May 2021
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Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha


(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 08.01.2016 evening, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday) 

We discussed and understood about the classifications of devotees, like first-class, second-class and third-class – that is good, better and best. Now we continue our readings from this very important book, the Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu:

“Further classification of a neophyte devotee is made in the Bhagavad Gita. It is stated there that four classes of men, namely those who are distressed, those who are in need of money, those who are inquisitive and those who are wise begin devotional service and come to the Lord for relief in the matter of their respective satisfaction. They go into some place of worship and pray to God for mitigation of material distress, or for some economic development, or to satisfy their inquisitiveness. And a wise man, who simply realizes the greatness of God, is also counted among the neophytes. Such beginners can be elevated to the second-class or first-class platform if they associate with pure devotees.”[1]

So, here are the four basic motivations to start a spiritual journey. If we suffer – this is a common language of materially diseased life on the planet Earth. Suffering – we all understand that language. And we want to find a solution – this is one reason to start to pray.

The other is some shortage in life. If we are in need, then we want to fulfill this need. Horror vacui – the fear of emptiness. We want to fill up the vacant places, therefore we are ready to decorate every niche and corner. It’s a cosmic fear of loneliness. So we are in need of fulfillment, of satisfaction – therefore ultimately, if we are wise enough, we turn to God.

Or somebody is inquisitive: ‘Hey, tell me, what the secret here is? This system looks like functional – how is it? This whole creation works – it’s a miracle! Who is behind?’ So, these are the very basic and very elementary approaches to the Supreme – like suffering, or need, or inquisitive approach.

While there is the fourth one and this is the wise. Those who are wise they want to be connected to the superior reality. Nevertheless all these four categories are considered to be neophytes.

Then what is our place – again I put this question. Do I belong to the sufferer class? Yes, more or less I do belong there. If I don’t have anything to suffer about, then I create something – just to be engaged. Why waste time by simply being satisfied? Or do I belong to the category of those who are in need? Yes, so much! I’m a beggar. I’m a beggar of divine love. And I hope that those whom I search to give me something, they are not misers. And am I inquisitive? Well, to be inquisitive prerequisites some intelligence, so I cannot say too much. And definitely I don’t really belong to the fourth category of wise. Because if I’m wise, then I don’t suffer, right? A wise person doesn’t suffer. Just like a wise person is never bored.

You see – we share some qualities, we share some common fate in this material life. And therefore we all have to find some answers to our questions.

So, after we have understood that these are the classes of neophyte devotees, let’s read further: “An example of the neophyte class is Dhruva Maharaj.” Oops! Dhruva Maharaj – there are many chapters devoted to his story in the Shrimad Bhagavatam. He was a saintly kid, very determined in his meditation. And we don’t expect the Shrimad Bhagavatam – the essence of revealed scriptures – to discuss the character of neophyte devotees. How come Dhruva Maharaj is a neophyte devotee – who is able to fight armies of demoniac forces?! Can a neophyte do that? Or do you remember his meditation, his spiritual practice – how it was? First he controlled his eating. And control of eating in the case of Dhruva Maharaj meant that he didn’t take anything. Then he felt: ‘Ah, it’s not enough! I have to control my drinking.’ And control of drinking in his case meant he didn’t drink anything. But then he felt: ‘It’s not enough, I have to control my breath.’ And control of breath in his case meant that every half a year he took one breath. You know – as usually neophytes do. A little control.

If he is a neophyte devotee, then who am I? But fortunately there is a similarity between him and myself. Why? Because he was very much intent to achieve the darshan[2] of the Supreme and therefore when he met his spiritual master, he was very much obedient to him. This is what unites us! He was very obedient to his master and I’m also very obedient to my master. Right, this is what unites you and Dhruva Maharaj.

(to be continued)

[1] Nectar of devotion, Chapter 3

[2] Personal meeting


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