By H.H. Bhanu Swami
Lord Caitanya’s movement is a movement of purification and transformation of the individual to reach the level of complete love of Godhead by chanting God’s name. This is most powerfully actualized in a group; thus the yuga dharma is sankirtana, congregational chanting. This is enhanced by continuous association of like-minded persons who are dedicated to spiritual advancement.
Such persons associate by friendship, mutual encouragement, spiritual discussion, working together on projects, eating together, serving as a living example for others, and performing kirtana together. Those who are more advanced in faith should guide and instruct those who are less advanced in faith.
The goal of the group is to attain firm faith in Krsna, get a taste for Krsna’s name, experience love of God, and dedicate themselves to spreading the holy name to other people by bringing them into the group (name ruci jive doya). These goals must be factually attained if the sankirtana movement is to have any credibility.
Thus the group should naturally grow, along with the advancement of the individuals; and the individuals should experience transformation of character, transformation of life, peace, satisfaction, health, compassion for others, commitment to advance further and expand the ocean of love of Godhead by inducting more people.
The group becomes in fact a spiritual community, catering to all the needs of the individuals, with mutual cooperation for spiritual progress. The group provides mutual assistance to overcome individual problems, whatever they maybe. All material problems are but aspects of a spiritual problem. Therefore, all problems will be solved by correct and simple applications of chanting and surrender, along with assistance of any sort necessary to support this process.
Such support may extend beyond the meeting, and in fact may be needed daily by some persons as psychological support. Some actions may seem like social work, but after all, humans are social beings with social problems. As a community, the members are completely committed to the group welfare, covering all aspects of life, for spiritual practice cannot be separated from everyday life without minimizing its potency.
The community is thus a living example of the effects of devotional service. The first effects of bhakti to manifest in the individuals in the group are klesa-ghni (destruction of suffering, sinful acts and desire) and subhada (bestowal of all good qualities). These effects are a real impetus for the members to commit themselves further to expanding of Lord Caitanya’s movement.
(Excerpt from the book ‘The Nectar of Congregational Preaching’ by ISKCON Congregational Development Ministry)
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