Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha


Tell me another name for this congregational chanting of the name – how it is called in Sanskrit? Sankirtan correct. What does it mean sankirtan? Kirtan we understood, this is the chanting and singing of the names. And what is san? To sing it together. If you sit at home and chant the names, that’s nice. But it is kirtan. If you are not so strong, then it is kir. Or other way it is tan. Weak kirtan, half kirtan. But when we come together this personal kirtan starts to be sankirtan. It is not some kirtan, but it is sankirtan. And “san” means together, joined efforts, joined power. But “san” also means “samyak”. Samyak – the perfection of kirtan. So if we want to perfect our chanting of the holy names, either by singing or by chanting on our rosary, it is very favourable if you do it together with others.

Some say that liberation is a private affair. You and God. But we can say that bhakti-yoga is a social affair, it is a community affair, sadhu-sanga. Therefore the five practices of our process are: nama-kirtan, sadhu-sanga – that is chanting the name, associating with the saints – to listen to the “Shrimad Bhagavatam” and the holy scriptures, to live in a holy place and worship the deities. So it is not a complicated religion. Only five principles.

So always try to perfect your chanting. There is only one quality that we have to add to our chanting and this is the desire to serve. Raghunath das Goswami, who is the topmost rasic acharya of the Six Goswamis, he is sitting on the banks of the Radha Kunda and is praying for the special mercy of Radharani upon him, so that he is able to join the service. This should be our mood. And then whenever you are in trouble or in fake happiness, be connected to the Supreme. Then the real taste will come. All glories to the holy name and the Divine Couple.

Question of Yamuna: Maharaj, I would like to ask… Because it is said that Bhakti is rather a mood on highest levels, is the chanting making us more tender and sensitive, or the association with the devotees is making us more tender and sensitive to chant more tenderly and sensitively? Or both together?

Tirtha Maharaj: Very good question. I think I mentioned recently the example of such a person, who learned English by the book. And when he met Englishmen, they asked: “It is a very interesting language. Which language do you speak?” So, if we sit at home, in our room, doing kirtan, if you sit at home and chant, it is absolutely not sure, that this is sankirtan. But I agree, the quality and the mood of the devotees around us will have a tremendous effect on us.

We know, we understood that without guru-bhakti there is no Krishna-bhakti. So if we meditate on our spiritual master, sooner or later his mood will come to us. This is a mystic transaction. Nevertheless, chanting and association should also work, both. Usually the answer to such questions is not either this or that, but both.

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