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English issues

vaishnava

(continues from the previous Friday)
If everything on the material sphere is based on fear, and if somebody feels separate from the Supreme and there is fear for him, we have to inquire for the nature of bliss, of happiness. Anandasya mimamsa. Mimamsa is like analysis, ultimate analysis of ananda. So, this is the inquiry concerning bliss:
“Let there be a youth, a good youth, and well red, prompt in action (ready to act), steady in mind and strong in body.“ [1] Wow! Everything is together! Here is bliss! You are young, educated, strong, healthy, wealthy and wise! What else is necessary? But sorry to convey the message: from a young sixteen very quickly you will become an old sixty. Then your youth is like an old dream, like a memory; the strength is gone, you only have memories of the glorious past, energy is minimized, death is approaching, etc. But, let’s go back to happiness. Not only he is young and powerful, etc. but “Let this whole earth be full of wealth for him.” Sounds good, you can enjoy all the assets of this planet Earth. “This is one human bliss (one measurement of human bliss).”
And where is my happiness? It’s very insignificant – some very, very little percentage. As I’m not young. I am not good. I am not well red. I am not ready to act. I am not steady in mind. I’m not strong in body. And I don’t posses all the wealth on this Earth. So, where is my happiness if all these positive things add up to only one little human happiness?
But the enquiry goes on: “What is a hundred times the human bliss that is one bliss of human fairies; and also of a man who is well versed in the Vedas and is not smitten with desire.”
So, all the happiness on the Earth, multiplied a hundred times, is only one unit of happiness for the higher beings – human fairies. Maybe you didn’t meet them yet, but they do exist. Like human devils, have you met them? The fairies are the same, with two legs, but a little different in character.”
Yet also you can have this high grade of happiness if you are well versed in the Vedas and you have no material desires. So, can you posses all the wealth of Earth multiplied by hundred times? Maybe not. Can you become well versed in the Vedas? Yes! Can you become not affected by material desires? It goes together – if you are well versed in the Vedas, you will have no material desires.
So, now we are on a high platform of bliss. But the enquiry goes on. “What is a thousand times the bliss of human fairies that is one bliss of divine fairies. And also of a man who is well versed in the Vedas and is not smitten with desire.”
So, that is ten thousand times higher than the human bliss. The enquiry is long, so I will lose my mathematical calculation. “What is a hundred times the bliss of the divine fairies that is one bliss of the fathers in the long-enduring world. So, this is the level of the pitris, Pitri-loka, where the forefathers live. They live for a very, very long time and they enjoy bliss. And also of a man who is well versed in the Vedas and is not smitten with desire.” That means that we are on a million times higher level than the human beings.
(to be continued)

1. Quotations in the text are from Taittiriya Upanishad



reflection

(continues from the previous Friday)

 

So, whatever God does, it’s well done. And then[1] comes something very important: “That beautifully well done thing – this is the essence of existence.” This translation is a little dry. Because what is the original wording? Raso vai sah – “He is rasa, He is the essence”. According to our understanding we should see, we should perceive that Krishna, or God, the ultimate source of everything – He is the essence of existence. But rasa is not only “an essence”, rasa is also “happiness”. Plus rasa is a “connection”. So, finally what is this rasa? This is the essence of loving connection. Raso vai sah, please remember this. “He is the essence, He is the bliss.”

“For truly one getting this essence, he becomes blissful. For who could live, who could breathe if there was no bliss in this space. This (this essence) is verily what bestows bliss. For truly when one finds fearlessness as support in Him, who is invisible, bodiless (that means no material body), undefined (that means beyond human conception), without support (that means He is the ultimate source of everything) – then that person has reached fearlessness. When however this soul, the individual soul, feels separate, then there is fear for him. That verily is the fear of the knower who does not reflect.”

So until you see difference, there is fear. When you feel the unity, there is no fear. What does it mean? It depends on the school of explanation. Some will say, some will explain that “everything is one, all are one”. We also say “everything is one”, but we add “and everything is different”. Because if everything is one, there is only a soup, and there is nobody to taste the soup. The soup cannot taste itself. If everything is separate, there are only the people, but there is no soup. So, in order to taste the soup, you need the soup and you need the persons also. That means if everything is one, everything is mixed up – this is like a unified mass of existence; if everything is separate – then there is no connection. And the essence is bliss, as we understood from this point. In order to experience this bliss we need certain common ground and we need a certain difference. Because there is no exchange if something is too separate or too close – there is no connection. And the meeting, or the exchange of love – this is the essence. When we feel this separation – and separation in our understanding means that we are alienated from the divine harmony, excluded from the divine harmony. If you are excluded from that divine circle, then you will feel frightened. When we are in the embrace of God, Krishna, there is no fear. You know there is this stupid sticker they used to put on cars “No fear”. It’s Upanishadic teaching: Enjoy the embrace of God and there is no fear. But if you feel this distance between the Supreme and you, then there is fear. And this is the fear of the knower, of the person who knows, but who doesn’t reflect, who doesn’t put it into practice.

The next verse describes this: “From fear of Him does the wind blow, from fear of Him does the sun rise, from fear of Him do Agni and Indra act, and Death also runs.” So, God Supreme is the ultimate power to move all these different functions of the universe. This makes the wind blow, this makes the sun rise, this makes the fire burn, Indra rule and death act upon you. And the motivation of all these subordinate executive principles is fear. These are the material rules. Material sphere is based on fear. What do you want – a material solution or a spiritual one? Better we have a spiritual solution – what is not based on fear. We are searching for some extraordinary solution which is beyond the limitations of material conditions – including death, including suffering. Therefore we need the path of enlightenment.

(to be continued)

[1] Continues the reading from “Taittiriya Upanishad”



врабчета

First of all I would like to greet everybody. I am very happy that you came. You know, while hiding in my room I always hear the door opening and that just helps my heart to be tuned. Because this is something very real – that we come together every morning in search of something spiritual. And I have to tell you I always wonder: you give me so much by providing your attention, dedicating your time; I wonder what can I give to you? It’s very insignificant. But I hope simply by doing our service nicely everyone is benefited, including those who come, including those who stay and including those who will come in the future.

Now let’s focus our attention on an important topic – happiness. This is a very ancient topic. Since human beings exist they want to know what happiness is. But is it enough to know what it is? No, we want to experience it. In the same way it is not enough to know who God is. We have to experience it.

But don’t jump too quickly too high. Let’s stick to happiness first. In the ancient times, in the upanishadic times, saints were coming together and they had a discussion about happiness. Shall we read that passage?

This is a chapter from the “Taittiriya Upanishad”. The name, the title of all the different Upanishads is a descriptive title. “Taittiriya Upanishad” is according to the tittiri bird, I don’t know the name in English. It’s a small bird. And there is a story behind. Once there was a conflict in a mission – there was some grave mistake and some death happened. And the master asked the disciples to meditate – to pay, to compensate for this mistake. But there was one devotee who said: “Your meditation is very weak. I will show you what to do.” Of course the master was offended: “Get out of here and give me back the knowledge that I have given to you!” Then it is said that he vomited the knowledge that he acquired before, but as he was a very significant practitioner, all the others immediately turned into these tittiri birds and started to pick these pieces of knowledge. Therefore this Upanishad is called Taittiriya, “Belonging to tittiri”. And here is the discussion:

“Brahman (or the Brahman principle) is bliss. Nonexistent was this world in the beginning. Therefrom verily was existence produced. (And then came existence). That (the divine principle) made itself a soul. Therefore it is called the well made.“

So, all the inquiries start at the beginning, the very beginning – how the world was created. And here it is described: first this world, the material sphere, did not exist. But then all of a sudden existence came. And you know from the Bhagavad Gita that in the beginning everything was avyakta, unmanifested, then the manifested comes, and then again pralaya will come – unmanifested again. It’s just like summer and winter, all the time shifting and changing. But this concerns only the material sphere. In the spiritual sky there is no change, no death.

“Verily what is well made, that is the essence of existence.” Sukritam is the original word, „well done”. So, if God desires to create or to show the manifestation of this world, it is well done. It’s a good job. Whatever He does, it’s well done. Don’t try to search for the mistakes in His job. He is perfect; whatever He does is also perfect. He is the ultimate cause and you are also a kind of result. That means you are… yes, also perfect! But unfortunately a little cloud of illusion envelopes you, right now. So, only we have to remove that, and then the original, natural perfection of the soul is revealed.

 

(to be continued)

 



Шад Бхуджа

Question: Is dedication with love that quality that turns the outside motivation into inner?

Swami Tirtha: On the superficial platform we might think that these are the factors. But actually it happens by some divine miraculous arrangement. Because there is no way to force divine love to happen. She will come.

Comment: I mean your own love towards God.

Swami Tirtha: Where is that? Actually there is something, we are not like empty shells. There is something, but we have to develop it. We should prepare ourselves so that something is revealed through some unknown secret divine arrangements. We can never know how it works. There’s something we should do and something we can achieve ourselves, by our own efforts. But the real fruit will come from a different source.

Just like healing. Healing depends on the doctor, on the medicine, on the hospital, on the disease itself, time also included – so many factors are there. And we have a very special capacity of self healing. All these factors will activate our capacity of this healing process. But ultimately health doesn’t depend on this. It’s a divine gift.

In the same way we can prepare ourselves, we can do our practice. But they say that prema-bhakti, or spontaneous divine love is self motivated. She comes independently. So, it’s not that we capture, but rather she captures us. And when she comes, this is irresistible. We cannot do anything, it’s just there. And we can never know how it works, because it’s a secret process. But we can be sure that this is very effective, very powerful. We also have some little capacities, but we are supplied with so many things from above. Because this is a descending process, it comes from above.

Internal motivation means a very high level of purity and sincerity. Because you are not concerned with expectations, traditions or whatever, but you depend on some living and loving connection – it’s different. Yet all those who have this living and loving connection, they follow some certain set of rules.

Question of Krpadham: If somebody has some different approach to God and still chants the maha-mantra, what can be the result for him? Where does he go?

Swami Tirtha: The name can give you anything. Whatever you like, you can obtain. I never tried, but they say you can achieve even material benefits by the maha-mantra. If you want, you can achieve liberation. I never tried. You can achieve divine love. So, it depends on our concept. What you want, you will get it. Sometimes little more, other times little less, but you will get something. Why? Because if we start, we shall reach. Don’t forget, it sounds very simple, but it’s very meaningful. If you start, you will reach.

And as you said there are many different concepts of chanting the Holy names. For example some neophytes chant on the beads. But the more advanced they chant between the beads. I don’t know whether you checked that between the beads of your mala there are another small little knots made of the thread. So, the big and obvious things are for the neophytes. The small and hidden things are for the elevated practitioners.

Anyway… In order to reach we should start. Without starting you cannot reach. And purification means that our conception – about chanting, associating, about God Himself – is more and more refined, more and more subtle.

Many times we have discussed that if you want to chant very effectively and in a very condensed form the names of Radha and Govinda, what do you have to say? Go-Ra, Gou-ra! In Kali-Yuga we have no time to chant such a long mantra as Govinda-Radhe – it’s too long. ‘Give me a short version, shortcut’. Gou-ra! What you can remember, Gou-ra.

There is one temple in Vrindavana with a special revelation of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, where He showed His three different types of identities like Krishna, Rama and Chaitanya – Krishna as holding the flute, Rama as holding the bow and Chaitanya as holding the water pot. So, according to your conception you can find everything. God is a very diverse personality. He can respond according to your call. If you ask: “Show me Your greatness!”, He will show you. But if you pray: “Show me Your mercy!”, He will show it.

So, definitely our achievements depend on our practice, Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakura says that you will reach perfection according to your practice. Whatever is your cultivation while you are at this sadhana platform, that is the type of perfection you will reach.

 



очи в очи

What is affection? Affection is not so special, nothing theoretical, it’s very practical. It means service – serve, take care. If you want to express your love to someone it’s so easy – you just give some little service. By chanting, by following the process properly we shall have the chance for a special service, a special way of association with the Supreme. Actually our original connection to the Supreme is revealed through the practice of chanting. Not only in a general way, because it’s very easy to understand generally that we belong to the Supreme. But also in a specific way – what is your specific duty, what is your specific way of serving, of associating with Him.

Therefore this bhakti process of loving search for the lost Lord and a loving search for the lost servant is very special. Because there are so many letters sent to God: “Please, give me this! Help me with that!” Every morning when He is checking His post: ”Same, same, same! Only asking!” But when He hears samsara davanala lidha loka[1] from the Sofia ashram especially, that is: ”Hey, that’s unique! I like this! Finally, not a general prayer ‘provide me this, give me that’ but they are ready to offer something.”

So, this is the special feature of bhakti process. We are ready to give. Krishna is wealthy enough. He doesn’t really need anything from this material world, because practically everything belongs to Him. If you have, you don’t need it. If you don’t have, then you feel an urge to posses. The only thing that He desires, this is one very specific feature of a human being called affection.

Therefore as vaishnavas we should be clever and sensitive enough to identify this very specific contribution that we can do for the Supreme. Other brothers of different faiths and different religions they can send their requirements. But, you please send your readiness. Glorification is the special thing that vaishnavas can contribute. Usually prayers or glorifications will say: “Oh, You are so great, You are so big!” But just imagine yourself, somebody approaches you and says: “Oh, you are so great, you are so big!” that means he puts you so far away. It’s impossible to reach you. What can you do then? Then you will start your loving search for the lost servant, who is ready to come closer to you, who doesn’t only trust you but who loves you. Who doesn’t have an official faith, but who has a living and a loving faith. Krishna is searching for those exchanges. Be ready.

This is our special contribution – glorification in love, in ecstasy. Because actually there are only two things happening in this world. One is divine will that functions and keeps everything running, and the other is divine love that helps this desire, Godly desire to manifest. It’s very important. Nothing else is there. Therefore you have to decide whether you are a servant of divine will, or you are a servant of divine love, whether you are a servant of Krishna or you are a servant of Radha. This is what we have to decide.

Please, remember. Nothing else is happening, only the divine will. Anyway it will happen. Because He is so great, He is so powerful, He is so everything. But if we are clever enough, then we should say “yes”. And then immediately this divine desire will happen nicely. Otherwise it might happen sometimes in a little harsh way. So, our spiritual intelligence should help us to make it happen nicely.

 

[1] The first line of devotional song “Gurvashtaka”



Vrindavana (1)

(continues from the previous Friday)

 

We shall read from the book “Loving search for the lost servant” By Shrila Shridhara Maharaj, from Chapter Eight, The Holy Name:

“If it is to be effective, the sound of the holy name of Krishna must have a divine quality. The holy name of Krishna which is infinite can do away with everything undesirable within us; but the name must be invested with a real spiritual conception. It must not be a mere physical imitation produced only by the help of the lip and tongue. That sound is not the holy name. If it is to be genuine, the holy name of Krishna, Hari, Vishnu, or Narayana must be vaikuntha-nama: it should have spiritual existence, divine backing. That principle is all in all in vibrating the holy name.”

Our main practice in devotional way of expression to God is to chant mantras consisting of His names. All different prayers are very good and approved, but this special type of prayer or formula – when you call the Supreme by the name – is very intimate. And this very special mantra, Hare Krishna maha-mantra consists of three different names, or aspects of the Supreme. One is Krishna who is the All-attractive. Hara is the loving potency of the Supreme, who helps to express the love to God. And Rama is either the happiness derived from this beautiful connection to the Supreme or it is another aspect of Krishna who gives happiness to the loving energy and to you also.

There are some primary names and there are some secondary names of the Supreme. The secondary names will give you liberation, while the primary names will bring you to the lotus feet of the Supreme. In that sense mantra is just like a formula, like an instrument that will bring you to some goal. Of course this is a very basic understanding, please excuse me for that, but it is also included. If we chant mantras nicely from the deepest core of our heart, some change will happen in us. In order to reach the divine goal, we must have a divine instrument. So, the holy name is a divine instrument. But we also have to add something – full dedication, full divine conception. In order to lead us back to the spiritual sky, the name must be invested with spiritual potency. That means we have to purify our consciousness so much that these divine powers could reveal themselves.

“We are concerned with sound vibration that has spiritual depth. The physical imitation of the holy name is not the name proper; it is not shabda-brahman, divine sound. Only imitation sound may come from the plane of mundane conception. The holy name of Krishna means divine sound; it must have some spiritual background. Something spiritual must be distributed through the physical sound”. Sound is very important energy; just like in the radio transmissions there is a carrying wave and on the carrying waves it is the real message that we can decode. So, we should go deep into the essence to catch the meaning.

“In the case of a capsule of medicine, the capsule is not the medicine; the medicine is within. Externally, one capsule may look like another, but within one capsule there may be medicine and within another there may be cyanide. The capsule itself is not the medicine. So it is not the sound of Krishna’s name that is Krishna: Krishna is within the sound. The holy name must be surcharged with the proper spirit, not any mundane sentiment”. This is something that we have to add – our dedication, our prayer, so that the holy name reveals.

“Even the followers of the impersonal Shankara school have faith that the name is not confined within the jurisdiction of physical sound. They consider it to be within the mental plane, within the plane of sattva-guna. Unfortunately they think that the holy name is the product of maya, or misconception, and so they conclude that the names of Hari, Krishna, Kali, and Shiva are all one and the same.

But the divine sound of the pure name must have its origin beyond the area of misconception or maya. The extent of maya is up to the highest plane of this material world, Satyaloka. Beyond Satyaloka is the Viraja river and the world of consciousness, Brahmaloka, and then the spiritual sky, Paravyoma. The pure name of Krishna must have its origin in Paravyoma, the spiritual sky. And if we are to examine it further, the holy name of Krishna really comes from the most original plane of all existence: Vraja, Goloka. According to this understanding, the sound must have its origin in the highest plane of the spiritual world in Vrindavana if it is to be considered the genuine Krishna nama.

The mere physical sound is not the holy name of Krishna. A true conception of the holy name is necessary, not only to free us from this world of misconception, but also for the attainment of service to Krishna in Vrindavana. Only that true name of Krishna which has its origin in the plane of Vrindavana can lift us up and take us there.

It’s very strange, very interesting that by generating sound with our so to say vocal system we can invite some divine energy, we can reach the divine plane. Therefore many times Shrila Shridhara Maharaj says: “this is not a lip-deep transaction”. Just as we discussed that nowadays if somebody says: “Yes, I will come.” Does it mean anything? Some idealists answer if I ask: “Yes, yes, it means ‘maybe they will come’. But the realists, they say: “It means they will not come.” While the pessimists will say: “It doesn’t mean anything anymore”. So, words have lost their value. What to speak of divine sound, divine words. We should reestablish the value of our words. In order to reach transcendence it’s not enough to use only these few parts of our body. Put everything beyond your lip and tongue. When we are in need, then we exactly know how to pray, immediately. Therefore it’s good to have little troubles. Well, not too much because then you will lose your temper. And something very important was mentioned here – only this pure original name can provide you a service to Krishna in the supreme spiritual sky.

 



iran-isfahan

There are so many schools and lines of religion. We should appreciate all different approaches to the Supreme. Bhaktivinoda Thakura says: “Whenever there is time for prayer, puja, and you happen to be in a temple of another religion, you can enter freely and see that ‘In this temple My Lord is worshipped. Maybe formalities are a little different, maybe wording is a little different, but it is My God”.

Because while we are on the limited platform of consciousness we see the differences. But when we are on the spiritual platform, we see the unity. Just think how many conflicts and wars and fights had been happening in the name of God on this planet Earth. While the Supreme Lord observes this and He is just smiling: “Oh, they still don’t understand. Let’s give a little more time”.

There are different people, different conceptions about the Supreme and about the path also. But what is that unique special feature of bhakti, prema-bhakti? Why Krishna?

Generally in religious practice people turn to God when they need something, when they suffer, when they request some help. “Oh, my Lord, give me this, give me that!” But bhakti, dedicated selfless service, is different. We also have some requests to Krishna: “Please, my Lord, tell me: how can I serve You?” So, it’s the other way round. Not that “You, please, serve me in this and this way,” but “How can I serve You in Your way, as You like it?” There is only one very necessary ingredient in this process, it’s called surrender. If we have that special ingredient, then this whole exchange will start to function.

So, if we return back to this general conception of religion, besides asking God for some benedictions, usually people are trained that they are searching after God. And then there is a book by Shrila Shridhara Maharaj with a very special title – “Loving search for the lost servant”. Loving search not for the Lord, but for the servant. How is it? Who is searching after whom? We have lost our God, so we are searching after Him. But from this book it looks like He has lost you and He is searching after you. And what kind of search is this? It’s a loving search. “Loving search for the lost servant”.

So, in order to be searched after first you have to lose your way. If you are there, if you are always ready, Krishna will not search after you. Therefore you have taken such a glorious position – to be lost in illusion. In this way we invite a divine search. Just try to understand how beautiful concept this is, such an upgrade of all these religious concepts – to show and to prove that it is not only the humans that need the Supreme, but the Supreme also needs the human beings.

 

(to be continued)



dedication

(continues from the previous Friday)

 Question: We used to say the maha-mantra properly, but we get so much used to it that the mind wanders elsewhere.

Swami Tirtha: Correct.

Question: How to cope with this?

Swami Tirtha: Go one chanting. Because this process is called bhakti-yoga, right? Bhakti means “devotion” and when your devotion is very strong – no problem if there is a little lack of yoga, control. But if you don’t have devotion, then you have to be very strong in your control. So, we can say: sadhana and prema-bhakti. Sadhana means controlled process. Prema means unconditional flow of dedication. So, either we have this one, or we should follow that one – something we should practice.

But this is also a very important practical question: how to focus the mind? Because we are so blinded by illusion that we think that by a routine practice we can achieve something serious. No! By routine you will achieve routine. By dedication you will achieve dedication.

But originally you are a spiritual spark. You are part of the Supreme. You share His nature. Therefore you can search for it. Birds of the same feather flock together. If you are of a different nature, you cannot search for it. So, therefore we have a chance, we have a home, we belong somewhere. And by learning the process of how to focus the mind we can reach the goal. Focusing the mind is like a general practice and if we have that quality, then we can use it in chanting our mantras, in our association, in our other services. Because we are controlled, we are focused. Even in your business, in your family you can be very effective if you have this focus.

And you know, so many times we speak about personal philosophy – that God is a person. But sometimes we treat Him so impersonally. Just imagine somebody who says: “Oh, I want to serve you!” yet he gives you a negligent service. How will you feel? You will feel very bad, very neglected. In that sense God, Krishna is also very similar to us. We need personal attention, personal dealings. Sometimes even we are offended by these impersonal or negligent connections. And then we want to offer that to Krishna? To chant His names although we don’t really mean it? Or to say that we think of Him, although we don’t think of Him? It will not bring the fruits. We have to be very, very dedicated.

But fortunately Krishna is such an attractive topic for our mind that it’s not difficult to focus on Him. Because His name is All-attractive, helps us to overcome our limitations. We should try to create the proper environment for our chanting. Sit down in the morning, light a candle, light some incense and – for those who are running to jobs and this and that – at least for half an hour you should dedicate to spiritual practices. Until the incense is burned you can chant your mantras, you can chant first of all your devotional songs, you can say some prayers, few rounds and you can read one shloka from the Gita – then you can go. Because if you don’t do this, what is the difference between us and our neighbor? Nothing! Oh, there is a difference – he is better! Because he didn’t make a vow to serve God. I did, but I don’t do it. What’s that? It’s not nice. Once I said “Yes!”, and then I don’t do it. So try to focus your energies, your mind, your everything. And then you will see your day will be much better.

Of course, it doesn’t concern those who live in the ashrams. For them half an hour is not enough. They should do more. How much more?

Answer: All day long.

Swami Tirtha: All right, and then what about the swamis? How much for them?

Answer: Whole life.

Swami Tirtha: No, that’s not enough. It’s not so easy. Just recently I understood – one devotee told me: “Oh, Gurudev, I see that you are working for us 28 hours per day!” – it was like a lapse of the tongue. Then I understood why I feel so exhausted sometimes. I didn’t know that! So, beware! Let’s start with our half an hour. Because I have to tell you: this Krishna is greedy. First He says: “I am happy with a little flower! Give Me a little water!” But just check out the next verse: “….and give Me everything else![1] So, take it easy, not so quickly. If you always say “Yes” to Him, you will lose everything that you posses materially. But this is the way to gain spiritual wealth.

[1] Bhagavad Gita 9.27



burning-incense

Question of Paramananda: My question is connected to the daily practice. To what degree is important the correct verbalization of the prayers and mantras? How is this connected to the understanding?

Swami Tirtha: Well, about this I suggest you to meet and consult one very strong gopi mataji in Slovenia – she is well informed about the practices of different nations in bhakti. Sometimes she shows a different style, different types of chanting of the different nations: how the Russians are chanting, how the Japanese are chanting – all different, different styles. How the Orissa devotees are chanting. Sometimes you cannot recognize that this is the maha-mantra. But I am sure God understands.

So, practically it’s impossible to copy the original. Nevertheless we have to try our best to come closer to the proper pronunciation. But this is very important what you say, because there are 84 millions creative mantras for this universe – it’s an extreme number. They are like the codes of creation. Brahma uses these mantras to create the world again and again. Just like an instruction manual, how to assemble a kit. Like, for example, kids get some models of airplanes or something like that: ‘Put this here, put that there’. So, just imagine if you read the mantras improperly. Then the wing will be like this and the back will be in the front, and seats will be outside, right? So, mantras should be proper. These are also creative mantras. Because they will create understanding in our system – how to proceed in our spiritual life. But if we cannot do it properly, then what to do – don’t do anything? No, better we learn one mantra. Which one? There is one mantra for excuses. “Vidhi-hinam mantra-hinam yat kinchid upapaditam“Whatever I had done without the proper mantras, without the proper rules, please excuse me, my Lord, and see my little humble offering!” And whatever mistake is there – something you have omitted, something you don’t know, something that is improper – by the blessings of the maha-mantra, by the blessings of devotion you can bridge this gap. But if you don’t have devotion and you don’t know the mantra – that’s bad. I don’t mind if someone doesn’t know the mantras properly – if he or she has devotion. But if we have devotion, then we should learn the mantras properly.

There is a classic story about that. Once a young brahmachari said in the ashram to the old swami: Swamiji, you told me how to offer the incense: ‘you should make three rounds at the feet like this and then three times here, then there…’ but if I count how many times I have to offer, I cannot concentrate on Krishna!” What was the answer of the master: “My dear son, if you meditate on Krishna, you will offer it properly”. So, following the rules doesn’t block our meditation, it helps our meditation.

Once there were two rascals who were chanting so to say the Names, but instead of “Krishna” and “Rama”, they were pronouncing “Krushna” and “Ramo”. And at the end they met two demons whose names were Krushna and Ramo. So, beware of that. Try to say it properly.

 

(to be continued)

 



Go-Ra

(continues from the previous Friday)

 I had been coming to this ashram hundreds of times. But this time I lost my way. And I said: ‘Well, well, nevertheless we should find this ashram.” So, I decided to rely on my spiritual GPS. I said: ‘Well, if the search is intensive enough, although you don’t know any of the roads, you have to find it.’ I was going forward, turning here and there – all unknown places, streets that I’ve never seen! When approaching the ashram I felt somehow that this spiritual GPS must work well. Yet even then when I knew that this is the path, it looked so new, so unknown. Even when the tram crossed the road, I knew that this is the place, but it was like I’d never seen it before – that was my feeling. Finally we arrived. We met some devotees on the corner. And then I was thinking why it happened that the same roads that I had been using for hundreds of times looked so unfamiliar, unknown to me. Then I understood the reason. Because usually we meet the devotees on one spot and then we come together. Then I can follow them. I don’t have to check the corners, the street names, this and that. Simply by following them I can reach the goal.

Do you see the point? Spiritual life, divine reality is not like Sofia – it’s much bigger, more complicated. There are more turns. Only one difference, there is no U-turn. In the spiritual world everything exists except a U-turn.

I want to share with you that this was like supporting the philosophy – that if you have a guide, you will reach more easily. You can reach without a guide. It is possible to reach certain levels of destination. But if you have a guide, you are more safe. And without practically any efforts you can reach – if you follow properly. You see, these small little stupid things – to lose your way – help you to understand something. Therefore guidance, spiritual guidance is a worshipful object for us. Because it will help us to find properly and easily the way, to reach the destination. Because those who are locals, they know the way, they are familiar with the rules there. Therefore we have to find such a guide who knows. Then it is easy.

Therefore the first step of this progressive path of intimacy is to find a guide. Therefore they say: ‘guru can make you or guru can break you’. It’s important. And fortunately we have many gurus, many guides. If you lose the sight of one, you can find another one. If you don’t see let’s say Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s footsteps, because he was living 150 years back, then you can read his books and you will get some guidance. Or you can search for the followers who are presently here and then you will find proper guidance. “There is no loss in the spiritual life,” Krishna says. “And even a small little step saves you from the hardest and deepest pain and suffering.”[1] Because this is the path of enlightenment and if we follow that, we can come step by step closer to this ultimate intimacy.

If you read the meaning of our prayers, then you will see that these different prayers are just like the steps of a progressive and gradual development. First we turn to guru and then to the collective body of gurus – guru as an institution – so all the community of the masters and the spiritual guides come to help you. Then in the prayers we find the holy places and the holy representatives – the goswamis are mentioned of course, the vaishnavas are mentioned as the closest representatives of divine truth, Tulasi Devi is mentioned, etc. And then at the end you will find Mahaprabhu mentioned. Is that intensive enough? I think so. And His mantra is just before the Mahamantra. As though He is taking your hand and helping you to enter the temple room: “Come with Me! Here is the essence – Hare Krisna.”

So, from the first beginning – om agyanato the last help – Chaitanya Mahaprabhu – everybody is working for you. Because what is the happiness for a spiritual master? To see that his followers are progressing in spiritual life. This is real happiness. Therefore gurus want to help those who need their help to be blissful. So, these prayers help us to fix our mind, they lead us, help us to memorize what is the theory and then we have to put it into practice.

And when you start chanting the Holy Names, first of all you have to return back to the original point: “Om agyana – oh, Gurudev, thank you!” This is like looking back just above your shoulder. But if you look forward, of course there you also find your saints. And then a new set of progressive steps are ahead of you.

 

[1] Bhagavad Gita 2.40