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(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 11.01. 2014, morning, Sofia) 
 
(continues from the previous Monday)
 
Now we continue our reading about the 64 elements of devotional service by Shrila Rupa Goswami. “The next ten important items are as follows: One should decorate the body with tilak, which is a sign of a vaishnava. The idea is that as soon as a person sees these marks on the body of a vaishnava, he will immediately remember Krishna. Lord Chaitanya said that a vaishnava is he, who when seen reminds one of Krishna.”[1] Of course it depends on our vision also. Because if we are in a very limited consciousness, even if Krishna appeared here we wouldn’t recognize Him. So in order to recognize Him properly or to remember Him, we must have a conception and we must have a clear mind. “Therefore it is essential that a vaishnava marks his body with tilak to remind others of Krishna.” 
All right, but if there is no audience to remind others of Krishna by painting your tilak, you can be your audience also. By this mark you can deeply establish in your understanding: ‘My body is a temple. My body is a temple for my soul and the Supersoul.’ So, this is a divine instrument. Or we might say a divine residence. And can we misuse a divine instrument or a divine residence? We are not allowed to leave the temple of God dirty or misused. So, it immediately helps our consciousness to fix. ‘Ah, my body is a temple!’ – then you immediately feel: ‘I have to use this temple properly today.’ 
And how to recognize a temple from other buildings? It’s clean. Some purity emanates from there. Because divinity is present. So, we should help that shine manifest more and more. Once it happened somewhere in the west – the devotees started a new center in a very risky, dangerous environment, not the best part of the city. And what happened? Soon this neighborhood started to be very posh, elegant. Why? Because a new mentality appeared in the place and soon people started to feel this good influence and also follow the good example. So, if there is nobody else to remind of Krishna, let’s remind ourselves: ‘Yes, my body is a temple of God’. 
Next point is: “In marking such tilak, sometimes one may write ‘Hare Krishna’ on his body.” If in the morning you have absorbed yourself in devotion and you remain in such an absorbed mood that ‘Hare Krishna’ is on your forehead, when you start your journey on the bus to your job, I’m sure people will remember Krishna. But I’m not sure in how much positive way. 
You see, it’s very easy to perform these practices in Vrindavana, where the rikshavalas will say: “Radhe Radhe!” when they want to overtake somebody. Here you say: “Radhe Radhe!” and nothing happens on the street. So, the environment is a little different. But who knows after five thousand years what will happen if you say “Radhe Radhe!” on the streets of Sofia?! We never know. We should start somewhere. If we don’t start, we shall not reach. 
So, what does it mean? Sometimes devotees, in different other vaishnava lines also, decorate their body with the names of God. Many times you see devotees in India with the name of Rama on their foreheads. Why? Because it is said our destiny is written on our forehead. So if I write the names of God on my forehead, this is my destiny. It will change the karmic destiny. And in this way we can start a very bright journey of spirituality. 
Of course this is also for protection. If we mark the tilak signs on the different body parts, they are also sanctified and connected. 
 
(to be continued)
 
1.  Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 6

 



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(a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 11.01. 2014, morning, Sofia)

 

Such a bright morning! The fog has gone. This is just like when you understand something about the divine science. Before we are covered by the fog of ignorance and when Krishna appears on the horizon of our heart, all the darkness and fog is dispelled, and such a bright light, just like today, appears in our consciousness. For a devotee everything tells about his beloved Lord. If you see the Sun, Surya, this tells you about the Supreme Lord. If you don’t see the Sun, only the fog, it also tells you about God Supreme. 

And for these moments of enlightenment we have to be very grateful. Because we feel very uneasy and very disturbed if we don’t understand something, if our picture is not complete. But if we start to see a better picture or a more complete version of the same picture that we have seen before, that’s an improvement. 

The other day somebody asked what spiritual progress is. This is spiritual progress – if our picture about the Truth is more integrated. Just like for a loving mother everything tells about her beloved son: ‘Ah, here we used to walk hand-in-hand with him,’ or: ‘Ah yes, this was his favorite fruit,’ etc., in the same way for a lover of God, Krishna, everything tells about Him. This is the real revelation. We have to acquire such a vision that Krishna is not able to hide from us. Therefore we try to follow the guidance of our superiors and teachers so that we may accomplish this beautiful journey. 

May I have a request? We need a little practical help from volunteers. Because we have been using this building – the corridors and the staircase – so many of us for this whole week. If some happy volunteers can join our service to clean this place a little bit? Because this is a fasting day, Ekadashi, and that is very good for spiritual cleansing. We can use our hands also in this spiritual cleansing the temple and the temple area. If you can help, please contact Pavitra and Tejasvini, they will organize this service, so that the light of the sun should fully emanate and sparkle in our corridors. Because if we help cleansing the temple area, actually we help cleansing our heart. So please, join this meditation. 

(to be continued)

 



gopi-gopa (1)

 (from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 10.01.2014 evening, Sofia)

Question of Manjari: If we see that some of our spiritual brothers or sisters are doing something wrong, is it proper to say something to them or we have to act in another way?

Swami Tirtha: I cannot tell, because usually I don’t see anything wrong. So I don’t know what to do in such a case. It’s difficult.

But I can tell you something from my experience. Once I was praying practically in tears to one of my senior brothers and I told him: “Why didn’t you give me a slap on the face when I was so stupid?” So maybe he didn’t see anything wrong in my behavior, while I had realized that I have made mistakes. 

Many times we might see something wrong or something insufficient in the behavior of others. Still we shouldn’t be satisfied with the shortcomings of others, but we should give a long list of their glories. Because to try to be a devotee is very glorious endeavor – with all the limitations and all the mistakes that we have. Just imagine: how many people are not willing to pay any attention to God Krishna. We don’t go out to chastise them, right? But is it our brothers and sisters who are ready to give a little attention to Krishna, we are so much ready to chastise?

Correcting others or so to say criticizing others is quite dangerous. And this is reserved only for the gurus. Why? Because this means we have to digest the mistakes of others. If a simple devotee starts to pay too much attention to the mistakes of others, these mistakes might come over him and push him down. While a heavy weight champion, a strong devotee can digest the mistakes of others. 

Nevertheless in a very humble way we can try to help our friends and brothers to pay a little more attention to certain things. If we find the proper method, definitely they will pay attention. 

But what to speak of finding faults in the practitioners, sometimes we might find fault in God also. One of His mistakes is the avocado. I will tell you why. He made its stone too big. It’s a mistake – such a big stone!. But if He admits His mistakes, it’s all right. If you complain to Him about it – it’s not so nice. This is called anchoring; whenever next time you find avocado in Kaufland, you will remember: ‘Ah! The mistake of God!’ So please, try to erase this. 

Actually gopis also find fault in Krishna. But they don’t criticize Him directly. Because they know that He behaves like a boy and a boy is running up and down very quickly. So He is ready to escape before they can finish the sentence. He will simply run. Therefore the gopis devised a method how to tell their message to Krishna. Because the gopis first of all want to protect the interests of Shrimati Radharani very much. And you know, Krishna is omnipotent, He is best in everything. He is best in torturing Radharani also. To give trouble to others. But He gives only the necessary trouble. So, the gopis want to defend Shrimati Radharani. And they are very upset about the behavior of Krishna: “How come that You are so rude with our Goddess!?” But they cannot tell this message directly. So then they decided: “We shall invite Krishna for a pleasure.” They did it and when He came, they offered Him a very intimate service: “Ah, our dear Krishna, we can give You a foot massage.” Krishna is an innocent boy, He is very happy to accept such service. He is in a very relaxed mood, thinking of Chandravali, and then the gopis start to give their massage – very nicely catching the lotus feet of Krishna: first one, then the second. So they hold on both legs. And when our quick-running Krishna cannot escape, because the gopis hold onto His legs so strongly, then they start with their message: “Hey, Krishna! What kind of lover You are?” And then they go on with their opinions. 

So please, if you find fault in your brothers and sisters, or for example maybe your husband, first invite him to a pleasure journey: “Ah, my dear one, can I give you a foot massage?” But don’t repeat this twice – it works only once. Second time he will say: “Ah, sorry, sorry, I’m very busy now.” 

What do I mean? Maybe we have some remarks about the others, but try to give it in such a nice, such a charming way that they can accept it. Kids can swallow the bitter pill if it’s covered by chocolate or something sweet. We are also like kids. We all need this sweet cover. Others also need that, not only you. So, first give a gesture, and then come with some remarks. Act like the gopis

 



зима

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 10.01.2014 evening, Sofia)
 
(continues from the previous Monday)
 
The ninth principle in this set is: “One should carefully avoid the various offences in chanting the holy name of the Lord or in worshiping the deity in the temple.” 1] There are many offences; 33 basic mistakes during worship; shall I tell you a few? One offence to be avoided in temple worship is: “don’t arrive on a palanquin into the temple room”. So, some slaves carry you on a nice palanquin into the temple – don’t do that. Easy, we can acomplish that, nice! Second offence to avoid: “don’t sit on top of the altar”. Well, it sounds a little weird, no doubt. But you know, once we had a new friend, first visiting the ashram in Nanda Falva. We were singing standing and after the arati everybody took place to listen to the lecture. We had a vyasasan for Gurudev, permanently staying there, even if Gurudev was not present. So our friend immediately thought: ‘Ah, it’s a nice place’ and took it. In a very humble way we tried to tell him: “Please, rather you sit here.” But that shows only that the soul has the tendency immediately to understand which the best point of the temple is. 
What to speak of human beings, once we had a rabbit. She was a part of the ashram. White, beautiful white rabbit. She was very happy to live with the devotees and she also had some very nice pastimes. Her favorite place in the temple room was the vyasasan of Gurudev, of course! There was only one more precious place for her – this was the bookstand (поставката за книги), on the Bhagavatam. It was very funny! So, after the evening program we had our supper in the temple. The plates were distributed, 5-10 plates, the devotees were sitting there and some little prasadam is placed on each plate. Our friend was visiting each plate and would take a little from each. So the respect of prasadam, this prasad principle she knew it very well. And you know, when devotees come together in a very relaxed mood after their evening worship and after their evening prasadam, first you sit in front of your plate, then you start to feel more relaxed. After half an hour talking and discussing very important points of spiritual life, you half-lie on the floor. And then our friend came with a very special service to the devotees. She approached close and started to bite the earlobes of a devotee. So, even the animals can choose the best place inside the temple room – the vyasasan.
And there are many other details, of course: behave like this, don’t do like that during worship or while chanting the holy names. The ten offences should be avoided as much as possible, like: not paying full attention, or blasphemy to the holy name, or disrespect to the instruction of the spiritual master – there are many different offences to be avoided. But if we try sincerely to cultivate this devotional life, there is less chance to commit offences. Of course, following the footsteps and the good example of our seniors – again this helps us to avoid mistakes. 
While the tenth principle here is: “One should be very intolerant (не трябва да търпи да слуша) towards the blasphemy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, or His devotees.” So, the general rule is that we should be very tolerant; one thing you can reject and this is offences against your beloved God and your beloved vaishnavas. 
So far we have heard twenty important principles. “Without following the above-mentioned last ten principles, one cannot properly elevate himself to the platform of sadhana-bhakti or devotional service in practice. Altogether Shrila Rupa Goswami mentions twenty items and all of them are very important. Out of the twenty, the first three – namely accepting the shelter of a bona fide spiritual master, taking initiation from him and serving him with respect and reverence – are the most important.”
So, the second ten principles that were mentioned: Give up the company of non-devotees; instruct a person, who is inquisitive; don’t be very enthusiastic about constructing costly temples and monasteries; don’t read many books or make a profession from spiritual lectures; don’t be neglectful (небрежни) in ordinary dealings; be balanced in loss and gain; respect the demigods; don’t give troubles to others; avoid the offences; but don’t tolerate blasphemy. Reasonable advice, right? As it is said, if we follow this we can come to the level of sadhana-bhakti. Sadhana-bhakti has two levels: vaidhi and raganuga. Vaidhi means ‘according to vidhi’; vidhi is the rules and regulations, prescriptions. While raganuga means: anuga – ‘to follow’, to follow someone who has raga, who has attachment to Krishna. So, in vaidhi-sadhana there are many rules; in raganuga-sadhana there is one rule – follow. And the other type, the ripe type, the higher type of bhakti practices is ragatmika-bhakti – when the nature of our practice is the free flow of divine attachment. Vaidhi, raganuga and ragatmika. By following these principles we can come to the elementary stages of the bhakti process and we can start our spiritual elevation proper. 
 
1.  Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 6


GveVARz (1)

(от лекция на Свами Тиртха, 10.01.2014 вечер, София)
 
(продължава от предишния понеделник)
 
Осмият принцип, даден тук, е: „Човек не бива да причинява ненужни притеснения на никое живо същество.”[1] Така че ахимса е нещо важно. Наричат я „най-великата дхарма” – ахимса. И тя не се изразява само в избягване на насилието, защото това отново е негативната страна. Но истинска ахимса означава да подпомагаш духовния напредък на другите. Знаете ли кой е международният ден на ахимса? 
Отговор: Всеки ден.
Свами Тиртха: О, би било много хубаво да е така. Но това е рожденият ден на Махатма Ганди, 2 октомври. ООН в крайна сметка в унисон прие този ден за международен празник на ахимса. 
Веднъж в Южна Индия намерихме един будистки храм. Много хубав храм, много добре обгрижен, посрещнаха ни много добре, незабавно получихме някои публикации и бяхме поканени на неделната лекция. Беше много хубаво! Тринадесетина монаси седяха отпред на сцената; водачът на ашрама беше около 40-50 годишен уважаван джентълмен, най-възрастният беше на около 80, а най-младият – на около 8. От най-малкия до най-стария седяха пред публиката. Те медитираха, като канеха всички да се включат в безмълвната им медитация – беше много хубаво. След това игуменът започна своята лекция. И можеш да усетиш, че той познава всичките си хора. Имаше и един западняк сред слушателите, който очевидно бе част от групата. Игуменът оглеждаше публиката и изведнъж ни видя: двама непознати от запада. Веднага започна много внимателно, но много поучително да говори за ахимса – за да предаде практическо послание. И аз бях щастлив, че получихме вниманието му, защото беше много мило. Сигурен съм, че всички участници бяха слушали стотици и хиляди пъти за ахимса. Ала той си бе помислил: „Ето едни туристи, дошли от Запада. Нека им помогна, нека ги науча на нещо хубаво: не бъдете агресивни към другите.”
А казвам ви, не е лесно да се живее без насилие. Обикновено не избиваме своите братя, човешките същества – в най-общия случай. Обаче често ги измъчваме – с действия, с думи, с мисли, с пренебрежение. Ако правим нещо, това може да е много язвително. Но ако пропуснем да направим нещо, това може да донася дори още повече болка. Същото е и с нашия Кришна. Ако сторите нещо глупаво, това може да е болезнено за Него. Ала ако пропуснете да направите нещо хубаво, може да е дори още по-болезнено. Затова в служенето трябва да се избягва пренебрежителното отношение. 
И така, не бива да причиняваме ненужни притеснения на никое живо същество – това означава ли, че можем да причиняваме нужните притеснения? Има един много красив пример от Бхактисиддханта Сарасвати Тхакур. Той е казал на една много известна Вясапуджа церемония, когато преданите се събрали да празнуват рождения му ден: „Знам, че съм ви създавал много проблеми. Моля ви, простете ми! Защото единствената причина да ви създавам тези проблеми бе да ви помогна да помните нашия Бог.” Така че щом дори на великите учители понякога им се налага да прилагат известно насилие – за да помогнат на нас, да ни спасят от по-голяма опасност – можем да видим, че да се живее без насилие е много, много трудно. Не можем да го направим просто като го избягваме. Но служейки на духовното благо на останалите е възможно да намалите това лошо влияние. Съгласни ли сте? Така че отново, чрез позитивно култивиране можем да постигнем по-добри резултати, отколкото просто чрез избягване. Затова нека се стремим да дадем нещо на Кришна, да се стараем да Го удовлетворим; а не само да избягваме нещо, което е лошо или ограничено. 
 
(следва продължение)
 
1. „Нектарът на предаността”, Глава 6


theorder02

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 10.01.2014 evening, Sofia)
 
(continues from the previous Monday)
 
“One should not be neglectful in ordinary dealings”[1] is the fifth principle. Perform nicely according to material standard expectations also. Don’t use Krishna as an excuse, don’t use your religion as an excuse. Don’t avoid the difficulties of life in the name of your inner peace. Rather try to take advantage of the situation. Just like a good sword. When they harden a good sword, they heat it and immediately put it into cold water. Heat-cold, heat-cold – many times. What will be the effect? Finally it will be very hard on the outside and very flexible on the inside. This is the way it never breaks – a good sword. So it unites both qualities: strength and flexibility. And we also need both. We have to be very strong in our conviction and we have to be intelligently flexible in the application. While the neophytes will be very weak in their conviction and very strong in the application. Better be like a hardened sword – strong and flexible at the same time. So don’t avoid the trials of life in the name of your ‘spiritual peace’.
The sixth principle here in this set is: “One should not be under the spell of lamentation in loss or jubilation in gain.” What was that tribe or nation that lived here on the territory of Bulgaria before? Thracians. What was their habit when a baby was born? They cried: “Ah! He started his career in this illusion.” And when somebody died? They were laughing. 
But what happens if you apply the ancient method of the Thracians today? The parents of the child will not be very happy if you start crying at the birth of their baby. The usual way is: if you take birth, you cry and others laugh. Live carefully, so that when you leave, it’s not that you cry and others laugh. When we leave, we should laugh and others should cry. Not the other way round. 
So, don’t lament if you lose something and don’t be overjoyed if you gain something. A yogi is balanced. In fame and blame he is not disturbed. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have feelings. Of course sometimes we are sad, by losing the company of a devotee for example. It’s a big sadness. Or if somebody achieves a very nice service in their spiritual efforts, we should be happy about it. 
Actually in devotional life it is offensive, this is a great mistake to be sad. We have no reason to be sad. We are eternal souls, we have our spiritual well-wishers, there is a living and loving connection between us and the Supreme; do we have any reason to lament? That’s an illusion! We should be very steady in our realization. 
The seventh principle here in this set: “One should not disrespect the demigods.” Is that clear? It’s obvious. Respect all – then you don’t make mistakes. Give the proper respect to everyone and then this is by itself a spiritual practice. 
Who is a demigod? 
Answer: Who lives totally for the satisfaction of the Supreme.
Swami Tirtha: Very nice! This is given as a definition by Shrila Prabhupad in the Tenth Canto of the Shrimad Bhagavatam. So if you live for the satisfaction of the Lord completely, you become a demigod. Actually they are the higher authorities in this universal realm, therefore it is very proper to give respect to all the different departments and servants of the Supreme. Just like there is one king, but there are many-many ministers; in the same way there is one Supreme and there are many subordinate powers who take certain roles and certain services in this universal structure. 
 
(to be continued)
 
1. Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 6

 



theorder02

(от лекция на Свами Тиртха, 10.01.2014 вечер, София)
 
(продължава от предишния понеделник)
 
„Човек не бива да е небрежен в обичайните си дела”[1] – това е петият принцип. Справяйте се добре и от гледна точка на материалните очаквания. Не използвайте Кришна за извинение, не използвайте религията си за извинение. Недейте да бягате от трудностите в живота в името на вътрешния си покой. По-скоро се стремете да извлечете благоприятното от ситуацията. Точно като един добър меч. Когато закаляват добрия меч, нагряват го и незабавно го потапят в студена вода. Горещо-студено, горещо-студено, многократно. И какъв ще бъде ефектът? В края на краищата той ще стане много твърд отвън и много гъвкав отвътре. Така добрият меч никога няма да се строши. Той обединява двете качества: сила и гъвкавост. Ние също се нуждаем и от двете. Трябва да сме много силни в своята убеденост и да сме по интелигентен начин гъвкави в приложението ѝ. Лаиците, обратно, ще са съвсем слаби в убедеността си, но много ще наблягат на прилагането ѝ. По-добре да сме като закален меч – силни и същевременно гъвкави. Затова недейте да избягвате изпитанията в живота, оправдавайки се с „духовното умиротворение”.
Шестият принцип в този набор е: „Човек не бива да попада под омаята на скръбта при загуба или на радостта при печалба.” Кое племе е живяло преди на територията на България? Траките. Какъв бил обичаят им когато се раждало бебе? Те плачели: „О! Започва неговия път в илюзията.” А когато някой умирал? Те се смеели. 
Но какво ще стане, ако приложите древния тракийски метод днес? Родителите на детето няма да са много щастливи, ако заплачете, че им се е родило бебе. Обичайният начин, по който се случват нещата е, когато се раждате, вие да плачете, а останалите да се смеят. Живейте внимателно, така че когато си отивате да не е вие да плачете, а другите да се смеят. Когато си тръгваме, ние трябва да се смеем, а останалите да плачат. Не на обратното. 
И така, недейте да скърбите ако изгубите нещо и не се радвайте прекомерно ако спечелите нещо. Един йоги е балансиран. Дали го славят или критикуват, той е несмутен. Това не означава, че не бива да имате чувства. Разбира се, понякога тъгуваме поради загубата на някой предан, например. Това е голяма мъка. Или ако някой постигне много добро служене в духовните си усилия, трябва да сме много щастливи за него. 
Всъщност, в живота в преданост е голямо оскърбление, голяма грешка да си тъжен. Нямаме причина да тъгуваме. Ние сме вечни души, имаме своите духовни доброжелатели, съществува жива и любяща връзка между нас и Бога; нима имаме някаква причина да скърбим? Това е илюзия! Трябва да сме много стабилни в своята осъзнатост. 
Седмият принцип от този набор е: „Човек не бива да проявява неуважение към полубоговете.” Това ясно ли е? Очевидно е. Почитайте всички и няма да допускате грешки. Отдавайте нужното уважение всекиму; това само по себе си е духовна практика. 
А кой е полубог? 
Отговор: Който живее изцяло за удовлетворението на Бога.
Свами Тиртха: Много добре! Това е дадено като определение от Шрила Прабхупад в Десета Песен на „Шримад Бхагаватам”. Значи ако живеете изцяло за удовлетворението на Бога, ставате полубог. Всъщност, те са по-висшите власт-имащи във вселената, затова е напълно уместно да се отдава почит на всички различни отдели и служители на Бога. Както има един крал, но множество министри, по същия начин има един Върховен Господ и множество подчинени Нему сили, които поемат различни роли и различни служби в тази вселенска структура. 
 
(следва продължение)
 
1. „Нектара на предаността”, Глава 6

 



Гурудев убеждаващ - Copy

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 10.01.2014 evening, Sofia)
 
Spiritual association is very important. Simply visiting an ashram is a spiritual practice. And to associate with devotees is a great chance in our life, so that their example, their energy is transferred to us. An ashram or a temple is a place for spiritual practice. Here we can receive and here we can give, share. I don’t know what your feeling is, but my feeling is that I receive a lot! And I can give, offer very small. But fortunately we are many, so if we all offer little, little, little, then our Krishna is satisfied.
So, we continue our readings about the 64 main practices of devotional service. The first ten were preliminary necessities. “The next set of instructions is listed as follows: One should rigidly give up the company of non-devotees.”[1] What does it mean? The majority of our friends and environment, so to say, are non-devotees. To rigidly give up their company?! That means you become a hermit on the Black Peak.[2] So what does it mean? What is the positive meaning of this instruction? It’s not enough simply to give up the association of non-devotees, because if you give up the company of your fellow human beings, you will end up with yourself. And as we want to start this practice, and this practice is for non-devotees, for those who only want to become devotees, finally you will again have a non-devotional company. What is the positive instruction here? Search for the spiritual company, associate with spiritual people. In their company our vision will change. More and more we shall see the spiritual qualities of our friends around. And by sharing and showering your spiritual qualities over others, they will also become spiritualized. So this very special, subtle and slow transition will start. This is the real meaning of giving up non-devotional company. Search for devotional company. 
The second from this set: “One should not instruct a person who is not desirous of accepting devotional service.” In other words it is explained in the Bhagavad Gita: don’t disturb the mind of others.[3] This is a basic rule in any kind of help – either social or healthcare, or mental, or spiritual help to others – you can help only those who want it. If somebody doesn’t want your help – what can you do? Even then devotees have a chance. You can wish all good success to the person. Or we have another secret weapon – this is prasadam. If somehow we bring people in contact, in any way, with spiritual energy, they will take the benefit. 
But if somebody is ready and desirous of accepting devotional service, he should be instructed. There is one definition of a disciple: that he is under discipline. This is a disciple – who is ready to take the guidance, who is ready to take the shelter. Such a person should be instructed. And you know the weak disciples need much care and attention. To them you have to explain very patiently and long what should be done. I think this is obvious – if somebody is in a difficult situation, they need more care than usual. But a good disciple, a good bhakta, needs even more time and attention, because he wants to hear more, he is very inquisitive. So those who are in a very bad condition and those who are in a very good condition, they need more attention. Those who are in the middle category, they can manage themselves, they run by themselves. 
But I think you know what I mean – that we have to give special care and special attention to the newcomers and to the superiors, to say it in another word. Because the first category need so much care and attention to train them, to feel that they are protected. While we should take all the possible time and chance to associate with the higher ones, to acquire something from them, to receive their blessings. 
And instruction in devotional service has only one goal – how to make Krishna more happy, more satisfied. This is what unites us in instruction. 
 
(to be continued)
 
1. Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 6
2. The highest peak of Vitosha Mountain
3. Bhagavad Gita 3.29

 



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(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 10.01.2014, morning, Sofia)
 
Question of Pavitra: What is the connection between Krishna and Vishnu, and what makes Krishna more special?
Swami Tirtha: Whatever Lord Vishnu has, our Krishna also has that. But Krishna has some extras reserved only for Him. What does it mean: ‘Vishnu’? All-pervading, present everywhere. This is a divine function. So, Vishnu resides in the heart of all living entities in a very special feature. Meanwhile He pervades the whole creation. And He also preserves His original position like a Divine Person. So we can say that all the divine qualities can be found in Lord Vishnu. He is like protector of life, like the divine Sun resplendent in this universe, Surya-Narayan. Light, power of life – everything, all these functions are connected to Him. He is called Bhagavan also – the personality full of divine features like fame, power, knowledge…
Then what is the difference between Vishnu and Krishna? This is blue, that is blue. But there is a difference. Vishnu is usually described with four hands and Krishna – with two hands. Four hands – to show, to remind us that He is divine. Although looks like human – with two legs only – but He’s got four hands, which is beyond human capacities. In the symbolic way four hands mean that He is omnipotent. He is not limited by material body, because He is spiritual all the time. 
Yet Krishna has “only” two hands. Why? Because He wants to mingle with the humans. In His original form Krishna wants to come very close to human beings. He doesn’t want to frighten them with some divine revelations. And actually His original form is very much like that of the humans. Or we can say that the humans are very much according to the divine. “God has created human beings according to His image.”[1] So it is not that humans have an anthropomorphic vision of God, but actually we can say that God has deomorphic vision of humans. He is the starting point. 
But what are the special features of Krishna? One is His flute, venu-madhurya. What is Krishna’s flute? This is the source of sound energy. And usually different gods give certain sounds – like Zeus with his thunders. But our Krishna plays the flute. This is the control that He exercises over the universe. With His flute He is inviting all to His divine embrace. 
Another feature of Krishna is His divine, ultimate beauty – His rupa-madhurya, the beauty of His form. We should understand that Krishna is the most beautiful person. 
And then He has His entourage, His devotees – guna-madhurya. This is another special feature of Krishna – that all the time loving servants are around Him. Lakshmi-sahasra-shata-sambhrama-sevyamanam/ govindam adi-purusham tam aham bhajami[2] – in His realm hundreds and thousands of lakshmis and gopis serve around Him. So, the beauty of His personal environment is another special feature of Krishna. 
And the fourth special feature of Krishna is His lila-madhurya – His pastimes. These are the special things that no other aspect of the Supreme possesses. This makes the picture complete. Therefore Shrila Shridhara Maharaj says that in the worship of God in general, we have to come to the Krishna concept of God – the all-attractive feature of the Supreme. Because this is the most complete comprehension that we may ever have about this supreme reality. He is purnottama avatar – absolutely, fully complete. Other features of the Supreme have fewer splendors, less divine glory, we can say. And these special features of Krishna attract us very much. Especially the fifth note of His flute. 
 
1. Genesis 5:1-3
2. Brahma Samhita 5.29

 



form-of-beauty-9781932771206_hr

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 10.01.2014, morning, Sofia) 
 
Question of Hayagriva: In regard with material existence – what actually binds us is our attachment to the material. And since we are naturally attached, how can we overcome these attachments? Some transcendentalists say we should cut them. In bhakti-yoga we say we should spiritualize them. Actually should we concentrate on this attachment or just by developing some higher attachment to the spiritual we can overcome them? 
Swami Tirtha: So, the first part of your question is how to balance between the material and the spiritual. If you ask a fanatic person – a fanatic materialist or a fanatic spiritualist – he will definitely say: “Give up the other side! This is our balance – no balance!” If you ask an opportunist, he will say: “Ah, be smart. Ride two horses with your one ass.” But if you asked an accomplished spiritual person, he will ask you: “Material? What is that?” Because his vision is fully spiritualized. For him there is nothing material. 
And it is very much true what you said: in bhakti-yoga we try to use all the assets of the body and the material world in the service of Krishna. Let’s take the eyes. Sometimes the eyes… well, not sometimes, the eyes are all the time searching for some objects to see. And for a healthy young man it is very much necessary when on the street he meets some very beautiful shaped lady that his eyes observe her very properly. Then what to do – pluck out your eyes as a solution? It will not help, because the desire will stay. Therefore our solution is: provide something better, even more beautiful than the form of a woman. Therefore there is this very nice book with beautiful paintings of Krishna, The Form of Beauty. This is the real control of the eyes. Show better objects to the eyes – to take pleasure from that. 
In the same way all the different organs are trying to attract you to certain directions. The tongue wants to taste different tastes; the ear wants to listen to different advice and news, usually the bad news about others; the genitals always want to meet the other party – we are equipped like this, our body functions like this. Yet there’s certain control we should exercise. This is our method: use whatever you have in the service of Krishna. Hrishikena hrishikesha sevanam[1] – “By the bodily sensual functions serve the Lord of the senses!” 
And we can use practically all our bodily functions and parts in the service of Krishna. Just like Ambarisha Maharaj was doing. He was an ancient king, a very good example of a surrendered devotee. And you know, to be a king is quite a responsible job – you are engaged so much in administration and this and that. But he was ready to distribute and delegate these duties to others. There was one thing he never delegated to others – worship of Krishna. He was always doing it himself. 
Why it is important to mention this? Because sometimes we have the tendency to find substitutes for us. For example if you are a father, you might very quickly learn from the shastras that whatever a father cannot accomplish, the son will accomplish. Then the next day in the morning you will say: “Puja again? My son will do it.” Don’t find excuses – as Ambarisha never neglected the service of the Supreme. And although he was a king, he was ready to use his bodily limbs in the service. He used his hands to wipe the floor of the temple. He used his legs to approach the saints and the holy places. He used his body to embrace the devotees. His head – to bow down before the deities. His mouth – to glorify and to chant the names. Practically he engaged himself totally in this devotion and dedication to God. 
We should follow his example. When we visit the temple, let’s do something there! Let’s express our willingness to serve. Of course now here we are like 25 people, so we cannot wipe the floor all 25. It’s not practical. But whenever there is a service, whenever there is a chance – join! And tomorrow you can bring a rag – to help cleaning. Or bring one kg of rice to the temple: “This is my offering to Krishna.” Or such a beautiful offering – bring some flowers! There are so many ways to express our willingness to join this serving mood. 
So please, follow the example of Ambarisha. I think he is a good example to find the proper balance between material and spiritual engagements. Although he was a great king he never forgot about the service of the Supreme. 
And definitely by artha-pravritti we can achieve anartha-nivritti. Artha means ‘values’. And pravritti means ‘to cultivate’. So, by cultivating the higher values we shall naturally achieve liberation from the wrong set of values – anarthas. By good practice we can control the bad habits. If we chant the holy names, the purification of the heart will come. Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. So simple. 
 
1. Quotation from Narada Pancharatra, found in Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu 1.1.12 and Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya, 19.170