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English issues

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(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2013, Sofia)
 
Krishna is really a colourful personality. Many different aspects, many different engagements He has. Sometimes it is very difficult for people in general to imagine ‘What’s going to happen if I achieve my liberation? God Father is sitting there on a throne, some angels are sounding the trumpet. But what am I to do there?’ Compared to that very general understanding, according to the names you can use your imagination how many different kinds of engagements Krishna has. Again this depends on our level of consciousness. We think that the present day’s engagement is so real. And we have no idea what is real life because we think that this is real life. Nevertheless, real life and real engagements start over there. That is real life. This is a survival trip. And we think that this survival is so precious and so real. No doubt it’s got some reality; even the material sphere has a relative existence. But the spiritual existence is of a different type. This life is based on lack or need; and that life is based on surplus. Therefore here we always have to search for something, we always have to achieve something or to preserve something. Over there all these different engagements are not necessary. There our main engagement is sharing – how to distribute what we have, how to multiply the services and the engagements in divine existence. 
In order to learn that and emphasize that more and more in our understanding, we continue our readings from the book of Shrila Shridhar Maharaj. We ended with “Nothing can be sacrificed”. So, both the absolute and the relative platform should be considered and nothing can be sacrificed. 
“And one thing we must always keep in mind is that we can’t investigate all of the subtle, higher knowledge as a subjective researcher. Rather, according to the degree of our sharanagati, our surrender, the Truth will come down to make Himself known to us. We must always remember this, otherwise some spirit of imitation will be created in us. Knowledge of the higher domain is not under the jurisdiction of the intellect, and to think so is very dangerous. Intellectualism is dangerous; it will cause us to think that we have “caught the Infinite”. It will be negligence to the infinite characteristic, the infinite aspect of the Lord. He is Adhoksaja, beyond the grasp of academic research.”[1]
Here you can see the great shift of the whole method of our search. In this material world we are all trained to use our brain to understand something. Learn, study, analyze and then you will know. More or less it’s got some power over the things that are below our consciousness, that we can observe. But for something that is higher, above our present level of consciousness, it’s not really a good method. As I mentioned, if you get some sand in your fist and try to hold it, the more you try to hold it, the more it will escape from your fist. In the same way, if we use more intellectual power to try to understand, grasp the Supreme reality, it will escape. It is said, if you want to catch Shrimati Radharani, She will run away. And more you want to catch Her, more She will run away. So, this is not the method. We should distinguish between the physical sciences and metaphysical sciences. The topic and the method of the physical sciences are reserved for this field. And the metaphysical science has a different methodology and a different topic, different goal to examine. Therefore we can suggest: don’t apply one method over the other topic. That means don’t use your power of investigation over God and don’t use your faith in matter, because then it will not function. For material things: thoughts, understanding, science is good, it will help to some extent. For divine things we must apply the method of faith. 
We are limited, but the Absolute Truth is not limited. Even our small capacity to understand is not a limitation for Him. Krishna can show all His different features; even if we are blind, He can show himself. And even if we have thousands of eyes, He can hide from us. All rights reserved by Him. The Absolute Truth exists, and is able to show Himself. 
 
(to be continued)
 
1.  The Golden Staircase”, Ch.2 Harmonizing Instructions Of The Upper House, by Shrila Shridhar Maharaj

 



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(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2013, morning, Sofia)
 
(continues from the previous Friday)
 
Devotees are there to be served. Because there is one thing we have learned in our process: aradhananaṁ sarveṣaṁ viṣṇor aradhanaṁ param[1] – “From among all the different services the service of God Visnu is the highest.” Is there anything higher? 
Hayagriva: Service of the devotees. 
Swami Tirtha: Correct. Serve those who are dear to Krishna! That is even better service. If we love those who are very dear to Krishna, then this is the best service to Krishna. Therefore sadhu-sanga, or the association of the saintly devotees, is a sacrament in our understanding. Because through them, through devotees you can express your gratitude to Krishna. Bhakata-seva, parama-siddhi[2] – “Service to the devotees is the highest perfection”, right. Such a great opportunity! Therefore it was suggested that you should see everybody as a devotee around you. Because then you are saved in the holy company, and then you will have the chance to perform that service. So, this is one solution. Maybe krishna-tattva is a theoretical truth for us, but vaishnava-tattva is a practical thing. 
But this is not the only solution. Let me quote the example of Vamshidas Babaji. Have you heard about him? Most of you did not. He was a babaji, and babaji is a member of the absolutely renounced order. They haven’t any material possession. One loin-cloth and that’s it. But this babaji, Vamshidas Babaji, he had a personal possession – this was a deity of Krishna. A small, so to say, hand deity of Krishna. They had such a deep and intensive connection, that he was always holding his deity in his right hand, day and night. He was a very austere person: sometimes not sleeping for days and nights, оther times not eating for days, but there was one thing he never gave up – he was holding up his Krishna. And he was not a talkative person, but sometimes his fellow devotees heard him laughing all of a sudden or like answering some questions. Because he had a permanent conversation with his beloved Krishna. In his hand Krishna couldn’t accept a royal worship, because hardly this deity had a wrap around his body. No raja-bhoga offering, no chamaras, no decoration, nothing. But they had a personal relationship. 
So, the example of Vamshidas Babaji is another solution. If we want to establish a direct contact with Krishna, be so strong to catch on Him and never let Him go!
But it is mentioned in the shastras, in the theory that God has six types of opulence – like beauty, knowledge, power, fame and the last one is renunciation. He is renounced or independent. Independent in Krishna’s case means He is moving fast. As He doesn’t come at the expected moment and He is ready to come when He is not expected, He is very easy to leave when unexpected as well, because He is free. He likes His freedom and many times He escapes from us. 
Then what to do? Once a very dedicated devotee was thinking about this: ‘Who can stop Krishna from running away?’ Nobody, because He is free. He is God. How can you stop God from doing this or that? How can you force Him to do this or that? No way! He is independent. ‘Or better we take away His freedom. Better we put Him in a jail. Because from a jail He cannot escape. So, I will turn my heart into a jail and I will put the chains of my love on the hands and legs of Krishna. I will put Him in the dungeon of my heart, so that He can never escape.’ You see there are many, many different options how to turn that theoretical truth into a practical reality for us. Try! If there is a question, there is an answer. 
So, please try to go beyond the senses. This beautiful prayer will help you. Take the holy name with you and pray not only when you are in trouble. That’s true, if you pray when you are in trouble, when you share your trouble with God or with vaishnava, then it will diminish. But pray also when you are happy, because then it will multiply. If you share your happiness, it will multiply. 
 
1. Padma Purana
2. Sharanagati by Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Song 3 Suddha Bhakata Carana Renu 


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(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2013, morning, Sofia)
 
Question of Mahabhava: We all know that in this material world the love of Krishna is (represented) like a distorted reflection, yet for me, and I am speaking about myself only, the love of Krishna is something abstract. When I am trying to compare it with people relationship, I feel it’s very distant, because I can’t sit with Him at one table, or we can’t walk, we can’t discuss. 
Swami Tirtha: I am surprised a little bit, but go on. 
Mahabhava: Not that I expect Him to come at that very minute. But even if you close and chant all day and night, in the evening you will take dinner alone again. You can’t interact with Him face to face. At least I can’t do it. And this is very unsatisfactory, because we know that we have to control our senses, but we don’t have this whole hearted full communication and association of Krishna. 
Swami Tirtha: What to do? 
Mahabhava: That’s my question. 
Swami Tirtha: That’s a very sad story. We all attend the school of divine love. Some are in the first grade, others in higher grades. Still others are the teachers in the same school, yet they also attend the same school. Because this is the best school ever! And everything depends on elevation of our consciousness. As it was mentioned in the book we read: “My, God! My consciousness is so low! I was focusing on such insignificant things.”[1] If we can raise our vision, then theory will become a practical thing for us. Theoretical God, Truth, will become a daily exchange for us. 
So, this is one solution of this problem – we should come closer and closer to the reality of Krishna. Sometimes we expect that He comes in the very intensive meditation moments, when we feel like good devotees. But therefore I said in a half jolly way that you expect, you expect, but He doesn’t come! While you experience some difficulties or fall down, and then you feel the extended hand of God, then you feel the consolation of Krishna. Because He is a tricky guy. He comes in the unexpected moments, not when you expect Him. ‘Today I have prepared everything nicely according to the expectations, as it is written in the books. Now I am a good bhakta.’ You wait, wait, wait, but He doesn’t come. 
Once, the only brahmachari in the ashram at that time was working in the rose garden. So, every day he came back with his shirt full of roses. You know, in the sleeves, inside the shirt – he came with a big belly full of roses. And we were expecting Gurudev. Just once in a lifetime we had the opportunity to have three hundred or more rose buds. And we could make such a long garland that it was sweeping the earth. Because we were expecting Gurudev to come. And what did happen? He didn’t come! Practically that was the biggest garland in my life! And he didn’t come. And of course, when we don’t have even one little petal of flower – he will come! When we are much unprepared to accept him. It is not only flowers we don’t have, but there is no bhoga in the ashram, and there is no money in the pocket. Guru comes in such a moment – when you don’t expect. When you didn’t arrange everything nicely as it should be. Other times when Gurudev came, I don’t know how it happened, but every time halva was for the prasadam. We started to prepare halva once in half a year; that was for sure that he would come in the evening. And then he starts to chastise us: “Ah, again halva! Every time you eat halva! Can you explain it?” “No, Gurudev! It is once a year!” 
And as the good servants of Krishna come in the unexpected moments, we shouldn’t expect that their Lord will come in the expected moment. Because these servants learn from Him and follow Him. 
But actually you are correct, for most of us love of Godhead is a kind of theoretical truth. Therefore Krishna sends the sadhus who come closer to us. Through them we can learn something about practical service, because love is equal to service. And that also means that service is equal to love. Bhakti is a very practical thing, because if we cannot serve God directly, then He sends us His devotee, whom we can serve directly. With them we can eat together, with them we can sing together, with them we can play football. 
Just like once Gurudev invited us to play football. I was in the other group, of course, and I hope he doesn’t take it as an offense, but he was not very good at football. Fortunately enough, I am also not a good player. Nevertheless our group was stronger than his group. So, by every human calculation, we should have won over his football team. But you know, how can you win against your spiritual master?! We felt very uneasy, and then a good solution came: we let them win. 
But for example he was very good at chess. So, sometimes guru is ready to manifest a very human side, yet never forget who he is. This depends on us. If a disciple is elevated, then he is ready to enter the dance, if he is invited by his master. But he will never forget who started the dance. 
 
(to be continued)
 
1.  The Golden Staircase, Ch.1 Seeing Beyond The Perception Of The Senses, by Shrila Shridhar Maharaj
 

 



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(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2013, morning, Sofia)
 
(continues from the previous Friday)
 
We should come to the platform of the light, of the soul. What does it mean? That below that level everything is darkness. We can also say: if you see any light, if you perceive any light in your body, in your mental capacities – this is due to the presence of the soul. Have you seen the eyes of any human being? There is shine in the eyes that captivates us. Why there is shine in the eyes of any person? Because there is the soul inside. If you look into the left eye of a person, you can see the atman. If you look into the right eye of a person, you can see Param-atman. Because both are represented. One is atman, the other is Param-atman, the soul and the Supersoul. This is why we like to look into the eyes of people. 
Scientists have made some psychological tests, tracking the eye of a person when observing another person’s face. Around the hair and the ears there are very few tracks; bad news for the hairdressers. But black focus around the eyes! If you try to keep a track when scanning around the face, everything is focused deeply around the eyes. Why? Because we perceive some essential vibration there. First this is like a sensual, perceived through the senses. But actually this is a way to go beyond the sensual perception. Have you ever felt something uneasy in your back, and when you turned, you saw that somebody is gazing at you? Because the energy is coming from there. Or do you remember when your spiritual master was gazing at you, piercing you? Because some energy is coming from there. There are some schools which appreciate the vision of the master so much, that they are striving for achieving that vision. 
Therefore they say that the eye is the mirror of the soul. This is a very subtle gate of the body. This is an entrance and an exit also. Information is coming in and power is going out. So, be careful what you are observing and be careful how you look at others. 
And if the eye is the mirror of the soul, do you know the second part of this parallel? The face is the mirror of your mind. Your eyes are the mirror of your soul and the face is the mirror of your mind. And it is said after forty you are responsible for your face. Before you are young and it doesn’t matter. But after that you have to come to a certain level of purity of mind – then your face will shine that purity. 
So, the light is inside. Therefore we want to see, we want to look into the eyes of others – because there we can see the presence of the soul. Wherever there is light, it is due to the presence of the spiritual light. 
“If in any way, by the soul’s introspection you can perceive the soul, then whatever value you had assigned to this whole material manifestation will turn into ashes. You will see, “My real identification is here within! It is so wonderful, and valuable, and independent of all the hallucinations I was suffering from by coming in contact with the external world. The inner domain is so high, and my consciousness was focused so low, on such nasty things.” That is the highest way to control one’s senses, one’s charm for the world, for wealth, women, and popularity”.[1]
Yet, this is not rejecting the objects of the world; our vision is life-positive, life pro. But we should be intelligent enough to see what is limited and thirsty enough to search for what is unlimited. 
Question of Dragi: I couldn’t understand from this lecture what the highest way of controlling the senses is. And if you allow me, I want to ask one personal question. If a person is in a temporary state and he practices a meditational yoga which is unstable, what is the exit? 
Swami Tirtha: Concerning the first part of your question: what is the solution, or what is the best control; actually it was said: come to the spiritual platform. Because from the spiritual platform we can see everything nicely and we can control everything nicely. Because we have to control the impulses of the senses, of the different sense objects and also the impulses of the inner, mental capacities. So, the best is not the individual technique, but a general victory: come to the spiritual platform. And how to come to the spiritual platform?  How to achieve some spiritual realization? Our suggested process is chanting the holy names. Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare. Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. If we chant in the proper mood, in the proper dedication, a subtle change will start in our system. This is like a talk to Krishna, to God. And also it’s a vibration. Actually our body is made up of different wave lengths of vibrations. So, if we harmonize our body with the transcendental vibration, it will have a very positive effect. This is the answer to your second question also – what is the solution, or what the exit from the complications of life is – this is the spiritual solution. 
So, please try to go beyond the senses. This beautiful prayer will help you. Take the holy name with you and pray not only when you are in trouble. That’s true, if you pray when you are in trouble, when you share your trouble with God or with vaishnava, then it will diminish. But pray also when you are happy, because if you share your happiness, it will multiply.     
 
1. The Golden Staircase, Ch.1 Seeing Beyond The Perception Of The Senses, by Shrila Shridhar Maharaj

 



Dec

26

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(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2013, morning, Sofia)
 
(continues from the previous Friday)
 
Atman, another Sanskrit word, means the essence of something. Like the soul is the essence and the body is the cover. So, we can say that the soul is atman, the essence. Our most important part is our soul. Better we say, we are this important part. We are the soul. Atman is like an ontological explanation or definition of our individual existence. This is our essential part, this is our essential being. Another definition of our eternal part is jiva. Jiva is the life principle. So, we can say that the living entity is the jiva. It is this you can see as the functional definition of ourselves. 
One was the original, theoretical definition – that is atman, it is something essential. The second is the functional definition – jiva, we are living. We are not dead matter but living spirit. And the third definition of ourselves is brahman – spirit, not matter. This is like a qualitative definition. And if there is brahman, or spiritual substance, then there is a Supreme Brahman, Supreme entity, spiritual entity. That is called Para-Brahman – the Supreme Brahman, the Supreme spiritual substance. If there is atman, our essential part is atman, there is Param-Atman, the Supreme essential being. 
But don’t lose your way in the jungle of Sanskrit expressions. If we want to put it very simply: there is human being, and there is God. You and Him. And real religion is the connection between these two. Right, it’s very simple. 
So, if you are an elevated spiritual personality, even if somebody makes a very neutral remark about the weather – which is a general discussion when you have nothing to discuss, right – then you can come with some very high answer. And please, try next time when your friend or your colleague says: “Hey, today it looks like very hot!” tell them: “Don’t pay too much attention to this, it will come and go!” Just look at their face! And then you can go on explaining what you have learned. 
If we come to the spiritual understanding of our own existence, then this is a revolutionary change of understanding ourselves, understanding the world and catching the living and loving connection with the Supreme. Compared to that perfect, eternal platform anything that we can perceive here becomes very insignificant. We are not rejecting or neglecting the objects and the elements of the world, but we have to see them from a proper perspective. They will come and go. Therefore they are not of the most importance. 
“Presently the soul is captivated by a great many things which produce mean (basic) consciousness, but the solution is given in Bhagavad-gita, how we can achieve control of our senses and gain control over the impulses of our mind.” This is not only external impulses that come to us, but internal impulses also. “It is recommended there that step by step we try to rise up to the soul’s plane, eliminating the lower planes: first the field of experience of the senses; then the mental field, the impulses which work through the senses; then the intellect – that which drives the mental tendency – and crossing those, that we try to find that point of light which is the soul”.[1]
So, this tells about the basic levels of the human constitution. One is the bodily, the physical side. The other is the mental, emotional side. The third one is the intellectual, which is very close to the mental. And ultimately there is the spiritual identity. According to our level of consciousness we identify ourselves on these different platforms. Many times we think that we are the bodies. If somebody kicks you, you will immediately feel that you are the body. Very basic impulse – very basic reaction. If somebody flatters you with nice words, then you will react on your mental platform, you will feel very satisfied: ‘Yes, Yes!’. While if you meet a spiritual person, he will treat you spiritually. Sometimes we feel uneasy: ‘Wow, it’s very unusual!’ But if we are patient enough, we shall be able to come to that platform. And from that platform anything less is insignificant. Because it will come and go. While the spiritual, will it go?
Answers: No. 
Swami Tirtha: And will it come? 
Answers: Yes!
Swami Tirtha: This is our hope and expectation. You know the gopis live in expectation for eternity. So it might come, it might not come; but that’s a different topic. 
 
(to be continued)
 
1. The Golden Staircase, Ch.1 Seeing Beyond The Perception Of The Senses, by Shrila Shridhar Maharaj

 



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(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2013, morning, Sofia)
 
We are ultimately searching for the feelings, for the divine presence. Therefore in order to understand the process better, we have to study the teachings of the great ones. We shall read from this very beautiful book The Golden Staircase from Shrila Bhakti Rakshak Shridhar Dev Goswami Maharaj. The Chapter is entitled “Seeing beyond the Perception of the Senses”. 
Because actually we perceive everything with our senses. Yet we know that we are searching for something beyond the senses. It is very beautiful what we are able to see, but it is more beautiful what we cannot see. It is very important what we can hear, but it is more important what we cannot hear physically. It is very important what we can think, but it is much more important what is beyond our thinking capacity. Therefore we have to go beyond the perception of the senses. 
This is a discussion, questions and answers, by this very much respected teacher and some devotees around him. One devotee says: “Now the weather is starting to become hot!”[1] So, imagine yourself: you are sitting in front of a great saint and this is all what you can say: “Oh, it’s getting hot!” But the level of the question doesn’t limit the capacities of the person to answer. Shridhar Maharaj says: “We should not pay too much attention to that. It will come and go, it will come and go.” 
And even if he wouldn’t add anything more, from this we should understand a very important teaching. Because actually whatever question, whatever problem you might share with the higher authority, he will give the same answer: “Don’t pay too much attention to this! It will come and go.” 
And then there is a quotation from Shrimad Bhagavad Gita: matra-sparsas tu kaunteya/ sitosna-sukha-duhkha-dah/ agamapayino ‘nityas/ tams titiksasva bharata – “O son of Kunti, only the engagement of the senses with their objects gives rise to the sensations of cold, heat, pleasure, and pain. But these effects are temporary; they come and go. Therefore, O Bharata, you are to endure them.”.[2]
Regarding this verse of the Bhagavad-gita, one scholar, a Mr. Chatterjee, has explained this Sanskrit word matra to mean “what is measured by our senses, the result of our senses’ measurement.” In this way, the word matra comes near to the word ‘matter,’ it comes to mean matter or the world of material comfort. There are so many different views of the world. An ordinary man’s estimation of the world and a scientist’s estimation are different. An astronomer’s estimation of the world is of another type, the politician’s view is something else, the socialist’s, the humanist’s, the humanitarian’s views – they are all different. But if we can come to the plane of the soul – even the lowest conception of what is the real inner self – that will help us, and there will be a revolutionary change in our lives. All the things of this world will then seem to be trash, of no value, empty.”
So, beware! So far we are happy because we are engaged by the matter and then we feel more or less happy. At least engaged. But once you get a higher taste, you will not find your happiness on the lower platforms. Sorry to disillusion you! At first you might think that this is a loss. But I tell you, this is a gain. Because that higher taste will help us to adjust our vision properly. 
And why Shridhar Maharaj says that “Everything that you perceive will become meaningless.”? Because actually this world is very impermanent, very temporary. Whatever achievements, whatever security we have in this world, we shall lose it. Although we are searching for stability and protection, sooner or later we shall lose it. Because as we’ve discussed recently, material things have a beginning and have an end. Therefore if we want to find real treasures, we have to apply a proper method. Instead of material things we should search for spiritual things. It is said: if we come to the atman platform, then it will help us to adjust properly. 
 
(to be continued)
 
1. The Golden Staircase, Ch.1 Seeing Beyond The Perception Of The Senses, by Shrila Shridhar Maharaj
2. Bhagavad Gita, 2.14

 



Havan_New

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2013, evening, Sofia)
 
Question of Kripadham: You were telling the story of Dhruva Maharaja and it was said that following some renunciation finally he got the darshan of Vishnu. We know that it’s not something rare in the shastra: if somebody is praying very much, Vishnu is appearing. And if somebody is a demon, he is praying to Brahma and Brahma is appearing. But nowhere is mentioned what we should do to achieve the darshan of Krishna or of Radharani. It’s even not recommended. My question is, is there such a way to provoke Radharani to appear directly, or She is appearing indirectly? 
Swami Tirtha: Yes, yes! There is way. Glorify Krishna! She will come and kick you in the ass. 
Kripadham: What should we do to have this blessing? 
Swami Tirtha: Krishna says in the Gita that “Simply by renunciation you cannot achieve perfection”[1]. Although we know that by renunciation we can achieve moksha; then what is the perfection described by Him, if it is something else than moksha? There must be a higher secret, a higher achievement. The perfection hinted at by Krishna in this verse is something beyond. So, that is devotional fulfillment, devotional meeting. Therefore to meet Krishna, or Radha, or the Divine Couple a very special type of tapasya must be made. Simple torture of the body is not enough. Although don’t forget that Vasudeva and Devaki were performing tapas and meditation also to achieve the blessings that God comes as their son. But have you read, have you ever heard that Yashoda and Nanda Baba were doing any tapasya? So, there are different levels, different layers of reality. There’s one level you can reach by renunciation, but there are certain levels which are beyond the capacity of renunciation. 
Then what kind of sacrifice do we have to make in order that Krishna and Radharani appear? This special sacrifice is sanctioned, stressed for the Kali-yuga and this is the sacrifice of the holy name. Harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha.[2] No other way to reach your goal. So, sankirtan is yajna, sankirtan is a sacrifice. Just like in the sacrificial fire we burn ghee and grains, and symbolically you burn your karma – in the same way in the flames of sankirtan we also burn up everything that is preventing us from entering. This is the phase of purification, we can say sadhana-bhakti – when you chant like a rule, like a strict given spiritual practice. But when we can bring our loving offerings to this sacrificial fire of the holy name, then this is not the elementary chanting for purification, but a glorification of the Divine Couple. 
And how to satisfy this fire, which was lighted by Them? We have to use the best food for this fire. And the best firewood for this is ourselves. And what is the ghee that will help this fire to gain more flames? This is our love. So, your prana is the firewood and your prema is the ghee. And then the real sacrifice of the holy names will manifest. Therefore hundreds of times our acharyas remind us: it’s not the empty words that you should repeat, it’s not a lip-deep transaction. Deeply, deeply we have to dedicate ourselves. 
And if we are waiting for entering the next step of our spiritual life – because this is a gradual process of coming closer and closer to some essential points – then my humble suggestion is: try to focus more on your spiritual practices. 
 
1. Bhagavad Gita 3.4
2. Chaitaya Charitamrita, Madhya 6.242

 

 



Dec

6

manjari

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2013, evening, Sofia)

 

Question of Hayagriva: How should we concentrate on Shrimati Radharani? Because Krishna is described in details, we know something about His qualities, something about His pastimes, but Shrimati Radharani is a little bit hidden. What should be our mood? 

Swami Tirtha: Well, find those for whom Shrimati Radharani is not hidden. Try to ask from them, try to learn from them. 

But why She is hidden? Because this is the mystic side of our religion. Actually Mahaprabhu gave the love mysticism, the mystic path of divine love. And mystic means hidden, not open. Although His program, His campaign, so to say, is an open campaign: “Anybody come, join the holy names!” Yet, the essential part is reserved. But actually, practically all the gosvamis are writing about Her, or this intimate connection – bhaava

This is one possibility – that you search for devotees of Radhika. But if you have not much chance for that, even then you are not excluded from this. Because then you will search for Krishna, right. First we find Shri Guru and we follow dharma, we follow the teachings and rules, and regulations, and we are purified. And finally, ultimately you meet Krishna. You say: “My, dear Lord, I am here!” But as we are well trained devotees, we shall have a question to Him. “How can I serve You?” It’s not: “Please give me this, give me that. Finally I am here! So, now it’s Your turn”. No, we are well educated vaishnavas, so “How can I serve you, my Lord?” But then you will see that the omniscient God will say: “I don’t know! I have no idea about serving Myself. If you want to learn about this, I have a proper guide for you.” And then He will tell you: “Go to Shrimati Radharani! She knows everything about My service.”

So, ultimately you will meet Her. Either this way, or that way, we shall meet the servants of God. This is the principle. We are not searching for God Himself, but we are searching for the service of God and the servants of God. 

Again you can see: such a refined method, such a refined structure. Most of the religions, practically all other religions search for God. But we search for the pure servants of God. Because we know that the Supreme is always with them. This is the point. So, again you can see how subtle, how refined this whole process is. Therefore if we meet a pure devotee – that is the holy place for us. If he is telling about the price of the cement, because he is building a temple – this is pure krishna-katha for us. Because he is focused, and if I am focused on him, then I am focused on his focus. This is the parampara system. 

Shrimati Radharani, She is also very tricky, and She is also not an easy character. She is like a dominating lady. So, therefore you, Bulgarian ladies, are I think very good representatives. And Her feet, Her soles are very nicely decorated. Very nice figures are painted on Her soles. And you know the gopis, they also want to be eligible for special services. And for special services we need special marks on our bodies. Therefore we put the tilaka if we do some puja. Or in some other cases devotees have some prints, like stamps and they put the holy names on their forehead. But for special type of services the same patterns that are described on Radharani’s soles are most beneficial. 

Yet how to achieve those patterns? How to have them on our bodies? I mean not on our bodies, but this is the meditation of the gopis: ‘How can I obtain the same patterns?’ So, when they serve Shrimati Radharani in a very nice way, combing Her hair, others are massaging Her with some scented oils, others are playing the lute just to create a perfect environment, but one of the gopis is meditating not on how to enhance this beautiful environment, but ‘I need that print. How can I achieve that print?’ Radharani is in a very reserved mood and now She is a little angry at Krishna, because again He was naughty. Otherwise She is in a very relaxed mood, all the gopis try to pacify Her. Then this friend starts to glorify Krishna. Shrimati Radharani is dreaming and relaxing and our gopi is positioned not by Her head, but by Her feet. And when Radharani hears the name ‘Krishna’, She jerks and all of a sudden the soles of Her feet are pressed on the forehead of this gopi. Radharani says: “Sakhi, what did you say?”, kicking her by the feet. And then our gopi says: “Oh, what a blessing! Finally I have this special mark on my forehead! This makes me an adhikari! Adhikarini! Now I am eligible for a special service.”

But one thing is for sure – it’s not enough to read, or to hear, or to repeat some nice stories; we have to develop the mood. Because in Ganga’s water, it’s not the water that will purify you. It’s the divine element that purifies.



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(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2013, evening, Sofia)
 
(continues from the previous Friday)
 
“Question: “It is said there are five principles for Bhakti: associating with devotees, chanting Harinama, hearing Srimad Bhagavatam, worshiping Tulasi, and residing in the holy Dhama. In regard to residing in the Dhama, is that for the general devotees, or just especially fortunate, or more advanced devotees?”[1]
So, who can live in a holy place? The beginner, the middle stage, or the elevated person? Three types of devotees were mentioned: kanishtha-adhikari is the beginner, the middle stage is madhyama and the highest stage is uttama. And adhikari is a very important expression. Adhikari means an eligible person, empowered to do certain service. Therefore the grihastha prabhus are usually called ‘this and this das prabhu adhikari’. Because adhikari means you are empowered to practice, you are empowered to do, you are empowered to help others. So, kanishtha means beginner, but he is also empowered to do something. Maybe he doesn’t understand too much, not so much experience. But this is good, to be a kanishtha-adhikari is good, it’s not bad. Because everybody has to start somewhere. You cannot start as a fully accomplished maha-bhagavata babaji. We start somewhere. But we have our direction, we have our goal. So, this is good. 
Yet we have to pay respect to those, who are ahead of us. And that is the madhyama. Madhyama, the middle stage devotee, is such a person who can distinguish: ‘He is even more elevated than me; he is very friendly to me; and I can help that person’. And of madhyama you might think: ‘Oh, madhyama is only a middle stage.’ But no, madhyama is very high. Madhyama-adhikari is already able to help others. 
And ultimately on the top there is uttama-adhikari, practically perfected devotee. And it is suggested that we should find uttama-adhikari as our guide. But an uttama-adhikari will not enter that service. Because he says: “Oh, I am fully satisfied with sitting here and chanting my rounds, and living in my meditation. Please, don’t bother me!” So, guru, or guide, usually acts on the middle platform. It’s not necessary to think that he is on the madhyama platform, but he acts on the madhyama platform. 
Therefore it is said that a madhyama person can already live in a holy place. That also means if you turn your home into a holy place and you live there – this is a madhyama feature. This is not the only symptom of madhyama, but proper understanding. And here again something very important is given – “religion means proper adjustment”. So please, try to remember this. Because proper adjustment is not a flexible backbone. It is not that you have no set of values. It doesn’t mean that any wind can blow you here and there. But proper adjustment means that you can see what is what, who is who. And also that you can apply the theory that you have learned in the practical life. So, all these questions must be answered: “Who am I? Why am I here? Why am I troubled? What is the real purpose?” Actually these are the symptoms of a madhyama-adhikari.
And Sanatana Goswami as the acharya of sambandha-jnana, or belonging to God, to the proper divine truth, he asks these questions from Mahaprabhu: “Who am I ultimately? And why these material conditions disturb me?” and then Mahaprabhu gave the very important answer, describing the original position of the soul. What was that?
Hayagriva: Jivera ‘svarupa’ haya – krsnera ‘nitya-dasa’. 
Swami Tirtha: Yes, krishnera tatastha-shakti bhedabheda-prakasha.[2] So, the original position of the soul – you, living entity – is that you belong to Krishna, you are living shakti, energy of the Supreme. Svarupa, your svarupa, your original form is that you belong to Him as energy. Krishnera ‘nitya-dasa’ – Krishna’s eternal servant. Krishnera tatastha-shakti – you belong to the tatastha-shakti; bheda abheda-prakasha’ – a kind of emanation, which is simultaneously similar to and different from the Lord. 
So, if you are troubled by the material environment, you should remember this answer. ‘I am Krishna’s energy – little similar to Him and more different from Him. And my original position is to do something about this connection.’ And then you will have a different vision of the previous problems. 
 
1. The Golden staircase, Ch.  2  Harmonizing Instructions Of The Upper House , by Shrila Shridhar Maharaj
2.  Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 20.108


ремса

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2013, evening, Sofia)
 
(continues from the previous Friday)
 
“Question: “It is said there are five principles for Bhakti: associating with devotees, chanting Harinama, hearing Srimad Bhagavatam, worshiping Tulasi, and residing in the holy Dhama. In regard to residing in the Dhama, is that for the general devotees, or just especially fortunate, or more advanced devotees?”
These are the five main practices of our process: sadhu-sanga, nama-kirtan, bhagavad-shravan, shri murti shradaya-seva and mathura-vas[1]. So, living in a holy place – to whom is it for? 
Shrila Shridhar Maharaj says: “Generally it is meant for madhyama-adhikari devotees – those who can discriminate. Kanistha-adhikaris cannot differentiate between the various positions of different personalities – who is advanced, who is neutral, who is envious. But “religion means proper adjustment” – our Guru Maharaj used to say this now and then, and that “proper adjustment” requires sambandha-jnana, knowing what is what. Then one’s service will come accordingly, and one’s necessity, one’s destination, will be established from that. Sanatana Goswami is the acharya of sambandha-jnana. 
“Who am I? Where am I? What am I?” All these questions – “Why am I troubled? What is the real purpose of my life?” – are answered when there is proper adjustment with the Absolute and the relative. Nothing can be sacrificed.” [2]
In order to help understand it better, we can see from this description that there are some essential points as spiritual practices. Actually this is what I was thinking yesterday. May I have a question to you? If you come here, what is the message; is there any benefit that you can take with you?
Answers: Yes. Every time.
Swami Tirtha: That’s good, because I was wondering if it helps people, or not? 
Answer: It helps.
Swami Tirtha: Thank you! It pacifies my heart. And we should be able somehow to express ourselves in the spiritual sense. So, if we gain something by visiting the ashram, then it’s a natural thing that we give a feedback. What is our feedback? We come again. Or next time we shall give the lecture. Somehow we start to be part of this exchange. Something is coming from the divine source and reflected on us, and then we reflect it back. 
Actually these are five main principles and practices that we can do. If we want to practice this bhakti-yoga, these are the five chances: chant the names, associate with the devotees, listen to the teachings, worship and live in a holy place. Practically almost everything can be done by yourself. If you create a holy place from your home by establishing an altar which is like an embassy of the divine sphere, then you can turn your home into a holy place. If you turn on your computer and you listen to the Bhagavata lectures, or you chant the holy names at home, offer your flower and incense to God. But there’s one thing you cannot really do at your home – this is the association with the devotees. Because at home only we live; it’s only me, myself. Of course, you are very fortunate if you live with your husbands and wives, and families who are also devotees. But then this is a sadhu-sanga, this is not an ordinary family. Nevertheless if we come to the ashram, we shall be drawn into some service. “Oh, so nice that you came! Can you help me a little?” By coming closer we can be part of this exchange. So if you want to practice – please, pay attention to these five principles!  
 
(to be continued)
 
1. Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.22.128.
2. The Golden staircase, Ch. 2 Harmonizing Instructions Of The Upper House , by Shrila Shridhar Maharaj