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Extra English Issues issues


(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2012, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday)


“According to social custom, a child should always be respectful to his father. But here we see that Prahlada addressed his father as ‘greatest among the demons’. Asuras, or demons, are never interested in discussing subjects that are good or auspicious, nor are they interested in the conversations of sadhus. So we can imagine how incredible it was for Hiranyakashipu, the king of the demons, as to hear something genuinely good from his son. Therefore Prahlada hinted at this by addressing him ‘ah, greatest asura!’ because such a great demon was asking about the most important and beneficial thing in life. We should try to understand and accept this for important instructions of Prahlada: temporary objects cannot give happiness.” Bad news for the consumers’ society. “On the contrary – they give only misery and problems. One should give up materialistic family life in the same way that one escapes from a dry well, and one should choose to live in a quiet place, taking shelter of the feet of Shri Hari.

After hearing these words from the mouth of his son, Hiranyakashipu laughed and said: “Someone has spoiled the intelligence of this innocent child. He definitely must have heard these ideas from some vaishnava and now he is repeating.” With this understanding he gave orders to his demon servants: “Ah, daityas, take this child back to the house of his teachers and protect him very strictly, so that no sadhu would be able to come in contact with him, even if disguised. Rather be very careful not to allow any sadhu even to enter my capital, because he will spoil my child’s understanding.” So the demons took Prahlada back to the house of his teachers and carefully reported the words of Hiranyakashipu. Shanda and Amarka, the two teachers, were very frightened and began to think: “If Prahlada goes to the king, praising devotion to Vishnu, the king might think that we had taught him this and he will punish us accordingly. This idea of worshiping Vishnu has not come from us! He must have heard it from some vaishnava. Now we shall ask Prahlada in a clever way where did he get his knowledge. After obtaining this information we shall capture the culprit and bring him tied up before the king. In this way we shall amply demonstrate our loyalty to the king.”[1]

You see, the roles are changed. Before these Shanda and Amarka were the teachers, and Prahlada was supposed to be the student. Now the teachers are inquiring from the small boy. This is due to the knowledge coming from Vishnu. So if you want to change your position, take the divine knowledge.

“With this intention they addressed Prahlada in very sweet words: “Dear Prahladji, all good fortune to you! Please tell us the truth and do not lie to your teachers. We had instructed you together with the other boys in your class, yet no one else has obtained the knowledge that you have. Please tell us, from whom did you get this rare knowledge? Ah, descendant of a great dynasty, did someone else convince you about this against our teachings? Or is this idea coming only from you? We are very interested to know this, please, do not keep secrets from your teachers.” Prahlada answered: “Many times I have heard of people caught up in illusion and falling into maya of the Lord, making them see everything according to the false identifications of ‘me and them’. Today I have practically witnessed the demonstration of such illusion. But I offer my respectful obeisances to the Supreme Lord, the master of illusion. Only by the mercy of the Lord this misunderstanding, which divides the world into friends and enemies will be cleared. If even Brahma, Rudra and all the great demigods, rishis and followers of the Vedas are subjects to this energy of the Lord, then what can be said of those, who think only in terms of friends and enemies? Know it for sure that it was God Himself who shaped my understanding. Ah brahmanas, just as iron is naturally attracted to a magnet, my heart is naturally attracted to Lord Vishnu.”


(to be continued)

[1] The reading continues from B.B.Tirtha Maharaj’s book The holy life of Prahlada


(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2012, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday) 

“Prahlada had the good fortune to meet the great devotee sage Narada Muni, who is completely detached from all material enjoyment. Due to his rare association Prahlada obtained pure devotion to the Supreme Lord, who is known as Uttama Shloka – One who is praised with elevated poetry. Thus Prahlada always experienced the greatest pleasure in serving the Lord. After meeting holy Prahlada even non-devotees and those unfortunate people who were leading irreligious lives began to feel some attraction to God, bringing them peace and happiness.”[1]

Our ambition should be that we turn to be the instruments of divine mercy. Don’t be satisfied to be an instrument of karma – that you fulfill the karmic reactions of others, either good or bad. But try to become an instrument of divine mercy. That is the best choice in life.

“Shukracharya was the family priest of the daityas, the demons. He had two sons named Shanda and Amarka, who lived near the palace of Hiranyakashipu. At that time, as it was the custom of their society, Hiranyakashipu sent Prahlada to be educated at the school where the two sons of his guru Shukracharya taught politics to the children of the asuras.”

You see, Hiranyakashipu is a good father. He is a very powerful demon and he wants his son also to become a very powerful demon, even greater than himself – as this is the ambition of all fathers: ‘My son should be better than me. But to learn how to become a good demon, he needs a little education. So, let’s give him a little training’.

“Prahlada cleverly maintained a good profile at school, listening to the teachers just like other students, reading and repeating their lessons as requested, yet in his mind he viewed the science of politics as nonsensical illusory knowledge and did not like it at all.”

I think this is the best politics. In opposing circumstances just… ‘In Rome do as the Romans do’. Sometimes we have to tolerate negative environment. Keep this peaceful profile, but internally never corrupt yourself and your ideals. Sometimes we have to protect and maintain what we have secretly. And as Lord Vishnu said: “Wait for the moment, wait for the proper moment when you can show your devotional and spiritual talents.”

“One day upon returning to his home, his father took Prahlada very affectionately on his lap and inquired from him: “My dear child, Prahlada, please tell me what is the best thing according to your understanding?” You know, a good father always checks the education of his son. ‘I have sent you to this very prestigious demon school – so, now, what did you learn, my dear son?’ “Hiranyakashipu did not ask specific questions about Prahlada’s subjects, because he thought that the child might not know the answers from the textbooks and the small boy would feel embarrassed and ashamed. He preferred to ask a general question, which the child could answer easily according to his liking. Hiranyakashipu hoped that Prahlada will tell him something about the subjects he was learning at school. And although Prahlada could understand his father’s intention very well, he considered that it was his duty to say something truthful, because he was in the presence of many people. Thus Prahlada spoke as follows: “Ah best of the demons, I shall now tell you what is the best knowledge according to my opinion. When an embodied living entity obtains temporary objects, his intelligence is inevitably disturbed. Living in the association of such persons is like staying in a dark well. Therefore, after leaving their house and going to the forest, one should take shelter at the lotus feet of Shri Hari.”

You see? The father was well-aware of the philosophy; we have learned how he was 99% nicely preaching. And now the son is also a philosopher. And he can add that missing 1% in the theory. That one little percent is: surrender to Hari, Vishnu, Krishna.


(to be continued)

[1] The reading continues from B.B.Tirtha Maharaj’s book The holy life of Prahlada



(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2012, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday) 

So, finally we arrive to Prahlada. “The Lord of the demons Hiranyakashipu had four very powerful sons – Prahlada, Anuhlada, Sanhlada and Hlada. Among these four Prahlada was the greatest. He always offered affection and respect to the devotees and he possessed all the good qualities of a brahmin. He was honest, good in character, truthful and self-controlled. Just like Paramatma, he was the dearest friend of all living entities. He always respected his superiors by offering service and obeisances, considering himself to be their servant. To the helpless he was kind and loving like a father and to those who were older than him he offered affection and respect like a brother. He always offered the same respect he had for the Lord to his diksha and shiksha gurus, as well as to his god-brothers. Although he was very learned, wealthy, handsome, expert and great in all respects, he was also free from pride. Although Prahlada had taken birth in the family of asuras, his nature was not like that. He was steady and fearless in the face of danger and did not attach any importance to worldly affairs. He was not in the least attracted to selfish activities, always controlled his senses and life force and possessed perfectly steady intelligence and great sense of discrimination. He was always happy and satisfied. All learned people praised him. In assemblies where there were discourses about saintly people even his enemies would cite his character as an example of a great personality. His glories were beyond description – he was a pure devotee of God.”[1]

So, here you see some very nice qualities. We should aspire for these. Our practice should be full of desires, attachments and envy. Do you agree? No, you don’t agree? You never agree with me?

Comments: Attachments – depends to whom. Why envy?

Swami Tirtha: Desires – what should be our desires? We should desire such qualities as Prahlada had. Ambitions – our ambition should be to become a pure devotee of the Lord. And we should desperately envy the chances for service. But of course these should be spiritual desires, ambitions and envies. And attachments – we should be attached. To our service, to the lotus feet of our spiritual master. Now you agree? Thank you! You know, your attention was very low. ‘Prahlada is so nice, Prahlada is so good…’ Sometimes the lecturers have to challenge their audience: “Be envious!” And everybody is: “What?!? I’ve never heard that on lectures so far.” Or “Our process is full of attachment.” “What?!? May be he is a heretic? He doesn’t know the siddhanta nor Vedanta?!?”

But this description of the qualities of Prahlada – this should be our ambition. I tell you the secret in one sentence what is the ideal devotee like. ‘When you are present, nobody recognizes you; when you are missing, everybody misses you.’ This is the ideal devotee. What is your level? When you come to the temple, you want recognition. And when you are away from the temple, yes, everybody remembers you: ‘Ah, fortunately he has gone.’ Therefore we should develop very refined qualities in our spiritual life, very refined qualities.


(to be continued)

[1] The reading continues from B.B.Tirtha Maharaj’s book The holy life of Prahlada


demigods pray to Vishnu

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2012, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday)

“Oppressed by the cruelty of Hiranyakashipu’s rule, all the living entities and their lords, the demigods, approached Lord Vishnu, having decided to seek for His shelter. Neglecting sleep, controlling their minds and senses and getting nourishment just from the air, all the demigods began to worship the Supreme Lord. They offered their obeisances to the Lord by facing the direction of His eternal abode – that place where the renounced souls can remain eternally after having reached there. At that time they heard a divine voice, emanating from the sky: “Do not worry! Ah, best of the learned sages, you need not fear. You are blessed! All living entities will obtain the fulfillment of their desires by meeting Me. I have seen the disturbance caused by the demon Hiranyakashipu and I will arrange a suitable punishment for him. Because he has disturbed the demigods, Vedas, cows, brahmanas, the vaishnavas, dharma and Myself, his destruction will come about in the near future. Please, wait patiently for the proper time. When this demon begins to harass his own son Prahlada, who is a great soul, I shall destroy Hiranyakashipu even though he is protected by the boon of Brahma. I can tolerate many things, but I cannot tolerate seeing the suffering of My devotee.”

After hearing the voice of Lord Vishnu, all the devas who were residents of Svarga-loka offered obeisances to Him and became pacified, convinced that the demon will be soon killed.”[1]

In times of difficulties everybody knows what to do. Hiranyakashipu was very powerful and then immediately the demigods understood: ‘Ah! We have to take the shelter of Vishnu.’ When the life and the power position of the demigods are not disturbed, they are ready to forget about the supreme position of Vishnu. Doesn’t it happen to you sometimes? When everything is fine, you forget about your supreme duty. If there is some little trouble, immediately you will remember. Therefore we need this little stress in order to become stressless. And this is the way – search for the shelter of Vishnu, the Supreme.

And the demigods here thought that they would inform Him of something new happening in the universe: “Ah, here is this Hiranyakashipu”. While He said: “Take it easy, I’m aware what’s going on. Just wait a little bit more and I will help. I can tolerate many things. But I can’t tolerate if somebody tortures My devotees.” This shows that it’s useful to be friendly with the devotees. Because if you give troubles to the devotees, then Lord Vishnu will, you know, remember you.

(to be continued)

[1] The reading continues from B.B.Tirtha Maharaj’s book The holy life of Prahlada



(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2012, Sofia)

We continue our readings from Prahlad’s story. So far we focused more on the habits and motivations of Hiranyakashipu. This focus of ours is according to the instructions of the Ishopanishad, because there it is said: “You should learn about both knowledge and ignorance.” So it’s not enough only to study divine knowledge, but we have to be aware what ignorance is. In order to understand properly Prahlad’s – this saintly devotee’s – character, we also have to pay attention to the character of his father Hiranyakashipu, who is an opponent of Vishnu.

So, the power and the position of Hiranyakashipu were established; after his penance he achieved a prestigious position. There is a description of his palace, which is compared only to the palace of Indra, the leader of the demigods. But here comes something more:

“After assuming the post of supreme emperor of the universe, Hiranyakashipu always resided at the palace of Indra. He would drink very strong wine and his copper-red eyes would roll around as if in anger. Because he possessed all the powers of tapasya and yoga, all the demigods except Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva were forced to come forward and offer him garlands, worship and prostrated obeisances.” You see, the positions of all others were captured by him. “Due to his enormous power Hiranyakashipu had conquered the kingdom of heaven and because they feared him, all the gandharvas, siddhas, vidyadharas, apsaras and even Vishvavasu, Tumburu, Narada and other rishis were engaged in singing his glories for his pleasure.”

So, what is your opinion?

Yashoda: I was wondering why his eyes are angry. If he possesses everything, why is he still angry?

Swami Tirtha: “As if angry.” Anyway if somebody drinks strong wine, he looks unusual. But this is not the point. What did we learn so far about Hiranyakashipu? That he was doing his penance – very severe ascetic practice, standing on one leg, even giving up the body practically – to obtain the power, to obtain the blessings of Brahma. And then, when he got it – no tapasya anymore. Only drinking wine, enjoying the music, enjoying the glories. Before he was glorifying; now he’s been glorified.

This is the improper practice. The proper practice is that you start tapasya and continue tapasya. Between the process and the goal there should be no difference. In his case there was a difference – ‘I want to make this torture on myself in order to be in position.’ But in our case it should be different. We want to humbly practice bhakti-yoga in order to be a humble bhakta at the end. Please don’t forget that. It’s not that ‘I practice humbly bhakti-yoga in the beginning to finally become a puffed-up sannyasi’. It’s not the goal. Our goal is to be a living and loving servant of the Supreme. If we forget about this, this is the demoniac tendency.

“Hiranyakashipu forcibly arrested the rain potency from Indra, the air potency from Vayu, the fire potency from Agni and after assuming these powers of all the demigods, lords and rulers, he rendered them all powerless. Hiranyakashipu was the invincible supreme ruler, but because he was not able to control his own senses, even after enjoying whatever he wished, he still could not find satisfaction. After enjoying all possible opulence, he began to indulge in whatever is prohibited by the shastras. He wasted so much time in this way, that Sanaka and other rishis cursed him for this.” 

(to be continued)


(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2012, Sofia)

Question: If Hiranyakashipu had such a high position, and in that epoch people were much more developed, how couldn’t he remember his source, from where he was coming?

Swami Tirtha: Ah, because it should have happened. Therefore it was not necessary for them to remember the whole story. It should have happened.

Yamuna: It’s a deep and somehow often asked question by people regarding karma and reincarnation: if there is really reincarnation and if the point is that the soul is learning the lesson of swimming upwards the current, then why does it forget the previous experiences? What’s the reason for the soul to forget if the point is to learn? Forgetting is against learning.

Swami Tirtha: Please read the verse number 15.15. “I am seated in everyone’s heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness. By all the Vedas, I am to be known. Indeed, I am the compiler of Vedanta, and I am the knower of the Vedas”[1]. The first part is enough here: “From Me comes knowledge, memory and forgetfulness.” And in a subtle impression everything is there from the previous lives. Because the present life, our present situation is the future of our past. And our present is the past of our future. So if you know the present, then you know the past and you know the future. It is enough to know the present situation. From that, applying the proper method – of knowledge, of memories – you can understand both extremes – the past and the future.

But this is a mystic power – to see past, present and future as they are. If we live now, here and now, applying this method, you can overcome all the problems. Why should we pay so much attention to the past? It’s just gone, it doesn’t exist anymore. Why should we pay too much attention to the future? It doesn’t exist yet. Why don’t we pay more attention to the present moment? Because past is a history, future is a mystery, today is a present.

[1] Bhagavad Gita 15.15


against the current

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2012, Sofia)

Question: Why is evil overwhelming the person? Does the person himself want this? Or he just lets this happen?

Swami Tirtha: Very good question. How the evil dominates over humans? Why, if we don’t want that? The same question was asked by Arjuna from Krishna. Аtha kena prayukto ’yam papam charati purushah[1] – “Where is that power coming from that makes the human being sinful?” Nobody wants to be sinful! Yet sometimes such a power just comes over us and dominates us – where is this coming from? Then Krishna said: Kama esha krodha esha rajo-guna-samudbhavah[2]“This comes from kama, the desire. This also comes from krodha, anger. And ultimately this comes from raja-guna, this quality of passion.” So, this is the source of all the negative influence coming to the human being. The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: It is lust only, Arjuna, which is born of contact with the material mode of passion and later transformed into wrath, and which is the all-devouring sinful enemy of this world.” And the question also, in the previous verse: Arjuna said: O descendant of Vrishni, by what is one impelled to sinful acts, even unwillingly, as if engaged by force? So sometimes this is against our desire. We want to be nice, but the current of these influences is so strong that it just smashes us.

Then the next question comes: if it is possible to resist or not? Because in this way you can very easily say: ‘Ah, this is not my mistake, this is not my sin. It’s only this influence coming to me, so I’m not guilty.’ Is there a way to resist?

There is. Later on it is said that „Тhis material nature is practically impossible to overcome. Because it’s so strong! But those who surrender unto Me, they can easily cross.”[3] So until we are under the influence of the material energy, you cannot resist. Therefore we have to submit ourselves under divine protection – then it is very easy. How is it? “This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome…” So practically everybody living on this planet Earth is under this influence. It’s very, very, very difficult to overcome this influence. But… “But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.” Very simple. Sounds very simple. But this is a general rule that in order to get rid of one influence, you have to render yourself under a different influence.

So this is the way to resist this sinful influence. And of course we try to follow certain principles that will help in that respect. But ultimately we depend on divine mercy.

Question of Yamuna: Maharaj, is it that God has high expectation about us – that we should be able to swim against the current, no matter how strong it is?

Swami Tirtha: Definitely! Definitely! Standards are high. My standards to you and all my students are high. So if I have to sacrifice a little warmth while talking to you, you should not think that this is lack of affection. But what happens if we swim against the current? You will reach the source. So if we swim against the current of material influence, this is difficult, no doubt; but then you will reach the source. And the source is divine. At the source there is divinity.


[1] Bhagavad Gita 3.36

[2] Bhagavad Gita 3.37

[3] Bhagavad Gita 7.14

Sanakadi curse Jaya Vijaya

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2012, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday)

Dragi: If we see the picture how Nrisimhadev is killing Hiranyakashipu, we see that all the requirements are actually fulfilled.

Swami Tirtha: Yes, yes. That part of the story will come later. This is because the blessings of such a nice servant of the Supreme Lord as Brahma should be fulfilled. God protects His devotees and the dignity of His devotees. If a devotee says: “It is like this!” it will happen, because the Supreme Lord is supporting him. But no human intelligence is enough to avoid the divine providence.

Question of Kripadham: In the story it was mentioned that the demigods were worried, because they knew from before what Hiranyakashipu will ask. In the same way I suppose Brahma also knew his inner desire. As he is a devotee of Vishnu, why did he give this boon?

Swami Tirtha: Why not? You are a father. You know when your big son thinks something to do, you see the results and you see the intention. Yet you let him do it.

Kripadham: Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

Swami Tirtha: This time it was yes.

But don’t forget that nothing happens by chance in the story. Without going through all the tapasya and all the power, Hiranyakashipu could not get rid of this conditioning. Because he had to be liberated. He was not a simple opponent of God, he was put into this position with some purpose.

Just like Judas. Many people think that he was the betrayer of Jesus. And this is true. Very difficult role. But actually without Judas there is no crucifixion and there is no resurrection. So he is a very necessary part of this very grand, very serious story. In the same way in our stories when there are some opponents of the divine plan, they are necessary parts. Without them it cannot really happen.

Question of Yashoda: It is said that when God personally kills somebody, it’s the greatest blessing and he doesn’t have to take birth again in this world. As far as I know about Hiranyakashipu and Hiranyaksha – this is their first birth in this world, after that there are two more. How to explain this?

Swami Tirtha: Well, they had a deal. Originally Hiranyakashipu and Hiranyaksha, these great demoniac brothers were servants in heaven. But they made a little mistake. As we read, they did not let the Kumaras, the saintly sons of Brahma enter. So they cursed them: “Such a mentality has no place here on the heavenly planet, so you have to take birth on the planet Earth.” Even Vishnu came, because this was a big scandal: “Hey! What’s happening in My kingdom? What is this big noise?” Then everything was told to Him: “They’ve made this mistake and now the curse is done. The four Kumaras are Brahmins; the word of a brahmin should always fulfill, so what can be done?” Jay and Vijay prayed: “Please, can You nullify this curse?” But then the Supreme Lord said: “How can I change the word of My devotee? If they had given that curse, it should happen. I cannot avoid that. But maybe I can give You a chance. Anyway you have to take birth on the material platform, but you can take birth twelve times as devotees or three times as demons. Choose!” They had to make a choice. They were quickly calculating: “Three as demons. It’s faster. And then we can come back to our original position of serving You.” This was the final – so that these brothers should find their way back home, back to Godhead.

Therefore in this story, later on, when they were bound to take birth as these demoniac powers, they had no choice. They were under this negative, sinful influence. But even that negative influence had a positive goal – to help them to come back.



(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2012, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday)

Question of Yashoda: I want to ask, what happened to Brahma when Hiranyakashipu took his position?

Swami Tirtha: Well, the demons are highly polished and cultured beings. So, as he was worshiping Brahma to get the blessings, in one way he respected him also. Yet it was said that by his power and by his domination all the three worlds were under his influence. And you know, when there is a different rule, a different ruler, we have to survive. Just like you, the Bulgarian nation, you had the Turkish yoke. You survived! Although all your power, all your assets, everything was dominated by a foreign power. Still you have found ways to survive, and to maintain what you have internally, deeply, in hidden ways – so many chances were there.

As the goal of Hiranyakashipu was to fight Vishnu, God, therefore he designed all these tricks and all these domination wars. Because it is said that the worshipers of the Supreme – with their prayers, with their sacrifices, with their services – they so to say feed God. So Hiranyakashipu thought: ‘If I stop them doing their spiritual services and no worship is going to the Supreme, He will become weak. Then in this way it will be very easy for me to fight Him off.’ This was his intention. Therefore he didn’t care for Brahma or other up or down grades of living beings, because he wanted to dominate. He had magic powers, as he was also praying for yoga-siddhis, the mystic powers of yoga.

These siddhis are very interesting, but very secondary results of any spiritual practice. Because the motivation of Hiranyakashipu was power, to dominate over everything and use all the energy against God. While our motivation should be: dominate over yourself, control yourself, be a servant of all and use all the energy for the positive service of the Lord. This is the difference between a loving and serving approach to the Supreme and an opposition party. We should decide which side we take.

Yashoda: It was interesting that Hiranyakashipu mentioned so many possibilities who should not kill him, but he forgot Vishnu.

Swami Tirtha: Very good point. You see, all his glorification was directed to Brahma, who is the minister, he is not the king. But he considered Brahma to be the Supreme. And therefore he devised all these different means to protect himself, because Hiranyakashipu considered Vishnu not to be God, but a demigod, subordinate to Brahma. And he knew that sometimes Vishnu is very tricky. Sometimes He appears as a fish to save the Vedas. Other times He appears as a human being – like Rama or Buddha, or other incarnations. Therefore he said: “No human being, no demigod, no demon, no weapon, no animal should be able to kill me.” Actually first he asked from Brahma: “Give me immortality.” Then Brahma said: “Sorry, I cannot give you that. It’s beyond my capacities.” Then he started to think: “All right, if you cannot give me immortality, then give me that nobody should be able to kill me.” “All right, that I can give.” Or “Give me that I should be killed neither in the air nor on the ground, not inside nor outside.” So he tried to defend himself in every possible way.

But although he wanted to fight Vishnu, he forgot about Him. Somehow He was not included in his picture. So that is the difference between a demon and a bhakta. The demon is very cleverly using his brain, but forgetting about God. The bhakta sometimes with big dedication is just doing some nonsense, but never forgetting God. So this is the difference. One is very clever, yet forgetful; and this one, the lover of God can remember only very few things, but even that engages him so much that sometimes he forgets practical things.

The best example is when one devotee wanted to offer to God a banana. Usually you know we sanctify our food – first give it to the Lord and then whatever is left we take. So in her big dedication, with real devotion she was peeling the banana, throwing away the flesh and offering the peeling: “Ah my Lord, this is for You. You like bananas so much – please, accept this!” You know, sometimes devotees make little mistakes. But fortunately enough, God Supreme needs neither the skin, nor the fruit itself; He needs only one thing and that is called loving dedication. This is what we have to give. That is the best offering, the most tasty for Him. “Ah, this little insignificant thing comes with some dedication!”

(to be continued)



(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2012, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday)

This far Hiranyakashipu, the demon who was waiting for the blessings, told the glories: “Ah, you are so great, you are so nice!” And now he comes with his requests:

“Ah lord, if you wish to fulfill my desire for a boon, then please grant me only this little thing: give me that I should not be killed by any living entity created by you.” But this is only the first, he’s got a long list. “Give me that also that I should not be killed indoors or outdoors. Not during the day, not during the night.” What was the goal behind? ‘I want to be immortal!’ So he started to use his intelligence, trying to find all the possible ways of protection. “I shall not be killed by you, Brahma, or by Shiva or any other demigod or creature; or any weapon. I should not be killed on the ground or in the sky. Nor by any human being or any animal, such as a tiger. No living entity, inert matter, demigod, demon or great snake shall kill me. Please grant me that I shall not be killed by any of these! Ah lord, no one can oppose you in a battle. And you are the lord of all living entities and rulers. So please, give me the same position. Please give me the eight siddhis, the mystic perfections of yoga, and whatever results can be obtained by practice of yoga and tapasya.” It’s a long list, ha? ‘Give me this, give me that!’

“After listening to these prayers and requests of Hiranyakashipu, Brahma replied: “Dear son, now I’m giving you whatever boon you had requested from me, although it is actually rare and difficult to obtain for anyone.” Then Brahma returned to his own home.

So, by the blessings of Brahma, Hiranyakashipu has obtained all the boons he requested, as well as a very strong and powerful golden body. He then remembered the slaying of his brother, who was killed by Vishnu and immediately felt great hatred towards Vishnu, God Supreme. This great asura, this Hiranyakashipu, became the supreme ruler of the other asuras and also of the demigods and human beings. He also became the ruler of the gandharvas – the heavenly singers; the nagas – the cosmic snakes; the siddhas – the perfected beings, the garudas, the charanas, the vidyadharas, the rishis, Yama and his followers, the ancient sages and the pitris – the forefathers; of everybody who is there in this universe.”

So, prestigious positions are there in this world – like a demigod or a king. And there are some not so prestigious positions like yakshas – yaksha is a magician demon fighter; rakshasa is even less prestigious. Rakshasa is a giant eating the flesh of human beings. Pishacha is even more heavy – pishacha is a witch riding on a broom. But there are the pretas also; preta is a demon of the dead bodies, of the corpses.

Yamuna: Vampires? Prototypes of vampires? Zombies?

Swami Tirtha: Come on! These are new inventions, my dear ones. This is the Hollywood version of this kind of beings, so please, stick to the tradition. But what is a preta? Preta is like a ghost. How can you recognize a ghost?

Yamuna: He is semitransparent.

Swami Tirtha: Semitransparent!? Maybe that’s again some Hollywood version; there is a sign, a signal that you can understand who is a preta. Because sometimes they might look like human beings. These types of beings look like humans, but they have some special features from what you can recognize who is who. And the special sign of a preta is… Usually your toes are to the front; but for the pretas they are to the back. It’s not funny! Their feet are to the back. What does it mean? Usually if you walk on the sand, your footprints will show your direction. You go forward and the steps also look forward. But what happens if you don’t know the proper direction? What happens if you are a preta? Although you go in one direction, your footprints will show to the opposite direction. That means that although it looks like you make a progress, actually you go backwards. So this is a preta – this is a ghost of the dead bodies. It  goes to a wrong direction. Do you see the symbolism? It’s really not for amusement, it’s a real heavy message. Because the present-day society goes in a wrong direction. So we can say that practically everybody is a preta, not finding the direction. You go in one direction and your footprints go to the opposite. So something is totally wrong in this conditioning.

So, Hiranyakashipu became the lord of the prestigious, godly, divine, kingly orders; and of these lower species also, like ghosts and devils. “After conquering their lords and kings, he took from them their powers and positions and became the supreme personality in the three planetary systems of Svarga, Martya and Patala.” Patala is the hellish planets, the lower planetary systems. Martya-loka is the Earth and similar planets, where death is the ultimate power. Martya means ‘death’. So the name of the planet is Death. And Svarga is the name of the higher planetary systems, which look like heaven. So, this happened after obtaining this boon – he became extremely powerful. He conquered the leaders of these different groups of living entities and then took their power and took their energy.

(to be continued)