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English issues

Prabhupad in Radha-Damodar Temple

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 6.09.2015 morning, Sofia) 

(continues from the previous Friday) 

What happened with Shrila Prabhupada in 1944? He started a magazine. It was not called Kagylokurt, but almost. The title was Back to Godhead. A few pages, like a leaflet, but this was a historic moment for the devotees. And during these years he was still in his preparation, how to accomplish this mission.

Then came the next decade. What happened in 1955? He took sannyas, he entered the renounced order of life. He was close to 60 by age and you know it’s a famous story that his wife sold his Shrimad Bhagavatam in order to obtain some biscuits, I think. This is not a criticism for the ladies, because they want to take care of the daily realities of life. But Prabhupada wanted the divine reality, so there was a little conflict between them. Why biscuits? Because she liked tea. And tea without biscuits is like half done. Prabhupada was not very much in favor of the tea. Finally he asked: “Tea, or me?” And the lady said: “Tea!” Then he got the license: “All right, if you like the tea, then I can go!”

My dear brothers, when the time comes, you can repeat this mantra: ‘Tea, or me?’ And please, my dear sisters, if you listen to this mantra and if you want to enjoy the company of your dear husband, declare: “You!” Not the tea. You see, there might be some conflicts in our life, but if we want to find the real solution, then we must upgrade our life. If you substitute one mistake with another mistake – what’s the use of that? Go further, go to the next stage.

So, he took sannyas from a god-brother, Keshava Maharaja. And now he felt that he is more established in the mission. And as he was always a very active person, he started his real direct spiritual, missionary activities. He tried to establish the League of Devotees. In the Hungarian version of the Ultimate goal of life we publish the constitution of the League. It’s very interesting! He wanted to establish Sanskrit as the major language of India. Because then everybody will understand according to the sacred tradition. Not Hindi, but Sanskrit, because Hindi was chosen for political reasons. And many other things… he declared his vision how such a spiritual community should work and he had some plans for not only India, but for the whole world – even in the very early times. He wanted to find helpers, students also. Because you know a sannyasi without brahmacharis or students – again this is only half done. And he was criticized for that: “Why do you want to have followers?” But then he said: “Well, you made me married with my danda[1] and you don’t let me have children? It’s not nice!” So, my dear brothers, if the time comes after you have taken your sannyas and you will be criticized: “Oh, this guy has a big ego and he wants to pose as a big guru”, remember this mantra: “I have my wife, so I need my family. I need my children.” A few people committed themselves to follow Shrila Prabhupada – these were the first Indian devotees at that time.

But practically this League of devotees didn’t really succeed. And then he withdrew to Vrindavana. For some years he was staying in Vrindavana. It’s a very important place for us; if you visit, you should see his room in the Radha Damodar temple. It’s a very austere small little room with an adjoining kitchen, very nicely kept by the devotees – his disciples and grand disciples now. There he was deeply absorbed in his meditation and preparation also. And The ultimate goal of life appeared at this time.

And then another decade passed and we come to 1965. What happened at that time? Finally he started his journey. There was a very famous and wealthy merchant family. And the senior lady of this family granted Shrila Prabhupada a ticket to reach to America on the board of the Jaladuta steamship. Everybody tried to prevent Prabhupada from the journey: “You are old! You are weak! It’s a long journey and it’s a totally different country. Don’t go there!” But he was very committed and never gave up. So, he started. And you know for the orthodox Indians to cross the ocean is forbidden. Because you go to Mlechadesh and you are contaminated. But he didn’t consider this point. He collected his luggage, and this luggage is very remarkable. What was there in his luggage? Some printed books – the First Canto of Shrimad Bhagavatam and also an umbrella. Because an Indian gentleman without an umbrella is zero. Plus he had 7 dollars in the pocket! This was his luggage. The most important things: some money in your pocket – but 7 dollars, even in that times, it’s nothing; the umbrella – for practical reason; and the Shrimad Bhagavatam – for mystical reasons. You can see this innocence! You want to capture the whole world and you take your Bhagavatam and umbrella. It’s so nice!

 

(to be continued)

[1] danda – the staff of a renunciate

 



Bhaktisiddhanta Bhaktivedanta

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 6.09.2015 morning, Sofia) 

After the beautiful and intensive celebration of Janmashtami comes another very important celebration and this is a celebration of a pure devotee. A very special person was born the next day after Janmashtami, Krishna’s appearance day. He came from a respectable Bengali family, the De family. His name was Abhay Charan De, born at the very end of the 19th century. You know when there is a shift of centuries, so many changes are there; it’s not only changes of years, but some remarkable events might happen. Yet this boy was born to this family and seemingly he had a very simple life, just like all other boys on the street. Nevertheless the father had a vision about his son. There were two expectations for the boy. Do you remember what were the two expectations? To become a pure devotee of Radhika and a perfect mridanga player. Today we don’t like expectations. We declare: ‘Oh, expectations will spoil the child.’ But if a father has such an expectation from the boy: that he should become a pure devotee of Shrimati Radharani and an excellent mridanga player, then it fulfills. So, I don’t share the present-day psychological approach ‘no expectations’. I am in favor of expectations, but proper expectations.

And if you read the story of this very remarkable life, you will understand that when he was a young boy, he organized festivals of Jagannath. Jagannath is the Lord of the whole Universe. And maybe He was so satisfied with the offering of this small boy, that he made him a preacher of the whole Universe.

Another thing that was very important in his young age was that his father always accepted sadhus at home. So he was in this atmosphere how to serve the sadhus: if sadhus come, pay attention, serve them nicely, listen to their advice. This was his childhood imprint – to use another psychological expression. If we compare this to our childhood imprints, there is a little difference, right. Because what was our childhood imprint? Watch TV to keep the child silenced. But in this way this boy had the opportunity to grab some very essential points. Not only living in a traditional vaishnava family, but also some practice.

Then when he grew up, he became a medical chemist and he started his own private business. Not very successful, to tell you the truth. Many times he was bankrupt. But in these times he always remembered one verse from Shrimad Bhagavatam: “Those whom Krishna likes, He makes his path a little difficult, He takes away everything material from him.” Nevertheless he never gave up his commitment to the Supreme and his trying, trying hard in the material existence. He was a well educated person, just like this generation in the very beginning of the 20th century in India – you know Bengalis are very proud of being Bengalis. There are the Bengalis and the rest of India. So, in these early years of the 20th century all the intelligent young men were very much influenced by Gandhi’s movement for self-reliance and independence of India. Gandhi was considered to be a saint among the politicians and a politician among the saints. Shrila Prabhupada’s generation was well educated and very much up to the times, they were very well informed young people.

And then all of a sudden in 1922 something very special happened to him. What was that? He met a sadhu, a special sadhu. He got the news that a sadhu is giving lectures here, so he decided: ‘All right, I’ll go. I had met so many sadhus, I will go this time also.’ The name of this sadhu was Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. And as soon as Abhay Charan De entered the room, he was on the hook, he was captured totally. And what was the first sentence this sadhu said to this bright young man? “You speak so good English! Why don’t you preach in the West?” Very unexpected message. But it entered the heart of this young man so much, that for the next 44 years he was meditating on this advice: ‘How to accomplish that?’

So, this happened in 1922. And what happened in 1933? He received initiation from this sadhu, from his master. Waiting for it 11 years. Sometimes it happens in less time, but for some it takes 10-11 years to be engaged. Still, the real connection happens in one moment – this is what is important here. Because there are official, formal sides of commitment and imitation; and there is the real stuff. And we are searching for the real stuff. Everything else is secondary. Of course it’s got a good reason why all the formalities should be followed. But you can have a list of formalities fulfilled; if you don’t reach the essence it’s useless. And what is the essence? This type of commitment – if you receive one message, meditate over that for 44 years. So, in 1933 he was initiated into the vaishnava society of Gaudiya Math. And there he was considered like an ordinary household devotee. But always trying to push the mission somehow, inviting sadhus, organizing meetings, listening, visiting his master’s lectures, etc. And what was the remark of his spiritual master about him?

Damodar: That he will become a very good preacher because he is a very good listener.

Swami Tirtha: “He is a good listener”, yes. So, if we follow this example – to grab something essential and to pay attention, something might happen in our life also. And then after few years their spiritual master disappeared – in 1937, I think. And then you can imagine that mood of separation – when the bright hero of your life has withdrawn. It was definitely a very difficult moment for the whole group of disciples. But life never stops, so the next decade came. And what happened in 1944?

(to be continued)

 

 



Sep

11

Vasudeva-Devaki-Krishna

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 5.09.2015 evening, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Friday) 

Finally Devaki conceived with Krishna. And this happened in a very, very unusual way. Because first this divine appearance conceived in the mind of the father, Vasudeva. His mind, his consciousness became illuminated by the divine presence – like a bright aura he had. So, please, my dear fellow brothers, if you want to be a father – first illumination! First the divine conception should happen in your consciousness. Well, I cannot promise that you will bring a divine son. But at least, you are illuminated. Of course, a son or a daughter is a gift of God. They say that every birth of a new baby proves that God hasn’t given up the hope in humanity. If some new souls come to this planet Earth that means God has a hope.

So, the first thing happened in the consciousness of Vasudeva, he became illuminated by divine wisdom, power, presence. Then all of a sudden this divine spark was projected into his wife. She also became like immersed, pervaded by this divine presence. This is very, very special – finally, after such a long time their spiritual desire fulfills. They wanted to invite Krishna as their beloved son. They had to go through this very difficult tapasya by their own will previously; and in this lifetime they were forced to take the trouble by the circumstances. Yet, they never gave up the hope that they will meet their beloved Supreme Lord as their child.

‘Conception’ has two meanings: one is like a concept, you understand the concept. And the other is to conceive a child, conception.

And when the moment came for Krishna’s appearance, although there was so much trouble in the universe, on the planet Earth also, everything started to change. Krishna appeared on the eight day after the full moon – so, it was decreasing. On the full moon day Baladev came and Krishna came on a decreasing moon day. But it is said, that this incomplete moon started to be like full. So, even the constellations started to change. And all auspicious signs started to happen around. This shows that even nature wanted to serve the divine lila of appearing on this planet Earth. If the purpose of the demigods is to help Krishna’s mission, the nature also helps Krishna’s mission. And I have to tell you personally that this is one of the most charming moments of this whole event for me – that even the unanimated beings, even the natural set up starts to change because they want to serve. Therefore my prayer is: if this willingness to serve will arise in my heart, maybe I will also change! Do you want to serve, to help this divine plan to manifest on this planet Earth? Yes! Then let’s expose ourselves to be changed – so that the personal, private miracle happens over us. Do you want to be part of this miracle? Yes, please, come!

Religion means proper adjustment. Religion is not a blind faith. It’s not a social habit or some national tradition. No, religion means proper adjustment. And you see, even nature started to adjust to the divine will. This is our hope – that if we have the willingness to join this divine service, the change will happen in us also.

And then finally Krishna appeared. After this divine illumination in the father and then sharing this divine presence with the mother, He appeared. He appeared in all His divine splendor – with four arms, beautiful decorations, crown and this and that. Isn’t that a surprise for a mother? ‘What happened? That’s unusual birth! Four arms! Maybe my son is deformed.’ Yes, He is not normal, He is extra normal.

Just imagine that moment when divinity touches the human world. We can hardly cross to the spiritual realm, but He can come as He likes. We celebrate Krishna’s appearance day once per year, but actually we have to touch the same experience day by day. We have to establish that connection, we have to experience that connection day by day.

Vasudeva and Devaki, these very determined and divine couple, had this desire to invite God as their child. And they did this very severe sacrifice to achieve their goal. It is said that sacrifice is the way to achieve your spiritual goals. Their commitment, their meditation and tapasya happened very long, long time ago – when people were more able to perform such challenging tasks. Today we don’t really have the abilities to perform such a strong sacrifice. Nevertheless sacrifice is the way. What kind of sacrifice can we offer? A yagya, sankirtan-yagya. Kirtan is glorification, sam means together. So glorify together. But also sam means samyak, perfection. So, the perfection of kirtan is chanting the holy names. The perfection of aradhanam, the perfection of service, worship – this is the sankirtan.

So if we want to invite Krishna to appear in our life, then I humbly invite you to join the yagya, the sacrifice – to glorify the Supreme Lord and His beloved ones through chanting. Because whatever perfection people could achieve in previous ages by rituals or worship or meditation, this is freely available through chanting the holy names in this age. We shall bath our Lord in the milk of our life and in the butter of our love. This is the essence that we can give. This makes my life complete and I never give up the hope that He will come and embrace me.

 



kamsa

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 5.09.2015 evening, Sofia)

This world is not abandoned by the Supreme. Whenever there is a real need, He will come and help. In that sense trouble is good, because it heralds the advent of the Lord. Of course I don’t say: ‘Pray for more troubles’. They will happen by themselves. Better we pray for the appearance of the Supreme. Because the motivation for Lord Krishna to appear is not only the miserable condition of the material world; much better He is motivated by the ardent prayers of His beloved servants.

But what happened in the historic part of this divine game? There were two chosen personalities: one was a member of the royal order – Vasudeva, as the future father of Krishna; and the other was a very much respected lady – Devaki. For lifetimes they were dedicated to divine meditation. In their previous births they had a very strong desire. It is written in the books that in order to achieve that desire, they were performing tapas, austerities – thousands of years of remote meditation, eating only dry leaves of the trees.

So, what happens if we extend an invitation for such a tapasya? Not so many participants we’ll have. ‘Yes! I am ready to eat dry leaves for thousands of years!’ Who is ready to do that? But if the goal is high, the price is also high. Their goal was very high. They wanted to act like mother and father of the Supreme. They wanted to have God as their child. Can you tell me something higher than that? I think it’s worth paying the price of some little years of easy meditation and a good diet. Compared to the goal this insignificant sacrifice, which is far beyond the abilities of present day men, is worth. So much so, that they got the promise: “Yes, I will come as your son”.

And this lifetime they were Vasudeva and Devaki. A bright young couple, on the day of their marriage. It’s so romantic. They were in a procession, while the brother of Devaki, the young bride, was very nervous, because he also got a message: “Beware this couple, because their eighth child will kill you.” Quite a strong, difficult message. ‘What to do? How to defend myself if I receive such a message?’ So, he decided: ‘Better I resolve the problem once and for all.’ So, he decided to join this very festive procession with a sword in hand. To kill the young wife, his own sister. It’s a nice solution, right? Just to make the event more memorable. A wedding procession in blood. Everybody will remember such a case for eternity. This was his solution: ‘All right. I should kill the future mother in order to defend myself.’

Well, Vasudeva and Devaki were taken by surprise a little bit. And you know, as a young husband you have little possessive feelings towards your young wife. Hardly you have achieved her, so you don’t want to lose her immediately. Definitely Vasudeva wanted to protect his wife. But how to fight with such a ferocious enemy? So, he started to apply the diplomatic methods. First he said: “Oh, you are so nice! You are such a famous gentleman. Why should you act like this? It doesn’t give a good reputation to you.” Then he tried to divert his attention, like: “Well, I have a suggestion.” So, he tried his best to avoid the danger and finally he was successful. Finally Kamsa, the brother, didn’t kill his own sister and Vasudeva convinced him: “You don’t have to be afraid. The prophesy tells about the eighth child, so why you should kill the mother? It’s the eighth child who is the danger, it’s not the mother. “All right, then Kamsa agreed on much lighter terms: “I’m not killing you on the spot, but I give you both a lifetime sentence.” Well, in one sense it’s a better option, because on the spot this was a solution. So, they were put to jail. Quite unexpected: you start on a romantic procession of wedding and you end up in a jail. But at least they were still alive.

So, what we can learn from all this? That sometimes there are life dangers. We start on a romantic journey and we end up in a labyrinth of difficulties. But better we save our life from imminent danger to find the real solution later.

So, this was the price that Vasudeva and Devaki, who had been meditating to receive Krishna as their son, had to pay. As years passed by, they had children. And although the prophecy told about the eighth child, yet Kamsa killed all the newborn babies. It’s a very painful situation. You don’t have your freedom and when you give birth to a new baby, you are sure he or she will die. Nevertheless they took the trouble, accepted the situation and they were waiting for the better chance and the blessed opportunity.

Finally Devaki conceived with Krishna.

 

 

(to be continued)

 

 



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(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 05.09.2015 morning, Sofia)

“Once the world was overburdened by the unnecessary defense force of different kings, who were actually demons, but were posing themselves as the royal order.”[1] What about your heart – is it overburdened with some unnecessary heavy burdens? Yes, usually it is. Some forces work in our heart and in our consciousness. They pose themselves as your kings, as your rulers. But actually their material influence is for possessing you totally, like a ghost. And they have their military powers – kama, krodha, lobha[2] and many other old friends working for these kings, possessing your heart.

“At that time, the whole world became perturbed…” So, this is what happens if these posing powers exercise their military influence over your mind and consciousness – disturbance. “…and the predominating deity of this earth, known as Bhumi, went to see Lord Brahma to tell of her calamities due to the demoniac kings. Bhumi assumed the shape of a cow and presented herself before Lord Brahma with tears in her eyes.”

You see, when we are in trouble, it’s very beneficial to use our feminine tenderness. Because if you are in trouble and you come as a strong hero, hardly you will find compassionate help. But if you come like a humble lady, then it’s easy to find shelter. This planet Earth is represented by a lady deity – Bhumi. Brother Sun, sister Moon; father Heaven, mother Earth. If we represent ourselves in our humiliated, depressed state in front of our Lord, He will take compassion. 

“…After hearing this, Lord Brahma became much aggrieved, and he at once started for the ocean of milk, where Lord Vishnu resides.” So, immediately if in a troubled state we take a humble position and find some help, some shelter, they will bring us to an ocean of nectar. Because the ocean of milk, as this cosmic source, is a source of all blessings in the world.

“Lord Brahma was accompanied by all the demigods, headed by Lord Shiva, and Bhumi also followed.” So, Brahma as the leader of this cosmic structure, knew where is the source, where is the answer. And all the other demigods followed his example – go to the higher source. Even Lord Shiva came with them. Who is Lord Shiva? He is representative of Gurudev. So, everybody is there, all our helpers are there. The leader of the material universe, the highest intelligence in one cosmic structure, our Gurudev is also there and all the demigods are also there. Where is our place? There, following their example. And this is the place where Lord Vishnu resides.

“Arriving on the shore of the milk ocean, Lord Brahma began to pacify Lord Vishnu, who had formerly saved the earthly planet by assuming the transcendental form of Varaha Deva.”

This is the solution: whenever you feel the influence of illusion or material entanglement – take a humble position, search an intelligent guide, find your helpers, the demigods, and follow the example of your spiritual masters. Because what are they doing? All are praying to Vishnu, or to our Krishna, we can say. Aradhananam sarvesam vishnor aradhanam param[3] – “From among all the different types of worships, the worship of Lord Vishnu is the greatest.” All these very elevated personalities are practically worshiping the Supreme Lord by their prayers, by their meditation. This principle should be followed: if you want to protect yourself, if you want to help the world, or if you want to satisfy the Supreme Lord – worship, aradhanam should be there. There is some trouble, everybody is praying for some solution: “Please, Krishna! Come and save the world, save me included!” And if this prayer is intensive enough, He cannot resist. The all-indipendent Supreme Lord is bound to perform His duty to save His devotees.

But here is something very, very important: the exact sanskrit word for demigod. Please remember that word! It is defined like tat priyartham – a demigod lives only for His satisfaction. Tat priyartham; tat means the Supreme Lord, Lord Krishna. Priya means ‘dear one’, or ‘the happiness’, or ‘immediate satisfaction’. And artha means ‘the purpose’. So, if your purpose is only God’s happiness, then you are a demigod. How do you feel? Wings manifested? Maybe not yet, but focus more. Tat priyartham – this should be our goal, to live only for the satisfaction of our beloved Couple. Then immediately you are projected into a different plane of existence. This is our goal – to achieve higher and higher levels of dedication. Whatever trouble had been around us should be ended and we should start a new chapter and enjoy the original nature of our Lord, ananda nature of our Lord. We should very strongly commit ourselves to improve. We commit ourselves to the practice that we shall follow, we commit ourselves to the service of our brothers and sisters. You see, this is not a lonely road, this is an exchange. This is a communication.

[1] From Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, by Shrila Prabhupada

[2] Lust, anger, greed

[3] Padma-purana, quoted by Srila Prabhupada in Shrimad Bhagavatam, 8.20.11 (and many other places)

 



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(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 05.09.2015 morning, Sofia)
 
There were so many reasons why Lord Sri Krishna came and joined the humanity on this planet Earth. One obvious or easy to see reason was that there was some trouble on this planet Earth. But this is only secondary, because in the material world there are always problems, it is not some special case. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but basically this is the nature of illusion – always gives troubles. Do you agree? Illusion always gives troubles. So, there was no special reason for Krishna to come. But what was the hidden reason for Him to join this planet? To visit a planet; He can choose any planet, right? There are innumerable planets. First of all, there is His own planet, which is a very pleasant place. There are many other spiritual planets, also very pleasant places. And there are innumerable planets in the material sphere – they are not so pleasant, but still maybe better than planet Earth, especially if it is in trouble. But nevertheless He came to this planet. Why?
Pavitra: Because somebody came before Him.
Swami Tirtha: Yes, actually this is what I also wanted to suggest as a solution to this riddle. Because there were some who were praying for His advent. All His beloved ones already were present on this planet Earth. And Krishna cannot leave without His devotees. Just like the devotees cannot leave without their Krishna. They belong to each other very strongly, it’s a very strong tie. Irrespective of the troubles around, irrespective of the influence of illusion, Krishna comes as a source of ultimate light. Like the sun – krishna surya-sama[1] , He is like the sun. Hope, spiritual presence. The hope that there is something beyond justice. And that He will share His ultimate nature with us, which primarily is merciful and secondly, more deep – it is blissful. Ananda-maya, Krishna is ananda-maya – He is made of happiness. Therefore when He comes to any place, He will change that place totally. Although that place might be in the realm of illusion, it will turn into heaven. Maybe the place that our Lord visits looks like part of the material realm, but it starts to be a spiritual kingdom. Or maybe we think that this place is heavily overburdened with problems, but all of a sudden His ananda-maya nature will pervade and overcome all the obstacles and difficulties. 
Please tell me a place in this universe, randomly. 
Answer: This ashram. 
Swami Tirtha: All right, good point; but locate it more precisely. 
Comment: Our heart.
Swami Tirtha: Oh, thank you! Which kind of place is this? Dominated by conflicts and illusion? Part of the material nature? A hellish planet – or what? Whatever it is, if somehow the ray of Krishna is projected there, this divine transformation will happen. Just think how it was before and how it is now. Right, there was some little change? Big change! That means wherever Krishna comes with His entourage, a big change will happen. 
We remember His advent not only in general, as a historic fact, but as spiritual presence or a spiritual reality. The best way to turn our heart into the best place in the universe is if you chant the Holy names in dedicated mood. 
 
1. Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 22.31

 



drop into ocean

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 04.09.2015, evening, Sofia)

Spiritual brotherhood is never enough. If you have one drop, you need one cup. If you have one cup, you need a lake. If you have a lake, you need an ocean. Fortunately our original source is unfathomable. So, whenever we are in need, we know where to find. Many people say: ‘I’m a searcher. I ‘m an open person.’ But it means they didn’t find yet. Usually if people say that they are open, that means they haven’t decided yet – whether to stay here, in this relative platform, with all the ups and downs; or to commit themselves to find their way back home, back to Godhead. Have you made your decision?

Answer: Yes!

Swami Tirtha: Therefore I came to you! To learn from you. How to find this commitment and this determination to reach our spiritual goals? In the beginning we think it’s very short and easy. Or, as it is said in Loi Bazar: ”Cheap and best”. Then few months, few years, few lifetimes later you realize it’s not so easy and not so fast. But when you reach and you turn back, you see: ‘It was less than a moment – this whole path.’ Why? Because it is said that since we had departed from our spiritual home, only two muhurtas have passed – just one and a half hours. And when you feel, you think that you are so far from our beloved Divine Couple, actually They are closer to you than your skin. Nevertheless we need a little determination, we need a little commitment in our spiritual practices. And I am very happy that you had made your choice. That you had decided where to go, where to dedicate your energies and attention.

Because I have to confess: Krishna is nice. In so many ways we can perceive His care and attention all over us. And actually He follows the principles of philosophy. Because it is said: God provides easyly what is cheap and gives very difficultly what is precious. So if you are still satisfied with pieces of glass, you will get it. But if you want to find the real treasure, you have to wait a little time. Nevertheless this waiting period is also sweet. Why? Because the Supreme Lord has provided some helpers in this process. For example we can associate with Him through the holy names, we can meet His company, we can meet His family. We can practice what we want to do in the spiritual sky. Therefore you have to be careful, because according to your practice here, you will get your practice there. So, if in your spiritual endeavors you only complain all the time, then you can substantiate this practice. But if you learn how to do your spiritual practice properly, then you can easily cross the ocean of the material existence.

But, please don’t believe me. Don’t believe me blindly. Check out these words for yourself – whether it works for you, or not. It always works. In case it doesn’t work, it’s not the mistake of the process.

But what is the ultimate happiness of a devotee? This is the holy name. Let’s glorify our masters, because they bring us the light. If you receive only one drop, this is great like an ocean. Divine mercy is unlimited. Please, keep this in mind always – that our goal is to go beyond our limitations, to change something in our life, to catch some essential points. If we can somehow turn the moment into eternity – that’s quite an achievement. If you can turn the drop into an ocean, that’s another achievement.

Maybe we are not great wonder-workers. Maybe we are not maharajas, great kings. Maybe we are very small, very insignificant. But hopefully our Lord also likes this transformation – a drop into an ocean or a moment into eternity. Maybe He expects an ocean of the holy names from us. Yet what can we offer? This is one drop. Still I am sure that if these little drops of service are offered with a pure heart, then He is satisfied. It’s the very fine quality that we can add to these little drops of offerings that we have. And then He can make the miracles. So, let Him also do something. If we accomplish everything, if we are the great miracle makers, then there is nothing left for Him to do. But I think they are happy if they can – our Krishna, our beloved Couple, our spiritual masters – if they can turn these small offerings into a beautiful, happy sacrifice. So that we can turn tomorrow into an eternity. With Their help it will happen. So, what is our business here? To bring these small little drops of service; and They will make the divine alchemy.

 

 



full moon over clouds and dark water with reflections

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

 

Question of Nelly: My question is: as in the material world everyone is conditioned -and I do not want to make any offense, but just want to know – can it be that guru is also conditioned or has some prejudice inside him?

Swami Tirtha: Possible. I mean prejudice is possible….Guru as a principle doesn’t make any mistake, doesn’t have any shortcoming. Guru as a practitioner, as a simple human being, in my understanding might have some limitations. But it is suggested that we shouldn’t criticize the full moon for its dark spots. Because still it gives the light.

Yet I have to tell you that our shadow comes with us for a long, long, long time. And who is a pure devotee? That only a pure devotee can judge, no other. But it doesn’t mean that we should give up our desire to become pure devotees. Because our goal is not to become famous swamis or big gurus, or this and that. No, our ambition is to become a simple dancer. And as we heard, purity depends on love. So, if that spiritual person, or any person, loves God – sooner or later he will be purified. And if we love that person, sooner or later we shall have a pure vision. Because it’s not only his purity, it’s also my purity. Whether I can see, whether I can perceive his purity, right. Or I only see the spots. Do you agree?

Of course in the Gita it is very strongly expressed that in this material world everybody is under the influence of the gunas, everybody[1]. Yet, in the 9th Chapter Krishna says: mahatmanas tu mam partha daivim prakrtim asritah – “But the great souls, they have surrendered themselves under the protection of the divine principle, divine energy”[2]. And then what is their engagement? They permanently try to glorify the Supreme[3]. So, where we see that principle – that somebody tries to glorify God, tries to serve, tries to do everything for Him – there we should search very deeply. Because most probably he is a very much surrendered soul. And by his company we can also qualify ourselves more and more in devotion.

So, the guru as a principle never makes mistakes. And you know there are two rules in the spiritual life: Paragraph 1. Guru never makes mistakes! Paragraph 2. In case he makes mistakes, automatically the first paragraph comes in power.

[1] Bhagavad Gita 18.40

[2] Bhagavad Gita 9.13

[3] Bhagavad Gita 9.14



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

(continues from the previous Friday) 

Question of Krishna Premi: As we spoke of love and sacrifice, to what extend a sacrifice is connected with love?

Swami Tirtha: There are different levels of sacrifice, different objects of sacrifice also. Like the sacrificial animal. How much love is involved in that transaction? No, no. Don’t laugh! Much, because what is the motivation of offering? It’s not to absolve our sins by killing an animal – it’s improper. But if they want to sacrifice the animal to liberate him from the present condition of being an animal in a very simple body and in a very basic level of consciousness, to provide to that soul a better chance  – that’s a different motivation. So, even there, in a very violent act you can find some compasstion, some love. The principle is always there.

Sacrifice without affection is… well, I wouldn’t say disgusting, but it’s not tasty, it’s not nice. Because otherwise it is either business or something forced. ‘I give, but I want to receive, with the motivation to receive’. All right, if there is no higher motivation, do it like this. But this is rajasic. If we can do our sacrifice only under demand and pressure, then this is tamastic. If we do our sacrifice due to commitment, due to knowledge, due to dharma – then this is sattvic. If we do our sacrifice due to love – this is bhaktic. So, what is the motivation? If in our sacrificial acts this loving, affectionate, service mood is the motivation – then this is directly connected. Because actually this is not the object that we have to sacrifice, but the mood that we give with this sacrifice. But I don’t know how much this is related to your question.

Krishna Premi: It answers to a big extend. My more particular question was concerning the sacrifices that we are doing daily, for example when we are sacrificing our personal benefit for the sake of the family.

Swami Tirtha: That’s good. Because the interest of the family is higher than the interest of the individual. The interest of the village is higher than the interest of the individual family. The interest of the country is higher than the individual participants, etc. So, if we always submit ourselves to the higher, superior interest – usually that is proper, that is correct. Because ultimately we will find the highest authority, that is God. Of course, this is in a sacred structure of society. May be you don’t find it so directly right now, but principally the higher level of society, the higher level of integration demands, deserves the service on the lower platforms.

Yet we have to realize that our life has two sides, two aspects – one is the individual, when we are alone; and one is the social. Both we should cultivate properly. And there are three principles that I’ve mentioned many times: serve your own private spiritual benefit; be useful for others; and live for the glory of God. The first two are concerned here – always focus on your private spiritual benefit, the supreme interest of yours; and also be useful for others. Actually both need sacrifice. In the Gita it is said: “Without sacrifice nobody can be satisfied neither in this lifetime, nor in the next”. Therefore it is better to give, to do something in sacrifice. Because Krishna is satisfied with “a little water, a little leaf, a little fruit – if you offer Me I am satisfied with that”[1]. The next verse – you read that at home.

But our best sacrifice is? Harinama.

 

[1] Bhagavad Gita 9.26

 



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(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2013, Sofia)
 
(continues from the previous Friday) 
 
The real spiritual purity is beyond material considerations. Don’t forget about the example of the gopis. When they heard the flute of Krishna, they ran away from home. Is this morally approved? Is this a dharma principle? Just to throw away your kids, to let the milk spill over on the fire and to say to your husband: “I will come! See you!” No, this is a breach of faith. This is against the dharmic principles. Yet, do we consider the gopis mistaken? No, we consider Krishna mistaken! Because then He says: “Go home!” And once you have left your family, how can you go back? You have to be humble; and show me a gopi who is humble! 
But if you let the milk spill… and I don’t continue the examples – it’s not sweet. That is not spiritual practice, just to make it clear. Don’t let the milk spill over! 
Once… We know that sometimes Krishna snatches some fruits, snatches the milk, or steals the makan – these very nice sweets. And when the western devotees understood this character of Krishna, they were strolling through Loy Bazar in Vrindavana, taking this and that from the different shopkeepers. Because ‘Our Lord is a thief, we are also following Him. This is our deepest meditation. It’s not only theory, we put it into practice.’ So, the shopkeepers went to Shrila Prabhupad for complaint: “Please, try to control your sons and daughters! It’s not very nice that they steal from us.” And of course Prabhupad became furious. And when he was furious, it was better for the disciple to be out of reach of sound. Especially when they came with their excuse: “Oh, our Lord is also stealing sometimes!” So you see, if He is doing something, that is worshipable; if you are doing something, that is punishable. The same thing – that is punishable. So, be reasonable.   
Question of Paramananda: To be reasonable, does it mean that we should follow more like the example of Shri Chaitanya? 
Swami Tirtha: Oho, ho, ho! Divine madness, ah? That’s a good offer! 
Paramananda: At least He is not stealing. 
Swami Tirtha: He doesn’t steal some apples and carrots. He steals the hearts. Actually He robs the treasury of divine love that was sealed and closed. He broke the seal and with His helpers distributed everything. So, following His example is not bad. The question is if we can follow His example, or not. 
 
(to be continued)