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English issues


(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2013, Sofia)
(continues from the previous Friday)
“I do not want release from either happiness or suffering; let it be, according to my previous karma. Rather, what I want from this moment on is that I will never try to waste the favor of Krishna by only praying to be able to face any eventuality; but that whatever I shall acquire from now on, however small, even a drop – that must be nectar of the highest order, and the lower delegation can deal with the question of heaven and hell.” [1] 
So, when we suggest that please, follow bhakti-yoga, this is the reason why we say that. This is not a process of absolving your sins, this is not a process to achieve heaven or liberation, but this is the process to satisfy God. This process is about Him, it’s not about you. Yet, if we join, we shall be a part of that picture. Otherwise if you raise your stick, it doesn’t mean anything. But if you raise your stick in the service of Krishna, it’s very remarkable. That is the difference between general human activities and divine engagement.
And something more: “For removing our reactions or delivering us from hell or heaven…” You see, “deliver from heaven”! “…much lower agents are required; they can do that.” So, we have to achieve liberation from heaven also. “But we shall only pray for Krishna’s favor as a positive attainment, and never try to minimize our previous karma, the result of bad activities performed due to misconception. I don’t care about the ‘passport’; I want the ‘visa’. If I get the visa, no passport trouble will be able to disturb me – it is something like that. So to merely do away with maya, misconception, is nothing. But the positive attainment in the domain of Krishna is a very much higher thing. By passing maya we can attain Viraja, Brahmaloka, we can get mukti (liberation), the marginal position. But why should I waste my energy only to acquire a position in the marginal plane? All my attempts must be focused toward the prayer for a position in Goloka, and that will be a gain of the very highest order. I shall pray only for that, and automatically everything else will be accomplished”.
So, this is the fundamental principle of our religion. The background of everything is consciousness, Divine Consciousness. Nothing is independent of His will. And our guides, our teachers will help us to accomplish and realize so that we are able to have that vision. To come to the atman platform, we have to see with the eye of the soul. 
Actually Shrila Shridhar Maharaj didn’t really like that mantra that ‘I worship Tulasi in order to save myself from my sins’. He considered this as a business. ‘I do something for my immediate benefit.’ Service mood should be there – as Tulasi is dear to Krishna, we serve Tulasi because Krishna likes her. 
Once some devotees were in Navadvip and they visited the holy places around. After they returned to the temple of Shrila Shridhar Maharaj, he asked them: “How was your day?” They said: “Oh, we enjoyed the trip so much!” This was not an appropriate remark and then he started to explain: “Enjoy? You try to enjoy the holy place?” and gave a lecture, gave a guidance concerning this topic. 
You see this is the capacity of the great ones. You commit a little mistake, and they can make a big thing out of it! In one sense I think we all have that capacity. Yet, we are not considered great devotees, unfortunately. Because we are offended by really insignificant things in life, while his name is Bhakti Rakshak – the protector of devotion. So, whenever you make a mistake concerning that, then he is ready to fight. This is our hope – that our superiors will always correct our mistakes or misbehavior. And concerning our service we should try to be as pure, as selfless as possible. Nevertheless activities of any type – either material, or spiritual – will bring some results. Certain type of activities will bring certain type of results, other type of activities will bring other results. So, we have to be careful about our words, about our activities, the words and the thoughts also. Because purity depends on love. 
(to be continued)
1. The Golden staircase, Ch. 3 The Purest Prayer, by Shrila Shridhar Maharaj


(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2013, Sofia) 
(continues from the previous Friday)
We continue our readings from Shrila Shridhara Maharaj, The Purest Prayer.
The question comes: “Maharaj, also regarding Tulasi Devi – I noticed that at this math, while circumambulating Tulasi during her arati, here, the devotees don’t like to chant the mantra yani kani ca papani brahma-hatyadikani ca, tani tani pranasyanti pradaksinah pade pade (“Those who circumambulate Shrimati Tulasi Devi step by step destroy whatever sins they have committed, even the killing of a brahmana”). Why is this?”[1]
You see, conditioning works in a very strong manner. At first we have no idea about the botanical science of India. Then we understand that some plants are considered sacred. Then we learn that some plants should be worshiped like this and like that. Then if we meet a temple where that sacred plant is worshiped in a different way, we are surprised. So, from absolutely conditioned dullness,you come to the condition that ‘it should be like that and not any other way’. And if you find that it is in another way, then you are surprised: ‘How come!? My knowledge should be followed.’ You might consider this like an insignificant question, but it is not. 
The answer of Shrila Shridhar Maharaj: “A devotee of higher order must not have any prayer to “Absolve me from sins”. Practically all other religions first try to teach people, and this is their maximum achievement: “Please, try to excuse yourself for your sins!” Yet Shridhar Maharaj says: “The first class devotee is not concerned with such insignificant things – reactions of my sinful activities.” 
“The first class devotee would pray: “Whatever I have done wrong, I am ready to suffer for that to the farthing. But my prayer is only that I may get a drop of the nectar of the favor of Krishna.” That should be the prayer of a real devotee: according to my karma I may be a bird, I may be a beast, I may be a worm or an insect, I may be in heaven or in hell – I don’t care about that. According to my own karma, let me suffer accordingly. But my only prayer is, “Let me not be devoid of the favor of Krishna; let me get that. I want His grace; I want devotion for Him. Only devotion – that is all I want. Whether I have to enjoy the result of my good works in heaven, or I have to suffer for the misdeeds of my previous life and go to hell, I don’t care to get out of that. As a result of my karma I shall have to suffer or enjoy, but I don’t care about that. My prayer is not to remove the reactions to my sins, to take away any good merit or bad result – but only that I may obtain pure devotion independent of these two.”
You see the upgrade of devotional thinking? Because whether we want to enjoy some heavenly benefits or we want to avoid our reactions, the story is still about us. ‘It’s me! The story starts and ends with me.’ But what is that – is this our religion? ‘I’m in the focus of my religion.’ No! The upgrade is: ‘Whatever I have to face, please provide me Your connection!’ That also means that even in hell you can practice bhakti-yoga. I am not sure that in heaven you would be able to follow, because the lifestyle there is too mild, too nice. But at least here, I mean at least in hell we can have some motivation. 
(to be continued)
1. The Golden staircase, Ch. 3 The Purest Prayer, by Shrila Shridhar Maharaj


(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2013, Sofia)
When we discuss some elementary topics of spiritual life, nevertheless they are not simple. They are elementary in that sense that they are the basis, they are the fundament of a substantial spiritual vision. Don’t forget that we live in a very unusual age, this is the Kali-Yuga, so we cannot expect too much. This is an age of conflicts and hypocrisy. It is not favorable for religious practices in general. In some western pseudo-mystic traditions they expect for the Age of Aquarius to come. And what is that period? What happens at that time? This is the carnival, the festival time. And what is a carnival? Everything is hidden behind the mask. Everything that generally is not possible is possible. A king can act as a beggar, a beggar can act as a king. So, this is what most of the people expect: “Oh, the Age of Aquarius should come!” That’s another masquerade. You can never know who is who, what is what. Some people hope that this is like a more spiritual period, but we should be aware of the dangers also of this masquerade.
And just as it is described in our scriptures, as Krishna says in the Gita: „Irreligious will be considered religious and religious will be considered irreligious”[1]. Or if we want to paraphrase it: science will take the role of religion, people will believe in scientific facts, and they will consider the spiritual facts as some myth or legend. Therefore I say that in such an unusual age we have to find the fundaments of our faith. To understand and to emphasize for ourselves that the basis of anything that is possible in the world is consciousness – the background is consciousness. It is not information, it is not knowledge – it is consciousness. And especially the Supreme Consciousness. In other places it is said that this whole manifested material universe is only a dream of Vishnu. Let’s help it not to become a nightmare. 
Just recently a remark was mentioned that how can we interfere with the divine arrangement. So, how can you turn Vishnu’s dream into a nightmare or a success? Is it possible to interfere? Well, if we think on the theoretical platform we might say: ‘How can humans interfere into divine activities?’ But if we think on the devotional principles – that devotees can tell their opinion and they can influence God, they can invite Him – then I think it’s more obvious that if there is a connection between the human and the Supreme, then this is a real transaction. So, theoretically we can debate whether the human can enter and help or not and how is it. But you remember that beautiful description, when about the Govardhana-lila it is mentioned that everybody was gathered under the Govardhana Hill that Krishna lifted. Just to enjoy the protection of the Supreme from any danger. And then the elderly gopas used their sticks to help Krishna. They didn’t consider that ‘Hey, this boy lifted a hill! Maybe He doesn’t need any help to support it!” You see, it’s such a divine illusion, forgetfulness. Yet, they were ready to help the divine plan. ‘Yes, He wants to hold the hill, I am also helping!’ This is the way to help the divine plan to manifest. It’s not that you are doing, but you are part of it. You give your energy there, you give your attention there. This is the point. 
Therefore we have to understand these very basic, fundamental principles of our faith – that consciousness, Supreme Consciousness is the background of anything that we perceive, anything that we can do, even anything that we can feel. We have to come to that platform to see this Supreme Consciousness behind all the varieties of the manifested world. And how to do that properly? In order to achieve that vision we have to come, we must come to the atman platform.
(to be continued)
1.  Bhagavad Gita 18.32



(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2013, Sofia)
Question of Yamuna: Maharaj, you were reciting before the mantra three times, and actually one of our main practices is chanting the mantra – just constant repetition of the same mantra. I’ve heard that some people seem to be bothered by the idea of repeating one and the same thing for many times. Because here in Bulgaria there is a proverb that “Repetition is a mother of remembrance and a father of dullness”. You know it’s a popular theory that people want to climb up a spiral, they don’t want to circulate. What would you say to somebody who is worried and does not see a progress in repeating too much the same thing?
Swami Tirtha: The maha-mantra is a prayer, plus a meditation formula. As we discussed, there is a short piece of music and there is music as a principle, music as something spiritual. By playing the piece we touch the original, we bring the original, we connect to the original. In the same way by reciting your mantra, by telling, repeating your prayer we connect to the original Naam, we connect to the original spiritual substance. 
Yet, as this is a very subtle and very secret method of meditation, simple repetition, empty mechanical repetition will not help. We have to add all our attention, we have to add all our heart and soul to these prayers. If you love someone, do you like to repeat his or her name? Naturally, we like to remember him, we like to call him, we like to speak to him. In the same way, to repeat God’s names is a conversation with Him. And especially the saints who had been studying the science of mantras and the science of meditation, they say that from repetition perfection will come. Therefore following their advice we have to try to repeat our mantras with attention and dedication. So, it’s not only the quantity, but also the quality, and then you don’t go around in a circle, but you dance in a circle. You see the big difference? It’s not a forced path, but an empowered dance. Although we repeat the same words, so to say, the same form, yet if you fill it up with more and more emotions, more and more deeper understanding, it will bring different results. 
And if somebody says that by repeating, you will get nowhere and you should stop repeating the same thing, just ask them: “How many times you have been eating in this lifetime? You repeat this practice so many times per day! Is it not boring for you?“ “No, breakfast is never boring! It’s impossible! Give me more, give me more!” So, so many times we repeat things, yet we find new and new pleasure there. Why do you think that by repeating the names of God you will not find new and new taste? 





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

Question: You were speaking about sacrificing the mundane for the spiritual. The mundane also includes our families, our children, which is why many renounciates don’t have either, while the tantrists do. So, in this tradition obviously you are not renouncing families. But it is still a vedantic tradition, not a tantric one.  How would you elaborate on that?

Swami Tirtha: Thank you for your question and I appreciate that you are being informed well. First of all even ascetics are born in families. So, family is a very important institution. Without the contribution of a mother and a father nobody can come to this Earth. Well, some very special souls can come, but generally we cannot. And I think we all agree that to renounce the object and still cherish the attachment is nothing. It’s a lie, cheating yourself.  So, it is not the object that is mistaken, it is the attachment that we have to give up, right? There’s nothing wrong with your children, there’s nothing wrong with your family. But if you are attached in a wrong way, then it’s a trap. If we take it as a chance for serving God through them, and if we consider them as God-given, gift of God – yes, please consider your husbands and respective wives God-given – then we are not attached to the object, but we are attached to the principle manifested through that object. And that is a divine principle, gift of God. Even our attachments to our beloved ones are given by Krishna. But what kind of quality you will attribute to this attachment, to this responsibility? It depends on our spiritual elevation. Is this clear? 

Concerning the different schools of Hinduism, like tantric and vedantic traditions: tantra means ‘practice’, tantra doesn’t mean sex mysticism, or some sexual black magic art. This is a practice. All different schools have tantra teachings, tantra practices. There is a vashinava tantra also. For example one very important mantra comes from the vaishnava tantra: om agyana-timirandhasya gyananjana-shalakaya chakshur unmilitam yena tasmai shri-gurave namaha. It comes from the vaishnava tantra – so are we tantric? In one sense, if we follow the principles that are favorable for our spiritual practices – yes, we are tantrists. But of course we don’t belong to the tantra school proper, because that’s a different line. 

The three main instruments of meditation аrе yantra, mantra and tantra. Yantra is a visual object, like a mandala. Тantra, as we discussed, is a practical set of rules and regulations –  ‘do and don’t do’. And mantra is the audible way of meditation. The word mantra has a double meaning.  Two words are connected in mantra: one is manas and the other is trayate. Manas is the mentality or the consciousness of a person, and trayate means ‘to liberate’. So mantra liberates your mind, liberates your consciousness. 

So, this is some little information about the tantric school. And as you mentioned we belong to the vedanta school. Vedanta is considered to be the most elevated or the topmost of the six classical philosophies of India. Because vedanta has also a double meaning: veda is ‘knowledge or science’ and anta is ‘the end of’. So, this is the top of all divine sciences. Of course, even vedanta has different schools and different lineages. But we can say that this is practically the highest intelligent or scientific way of approach. And actually our specific line is determined by emotions. So this is an emotional way to the approach – through service, through worship. We worship Krishna as a small boy when He was playing on this planet Earth. I am sure all the mothers and fathers sometimes recall Krishna observing their sons and daughters, especially when they make some nonsense. “Oh, my dear one, again you stole the butter!” So, this is a way to remember. Because there are two main instructions in bhakti vedanta. Only two, it’s easy to remember: “Always remember God and never forget Him!” Only these two are the essence of bhakti vedanta

In our tradition we have both families and renounciates. Generally in India, in Hinduism there are four different orders of life. One is the student life, the second is the family life, the third is the hermit life and the fourth one is the renounced life. All four are considered to be ashrams. Ashram is a place of spiritual practice. So, it’s not only a temple building, but this is where my spiritual growth is provided. We try to be life positive because Krishna is the protector of life. He is the God of love and He likes children. As children like Him, that’s for sure. Nevertheless, I myself belong to the renounced order, but you know, we discussed a little before that if you renounce something, you will be compensated. So, I don’t have a house, yet I have many homes to live! I don’t have a blood family, but many consider me to be a part of their families. Just between you and me, recently I started to count my grandsons and granddaughters. After thirty I gave it up. Well, if somebody can do that without having a blood son or daughter… So, in one sense I don’t have my social family, but on the other hand I am very happy to be part of a spiritual family. And be sure, sometimes I have to make the duties and the services of a father – like paying the bills if one of my sons made something stupid. And from time to time I have to make the duty of a mother also – to wipe the ass if somebody passes stool. But this is a happy engagement. So, I deeply appreciate the services of the fathers and the mothers, because I also have a little understanding how much love and care you have to give until a person grows up. And this is the compensation for all the trouble that we might take meanwhile. To see the spiritual growth of another person is a great service.


,,,,,, те, щастие

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2013, Sofia)
(continues from the previous Friday)
“’Mundane’ means under the jurisdiction of mortality: at every second it is dying. Everything on which we depend for the maintenance of this body is dying at every second. Everything. So we want to be out of this dying land, and if it is possible, we want to live in a land where there is no death. That is amrta – that which is without death – and that is sweet, it is Vaikuntha; it is Goloka. Vaikuntha means in the consideration of the infinite perspective – that conception. Kuntha means limitation, and Vaikuntha means unlimited. To live in Vaikuntha means to live in the relativity of the infinite whole.” [1]
So, please search for your eternal part, the inner essence. Maybe you have some questions or remarks? 
Question of Hayagriva: How to harmonize the intellect and the material emotions? Because divine emotions are much higher, of course. But according to my opinion intellect should always dominate emotions. Or am I wrong? 
Swami Tirtha: Yes. Of course on the material plane it is better if our purified intellect leads us. But ultimately what gives a bigger problem to human beings – their brain, or their heart? 
Answers: The brain. The emotions.
Swami Tirtha: Oh, very nice. One lady said ‘the emotions’, one man said ‘the brain’. I think it is distributed according to genders. But in my humble consideration, people are ready to lose their brain due to emotions, while usually we are not ready to exchange our emotions for some thoughts. That suggests to me that emotions are more powerful. Therefore emotions are more important also. It’s not the intellect that is more important. Because we are ready to enter a foolish love, but how can you enter a loving theory?! Therefore we have to control and we have to harmonize these two capacities. To find a higher synthesis. As I told you, philosophy without religion is dry, religion without philosophy is sentimental. So, use both capacities to achieve a higher synthesis. And we know the best harmonizing process: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare/ Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.
Actually, in this prayer again the unity of the two parties is achieved, is aspired for. This is a glorification of the meeting of divine beauty and divine love. So again it is uniting not only two principles, but it is glorifying of the meeting of Radha and Krishna in their unity.
Question: Aren’t the emotions born by the thoughts?
Swami Tirtha: Too bad if it happens. 
Comment: Actually, it is said that by chanting the holy names we are purifying ourselves, our hearts, but this is a bit unclear for me. I mean that some emotions are coming from the mind, from some idea about the reality. For example, the anger from something that’s happening. But actually it is said that this is in the heart, so what is it – mind, or heart? 
Swami Tirtha: Mind is in the heart. So, if you purify your heart, you purify your mind also. It’s not that complicated. 
Question: How come, you want to say that the mind is not in the head?
Swami Tirtha: Many times it happens, yes! Last question!
Kripadham: I would like to ask whether relationship of Radha Krishna is harmonious or volcanic?
Swami Tirtha: Sometimes harmonious, other times volcanic. Therefore our divine Lord, the Golden avatar, is called the Golden volcano. Because a lava of divine ecstasy is just erupting from Him. For example while chanting the holy names. 
1.  The Golden staircase, The Soul Has Its Own Body, by Shridhar Maharaj



(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2013, Sofia)
(continues from the previous Friday)
“Purity depends on love and love means sacrifice – “Die to live.” We have to die wholesale in regard to our interest in life here, and then another sort of interest will awaken within us and we shall live there, in that place. That is our aspiration, and for that we have left all our ‘concrete’ things – our house, our property, our friends, our father, mother, children, and other relatives. So many things we have left, and we have gone out in the quest of other things. We have no more charm for mundane possessions, we are seeking something which is supra-mundane.”[1]
Like it is said in the Bible: “If you are attached to something else than Me, don’t come with Me. If you had put your hand on the plough, don’t turn your face back”. So, once we decided that we want to find a way out from this labyrinth of material existence – go ahead! Don’t be afraid! You might think that you lose something, but I tell you from my personal experience what you will receive, it’s much better. 
May I tell you something personal? Because so far we were discussing theory. Once a very dear brother of mine wrote to our spiritual master, glorifying his spiritual brothers and sisters: “I was searching for friends and I have found relatives.” Do you see the difference? “I was searching for friends and I have found my family”. This is so much deeper connection. I think this is something very beautiful: we give up the insignificant worldly connections and we find something deeper, something essentially spiritual. So, if so to say, you lose something, what you will receive it’s much better. 
Once, there was a very special story. A spiritual master had many devotees and one was on a pilgrimage tour in India. And what happened to this master? Just imagine, his japa-mala was stolen. It’s very unusual that somebody steals your most sacred rosary. Usually we receive our japa-malas from our masters. So, this is a direct connection to your master – he was touching it; if you touch that mala you touch his hand. So, you can imagine the feeling of this master: “My japa is lost!” You have to think ‘What did I do wrong?’ if such thing happens. Of course he was deeply pondering and deeply meditating; meanwhile his devotee returned from his pilgrimage. And he told his master: “Gurudev, I brought you something from my pilgrimage!” Because you know this is according to the tradition – whenever you approach your spiritual master, you bring something. A golden Rolls-Royce, or a little fire wood – something you bring. He doesn’t need your Rolls-Royce and he cannot use so many Rolls-Royces, but we need to educate ourselves that ‘I have to be attentive enough to come with something’. Or ‘If I go to the temple, if I go in front of the deities, I should bring something.’ A golden Ferrari, or something. If you go somewhere as guests, you bring something, right, it’s very easy. And to come in front of God empty-handed? Something we should bring – a little flower, 1 kg rice to the kitchen. 
So, this devotee knew very well the tradition and said: “My dear master, I brought something for you from this pilgrimage.” The master asked: “Oh, what is this, my dear son?” And this boy said: “We visited one very special temple. Krishna was worshipped in this temple. And you know in one corner I have found this” – and then he gave something to the master. What was that? A japa-mala, a very special japa-mala. And then he told the story. “We were visiting this very special temple with a very surcharged atmosphere and all of a sudden I saw in the corner a japa-mala waiting. I know that maybe this is not very nice to take a japa from a temple, but still I felt that I have to bring it to you!” 
So, if you lose something, you will be compensated. Of course it doesn’t mean that you should lose all your japas and everything here and there, waiting for some rasic japa to come – directly dispatched from Radha-Govindaji temple. But we should be sure: whatever we lose, we’ll be compensated unlimitedly by some unknown way. Today you might see only the loss, but tomorrow you will see the fulfillment. So, whatever you lose, you will receive more. For example if you lose your attachments, you will receive your freedom. If you lose your false egotism, you will be able to come to the atman platform, the spiritual platform. So, no risk, no gain.
(to be continued)
1.  The Golden staircase, The Soul Has Its Own Body, by Shridhar Maharaj



(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2013, Sofia)
(continues from the previous Friday)
So, there is the form and there is the essence. The next Chapter says “The Soul Has Its Own Body.”
“If a ghost can show his form, or a yogi can show his form, then is not God able to show His form? He can do so. By His will, “Let there be water,” there was water; and when He said “Let there be light,” there was light. His will is law. Whatever He wants to do, at once it is done; so will He have to have a permanent flesh-and-blood body? At His will He can show anything as He likes, and it is all spiritual with no touch of the contamination of any mundane substance. But the eye in the higher domain of reality, the spiritual eye, is not like the fleshy eye here. Everything is there: the eye, the ear – but they are not the same as here. Just as in dreams, our fleshy eyes do not work, these ears do not work, yet within our dream we see, feel, walk, eat and drink. The mind is only ‘half material,’ and if even in the mental plane all these activities are possible, then transcending that also is the pure spiritual world, and there is the spiritual eye, the spiritual ear, the spiritual mind – everything is spiritual. It is possible.”[1]
In the ancient mystical treatise it is said: “Whatever is up, it is down; and whatever is down, it is up there”. So, whatever we perceive here is a reflection of something original. If we have ears and eyes here, then we have ears and eyes in the absolute plane also. If we have a body, a personality here, which is made of certain substances, we have body and personality in the original plane which is made of a different substance. If we have suffering here, which is limited, we have suffering there which is unlimited – or spiritual, we can say. But don’t forget: this is of a different nature. Here suffering is usually something we don’t like, there there’s suffering we like. Yamuna asked if I am sure. I’m not sure. But nobody asks whether you like it or not. You will get it here and you will get it there. 
Yamuna: Gurudev, it’s a public lecture. 
Swami Tirtha: Ups, I thought that this is an intimate circle. But anything we perceive here as something nasty, rotten – the original thing is pure and essential. And what makes the human body alive, this is the presence of the soul. So, the soul is the essential part. 
“On the battlefield, when two tanks come to fight, the men within the tanks may think: “The tanks are moving like two demons pushing one another!” The tanks are crashing together, but the man is within. Similarly, the soul within this body has its own body, its own plane of living, its own food – everything of its own in the spiritual realm – and this world is the perverted reflection of that realm.” And now please pay attention! Something very important is coming. “We must purely aspire after a life in that spiritual realm, and purity depends on love, and love means sacrifice, “Die to live.”  
This is the essential message. “Purity depends on love and love means sacrifice.” I’m very happy that you make notes on this. 
(to be continued)
1.  The Golden staircase, The Soul Has Its Own Body, by Shridhar Maharaj



(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2013, Sofia)
(continues from the previous Friday)
Shridhar Maharaj continues: “Once, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was the guest of a devotee of the primary class belonging to the Ramanuja school who was very much shocked to hear about the abduction of Sita Devi by Ravana.”[1]
You, most probably know the story. Ramachandra is a divine avatar appearing on this planet Earth and His consort is Sita Devi. He is a divine prince, and She is His loving partner. And why their story is famous for the last millennium? Because there was crisis in their meeting called separation. A forced separation, because Sita Devi was kidnapped. Ravana, this very fearful enemy, kidnapped Sita Devi. 
“At that time the devotee managed to give some food to the Lord, but he himself was observing fasting and was always wailing and lamenting. Mahaprabhu asked, “Why are you not taking anything to eat?” He replied, “I want to die. I heard that my beloved Mother Janaki, Sita Devi, was abducted by a demon! If I have to hear that – if that should even enter my ear, then I want to die; I don’t want to live any longer. Then Mahaprabhu consoled him: “No, no, don’t think like that. Sita Devi is Lakshmi Devi Herself. She is chinmaya, consciousness personified, not having a body composed of any material elements. Sita Devi’s body is not made of flesh and blood, so what to speak of forcibly carrying Her away, Ravana could not possibly touch Her, he cannot even see Her. Sita Devi’s form is composed of such substance that Ravana can neither see nor touch Her! This is the fact. So, don’t disturb your mind. This is the truth, I say, so you take prasadam.” Then that devotee was happy and took prasadam.”
Usually people, we, in crisis react in two different ways. If you are under stress, one solution is that you overeat; the other reaction is that you cannot eat. So, there is a reaction of your feelings, of your consciousness in the very simple daily bodily functions. You have bad news and there will be some uneasy feelings in your system. But here the good message is given to our devotee who was very depressed due to Sita Devi being kidnapped. “Don’t worry! The enemy could not touch Her, could not even see Her”. Although Ravana thought that he could see Sita Devi and he could kidnap Her, because he was enamored by the beauty of Sita. Although here we understand he didn’t see Sita Devi, only some kind of reflection. But even the reflection was so beautiful! Just imagine if he had been able to see the real one. 
”Later Mahaprabhu went further south on His pilgrimage and in one place He found that the devotees there were reading the Kurma Purana, wherein it is mentioned that when Ravana came to steal away Sita, She took shelter by entering into fire, and the fire-god Agni gave some imitation Sita to Ravana, and Ravana took that ‘maya-Sita’ away. Then after killing Ravana and attaining victory, before taking Sita from Lanka, Ramachandra said, “To prove Her chastity, She must enter into blazing fire, and if She can pass through that test, then I shall accept Her. But for one whole year She was living with the demon-family, and therefore I cannot immediately trust Her chastity.”
You know because if a lady is under a control of another man, it’s risky. But we should never forget that Sita Devi was never under control of anyone else. Yet in order to instruct people and society about the dharma Ramachandra declared this test. 
“Then so many devotees began to weep, but by the order of Ramachandra the fire was prepared and Sita Devi had to enter. When the fire receded, Sita Devi came out with a smiling face and the devotees began to cry out, “Jaya! Sita Devi ki jaya!” This was written in Kurma Purana and Mahaprabhu asked the reader, “Please give Me that original page and insert a newly-written copy in there; I met a brahmana who is extremely troubled, thinking that Sita Devi was actually abducted by Ravana. I want to show him this old page of this book to convince him that I was not just consoling him, but it is written in the shastra that Ravana could not touch the real Sita Devi, because She is consciousness personified – not matter, not any flesh or blood or bone or any such things. “
This proves that Sita Devi and Ramachandra were not only divine personalities on this planet Earth, but they also represent something. Ramachandra represents the consciousness of a person. Because He as a male personality, as a prince, He is representing one of the main male characters and this is intellect. Sita Devi as a person is representing the female principle, She is the heart, the emotions. And you can see if the intellect and the emotions are separated, then it’s a big tragedy. Both are suffering. The intellect suffers due to lack of the emotional side; the emotions die to the lack of the worshipable male character. So, this ancient divine story tells us so beautifully and so obviously that we should unite our capacities. Human beings, we, belong to the species of homo sapiens – beings with intellect. Sometimes you see it, other times not so obviously. Anyway we belong to that category. And this living being with some intellectual capacities has got a heart also. 
So, our parable tells us that when the intellect and the heart go together, work together in harmony, then everything is blissful. But when our intellect is separated from our heart, or when our heart is separated from our brain – that’s a tragedy. So, we have to try to harmonize these two capacities – the intellectual side and the emotional side. We can compare these two capacities to philosophy like the intellectual side and religion as the emotional side. And Shrila Prabhupada says that “Philosophy without religion is dry and empty, and religion without philosophy is sentimental.” Think deeply about this. We should try to unite the two capacities that we have. In one way we have to enhearten our brain and also we have to enbrain our heart. We should try to achieve a harmonious unity of these two powers.
(to be continued)
1.  The Golden staircase, Ravana Deceived, by Shridhar Maharaj



(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2013, Sofia)
Thank you very much that you devote your precious time and attention to the divine topics. Because we all came together to purify our hearts, to raise our consciousness and to focus on the Supreme. I think the divine sound vibrations help us to open up the heart. Sound is a magic instrument as we understood previously from our readings that it is a way to transcendence.  
We shall continue our readings from the book of a very elevated master, his name is Shrila Bhakti Rakshak Shridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj. Bhakti means that he belongs to the school of devotion, rakshak means ‘protector’ and shridhar means ‘possessing the greatest wealth’. So, he was such a teacher who was able to protect the most precious wealth of devotion. 
“Seeing with the Eye of the Soul”. This is a conversation between some devotees and his divine grace. So, the question comes:
“Guru Maharaj, I have one question about Tulasi Devi. The devotees here at this math say that even if their japa-mala is not made from real tulasi, when you chant on their beads at the time of their initiation, you turn those beads into tulasi-mala. So, is it important to have japa-mala made of tulasi, or not?” [1] Tulasi is a sacred bush dedicated to Krishna’s divine service. “Shrila Shridhar Maharaj says: “There is a higher spiritual consideration. There is mundane, and there is worshipable. What I really want to revere – if I consider that to be of mundane nature that will be offensive. If I think that what I worship on my altar is simply a piece of stone; or if I consider Gurudeva to be an ordinary person; or if I see a vaishnava as a brahmana, a shudra; – that means according to social status – if we think that the water that washes the lotus feet of Lord Visnu is just plain water; or if we think that the Master of all, the Lord of all, Vishnu, is merely one of many gods; then – we shall have to go straight to hell. This is stated in the Padma Purana. And in Shrimad Bhagavatam, we find: “That soul who identifies himself with the body, or thinks that ‘The wife and children are my own,’ or who thinks that ‘Our worshipful object is something material,’ or who thinks that ‘It is the material element of water of these pilgrimage sites which is purifying,’ then he may be considered to be a donkey which can be used to carry the food of the cows. So we are to remove ourselves from the platform of identifying the spiritual with the material. The spiritual is necessary, not the material, and it is imperative that we understand the real position”.
That means we as human beings, we all have got a chance. This lifetime, this body, this circumstance that we have is a chance. We can take advantage of this chance and come to some higher level of consciousness and understanding. Or we can misuse this chance and not take advantage. What direction we should take? Distinguish the material which will perish and search for the spiritual which is eternal. Maybe one piece of music has a beginning and has an end. Yet, the sound is eternal and by touching your instrument, you touch the eternal sound and it descends. Our existence, our soul is also an instrument. If it is purified, if it is fine tuned, then by the touch of an accomplished master this instrument will sound very nice. In the same way if an accomplished master will touch our purified heart and soul as instrument, it will sound very beautifully. Maybe the piece of music, the short time of meeting will perish. But the eternal sound will remain. Love of Godhead is the eternal melody that we all want to hear, to listen, to join. Our only duty is to purify ourselves enough to join this beautiful singing and dancing. 
So, behind the material reflection of the objects we have to see the original position. A holy place is not a physical location, a divine sound is not a vibration of the lips. Or a pure devotee is not an ordinary man. There is an external form and there is an internal meaning. And not only for them, but for you also. You have an external form and you have an inner meaning, inner substance. We have to search for that eternal part of us. Therefore we have to come to the ability to see with the eye of the soul.
(to be continued)
1.  The Golden staircase, Ch. 3 “Seeing with the Eye of the Soul” by Shridhar Maharaj