What is Bhakti-Vriksha?
A dynamic program that offers a systematic process by which Krishna consciousness is presented to small groups of participants in a way that enables everyone to practice, develop and present the principles of Bhakti-yoga.
The program offers regular association and mentorship with the aim of encouraging devotional association and active engagement in Bhakti.
Group members keep in touch with each other and participate in outreach programs and various devotional activities on a regular basis.
Why is it called Bhakti Vriksha (BV)?
bvSri Caitanya Caritamrta compares Lord Caitanya and his movement to the tree of devotion or Bhakti Vriksha (BV). Srila Prabhupada says, our ISKCON movement is one of the branches of the Caitanya tree. Every small group in ISKCON’s congregation is therefore a branch of the branch, stemming from the BV, the tree of bhakti of Lord Caitanya. The BV group is a type of Nama-Hatta group especially geared towards branching out.
The Weekly Meeting
The meeting has 6 parts: Ice breaker (10 minutes), Kirtan (15 minutes), Japa (15 minutes), Discussion (60 minutes), Preaching reports and plans (20 minutes) and Prasadam (20 minutes).
It is important to include all the six parts of the weekly meetings. Each has a specific function and when they are properly done the effect is that everyone leaves the meeting in good consciousness, satisfied and eager to come back next week.
The Ice Breaker, as the name implies, breaks the ice. It warms up the atmosphere and rekindles the group spirit after being away for a week from each other.
The feeling of unity created by the ice breakers helps people to approach the Kirtan more relaxed and receptive. When everyone focuses on singing in the kirtan, it is also easy to concentrate during Japa.
If during the Discussion everyone is eager to hear and talk, and if the discussion flows smoothly, at the end of the session everyone feels stimulated and satisfied.
The Prasadam crowns the gathering and everyone goes home in a light and happy mood.
The principle of the program is to encourage healthy devotional interactions between members. During the weekly meeting, instead of having a formal lecture, participants sit in a circle (this aids to the participation of even a shy person and facilitates a good communication flow) and discuss a particular aspect of the Vaisnava philosophy from the scriptures.
For this, they follow a set of modules that assist new members to advance systematically to higher levels of bhakti. This style of participation encourages everyone to share practical and personal realizations on how such teachings can be applied in one’s life. This makes the meeting highly interactive and engaging.
Who is it for?
It caters for newcomers and also seasoned devotees by engaging everyone in devotional practices (kirtana, japa, study, presenting the philosophy, etc.), and in sharing their experiences in the group’s discussions and planning.
Caring for its members
Since Bhakti-vriksha groups are meant to remain, close relationships are fostered between participants. New members are assigned to more experienced devotees who personally guide them in developing their Krishna consciousness. This allows group-leaders to know about each member’s difficulties and strengths and in this way provide support accordingly. Thus, this Bhakti-vriksha method is a program to effectively care for devotees.