Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha


To get some impression of the higher truths we shall read some verses from the “Gita”.

“Tri-vidham narakasyedam dvaram nasanam atmanah kamah krodhas tatha lobhas tasmad etat trayam tyajetThere are three gates leading to this hell – lust, anger and greed. Every sane man should give these up, for they lead to the degradation of the soul.”[1]

This verse describes the corridors or the channels of fall down. Lust, anger and greed – kama, krodha, lobha – the main enemies of a human being. This is the path leading to hell. So if you want to convince someone of choosing the right path, how can you achieve that? There is one story about it.

Once there was a person who had no faith in God. And two priests were betting outside of his room when he was dying. One of the priests said: “Just give me five minutes, I will convert him.” The other said: “No, that’s impossible! I know this guy for years, he is very blockhead. Atheist number one!” “Never mind, just leave it up to me!” So he went into the room and after five minutes he went out and said: “Now you can bring the Holy Communion, he wants to take it.” The other priest said: “How did you achieve this!? I know that you are an eloquent speaker; did you describe heaven so nicely to him?” The other guy said: “No, I was describing hell to him.”

So therefore Krishna here describes the path leading to hell – kama, krodha and lobha – to convince you quickly that this is not the correct direction. Because they lead to degradation of the soul.

But fortunately the next verse says:

“The man who has escaped these three gates of hell, O son of Kuntī, performs acts conducive to self-realization and thus gradually attains the supreme destination.”[2]

Self-realization is mentioned here and that is the purpose of human life. Self-realization means that we have to identify ourselves. We have to search out who we are. It’s not enough to search who do we think we are, we have to find ourselves. So we have to get rid from all the false concepts concerning ourselves and find our real identity, which is never changing, irrespective of culture, creed, gender, whatever. We have to search for the inner essence, the permanent identity that we have. Because by possessing this self-identity we can gradually reach the supreme destination.

In the shastram it is said: acharyavan purusho veda[3] – what does it mean? Acharyavan purusho veda. Purusha? Purusha is a person, man actually. Acharya is the teacher. Van means “to exist, to posses”. Purusha means “person” and veda means “knowledge”. So if we put this mosaic together, that means: “A person who has spiritual master, he knows.” Acharyavan purusho veda – such a person, who has acharya, he knows. It’s nice, isn’t it? Ah, we are all very happy, we have gurus, so we know!

But to understand this message correctly we have to understand the full story. And the full story goes like this: if somebody binds your eyes, makes you blind and kidnaps you from your village, and brings you to an unknown place, then they throw you out blindfolded in that unknown place and you don’t know the way to get there, then you are in a very depressive situation. We feel very helpless, we don’t know where we are, we don’t see anything and we don’t know what to do – it is very difficult. But if by good chance somebody with open eyes comes to us, removes the fold from our eyes and shows us the direction back home, back to Godhead – that means if there is a teacher to show you the correct direction – then such a person will know. He will know that by following the direction and permanently going from one village to another, he will reach the goal. This is what we can know if we have a guide.

Acharyavan purusho veda – a person who has a master will know where to find the proper direction. Gradually, here it is also mentioned, gradually we shall reach the destination. It is not that when the fold is removed from your eyes immediately you will reach home. You have to follow the whole process. And every long march starts with the first step. Without that we cannot reach the destination. Step by step, from village to village, by following the direction, we can reach the supreme goal.

[1] Bhagavad Gita 16.21

[2] Bhagavad Gita 16.22

[3] Chandogya Upanishad 6.14.2

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