Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha


(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 10.01.2014, morning, Sofia)

We started our studies on the 64 main practices of bhakti. Bhakti as the path of divine love is a school of yoga. And yoga means a certain set of rules, set of practices, by which to establish a contact with something superior. Actually for the philosophers yoga is for establishing contact with the Supreme Absolute Truth – which is a little sterile idea. While for those who search perfection in a personal way, yoga is for establishing a contact with God Supreme. This is not only an energy concept of the existence, but like a personal concept of the Truth. 

Yet as all other types of yoga have their rules and practices, our yoga also has certain rules and practices. After the first five very positive instructions, we’ve come to the next five. 

“We should be prepared to give up everything material for the satisfaction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Shri Krishna. This means that when we are engaged in devotional service to Krishna we must be prepared to give up something which we may not like to give up and also we have to accept something which we may not like to accept.”

And now our rebellious mind starts to revolt. ‘Yes, you see? Here is violence! Something is forced on me which I don’t like to accept. And I have to leave something that I’m very much attached to.’ So, think twice if this is a process for you. ‘Maybe this is something sectarian? It’s very dangerous – so beware!’

But my dear ones, tell me one thing in life, any practice in life that is not working under the same principles? You join a job; you have to accept certain rules that you don’t really like – wake up early, be on time, have your night shifts, accept the boss… There are so many things you have to accept that you don’t like. Although you wouldn’t be afraid that joining a job is some sectarian approach. And you would like to achieve some promotion in your job, but it’s not coming – so whatever you like you don’t get it; whatever you don’t like you have to accept it. Anything you try in this life works under this principle. Therefore don’t be afraid that in the spiritual practices you have to accept certain rules and you have to give up certain bad habits. This willingness is very much necessary to progress in spiritual development. 

Once I heard a very profound explanation about bhakti-yoga. Bhakti-yoga means that you isolate yourself from stupidity. And in order to achieve that goal we have to accept something which is not very easy in the beginning and we are ready to give up something which seems to be very attractive. 

This is also connected to the gunas; gunas are the basic qualities of material nature. The happiness derived from rajas, the passionate side of the world, is very attractive. It seems to be very sweet in the beginning, but later on it might turn into bitter taste. While the happiness derived from goodness, the best part of the material existence, sometimes in the beginning looks unusual, not so tasty, but later on it starts to be like life-giving nectar. Therefore while practicing this bhakti-yoga process, don’t be afraid to accept good practices which are for your benefit and don’t be afraid to give up something that is harmful in spiritual growth. I think that makes some sense. If we want to reach this goal, we should do everything favorable and we should avoid everything unfavorable in that respect. 

May I inquire from you about this? Can you tell me something that seems to be frightening at the beginning, or very unusual? 

Damodar: To repeat the holy names is strange in the beginning.

Swami Tirtha: Yes! But later on it becomes very sweet. This is a good example for something that seems to be very unusual, but if we accept it, we shall understand the deeper meanings and we shall get the taste. Anything else? 

Hayagriva: Hatha-yoga exercises.

Swami Tirtha: But we don’t perform hatha-yoga exercises. Well, actually we do perform. Sitting on a lecture for two hours in lotus or half-lotus position – this is our asana. And also we have breathing exercises – to chant our bhajans loudly. So we have all the practices of different yoga schools included in our very gentle process.  


(to be continued)

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