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Extra English Issues issues

Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, October 2013, Ludashto, Vyasapuja)

(continues from Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur’s Vyasapuja lecture, 6th of February 1936) 

“Some further instructions from Chaitanya Mahaprabhu: “Don’t be a cheater-guru only in order to exercise your wrath and bad intentions on others. And don’t use this guru-business in order to plunge into the depth of the material existence. Rather you should become an honest servant of Mine – if you can – because then I will bless you with My power. Then you don’t have to be afraid anymore.”

“I’m not afraid – says Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati – because my Gurudev was who quoted these verses and he heard these verses from his master. And this is the reason why my blessed Gurudev, accepted such a fallen personality as myself as a disciple. He told me: “This is my given order: become a guru and liberate this world.” Therefore only those criticize who have never heard the words of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu quoted before. By such people, uninformed of the ideas of Mahaprabhu, a spiritual master will be greatly mistaken, when he teaches his disciples on the topics of the Bhagavata Purana, Eleventh Canto. But what can an acharya do when he has to explain the shloka: acharyam mam vijaniyan? “Never disrespect the acharya and you should never ever try to compare yourself with him.

Guru is as good as God.”[1] These are the words of Krishna. By these words He wants to serve the benefit of the human beings. Should the acharya leave his seat, when he has to explain these words? This duty was delivered by his master to him and if he doesn’t take the responsibility of explaining these words, then he is condemned, because this is offensive to the holy names to disrespect the spiritual master. Therefore he has to follow this guidance, although many will tell him that he is an egoist, taking the position of guru.

When the spiritual master delivers the guru-gayatri mantra to the disciple, should he not tell that this is for the worship of the spiritual master? “The guru should be never compromised, because all the demigods are present in him.”[2] When instructing a disciple from the Bhagavatam about these topics, should he stop speaking?

The secret mystery of reality will open only for those who serve the spiritual master with such a sincere dedication as they serve the Supreme Lord Krishna. Shouldn’t the guru tell these words to the disciple? Guru-puja, the worship of a respectable spiritual master, is very important. Guru should be served as if we served  Krishna.

On the plane of liberation there is no shortcoming, but the simple-minded people cannot understand this very basic truth.”

I suggest that you read all the remaining part of this lecture, because it’s very useful.

The best part of the spiritual life is when ashraya-tattva and vishaya-tattva exchange each other. But how to explain that? When Mahaprabhu says that you should all become gurus, all means all – everybody is invited for this service. In many cases I see the spiritual master in you. I see the guru in you. And there is one thing I’m definitely sure concerning myself – that you are serving your spiritual masters at a much higher grade and much better quality than I could ever do that for Gurudev. This is when ashraya and vishaya-tattva exchange each other. The disciple should be the shelter of service and the master should be the object of service – but this is the opposite. This is like a real mystery; I like that very much. And this is the only reason why I join you on these celebrations. Because this is a function of celebrating the principle of the teacher, and if the immediate cause of this celebration is a birthday of a fallen person, then – what can we do – it’s secondary.

Just to return back to Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur – at the end he says: “I know that many times I gave troubles to you, but there is only one reason why I did this – in order that you remember Krishna.” So, I know that I’m also a very difficult to tolerate guy and many times I give trouble to you. But I also want to use this excuse – the only reason I try to push sometimes is that you take full shelter of Krishna. And what is my desire? It’s a very strong bond, a very strong unity. The world is like a chaos. We should be aware of this and be prepared not to become like the world.

Our philosophy is quite complicated. Unlimited knowledge and unlimited teachings are there. But all these teachings can be reduced to three main points. One is that you are not only bodies, but you are spirit souls; the second is that you belong to God; and the third is this loving connection that is established between you and Him. These are the basic principles and if they become like a living fact in our life, not only theory – then this is a successful life.

[1] Shrimad Bhagavatam 11.17.27

[2] Shrimad Bhagavatam 11.17.27



(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, October 2013, Ludashto, Vyasapuja)

(continues from Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur’s Vyasapuja lecture, 6th of February 1936) 

“So it happened that I am the greatest fool of the world. Due to my arrogance nobody came to help me with good advice. And as nobody came to me to help me, therefore I shared my trouble with Mahaprabhu. I remembered if I open up my problems to Him and listen to His advice, it could be better. So He said: “Whomever you meet, talk to him about Krishna. My given order is this: become a guru and liberate this whole world! No material obstacle will stop you in this service. Here we shall meet and be together again.”

In these verses we can clearly and obviously get the explanation for this contradiction. Mahaprabhu’s main teaching is that we should become more humble than a blade of grass; yet He says: “I want you to become a guru and liberate this world.” In this case Mahaprabhu gives an order: ‘Fulfill the role of a spiritual master as I am doing also, and share this instruction with everyone whom you meet. Tell them word-by-word: My desire is that you become gurus to liberate this world, help people to get rid of their misunderstanding”. Of course if you hear these words, very humbly you will say: “But I’m a simple human being. How can I become a guru? You are God Himself, the teacher of the whole universe! Only You can become a guru.” But the answer of Mahaprabhu for this is the following: “Nothing material can stop you in this service! Here we shall meet and be together again.” So, if you speak to others about Krishna, you don’t have to be afraid of forgetting Him.

Avoid worldly contacts. What we call ‘the material world’ annoys us. The colors, the tastes, the smells, the touches and the sounds attack us fiercely. Therefore it is not very beneficial to be worldly-minded. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says: “Who wants to cross the ocean of material existence and wants to serve the Supreme Lord, for such a person the company of the worldly-minded people and the lustful glance upon the other gender is like a full cup of poison.

Therefore if someone wants to be engaged in the service of God, he should never endeavor too much after worldly objects. The external physical world will cover up God, will block up the vision of God. As soon as we focus on the material objects, immediately we forget about God Supreme. Therefore those, who are not in contact with the Supreme Lord become more and more insignificant in our calculation. Those who want to follow Krishna’s service and to progress on the path of devotion should avoid this worldly-minded company.

My humble request is: please, try to avoid imitation. It is very important to analyze ourselves; we have to understand our shortcomings and inabilities. Why should we search after the mistakes of others if we are not ready to examine ourselves? And don’t forget – those who give very little service today, who are not so much committed today, they may come to an elevated platform tomorrow. We should always remember: don’t tell anything wrong about those who pay attention and remember the instructions of the holy scriptures and the saintly personalities. Even the sinful people can understand Krishna and they can overcome illusion if they follow the servants of the Supreme Lord who is crossing the universes.

Those are really powerful who possess the power of devotion. I don’t want to look for the possible shortcomings of the devotees or to compromise Krishna’s service and push my opinion by neglecting the process, although this process might empower me to serve God and His servants. It’s impossible to describe how much trouble such an arrogant mood may create in human existence. Therefore humbly I ask all of you, please avoid the imitation of the vaishnavas; rather try to understand and follow their mentality, their prowess, their ideals. For us the only real connection is the connection with the devotees of Krishna. All other engagements are only oil on the fire of material existence.”


(to be continued)




(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, October 2013, Ludashto, Vyasapuja)

First of all I’d like to greet everyone. I’m very happy and I feel very much honored that you all took the trouble and came. On these occasions I have a little spiritual schizophrenia, because one part of mine is very happily engaged in this celebration with all of you, while the other part of mine is a little confused and feeling uneasy to sit on this side of the group and not on that side. But let speak that part of me who is very happy to be engaged in such a service.

Why? Because one of the most beautiful parts of this existence, of the experience of life is the association with other human beings. This is the source of the utmost happiness and satisfaction, and of the greatest troubles of all. There is a very special part of associating between human beings – this is the spiritual association. And yet another part of it is associating with someone higher, with a more respectable person – to associate with a guru. There is an old advice: don’t approach the king, the ox, the cart, the fire, the woman and the guru too close, because then you will burn; but don’t stay too far away, because then you will get no benefit of that association. So we have to find the proper way, the proper mood of this association, when there is no so much burning, yet we can enjoy the heat and the light.

I still remember the days when we came together, brothers and sisters, to celebrate Gurudev’s birthday. So these memories help me to stay here and not to disappear all of a sudden. Because I remember that it was so important for us, it was such an enthusiastic moment for us, that if I can, I’m very happy to help others to experience the same feelings.

I’m not an eloquent speaker, but I know those who are really eloquent speakers – so much so, that when they speak, even those who don’t understand the language start to cry. I was observing that and it means that power and fire is there, the heart of that person is burning so much, that he is able to share with others even without the words. And that proves that it is possible to overcome the material limitations. We are not concerned with bodily or material limitations, but we truly believe in the victory of the heart and soul, we believe in the spiritual power.

In those old days the celebrations were very similar just like today – we all came together, everybody was rushing in the kitchen and we tried our best to serve Gurudev, who was so many times very dissatisfied and it was very difficult to find how to make him happy. Yet we had learned how to celebrate and how to worship the guru principle properly.

So Gurudev was a fiery person we can say, he was a very powerful person. But let me quote some thoughts and some memories from another person, who was not fire, but a lion, the roaring lion of preaching – Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur. He was so strict, that he allowed his disciples to celebrate his birthday only after his 50th. Until that time – threre was no chance for such celebrations. So, this is a lecture from 1936 the 6th of February – the last Vyasapuja before his death. It’s not so easy to translate, but we’ll try.

“Accepting the role of a guru, we have taken the responsibility and took this very serious task. From the audience everybody is sitting on a normal place, only I was supplied with an elevated seat. People in general might say: “Look how wide the zoo of God is! What arrogance! He is mad! Better we say he is cruel. Have you seen such a dirty pig with garlands on his neck? His high words and this great celebrations – how puffed up he is! He is listening as the others glorify his merits. Look! His ears are growing big – it’s obvious how much pleasure he takes from this. What is this questioning of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s teachings?! Is it possible that this wild beast will ever change?”

So it happened that I am the greatest fool of the world. Due to my arrogance nobody came to help me with good advice. And as nobody came to me to help me, therefore I shared my trouble with Mahaprabhu. I remembered if I open up my problems to Him and listen to His advice, it could be better. So He said: “Whomever you meet, talk to him about Krishna. My given order is this: become a guru and liberate this whole world! No material obstacle will stop you in this service. Here we shall meet and be together again.”


(to be continued)



(excerpts from a seminar of Swami Tirtha on the holy name, Ludashto, July 2013) 

(continues from the previous Monday)

In Bhaktivinod Thakur’s Harinama Chintamani it is described that there are primary and secondary names of the Supreme.[1]

“The characteristics of the principal and secondary names: Namnam akari bahuda… – “Ah, my Lord! Your holy name alone can render all benediction to the living beings. And thus You have hundreds and millions of names like Krishna and Govinda. In these transcendental names You have invested all Your divine energies and there are no hard and fast rules for chanting Your name. Ah, my Lord, out of kindness You enable us to easily approach you by chanting Your holy names, but I am so unfortunate that I have no attraction to them.”[2] Here is a hint on the primary names of God. You know the classical story when a disciple asked his master: “Gurudev, please tell me, what is the best pronunciation of the name of Krishna?” And the master said: “Ah, the best name of Krishna is Govinda.” In this situation even krishna-nam is a kind of secondary, kind of general. Because if we want to pin down who that God Krishna is for us – this is Govinda. Therefore the master said: “For me the best name is Govinda. Because He is my Lord. Not somebody generally, not another feature of the Supreme, but this one. This is my beloved. Therefore it is hinted here, that Krishna, Govinda and many others are primary names.

“The secondary names of God and their symptoms – According to the Vedas, the secondary or the inferior names of the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna are those which are in connection with the material world. For example God, Creator of the universe, Paramatma, Supersoul, Brahman, Maintainer, Destroyer, Savior, Lord of sacrifice, He who takes away – are some inferior or secondary names of the Lord.” These are functions, it’s not God properly, it’s not Him, it’s something about Him. Therefore these are secondary names – I think it’s obvious.

But what are the fruits of the principal names and the secondary names? There are different fruits for these different names, approaches. “These inferior names of the Lord are called upon by those, who are on the path of karma and gyana. According to the scriptures one who calls these names gets piety and liberation. On the other hand the result of chanting the principal names of the Lord – like Govinda, Gopala, Rama, Nandanandana, Radhanath, Hari, Yashomati-pranadhana, Madan-mohan, Shyamasundara, Madhava, Gopinath, Vrajagopa-rakhala, Yadava – gives krishna-prema. In this way the saintly attains love of Godhead by chanting the principal names of Godhead, while those who are attached to karma and gyana get merely piety and impersonal liberation by chanting inferior or secondary names, because their conception of Godhead is also secondary and inferior.”

This is something very important from the Harinama Chintamani – this distinction between the primary and the secondary names. The result will be different. Those who chant on the secondary platform get some blessings – like material merits or they achieve liberation. And what is the goal of a bhakta who chants the primary names – not this. Divine love, prema-bhakti. Therefore there is a distinction between the results of the different paths. Karma (action, sacrifice) and gyana (knowledge) will lead us to either good life in heaven – this is the material benefit, or liberation – which is to get out of the material entanglement. But bhakti as a process, as an approach will lead us to the divine love of Godhead. So totally different achievement. Compared to that, liberation, knowledge renunciation or whatever is only a secondary side effect.

Therefore a devotee has to clarify his picture about the Supreme. How do you see the Lord? What is your conception about God? Who is He for you? What aspect do you perceive from His multiple character? If you see only a general picture, you will achieve only general results. If you see a specific feature, you will achieve specific results.

 “O killer of demon Agha, o son of Yashoda, o son of Nanda, o Lotus-eyed, o Moon of the gopis, o Lord of Vrindavan, o Merciful to the submissive, o Krishna, You have manifested Yourself in innumerable forms out of Your infinite mercy. Let my devotion to You go on increasing without any impediment!” says Rupa Goswami in Krishnanamashtakam. And this verse is also from Rupa Goswami: tunde tandavini ratim vitanute tundavali-labdhaye…[3]“I don’t know how much nectar is in these two syllables ‘krish-na’! When the holy name of Krishna is chanted, it appears to dance within the mouth. Then we shall have desire to have many-many mouths. And when that name enters the holes of the ears, we desire to have millions of ears. And when the holy name dances in the courtyard of the heart, it conquers the activities of the mind and therefore all the senses become inert.”


[1] Harinama Chintamani Chapter 2

[2] Sikshashtaka 2

[3] Chaitanya Charitamrita 3.1.99, quoted from Vidagdha Madhava



(excerpts from a seminar of Swami Tirtha on the holy name, Ludashto, July 2013) 

(continues from the previous Monday)

Question: Before Mahaprabhu how was the holy name, krishna-nam present?

Swami Tirtha: The holy name was present more like Vishnu or Hari. It was named like hari-nam. But of course krishna-nam is always present. From the time of Jayadev Goswami, who lived in the 12th century, this loving mood, loving rasa is also very much stressed. And that means if it was available in the 12th century, it had a history before – it was a result of some cultivation. Nevertheless Mahaprabhu has focused our attention very much on the gopi mood approach to Krishna. Therefore we can say that our maha-mantra is very specific, because from the aishvarya mood it brings us to the rasic mood. And that is also in a hidden, covered way, because Radharani is not mentioned. Therefore our maha-mantra is considered a very high conception, because it is not open – it’s secretly mentioning the essence. Radhe Shyam is more open, because Radharani and Shyam are mentioned; in Hare Krishna – no direct mention of Radha. It’s a big jump from Narayan mood. Radhe-Shyam mantra is svakiya mantra – everything is open. Svakiya means ‘he is mine’ or ‘she is mine’. So everything is open – Radhika is there, Krishna is there. While in the Hare Krishna maha-mantra Radharani is not directly mentioned, and therefore this is considered parakiya mood – hidden, secret love.

Question of Yamuna: How was the Hare Rama mantra for Kali-yuga changed into Hare Krishna? And in which scripture this shift of Mahaprabhu is described?

Swami Tirtha: Hare Rama mantra is mentioned in the Kali-santarana Upanishad. It is described by Shrila Shridhara Maharaj that as an upanishad is a secret teaching, it’s not public, but then how to make a secret mantra public? You cannot. Therefore Mahaprabhu changed it to start with Hare Krishna for that reason, and then it became a public mantra.

Yamuna: So He followed the rule by going around it.

Swami Tirtha: Well, it’s a little more complicated than that. But one thing is for sure – mercy overcomes all the rules and difficulties. Therefore we have to apply this principle! Therefore we don’t consider a vaishnava according to the material qualities. Therefore we are not lost in the complicated intricacies of the different rituals. Why? Because by devotion and by the mercy of the maha-mantra everything is possible. So please, don’t forget this principle! We have a transcendental object in our hands! It comes from beyond! That might bring this extra power that we need to overcome the shortcomings.

Different sources lead us to this conception that by emotionally surcharged way we should approach and chant the names of God. What is the first mantra of the Shrimad Bhagavatam? Om namo bhagavate vasudevaya – this is like an invocation. But check the first shloka. Janmady asya – it’s also mentioned in the Vedanta Sutra. But what is most important here – satyam param dhimahi. This is the end of the first shloka – satyam param dhimahi – “Let’s meditate on the supreme absolute truth!”[1] And what is the last shloka of the Bhagavatam? Nama-sankirtanam yasya/ sarva-papa pranashanam/ pranamo duhkha-shamanas/ tam namami harim param – “The holy name of Shri Krishna can purify us from all sins, all shortcomings of character and all limitations. Therefore we should pay respects to the holy name.”[2] I think this is very remarkable – that from a general invitation to meditate over the supreme truth, we come to the understanding of ‘Chant the holy names!’ That also proves that it’s fully in harmony with Mahaprabhu’s mood. And actually chanting and propagating the holy name is also part of the yuga-dharma.

The different yugas were dominated by different gunas or qualities. Sattva in Satya-yuga is stability and it’s in ayshvarya mood, respectful. Kali-yuga is dominated by a total block-out of any deeper understanding, it’s full ignorance. But this is very beneficial for higher rasa. I told you that, please, build your Satya-yuga in the character – be focused on meditation, on tapas, simplicity, etc. Not in a historical way, but in a personal way.

Kripadham: I’d like to ask how – by developing these sattvic qualities in us – to keep our tamasic divine vision?

Swami Tirtha: No, don’t worry! Until you don’t have the divine blindness, don’t worry to develop your spiritual vision. But actually this is a question of deeper cultivation. Generally we can say that live according to dharma and think according to rasa. And not the other way round that live according to rasa and think according to dharma – that’s disgusting.

(to be continued)

[1] Shrimad Bhagavatam 1.1.1

[2] Shrimad Bhagavatam 12.13.23


20150624_144516-1-1-1 (1)

(excerpts from a seminar of Swami Tirtha on the holy name, Ludashto, July 2013) 

(continues from the previous Monday) 

Question: What about the different modes of chanting – the loud, the soft and the mental? I perceive the loud, I perceive the soft, but how to realize more and more the mental?

Swami Tirtha: What feeling is more intensive – when your tears are falling or when your throat is chocked up?

Answer: Throat.

Swami Tirtha: Yes. Because there is no external sign. So if we say it loud and we perceive some feelings – that’s good. But when we chant internally and we have more intensified internal feelings – that is better. Actually in classical yoga if you do your meditation properly, then all the bodily discomforts are removed – your saliva doesn’t collect, you don’t yawn, your legs are not tired – because you are in a perfect state. And they speak a lot about chakra experience and kundalini experience. But if you chant properly, you can easily perceive the same things – your energy raising, opening of the heart, etc.

And we have a special method which raises on the square what we have generally – this is the kirtan, bhajan and kirtan. For example yogis have to practice a lot for perceiving the siddhis – like becoming small, becoming big… But have you had the feeling in a real bhajan or a big kirtan that you start to evaporate, you become very small, or suddenly the whole world opens up, expands up? The power of our thoughts is greater than we expect. So if in one way or another we can connect our mental capacity with divinity, with Krishna, that will have unlimited results. This internal sound is not really mental, like mind faculty, no; but it is internal, like your inner self vibrates. If you catch a glimpse of that, if you start to catch something of that, then by this cultivation internal life starts to expand. So try!

Question: Where is this sound born? Where is the sound coming from when we say the maha-mantra in mind, when there is no vocal sound? It sounds inside – where does it come from?

Swami Tirtha: Four aspects of the sound are there. One is the resonant sound, the second is the intellectual meaning, the third is the feeling transferred and finally the fourth is the spiritual essence of the sound. Another interpretation of that gradation is: the sound wave, the sound vibration; the second is again the meaning; the third one is the internal sound, the unstruck sound; and the fourth is the para-sound, the higher, superior, spiritual sound.

So, where is the sound generated during our meditation? According to what we have read from Shivananda, we should empty our mind from the egotism and then He can play on the flute of our body, of our structure. Flute is made from the bamboo stick, because that is hollow inside. But in order to become a real flute it has to be bored. And that is painful. But it is worth tolerating this pain, because then a nice sounding melody can come from that flute.

And we know that the holy name is shabda-brahman, that’s not material vibration, that should come from above, that’s a divine vibration.


(to be continued)



(excerpts from a seminar of Swami Tirtha on the holy name, Ludashto, July 2013) 

(continues from the previous Monday) 

If you say ‘Hare Krishna’ – what is your conception? We have to practice it, analyze it, try to understand it very deeply. Because actually the mala is a symbol of rasa-dance – one Krishna, one gopi, one Krishna, one gopi… And everybody feels that ‘He is with me’. One bead is one Krishna in the rasa-mandala; and one knot is one gopi.

Kripadham: And the bead in the center?

Swami Tirtha: In the center… you can think who the third special person in the rasa dance is. But I cannot support it by shastra. Otherwise on the elementary platform they consider this bead as Krishna or Mount Meru, Sumeru – so that you don’t cross it over, there is where you turn back. This is basically the general explanation. You don’t touch it.

That means mala is the way back to that realm where these topics are there – ‘Whether this is my Krishna, whether this is my Radha, or this is a gopi – how is that?’ The mala will bring you back to that plane, where you deal with such questions.

So, when we say ‘Hare Krishna’ there are many layers. Practically all the great ones have given their expressions and their purports to the maha-mantra. For example Shrila Sadhu Maharaj said that Hare Krishna is like the ocean and the waves – black and white. In this way they are both united and they help us understand Radha-Krishna presence. And we would be very happy if at least one kind of understanding or explanation we can produce to the words of the maha-mantra. Anybody has some kind of interpretation of the maha-mantra?

I’d like to invite you to a question and answer game. You repeat the mantra two by two and I will try to say something.

Devotees: Hare Krishna!

Swami Tirtha: “Where are You?”

Devotees: Hare Krishna!

Swami Tirtha: “I am here.”

Devotees: Krishna Krishna!

Swami Tirtha: “Who are You?”

Devotees: Hare Hare!

Swami Tirtha: “I’m your happiness.”

Devotees: Hare Rama!

Swami Tirtha: “Do You love me?”

Devotees: Hare Rama!

Swami Tirtha: “I love you, but do you love Me?”

Devotees: Rama Rama!

Swami Tirtha: “I am Yours!”

Devotees: Hare Hare!

Swami Tirtha: “And You are mine.”

Kripadham: Hare Krishna! How is the story going on, Gurudev?

Swami Tirtha: Ah, They move in the kunja, They disappear from our eyes.

(to be continued)





(excerpts from a seminar of Swami Tirtha on the holy name, Ludashto, July 2013) 

(continues from the previous Monday) 

So the next question is, if we understood that the glorification of the holy names pervades all the different cultures and centuries, then what is the specific feeling for us? In order to try to understand that deeper, I’d like to quote some of our acharyas about the holy name. We’ve discussed that we should live according to the dharma principles and we should feel according to the rasa principles. And strange enough, this double-level thinking is present in the explanations of our teachers. For example Bhakti Promod Puri Goswami Maharaj gives double explanation to the holy name – one in sadhana-bhakti and other in raga-bhakti. As far as my knowledge is, Shrila Raghunath das Goswami has given one purport to the holy name – not on the sadhana platform, not on the raganuga platform, but on the ragatmika platform. Therefore it is better not to touch that explanation.

But who is the philosopher from among the Goswamis? Jiva Goswami. Jiva Goswami has written a lot about the different tattvas, he was supporting all the different points of our philosophy with solid background. And he also glorified the holy name in different ways.

Here we have three different explanations from Jiva Goswami on the maha-mantra. The mantra is the same. The first explanation is in aishvarya-gyana – in the knowledge of the greatness of God. The second one is a purport full of sweet spiritual mellows. And the third one is remembering the Divine Couple. So let’s see what he says about this.

The purport of the maha-mantra in the majestic mood: “As He snatches the triple sufferings and the different sins coming from previous births for all those who remember Him, He is called Hari. The meaning of krish is existence and na means the happiness of peace. Therefore these two combined suggest the name of the Supreme – Krishna. The mystics find their happiness in eternal life, in conscious and blissful soul. Therefore they call the Supreme Brahman Rama.”

These are the meanings of the three words of the maha-mantra – Hare, Krishna, Rama – according to the majestic feelings of the devotee. Hari will finish the sufferings and the sins; Krishna is peaceful existence; and the soul is the happiness of the mystics – therefore Rama. Is that enough? Or shall we try to find the sweet rasas, the sweet tastes in the interpretation?

“He is called Hari, because He reveals the supreme truth, the blissful form of the Supreme and in this way He removes the ignorance and its consequences. Radha steals (harati) the heart of Krishna, She is the personification of His bliss – therefore Krishna calls Her Hara. The dark master of exclusive happiness and bliss, the lotus-eyed little son of Nanda Baba and the happiness of Gokula is called Krishna. The absolute complete fullness of beauty and wit and the predominating deity of loving affairs, who always makes Radharani happy, is called Rama.”

This was the rasic explanation of the names; and now finally in the remembrance of the Divine Couple. “The personification of the bliss of Krishna, Radhika, snatches Krishna’s mind. Therefore She is called snatcher and Her name is Hare. Who attracts the girls of Vraja with His flute, removing their chastity, merits, soberness and pride is called Krishna. He makes the young ladies of Vraja so happy in heart and in senses by His extreme beauty – therefore He is called Rama.”

So, here we have three different explanations, three different visions. The first is in this majestic mood – Hari is the Supreme Lord who liberates us, removes the obstacles. Here Hari is male. In the second, rasic explanation He is Hari in such a way that He reveals the beauty form and by this removes the ignorance. And also here the second part of this explanation is that it is not Krishna who removes the obstacles, but it is Radharani, who catches Krishna’s attention – therefore Krishna calls Her Hare. While remembering the Divine Couple, She is called Hara, the snatcher, because She catches the mind of Krishna and She is the personification of this blissful energy.

Who is Krishna in the majestic approach? The peaceful existence. In the rasic explanation He is the dark Lord of bliss. And finally He is the attractor of the young ladies of Vraja with the flute.

While who is Rama in the first, majestic approach? Rama is the Supreme in whom the mystics find their happiness. In the second, rasic explanation He is the presiding deity of the loving affairs who makes Radharani happy. And finally in the remembrance Rama is who makes the gopis happy by heart and by senses.

So if you say ‘Hare Krishna’ then what is your conception?


(to be continued)



(excerpts from a seminar of Swami Tirtha on the holy name, Ludashto, July 2013) 

(continues from the previous Monday) 

In order to continue our previous mood, I will quote yet another person, Epictetus. He was a slave, then he was liberated and became a very famous philosopher. “If we have sense, we ought to do nothing else in public and in private than praise and bless God and pay Him due thanks. More than that: since most of you are walking in blindness, should there not be someone to discharge this duty and sing the praises of God for all? What else can a lame and old man as I do, but chant the praise of God? If indeed I were a nightingale, I should sing as a nightingale. If a swan – as a swan. But as I am a rational creature, I must praise God. This is my task and I do it. And I will not abandon this duty so long as it is given to me and I invite you all to join this same song!” Like a forerunner of Mahaprabhu: “Join this song!”

Jili, a Sufi mystic from the 15th century. “There is no access to the knowledge of God except through the intermediary of His name and qualities. And since every name and every quality is contained in the name Allah, it follows that there is no access to the knowledge of God except through the ways of His name.” How many names does God have in Islam? 99 plus one in Heaven.

Attar is the next author; he was again a Sufi teacher in the 13th century in Persia. “At nightfall he (the hero) entered a ruined building, where he found a jar of gold and jewels, covered by a board, on which the name of God was inscribed. His friends divided the golden jewels, but our hero said: “Give me this board! My beloved Name is upon it.” And he did not cease kissing it all day. Through the blessings thereof, he attained to such a degree that one night he dreamed and heard a voice saying to him: “Ah, my friend! The others were pleased with the golden precious jewels, but thou wert pleased only with My name. Therefore I have opened to you the gate of knowledge and wisdom.”

“The wonders of the holy name”, a mystic book from Europe, says: “The divine name is in truth a mine of riches. It is the fount of the highest holiness and the secret of the greatest happiness that a man can hope in this world.”

“He who prays without ceasing unites all good in this one thing.” Saint Symeon, The New Theologian, 10th century, from Constantinople.

Richard of Saint Victor, a Scottish mystic philosopher from the 12th century: “And this is the invocation of the name, this is the possession of salvation, the receiving of kisses, the communion of the bed, the union of the word with the soul in which every man is saved. For with such light no one can be blind, with such power no one can be weak, with such salvation no one can perish.” It’s a very high concept! To receive the kisses – where else you read about that except our shastras?

An Italian mystic Bernardino de Siena from the 15th century who promoted devotion to the holy name, says: “The best inscription of the name of Jesus is that to be found in the innermost heart of the hearts; the next best is in words; and finally the visible name written or carved. If the bodily eye is constantly confronted with it, it will soon become visible to the eye of the heart – that inward spiritual eye of the soul.”

So the next question is – if we understood that the glorification of the holy names pervades all the different cultures and centuries, then what is the specific feeling for us?

(to be continued)


(excerpts from a seminar of Swami Tirtha on the holy name, Ludashto, July 2013)

(continues from the previous Monday)

May I read from Dante? To see in other traditions how the glory of God is described, why is chanting important. I’d like to read from non-vaishnava sources, not to prove that they are not devotees, on the contrary – to see that they are also followers of this idea, no matter that they belong to a different religion.

Dante says: “Now I have no doubt that it is obvious to a man of a sound mind that the first thing, the voice of the first speaker (Adam) uttered was the equivalent of God, namely El (the name of God from the Old Testament), whether in the way of a question or in the way of an answer. It seems absurd and repugnant to think that anything should have been named by man before God, since man had been made by Him and for Him. Since the transgression of the human race everyone begins his first attempt at speech with a cry of woe, it is reasonable that he, who existed before that transgression, should begin with joy. And since there is no joy without God, but all joy is in Him and God Himself is holy joy, it follows that the first speaker says before anything else ‘God’.” That means that the essence of God is joy. (Around year 1200.)

What does Mohammad say? “It is in pronouncing Thy name that I must die and live.”

Now a very famous yogi, Shivananda: “What does Lord Krishna teach in holding a flute in His hand? What is the symbolic meaning of the flute? It is the symbol of om. It says: “Empty thyself of all egoism and I will play on the flute of thy body. Let thy will become one with My will. Taking refuge in om, thou will enter into My being, listen to the moving interior music of the soul and rest in eternal peace.”

The next author is Angelus Silesius. He was living in the 17th century in Germany, a follower of Boehme, a Christian mystic. “The name of Jesus is an ointment poured forth. It nourishes and illuminates and steals the anguish of the soul.”

Saint-Augustin – what did he say? “Our meditation in this present life should be in the praise of God. For the eternal exaltation of our life hereafter will be the praise of God. And none can become fit for the future life who has not practiced himself for it now.” Correct! According to your sadhana you will reach your goal; if you don’t practice now, you will not reach.

Now we are jumping back few centuries to Pythagoras – 5th or 6th century before Christ. “Despise all those things, which when liberated from the body you will not want; and exercising yourself in those things of which when liberated from the body you will be in want, invoke the gods to become your helpers.”

The 54th psalm in the Old Testaments says: “Save me, O God, by Thy name!”

Let’s read a story about Mohammad. “Ali once asked the Prophet: “Ah, messenger of God, show me the shortest road which leads to paradise – the one most pleasing to the Lord and the one best suited to His worshipers.” The Prophet said: “Ah, Ali, this way is to repeat without cease the name of God in seclusion. So meritorious is this practice that the world will not come to an end until at least one person performs this.”

Again Boehme, the German mystic, says: “In the sweet name Jesus Christ the whole process is contained.” It’s a real mystic vision – that nama, rupa, guna, lila[1], everything is there.


(to be continued)

[1] Name, form, qualities and pastimes