What Do You Think About A Bhakti Book Club

[Prabhupada books]“We must always engage our minds in reading these Vedic literatures. Just as materialists engage their minds in reading newspapers, magazines and so many materialistic literatures, we must transfer our reading to these literatures which are given to us by Vyasadeva; in that way it will be possible for us to remember the Supreme Lord at the time of death.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, Introduction)

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“I won’t lie, I am envious sometimes about things ordinary people are able to participate in. What is available to them is not necessarily there for us. They have a chance at certain sanga, or association, whereas we tend to be more discriminating.

“By ordinary people, I refer to those who are not necessarily firmly established in the science of self-realization. They are still seeking, if you will. There is God inside of them, as Supersoul, but they perhaps have not yet realized.

“The people to whom I am comparing are those who are at least inching closer to the Supreme Personality of Godhead in terms of explicit worship. They know that there is more to this world, and they want to know what it is. They want to make progress in what is known as bhakti-yoga, as passed down through the acharyas.

“One of the things I am envious over is book clubs. People decide to meet together on a regular basis and discuss what they are reading. It could be any book. It sounds like a really cool concept, if not for the reading material. I would feel forced or trapped, as if I were back in school taking an English class.

“Is there any benefit to having a book club focused on bhakti-yoga, instead? Would that be worthwhile? Or is that considered offensive, due to the possibility of mental speculation? I think the potential for association is great. There is plenty of reading material, but I have never seen the equivalent of a club implemented. If there are these clubs, I have not heard of them.”

The entire process of formal acceptance of the shelter of the lotus feet of the spiritual master and associating with saintly people, sadhu-sanga, is something like joining a club. The skeptics, critics, and naysayers may derisively call it a cult, but that is always open for interpretation.

There is plenty of reading material available from just one author: Vyasadeva. He has works like Mahabharata, Vishnu Purana, and Bhagavata Purana to his name. Bhagavad-gita is within Mahabharata. Vyasadeva is something like a compiler; he does not generate the source material on his own.

[Vyasadeva]His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has kindly translated and commented on several of these works. Simply to consume the full volume of published works would take many years. To understand everything properly might require an entire lifetime.

In general, the practice within a book club is to compare and contrast opinions the members put forward. No one person is right or wrong. They are simply talking amongst themselves. There is little reason to argue, but it is common to see different viewpoints.

A bhakti book club would not entirely be the same, as the process is more about assimilating the teachings, as they are presented. If a person tries to speculate as to the meanings or twist them to give a different conclusion, then the association is harmful.

If such a club were to form, an easy way to make meaningful contributions is to share personal experiences in how the principles manifested. For instance, there is the verse from Bhagavad-gita about the changing body and how the soul remains the same throughout.

देहिनो ऽस्मिन् यथा देहे
कौमारं यौवनं जरा
तथा देहान्तर-प्राप्तिर्
धीरस् तत्र न मुह्यति

dehino ‘smin yathā dehe
kaumāraṁ yauvanaṁ jarā
tathā dehāntara-prāptir
dhīras tatra na muhyati

“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.13)

I might share an incident or two where I saw that principle come to life. Maybe I was recently looking at old photographs of myself. At the time of the picture, no one thought they were living in an old and dated time. No one thought that they were necessarily young.

Today, some of the people in the picture are gone. To where did they go? How did the travel take place? Those answers we might find elsewhere in Bhagavad-gita, but the principle of the changing body became clear to me.

[Prabhupada books]That is my personal experience, and others in the group can share their own. One would be surprised at the level of realization from some people, even those who are brand new to the process. It is as if the association with Krishna consciousness has lit the lamp of enlightenment inside of them.

In Closing:

With personal experiences to share,
How practical knowledge aware.

Surprised hearing from them the same,
From those who only recently came.

Power of bhakti and guru’s feet,
That to high standard to reach.

Vyasa for world’s benefit abound,
Shastra into pages bound.

Categories: questions

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2 replies

  1. Thanks for allowing me to take a bath of inner cleaning every AM by reading your postings🙏

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