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English issues

shiva-shakti

Question: Maharaj, yoga is already very popular. Could you please tell us about the history of yoga – how and when did yoga appear and how did it come to us?

Swami Tirtha: Well, yoga is a connection to the Supreme or a way to establish a living and loving connection between human consciousness and supreme consciousness. This is an eternal path, so it is very, very difficult to trace back the historical perspective of yoga. Because as it is something revealed, it started at the creation of the world; the historical background is lost in oblivion.

Yet if we want to find the real origin of practical yoga, then we should go back few centuries, let’s say one millennium. Because at that time the overall conditions in India were very exciting. This was the time when the six classical schools of philosophy, the darshanas[1], were formed in India. Actually not formed, but more developed, trying to meet and discuss, and sometimes exchange ideas with each other. Because yoga, as the path of mysticism, is one of the six classical schools of Indian philosophical systems. And all other different systems, like logic or vedanta – these are different main schools – contributed with something to the general spiritual horizon of people. Yoga gave a general practice. So practically the steps of yoga and the methods of yoga are present in all other schools, in all other practices. Meditation, yoga lifestyle, or some principles and goals of yoga – they are practiced in other different schools of Indian traditional philosophy. In historic times the greatest exponents of yoga come about that time –the turn of the previous millennium. And the tradition that was going on and living was condensed by them in some sutras. Because sutra, as a piece of literature, is such a treatise that in a very condensed form preserves and conveys the message, the essence of one school. So the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are practically one of the most well-known and most important sources on yoga. They can be traced back about one thousand years back historically. Otherwise the science of yoga is an eternal path.

Shiva is considered to be the greatest yogi. He is like an archetype of yogi and he had shown humanity many, many different yoga postures. And from among these hundreds and thousands of postures 108 were selected as the most important yoga postures, asanas. And Shiva is practically always depicted in some form of yoga – meditation, yoga posture or some yoga mudra.

Question: Is it true that he first taught the positions of the asanas to his wife? So yoga is a loving affair?

Swami Tirtha: Well, you cannot imagine Shiva without Shakti, without Devi. So definitely in many, many respects they are together. And at the same time Shiva is not only a mystic yogi, but a very multiple character. Because he also acts like a destructor of the world; and also he is a great exponent of divine love. So many different aspects are mixed in Shiva’s character.

 

[1] Six darshanas are: nyaya (logic), vaisheshika (atomic theory), sankhya (analysis of spirit and matter), yoga (discipline of knowing the self), mimamsa (science of fruitive activities) and vedanta (the science of God realization)



Raghunatha-Dasa-Goswami

I would like to mention the protection and the blessings of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu towards one of His best followers, Ragunatha dasa. Ragunath dasa was a very much renounced person. So much so that he was in the renounced order and he didn’t cook for himself, he was begging. When somebody gave him food, he ate; when nobody came, he didn’t eat. Then he understood that: ‘Oh, wait a minute, I am standing on the street which is very busy! It’s for sure that somebody will come on this street. I am standing in front of the main temple in Jagannath Puri. Here it is so easy to be a renunciate like this.’ From that time he started to stay in a different, abandoned street. But there also some people were coming and going and walking from time to time. And then he felt: ‘Oh, I have an attachment to these people and I have expectations: maybe this will bring something, maybe the other will support me somehow… I feel like a prostitute!’ Then he decided: ‘No, this is not the proper way to maintain my life – by begging.’ So, he started to eat the remnants that were thrown out on the streets, on some garbage pile. And first he was taking the rice which was in good condition. Later on he started to take the half rotten rice also. As soon as Mahaprabhu understood his practice, He went to him and He saw some hidden rotten rice in his hand. Mahaprabhu immediately attacked him: “Hey! You are such a miser! You have such nectar and you don’t want to share it with Me!” So immediately He was snatching and taking the rice from Raghunatha dasa and eating it with great happiness.

That shows He was very satisfied with the renunciation of this person. Of course we should not imitate. But what is the main point here? Mahaprabhu loved his servant so much that He gave two things to Raghunatha dasa. He gave one small piece of Govardhana-shila to him – one piece of stone from the Govardhana hill. And also He gave him one garland of these black and red beads. This piece of stone now is worshipped in Vrindavana. It is in the temple of Lokanatha dasa Goswami. And if you approach the pujari in a humble state of mind, he will show it to you. It’s half as big as this instrument, looks exactly like a piece of …what is that sweet you make of condensed milk?

Answer: Burfi.

Swami Tirtha: Just like a piece of burfi. And you know, the burfi has a very soft consistence. If you touch a burfi, you can have your fingerprints there. And although this is not made of burfi, but made of stone, there is a fingerprint there. Mahaprabhu’s fingerprint is there on this burfi… ah, on this piece of stone. From this Raghunatha dasa understood that he has got a place at the Govardhana hill. And Govardhana hill is very famous for providing a place for Krishna’s and Radha’s lilas. Therefore devotees go to the Govardhana from all over the world to ask for blessings and to express their gratitude. This is a very holy place. But also Raghunatha dasa received the garland from these beads, it’s called gunjamala – it’s half red and half black. And what was the meaning of this for him? From this he understood that by the mercy of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu he achieved the high blessings of radha-dasyam, the service to Shrimati Radharani.

So, the protection of God works in a miraculous way. Krishna protects Prahlada as a very special avatar. And Chaitanya Mahaprabhu shows His mercy in a very intimate way to His devotees. Therefore we can say that Krishna is our protector. If we give a chance to Him to protect us, He will do it. And sometimes this protection manifests in a very unusual way. Sometimes His love and His protection is not soft, it’s not tender. If He wants to save you from mortal danger, He will act very seriously. But His protection is always for the benefit of His beloved ones.

 



IMG_5392

(continues from the previous Friday) 

The story of Nrisimhadev supports the opinion of the Bhagavad Gita that we quoted before: “To protect the pious and to punish to miscreants.”[1] Prahlada was protected all the time. He was so much surrendered to the Supreme that he fully enjoyed His protection, although he is considered to be an authority in shanta-rasa – the neutral connection. He is very faithful, but he doesn’t really show any activities – only prayers and rendering himself under the divine protection. That is enough to be saved from life danger! That is very important. Only prayers are enough to protect you from the greatest dangers.

This is the vision about Lord Nrisimha – He is there everywhere: inside, outside, in my heart, wherever I look I see Him. As a protector deity He is very famous and very much worshipped all over in India and in the world also. So, whenever there is a need for protection, He can provide.

Question of Kriphadham: Why Brahma, whom we are supposed to know as a positive hero, is somehow always in shastras giving blessings to some demons so that they can do some demoniac things? For sure he knows what’s going to happen. Is he doing this from fatherly love?

Swami Tirtha: Somebody has to satisfy the desires of the demons also. But you know, in these great, evolving stories, everybody has to fulfill a certain role. It looks like that Hiranyakashipu could force Brahma to give him blessings. But actually Brahma was delivering blessings to liberate Hiranyakashipu. Because this birth for Hiranyakashipu was like a curse on him. And in order to liberate him from this curse, he had to receive these blessings, so that only Vishnu could finish with him. So, this is actually not the power of the demon over one of the greatest demigods, but this is the divine mercy trying to arrange a quick liberation for even those who are in a bad shape. And therefore Brahma takes a very positive role. Because by giving these different types of blessings he just helps the things happen.

Does it mean that we should do penance and ask blessings from Brahma? It works, but I don’t know for how long you would be able to stand on one leg with raised hands to feed the termites. So, if we cannot do that, better we go to the ultimate distributor of benediction. This is Krishna. In the Gita it is said that ultimately all blessings are coming from Him; maybe sometimes they are delivered through different agents. But be smart. By obtaining Him we can obtain everything, by knowing Him we can know everything. So, Brahma’s acts are always favorable. And whenever his power is blocked or limited by certain circumstances, he goes and prays to Vishnu, his Superior. This is the way, this is the method. If our power is limited in one sense, then we should go to our superiors and ask for more blessings.

Question of Kriphadham: As Brahma is responsible for the energy of creation, the material creation, my question is in connection with the things which are happening on the material plane. Practically we are doing some penances to get a material result. Is there some kind of parallel with this story of the demon? Is there a parallel of what we are doing and what happened to Hiranyakashipu?

Swami Tirtha: Well, I hope there is no parallel. Because we also do some penance – but what is the difference? When Hiranyakashipu did the penance, it was very severe – you know, to circulate your prana in your skeleton is very austere. But as soon as he got the blessings what was his desire? “Give me power, give me satisfaction! Give me everything! Give me eternal life!“ So, demoniac mentality means: ‘I do the penance, I do some spiritual practice, but when I accomplish that I want to do something else.’ What is the penance of a vaishnava? He also practices spiritual things, follows spiritual practices, but when he is accomplished, his desire is to continue with the service. So, this is the big difference. Tapasya for the sake of enjoyment – this is the demoniac way. The devotional way is: enjoyment for the sake of enjoyment.

Yamuna: Renunciation for the sake of renunciation?

Swami Tirtha: No, enjoyment for the sake of enjoyment. Because you are happy if you can serve God. It’s a happy process. And when you accomplish your sadhana, you will achieve your goal and again more happiness is waiting for you. This is the divine practice, this is the divine tapasya.

So, I wish all good success for all of you in practice of this divine tapasya. Be happy now and be happy later – in a spiritual sense.

 

[1] Bhagavad Gita 4.8



Nrisimha-Prahlad

Let’s take one example of God’s protection. Tomorrow is the appearance day of Nrisimhadev, He is like a protector avatar of devotees and He appeared in a very special form – as half lion and half man. You might say: ‘Oh, this is very extraordinary! This is overlapping of species, like a divine genetic manipulation.’ But there was a good reason why He appeared like this. To put the story very short, there was one great demon who practiced some penance, some tapasya. His name was Hiranyakashipu and the name means “gold and soft bed”. So these were his two engagements – collecting wealth and enjoying women. This is demoniac nature – collecting much wealth and enjoying women. Yet because he was not satisfied with these two, he started to make some tapasya. It’s very strange that such a powerful person, ready to enjoy the facilities of life, starts to do penance. But something was missing for him and this was the power, the victory over death – this is what he wanted to escape. Therefore he started to make a penance. His penance was a yoga posture standing on one leg with raised hands to the sky. We have so many yoga instructors. For how long can you do this? Two days, three days?

Lilavatar: Two minutes, four minutes…

Swami Tirtha: He was doing that posture for such a long time that the white ants started to build a castle over his body. And his flesh was eaten up from the bones – he had only the skeleton. Still, he was able to circulate his vital air, prana, in his skeleton. So, yoga has some prospects, right? And by this penance he achieved such power that his beloved demigod Brahma appeared to him. Due to this penance practically the order of the universe was broken – he generated very high power. So, Brahma appeared and he said: “I am so satisfied with your penance. What do you want? I am ready to give you any blessings.” Then our skeleton said: “Can you give me immortality?” Because Brahma came with a pitcher full of nectar. Brahma said: “Sorry this is beyond my powers. I cannot give this to you. Ask another boon”. But this is demoniac mentality – if you cannot get them in one shot, then you try to technically catch your ideals. He said: “Can you give me that no human being would kill me?” “Yes, I can give it to you, no problem.” “And that no demigod should kill me?” “Yes, I can give this to you.” “And I should be protected while I am on the earth or while I am in the air so that nobody could kill me?“ ”Oh, that is easy. I can give this to you.” “And no weapon should harm me?” “I can give it to you!” It was a long list with requirements and Brahma always accepted and gave the boons. Finally a few drops of nectar were sprinkled over the skeleton and then a handsome, young, powerful guy emerged from this termite house. And he started to rule over the whole universe.

Where is the protection of God here? Not yet manifesting, but our friend, as a nice family man, had a son. And as a demoniac father he wanted to make a nice demon from his son. Like father like son. So, he put his dear son into a demon school; he had two instructors and many friends. But you know, there was a little disturbance there, because while this son was in the womb of his mother, Naradha Muni was discussing with her the principles of devotional life. And it touched so much the heart of this small little embryo, this Prahlada that already in the womb of his mother he started to be a devotee of Lord Vishnu. Just imagine what a failure! You do the best of you to make a nice demoniac son and he turns to be a bhakta! Therefore the father put him into school: “All right, by birth he is little distorted, but maybe we can rectify him in the school.” But what happened in the demon school? He started to preach to his classmates. And the father, as a good father, was always checking: “What’s happening in the school, my dear son?” And as he was very dissatisfied with the son, he tried in different ways to instruct him. Sometimes hurling him down from the top of a hill, other time dropping him into the hole of snakes, cooking him in oil, throwing him in front of wild elephants. So, in different ways he started to instruct the son to be a nice demon, but nothing helped. Because the boy was always praying to this Vishnu! And doesn’t matter how many snakes were there, how hot the oil was, he was protected. So, finally one day the father asked: “Oh, my dear son, very nice that you are back from school, what have you learned?” And the son said: “I’ve learned something very precious – that Lord Vishnu is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” You know, the father, as demoniac power dominating the whole world, was a natural born enemy of Vishnu. He was enraged: “What? Again this Vishnu! Where is your God, I don’t believe in Him!” And the son said: “He is present everywhere!” “Is He present in this column also?” – asked the father. And the boy said: “Yes, of course, He is there in the column also!” “Then I will destroy it!” said the father and took his sword to bring down the column. This was the moment when Nrisimhadeva appeared in this divine lion form. And what happened? He was roaring and showing and all of a sudden took the father, Hiranyakashipu, in His lap, started to disassemble the person and finished it very quickly. In this way His anger was pacified a little bit and then He established the son as the inheritor of the power.

Why did it happen like this? Because Hiranyakashipu had blessings of Brahma: he will not die on the earth, he will not die in the sky; no humans, no animals, no demigods can kill him; and no weapon can hurt him. Therefore Lord Vishnu appeared in such a very special form: He was half lion, half man – neither an animal, nor a human. And He took Hiranyakashipu in the lap – he was not on the earth and not in the sky, but in the lap. And with the nails He opened up the person – and this was not an ordinary weapon, only the nails of a lion. So, however Hiranyakashipu tried to avoid this danger, he could not escape divine providence. And the small boy, who was tortured by the father almost to death, was all the time protected by the Lord and finally, when he was in utter danger, he was again protected.

 

(to be continued)

 



Jul

21

Worshiper

As we discussed during this week the six elements of sharanagati, or dedication of the self, we came to the final practice of this beautiful process of divine love, and this is to accept Krishna as the protector. So, what do we expect from God?

Paramananda: Mercy.

Swami Tirtha: Mercy… One option is mercy. The other can be truth. Anybody has something else?

Somebody: Love.

Yamuna: Adventures.

Swami Tirtha: Adventures, oh! You will get it, that’s for sure. And if we did this research, we could find a long list of expectations – what we want from God. But we should examine what we should offer to Him also. Because then the exchange is going on. And if we expect the Supreme to be truthful and protector of the truth or religion, He will act really like a protector. There is one very important verse in the Bhagavad Gita: yada yada hi dharmasya glanir bhavati bharata abhyutthanam adharmasya tadatmanam sṛjamy aham – “Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion – at that time I descend Myself.”[1]And the next verse says: paritranaya sadhunam vinashaya ca dushkrtam dharma-samsthapanarthaya sambhavami yuge yuge – “To deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I Myself appear millennium after millennium.”[2]

So, here we get a proper description about the motivations of the Supreme to come. Three different motivations are given. One is to liberate the pious, second is to punish the impious and the third is to reestablish the principles of religion. This last one is like a general principle. Why God should come – to help religion win. And usually it happens that when there is God, where there is His influence, there no negative influence can be established. But the main purpose of His coming is to save the sadhus, the saintly people. Paritranaya sadhunam – “I will protect those who are dear to Me.” But who is dear to Krishna, who is dear to God?

Manjari: Those who love Him most.

Swami Tirtha: Yes, He is a little partial with them. Generally he loves everybody. As the sun shines on everyone, God’s grace is directed to everyone. But how can He act as a protector? Only if He gets a chance to protect you. In order to be a sadhu or a great saint we have to follow, fulfill certain requirements. The great souls take shelter of the Supreme. The very central verse of Bhagavad Gita concerns the great souls. So, let’s see what the description given here about the great saints is. Mahatmanas tu mam partha daivim prakrritim ashritah bhajanty ananya-manaso gyatva bhutadim avyayam – “O son of Pritha, those who are not deluded, the great souls, are under the protection of the divine nature. They are fully engaged in devotional service because they know Me as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, original and inexhaustible.”[3]And the next verse says: satatam kirtayanto mam yatantas ca drdha-vratah namasyantas ca mam bhaktya nitya-yukta upasateAlways chanting My glories, endeavoring with great determination, bowing down before Me, these great souls perpetually worship Me with devotion.”[4]

So, Krishna as protector can act when we are ready to admit our weaknesses. This is a way to invoke more mercy – if we show our humility in our prayers, in our attitude to the Supreme.

Mahatma, the great soul is such a person who surrenders to the Supreme. And by surrendering we can easily escape the influence of illusion and come under the protection divine. Do you believe that? Easily? Have you ever had a taste of surrender? What was that feeling? Or when you enjoyed a special attention, a special protection of the Lord? Yes? Tell us.

Yamuna: I was in a situation which was absolutely hopeless because I was feeling from some time that I am giving practically all my time to business and enjoyment and little by little Krishna was disappearing from my life. So, I was feeling that it’s wrong and I have to change but you know when you entered the trap, you just go that way. So, in one moment He just took all the business information which I absolutely needed for running the business and I had no copy of it and He closed it with a password. So, I was staying in front of the altar praying to Him to give me the password.

Swami Tirtha: Don’t tell me that the password revealed was “Gurudev”?

Yamuna: No. “Krishna”. It was very mystical because otherwise all the information was lost. So, He protected it by this password, and from people who were stealing the hard disk.

Swami Tirtha: “By knowing what everything will be known, by attaining whom everything will be attained.” So, how Krishna will act as a protector? He is ready to do so, but we have to show our willingness to accept His protection, to accept His mercy.

 

 

 

[1] “Bhagavad Gita”,4.7

[2] “Bhagavad Gita”,4.8

[3] “Bhagavad Gita” 9.13

[4] “Bhagavad Gita” 9.14



blue for you

(continues from the previous Friday) 

Question of Kripadham: While you were speaking about the pearl necklace on the neck of a lady I was thinking that if there are missing pearls, it doesn’t look nicely, there shouldn’t be gaps. What happens if somebody drops from the string and there is a gap? What is Krishna doing in that moment? Since He is the thread, what does the thread do when a gap appears and is it possible such a thing?

Swami Tirtha: Well, this thread is a magnetic thread. So, even if someone tries to disassociate himself or herself from this thread, it will be very difficult. Sometimes in the mirror of illusion it looks like a pearl is lost. But no pearl is ever lost. Yet in case it looks like a pearl is lost then the other pearls stick together more strongly, so that there is no gap.

Kripadham: Does it mean that in some moment the necklace becomes too tight at the neck of the lady?

Swami Tirtha: No, because this is a magnetic thread and the end is not closed. The end is not closed, so new pearls can be put on this beautiful necklace.

Lilavatar: In addition to his question: when a pearl drops, in that moment you can see the thread, which is otherwise invisible.

Swami Tirtha: Yes, I agree. Because in difficulty you can very easily see Krishna. And I had personally experienced that. You know, when there is no trouble, then the devotees will create their own stupid little troubles. But when there is a trouble they know what to do, they know how to keep together. And this makes me satisfied. When I hear: “Oh, I have this problem. I have that problem,” I am very satisfied. Because that means there’s nothing serious, this is like chirping of the birds. But when there is a real trouble you will know what to do.

So, do you want to see Krishna? And Radha? We were educated in the Gita that we should see Krishna in the taste of water, in the shining light of the sun and the moon, in the smell of the earth, and it was not mentioned in the list, but please observe this rose. What do you see here?

Answer: Krishna, Radha and Balaram.

Swami Tirtha: Balaram also?!

Kripadham: Chaitanya also.

Swami Tirtha: ….and Gurudev, and all the devotees and others…

Yamuna: I see a divine arrangement that Krishna took me to that village where that rose was. When I bought it there was not even one flower on it and now I see “blue for you”.

Swami Tirtha: First of all this is a special rose, it’s called “blue for you”. You know, usually roses are not blue. There are red and white roses, but no blue. All right: one trunk, one color – we agree. But again: on the blue rose, a white comes. So, this is like the second row on the necklace. Because Shrimati Radharani is white, Krishna is blue. So, “blue for you” means “here is Krishna for you”. But then a mystic transformation also happens and all of a sudden on the label it’s written “white for you”. So, the white Goddess tries to offer a “blue for you” and the blue God will try to offer a “white for you”.

So, it is not that difficult to see God everywhere. Krishna is there and therefore we should be united in this beautiful circle dance called devotional service. And as a blessing you will enjoy this protective, maintaining power of the Lord. We maintain the faith, He maintains you.

Kripadham: Gurudev, Manjari made a very interesting translation of “blue for you”. “I am sad about you” is the other meaning in English.

Swami Tirtha: This is for the fallen pearls. You see, mercy is just overflowing.

 



radha-rani-1

(continues from the previous Friday)

 

So, Krishna as the maintainer preserves the order by being the hidden principle. Although sometimes He is a very obvious principle. When He lifted the Govardhan hill this is such a sweet pastime of the Lord! He lifted a hill in order to protect His devotees, His beloved ones. This protective power of the Supreme I think is very important for all of us. Because by this, sometimes hidden organizing principle, or other times with the very obvious protection He maintains what we have. Therefore there is a very beautiful verse in the Gita: ananyash chintayanto mam ye gyanah paryupasate tesham nityabhiyuktanam yoga-kshemam vahamy aham – “Those who always worship Me with exclusive devotion, meditating on My transcendental form – to them I carry what they lack and I preserve what they have.”[1]

This is the word of the Supreme. “I will preserve what you have and I will bring what you need.” I think this part we all like to hear. But don’t forget about the first part. “Those who worship Me exclusively and think always of Me – for them I will preserve, for them I will bring (what they have and what they need).” So, if we want to enjoy this divine protection, then this is what we have to do – be in constant and perfect meditation and worship with faith and dedication. Then it’s very easy to perceive the maintaining and protecting power of the Supreme.

In one sense our duty in this life is to provide a chance for Krishna to exercise His mercy. If you don’t need it, He will not show it. But if you need it, then He will hear. If we express what we need, then He can supply it.

So, please don’t forget about the golden thread that is hidden in your hands, that can create a beautiful necklace from the individual pearls. Alone you are nice, but united you are more nice. One pearl is precious, but a necklace of precious pearls – it’s extremely precious. This is the strength, the unifying strength of a spiritual community and if our faith and basic principle is the service of God Supreme, Krishna, then nothing can break this unity.

Radha-Kunda: Can we say that our first step is to catch the thread and to keep silent, to stay in the line.

Swami Tirtha: That’s good. I like that option because if you are invited as a newcomer to a party, usually you don’t take the main place. You sit somewhere in the corner waiting for your line, waiting to be invited. So, in one sense, yes, take your position in the spiritual community. Keep silent for a while in order to be able to listen. Because if we speak too much, then what can we hear? And if we had taken our position, then, as one of you said, a little movement will create some waves. If the movement is disharmonious, then the waves will create disaster, especially too much movement. But if the movements are harmonious, then the pearls will move together. And just imagine what the best place for a pearl necklace to move nicely, swing nicely is?

Answer: On the neck of the one who dances.

Swami Tirtha: Yes! He or She?

Kriphadham: It is better to be She, because the necklaces are for ladies.

Swami Tirtha: Because He is the string, right? Therefore with all my humility I expect obedience from the disciples. Because I want this pearl necklace to swing nicely on its proper place. I don’t want any pearls to be wasted or to disappear. If somebody comes, he should stayaccording to our basic principle that we keep on the divine service. This is my humble request. You can be an individual brooch, no problem. But if you want to be a strung pearl, join to this necklace. And please, try to stick to this principle. How to do that? Go back to the day of your initiation. Because then you are in a very pure consciousness, as initiation is just like a new birth. We remove the old clothes; sometimes we also cut the hair. And a real disciple will receive the mercy, or the sprinkle of divine mercy. Then you are given a blank page. Don’t fill it up with stupidity. In that moment you are very close to your original position. Try to maintain that and then your life will be blissful.

(to be continued)

[1] Bhagavat Gita 9.22

 



strength-people

To feel the protection of the Supreme we have to be able to see Him permanently. Shall we make a try how to see God, how to remember His presence? We are in a workshop, right? ‘Theory, theory, only words… give me some practical experience.’ Are you ready? I have brought a string and I very humbly ask you to form a circle and take hold of this string, catching it close with your hands. Maybe standing is easier. So, we have to be very close to each other. You have to come together, come closer as much as possible. Form the circle. It doesn’t matter if we cannot close the circle. Try to take it seriously, because now we try to see God, God’s presence. I will quote some verses from the Bhagavad Gita. Please, try to keep silent and pay attention. Don’t forget, this is a meditation and a practical experience.

“The Supreme personality of Godhead said: “Now hear, O dear Arjuna, how by practicing yoga in full consciousness of Me, with mind attached to Me, you can know Me in full, free from doubt. I shall now declare unto you in full this knowledge both phenomenal and inner, this being known nothing shall remain for you to know. Out of many thousands of men one may endeavor for perfection, and of those who have achieved perfection hardly one knows Me in truth. Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and false ego – altogether these eight constitute My separated material energies. Besides these, O mighty-armed Arjuna, there is another superior energy of Mine – the living entities who are exploiting the resources of this material energy. All created beings have their source in these two natures. Of all that is material and all that is spiritual in this world, know for certain that I am both the origin and the dissolution. O conqueror of wealth, there is no truth superior to Me. Everything rests upon Me, as pearls are strung on a thread. O son of Kunti, I am the taste of water, the light of the sun and the moon, the syllable om in the Vedic mantras; I am the sound in ether and ability in man. I am the original fragrance of the earth, I am the heat in fire, I am the life of all that lives, and I am the penances of all ascetics. O son of Pritha, know that I am the original seed of all existences, the intelligence of the intelligent, and the strength of all powerful men. I am the strength of the strong, devoid of passion and desire. I am sexual life which is not against the religious principles. Know that all states of being—be they in the goodness, passion or ignorance—are manifested by My energy. I am, in one sense, everything—but I am independent. I am not under the modes of material nature because they are within Me. Deluded by the three modes the world does not know Me as I am above the modes and inexhaustible. This divine energy of Mine, this illusion, is practically difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.”[1]

So, this is a way to see the Supreme Lord in everything, as pearls are strung on a string – and actually this makes the beautiful ornament. In the same way now you hold the golden thread in your hands that keeps us together. Now you are like pearls on the string – beautiful decoration on the neck of the Lord. And although the string is unseen because it is covered by your hands, this is the principle and this is the strength that keeps us together. Try to feel this uniting power, try to see that beautiful presence in all magical manifestations. Because “There is no truth superior to Me. Everything rest upon Me as pearls are strung on a thread.” Thank you! You can take your seats and I will take the golden thread. So, what was your impression?

Yashoda: As this picture of the universal form of God in Gita – that every face to face is around like a crown.

Manjari: I felt the closeness of the others and that this is something that we cannot escape from.

Kripadham: I felt that we are all connected in the shape of a wave and if somebody moves all waves around him as well. So, we have to be careful how we are moving because we make waves.

Radha-kunda: I was feeling the ribbon as something alive, as a living creature.

Comment: Energy, heat, presence.

Yamuna: I was at the end and I was feeling that I can fall down.

Swami Tirtha: I was standing beside you.

Paramananda: I felt that what is connecting us is the maintaining power of love and that due to it we can never be alone, no matter how much we want it.

Lilavatar: I was feeling just the persons next to me, but I knew that on the thread there are more.

Comment: I felt it as the rosary and that actually Krishna stays behind everything, no matter that we don’t see it. And all the circumstances and the things that happening are connected like this.

Lilavatar: I was all the time afraid that if somebody pulls the thread, we should all fall down.

Swami Tirtha: I think nobody is pulling the thread but somebody is trying to put it into your hands. Boyan, what was your impression?

Boyan: It was similar to what Kripa said. Responsibility for each other.

Swami Tirtha: How many times we have read these verses from the Gita? Hundreds of times, right? “I am the taste of water. I am behind everything.” Sometimes even it might be like a routine. But don’t forget – He is the golden thread in your life. He is the maintainer. He makes the necklace. You are only individual scattered pearls. But if there is the basic principle that will create the order between these pearls, then it will bring the extreme power of unity. And the multiplied power of the individuals is not only one plus one equals two, but it’s unlimited. So, if we can base our life on these divine principles, then there is a chance to upgrade ourselves.

 

(to be continued)

 

 

[1] Bhagavad Gita 7.1-14

 



brahmin reading

(continues from the previous Friday) 

Once upon a time there was a very knowledgeable brahmin. He was studying the scriptures very seriously. His favorite study was Bhagavad Gita where Krishna many times says: “I will support, I will take care and I am there.” And you know, our brahmin was very knowledgeable, but he had a little lack of faith. So, whenever he read these passages that “I am there, I will take care”, he was doubting that. He had a pen with some red ink, so whenever he read it, he underlined this: “I am there, I will take care” – always marking this. But if you are such a knowledgeable brahmin, devoting all your time to critically edit the Bhagavad Gita, then you have not so much time for earning your livelihood. So our brahmin was very poor. He was also a married man, a family man. And you know, if the head of the family is poor then the goddess of the home is dissatisfied. So, the wife told the husband, this knowledgeable brahmin: “Oh, again you marked the Gita with this red ink? Better you go and find some alms, some grains.” And if the goddess of the home says something, even the knowledgeable brahmins have to accept it. So our poor brahmin went out for earning some livelihood for the day.

You know, men are sometimes very fond of philosophy and theory, while ladies usually are very fond of faith. So, our goddess of the home said: “Ah, forget about your red ink, just go! Krishna will take care of us somehow!” Our friend went and he had a very hard day – going out, trying to find, trying to get some help with not so much success. While the lady was staying at home and she was waiting for something to happen. All of a sudden she saw two boys coming on the street, carrying a big basket on the head. The boys were knocking on the door and taking shelter of the woman. “We have a little problem” said one of the boys. “What is that?” inquired the lady. “Well, I have a little pain in my back.” “What pain, my dear?” “Let me first put down my basket. Maybe you can take good advantage of this. There are some fruits, there is some rice, this and that in the basket. So, this is for you.” “Very nice, my dear son, but what is your problem?” “My back is aching.” “Show me!” said the mother. And she saw that on the back of this boy there were signs of whipping. His back was in blood – when you whip someone there are some red scars. The lady was shocked: how is it – this small young boy and he’s been beaten up? She did not realize what is happening! She was so much shocked and all of a sudden as a natural function of a mother, as a lady, she wanted to heal his wounds. Immediately she brought some ointments to treat the wounds on the back of this boy. And as she was applying the ointment on the wounds she was counting the wounds. All of a sudden she understood: ‘Oh, wait a minute, there are as many wounds on the back of the boy as there are red lines in the Gita!’ Then she realized that this boy is a little unusual. His skin had a very special shade. So, she was very happy to heal the wounds… and all of a sudden the boys disappeared. The other one was white and this boy was black. So, as soon as she understood what was happening – that God came to her to help, as her faith told her – she also understood that the disbelief, the faithlessness of her husband were just like whipping the back of Krishna.

Then the husband returned, empty handed of course, while she was cooking a big feast. The husband came home very depressed: ‘Again a very difficult day, nothing happened, nothing worked out for me.’ And not only that he was working all day long outside, but he was absolutely not sure of the supper. And usually that makes the husbands a little uneasy. But when he entered he saw that a big feast is waiting for him. So, he was a little surprised and started to inquire from his wife: “Oh, what’s happened?” And then the lady told the story how the two boys came with a big basket full of things to eat. And she said that this was the victory of dedication because the foodstuffs were provided by Him, by the Supreme. Of course she also told him about the wounds of whipping, because while she was treating Krishna, He told her: “Whenever My devotees don’t really believe Me this is like torturing Me.”

So, this is one story to describe the support and care of the Supreme. We as human beings enjoy so much attention and so much care of the Supreme. He has provided us so many things, so many capacities. Providing eyes to see Him, providing hands to serve Him, providing mind to think of Him. Unlimited capacities we’ve got. Plus He provides the air that we breathe, the water that we drink, the earth that we cultivate, life as a miracle. Everything around us is His unconditional and very special mercy. And we take advantage of all these assets and energies and blessings so naturally. Just like as it is provided free. And Krishna is selfless enough to provide all these energies through a nice system He arranges. But our duty is to be grateful and faithful. It is not very nice if we enjoy the fruits of the energy without paying respects to the source of the energy. This is what we should do.

 



garuda

During these last days we discussed some important elements of a beautiful process of establishing a loving and living contact with God. This process is called sharanagati, or the surrender of the self. The first two steps of this process are to avoid what is unfavorable and practice what is favorable. The second two steps are your human qualities, like humility and dedication of the self. And now two more elements remain that we should discuss – this is the firm faith that Krishna is the maintainer and that He will protect us from everything. So, could you investigate which is first?

Paramananda: Palana-shakti is first – the firm conviction that Krishna will protect us.

            Swami Tirtha: Nevertheless we shall take that tomorrow. Then today we have to discuss the remaining topic that Krishna is the maintainer of all. And today we’ve visited one monastery which is named after the carrier bird of Lord Vishnu – this is Garuda in the Indian tradition and locally here they call him falcon[1] – Sokolski Monastery. And what was written on the top of the dome of this monastery?

Yashoda: God holds everything.

Swami Tirtha: Correct. God who holds everything. I took it as a direct instruction that today we have to discuss God as a maintainer, Krishna as a maintainer. If we generally examine the Supreme Lord, His general name in English is God. And this is like a code, a name code. The three letters of this name describe three main qualities of the Supreme. “G” or the first letter is for generator, the second “O” is for …?

Answer: Omnipotent.

Swami Tirtha: No. “O” is for operator. And the third “D” is for destructor. So the three functions are generator, operator and destructor, right. The three main functions that come from Him are these. That means He is the ultimate source of everything as a generator; He is the maintainer of all, as an operator; and after the dissolution He is the final destination of all. So, His energies are emanated, maintained and then withdrawn – this is the cycle of creation. And if we have to choose what is the easiest – to destroy something, to start something, or to maintain something – then what is your choice?

Answer: To destroy.

Swami Tirtha: Yes, to destroy something is very easy. Your spiritual master builds up a mission for years and years, and then you come and very easily destroy everything. Right, it goes very easy, although, to start something takes a lot of efforts. You have to work very hard to start something. But I think we can agree that to maintain something – this is the greatest. So, this function – God as an operator, who operates this whole created Universe – this is the most beautiful task. And in many places the revealed scriptures support this idea: that God takes care, He supports, He maintains. In order to understand that deeply you must have faith. If we have only knowledge, or information – that is not enough to see this beautiful aspect of the Lord. Because in order to see that Krishna maintains everything you must have the vision that He is there. So, He is not missing from the picture. In all the elements of creation He is present. Especially in those which are beautiful.

(to be continued) 

[1] сокол (pronounced “sokol”) in Bulgarian