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English issues

Jan

17

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(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 06.01.2013, evening, Sofia)

Question of Paramananda: A question about chanting. Once during initiation Shrila Shridhara Maharaja said that chanting without counting on a rosary means lack of service to Radhika. No service. Would you like to explain what does it mean and why is it like this?

 Swami Tirtha: Oh, that’s too high. This is complicated, I don’t know. Shrila Shridhara Maharaja is too divine. I am happy if I can receive some morsels from his chapatti, not to take part in the feast.

But you asked about chanting and I was very happy about this topic. Because what is chanting? At the first time a neophyte devotee might think: ‘Oh, I am chanting the holy names. And I can use the maha-mantra for my purification.’ Or ‘I can use, take advantage from the maha-mantra to achieve my spiritual goals.’ Which is a grave misuse. If there is anything that is higher than ourselves we should not use it, we should serve it, appreciate it. So, later on you will understand that: ‘Well, I cannot use the maha-mantra. There is only one reason why I can chant this mantra and it is to glorify God.’ That’s a better conception, but still not the end of the story, because later on we shall understand that chanting is like glorifying the unity between Radha and Krishna.

So, chanting this maha-mantra is not a simple function of the mantras in general. This is like an introduction into a very special and high type of spiritual mysticism. Although this is an open mantra, it’s a public mantra.

But the ultimate version is when the mantra wants to be chanted. From that very beginner stage that ‘I chant the mantra’ we should come to the other side that the mantra wants to be chanted. The maha-mantra needs persons who glorify it. So beautiful that there is an invitation from above! It’s not that you use or misuse a spiritual chance, but somehow you are invited and engaged in a very delicate and very high type of service.

And the maha-mantra is a very simple mantra – only three words. So, these are not the eighteen thousand verses of the Shrimad Bhagavatam. Only three words: Hare, Krishna, Rama. If we ask what the most often repeated word by the vaishnavas is, some devotees might think: ‘Oh, Krishna’. But it’s a mistake, it’s not Krishna. Hare! Hare is much more times mentioned in the mantra than either this Krishna or that Rama. From this you can see who is this more important in this mantra. Who is stressed more, more, more.

At the same time this mantra is actually the essential compendium of our philosophy. Why? What is the top platform, the supreme conception in our philosophy?

Paramananda: Radha-dasyam?

Swami Tirtha: Mahaprabhu would say: “Go further!” It’s not radha-dasyam, not the service of Shrimati Radharani. What is the feeling of Shrimati Radharani? Separation! The general religion simply means: ‘I want to come closer to God! I want to be in the company of God! I am searching for Him.’ That’s good. But the upgrade of that spiritual search, when the feelings are much more intensive, is when you are separated from Him. When you are with somebody, you take it very easy. Familiarity breeds contempt. But if somebody is missing, then you feel the need.

But then how is separation contained in this mantra? How this hidden way is contained in this mantra? It’s very easy – Radharani is not mentioned directly there. In other main mantras of other sampradayas for example there is this Radhe-Shyam mantra: Radhe Krishna Radhe Krishna Krishna Krishna Radhe Radhe. Radhe Shyam Radh Shyam Shyam Shyam Radhe Radhe.[1] Radhe-Krishna-Shyam. Here Hare-Krishna-Rama. So, Radharani in our maha-mantra is hidden, not directly mentioned. That is a very high conception. This is not the direct mention of our beloved, but indirect mention – svakiya and parakiya. Radhe Krishna Radhe Shyam – this is svakiya, official. Hare Krishna is beyond these limitations. So, this is an open mantra, non-secret. Yet, this is highly secret, top secret! And our acharyas give their understanding of the maha-mantra. Some I am ready to repeat here, some I am not ready to repeat.

Question of Kripadham: Gurudev, you mentioned that in chanting there are a few stages. I am interested in the second part in connection with worship. What can be done by a person who realizes that he has to worship, but he cannot. The theoretical understanding is there, he knows that this should be done, but he cannot do it in a proper manner within. And his chanting turns to offence.

Swami Tirtha: Well, once a young devotee asked Gurudev: “I feel if I offer my food to Krishna, this is offensive. Therefore I feel uneasy to offer my food.” Then Gurudev said: “Then do you want to eat bhoga[2]? Maybe this is a ritualistic formula for you today; nevertheless you have to do it! In order it becomes a pure devotional service.”

So, I think it’s very similar with any type of service, including chanting. Even if we don’t feel the high ecstasy that is described by the acaryas, we should perform it – trying to avoid the mistakes, trying to improve the quality of our chanting. Because this is the way to come to deeper realizations. Don’t worry, Krishna listens to your prayers! The divine sound is a direct link, local call.

[1] The maha-mantra of the Nimbarka Sampradaya

[2] Unoffered food

 



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(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 06.01.2013, evening, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Friday) 

What happens if the soul leaves the body? The body starts to decompose, right? That proves that it is the presence of the soul that keeps the whole system functioning. This is the higher type of energy that will keep it running. So, the first two signals of the soul are the consciousness and the life energy – prana. If you see life manifested somewhere, you should know that there is a soul. If you see consciousness, you should know that there is a soul. But, you know, now we live in a very desacralized world. Even if we see life, we think that this is only matter. You see a living body and you consider: ‘Oh, this is matter!’ While what is the vision of the saints? They see dead matter and they will feel that this is alive. Do you see the distortion that happened to us? We have lost our spiritual vision! So we have to regain that divine vision – to see the presence of the soul, to see the presence of God, Krishna.

And to revive our original consciousness we have to do some spiritual practice. Chanting the holy names helps us to reveal the original, divine reality. If somebody has accomplished that task, if somebody has overcome the brutal laws of nature, if somebody could really spiritualize his body, or her body, then even after leaving the body it will not decompose. You might think that this is like a fairytale, but there are some great saints whose body did not decompose. One of them was a Christian saint in the 20th century. He started to be a monk at the age of eighteen. Very soon he started to receive the stigmas of Christ, at a very young age. Blood was oozing from his hands and from his body, especially when he was performing the mass. And he had some spiritual visions, he could see the past and the future of people. He could read their mind. And his main service to people was to hear confessions. But if somebody was insincere, he kicked this guy out. So, you could not cheat him: ‘I will tell only half of my secrets’. No way. He had this vision. What is this? These are the symptoms of a great yogi. To see the past and the future, or to have a deeper understanding of the mentality of other people, reading their mind. And many other features. His name was Padre Pio. People were healed around him, many other mystic experiences happened with and around him. And then, when he was very old, he died. They buried him and after some 20 years they opened the tomb. And what happened? It was not the bones, it was the body there. Only some very little parts of the body were not in good shape, but otherwise the whole body was in a perfect shape.

So what is described here? That you can overcome the limitations of nature, its general functions. It’s possible. But don’t worry, we shall not open your tombs after 20 years. And it doesn’t matter if your body decomposes or not. So, please don’t work hard for having a good shape after death. This is not really the point. This is like a secondary effect of your saintliness. The question is not if there is life after death. The question is if there is life before death. What do you call life? Your survival trip? Or your passionate engagements in your city of nine gates? Is that life? No! This is not life! This is death. We should enter life proper, real life. And real life is devotional life, dedicated to God. This is the way to overcome mortality. Then you can happily reside in your city of nine gates.

What happened to humanity during the last centuries? We achieved the comfortable life and meanwhile we started to complain about everything. So we have the civilization of comfort and the culture of complaints. Let’s change it. One requirement from the practitioners of yoga is fulfillment or contentment. So, we have to practice that. Our cup is not half empty, our cup is half full.

So, to reside happily in your body you have to cherish and nourish your soul. In this way we can understand that we as spiritual entities are aloof from the body. The body functions under the care of the material energy, but we should not function under the care of material energy. This is a big shift. How to help this shift? How to purify the gates? How to achieve permanent bodily identity that means: how to attain a spiritual body? Chant the names, purify your consciousness, enter deep into the mystic reality of dedication. Let Krishna use you instead of you trying to use Krishna.



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(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 06.01.2013, evening, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Friday) 

Until we have a material body we have urges and we have to take care of our senses. For example the ear – the ear always wants to hear something. ‘Give me the new garbage! Do we have some bad news about this person?’ We are very greedy for something bad, something negative. It is said that the bad news had already circulated the globe three times until the good news tied the shoelaces. These sensory functions are designed like this: catching on the bad news, etc., etc. So, what to do? In the old historic times sometimes they plucked out the eyes or poured some hot lead into the ears. A nice way to stop these sensory functions, ah? I don’t suggest if you want to control your ears to apply hot lead. We have to control them in a different way. If we have a hearing capacity, we should use it in the service of Krishna. If you have vision, don’t look at the fault of others; better you see the beauty of the deities, etc. etc. We can engage the senses in service. And in this way if you engage the gates of your body in devotional service, the body will be purified. Then it is not passionate, it becomes sattvic. Later on in the Gita it is said that when there is an illumination over the gates of the body that is a signal of spiritual elevation. Sometimes it is difficult to understand what this is. But it’s very easy – just look at the face of a devotee! Then immediately you will understand what this shine is, what is this illumination. Because if you get engaged in devotional service, a special type of surcharge will come to you. Then your city is not passionate. Then your body is a perfect instrument to achieve your spiritual goals.

But in order that the body functions properly, you have to take care of these gates, you have to take care of the bodily needs. Krishna gives the foodstuff. Krishna gives the good message of spiritual knowledge. Krishna shows His beautiful form. Through the holy name all the features, all the aspects to the Supreme are revealed to us. So, the best engagement in body and in mind is the cultivation of this divine connection, devotional service – practice of bhakti yoga, affectionate connection.

What happens if a devotee starts to chant the holy names? His gates or her gates will change. The gates of the body are closed to stupidity, to all the material impulses and only the spiritual will penetrate these gates.

And first of all through the name what will be revealed to you? The name itself. How is it through the name – the name?! Yes, through the name, the name – because this is a practice and you will reach a more penetrating vision. So, through this beautiful process of chanting God’s names something is revealed to us. Naam, what is the second? Rupa, what is rupa? Rupa is form; other meanings? Beauty. Silver. Other meaning? Rupa Goswami?! Other meaning? Rupa Manjari. So, through the name first you understand the name and by further progress in your enlightenment you will understand the beauty – the form of beauty and the beauty of the form of Krishna. And although Krishna is black, dark, yet some silver hue we shall also understand around Him. And that is the real beauty! The dark silver or the silver hue darkness. But those who will reveal us this inner depth of our spiritual ideals are these two personalities – Rupa Goswami and Rupa Manjari. Therefore all the vaishnavas belonging to this line are called rupanuga-vaishnavas – those who follow the footsteps of Rupa Goswami. So, you are followers of a beautiful form, which is not an external form, this is a spiritual form of beauty.

And what else is revealed through the name? Guna, the beautiful qualities of Krishna. Ananta Shesha, the primordial snake of eternity, representing the endless variety of the Universe, has got thousands of heads. And on the thousands of heads He’s got thousands of mouths. And He engages His mouth in glorifying the qualities of Krishna, yet He cannot reach an end. Krishna, God, has unlimited qualities. Some are secondary, some are primary. I think you know what the primary aspects are.

And finally something more is revealed to us. Lila is revealed to us. Lila is game, play, sport, pastime. Our God is not a boring personality, sitting on a throne of absolute eternity, doing nothing. He is ready to join the game. Or maybe we should be humbly ready to join His game – if we receive the invitation. But through the name you can enter all these secrets of spiritual enlightenment – the mystics of the name, of the form, of the qualities and of the pastimes of God. Then you become a resident of a different city – not anymore a material city full of passion, but a citizen of a spiritual city. That is how a material body can be spiritualized. Then what happens? You can overcome the limitations of nature.

(to be continued)

 



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(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 06.01.2013, evening, Sofia)

Discussing the art of action Krishna says: “When the embodied living being controls his nature and mentally renounces all actions, he resides happily in the city of nine gates, neither working nor causing work to be done. The embodied spirit, master of the city of his body, does not create activities, nor does he induce people to act, nor does he create the fruits of action. All this is enacted by the modes of material nature.[1]

What is the purpose of a city? To provide a shelter for the citizens. Although it is said that living alone in a forest – this is real spiritual practice; two is a village; three is a city; and four is a war. So, city by nature is passionate. What is available in the city? Sense gratification day and night. I was wondering what is that illumination on the top of Vitosha. I thought that maybe some divine power crowns your sacred mountain. And then I understood that these are night lights for the skiers. So, this is not divine, this is material. Sense gratification day and night. City by nature is passionate. What is it you cannot get in a city? Chirping of the birds, watching the stars in the night and many other natural things. Breathing exercise of yoga in the city means you diminish your life – you take all the smoke in. So, city by nature is passionate. Yet the city should serve the citizens – not on the basic sense gratification level, but on some higher platform of existence.

And here we hear about the city of nine gates. What is this city? This city is the human body. What are the nine gates? They are the senses, sense organs. It is said that in the beginning the Creator bored the gates from the inside to the outside. So, the natural functions of the sense organs are attached to the external. Your eyes see the external. Your ears listen to the external sound. Just like my eyes were going externally to see this crown of light over the Vitosha – and I was mistaken. I thought that this is something spiritual and it was not. So, these different sensual functions are there for receiving some information. But many times we are mistaken.

What are the nine gates? Mouth, two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, genitals and the gate of evacuation. The gates are for transportation. Generally we take information and some energy inside and outside. But a gate is also for crossing, going through. When you die, when you have to leave the body, you go out through these gates. If you go out through the higher gates, then you reach a higher destination; if you leave through the lower gates, then you reach a lower destination. Therefore the dying person passes stool and urine. Some part of the energy is leaving from there. While a yogi should leave the body through the upper gates; and there is a hidden uppermost gate in the body – this is the brahmarandhra, the little opening on the top of the skull. For the babies this is soft, for some grown-ups this is also soft. They didn’t finish with their childhood. But actually this is the gate for entering the divine energy and also this is a mystic gate for exiting the body – if you accomplish your journey in life.

So, if the body is compared to a city, the city of nine gates, then I have to tell you – this city is also passionate, just like the cities outside. If you have a material body, you will have some sensual desires – it’s unavoidable. For example hunger. Once I was traveling with a group of people, and somehow we were little late from the evening prasadam, so to say. And I started to feel that they are very uneasy, everybody was more nervous than usual. And finally when they reached the table, everybody was rushing and, sorry to say, practically eating like pigs. So, if you are hungry, you feel very uneasy. You want to satisfy this sense – the tongue. Therefore it is suggested for the wives, if you have a difficult message for your husband – for example for some extra big bills or that tomorrow you want to go shopping – if your husband returns from a heavy day, first provide the food, then provide the news. Because then he is more peaceful and he can tolerate: “All right, all right!” Beware of the sequence: first the food, later the news.

So the senses are very powerful; they drag us to certain activities. I don’t want to describe the functions of other senses, upper and lower. They all have their needs, and their desires, and their agitations, and this and that. But may I humbly draw your attention that you are not the body?

 

(to be continued)

[1] Bhagavad Gita 5.13-14



Dec

21

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(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 06.01.2013, morning, Sofia)

 

Question of Kripadham: We had a discussion in one of our meetings. Even there was homework after that, and this was: “What are we going to do if we directly meet God?” So, if you can share with us what is proper?

Swami Tirtha: This is a very serious topic. But let’s start with something joyful. You can see the distortions of the present age. Some people wait for UFO’s to meet, not to meet God. Once I heard a so to say ‘preacher’ of this UFO faith: ”In case you meet the aliens, you must have a bottle of beer with you, because they like beer very much. But also you must have a straw with you, this is very important, because they cannot drink from the bottle.” People are ready to believe anything! Come on! An alien is running after your beer?! And he cannot drink from the bottle – come on, it’s stupid! Just to show you the extremities of life; people so much desire something: ‘I have such a miserable life! Something should happen! At least an alien comes!’ But better we focus our attention on God.

There is an ancient story. There was an old lady who was collecting firewood and carrying the load on her back. And as she was religious, when she was carrying this heavy load she was saying: “Oh, Narayana, Narayana! Oh, my Lord! Oh, my Lord!” She was praying, which is nice. And as she was carrying her load, it was so heavy that she had to stop for a while and take a rest. Then again while sitting she said: “Oh, my Lord! Oh, my Lord!” All of a sudden God appeared and He said: “Oh, My dear daughter! You were praying, you were calling for Me so sweetly. You were calling My name and I’m coming. What do you want? I will fulfill your desires.” Then the old lady said: “Well, can You help with the load – to put it back on my shoulders?”

So, if you meet God, be clever with your desires. So far the jolly part. But this is a very serious topic because once I had the chance to talk to Shrila Sadhu Maharaja and I asked: “What is more important – theoretical knowledge or experience?” and I couldn’t really accomplish my question, immediately he interrupted and said: “Experience!”

We are searching for divine experience, right? We do not search for theoretical knowledge. If I tell you some theoretical knowledge, the only reason why is to help you. But you have to accomplish. If I tell my experience, it is not your experience. Our search for divinity is an eternal search. But this is also an endless search because our Lord is endless. He has endless aspects and beauties. So, if you think that you are very close, you can go even closer.

Maybe it’s not so easy to see God, but it’s very easy to see the imprint of His hands. You can see His creation, you can see His energy manifested everywhere. That is a way to approach. When you are in trouble, or when you are in a happy mood, you can call out His name. Just try and you will see. You don’t have to believe me. You don’t have to trust me. Try it!

But there is another description of meeting God. There is one hero in our scriptures, he was a young man and he was very intent on reaching this absolute platform – to meet God. So, he had to go through different phases of life, through different experiences and finally he entered the divine realm. But the story is described from the other side. Not from his perspective: ‘I am going through all these difficulties and finally enter there.’ No! From the other side. This is very idyllic. Krishna is there as a small cowherd boy and His friends are enjoying with Him. The little cows are grazing around. The boys are running up and down, wrangling sometimes, running just like ordinary boys. They had finished their breakfast, so they are in a very happy mood. But all of a sudden a stranger appears, a new boy. “Who is he?” all the boys are surprised: “Who is this young boy? We never saw him!” Krishna also recognizes this new partner and immediately embraces this newcomer. So, all the old friends are embarrassed. “How come? This neophyte comes and Krishna embraces him! What’s this? We don’t know who this person is!” And then Krishna not only embraces him, but tells glorification: “Oh, my dear one, I am so happy that you came! I know how much trouble you have taken to reach Me. Welcome! I am happy that you came!”

So, this is my suggestion. Leave it up to Him how He will invite you.

Please go on with your studies of the Shrimad Bhagavatam. This book is so sacred that this is considered to be an incarnation of God Krishna. He had withdrawn from this world, but the Bhagavatam is left here with us. So, this is very important to study, to approach, to worship in this way. It can change your life.

 



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(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 06.01.2013, morning, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Friday)

We cannot really find the name of the purple haze. Although purple haze is a name, you know what I mean. But we can understand the name of God. This is a very secret science of divinity and in the same time this is an open secret. I suppose everybody knows the Lord’s Prayer. „Hallowed be Thy name!” So, it’s mentioned in the most powerful and most widespread prayer of Christianity. Glory to Your holy names! But then it stops – no more stress there, no further details. Of course especially in the orthodox tradition you have the Jesus prayer, Jesus mantra also. So, you have a tradition of repeating this mantra combined with breathing techniques, rosary, etc. – every formality. This is very close to the oriental mantra therapy. And also if you consider Islam – in Islam they have how many names of God? Ninety nine; plus one hidden, only known in heaven. And they also have their rosary. You see the holy name, the name of God is present everywhere. Or in Jewish tradition. They consider it so sacred that it’s forbidden to speak it out without a good reason.

There is attention on the holy name in all traditions. Our tradition focuses on the holy name also very much. Why is this a general principle throughout the different traditions? Because for this present age, for this Kali-Yuga harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam kalau nasty-eva nasty-eva nasty-eva gatir anyatha[1] „There is no other means to reach perfection than the holy name.”

What happens if a mother calls the son by the name? Most probably he will come. It’s the same, very similar. If we have the proper mood, then the person whom we call will come. So, if you say in your prayers, in your mantras: “Oh, purple haze!” God will say: “Oh, it’s not Me! They want only My purple haze. I can give it.” But if somebody says: “Oh, my dear Govinda! Oh, Krishna, please come to me!” He will come. “Oh, it’s Me!”

Because the divine name has divine potencies and divine features. The divine name is non-different from the person named. And the divine name has a power over the person named. So, by the holy name mantras you can invite God. Therefore the holy name is so important. This is a kind of personal, private meditation and also like a joint glorification of the Supreme.

There are many names for God. There is a very beautiful list in Sanskrit, this is called Vishnu Sahasranama – “The thousands names of Vishnu”. Names of Krishna, Govinda are there also. So, there are some primary names of the Supreme, and there are some secondary names. The secondary names can bring you the flower of the tree and the primary names can bring you the fruit of the tree. And some special names can give you the taste.

So, the holy name is to establish a living and loving connection to the Supreme.

[1] Brihan Naradiya Purana

 



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(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 06.01.2013, morning, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Friday) 

Question of Kripadham: I would like to ask you if it’s possible to go deeper in the middle section of Shrimad Bhagavatam and to explain us why the Holy name is so important and what is the meaning of it actually? Tell us why this process is so important in this age? And what is it in itself?

Swami Tirtha: As I told you in the beginning, there are three supports of our inquiry – intellect, intuition and tradition. We entered a tradition by observing the dharma-literature. If you want to be more precise, this is a prema-literature, but generally it describes the human duty, dharma. Dharma is not equal to ‘religion’ according to our understanding. Because the spiritual quest of a human being is manifested on three platforms. The first and most essential is the faith. And what is faith? This is not some belief, but faith is a conviction acquired through love. This is the definition of faith. Please, try to remember, this is very important – a conviction acquired through love. And of course now ‘love’ is not a romantic affair between man and woman. But as an approach to the reality, a loving approach to the absolute truth – this is faith.

Then comes religion which gives the form to the faith of people. And you know if there is a form, some parts are in, some parts are out. Sometimes the form helps, other times the form restricts. But it’s a necessary element.

What is the third stage? The third stage is the church or the organization. You see, faith – this is something divine! Religion is something in between; and church is buildings and organizations, and money collected on candles… So, this is something else. One is one the other has a different function. Of course I don’t want to criticize anything, but just to see the structure. One is absolutely divine and the other side is more like under human influence, with more mistakes and shortcomings. But I think you see the functions of all these aspects.

And as these are three, the different conceptions that we can have of the Aabsolute are also three. One is the general faith, the general conception that something higher exists. ‘I don’t know what, I don’t know how, because it’s impossible to approach. I cannot catch. I cannot understand – it’s something beyond.’ Under this impression people might think ‘Yes, God is energy!’ If your friend called you ‘a cluster of energy’, you wouldn’t be able to embrace your friend. Or ‘purple haze’ – it sounds little offensive to God. So, this is a very broad, very general conception without any details, without any specific understanding. This is called in the Indian tradition Brahman realization. Brahman is the universal life principle of existence and eternity. So, the two concepts that are connected to this platform are eternity and existence. I think it’s great! This is a real alternative to the limited and dying experience of life on this planet Earth.

But there is a higher understanding of this Supreme truth and this is called the immanent God – hidden in everything. This is called Paramatma or the Super-soul. He is with the human beings in their hearts. He pervades all existence. This divine presence is even there in the more subtle atomic particles. Then we can understand that we live in a sacred world, we live in a divine environment – everything is pervaded by this divine presence of God. It’s beautiful, it’s an even higher vision than the previous one.

But the great saints say that this is not the ultimate aspect. The ultimate aspect is Bhagavan, or the personal God, possessing unlimited potencies. In our understanding this is Krishna, the All-attractive Supreme. And this is described in this book Shrimad Bhagavatam. All the different practitioners of divine life approach this Supreme ultimate reality, and they have three main conceptions concerning this higher truth. One is this Brahman concept, which we can call the energy principle. The second is Paramatma – the all-pervading omnipresent aspect of the Supreme. And the third aspect, the ultimate aspect of the Supreme is God in person.

(to be continued)

 



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(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 06.01.2013, morning, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Friday)

The very beginning of the Shrimad Bhagavatam or Bhagavata Purana is an invitation for meditation. But before this invitation there is a glorification. Strange enough, starting with om – as a reference: ‘We belong to the same line, we represent the same line’. And this glorification mantra says: Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya –Om, I offer my respects to the supreme intelligence, Vasudeva Krishna!” This is an aspect of Krishna. And then this invitation comes: “Janmady asya yato ’nvayad itaratash cartheshv abhijnaḥ svarāt”[1]– “Everything comes from the ultimate source. Whatever is revealed reflects this original divine origin. This supreme Lord is svarat, independent. So, please let’s meditate on this Supreme Lord!” So, this is the first verse: “Come, join our meditation!” That’s interesting! That captures your attention! ‘Something happens here. There is something to do and I am invited’. And if I try to imagine the old times when the saints and the yogis and the rishis were coming together, I feel that our meeting today is very similar to that. Because you have come here (to Veda House) and I’m sorry for being late; you know we live in eternity, but actually in this way while we were coming here together, we could feel more the attractive power that you represented. We were drawn to come here, to rush here. Because I felt the invitation from you: “Come, join our meditation!” So, in the same way this book invites us: “Come, join our meditation! We discuss the Supreme!”

Two methods are included in this invitation: discussion and meditation. Discussion is not a verbal act. It’s not questioning the truth, no doubting the truth, but this is the method to enter deep into a topic. Therefore if we come together like this, we can enter deeper by mutual inquiry. There is an exchange, which improves the quality and also the quantity of our inquiry. This is Upanishad, this is exchange of a sacred and secret teaching. And the other method included in this invitation is meditation. Which means to be connected to the ultimate source, recharge your spiritual batteries, touch the unlimited capacities of divinity. If we are under divine protection, then we are protected. And our meditation nourishes our connection to our beloved God. So, these are the methods suggested here. Meditate over the absolute truth!

This is the beginning, but what is the end? Before telling what is at the end, the Bhagavata Purana discusses ten main topics, like: first creation, secondary creation, the different leaders of certain periods of time, the manvantaras, the way of salvation, the ultimate shelter, like God Krishna. So, many, many topics are discussed meanwhile. Also the different lineages of the Vedas and also of the kings are mentioned here. And also this book describes the times. There are also some future prophesies, predictions, which – fortunately or unfortunately I cannot tell exactly – but they came true. Because they said that this age, this Kali-Yuga will be very difficult. So, it happens. But after describing the difficulties of the present age, it says that this age is very glorious. So, first you learn that this is a very difficult age, and then you learn that this is a very glorious age. How come? This age is not easy for practicing anything spiritual, and then you understand: “Oh, even the demigods are waiting to take birth in Kali-Yuga, because this is so glorious”. How come? Then the ultimate verse of the Shrimad Bhagavatam comes: that the holy name of God can liberate the human beings from the most heinous sins, and this is the suggested method of self-realization for this age – to chant the names of the Supreme. Therefore let’s glorify the glorification of the holy names. This is the end message of the Shrimad Bhagavatam. It starts with the general invitation: “Come, join our meditation!“ And after this long training, going through all these different chapters of knowledge, different phases of deeper and deeper understanding, now what is the fruit, the ripe fruit of our meditation that you had joined? Let’s glorify the holy names of God!

From this you can see that what was a seed in the beginning, om, finally became a ripe fruit. And also the essence of Bhagavatam is this glorification of the holy name, which is like the entrance into the taste of divine connection, divine life.

(to be continued)

[1] Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.1.1



was-the-forbidden-fruit-an-apple

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 06.01.2013, morning, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Friday) 

When I started to study the Vedanta Sutra some 30 years back, then my Gurudev told me: “Please, translate some chapters.” And we could accomplish that job after 25 years of work. Of course we had some little breaks meanwhile, but it’s complicated. This is a highly logical system. There are reasons and debates, and arguments in this book, trying to establish the truth. So, this is, we can say, the logical reference, or the reference of logic as a philosophy. But as the sutras are very short formulas, then it’s very difficult to understand what they mean. Therefore to help people to understand the essence of the essence of knowledge, a divine powerful empowered personality, Vyasa, gave great help to us. He gave a natural explanation of the Vedanta Sutras. And this natural purport of the Vedanta Sutra is the Bhagavata Purana.

Purana means ‘old, ancient’, Bhagavata means ‘connected to God’. So, this is an ancient literature connected to God. It contains 18000 verses. Sounds complicated. The beginning was easier – om – and now we have to read, we have to study such a long literature. But I tell you it is worth studying this.

From this structure we can see the lineage of divine knowledge. Om comes from God and om represents God. His knowledge manifests throughout all these different chapters and literatures and finally in a most ripe and most elaborate form it comes to this sacred book. Of course there are many other Puranas. 18 main Puranas and 18 secondary Puranas are there. Usually these are long pieces of work, containing hundreds and thousands of verses altogether. But from these many Puranas this is the main. It concerns those who are in sattva, who are very close to purity. And this is considered the ripe fruit of the tree of the Vedas.

This is very interesting. We have heard that om is the seed. Now here you see the fruit. And what is the essence of a tree? It’s not the wood, it’s not the leaves, and not even the flowers, but it’s the fruit. And what is the essence of the fruit? It’s the taste. Taste is the essence of the fruit. So, the same revelation, the same message is given here: om, complete universal vibration is here. Whatever is contained in the om like the divine sound vibration is expressed here in this book. But to remember 18000 verses is difficult, no doubt. But if we want to pick some important points, what is your suggestion? Which verses should we pick from these 18000? Let’s see what is in the beginning, let’s see what is at the end, and let’s see what the essence is!

 

(to be continued)



hindu-scriptures

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 06.01.2013, morning, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Friday)

As om is a mystic formula, it means that everything is contained in this sound – everything of the creation, everything of the existence and all the words that are coming after. So, this is a very condensed form, like a symbolic representation of divinity and the creation also. Therefore we can say that this is the first word in Indian revelation, in creation. And actually this is the first word in the scriptures, in philosophy also.

Later on this divine message is elaborated more and more. What is the next step of this evolution of divine sound? It’s a mantra. Om is also a mantra but it’s a very condensed seed form. So, the next real mantra, formula for meditation and also for glorification, is the Gayatri mantra. Mantra, you know, is a sound formula for liberating the mind, consciousness. And Gayatri is a special type of mantra glorifying the sun. Because the sun will bring light and life into the universe. Again this is not simply a kind of collection of words and expressions. It’s a meaningful prayer – you pray for enlightenment. And then the divine light, the divine power comes to you. But as it contains many different syllables, it’s more elaborate than the om itself. The meaning of the Gayatri mantra is: “Oh divine Sun, please enlighten me and help my meditation to accomplish.” This mantra is called the Mother of the Vedas, the Mother of knowledge, because it represents the divine Sun that will bring enlightenment to us.

Then comes the Veda itself. The word Veda is a Sanskrit word, it means ‘knowledge, wisdom’. Om is one syllable; the mantra has a few words; the Vedas are thousands of hymns. There are four main Vedas. One is for the hymns. The second is for the songs, or the melodies. The third one is for the logos, the power of speech, formulas; and the forth one is for general prayers and instructions. These four collections of literature contain practically all the advice and all the knowledge possible and necessary for this life.

But you see, it starts to be complicated. Now it’s thousands of hymns. Who can study that? The same knowledge is explained there that is contained in the om, the original formula, but now it’s more expanded. So, from the four Vedas we come to the next collection of Vedic literature, the essential teaching of the Vedas – this is called the Vedanta. Other word for Vedanta is Upanishads. Upanishad is a secret teaching. Upa-ni-shad means “to sit close to someone”. Sad – ‘you sit’; upa ‘close to something’. What does it mean? To sit close to some secret teaching – then nothing happens. No, Upanishad means that we have to sit close to a teacher. We approach a person who knows, and by this close connection we can receive the divine knowledge.

Before we had only four Vedas, but now we have 108 Upanishads. The system becomes more complicated! That means the same knowledge is shown in a blossoming form. There are more and more aspects, more and more depths you can see, you can experiment. Upanishads are not only sacred, but also secret teachings – and that means hidden meanings, symbolic expressions are there. So, if you don’t have the key for that, you will not understand. The sages of old times had seen that we have to condense the essence of this knowledge into one book – this is called “sutra”. A sutra is like a thread. This thread is like the essential message of the “Upanishads”. As the Upanishads as a body of literature is like the Vedanta or the end, the crown of the Vedas, therefore this sutra that contains all the information of the Vedic Upanishads, is called Vedanta Sutra, or “Guiding thread of the top of the Vedas”. It is highly essential, like condensed milk. And there you see 555 – not as many books, only as many sutras, small aphorisms.

(to be continued)