October 2019
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English issues



bridge the gap

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

(continues from the previous Friday)

“Question:And when Shrila Narottama das Thakura says, chakhu-dana dilo yei, janme janme prabhu sei – He who has given me the gift of transcendental vision is my lord, birth after birth”[1]then what about that?

Shrila Shridhar Maharaj says: “Whenever there is any difference in the spiritual advice we may receive from different directions, we are to see the common thread. However, the absolute position will warrant a higher consideration than the relative one. Both the absolute and relative considerations must continue, because without that, no progress is possible. Absolute and relative – both considerations must go side by side. But the absolute has the primary position, and the relative, the temporary, shall be evaluated according to what is suitable to the particular time, place, person, and purpose. So in this, the longest journey of our lives, and for our greatest interest, we are given the truth, the connection of the Absolute, always – and there is unity.

Even in the case of an ordinary Guru of lower type, the shastra has also maintained that link: paroksha-vada vedo ‘yam[2]. If a certain standard of self-discipline such as no meat or fish-eating, etc. is demanded of those who are very much conditioned by lower propensities, then they won’t come into the fold.” So, that means if too high standard is demanded from those who are unable to perform, then they will not join. “But the policy is that they must come, so some allowances are given. For a particular type of disciple there will be a corresponding Guru and a similar shastra, but it is with the hope that they will take up the path of progress.” Please pay attention, this is very important. “The shastras are so generous in going to the lowest section, and the corresponding Guru will also be there. Similar Guru, similar shastra, and similar sadhu – all are extended to the lowest plane to elevate the conditioned souls by a gradual process.”[3]

Do you see the depth of this vision? That proves that this divine function of guru is with the most insignificant and the lowest possible platform of human beings in the hope of progress. Of course who would join – as it is said – ‘аn ordinary guru of the lowest type’? You wouldn’t join such a person. You want to join the best possible maha-bhagavat highest personality because ‘we are the best’, right. So, if there is a horse available, why should you ride the ass? ‘Secondary guru of the lowest type? I don’t want that. I want the best! Give me guru deluxe! Because I am disciple deluxe. I deserve the best.’ But actually even such guys will get a spiritual master. Why? Because the function must be there.

If we analyze what is the way out from the deepest trap – the elevated philosophy stays outside, but mercy will go down, mercy will be extended. And don’t think that you, that we are in any elevated position. Because considered from the orthodox Indian view we are fallen. Our acharyas, our line is very subtle, very delicate. So, beware when you meet some Indian masters or Indian devotees, and they glorify you: “Oh, you are a great scholar!” or: “Oh, your intellect is so sharp!” they actually say: “You are very unqualified.” You might take it as a compliment, but actually this is a complaint. Because that means you are on the mental platform. Not on the emotional platform, not on the divine platform. So, beware: if you hear such glorifications, think what mistake you have done!

Yet, we all have got a chance. Because Mahaprabhu came not for the qualified guys. He came for the unqualified guys. Maybe not for the disqualified, but for the unqualified, definitely. So, this divine function, this divine principle of mercy bridges the gap between our present conditioned stage and the chance to start a progressive path of perfection. The holy name is all merciful and the guru principle and the shastra principle will come to any possible platform just to inform people about the proper direction.

And the shastra has got in its mind that in this gradual process some provision must be given, otherwise a great many will give it up. That universal mind is there, and that sort of

consciousness is in the minds of the rishis who have prepared those shastras, and in the corresponding Gurus as well. The sadhus and shastras are going to the extremity of the sinful area, because otherwise there would be no chance for anyone to rise from that level. But generally the disciples, the sadhakas, will take up spiritual practices from their own plane – their own level of realization or inner evolution – they’ll go up from there, and along the way also they will find the appropriate Guru and shastra”.

The supreme Lord who is merciful is ready to go after the fallen souls. And actually this is our hope. Don’t worry about you condition; we should start our spiritual journey.


(to be continued)



[1] Sri Prema Bhakti Candrika 1.3

[2] Shrimad Bhagavatam 11.3.44

[3] The Golden staircase, Ch. 2 Universal mind ,Absolute backing, by Shrila Shridhar Maharaj



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

(continues from the previous Friday)

Swami Tirtha: What other types of guru do you have?

Paramananda: Samasta guru.

Swami Tirtha: Very good! Who is samasta? What is that?

Paramananda: The collective body of the entire parampara.

Swami Tirtha: Yes. Samasta guru is like all the masters united. So, that means by serving our master we serve all the masters. By inviting the attention of our master we invite the attention of all the previous masters. And a guru is a well-wisher, but we have so many well-wishers. It’s a very good feeling, it’s a very safe feeling. That is the samasta guru aspect – all the previous acharyas and well-wishers and saints are working for us, praying for us. Who else is there?

Answer: The negative guru. Who is giving the example how not to do.

Swami Tirtha: Very good. Once I was talking to a Sufi master and he said: “If you meet a fake dervish, search because there must be a real one”. And then he added: “Have you ever seen a fake 75-dollar bill? No, because there is no original 75-dollar bill. But you might have met a fake 100-dollar bill, because there is an original 100-dollar bill.” That means if you meet a fake, a negative master – search! There must be a real one! Because it is said that even from a fake master, or a negative guru we can learn a lot – about ourselves. Very good! Who else is there?

Paramananda: Rasa-guru?

Swami Tirtha: Finally! Rasa-guru – who will introduce us to the divine mood of worship, of connection, of contribution. I think we discussed this topic, but it’s good to mention that Bhaktivinoda Thakura wrote a novel about spiritual path, “Jaiva Dharma” – “The duty of the human beings”. And there the practitioners are directed to a highly elevated master. They are disciples of one, but this master sends them to another one just to consult on rasa. They approach the sacred master and then he asks: “Why did you come?” “Well, we would like to clarify our rasa”. The master asks: “Very nice, what is your feeling?” and then one person says: “Well, I feel very much attracted to the peacocks in Vrindavana. I would be very happy, very satisfied to have such a position – to be a peacock in Vrindavana.” The master says: “Very nice, my son! Go ahead!” So, a rasic acharya will introduce us to some rasa, to some specific type of service. Maybe you expected something else? I think this is high enough. It’s high enough.

I think here we should stop our search for more gurus. Actually when you enter, you will meet only gurus. Because who is a guru? The one whom we can follow. Who is ahead of us. Who serves better, who knows better. Not knows better, but who serves better, who feels better. Therefore we follow, we accept him as an authority. And in the spiritual sky everybody is of a higher substance than ourselves, because we are the newcomers. With the material calculation we might think: ‘Oh, to be the last one, the latest one it’s not so good. Because everybody is in front of me.’ But I tell you, this is so nice because then everybody will treat you as the smallest, youngest brother and sister. The most tender care and attention will come to you. And actually this is our philosophy. This is our goal – to become the last ones. But now you can see how glorious it is to be the last one. Because everybody is trying to pay attention to you.

And this chapter ended that “Sometimes a primary teacher may have a student who is an extraordinary scholar. In my school days, I remember there was a case we had to read about in history class in connection with the famous statesman Edmund Burke and the taxation laws passed by Parliament at the time of the American Revolutionary War. It happened that his service was so much appreciated that he had the title of ‘lord’ conferred upon him, and to make him a lord, his father and then his grandfather were also awarded the title of ‘lord.’ The title of ‘lord’ comes from up to down, but in that case, it went from down to up! The grandson was first given the recognition of lord, and then the father, and then the grandfather. The grandson received the title first by dint of his capacity. So it may be that because of previous arrangements, a less qualified person may give a push to a more qualified person in the beginning, and in return the more qualified person may later help him. Thus the Guru will instruct God-consciousness to different people in different places. From different directions one may receive help.”[1]

(to be continued)


[1] The Golden staircase, Ch. 2 Universal mind ,Absolute backing’, by Shrila Shridhar Maharaj


Prabhupad in laugh

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

(continues from the previous Friday) 

That is the function of the chaitya-guru – God, inner guidance, antaryami, living in your heart and guiding you. What other types of guru do you have?

Kripadham: Sannyas-guru.

Swami Tirtha: Correct. Sannyas-guru is also there – who will introduce us to the renounced order of life. In general sense it is not necessary for everyone to become a sannyasi, but considering the mood of total dependence on the divine guidance and no second objective, everybody should become a sannyasi. So, not formally, but essentially. Sannyas doesn’t mean that you have the best computers and everybody is giving the flower garland to you. This is not the definition of sannyas order. But the inner mood of developing a total dependence on God – this is sannyas. So, this is the sannyas-guru – who will introduce us either formally or essentially to this mood of focusing our attention completely on Krishna. Other type of guru?

Hayagriva: Param-guru.

Swami Tirtha: Param-guru! Correct! You see, we have a collection of gurus. Param-guru is always very important. You know something! Because what happens? Our spiritual master has to take full responsibility for us. Therefore he will chastise us: “Hey, my dear son, my dear daughter! Don’t be lazy, go, do!” And sometimes this is a burden. Just like a father. The fathers are always busy instructing their children. But what about the grandfather? The param-guru is always smiling, always very gentle: ”Oh, my dear son, my dear daughter, don’t worry! Maybe your father is little upset today, but just come to me!” Have you met in your dreams Shrila Prabhupada?

 Hayagriva: I don’t remember.

Swami Tirtha: Oh, then you didn’t. What is the feeling? Just like your real grandfather who is ready to embrace you when your heart is broken. So, param-guru is very important. Because when we cannot tolerate our spiritual master, then the superior can enter and can solve the problem. Param-guru is a very important function. If there is anything missing in the guru, then the param-guru can enter, can compensate. Next?

Answer: Adi-guru.

Swami Tirtha: Oh, very good! Who is adi-guru?

Answer: Krishna.

Hayagriva: Lord Balaram.

Other: Radharani.

Swami Tirtha: Balaram, yes. Radharani. And sometimes even Ananga Manjari. So, it’s a new horizon of spiritual masters and mistresses, so to say. Adi means first, first guru. Who is the first guru? It’s God. It’s a divine function. ‘I am the source, I am the goal and I am the leader. I will help you to come back to Me.’ This is the adi, the original, the primordial guru function. And this divine invitation function is dedicated to certain personalities. So, adi guru I think represents the guru-tattva in the most complete, most profound manner.

Question: Like Shri guru?

Swami Tirtha: Shri guru is little different, because adi guru is absolutely a divine function – there is no human interference there. Shri guru means that I see my master, but I see the Shri, the divine function in him, through him. There is a set of mantras for the brahmanas and actually there are two versions of one mantra. One is aim gurave namaha, and the other is aim shri gurave namaha. I am in favor of the second version, because that combines the guru-person and the guru-tattva conception. In this way this is not a personality cult, but a divine culture. It’s a big difference. So, that is the adi guru and Shri guru function. Other types of guru?

(to be continued)




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

(continues from the previous Friday) 

In the story of Dhruva it is mentioned that the mother as a guide was like a spiritual master. So, you mothers, please be the spiritual guides for your sons and daughters. Be so strong, determined and realized in your spiritual life, in your faith, that you can transmit something to the next generation. Don’t think that: “Oh, some sannyasi will do the job! I cook the prasadam, but he will take care of my son spiritually.” You have to be gurus! Generally ladies are very ambitious. What to speak of the Bulgarian ladies! They are highly ambitious! So, here is a program for you. Be a spiritual guide! There is no higher ambition. There is! Yet for the newcomers this is the highest achievement – to be a spiritual leader. But please, don’t start with your husbands! Start with your children. Don’t consider your husbands as children.

Still, what is the higher ambition? What is higher than to become a guru? To become a servant. So, if you are really ambitious, you should become a servant of your family. Consider them to be vaishnavas, representatives of some divine power, given to you by God and try to serve them. Because the real guru position is service, and the real servant position is guru. This is what we want to study – how to become an obedient servant of the Lord.

So, the first instruction was given to Dhruva by the mother. Vartma-pradarshaka-guru is the first guide who introduces us into the spiritual practice. Sometimes it is our diksha-guru, sometimes it is not. Diksha-guru is the person who initiates us either to the harinam, or the nama-mantra. And then the shisksha-guru is also there – who gives guidance by teaching, by educating us in our spiritual progress. Our shiksha-guru should always help our commitment to our diksha-guru to grow. Shiksha-gurus – you might have many, diksha-guru is better to have one.

And then we might think that this is the end of the list of the gurus, right? Vartma-pradarshaka – introducing, diksha and shiksha. Enough of the gurus. But unfortunately… but fortunately there are some more gurus. What other types of guru do you have?

Answer: Chaitya-guru.

Swami Tirtha: Chaitya-guru, very good – we shouldn’t forget about that. Because many times it is stated that we should consult the three authorities: guru, shastra, sadhu – the spiritual master, the scriptures and the saints. Yet, there is a fourth factor and this is our inner conviction, chaitya-guru. If your inner being also agrees, then you should do – if it is according to the three other factors. Sometimes this is not emphasized enough, especially in devotional circles. Devotees usually know only the three factors. And in other circles most of the people know only the fourth factor. ‘I have got the divine guidance to do according to my desires!’ So, try to unite both – your sincere inner desire for guidance and your reliable sources outside.

Question: You mentioned guru, shastra and sadhu and my question is if they are mentioned in this order by importance?

Swami Tirtha: By importance, of course, not by chance. Why? Because shastra is the center, both the guru and the sadhu should refer to shastra. Without the reference to shastra no guru is guru, without the reference to shastra no sadhu is sadhu. So, this is the sequence: guru, shastra, sadhu.

(to be continued)




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

“Question: In his purport to Shrimad-Bhagavatam 4.12.33, Shrila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada wrote something in connection with the story of Dhruva Maharaj. He said that Dhruva Maharaj was a very powerful devotee and could take his mother back to Godhead, and then he wrote, “If one of my disciples becomes as strong as Dhruva Maharaj, then he can take me back to Godhead.” This statement seems very mysterious.”

Shridhara Maharaja answers: ”Dhruva’s mother was his Guru, his vartma-pradarshaka-guru, his first guide, just as Chintamani was in the case of Bilvamangala Thakura. Through Chintamani, that Krishna-function as Acarya came as vartma-pradarshaka, and in a similar way Dhruva was initially inspired by his mother; his first spiritual instruction was from her. Next he received guidance from Narada, and then by dint of his bhajan he attained the next stage, and then again he went further. But his vartma-pradarshaka-guru was his mother, and yet she was to be apparently left behind. The vartma-pradarshaka-guru is the one who first gets the kanishtha-adhikari bhakta started on the progressive spiritual path. But we have to consider the past lives of Dhruva and his mother. In his past life Dhruva had made more progress, but then in that life it was arranged by the Lord that his mother would get him started in the proper direction, and thereafter he adopted the path of bhajan. Both of them had previous lives of progress in the proper direction, but sometimes a primary teacher may have a student who is an extraordinary scholar”.[1]

Most probably you are familiar with this story of Dhruva Maharaja. He was a young boy, hurt by his father due to some family problems. His father, the king, had two wives and he preferred the other wife, not the mother of Dhruva. And when the father somehow showed his preference, Dhruva was offended. Then Dhruva went crying to the mother: “What to do? How to retaliate this offence?” The mother tried to pacify him, but ultimately the young boy, five years old, decided to go for a meditation in the jungle. And then he started quite a strong practice. Then Narada Muni gave him advice on sadhana – how to perform his meditation. I don’t really remember the details, but first he started his tapasya by eating once a week. Then he came to the next level of drinking once a week. Then he raised the standards by not eating anything for weeks. He was very determined in this more and more progressive tapasya. So much so, that finally by his renunciation Lord Vishnu appeared to him and asked: “What do you want, My dear son?” and he said: “Oh, I was so stupid. I wanted power, but now I have got Your darshan. I am fully satisfied. This is like small pieces of glass, but now I have a divine darshan, so I am fully satisfied.” Then what happened – he went back and fought off everybody: he was killing up and down all the demons just to show his power. So much so that the demigods had to come and pacify him: “Enough! It’s not necessary to go out of proportion!”

But what does this story tell us? First of all, if you feel hurt, don’t take it too serious. Because you might end up killing the demons out of proportion. The second is that we all have different motivation to start our meditation, our spiritual progress. Most of the times this is a kind of material motivation – either we suffer too much, or we want to achieve something. Nevertheless if we follow the instruction given to us with determination, we shall achieve our goal. And this goal might be beyond our expectations. You wanted only to resolve your small little insignificant problem, but you might meet God Supreme.

(to be continued)


[1]The Golden staircase, Ch. 2 Universal mind”, by Shrila Shridhar Maharaj




Arjuna with bow and arrow and Dronacharya

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

Question of Yamuna: Maharaj, archery seems to have a special place in the whole Hindu tradition. There is a mantra which says that God is the target, om is the arrow, etc. If you could tell us more about the meaning – why it is compared with the archery? Maybe it’s not by chance that Krishna spoke Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna who is the best archer in the world. Can you, please, say something about the archery in the tradition – archery as practice and archery as meditation?

Swami Tirtha: Well, what is the goal of an archer? To hit the target. So, that needs one-pointed attention. Although I’m not a big archer myself, but hitting the target really needs a very intensive type of meditation. It’s a kind of yoga, because when you can reach your target, then you are connected to your target, right. When there is a link between you and the target, then the arrow will fly by itself. And this is not the technique, it’s not the sharpness of your eyes; this is something different. So, concentration is there, pranayama is there – because you have to hold your breath. There are so many aspects there – practical and mystical. And actually our soul, our identity is the arrow. And the mantra om, or practically any prayer, any service, any mantra is the bow. And as you said, Brahman, or the Supreme is the goal.

We might think that our meeting or reaching the goal happens by our own efforts. Which is no doubt a necessary element, but ultimate achievements will come as blessings to us. How did Arjuna become the best archer? By achieving the mercy of his master. He was good, but he became the best by that higher principle. So, to be one-pointed is the essence of archery.

Probably you all know that story when Drona wanted to teach his students of archery. He was the military teacher of the Pandavas and the Kauravas. Once he put a wooden bird upon a tree and the students had to shoot at the bird. So, when the first came, the teacher asked: “What do you see, my son?” “I see the scenery, I see the tree and I see the bird also.” Drona said: “Not good.” The second came and the master asked: “So, my dear son, what do you see? Do you see the bird?” “Yes, I see the bird.” “Do you see the tree?” “Yes, I see the tree.” “Bad! Out!” Then finally came Arjuna. “My dear son, do you see the bird?” “Yes, I see the bird”. “Do you see the tree?” “No, I don’t see the tree.” “Do you see me?” “No, I don’t see you.” “Do you see the whole bird?” “No, I don’t see the whole bird” “What do you see?” “I see only the eye”. Because that was the target – to hit the eye of the bird. “This is it, my son! Shoot!”

So, in order to reach the goal we have to be focused, one-pointed attention should be there. Nothing around, only your goal.

Yamuna: Should we forget guru to reach the goal?

Swami Tirtha: No, we are answering his challenging questions. How can we forget him!

One-pointed – this is an expression in yoga. And actually we can say that yoga is the best martial art, because here we have to overcome the greatest enemy. And who is that? Ourselves. So, be one-pointed.




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

Here is some little piece of knowledge that you should remember – time. There are four different phases of time and eternity concerning beginning and end, no end and no beginning. So, how is it? Anything that is material, it has a beginning and has an end. Anything spiritual?

Answer: No beginning and no end. 

Swami Tirtha: So far so good. Give me an example of beginning and end.

Answer: Love story.

Swami Tirtha: Sorry, this is completely and totally illusion. It’s a fairy tale. Give me something that exists. Let’s say body. Body takes birth and dies. Beginning and end – clear. Anything material, even the cosmic Universe, has a beginning and has an end. Because this is material nature. This is called anitya – non-eternal. What is the eternal? That is nitya. Give me an example of nitya.  

Yamuna: Atma.

Swami Tirtha: So, something spiritual by nature. No beginning, no end – that’s easy again. But what about the other combinations? Give me something that has a beginning, but has no end.

Hari-Lila: The thought. If somebody receives some knowledge and creates some thought, this thought is new in the Universe and has a beginning, but never ends. And also if some soul has love to God, it’s a new beginning, but there is no end.

Swami Tirtha: At first glance it looks like correct. But actually it is said: if you think you have found or you have said something new – that means you didn’t read enough. Because actually everything is told already. Hardly ever we can have so to say “a new thought”. Why? Because this Universe is almost a closed system. Thoughts included. In the Akashic chronicles all the possible thoughts of the Universe structure are there. And we pick from there. This whole Universe is a thought, it’s a dream of Vishnu. And as Shridhara Maharaja explained, the background is consciousness. We only take from that background. Nothing is new, it’s not us, it’s not ours, it’s given to us – the chance to think in that way. Unfortunately I have to say ‘no’ to thoughts – this is not the real answer here. But you also mentioned…? 

Hari-Lila: Love. When you start to love God, or when you start to establish connection with God, this is a new beginning and is never ending, because love is ever expanding.

Swami Tirtha: This is very close to the real solution. But again, I would say bhakti exists. If one little drop is given to us, it looks like a new beginning, but it’s an eternal lila, eternal game. Therefore we can say that if you reach perfection, liberation – that’s a new beginning. Our personal liberation will have a start, but there is no end. Because once we enter the spiritual realm, we shall not return. We can say moksha has a beginning, but no end. And what about the fourth? Without beginning, but there is an end.

Paramananda: Foolishness.

Swami Tirtha: Oh, no. There is no end of it! It’s unlimited.

Manjari: Karma.

Mahabhava: My answer is similar – the cycle of birth and death. We don’t know where it started, but we know that eventually it can end.

Swami Tirtha: I think this is the trickiest, the most difficult to find – something with no beginning, but with an end. Actually this is karma or what brings us into the cycle of birth and death. Because karma existed before this present phase of creation in seed form. But it’s got an end. When we reach moksha – that’s the end of karma. This is where they meet.

So, the first was no beginning, no end (nitya). The second was beginning and end (anitya). The third was beginning, but no end (ananta). And the forth was no beginning, but there is an end (anadi).




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

If something exists, it is never destroyed. We exist – at least we have this impression. I feel like living! Some philosophies are not sure about it: ‘We cannot specify, we cannot know’. But at least we should be positive about our own existence. We perceive ourselves somehow, right? Our consciousness somehow has this impression, has this experience of existence. And if we feel sure that ‘I exist now’, then this is permanency, this is eternity. Consciousness is a very important factor here. All the different impressions and conceptions are revealed and projected over this screen of consciousness. So, progress means that we should see more properly what is what.

Gurudev once put the question: “What is progress? What do you think, what is progress, spiritual progress?” So, what do you think?

Yamuna: If every next moment is better, than the previous one.

Swami Tirtha: Well, the material propaganda says the same: “Today is not so good, but tomorrow it will be better.” Other conceptions about spiritual progress?

Paramananda: When we are closer to perfection.

Swami Tirtha: Sounds good.

Pavitra: When we more and more realize the need of the connection with the spiritual master and we are able to follow him.

Harilila: When the material sufferings are less and less important.

Giridhari: God Himself said what progress is when He is answering to Arjuna what happens to the successful yogi. Success is when you start from the point where you had stopped; when you don’t lose your achievements.

Swami Tirtha: It’s also a good point, but actually we can never lose any spiritual achievement.

Comment: To love God as we love ourselves.

Giridhari: The real quote is actually not to love God as we love ourselves, but to love our brothers as we love ourselves and God most of everything.

Swami Tirtha: Yes, yes. But to accomplish the meeting of different opinions, Gurudev finally, after he was very dissatisfied with all our possible solutions, said: “Progress is when you see more and more everybody as a devotee in your environment.”

Sometimes we think that progress is in some achievement, in doing something big. Yet maybe that is only an accomplishment of our material desires. You become the most famous preacher on the Earth – big ego trip. But if we can see our brothers and sisters more and more as devotees, that is real progress. Because then your vision is improving. Not your position is improving, your vision is improving.

Please, think if you can accept this version, I think that is very useful. In this way we can inhabit our world with angels. Follow the angels.

Question of Paramananda: Is there an end to the progress? Or it is ever evolving, unfolding understanding and realization?

Swami Tirtha: Well, Shrila Shridhara Maharaj says ‘divine unfoldment’; and as this is divine, it’s a never-ending unfoldment. Material unfoldment has an end, spiritual unfoldment has no end.

But I really appreciate your answers and conceptions about perfection. Because everybody was talking about his or her own realization. And that is nice. It reminds me when Krishna entered the wrestling arena of Kamsa. Then all the different visitors had a different vision of Him. Kamsa saw death personified in Krishna. The other wrestlers saw their greatest fearful enemy. His parents: “Oh, my dear small little son is here!” And the gopis didn’t see the wrestling arena, nor some danger – no, only “Our beloved Govinda is here!”

So, everybody has a personal concept. Here is one question: “What is progress?” and everyone will say: “Oh, coming closer to Guru!” or “Oh, going more far away from Guru!” – according to your realizations, right. Or “The relief from suffering”. But if Kunti Devi was sitting here, she would say: “More suffering is great progress.” Therefore we should understand in the spirit of the Bhakti-sutras that the validity of different opinions is not final. Because there is no end of the different conceptions and therefore any conclusion based on debate is not final. What is the final authority in our understanding? And now I don’t open a debate about it. This is the descending divine guidance. Shastra, revelations, or shabda, divine truth. This is the ultimate guidance. Not the different personal ideas or conceptions. Not the opinions, but the divine revelation. And this is the point where we all should agree. So nice, we have found the point of harmony.




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



Question of Yamuna: Why the soul through reincarnations is forgetting the previous events? Don’t we need this in order to make the connection and get the picture? Isn’t it more useful to us to remember rather than to forget? Krishna says in the Gita that: “I am the forgetfulness.”[1] Why does this forgetfulness come to us not through maya, but through Krishna?

Swami Tirtha: In good case it comes through Krishna; in general case it comes through maya.

Yamuna: So, to put the question: when the body dies and the soul reincarnates in another body, is the forgetfulness coming from Krishna or is it coming from maya? And why is it necessary for the soul to forget the previous experience? Isn’t it rather necessary to make the cross-references and stop feeling rebellious that: ‘I am the victim. I don’t deserve that!’

Swami Tirtha: I like this last part. So, in ordinary cases forgetfulness comes from maya, illusion, but in special cases it comes from Krishna. Just like remembrance also comes from Krishna. They all have a big part to play in our system. Because forgetfulness covers not only our previous merits and achievements, but also our mistakes, our big faults and our failures. Many people think: ‘Oh, it would be so nice to have an impression of my previous lives. Because in this lifetime I am suffering so much that definitely I want to have the information of my previous lifetimes!’ But my dear brothers and sisters, if you suffer today, what was your story last time? Same! So, why do you want to remember that much? It’s better to have it covered. It is not by chance that there’s something you forget, something you remember. Especially with a sincere practitioner this is also under divine guidance. So, don’t poke your nose into your past soup. Lord Buddha was said to remember one thousand lifetimes back. But he was powerful enough to carry the burden of thousand lifetimes. We are so weak even to tolerate the burden of one, this present lifetime. And then we want to see the others? Didn’t you have enough in this lifetime? Why do you want to know the previous ones and the upcoming ones? One element of sharanagati is to accept Krishna as the maintainer and the protector. If He wants to protect us by making us remember something, then we should accept. If He wants to protect us by making us forget something, we should accept that also. This is for our benefit.

Otherwise if we always know permanently something, it might become boring. And it is said that Krishna likes the fresh gopies. This is His nature. Sometimes it’s good to forget about something. Because then it will feel like new. Permanent and complete consciousness and memories – it’s a heavy burden. Sometimes we even have to pray for forgetfulness. ‘Please, my Lord, help me to forget about my mistakes! Help me to forget about the shadows of others’, because that is not the real thing. The real thing is something essential, it’s not the shadow. The light is always ahead of us and the shadow is always at our back. This should be our approach and we shouldn’t worry. Even if you want to remember, by age Krishna will provide you the forgetfulness. 

Yamuna: That’s bothering. 

Swami Tirtha: No, that’s sweet. Because what is it we shall remember at the end? Not so much, because philosophy is too complicated. ‘Yes, some years back I was able to see, but not anymore. So, I didn’t read the Gita for twenty years now. And I heard so many teachings, but I cannot remember anything. But one thing I remember is… how was that? Hare Krishna! Yes! I remember this!’

So, we shouldn’t be too proud of our knowledge and of our understanding, because Krishna will remove it very easily. When we are young… Bhaktivinod Thakur said: “When I was young I was collecting knowledge! And I thought that this is the way; but now in my old age I see that knowledge made a fool out of me. Now I am so old and I am so incapable to enjoy life. And what a misfortune – I forgot to worship you, my Lord!”[2] This is something essential; this is what we should not forget. Not very complicated – He is there, don’t forget about Him!

So, remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness also come from the divine source. And we should be sure, that whatever is necessary for our benefit, for our connection back home – it will be provided. Some might reach the same destination by knowledge; others might reach it by forgetfulness. So, it’s a kind of special duty if we remember our past lives. And actually if we analyze the present situation, we should be able to understand the past and also the future. Because the present is the future of the past and the past of the future.

But we should never forget that we are spiritual sparks. Sharing the divine qualities. He is eternal, we are also eternal. He is shining, we are also shining a little bit, reflecting something. Because if we forget about that, then we compromise the divine glory, so to say.

So, in one sense you are all great! I don’t want to flatter you, but you are great! You are part of a divine plan. Not only by dedicating yourself, but ontologically, by nature, you are all part of a divine plan. So, the more we realize this, the closer we are. Because there is a dignity of the soul. It’s not only the horror of the body. And also there is the joy of self. So it is this we should not forget.


[1] Bhagavad Gita 15.15

[2] See Bhaktivinod Thakur’s song: Vidyara vilase


лодка в нектарен океан (1)

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

(continues from the previous Friday) 

“Question: “So if someone says that the Guru himself will personally come back – that is a mundane conception, a wrong conception?

Shrila Shridhara Maharaj: Yes. The main thread is there, but it will not always appear in the same form. Although to the beginners one may say that “he will come back,” ultimately we find that a disciple may even be transferred into another section, and then yet another section, so that he may gradually reach his destination. According to the unfolding of his inner necessity, the departmental change may occur. And he will always perceive his own Guru in newer and newer ways. At first sight he perceived his Guru to be of one type; then again with progress he will see the same Guru in another way, and thereafter another new characteristic will be found in his Gurudeva. The disciple will feel, ’I could not detect so much in my Guru in the beginning. I saw him in one particular way, but now I find that he is something more, and then he is still more.’ In this way there is a divine unfoldment. In this world there is unfoldment, and in the higher domain also there is unfoldment. So the Guru is something like shaktyavesha. Shaktyavesha is this special person who is deputed according to a particular time, place or circumstance, and there is also the permanent shaktyavesha; but in all cases, according to the necessity of the situation and by the divine dispensation of the Lord, the disciple will be connected and he won’t feel any distrust, it is the presence within. He will quench the thirst for the full progress of his heart, there will be divine unfoldment within his heart, and again he will begin a new thirst. And that new thirst will be quenched by whom? His Guru. It will be quenched by his Guru and he won’t have any feeling of unscrupulousness or anything else. As his internal thirst is being satisfied, he will feel, “There is my Gurudeva.”

Wherever there is unfoldment – gradual unfoldment and full attention given to that – then we can understand that from the upper side there is Guru. Gurudeva is my guide; and as I progress, guidance of different types will be necessary for me. Always new guidance, and my progress will take me into different places, and there a new type of guidance, a new life, will again come. In this way a dynamic life is going on and the main thread is there: raso vai sah – the pure rasa, the pure ecstasy is there. And my inner heart will approve: “Yes, I want this. This is my fate; this is my fortune.” Otherwise, if any madhyama-adhikari is appointed as Guru and has so many disciples, and if he is to come back again and again, then he could never enter into nitya-lila. But that cannot be so. In any case, whoever is connected with a genuine Guru will be satisfied, because the Lord is present there”[1].

To see the Supreme in the Master is not in name only – it has a very specific purpose. “Krishna says, “Don’t try to limit the Acharya! You may have come up to a high position, but will you then think that you have surpassed that Acharya through whom you received your initial instruction in spiritual life? No, navamanyeta – don’t think that there is less in him, don’t consider him to be of lower position. No – I Myself was there! I was there in your primary teacher, in your ‘college-level’ teacher, and I am there in your ‘post-graduate professor’ also! So don’t look at only the outside. I Myself am your guide in different forms. It is Me.”

“Sarva deva-mayo guruh: the Acharya has got more spacious characteristics than that of the ordinary, general Vaishnava. Krishna says, “For you, I am there. And mayanukulena, I am backing so many Acharyas. There are so many Acharyas, and I am working through them. The Acharyas are like helmsmen in so many different boats, and I am the favorable wind helping those boats to make progress. So don’t limit the Acharya – try to see him on the same level as Me”.

“Sarva deva-mayo guruh” that’s like a quote, like a proverb – that all the demigods and all the gods are included in Guru[2].

Question of Yashoda: I cannot understand the conception of Shrila Shridhara Maharaj because I had heard that Guru is coming back for the disciple and here it was said that it’s not exactly like this.

Swami Tirtha: I cannot understand his guidance either, but I worship this. Because it’s not necessary to understand the truth. It’s enough to worship. But just imagine a master with a hundred lazy students. Where is the liberation of the master if he has to go after all these guys running up and down the Universes? Or maybe we expect some magic yogic powers from our masters – that they should multiply themselves and go after me, go after the other and the third one. Is this your expectation? Well, if we have that expectation, then we should also qualify ourselves. But somehow all this guidance is a divine function. And whatever is impossible according to human capacities it’s very much possible according to divine power.

[1] The Golden staircase, “Divine unfoldment” by Shrila Shridhara Maharaj

[2] Shrimad Bhagavatam 11. 17. 27.