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English issues

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 06.05.2017 morning, Rila)

(continues from the previous Friday)

 “Destiny fixed the time for Maharaja Bharata’s enjoyment of material opulence at one thousand times ten thousand years.” Destiny. If you calculate your lifetime, how many minutes of enjoinment of material opulence have you had? But even that period was finished: “When that period was finished he retired from family life and divided the wealth he had received from his forefathers among his sons. He left his paternal home, the reservoir of all opulence, and started for Pulaha-ashrama, which is situated in Haridwar. The shalagrama-shilas are obtainable there. At Pulaha-ashrama, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Hari, out of His transcendental affection for His devotee, becomes visible to His devotee, satisfying His devotee’s desires. In Pulaha-ashrama is the Gandaki River, which is the best of all rivers. The shalagrama-shilas, the marble pebbles, purify all those places. On each and every marble pebble, up and down, circles like navels are visible.”[1]

This is something interesting – God coming as a stone. Sometimes you think that you can make an image and in this way you can create your God. But it’s not enough. This is called idol worship – if it is according to your desire, your artistic experience. But when He wants to come, He can reveal Himself in any form. There are very special natural forms respected as direct representatives of God Supreme. Like for example if you go to the upper Ganges and you search out the pebbles on the shore, they say that practically any type of little stone you find, if there is a white circle going around, it is just like directly Krishna. Or this shalagrama is a very powerful representation of Lord Vishnu, this is His stone, always connected with His chakra. So this navel that is mentioned here, it’s practically a chakra. And also Shiva appears in stone lingam form. So it looks like everybody wants to show – to call your attention: “Hey, I am here.”

“In the gardens of Pulaha-ashrama, Maharaja Bharata lived alone and collected a variety of flowers, twigs and tulasi leaves. He also collected the water of the Gandaki River, as well as various roots, fruits and bulbs. With these he offered food to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vasudeva, and, worshiping Him, he remained satisfied. In this way his heart was completely uncontaminated, and he did not have the least desire for material enjoyment. All material desires vanished. In this steady position, he felt full satisfaction and was situated in devotional service.”[2]

So, this is like a fixed achievement of spiritual practices. Focused attention, and the result is full satisfaction. The goals and the means have exchanged their position today. People consider satisfaction a goal. Sorry, this is a result of something else. So, the means is to worship and the result is satisfaction. It’s not that the goal is satisfaction, because in this way you will never reach.

“That most exalted devotee, Maharaja Bharata, in this way engaged constantly in the devotional service of the Lord. Naturally his love for Vasudeva, Krishna, increased more and more and melted his heart. Consequently he gradually lost all attachment for regulative duties). The hairs of his body stood on end, and all the ecstatic bodily symptoms were manifest. Tears flowed from his eyes, so much so that he could not see anything. Thus he constantly meditated on the reddish lotus feet of the Lord. At that time, his heart, which was like a lake, was filled with the water of ecstatic love. When his mind was immersed in that lake, he even forgot the regulative service to the Lord. Maharaja Bharata appeared very beautiful. He had a wealth of curly hair on his head, which was wet from bathing three times daily. He dressed in a deerskin. He worshiped Lord Narayana, whose body was composed of golden effulgence and who resided within the sun. Maharaja Bharata worshiped Lord Narayana by chanting the hymns given in the Rig Veda, and he recited the following verse as the sun rose. “The Supreme Personality of Godhead is situated in pure goodness. He illuminates the entire universe and bestows all benedictions upon His devotees. The Lord has created this universe from His own spiritual potency. According to His desire, the Lord entered this universe as the Supersoul, and by virtue of His different potencies He is maintaining all living entities desiring material enjoyment. Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto the Lord, who is the giver of intelligence.”[3]

So, remember that the sun is the loving, caring eye of the Supreme over us. And just like the rising sun illuminates the whole universe, in the same way the divine dedication with the rays of consciousness illuminates the whole body. Here we have received some instructions concerning the joy and happiness of life. Even a very prolonged enjoinment will finish, but the inner satisfaction of the heart comes from the loving worship of the Supreme.

[1] Shrimad Bhagavatam 5.7.8-10

[2] Shrimad Bhagavatam 5.7.11

[3] Shrimad Bhagavatam 5.7.12-14



(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 06.05.2017 morning, Rila)

(continues from the previous Friday)

 “Yogis meditate upon the localized Paramatma situated in the heart, gyanis worship the impersonal Brahman as the Supreme Absolute Truth, and devotees worship Vasudeva, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose transcendental body is described in the shastras. His body is decorated with the Shrivatsa, the Kaustubha jewel and a flower garland, and His hands hold a conchshell, disc, club and lotus flower. Devotees like Narada always think of Him within their hearts.”[1]

Let’s stop for a while here. What is Brahman? We can say that Brahman is the unified, continuous field of consciousness – the united principle of existence. The main slogan of this realization of unified existence is “everything is one, all are one, everything is the same”. But how to apply that principle if you see some anomaly? Because due to this conviction you should say that ‘there is no right or wrong, there is no good or bad – everything is the same. No need for a personal aspect because we cannot ultimately know if such thing exists; we know that existence exists, but we shouldn’t go further’.

Yet, my dear ones, when your child is sick, are you satisfied with such a message? “Oh, everything is one. Don’t take it serious, this is just a ripple on the surface of the ocean”. Wait a minute! We cannot tolerate such an answer. It’s no answer for us. It’s offensively theoretical. And it doesn’t satisfy even the mind or the intellect, because it’s impossible to apply that. What to speak of the satisfaction of the heart. You can break your mind to understand and to try to apply this principle, but it’s practically impossible. So, in the experience of daily life theories are usually broken. We need such a theory which is applicable, which we can experience. How can you experience that there is nothing? And who says “there is nothing”? You know, it’s quite difficult to put it together. Or if you say “everything is one” – then who is speaking?

Anyway, the different mentalities will qualify your fate and your destination. Therefore this classification is given: those who theoretically try to understand life, they will perceive this unified field of consciousness, Brahman. No problem, it’s there. Yogis who want to meditate, they want to perceive this divine connection through the Paramatma heart connection. But devotees, who want to pray for their children, they like Vasudeva, or Govinda, or Madhava, or all the other friends, beloved ones, superiors and subordinates of that divine rasic theatre.

(to be continued)

[1] Shrimad Bhagavatam 5.7.7



(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 06.05.2017 morning, Rila)

(continues from the previous Friday)

 “With great faith King Bharata performed various kinds of sacrifice. Sometimes these sacrifices were performed completely and sometimes partially. In any case, in all the sacrifices the regulations of chaturhotra – the four fire sacrifices – were strictly followed. In this way Bharata Maharaja worshiped the Supreme Personality of Godhead. After performing the preliminaries of various sacrifices, Maharaja Bharata offered the results in the name of religion to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vasudeva. In other words, he performed all the yagyas for the satisfaction of Lord Vasudeva, Krishna. Maharaja Bharata thought that since the demigods were different parts of Vasudeva’s body, He controls those who are explained in the Vedic mantras. By thinking in this way, Maharaja Bharata was freed from all material contamination, such as attachment, lust and greed. When the priests were about to offer the sacrificial ingredients into the fire, Maharaja Bharata expertly understood how the offering made to different demigods was simply an offering to the different limbs of the Lord.”[1]

So, Bharata Maharaj had the vision that the different personalities invoked by the mantras were like designated parts of the Supreme. It is very instructive, because beyond the external varieties we need to see the inner essence. During one lifetime we do multiple varieties of activities. But nevertheless one same spirit should be there – that whatever we do should be a gentle and loving offering to the Supreme. Dedication is not restricted only to the temple room. And when you exit, it’s strictly forbidden to perform the same activities – no. Try to bring the spirit with you. But beware the direction. It’s not that you bring the external spirit into the temple, but rather bring this spirit to the world.

A mantra – it’s very important – is defined by certain factors, certain features. For example, one aspect is the rishi-muni who transfers that mantra, who is like the protector and the main authority on that special mantra. Then there is the aspect of the Supreme invoked in the mantra. Then there is the meaning; then there is the result of the mantra. So, many different aspects are there. Therefore a mantra is also like an injection. Maybe first we don’t understand all the different aspects and depths of the mantras we chant. But if we start to practice, they will reveal. So, properly chanting mantras is not an intellectual effort. It’s an invitation to the Supreme. One B.B. Tirtha Maharaj said: “If you say Hare Krishna, this is like an invitation on your door, on the entrance: ‘Welcome’. So, don’t be surprised if somebody will knock on your door.” This is it: your spiritual practice is an invitation to the divinity. It will reveal, it will bring the guest.

“For instance, Indra is the arm of the Supreme Lord, and Surya [the sun] is His eye. Thus Maharaja Bharata considered that the oblations offered to the different demigods were actually offered unto the different limbs of Lord Vasudeva”. In this way, being purified by ritualistic sacrifices, the heart of Maharaja Bharata was completely uncontaminated. His devotional service unto Vasudeva, Lord Krishna, increased day after day. Lord Krishna, the son of Vasudeva, is the original Personality of Godhead manifest as the Supersoul [Paramatma] as well as the impersonal Brahman”.[2]

Here, due to this proper performance of sacrifices the heart is purified. And what happened? His devotion was growing day by day. So, from this we can judge ourselves. If you feel that your devotion is growing day by day, then you can conclude that ‘my heart is purified totally’. If you don’t feel that your devotion grows day by day, then you need to perform more spiritual activities. Because the nature of material things is degradation. Entropy it’s called – that everything falls apart. Kali Yuga in a scientific word is entropy. But then what about the nature of the divine or spiritual things – should they also decompose? No, they should grow, as they belong to a different nature. Maybe slowly-slowly or in an unseen manner, but they should grow.

 

(to be continued)

[1] Shrimad Bhagavatam 5.7.5-6

[2] Shrimad Bhagavatam 5.7.7



(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 06.05.2017 morning, Rila)

(continues from the previous Friday)

 Today we shall read a forest story. Om namo bhagavate vasudevaya. Shrimad Bhagavatam is the ripe fruit of the Vedas. Mahaprabhu selected this as a very essential scripture. And there are many-many different topics inside – like how the creation is done, how devotees perform their life; kings, ascetics, yogis are the main characters. But nevertheless we know that all these stories direct our attention to something else. And this is the living and loving divine connection. Therefore today we remember a very instructive and very beautiful story of Bharata Maharaj:

“Shukadeva Gosvami continued speaking to Maharaja Parikshit: My dear King, Bharata Maharaja was a topmost devotee. Following the orders of his father, who had already decided to install him on the throne, he began to rule the earth accordingly. When Bharata Maharaja ruled the entire globe, he followed the orders of his father and married Pancajani, the daughter of Vishvarupa.”[1]

This is the way – if you want to become kings, first try to enjoy the blessings of your father king. Of course we all want to be kings – to be in power of the situation, right? Without the blessings of the superiors, you can dominate by some chance; but the tradition goes according to this principle – enjoy the blessings and then accomplish. So, how to become the kings of our lives?

“Just as the false ego creates the subtle sense objects, Maharaja Bharata created five sons in the womb of Pancajani, his wife. These sons were named Sumati, Rashtrabhrita, Sudarshana, Avarana and Dhumraketu. Formerly this planet was known as Ajanabha-varsha, but since Maharaja Bharata’s reign it has become known as Bharata-varsha. Bharata was a very learned and experienced king on this earth. He perfectly ruled the citizens, being himself engaged in his own respective duties. Maharaja Bharata was as affectionate to the citizens as his father and grandfather had been. Keeping people engaged in their occupational duties, he ruled the earth.”.[2]

You know, if you want to charm the heart of an Indian person, I’ll give you a mantra. Because there is one goddess that all Indians worship, irrespective of their religious affiliation. This is their Mother India. They have temples for Mother India. Somehow this is a general denominator for them – to worship the homeland. So, if you say: “Bharata Mata ki jay!” everybody will be satisfied with you. Don’t say “Mother India, ki jay!” because then they will understand that you are a foreigner. But if you say “Bharata Mata” – the original, intrinsic name of India that they use is Bharata. And this comes from Bharata Maharaja. So he is such a remarkable personality that practically the country is named after him. Why? Because he was a just king. As good as his father and grandfather.

(to be continued)

[1] Shrimad Bhagavatam 5.7.1

[2] Shrimad Bhagavatam 5.7.2-4



(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 06.05.2017 morning, Rila)

We are very fortunate to come together. As to practice spiritual life alone is good, to practice in a couple is better, but to practice in a large and united group is the best. Why? Because everything depends on the spirit. We are not looking for external perfection, but we are looking for some internal refined and polished devotional feeling. And until the spirit is present, everything is fine. Everything shows prosperous signs, everything is alive. As soon as the spirit is gone, maybe some of the external formalities are still there, but you will definitely feel that something – and maybe the most essential part – is missing. Just like a village. Until people are there in a village, it’s alive. All the gardens are nicely cultivated, etc. As soon as the people are gone, maybe the buildings will stay for some time, but the life is extinguished. And try to remember that feeling when you see a ruined or a half-ruined building – it’s a very sad feeling. Because then you feel that life is gone, it’s dead.

It’s the same with the spirit of devotion. It’s a refined, very subtle presence. Therefore we have to cultivate that very subtle willingness. Not the external formalities only by themselves. Because you might have a grand temple, a big building with empty spaces – then what’s the use? Better to have a small ashram full of people. When your greatest trouble is “Where to put the next people who are trying to enter?” It’s a much better problem than to have a big hall and you don’t know how to fill it up.

It’s the same with your heart. So, from the external try to come to the internal. We might decorate our heart and mind with achievements and ambitions, but if it is empty, it’s dead. Please, try to have a living heart! It’s not your abilities, it’s not your powers; it’s something else injected in the heart –the divine spark, the divine chance. The presence of the Supreme.

Primarily who should inhibit a temple? It’s God, right? We all know that we have to construct the temple of the heart, or the heart temple. Who should be there, who should be the main owner of that place? The Supreme Lord. So, try to decorate it nicely.

Rupa Goswami describes how to prepare the sacrificial ground if you want to celebrate the appearance day of Lord Krishna. All the details are given: what kind of decoration should be there, what kind of plants, what kind of flowers, how to make the pavilion, etc. And it’s easier to construct an external pavilion in the garden than to decorate your heart. But actually the heart of a human being is a very special place. Without feet you can live. Without arms you can live. Some people live even without head. It’s possible. But you cannot live without your heart. This is a very essential part here. The greatest happiness and the greatest distress you perceive here. The heart is compared to a lotus flower with different petals, dedicated to different good and bad qualities. So, we have to purify this lotus heart in order to become a lotus throne. Because then the Divine Couple can come and take that throne. And They are very sensitive. They like only the best places – five star heart hotels.

Therefore we need to prepare this place to receive the injective presence of divinity. It is possible. We only need two steps: to learn about it – how to make it, how to accomplish. And the other is to practice. ‘Yes, I have heard about devotion. I know all the steps of аdau sraddha tatah sadhu sangha[1]. I know everything.’ Let’s put it into practice! Start with your faith and accomplish with ecstasy. So, this is the small little path that we have to cover in this lifetime. So beyond the theory we need some experience.

(to be continued)

[1] Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu 1.4.15-16



(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 05.05.2017 evening, Rila Mountain)

(continues from the previous Friday)

And then finally we come to the conclusion:

“By the mercy of the spiritual master one receives the benediction of Krishna. Without the grace of the spiritual master, one cannot make any advancement. Therefore, I should always remember and praise the spiritual master. At least three times a day I should offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of my spiritual master”.

So, kuto ‘pi – where, where can I find any progress without my master? His prasad brings divine prasad to me. Prasad is perfection. In the light of this conclusion we can understand all the previous verses, as guru is like a gate, like a bridge over troubled waters. Therefore we should remember: ‘Where I have learned? What I have got? What is my prospect?’

And here something very important is mentioned – that three times per day we should remember the spiritual master. If you become gurus – as Mahaprabhu said: “You all become gurus” – you have to work hard to achieve that, so that your followers remember you at least three times per day. Why? Because humans learn in a very slow manner, but forget very fast. So, you have to work really very hard if you want to make somebody remember you three times per day. Actually there are only two ways to achieve that. One is: you become a madhu-sadhu – so sweet that they cannot forget. The other is that you become a maha-guru –so heavy that they cannot forget.

But apart from jokes, the brahmins meditate three times greeting the sun per day. So, what does it mean that we have to remember at least three times our guru? That he is our sun. He is bringing the light into our life. Therefore we need to offer our respects – and then we can start any activity.

So, I think to start this function, this intensive workshop for this weekend, the best way is to invoke the blessings of the previous divine masters. Because we are here representing our masters. Fortunately here are also our brothers and sisters representing their masters. This is the unifying principle here. This brings the common platform for all of us – that serving and remembering, and meditating over this tattva will bring some enlightenment to us.

And it is said that even from a so called ‘bad guru’ you can learn a lot – about yourself. So, again the function is done, accomplished. Therefore we can say there are no bad gurus. Because they will teach us something. And then again the tattva is there – which is divine, very divine. The swamiji is a human being, but Gurudev is a divine person.

So, let’s invoke our masters, let’s pray for their mercy and attention to us. This song, Shri Gurvashtaka, has been sung for 200 or 300 years now; just try to imagine how many hundreds and thousands of devotees have chanted this song. How many beautiful prayers and offerings have happened. This is like a real sacrifice, a loving sacrifice. So we need to continue that mood.



(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 05.05.2017 evening, Rila Mountain)

(continues from the previous Friday)

“The spiritual master is always eager to hear and chant about the unlimited conjugal pastimes of Radhika and Madhava, and Their qualities, names, and forms. The spiritual master aspires to relish these at every moment. I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of such a spiritual master.”[1]

Now, this is a culmination. So far we understood that the spiritual master has to chop wood, cleanse the temple, cook the food. But now we’ve got some news. He is surcharged with the loving worship of Radha and Madhava. Who is Madhava? Radhika you all know, Radha is the most beautiful girl in the village. But who is Madhava? Madhava is the Lord of the Goddess of the fortune. He is very wealthy. He possesses all the treasures of the world. Otherwise madhu has a different other meaning, madhu means ‘honey’. So, His wealth is sweet like honey. Therefore, the material reflection of that original wealth is also very sweet. But what happens if you become firmly established in connection with this Madhava, with this possessor of madhu? Then you become a sadhu, you will live according to the supreme absolute truth – with a special tinge, with a special taste. You will live according to the honey, you can become a madhu-sadhu. So, if you serve Radha-Madhava, you can become a madhu-sadhu. But what about the next verse?

“The spiritual master is very dear, because he is expert in assisting the gopis, who at different times make different tasteful arrangements for the perfection of Radha and Krishna’s conjugal loving affairs within the groves of Vrindavana. I offer my most humble obeisances unto the lotus feet of such a spiritual master”.

You see, it’s not only the temple, it’s not only the building – it’s a forest grove, a hidden place. The most intimate aspects of worship, your meeting with divinity is in a hidden place. Secret rendezvous of the hearts and souls. This is not an astonishing vision of the Supreme truth; no, this is a loving rendezvous. And if we are introduced into this intimate connection, we need to offer our respects.

“The spiritual master is to be honored as much as the Supreme Lord, because he is the most confidential servitor of the Lord. This is acknowledged in all revealed scriptures and followed by all authorities. Therefore I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of such a spiritual master, who is a bona fide representative of Shri Hari”.

Sakshad – a direct representative of the Supreme. Hari means ‘who snatches everything that is blocking your path’. And this aspect is glorified in all the scriptures. Because such a master who helps everybody around to come closer to the divine ambitions is very dear to the Supreme. If somebody is dear to our beloved God, then he should also be dear to us.

(to be continued)

[1] Verses 5-7 from the song Shri Gurvashtaka



(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 05.05.2017 evening, Rila Mountain)

 

(continues from the previous Friday)

 

“The spiritual master is always engaged in the temple worship of Shri Shri Radha and Krishna. He also engages his disciples in such worship. They dress the deities in beautiful clothes and ornaments, clean Their temple, and perform other similar worship of the Lord. I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of such a spiritual master.”[1]

So, this is another type of engagement for the spiritual masters – cleaning. It’s a cleaning service. Mahaprabhu was very ecstatic to clean the Gundicha temple and He collected more dust than all the others. But what is the point here? The point is that there is worship in the temple. And actually sometimes we might think that the temple means the building. But actually the temple should mean the whole universe, the whole existence. And whatever he does – like cleaning or putting ornaments on the deities, or whatever – it’s an offering, it’s a service. In the same way, whatever we do should be also an offering, because we are living in the temple of the universe.

Once I met a person whose spiritual lineage was blocked by law enforcement – they were forced to give up their monasteries, active preaching, etc. And he said: “You see, our ashrams have been closed for 70 years, but now the whole world has become our ashram.” This conception we need to have. If you have a temple – good, if you don’t have a temple – then the whole world is your temple. And our teachers move in this temple and whatever they do, they try to do it for the satisfaction of the Divine Couple.

And what makes a teacher to be a teacher? It is the students. And what is the duty of a student? To learn, to follow. If the teacher is doing, acting like that, then we also have to develop the same mood. Therefore we are ready to offer our respects. But what about the next verse?

“The spiritual master is always offering Krishna four kinds of delicious food…” Aha, so not only cleaning – cooking also. “When the spiritual master sees that the devotees are satisfied by eating bhagavat-prasada, he is satisfied. I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of such a spiritual master”.

When I sing this verse, I always remember a picture from 1984. At that time we were sitting in one room taking prasadam. And then Gurudev entered the room and observed the devotees taking the food. Such a divine smile was on his face. He was fully and deeply satisfied by observing this very simple activity. You are eating, and your master is happy about that – you see, it’s not that difficult to satisfy the spiritual master. Eat in a proper manner. Food is another exchange of energy. And it’s not the physical substance, it’s the loving offering exchange that is important.

(to be continued)

[1] A line from the song Shri Gurvashtakam



(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 05.05.2017 evening, Rila Mountain)

I hope during our meeting all of us could experience the awareness of the inner self in a significant way – in relationship with the Supreme Divine Couple, and also with each other. But how to start a function? Just to rush and jump into the middle of it? Or maybe something else is necessary? I think something else is necessary – to invoke the blessings; so that not only our efforts are manifested, but a divine higher protection is invited. Therefore this is very proper and very useful to pray for the blessings of the previous teachers, acharyas, prophets – all the divine personalities. And especially those who teach us about prema – divine love. Whenever you meet a spiritual master, you have to pay attention. But when you meet somebody who is telling you about divine love, you have to pay extra attention.

Shri Gurvashtakam[1] – how many hundreds and millions of times we have heard and chanted this beautiful song? It’s glorifying a very special tattva, this is the guru-tattva, a heavy tattva. But is it only the tattva included in these verses? I think the tattva is glorified, but our heart throbs when we think of our masters. Why?

The first verse will tell why we are excited about this. The song starts with a very serious and bitter expression – samsara. This is not a movie, this is not a fashion shop, this is not a kind of perfume – this is the bitter suffering on this planet Earth. Then why we are excited about that? Because somebody will extinguish this fire. Life is an exchange of energy. It’s a relatively short distance that we cover during one lifetime – starting from the cradle and ending in the coffin. From one wooden box to another wooden box – this is life, right. This is called samsara. But somebody should stop, should finish this journey; a divine guidance can show us the way out from this dark forest of material life. Therefore we are very much ready to offer our respects to such a guide.

But what is the engagement of such a guide. The second verse will tell us something about it. How is it going? “Chanting the holy name, dancing in ecstasy, singing, and playing musical instruments, the spiritual master is always gladdened by the sankirtana movement of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu”.

So what is the engagement of such a guide? He is dancing all the time. It’s very difficult to follow the steps of this choreography. But what is the source of this dance? This is the divine rapture. And as this is a mystic experience, actually the master dances when we see that he is sitting. When we think that he is very morose, he perceives the highest type of ecstasy. Or when he is chopping wood, he plays a musical instrument. So, therefore because he can show us this shift of reality, we offer our respects to him.

What about the third verse?

 

(to be continued)

[1]a bhajan composed by Shri Vishvanath Chakravarti



(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 05.01. 2011, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Friday)

Question of Lila Avatar: Can I add something to the question of Krishna Priya concerning the spiritual name? Observing the birth-given names and the spiritual names – we can see that very often, if not always, one or two letters in the beginning of the names are the same. What is the meaning of this?

Swami Tirtha: Usually the acharyas do like that. Why? Because we identify with our names, name is something very close to us. Even the civil name, the family name gives us a program, and for the previous ten, twenty, thirty, fifty years we identified with that program. It’s not necessary to discard everything from our previous life, but we have to enhance that. What you have – add more, and in this way it will be more divine, it will be closer to the divine service.

So names help us to find our ways. If we don’t know what is what – what object is named with what name – then we are lost. So how important it is to have names!

Once we had a name-giving ceremony for a family. They had six children and each and every child was born on a different continent. I see you like the idea! These were older children – not babies, but children of few years. After the ceremony one of the boys came to me and he said: “Now my old name is lost? It’s not there anymore?” He was quite frightened. Then I understood that this was his identity. My name is me in one sense. So definitely I said: “No, no, no! It’s there with you! But you just add some sunshine to your name!” – I think his spiritual name was Bright Light or Sunshine, something like this.

So the name is very important for us. Therefore, as we are identifying with our names, usually our teachers respect the name that was given to us and enhance it, give something more to it.

Question of Manjari: And in cases when the new name is very different from the previous name, does it mean that we discard the past and start anew?

Swami Tirtha: Anyway we have to start anew. Whatever mistakes we had done, or whatever shortcomings we have, we have to get rid of them. The identification with this, so to say, new name helps us to enter this new role, this new phase of life. And as I told you, it’s the quality or the program, the goal – so it’s not necessarily the sounds and the letters.

For example, once there was a young man visiting our program. This was a public lecture; he just took the karatals and started to play perfectly, though it was the first occasion ever for him! I thought: ‘That’s quite interesting!’ And I said: “Oh, very nice! Why don’t you come to the ashram next time?” He said: “All right, I can come!” So the next week he came. He introduced himself and he said: “My name is Boga.” This was his family name. Immediately just like a thunderbolt struck me and I felt: ‘Oh, from bhoga we have to make prasadam’. From bhoga, which is non-offered food, you can make Prasad, holy food – by offering. So I felt: ‘Oh, from this boy we have to make Prasadam!’ And so it happened. So sometimes even in the civil name Krishna gives a hint.

Manjari: And what is his name?

Swami Tirtha: Jagannath Prasad.