from the very beginning the members get to appreciate the glories of preaching. By this the members feel enthused to share their knowledge in Krsna consciousness with others, inspire them and bring them to the programs.

Prasadam

Prasadam could be planned depending on what time the program is held. If it is held in the afternoon or early evening, then simple prasadam like fruit salad or mayapur khaja or anything simple but not heavy could be offered. In case it is a late evening program, and people need to travel far after the program, a light but sumptuous dinner could be planned. It’s better not to set a high standard of providing an elaborate dinner. People may hesitate to have the program in their house if they think they may need to maintain that standard.

Attendance Sheet

The bhakti vriksha sevak has to fill the attendance sheet for the week immediately after the members leave. During the week the bhakti vriksha sevak has to update the Sector Sevak about the program. The Sector Sevak would guide appropriately.

Follow-Up

It is suggested that during the week, the Bhakti vriksha sevak could be in touch with the members in order to build a friendly relationship with them.It could be either on phone or meeting them personally. When a good rapport is established, it is easy for the Bhakti vriksha sevak to guide them in their spiritual journey.

Vyuha

A vyuha program involves the participation of two or three bhakti vriksha groups together in a combined program. This program is a break in the format from the regular bhakti vriksha programs. The members need to have something different and relaxing periodically. This would also encourage them to be more participative and involved in the bhakti vriksha meetings.

Siksha Ceremony

The most important part of this program is to encourage your members to commit to a spiritual standard. Brief them the importance of taking such spiritual commitments and the benefits they would reap by making such commitments. Ensure the recommendation sheet is filled once the member commits to the spiritual standard. In recognition of their commitment a certificate is awarded during the Vyuha.

The documents currently being used in our centers are available here. For the materials for the bhakti vriksha leaders , devotees may get in touch with anadi.jps@gmail.com

Bhakti Vriksha Programs currently conducted by ISJM

Bhakti Vriksha Programs currently conducted by INRJD

For participating in Bhakti Vriksha programs , please fill up the contact form or contact anadi.jps@gmail.com

Online bhakti vriksha programs are also conducted currently over skype. For participating in online bhakti vriksha programs, please contact vaisnavanitaidas@gmail.com

List of programs under ISJM

Adugodi/MICO
Ashwathnagar
Bannerghata Road
Chamrajpet
Devanahalli
Ganganagar
Guttahalli
HAL/Indranagar
Hanumanthnagar
Hesaraghatta
HSR Layout/Haralur
Jakkur
Jayanagar
JP Nagar
Kammasandra
Kengeri
Kurubara Halli
Laggere
Mahalaxmi Layout
Malleshwaram
Murgeshpalya
Nelamangala
Old BEL Road
Peenya
Prashanthnagar, Majestic
Rajarajeshwari Nagar
RT Nagar
Seshadripuram
Vidyaranyapura
Yelahanka

 

List of Programs under INRJD

Arekere
Dasarahalli
DRDO, C V Raman Nagar
HAL
Hesaraghatta
Kenchapura
Kodigehalli – Hebbal
Kodigehalli -Magadi Road
Kodigehalli -Sadarmangala, Whitefield
L & T South City, Bannerghatta Road
Magadi Road, NRJD
Modi Garden
Moodalpalya
Old Airport Road- Challagatta
R T Nagar
Raghavendra Layout
Ramamurthy Nagar
Shivanchetty
T Dasarahalli
Vivek nagar
Wilson Garden
Yelahanka old town

 

3 Comments, RSS

  • srivathsa

    says on:
    December 10, 2014 at 8:59 AM

    what is the relation ship of athman with sri krishna,according to you
    iskcon people?
    Is the realation is same as krishna as said by adi shankara?
    or the difference is absolute as said by madhvacharya?

    • Vinay Shankar

      says on:
      December 21, 2014 at 10:58 PM

      Hare Krishna!
      Well, We are a little different. Though we are Disciples of Sripada Madhavacharya, We are accepting the fact that the lord has an impersonal Form which resides in each and every Living Being.
      Hence we are a part and parcel of the lord, but we are not the lord. This is similar to Sripada Ramanujacharya’s Philosophy, but Narayana is the Form of the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna.
      This is the essance of Srimad Bhagavatam and Bhagavad Gita. Madhva Sannyasis and The Advaita Sannyasis have accepted this philosophy.

  • Harish

    says on:
    January 19, 2015 at 4:50 PM

    ISKCON subscribes to the teachings of Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya. The unique contribution of Gaudiya Vaisnavas is Achintya Bhedha Abedha Tattva. According to this, the individual soul – The Atman is simultaneously one and different from The Supreme Lord Sri Krishna. It is one in the sense that the atman has all the qualities of God, different by the fact that The Supreme Personality of Godhead has qualities to an infinite amount whereas the Jiva has those qualities to a limited extent.

    It is inconceivable to our tiny intelligence to comprehend the fact that we are simultaneously one and different from The Supreme Lord. Shankaracharya’s teachings say that the Jiva becomes one with Brahman after liberation and loses his individuality whereas we do not subscribe to this view as Bhagavad Gita clearly states that the individuality of the Jiva exists at all times. So, even in the liberated state, the Jiva retains it’s individuality and liberation means that it is free from the modes of material nature and is now established in his svarupa – the eternal relationship of the Jiva with Godhead in one of the four rasas.

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