In modern days, people have very little time for joining spiritual courses. When I had released 'Essence of Bhagavad gita' as a jumbosize book, many preachers had difficulty enrolling candidates for a year-long course. Keeping this in mind, I have now made it into five small courses. Hope this idea will help preachers set up short-term courses that will attract hundreds of candidates. Each course has a 'material name' and a 'spirtiual name'. Thus the participants will be awarded two certificates upon completion of each course, that they can use in material and spiritual circles.
The Vedic texts are the panacea for all problems, for all times. They give a crystal clear understanding of all the fundamental and essential truths of life including who we are, what the true goal of life is, and how we can attain permanent happiness.
The books published earlier were meant for engineering college students. The congregation, however, always felt a need for a simpler book that would present the teachings of Srila Prabhupada with simple examples, stories and illustrations. This book addresses the need of the Congregation devotees as well as the Youth preachers. (The preacher could make the audience sit in a circle and speak after asking one of them to read a para; expert preachers may prepare charts, slides or go for interactive discussions on the themes covered in the book).
For the past several years, the congregation devotees at Pune have been feeling a need for systematic courses to train and educate them in Siddhanta (philosophy), Sadhana (regulated spiritual practice), Sadachar (etiquette and behavior) and Seva (devotional service). To meet those needs we have come up with this course book after referring to VTE (Vaishnava Training and Education) manual'S approach and MTE (Manor Training and Education) manual, London, which have thoroughly researched from Srila Prabhupada's books on the most essential items to be learnt by a beginner. We have also referred to VOICE, Pune, syllabus used for training youth over several years now.
We were always looking for some method of evaluation in recommending people for Diksha or Initiation. When one conducts an interview to evaluate fitness of a candidate for the first initiation, both the' candidate and the interviewer are perplexed. The candidate is afraid of the interview as to what will be asked? And the interviewer is not completely sure whether the candidate, who appears to be an average candidate, can be sent at this stage for initiation. Offering courses like in this book will ensure that the candidate has been undergoing training for a year or two that he/she has digested the philosophy over a period of time, and is applying Vaishnava etiquette in everyday life. Thus, the selection of candidate by President, or the authorities, becomes easy. Those who do not want to undergo the course, owing to time constraints, etc., but want to go for initiation, could be asked to fulfill the basic criteria of Quiz submission, giving the required Written Tests for these courses and completing the basic requirements.
The preachers, in their respective areas or temples, could invite youths and the congregation to join the BHAGAVAD-GITA STUDY CIRCLE that can operate once a week, on a Saturday or Sunday, or a day convenient to the majority of participants. It is basically a 'Bhakti Vriksha' type of group, but using the name 'BHAGAV AD-GITA STUDY CIRCLE' is more appealing to the new people. If youth feel that 'Bhagavad- gita' name may put off the newcomer youths, they could call it as 'SPIRITUAL SCIENTISTS STUDY CIRCLE'. The subject most appreciated by great spiritual scientists like Einstein, Openheimer, etc., is Bhagavad-gita.
Sometimes the facilitation part in 'Bhakti Vriksha' meetings becomes a great challenge for a new preacher who has not yet developed confidence in the philosophy of Krishna consciousness. This book gradually and systematically develops the subject of Bhagavad-gita philosophy.
This book has to be used along with 'Bhagavad-gita As It Is' by Srila Prabhupada, as the reader will need it for the 'slokas for memorization' section, as well as 'Bhagavad-gita As It Is Quiz' section, and to refer to the sloka references given in the lessons marked with letters 'BG'.
This book is a crash course on our five-volume edition, 'Spirituality for Modem Youth' consisting of: 'Discover Your Self', 'Your Best Friend', 'Your Secret Journey', 'Victory over Death', and' Yoga of Love '. As these books are exhaustive, many preachers may feel that it takes several years to complete them. The teacher could use the above series as reference books, while the student could use the 'Essence of Bhagavad-gita' book for study and reference.
For 'Sadhana and Sadachar' ('Devotional practice' and 'Vaishnava etiquette and behavior'), we have given the syllabus and reference books. Thus the teacher could conduct these courses on philosophy blended with practical Vaishnava behavior, to ensure that the students' knowledge does not remain theoretical, but is practically applied and digested.
There are quizzes at the end of each lesson in this book. There are also quizzes based on 'Bhagavad-gita As It Is' by Srila Prabhupada. This is to ensure that the student gets the advantage of Prabhupada vani.
About a decade ago, we had brought out a book with the same title for a six-session course on 'Essence of Bhagavad-gita'. This book is more exhaustive so as to help preachers conduct courses for a period of one to two years. One could also pick some of the titles to give a six-session course.
We will consider our humble efforts successful if this endeavor can assist in fulfilling the pure desire of our acharyas to flood the entire world with Krishna consciousness.
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