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Sharanagati

Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha




Bhaktivinoda_and_family

(continues from the previous Monday)

Question of Kripadham: Can we understand the final goal, prema-bhakti, if we did not understand previous goals, like different dharmas in our lives?

Swami Tirtha: Very good question, because sometimes in the beginning stage we think that ‘yes, it’s possible’. And then in the ultimate stage we don’t think, but we are convinced that this is possible. But in the middle stage better stick to your duty. Because purification is not that easy and not that quick as you might think in the beginning. Because you engage, engage, engage yourself with something and then finally after years you will say: “Hey! I missed whole of my life!” Therefore the general way of Indian tradition suggests that you should go through all the different levels of life, through all the ashrams – then you are accomplished. Of course it does not sound very convincing from my lips, because I skipped a few. Yet we should distinguish between material engagement and real spiritual progress. Krishna is not possessed by renunciates. He is there in everybody’s heart, so everybody is able to establish and cultivate that connection. And as Shrila Shridhara Maharaj expressed, sometimes a brahmachari or a grihastha has much more burning love for Krishna than some ascetics. So it does not depend on your ashram, on your external position; it depends on your internal commitment.

But usually we can say that on a medium and long run, without someone being established nicely in his or her job in life generally, it’s less reliable in spiritual practices either.

Once there was a case. There was a very strong grihastha community and they had a spiritual master. That spiritual master once made a remark publicly: “If you preach about sannyas, you will have very good grihasthas; if you preach about grihastha-ashram, you will have only griha-medhis.” Griha-medhi is who lives a material life and enjoys family. And when it happened, there was an ascetic as a guest. And you know, we have this very special protective system, it’s called ‘wishful hearing’. So practically all the grihastha community used both ears while receiving this message: one in, the other out. But our sannyasi friend paid a lot of attention: “A, very strong message!” So, he engraved that into his memory. And next time when they met again, he quoted the master of the group. He said: “If you speak about sannyas, you will have very nice grihasthas; if you speak about grihastha-ashram, you will have only griha-medhis.” Everybody was astonished. And not only astonished, but offended – so much so that they didn’t dare to ask or reflect on this. After years somebody came to this sannyasi and asked: “Do you remember that expression of yours?” “What?” “That one about the sannyasis, and the grihasthas, and the griha-medhis!” Because everybody was offended that ’Maybe this newcomer wants to attack us, attack our strong family establishment!’  So when finally it came to the surface, they asked: “And where did you take this offensive remark?” Then he said: “This is a direct quotation from your spiritual master!” Oops!

So, sometimes we make mistakes. We try to hide, we don’t like to be exposed. Don’t be griha-medhis, be griha-stha. Ah, sorry, I made a mistake! Sannyas! The only alternative is sannyas! Because what is the meaning of griha-stha? “A person who stays at home”; stha is “to stay in some place”. Griha is the home, stha is the person who is well-established there. “Stability” comes from stha. That means reliable, not simply jumping here and there. Because grihastha should be the support of all others in the society; not only of his own family, but of all others who need any support or help.

And it was very nicely proved and showed by one friend of Gurudev – Shripad Shrutashrava Prabhu. He had six children. I think you can imagine what it is to take care of six children. But all the time they had at least one guest in their home – just to serve the guest also. They had a very intimate connection with Gurudev – so much so that when Gurudev visited that city, he did not go to the temple, but to this family. This person was a very-very exemplary grihastha – how to serve others, how to protect his family. Every week, I think twice – once himself, other times his wife – they went to the temple to cook. And the wife, she always had an eye on the feet of the brahmacharis – if they need some socks, if they have enough medicine. It was very, very nice to see how they shared their family attention with others.

 

(to be continued)

 



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