Intelligent Balance in Bhakti

Bhagavad-gītā 6.16 | June 11, 2008 |

English with தமிழ் Translation; Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India

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Question: I have a new kind of service in our yatra since October 2011 – arranging children’s programs. The idea of it appeared last year. During Sunday programs the children are left to their own devices. While the parents are taking part in kirtana and listening to a class the children run about, make a noise, disturb the lecturer.… Expand>

Question:

I have a new kind of service in our yatra since October 2011 – arranging children’s programs. The idea of it appeared last year. During Sunday programs the children are left to their own devices. While the parents are taking part in kirtana and listening to a class the children run about, make a noise, disturb the lecturer.

Unfortunately parents don’t always pay attention to the kids and their behavior in the temple. Sometimes it caused the irritation of other devotees. Actually it was not clear for me how to hold these programs and what content they should have.

I was in Moscow last year in September and made acquaintances with a mataji who serves as a coordinator of children’s programs. She explained to me the way They organize such programs in Moscow yatra. After returning back home I asked the advice of Advaita-patni dd, Kalindi-priya dd and the devotees who have children. They gave me their blessings and I started my new service.

Children’s programs are held once a week on Saturdays and last about one and half hour. Children are divided into two groups: those who are 2-6 years old and those who are 7-10 years old. At first we arrange the program for the little children and then for the older ones. We learn to offer obeisances to the Deities and chant Maha mantra for 2 or 3 times, read about Krishna, play, draw and learn how one should behave himself in the temple. The little children offer their pictures and applications to the Deities. Then they chant Prasada Sevaya mantra and take prasadam, after that they wash the floor in the altar room.

The older children offer their obeisances to the Deities and chant one round of Maha mantra. We learn together the following topics: what is the Veda, what piety means, the qualities that pious people have, the law of God, the manners of behavior in the temple. The girls attending Sunday programs have their own Deities of Gopal and they are taught to make garlands. We plan to teach them to sew dresses for Deities and play musical instruments.

They also chant prasada-sevaya mantra, take prasadam and wash the floor in the altar room. The older children take care of the little ones during Sunday programs (dispense prasadam, help to wash hands). The adult devotees staged a New Year performance for the children about Father Frost (Santa) and his granddaughter seeking for Krishna. When we celebrated the Appearance Day of Lord Nityananda and Lord Caitanya the children had their own abhiseka for the Deities of Gopal. The older children rang the bell and made acaman. The little children recited poems about Krishna during the celebration of Lord Caitanya’s Appearance Day, the older ones showed a performance about a brahmana who prepared a feast at Jagannatha Misra’s house and Nimai ate that offering without permission. We are planning to stage a performance for Lord Nrisimha’s Appearance Day which all the children would take part in. The adult devotees try to involve our little vaisnavas in the ceremony of the Deities Greeting and kirtana at Sunday programs. The upbringing of children mostly depends on the way  parents behave and spend time together and what knowledge they impart to them. That’s why we arrange classes for the parents concerning the topic of child upbringing.

Guru Maharaja, in one of your lectures answering the question “How to bring up a Krishna conscious child,“ you told that one cannot enforce children to become devotees. We try to follow this instruction and involve our children indevotional service in a very gentle way and they attend programs, take part in celebrations, help the adult devotees with a great pleasure. There are 25 children in our yatra. However only half of them attend children’s programs. They are the children whose parents are active in devotional service and take part in Sunday programs.

Unfortunately there is not enough literature about philosophy adapted for children. I have a lack of knowledge myself, but my tutor Advaita-patni Mataji and other devotees support me.

Guru Maharaja, I’d like to ask for your advice concerning the following topics:

  • How should we arrange the work with the parents?
  • How do we act properly in training and upbringing our children?
  • How should we awake the interest of those parents whose children do not attend programs?
  • What should be avoided in our cooperation with parents and their children?
  • There are a lot of films and cartoons about Krishna, can we use them in our programs arranged for the children?
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Question: My brother is having his wedding in the summer time on the east coast. I truly don’t want anything to do with weddings and especially those of materialists. I am close with my brother as him and his fiancé are both sweet people. (vegetarians, "half-devotees"). He comes to the temple for festivals and lets me use his facilities as I like (he lives in one of best book distribution places) Boulder, CO. Anyway, I’m saying all this because I truly just don’t know what to do. They really want me to go but I know it will be like hell and so painful to be around all the materialists eating, drinking, and being merry.… Expand>

Question:

My brother is having his wedding in the summer time on the east coast. I truly don’t want anything to do with weddings and especially those of materialists. I am close with my brother as him and his fiancé are both sweet people. (vegetarians, "half-devotees"). He comes to the temple for festivals and lets me use his facilities as I like (he lives in one of best book distribution places) Boulder, CO. Anyway, I’m saying all this because I truly just don’t know what to do. They really want me to go but I know it will be like hell and so painful to be around all the materialists eating, drinking, and being merry.

ANSWER by HH Bhakti Vikasa Swami: 

"Well, that’s good enough reason to go because, hopefully, in the normal course of events people only get married once in their life. So, it’s a big thing.

Maybe in America it’s 1.5 times or something like that, by average. Of course, you can’t get married 1.5 times, but on average... Or maybe it’s 2.5. I don’t know. Or maybe it’s just 1 because so many people get divorced and so many people don’t get married at all. It doesn’t mean they’ve all became monks. They are vyabhicari (unchaste). They are having sexual liaisons without marrying. So, that’s a good reason to go.

Babhru Prabhu is concerned about: I have to go...and all those materialistic people...

Well, it could also be a good preaching opportunity and as much as you are there, and you are a devotee, they’ll ask you few questions: Why do you like this? And you can explain to them. You could take books, and distribute them also. So, anyway, you have to decide.

I’m not gonna decide for you. It’s the other side of the country. America is a big country. I think more than twice as big as India. So, you can imagine. But, anyway, you can fly around. You have to have money. So, anyway, you decide what to do.

I wouldn’t go because I’m a sannyasi. But you are not. So, you can take an opportunity to please your brother, help him, give him some encouragement in devotional service. You can give him a set of Srila Prabhupada’s books. It’s a great wedding gift.

What do people give? I think they give mixies. I think when people get married they get 20 mixies so they have to sell them back. Mixie-no one outside of India knows what it is. It’s an Indian-English word. What’s the English word? Food blender or something like that.

So, give a set of Bhagavatam. It’s a great gift. That’s my advice, as you’ve asked for it, but it’s up to you.

Hare Krishna!"

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I remember from your previous recorded lectures where you mentioned you observed that devotees are increasingly basing their krishna conscious activities on hearing kirtans, taking prasadam, being part of social groups and social networking sites and other related things like festivals etc. and not much on philosophical study and/ or intellectual application on the message being presented.

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writing to Indira Gandhi, MK Gandhi etc.)

From the perspective of lofty goals entrusted to us by His Divine Grace, my estimation is that we are not even close to challenging the might of scientific or governmental establishment.OR we have lost that vigorous spirit when His Divine Grace was personally present alongside us. I have observed that in a recent meeting at Mayapur, the GBC members have listed the above as challenges facing us as an organisation.

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