April 2019
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Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha

in my heart

Question of Mahadev: Could we say that faith as an abstract subject is more like aishvarya-rasa and that there is something more that can be added to the faith, which we call normally madhurya-rasa, pure prema? Could we say that they are the same theoretically, but there are some subtle differences between the two things?

Swami Tirtha: We should start with the classification of Rupa Goswami: adau shraddha[1] – the first step is faith. Or better we go to the ground floor. What is before faith? Before faith there is sukriti. Sukriti, or the pious activities, will bring you to the level of being able to dedicate your faith to the pure persons and to some process. If we are fortunate enough to dedicate our faith, then we start to associate with the proper people – adau sraddha tatah sadhu-sangah. And a very special type of association is when we commit ourselves to follow some teaching. Then practically by the following and by the instructions of the superiors we can start bhajana-kriya, or the acts of devotion, of worship. The result of bhajana-kriya, or the result of active bhajan, we can say, is that you will be purified. That’s called anartha-nivritti – no cultivation of bad habits. So, how can we reach that platform? If you are focused on your anarthas (mistakes) and you will always think of how not to cultivate your bad habits, you develop an anartha consciousness. You will always think of your anarthas. Therefore before that there is bhajana-kriya. Bhajana-kriya in another way is artha-pravritti – that is cultivation of spiritual values. So, by following the spiritual process we can be purified of our mistakes or shortcomings. Then through some other levels of freedom from attachment and taste we come to the platform of bhava and prema. So, faith in that picture is like an introduction into the whole process and at the other end of that process is pure and ecstatic love.

Bhakti is a highly mystic process. So, of course that is true that the instrument and the goal are the same. If the goal is ecstatic pure love of Godhead, it should be equal to the initial step also – like introductory faith. Still there is a little difference between the two.

But that’s true, if we consider faith as a general way of religious practice, that will introduce us maximum to the majestic aspect of the Supreme. And that is aishvarya kind of approach. Yet Krishna says in the Gita twice – He very rarely repeats the same message twice – “only through devotion one can understand Me as I am[2] So, only through devotion we can come into embrace of the Supreme. So, we can say faith is not enough for that. We must have the faith that we shall get the invitation. But it depends on the invitation; it doesn’t depend on our faith. That is the difference. We do believe that divine love takes us further.

But let’s examine the same concerning the sadhus around us. We can say that faith equals to theory or mind – it’s like a spiritual fact. If you accept the guru from the mind, theoretically, you will have so many problems. If you accept your sadhu from your heart, with emotions, you can approach him very closely. Because guru is a very strange principle – it can make you or break you. And as we want to enroll the school of emotional approach to the Supreme truth, therefore it is better to accept our sadhu from the heart. But it is suggested: first examine, then love. Not the opposite: first fall in love quickly, and then try to analyze. I have been waiting for my master five years and then I started to torture him.

In that sense faith and love are completely different. The result will be absolutely different. One is theoretical and the other is real, substantial. And we are not talking about only human or worldly emotions, no! Rather divine emotions. Because the ultimate identity of our atma, of our soul is ananda-maya. That means ‘made of bliss’. That’s your emotional self. We have an existential self, this is the sat aspect; we have an intellectual self, a cognitive self – this is cit conscious particle; and we have an emotional self, which is ananda platform.

(to be continued)

[1] Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu, Purva, 4.15

[2] Bhagavad Gita 18.55; 11.54


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