BHAKTI VRIKSHA MATERIAL

SHRADDHAVAN - WEEK 1

The Nectar of the Holy Name

Chanting of the holy names of the Lord is the common platform for the universal religion of mankind in the Kali-yuga:

In this present age quarrels take place even over trifles, and therefore the shastras have recommended for this age a common platform for realization, namely chanting the holy names of the Lord. People can hold meetings to glorify the Lord in their respective languages and with melodious songs, and if such performances are executed in an offenseless manner, it is certain that the participants will gradually attain spiritual perfection without having to undergo more rigorous methods.

At such meetings everyone, the learned and the foolish, the rich and the poor, the Hindus and the Muslims, the Englishmen and the Indians, and the chandalas and the brahmanas, can all hear the transcendental sounds and thus cleanse the dust of material association from the mirror of the heart. To confirm the Lord's mission, all the people of the world will accept the holy name of the Lord as the common platform for the universal religion of mankind.

Srimad Bhagavatam Canto1, Introduction.

Passage for discussion

Krishna consciousness is meant to save human society from spiritual death. At present human society is being misled by leaders who are blind, for they do not know the aim and objective of human life, which is self-realization and the re-establishment of our lost relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That is the missing point. Krishna consciousness can enlighten human society in this important matter.

According to Vedic civilization, the perfection of life is to realize one's relationship with Krishna or God. In the Bhagavad-gita, which is accepted by all authorities in transcendental science as the basis of all Vedic knowledge, we understand that not only human beings but also all living entities are parts and parcels of God. The parts are meant for serving the whole, just as the legs, hands, fingers, and ears are meant for serving the total body. We living entities, being parts and parcels of God, are duty-bound to serve Him.

Actually our position is that we are always rendering service to someone, either to our family, country, or society. If we have no one to serve, sometimes we keep a pet cat or dog and render service to it. All these factors prove that we are constitutionally meant to render service, yet in spite of serving to the best of our ability, we are not satisfied. Nor is the person to whom we are rendering that service satisfied. On the material platform, everyone is frustrated. The reason for this is that the service being rendered is not properly directed. For example, if we want to render service to a tree, we must water the root. If we pour water on the leaves, branches, and twigs, there is little benefit. If the Supreme Personality of Godhead is served, all other parts and parcels will be automatically satisfied. Consequently all welfare activities as well as service to society, family, and nation are realized by serving the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

It is the duty of every human being to understand his constitutional position with God and to act accordingly. If this is possible, then our lives become successful. Sometimes, however, we feel challenging and say, "There is no God," or "I am God," or even, "I don't care for God." But in actuality this challenging spirit will not save us. God is there, and we can see Him at every moment. If we refuse to see God in our life, then He will be present before us as cruel death. If we do not choose to see Him in one feature, we will see Him in another. There are different features of the Supreme Personality of Godhead because He is the original root of the entire cosmic manifestation. In one sense, it is not possible for us to escape Him.

Krishna Consciousness is not blind religious fanaticism, but an authorized, scientific approach to the matter of our eternal necessity in relation with the Absolute Personality of Godhead, the Supreme Enjoyer. Krishna Consciousness simply deals with our eternal relationship with Him and the process of discharging our relative duties to Him. Thus, Krishna Consciousness enables us to achieve the highest perfection of life attainable in the present human form of existence.

Srila Prabhupada, The Science of Self Realization

Discovery

1. What really is the aim of life?

2. How does Krsna consciousness help us achieve this goal?


Understanding

1. What is wrong with our materialistic society?

2. What does the Vedic civilization say about the perfection of life?

3. How can we perfectly serve and satisfy everyone in this world? Why is it not possible to do so in any other way? Illustrate with an example/s.

4. Why is it necessary to learn about God?


Application

1. Share about what you are looking for in life.

Krishna Consciousness is the highest gift to human society

Srila Rupa Goswami has given a definition of auspiciousness. He says that actual auspiciousness means welfare activities for all the people of the world. At the present moment groups of people are engaged in welfare activities in terms of society, community or nation. There is even an attempt in the form of the United Nations for world-help activities. But due to the shortcomings of limited national activities, such a general mass welfare program for the whole world is not practically possible.

Krishna Consciousness however, is so nice that it can render the highest benefit to the entire human race. This movement can attract everyone and everyone can feel the result. Therefore, Rupa Goswami and other learned scholars agree that a broad propaganda programme of devotional service all over the world is the highest humanitarian welfare activity.

Nectar of Devotion

SHRADDHAVAN - WEEK 2

The Nectar of the Holy Name

The people in this age are very short-lived and slow in understanding spiritual life. Actually, human life is meant for understanding spiritual values, but because everyone in this age is a shudra, no one is interested. People have forgotten life's real purpose.

The word manda means both slow and bad, and everyone in this age is either bad or slow or a combination of both. People are unfortunate and disturbed by so many things. According to Srimad Bhagvatam, there will eventually be no rain and consequently a scarcity of food. The governments will also levy very heavy taxes. The characteristics of this age predicted by Srimad Bhagvatam are already being experienced to some degree.

Since Kali-yuga is a very miserable age, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who is Sri Krishna Himself, advises everyone simply to chant Hare Krishna.

harer näma harer näma
harer nämaiva kevalam
kalau nästy eva nästy eva
nästy eva gatir anyathä
[Cc. Ädi 17.21]

"In this age of Kali there is no alternative, there is no alternative, there is no alternative for spiritual progress than the holy name, the holy name, the holy name of the Lord." (Båhan-näradéya Puräëa)

This process is not Caitanya Mahaprabhu's invention, but is advised by the shastra, the Puraëas. The process for this Kali-yuga is very simple. One need only chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra.

Teachings of Lord Kapila, the Son of Devahuti

Passage for discussion

Two children are born at the same time on the same day. The parents of the first are wealthy and well-educated and have anxiously awaited the arrival of their first-born for years. Their child, a boy, is bright, healthy and attractive, with a future full of promise. Surely destiny has smiled upon him.

The second child enters into an entirely different world. He is born to a mother who was abandoned while pregnant. In her poverty, she feels little enthusiasm to rear her sickly new offspring. The road ahead is fraught with difficulties and hardships and to rise above them will not be easy.

The world is full of disparities like these; blatant inequalities that often provoke questions: How could providence be so unfair? What did George and Mary do to have their son born blind? They are good people. God is so unkind!”

The principles of re-incarnation, however, allow us to view life with a much broader perspective, i.e., from the stand point of eternity. From this point of view, one brief lifetime is seen not as the beginning of our existence but as nothing more than a flash in time and we can understand that an apparently pious person who may be suffering greatly is suffering the effects of impious activities performed in this or previous lives.

With this broader vision of universal justice we can see how each individual soul is alone responsible for its own Karma.

Our actions are compared to seeds. Initially they are performed or planted, and over a course of time they gradually fructify, releasing their resultant reactions.

Such reactions may produce either suffering or enjoyment for the living being, and he may respond by either improving his character or by becoming increasingly animal like.

A criminal chooses to enter prison by willful transgression of law, but another man may be appointed to sit on the Supreme court by dint of his excellence of service.

This is the special benediction of human life- even if one is destined to suffer terribly for impious acts performed in this and previous lives, one can by taking up the process of Krsna consciousness, change his Karma. The soul in a human body stands at the evolutionary mid point. From here the living entity can choose either degradation, or liberation from reincarnation.

If a living being makes some degree of spiritual progress in his present life, then in the next life he is allowed to continue from that point. The Lord tells His disciple Arjuna in Bhagavad-gita, “In this endeavour (Krishna Consciousness) there is no loss or dimunition and a little advancement on this path can protect one from the greatest type of fear(returning in a lower- than- human form in the next life).” The soul may thus develop its inherent spiritual qualities through many lives, until it no longer has to reincarnate in a material body, until it returns to its original home in the spiritual world.

Coming Back, The Science of Reincarnation.

Discovery

1. Mention some inequalities we find in life among different people in their enjoyment and suffering.


Understanding

1. Why do even pious people suffer sometimes?

2. Explain why each person is responsible for his own Karma

3. How can we overcome our suffering and bad Karma?

4. What are the advantages of taking up Krishna Consciousness?


Application

1. Have you believed in re –incarnation so far? Why or why not?

2. Do you want to change your Karma? Do you think Krsna consciousness will help you achieve that? Why do you think so?

Preaching Krishna Consciousness is showing real mercy to living entities:

"If a living entity is developed in Krishna Consciousness and is merciful to others, and if his spiritual knowledge of self-realization is perfect, he will immediately attain liberation from the bondage of material existence."

In this verse the word dayä jévesu, meaning mercy to other living entities, indicates that a living entity must be merciful to other living entities if he wishes to make progress in self-realization. This means he must preach this knowledge after perfecting himself and understanding his own position as an eternal servant of Krishna. Preaching this is showing real mercy to living entities. Other types of humanitarian work may be temporarily beneficial for the body, but, because a living entity is spirit soul, ultimately one can show him real mercy only by revealing knowledge of his spiritual existence.

Srimad Bhagvatam 4.29.1b