August 2022


Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 07.05.2017 morning, Rila)

Om namo bhagavate vasudevaya. Before starting to read and recall the story of Bharata Maharaja, let me mention in a few words the importance of this mantra. This is one major mantra for the present age. We have many yoga teachers and practitioners here. And everybody knows about the importance of the om. But what is the meaning of the om, Shyama Tulasi? If you translate that, what is the meaning of the word?

Shyama Tulasi: This is the universal sound, maintaining the harmony of the whole universe. And by this sound the whole universe dances its perfect dance.

Swami Tirtha: Oh, I like that! Correct, om is a creative sound that is able to convert chaos into cosmos. So, it might create the order of life. There must be order in the universe, otherwise this is called chaos. So, if in the beginning of creation this divine sound – and sound is so important, a vibration, an energy – created this harmonious order in the external manifestation, we have not only an external world, but we have an internal world also. I don’t know about you, but many people say that the chaos is not outside, it’s inside. So, in case you feel you need to put a little order in your consciousness, om as a creative sound will turn your chaos into a cosmic order.

But it’s very difficult to identify a meaning or a translation to the om. Because it’s so condensed, so essential that everything of the power is contained in one word; and how can you translate that?! So, we can say that it’s such a unique, so to say abstract concentration of everything that is almost impossible to find a proper translation for that. We can say that this is the one word in the universe – the one and only word. Om is enough. Nevertheless if we want to translate om, this is very simple. Let’s start from your own vocabulary. What is the one and only word that you will identify as the most important?

Answer: ‘Me’.

Swami Tirtha: ‘Me’? Yes, I think this concept creates the chaos inside. ‘I, me, myself’.

Sanatana: Affection.

Swami Tirtha: I agree, but this is like the mystic explanation of the same word that I was thinking of. It’s very simple – sometimes we try to negate everything. So, then you might think that the ultimate word in this universe is ‘no’. But let’s have a better and positive version: ‘yes’. Shridhara Maharaja says that: “Om is ‘yes’! Yes, what you are searching for it exists!” That is not so complicated. This is assertive communication. Yes, what you are searching for it exists. And if we go more into detail, there is affection, of course. So, we can say that the ultimate word in this universe is ‘yes’. If we agree on that point, then what kind of words you should use with your spiritual master? ‘Yes’.

And we also want to help others to come closer to this truth. So, if in the morning, before your spiritual readings, or studies, or offerings you chant this om namo bhagavate vasudevaya, you create the order, you create the harmony around. And also you remind yourself that there is an order in this world. If we come to a more esoteric explanation of om, you can break down this into three different sounds: A-U-M. A is God; M is me; and U between – this is the most important power, the power of love. So, Govinda, Radha and myself. That means we belong together.

The second word is namaha; the meaning, the translation of namaha is ‘respect, obeisances’. But respect is not for me. That means that I have to offer respect to somebody who is not me. You see, first there is some theoretical conception – like what is the om, creating the order; but namaha is an active principle: “I offer my respects to You.” To whom? To Bhagavan, the Supreme Lord. Bhaga means ‘wealth’ or ‘opulence’ and van means ‘to possess’. So, the one who possesses all the opulence of the universe. But again this is very general – who is this possessor of all the opulence in this universe? This is Vasudeva, God personified as the superior state of consciousness, all-encompassing. “After many-many births and lifetimes those who are really intelligent understand that Vasudeva is all in all.”[1]

Bharata Maharaja was also worshipping Vasudeva, the superior state of consciousness. But He is never alone. First the productive energy is manifested from Him – this is Baladev. And then a very unusual energy is manifested – the creative energy. So, productivity and creativity all come from the superior state of consciousness. Balaram is a first expansion, then Radhika is the creative energy. So, if we take it symbolically, this superior state of consciousness is never alone. There must be some productive energy and there must be some creative energy.

And if we put all this together: “Yes, I offer my respects to the personal God, full of opulence, who is the superior consciousness” – this is the word-by-word meaning of this mantra. But what is the purport of this mantra? What is the use here? This is a protective mantra. And the protective mantras are called kavacas. Kavaca is like a ‘shield’. This mantra can protect you from all external influences. In the Bhagavatam the Narayana kavaca is described in a very detailed manner. And the main mantra in the Narayana kavaca, after cleansing and purifying and sanctifying the different parts of the body, is this mantra. That means by creating this harmony and by submitting yourself under this divine superior protection, you will be saved. It’s just like a protective shield coming to you; it will embrace you and cover you. Therefore it is very nice to start your day with this prayer: “Oh, my Lord, I offer my respects” and He will give you the protection. Beautiful! And also you can invite your beloved ones under this shelter. You might say: “Maybe I believe, maybe I don’t believe.” But I tell you it’s tested, it works.

(to be continued)

[1] Bhagavad Gita 7.19

Leave a Reply