March 2019
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Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha


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

We shall continue our readings from an ancient instructive story about a conflict between the negative forces and the divine forces. There was a great demoniac person, big opponent of God and he had one son who was a big devotee of the Supreme. Just imagine such a conflict! You try to give all the negative education to your son to become a nice demon, and he is not paying attention, he wants to become a good boy. You see, times are changing. What happens today in the 21st Century? Just the opposite: you want to give a good education to your son to become a nice person and he will develop some demoniac qualities. In the ancient times it was the opposite. So sometimes it is good to take a travel in time, turn back the wheel of time a little bit – few hundreds, few thousands, few millions of years back – so that to find the truth.

You see, there is always a competition between light and darkness. This story is about forgetfulness. It’s a conversation between Yamaraj, the god of death, and the relatives of a person who recently died[1].

“In the kingdom of Ushinara there lived a famous king named Suyagya. One day his enemies attacked his kingdom and the king set out with an army to engage in a battle. However in the great fight that started the king was killed. At the news of his death all the citizens of Ushinara were grief-stricken. The body of the king was lying on the battlefield, pierced by many sharp arrows and drenched in blood. Yet in spite of his many wounds, scattered hair and dull eyes, the king’s face still displayed his immense feelings of wrath. His decorated armor was torn to pieces, his jewels and ornaments were scattered all around and the dust of the battlefield clouded the luster of his face. Even his hands had been horribly severed off his body and were thrown around in different places, still grasping weapons that gleamed in the sunlight.

When the king’s family arrived on the scene, they sat down around the dead body and started to cry. The queens beat their chests without cessation and threw themselves at his feet: “Ah, lord of our lives, where have you gone!? How can we survive without you!?” The poor ladies, sunk in desperation, raised a loud wail of lamentation. The torrents of tears that poured from their eyes displayed their endless sorrow and bathed the king’s feet, while the red kunkum smeared on their breasts only served to increase the intense drama of the scene. No longer taking pleasure in elegance and beauty, the queens loosened their nicely arranged hair, tossing and breaking their expensive ornaments. Now that their husband was dead they felt that nothing mattered anymore. Their husband had been their only pleasure and hope and the loss of him left them feeling desperate. Their lamentation filled all the living entities with sorrow.”

So, in those times especially kings had a license to have many wives – more than one. Because what is the duty of a king? It’s to provide the kingdom with an inheritor. Therefore they had to have a big family. Maybe one wife can produce a male child, maybe she cannot – therefore they needed more. So it’s not only for the sake of sense gratification. The point is not the harem, the point is the children.

But you know times are changing, as we agreed. And in those ancient times men were so strong to take care of many ladies. Today they can hardly maintain one. Just imagine, my dear male friends, brothers, if you had to take care of let’s say a dozen wives. ’Ah, one is enough’, right?

But try to get the point – it’s not a strange habit, but this was the system of the social structure. Because what is very important is that the ladies should have a shelter.

So “They addressed their dead husband by saying: “Ah lord and master, how can we bear to see you in this situation? God is so cruel! He has taken away our support and protection – our husband who was dearer to us than life itself. Ah lord of our lives, our husband! Now you lie before us, you who were once maintainer of all the people of Ushinara. You used to make them more happy, but today you have made them most unhappy with your death. Ah, protector of the land, great warrior, you were our best friend, always dutiful and concerned of our welfare. How can we maintain our life without you? Ah lord, please also take us with you, wherever you are going, so that we may serve your feet there where you are.”

You see, that was the level of commitment of these wives. They committed themselves not only for one lifetime, but for the next; they were ready to die with the husband. And there is a fortress in India, in Rajastan actually; when that fortress was under attack, the men finally decided to rush out and die, because there was too much opposition and that was a lost case. And their wives were so strong and so committed, that they were ready to die with the husbands. So to commemorate their dedication, their hand-print is still on the wall of this fortress. They put their palms in kunkum, this red vermilion and they made a print of their hands on the wall. Now it is carved nicely in stone to commemorate that event.


(to be continued)


[1] from B.B.Tirtha Maharaj’s book The Holy Life of Prahlada

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