December 2022


Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha

bhagavad-gita 2.66

(continues from the previous Monday)

We are in a trouble if we have to quote the Upanishads, right? How many verses can you quote from the Upanishads? Very few. Therefore the sages also tried to find some essential points from the Upanishads, like basic truth. They are called the maha-vakyas, or “The great sayings of the Upanishads”.

But I think we are also in little trouble if we have to quote from the “Gita”. How many verses can we quote from the “Gita”? It is said if somebody recites all the 700 verses from the “Gita” he easily achieves perfection. If you cannot quote all the 700 – which might happen – if you can chant one chapter of the “Gita”, you can achieve perfection. In case you cannot recite a full chapter of the “Gita”, you recite one verse – it’s enough for perfection. But if you cannot recite even one verse, half of a verse is enough. So, you see – still we have some chance! At least half of a verse we should memorize and engrave in our heart.

And finally what to speak of the “Vedanta Sutra”? It’s so dry and so theoretical and so difficult – it’s like a code itself. Without explanations it’s very difficult to understand.

Yet we can say that the essence of the Upanishads can be summarized in one verse. Purnam adam purnam idam – That is perfect and complete (the divine). And this is complete and perfect (the material manifestation or the individuals also). And it does not matter how much complete units you take, derive from this ultimate source, all the different parts will be complete and whole in themselves and it does not diminish the perfection of the original source. Purnam adam purnam idam/ purnat purnam udachyate/ purnasya purnam adaya/ purnam eva avashishyate.[1] It does not matter how much energy is manifested from this ultimate source, His complete wholeness is not diminished.

So you see, this is quite theoretical. And how to summarize the “Vedanta Sutra”? 555 sutras. Let’s take the first one. The first one says: athato brahma jigyasa – “Now as you have taken birth as human you should inquire after Brahman, after the soul.” And what is the last sutra? The last sutra says: “Those who have reached, they will never return, they will never return.” Why twice? Because this is like stressing, it’s a very important fact. This is like an invitation: come, meditate!

But in-between these two logical and philosophical dry systems there is this third one in the middle, which is the “Gita” itself. It’s a Divine Song. This is not a secret teaching, this is not some logical argumentation – this is a song, and song means beauty. So from the very beginning our tradition is base on beauty. Bhakti means an aesthetic approach to the Supreme. Therefore one of the main scriptures is provided as a song, a song of God.

Nevertheless all these different bodies of reference are connected to each other. “Gita” itself is also called an Upanishad, it’s called “Gitopanishad”. Because somehow in this conversation between Krishna and Arjuna, which is an aesthetic one, the deeper truths and deeper revelation is also revealed. And also “Gita” refers to the sutras, to “Vedanta Sutra” as very logically established system. So, you see, one refers to the other, one supports the other, because if we want to understand the conclusion, then we have to study. And sutra means “thread”. If we have the thread then we can reach the goal. Sutra is like a condensed essence of a tradition, condensed essence of a spiritual science. And here Vedanta means “the end of the Vedas, the cream of the Vedas”.


(to be continued)

[1] “Ishopanishad”, invocation

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