Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 02.10.2017 evening, Sofia)

Today we shall continue our readings from a collection of essays of Shrila Shridhara Maharaj[1]. For many occasions we discuss one topic – the topic of guru. My suggestion for today is to discuss another topic – disciple.

“Unadulterated purity. Question: Maharaj, what is the meaning of chastity for the proper disciple? Shrila Shridhara Maharaj: Chastity is faithfulness to the cause for which we have come. It is a relative term; chastity in the absolute sense is unchanging adherence to Krishna consciousness. There also may be relative chastity, such as when someone sincerely pursues his interest in a particular plane. However, that type of sincerity is not complete. We think sincerity is only complete when one comes to accept Krishna consciousness of Godhead. Other forms of chastity are all relative. No knowledge separate from Krishna is chaste. In Krishna consciousness also we may not think that by beginning, by getting a touch of Krishna consciousness we have acquired the whole thing. When we get the pure conception, the hazy conceptions will vanish. There are also different stages of realization in pure Krishna consciousness and by its degree of awakening we become more and more chaste.”

I think it’s a good topic – chastity. Because this is the way how a disciple can show his gratitude towards the master – to be faithful. Of course it has got many different aspects. Here it is said: “Chastity means our adherence to the truth. The truth that we had come to realize – that truth is in Krishna consciousness. This is not a limited thing that one can capture in the hand and swallow. It is of infinite character. There is gradation and there is room for progress in Krishna consciousness. We will say that one is chaste due to his own sincere progress, not due to the adherence to the figure, the formal conception. Vyaso vetti na vetti va[2] – such a strong expression is also there: “Maybe Vyasadev knows, maybe he doesn’t know”. Although Vyasa is like the archetype of gurus, maybe he knows the truth, maybe he doesn’t know. Although we expect a superior to know the truth. But all rights are reserved. Because bhakti is unlimited. Still there is a possibility of conceiving its purity in its unadulterated form and the acharyas have given that to us. In the beginning a new student who gets admisson to a college cannot expect to know everything. We need to have a systematic, properly adjusted knowledge.

There are many amongst our group who heard Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Prabhupada’s advice and words, but only partly. One day a senior man and sannyasi repeated something Shrila Prabhupad had said. Although it related to a particular time and place, he wanted to utilize that in a universal way. I objected: “Maharaj, Shrila Prabhupad said this, it is true, but this is not the whole thing. He explained other things also, therefore we have to harmonize. We cannot ignore the other part of his advice. We have to come to adjustment and systematic understanding of the words of Shri Gurudev.”

Why? Because it’s a life-saving question – to understand properly. It needs a little training and to be able to decode the language of the masters. Because I don’t know how it happened with you, but when I first came to a vaishnava lecture, I didn’t understand anything. It was very charming and very attractive, but…

Once there was an elderly couple visiting the programs and lectures – this was trying to provide a systematic education for years. And as they were paying so much attention and always being there, finally I approached them and asked: “Does it mean anything for you? Do you find it useful?” And then they said: “Well, we cannot recall anything, but it’s nice. It’s a good feeling.” Well, what can I say, I cannot object, as we all search after the feeling, right, not after the knowledge, so actually they are correct. “I don’t understand, but it’s nice.”

(to be continued)

[1] Centenary Anthology

[2] Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya.24.313

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