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Extra English Issues issues

Jan

25

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(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 08.01.2016 morning, Sofia) 

(continues from the previous Monday) 

So, if we associate with mahatmas, we are automatically attracted to their ideals. But at the same time we are still conditioned by our previous lifestyle, habits, shadows, etc. “One may remain very much attached to fruitive activities and material sense enjoyment.”[1] This is the sad condition of the human being on this planet Earth – attachments. Actually nothing else can give you any trouble except your attachments. And there is only one thing that we cannot resist – it’s the temptation, coming in so many different forms.

Then what to do? One way to stop this attachment is to undergo different types of penances. ‘To chase out the devil’ from your system. Or to greet an angel who enters your life. If we are not ready to go through all these different types of renunciations, then the best way is to follow the instructions of these great souls.

If we check this system – that we have the chance to associate with a pure devotee, still we have some attachments and material ambitions and we are not very much ready to undergo different type of penances – “such a person becomes an eligible candidate for discharging devotional service”. That means – it is us, right! We are candidates of this process! This story tells about us, our present condition. We like the idea; we are not too much ready to pay a high price; and we are limited in so many ways. Correct? You can see, our philosophy is very high, very theoretical and very practical at the same time – describes the human situation as it is.

But then what to do? Shall we let our material shadow dominate over us? Shall we get ready for a little renunciation? Yes, the answer is yes! But the best suggestion that I can give to you is to catch the down part of the dhoti of a pure devotee and then go. Because by this contact, the help, the blessings and the powers that are necessary to accomplish this path, come very easy.

“This attraction for Krishna consciousness in association of pure devotees is a sign of a great fortune. It is confirmed by Lord Chaitanya that only the fortunate persons, by the mercy of both a bona fide spiritual master and Krishna, will get the seed of devotional service. Krishna says in the Shrimad Bhagavatam: “My dear Uddhava, only by exceptional fortune does someone become attracted to Me. And even if one is not completely detached from fruitive activities, or is not completely attached to devotional service, nevertheless such service is quickly effective.”

So, we are all fortunate to be invited and I think we are all very good candidates for this process, because we have all the qualities necessary.

(to be continued)

[1] Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 3

 



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(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 08.01.2016 morning, Sofia)

We shall continue our readings from The ocean of nectar of devotional mellows. Today we touch a very important subject; this is the eligibility of the candidate. What are the requirements, what are the qualities that we have to possess in order to join the devotional campaign of Mahaprabhu? Many times we are prone to check the qualities of the process, of the masters, of the practitioners, but we forget about checking our qualities. We are ready to note the small particles in the eyes of others, while we are not ready to see the beams in our eyes, as told by Lord Jesus.

So, what are the qualities, what makes us eligible to practice, to be a candidate? “On account of his association with mahatmas, or great souls one hundred percent in devotional service of the Lord, one may attain a little bit of attraction for Shri Krishna. But at the same time one may remain very much attached to the fruitive activities and material sense enjoyment and not be prepared to undergo the different types of renunciation. Such a person, if he has unflinching attraction to Krishna, becomes an eligible candidate for discharging devotional service.”[1]

So, here is the definition. Let’s see the elements of this definition. “Association with the mahatmas”. Who is a mahatma? You might say “Mahatma is Gandhi”. Actually it’s a title given to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, but mahatma means ‘a great soul’. You know, Gandhi was a very famous and very influential person of the twentieth century. Definitely he had a good stylist. Because whoever met him would remember this loincloth, these glasses and these pattens, right? He was ready to challenge all the standards of the western welfare societies. Yet everybody would remember meeting him. And his contribution was great – to achieve independence of a huge country with peaceful methods. In the political circles we can consider this like a sacred act. So we can say that he was too much spiritual in the political circles and he was too much political in the sacred circles.

But mahatma really means that somebody is a great soul in the spiritual sense itself. Because we are all small atmas. Everybody has a spiritual spark; actually everybody is a spiritual spark. That means you are atma. And the more we let this atma predominate in our whole system, in our life, sooner or later we might become like mahatmas, great souls. Now the material part of our existence dominates mostly – bodily, mental, etc. Therefore you are not mahatma, but anu-atma, small soul. But the more the spirit, the spark, the spiritual spark dominates your life, you might become a candidate for being a mahatma. And what was the quality of a mahatma? He is fully engaged in the service of the Lord. By different means: sometimes by actively working, other times by meditation, or by chanting, or by preaching – there are so many ways. But to be fully engaged means to have no second objective. No other motivation – just selfless dedication to the Supreme.

So, a mahatma is a great soul fully engaged in the service. And therefore being connected to them, we might also be attracted to their lifestyle. Actually there are two sides of being fully engaged. One is the focus of your spiritual attention and then the intensity of your accomplishment.

(to be continued)

[1] Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 3

 



магьосникът

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 07.01.2016 evening, Sofia) 

(continues from the previous Monday) 

“Similarly the sannyasis have come out from the head, the vanaprasthas from the arms, the grihasthas from the waist and the brahmacharis from the legs.”[1]

Who is the brahmin? The brahmin is the teacher of all the kshatriyas, all the vaishyas and all the shudras. And who is the sannyasi? Sannyasi is a teacher of even the brahmins. Then, I told you, we have to find our place in this structure. So, who is on the top? It’s the sannyasi – so? ‘I have to become a sannyasi! Because I want to be on the top.’ Is this the proper way to find our place? It’s not, of course. It’s not enough to have orange clothes. You must have an inner attitude of independence. Or for grihasthas it’s not enough to have an ability to make children; you have to become a real head of a family. And all other social groups – they have to qualify themselves.

“These different orders of society and grades of spiritual advancement are conceived in terms of qualification. It is confirmed in the Gita that the four social orders and the four spiritual orders are created by the Lord Himself in terms of different individual qualities. As the different parts of the body have different types of activities, so the social orders and spiritual orders also have different types of activities in terms of qualification and position. The target of these activities however is always the Supreme Personality of Godhead and as it is confirmed in the Gita, He is the supreme enjoyer. So, for example a brahmin, who is born out of the head of the Supreme Lord, his business is to preach the transcendental Vedic sound shabda-brahman. Similarly the kshatriya has to protect people from the onslaughts of maya. The vaishyas are meant for producing agricultural products, trading and then distributing them. And the working class is meant to help the higher classes by bodily labor. In this way there is a full cooperation and spiritual advancement among all the different orders of society. And when there is no such cooperation, the members of society will fall down. That is the present position in the Kali Yuga.

Lord Krishna instructed Uddhava that by following the instructions of social and spiritual orders of human society, one can satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead. And as a result of such a satisfaction, the whole society gets all the necessities of life amply without difficulty.” So, the key to success in life is a proper consciousness of all the participants of the society.

“Krishna says: “My dear Uddhava, all persons are engaged in activities. If by the result of either such activities they worship Me, automatically they become very happy within this world as well as in the next.” So, in the bhakti movement this is so nice that there is no need of even designating oneself as brahmin, kshatriya, vaishya, etc. or brahmachari, grihastha, etc. Let everyone be engaged in whatever occupation he has now. Simply let him worship Lord Krishna by the results of his activities. That will adjust the whole situation and everyone will be happy and perfect within this world.”

Mahaprabhu said: “I am not a brahmin, I am not a sannyasi, I am not this, I am not that. I’m a servant of the servant of the servants of the Lord.”[2] So, if we want to find our place in this structure, this is my suggestion. Let’s all become servants of the servants! Why? Because a good servant is always connected to his master. He cannot live without the master. This is not a material service connection where you definitely want to live without your service and without your master, because you are obliged to do that material service. In forced situations we hate our masters, and we hate being a servant, and we don’t like these activities. Let’s turn it into a spiritual practice – where we appreciate our masters, when we like to be a servant and when we like these activities and happily perform them.

This is the divine varna-ashrama – the divine social and spiritual structure. The ultimate source of that structure is divine. And the ultimate goal is also divine. If something originates from the Supreme, it will help us find our way back home to this original source. If something is developed out of the mud, it will help us go back to the mud. Life comes from life, consciousness comes from consciousness and love comes from love.

 

(to be continued)

 

[1] Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 2

[2] Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya, 13.80



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(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 07.01.2016 evening, Sofia) 

(continues from the previous Monday)

“In the Narada Pancharatra the regulative principles of devotional service are described. Any activities, sanctioned in the revealed scriptures and aiming at the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord are accepted by the saintly teachers as the regulative principles of devotional service. If somebody regularly executes such service to God under the direction of a bona fide spiritual master, then gradually he will come to the platform of pure love of Godhead.”[1]

Question of Paramananda: If I understand correctly, Shrila Prabhupad says that by serving the spiritual master, this can help one to develop his/her devotion. I’m trying to understand what does it mean that bhakti, devotion is ahaituki, causeless. Could you please give us some directions?

Swami Tirtha: This chapter discusses certain characteristics of vaidhi-bhakti. Therefore it is said: if somebody performs activities of devotional service on that platform, it might help him to come to the service in pure love of Godhead. Ahaituki is the twin of apratihata[2]. Ahaituki is ‘selfless’ and apratihata is ‘uninterrupted’. They are like brothers. Selfless and uninterrupted – these are the ultimate qualities of devotional service. If we can achieve these two qualities – to be permanently engaged in service and to have no secondary motivation – then what will be the result? Suprasidati – super happiness. This will supremely satisfy the soul in her hankering.

We might ask: which is more important – to be selfless or to be permanent in our service mood? But as they are very good brothers, we cannot separate them. Better we embrace both of these qualities. We have to try to be always connected and we have to be as selfless as possible.

You know, if you serve Krishna, He will help you to be selfless. He will take away everything from you, even the spiritual ambitions. And if you serve the Beauty of the Village, She will help you to be permanently engaged. So what can we say? Shri Shri Radha-Govinda ki jay!

Question of Haribhakti: I’d like to ask Gurudev, when we perform devotional service, can we serve directly Krishna, or as Shrila Shridhara Maharaj says, we should serve Radha first, because She is the connection to Krishna?

Swami Tirtha: Ah, first we should serve the vaishnavas! Radha and Krishna – They pay all attention to each other. Why should we disturb Them with our service? Trying to interrupt Their intimate talk in the afternoon or something…? Better we try to serve the vaishnavas, follow the instructions of our spiritual master. And later on it will come. Of course, it is not impossible to render service to the Divine Couple. We should always remember our ultimate identity: that I am a servant of the servant or the servant of God. Nevertheless we have to be very firmly convinced that by joining this lineage, through them we shall establish a living and direct contact with the Divine Couple. It looks like we are indirectly connected, because we serve the servants, but nevertheless this is like a direct connection. It’s a kind of achintya – direct and indirect. All these different conceptions will grow. As we purify ourselves, our vision will grow and we can be more precise in identifying our position and our service mood also. But if you serve Krishna and finally you reach Krishna, you will meet Radhika also. And if you serve Radhika, sooner or later you will meet Krishna also.

[1] Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 2

[2] Shrimad Bhagavatam 1.2.6

 



Гурудев-сено

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 07.01.2016 evening, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday) 

“In the Eleventh Canto of Shrimad Bhagavatam, Chamasa Muni, one of the nine sages, who came to instruct king Nimi, addressed the king as follows: “The four social orders, namely the brahmanas, the kshatriyas, the vaishyas and the shudras, have come out of the different bodily parts of the universal form of the Supreme Lord.”[1] So, how did it happen? The brahmanas represent the…?

Answer: The mouth.

Swami Tirtha: Mouth, yes… The head. And you are correct, the head has certain apertures and one very important is the mouth. And what do you do with your mouth? Speech and eating – this is the function of the mouth. Therefore we have to be careful about what goes in and what comes out, because it has an effect. So, if you put bad stuff, it will have an influence on your mind; then what comes out will be also bitter. Therefore it is said that to feed a brahmin is like a real sacrifice given to God in a sacrificial fire. And therefore we have to listen to the teachings of the brahmins, because the brahmins represent the head of the Supreme.

The kshatriyas come from the hands, right. What is their function?

Answers: To keep up the dharma. To take and to give.

Swami Tirtha: Yes. To protect also. And also to bring the food into the mouth. So to collect, as you said, and to give, give to the brahmins – to serve the whole system.

The third group is the vaishyas. They come from the abdomen. Their function is actually to supply the energy to the whole social structure. Like your stomach is able to digest everything and in this way it supplies the energy to the whole body.

And finally what is the source for the shudras? This is the legs. And what is their function? To bring the whole body to the proper place and serve in this way. But the origin of all of them is the divine universal form – the Supreme. So they belong together! They help each other.

Can you live without a leg? Difficult, but it’s possible. Can you live without a head? No, it’s impossible! Therefore the brahmin is the most important guy in the whole structure. Because he is the head, he will give the direction, he will chant the prayers, he will think of God and he will manage the sacred energy, the sacred part of the society. The kshatriyas have to take care of the secular power. First is the sacred power, second is the secular power. The third group will take care of the economic power and the fourth group will take care of the physical power. And if they serve each other, everybody will flourish. This is not a question of privilege. Because you have to be a qualified brahmin, you have to be a qualified kshatriya, you have to be a qualified shudra – meeting the expectations, not simply claiming some titles.

You remember the story when a young boy went to a guru to be accepted as a disciple. The guru said: “My dear son, very nice that you came. But, you know, I accept only brahmin disciples. So, which rank do you belong? Who was your father?” The boy said: “I don’t know. I know only my mother, I don’t have a father.” The master said: “All right, my dear son, then go back to your mother and inquire who your father was.” Because usually if your father was a brahmin, most probably you will also become a brahmin. Why? Because the pear does not fall too far from the pear-tree. So, our boy went home to inquire from the mother: “My dear mother, I went to guruji and he told me this and this… so, who is my father?” And the mother said: “Well… You see, at that time when you were conceived I knew not only one man. I knew more.” You know, it’s a little uneasy, even in our societies in the 21st century, right? What to speak of the classical age of India’s very strict social statuses and structure! Just imagine yourself, next day you have to approach your future spiritual master again. And he asked: “Now, my dear son, who was your father?” He said: “My dear master, I don’t know who my father is, because…” and he told the story. Then what did the guru say? “All right, my dear son, I will accept you. Not due to your lineage, but because you posses the quality of a brahmin – you tell the truth.”

So this type of meeting the standards is expected from anybody who is a part of this dharma structure. Then you are a qualified member of this structure. So, we have to find our place also. And we should appreciate the best quality of a vaishnava – and this is not the ritualistic or the scientific understanding of theology, this is not the heroic qualities of organizing or fighting, this is not the ability to manage financial cases properly, and this is not the quality to be simply physically strong – but this is the readiness to serve, this is dedication. Gurudev said that if we have devotion, even the shortcomings of a person become like ornaments. So nice! What do I have? I have only a long list of shortcomings. So, if I add a little devotion to that list, they might become ornaments.

In this way we can enter the divine social structure. And what is the goal of this ancient traditional social structure? This is the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord Vishnu. Because all the different groups originate from His divine cosmic body and all the members of that society are entitled to return home, back to Godhead.

(to be continued) 

[1] Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 2

 



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(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 07.01.2016 evening, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday) 

“When there is an order from a superior about doing something, there is simultaneously a prohibition also. When the order is that one should always remember Krishna, the prohibition is that one should never forget him. Within this simple order and prohibition, all regulative principles are found complete. This regulative principle is applicable to all varnas and ashramas – the casts and occupations of life. There are four varnas: namely the brahmins – the priests and intellectuals; the kshatriyas – warriors and statesmen; the vaisyas – businessmen and farmers; and the shudras – laborers and servants. There are also four standard ashrams: namely brahmacharya – student life; grihastha –householder life; vanaprastha – retired life; and sannyas – renounced life. The regulative principles are not only for the brahmacharis or celibate students to follow, but are applicable for all. It doesn’t matter whether one is a beginner brahmachari or if one is a very advanced sannyasi. The principle of remembering the Supreme Personality of Godhead constantly and not forgetting Him at any moment is meant to be followed by everyone without a fail.”[1]

Here we receive some information about the social structure – the brahmins, like priestly order; the kshatriyas like the knights, etc. So, where is your place?

Answer: In the ashram.

Swami Tirtha: In the ashram – but which one? Vanaprastha, brahmachari, grihastha ashram? Many times I inquire from people when they have to follow some studies: “What is your information about the classical, traditional Indian social system?” The caste system – usually they know this expression. And usually everybody comes with: “Ah, no! This is not good! It isolates and segregates people – it’s very bad!” After we discuss this topic for one hour and I ask them again: “Now what is your opinion about this system?” they say: “It’s quite good!”

Why? Because it shows a different vision of human society. We are trained to think of society made up of individuals: if we put enough individuals together they will form a society. Therefore western scientists came to such definitions and conclusions – that human society is an organized way of destroying ourselves. While the Indian system says: no, this is not made of individuals, but this is determined and given by God. The big structure is given and I am a small little part of this big structure; not that I am a small particle and we shall form a big structure. Because in the western way of thinking we are accustomed to this ascending process – from the small you go to the big. And sorry to say, but this is basically a materialistic point of view. Then you can very easily come to the conclusion that mud, the small thing, starts to feel, which is the big thing. So, matter will produce life – which is, you know, incompatible! While the oriental vision says that the big structure is given, it’s created by God and you are a part of that great structure – that’s a descending process. There is life, like a sacred principle, and it can manifest on the planet Earth also.

In the same way, the caste system for example is not a system of segregation, this is a system of unity. And we have to find our place in these categories also. Actually there is a so to say material or worldly varna-ashrama, and there is daiva, a divine varna-ashrama system. I think the first one is obvious: you have certain capacities, certain qualities and then you belong to one or another category. But do these material designations concern us as souls? You might say ‘no’. Still we can see that the devotees also have certain different-different qualities. One is a good organizer; we shouldn’t say that he is a passionate guy, because he has dedicated his life to the service of the Lord. So, he is not simply passionate, but he is divinely passionate. Or if somebody has a kind of scientific or ritualistic attitude, we cannot say that he is simply brahminical; no, he is divinely brahminical. Because devotional service is added to the qualities – that makes it divine. And there is one quality we all share. What stands at the end of our names? Das – yes, we are the divine shudras. We all share this quality – to be… well, not able, but to be ready to serve. This should be our basic quality. And then accordingly we can find our place in this structure.

 

(to be continued)

 

[1] Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 2

 



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(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 07.01.2016 evening, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday) 

“Suppose one does not fix his consciousness on Krishna in this human form of life. He will be thrown into the cycle of birth and death, involving 8400000 species of life, and his spiritual identity will remain lost. One does not know whether he is going to be a plant or a beast or a bird or something like that, because there are so many species of life. The recommendation of Rupa Goswami for reviving our original Krishna consciousness is that somehow or other we should apply our minds to Krishna very seriously and thus also become fearless of death. After death we do not know our destination, because we are completely under control of the laws of nature. Only Krishna, the Supreme Lord, is controller over the laws of nature. Therefore, if we take shelter of Krishna seriously, there will be no fear of being thrown back into the cycle of so many species of life. A sincere devotee will surely be transferred to the abode of Krishna, as affirmed in the Gita.”[1]

This is like a primary motivation of spiritual practice – to improve our life, our standards. Try to escape this trap of karmic action-reaction cycle of birth and death. I think it’s a good motivation, right? Material life is a kind of limitation; so let’s try to find a way to escape this trap. It is said in other shastras that whatever destination you want, it is possible to reach it. If you want to go to the planet of enjoyments, you can go. If you want to go to the forefathers, you can go. If you want to go to hell, you can go. If you want to go to Krishna, it is also possible. So there are many-many gradations of these different destinations. And according to our spiritual taste or polished, refined understanding we shall be able to reach our destination. If there is a way out of the material jungle, why should we go in? Is that reasonable? Not so much. So, try to find a way out of this labyrinth.

In this way by this divine connection we can overcome the material entanglement. So “My devotee is never lost!”[2] – says Krishna in the Gita. We have to very firmly, strongly believe that.

“In the Padma Purana also the same process is advised. There it is said that one should always remember Lord Vishnu. This is called dhyana, or meditation – always remembering Krishna, or Vishnu. It is said that one has to meditate with his mind fixed upon Vishnu.” Now comes the important point: “Padma Purana recommends that one always fix his mind on the form of Vishnu by meditation and not forget Him at any moment. This state of consciousness is called samadhi, or trance.”

You know, there are a lot of instructions and rules to follow. But these are the ultimate two regulations: always remember and never forget. Therefore we listen to stories about His activities. Therefore we chant the holy names. Somehow to always come closer to this divine essence.

“We should always try to mold the activities of our life in such a way that we can constantly remember Vishnu, or Krishna. Whether one concentrates his mind on the four-handed form of Vishnu or on the form of two-handed Krishna, it is the same. The Padma Purana recommends somehow or other always think of Vishnu, without forgetting Him under any circumstances. Actually this is the most basic of all regulative principles.” 

(to be continued) 

[1] Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 2

[2] Bhagavad Gita 9.31

 



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(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 07.01.2016 evening, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday) 

So, king Parikshit inquired from Shukadev, who was, so to say, the younger. His main question was: “My time is passing, so what am I to do?” I think it’s a very important question. There are some theories to project what people would do if they know the exact date of their death. Some say that under these conditions they will try to enjoy as much as possible – at least to have a good last week. But others say that a reasonable person should try to find answers to the ultimate questions of life: ‘So far I couldn’t pay enough attention to this topic – let’s do it now!’

 “Shukadev Goswami has recommended to Parikshit Maharaj that in order to be fearless of death, one has to hear, chant and remember the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, by all means. He also mentions that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is Sarvatma, or the Supersoul of everyone. Krishna is also mentioned as Ishvara, the supreme controller, who is situated in everyone’s heart. Therefore if someway or another we become attached to Krishna, He will make us free from all danger. In the Gita it is said that anyone who becomes a devotee of the Lord is never vanquished[1]. Vanquished means that after getting this human form of life, a person does not come out of the entanglement of birth and death and thus misses his golden opportunity. Such a person does not know where he is being thrown by the laws of nature.”[2]

Sarvatma – the Supersoul of all; and also Ishvara. These are the two features of surrender also: to accept that Krishna is the ultimate protector and that He maintains everything. Ishvara is like the supervisor of all the elements of creation. And Sarvatma, or the atma of all, the Supersoul of all, represents the divine presence. If somehow by hearing, remembering, chanting we get in touch with this ultimate source and supervisor of the creation, then we are connected to Him presently, in the future and in eternity also. If you love someone deeply and you remember that person, you feel like immediately you are with him or her. If a mother hears the name of her son, what happens? She starts to tremble: ‘He is so dear to me!’ Especially if he is a nice son. If he is a naughty son, maybe the mother will tremble also, but due to some other reasons. Or if we hear the name of our spiritual master – we start to tremble, right? You decide due to which reason. But that means we are connected – by the memory, by the name, by listening – then we are together now, immediately and after any difficulties. Therefore usually devotees receive a name connected to either Krishna or devotional service or devotees in general in order to help this connection of remembrance.

This loving connection and loving remembrance is a very delicate thing. Because if we are connected, we shall reach our destination. Otherwise we miss the opportunity. And it’s so nice how Shrila Prabhupad puts it: “You miss this golden opportunity.” I’m sure at that time he was meditating on the Golden Avatar – golden opportunity. Because “Such a person does not know where he is been thrown by the laws of nature.” 

(to be continued)

[1] Bhagavad Gita 9.31

[2] Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 2



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(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 07.01.2016 evening, Sofia) 

So, we learned that there are different levels of devotional service. The first was the vaidhi-bhakti or devotional service according to rules and regulations.

“The principles of vaidhi-bhakti are described also in the Shrimad Bhagavatam where Shukadev Goswami instructs the dying Maharaj Parikshit how to act. Maharaj Parikshit met Shukadev Goswami just a week before his death and the king was perplexed of what should be done before he was to pass on. Many other sages also arrived there, but no one could give him the proper direction. Shukadev Goswami gave this direction to him as follows: “My dear king, if you want to be fearless in meeting your death next week, then you must immediately begin the process of hearing, chanting and remembering God. If one can chant and hear the mahamantra and always remember Lord Krishna, then he is sure to become fearless of death, which may come at any moment.”[1]

So, here a very special moment is mentioned. There was a complicated background of the story, but anyway: Parikshit Maharaj, who was a king, was cursed to die in seven days. We might think that he is fortunate, because he knew exactly the date. We can never know the date of our passing away. Once I heard from somebody: “Well, I will use the last 30 years of my life like this and like that.” Who knows if this is in the future? Maybe 29 years have passed already. So we can never know when this final exam will come. But our king was fortunate enough to know that in seven days he will have to pass away. And if we receive such a message – that very soon you will have to pass away – most probably we’ll want to use our time properly. Therefore our king Parikshit wanted to inquire from the saints what to do now.

And the name is very meaningful here also, because his name means ‘The Proper Observer’. So, we all have to be observers of our own life, of the situations around, of the prospects, trying to find the essence. So Parikshit means who has a penetrating vision. Nevertheless in this moment he was perplexed. His vision was not proper, therefore he wanted to inquire. So, whenever our vision is blurred, so to say, we have to inquire.

And Shukadev Goswami arrived on the spot where the king was waiting for consultation. He was a young man, almost a boy. Nevertheless he was considered the best authority on spiritual topics. This shows that spiritual elevation is not a question of time. Also in devotional circles it applies. Who is an elevated devotee it doesn’t really depend on time. Why? Because Krishna likes newcomers. And He gives all the enthusiasm and all the blessings to a pure heart. Therefore we have to maintain that mentality. Do you still remember the first day when you met the devotees? When you entered the ashram? When you first felt the smell of the incense? Or tasted prasadam? This is such an extreme experience! And we were all so enthused that ‘There is a way of my personal salvation! There is a chance for that!’ It is this mentality we have to maintain. And it is very beneficial to take pictures when you receive your initiation. Why? To collect my own pictures? To have a private gallery – or what? The point is not this. But in this blessed moment we are very-very close to our original spiritual identity. The original bliss of the soul is shown on your face. Therefore it is very nice and very useful from time to time to look at your face at that time. Then to have a mirror and to check your face today. What happened meanwhile? ‘At that time I was so blissful, I was so much shining! And now I’m… shining even more!’ This is what we have to maintain – that original purity, that original blissful state that we have tasted. We had an intro into reality. This is what we have to maintain by feeling a neophyte all the time, permanently. Then we can inquire properly – even if we know that we shall pass away in seven days or if we don’t know, it doesn’t matter. We can inquire properly.

 

(to be continued)

 

[1] Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 2

 



A statue of the Hindu god Rama, Narayana or Vishnu Temple, backgrounds, tree, ladder, and Chiang Mai. Thai

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 05.01.2016, morning, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday) 

Question of Paramananda: I want to ask in connection of the pure devotional service. I have a question connected with the sin. While reading Shikshashtakam, in the fourth verse where Mahaprabhu says He doesn’t want women, followers, money, fame, it sounds like He is sharing that He has no attraction to these. Is it possible for us to achieve this level not to be attracted to these aspects of life, especially in their more sinful aspects?

Swami Tirtha: Yes. Of course, it’s possible.

Paramananda: When does it happen?

Swami Tirtha: When does it happen? If you practice varnashrama-dharma for 25000 lifetimes without a mistake, then it will easily happen. This is the technical solution. Or I have a shortcut. Because in the shastras it is said that there are many complicated rules and regulations and purifying processes and this and that; but simply by serving affectionately the spiritual master, who is so dear to Krishna, all the results that you achieve with big hardship through other processes – you can achieve that very easily.

Once I heard from one Maharaj an advice concerning this. He said: “If you have material desires – try to enjoy them!” You know, I was a little surprised. But then he continued: “Because then you will burn and give them up very quickly.” This is so to say the tantric method – take as much that you are fed up with it.

Yet simply if we somehow always keep the lotus feet of our spiritual master in front of our eyes; or in case you have any trouble, you immediately visualize your worshipable deity – where is the trouble?

And don’t reject your attachment – improve it! Find a better object for your attachment. Do you remember the example of Dhanur das? He was madly after beauty. He had a beautiful wife. And the eyes of his wife were so beautiful and so charming, that he wanted always to look into the eyes of his wife. You know how couples walk in India – first the husband and the wife is following him. But if you are walking ahead of your beautiful wife with the beautiful eyes – you don’t see them. So Dhanur das was always walking backwards – always fixing his eyes on the eyes of his wife. He was so much charmed and enamored with her. So, if you think you have some attachment – come on, this is a very neophyte, very insignificant attachment. Until we don’t walk backwards in order to fix our vision on the eyes of our wife we don’t have real attachment.

And once Ramanuja Acharya was observing this scene – a man walking backwards ahead and always observing the lady behind – and he said: ‘What’s that?!?’ So he approached Dhanur das and asked: “Wait a minute, what’s happening here?” Dhanur das said: “You know the beauty of the eyes of my wife – this is the most beautiful thing and I cannot live a moment without this vision.” Then Ramanuja Acharya also observed the lady and said: “Hm, not bad. But I can show you something more beautiful.” Then Dhanur das was astonished: “It’s impossible! These are the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen!” And then Ramanuja took him by the hand and led him into the temple of Lord Vishnu. A beautiful, beautiful deity of Lord Vishnu was inside. And then Dhanur das said: “Yes, I surrender! This is more beautiful than the eyes of my wife. I will follow you.”

So, find a better object for admiration.