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.
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.
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.
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
Kirtan & aarti
Importance of preaching
2 Hr 15 Min
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 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.
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 email@example.com
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com
Online bhakti vriksha programs are also conducted currently over skype. For participating in online bhakti vriksha programs, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
List of programs under ISJM
|Old BEL Road|
List of Programs under INRJD
|DRDO, C V Raman Nagar|
|Kodigehalli – Hebbal|
|Kodigehalli -Magadi Road|
|Kodigehalli -Sadarmangala, Whitefield|
|L & T South City, Bannerghatta Road|
|Magadi Road, NRJD|
|Old Airport Road- Challagatta|
|R T Nagar|
|Yelahanka old town|