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Extra English Issues issues

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 09.01.2014, evening, Sofia)

Question: Why is the spiritual master of Rama, Vasishtha Muni, teaching Him of knowledge and wisdom and not of bhakti? Is it because of the different age only?

Swami Tirtha: Rama Avatar is Maryada-Purushottam. What does it mean? That means His role was a little different. We can call Krishna Lila-Avatar – who comes for pastimes of loving connection with His beloved devotees. And no doubt, the devotees of Rama also have a very dedicated connection to Him. Yet in that specific role He came for a different purpose – to show His divine splendor and powers. Rama, equipped with this knowledge and heroism, was protecting the rishis and munis performing their sacrifices. And they were so much attracted to Him that they ran to Him to embrace. But then Rama stopped them: “Not this time. Very soon I will come as Krishna and then you may join our lilas, and then you can have this chance of open service connection.”

And sometimes the gurus also reserve the right to teach certain truths. Is it necessary for Lord Rama to be instructed on divine knowledge? I don’t really think; yet the spiritual master is instructing Him. Is it of any use in our case that the spiritual master instructs us in divine knowledge? No use either, but for a different reason. Nevertheless our masters are ready to take the trouble. Because they have this lila – trying to instruct others on divine truths. This also shows that divine truth, divine knowledge is something very sacred. Both the master and the incarnation are ready to pay attention to that. So how much we should pay attention to that!

You mentioned divine knowledge. What is the ripe form of knowledge? That is wisdom. And what is wisdom? Wisdom is the practical ability to love. So, finally Vasishtha Muni was instructing divine love.

Actually for us everything tells about this. Just like in Ayodhya, which is the place of Lord Rama, everything tells to the devotees about Rama. Once we visited Ayodhya. It was a very strange experience. We even had to show our passports and they examined our visas to join the queue to enter the temple. So it was quite difficult to wait until we could see the place of birth of Lord Rama, but we were so fortunate to have that vision. And then we understood that there is a Vishnu temple also in this place. A black deity of Vishnu with four hands is worshipped there in this small temple. So we inquired from the locals: “Where is this important Vishnu temple?” “Aaa, you are searching for the black Rama.” Because Rama’s body is like bluish, bright and ‘you are searching for the black version of our Rama”.

So for them everything is Rama. For us everything is Krishna. For the rasic devotees everything is prema, divine love. Somebody mentions divine knowledge – and we hear: ‘Ah, prema!’



птички

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 09.01.2014, evening, Sofia)

Question of Mahadev: Maharaj, as all the souls are individuals and in the same time they are part of the cosmic Soul, in our connection with the spiritual master do we lose our individuality by serving him completely and forgetting our personal everything or we add more quality to our selves? And also how could we get this perspective that we add more quality instead of feeling that we lose something?

Swami Tirtha: Very good question, thank you! I share the second version – that we don’t lose but rather add something. But we should strictly differentiate between the two features of the soul and a human being. One is the personality and the other is the individuality. Personality is limited by material factors like karma, gunas, samsara, so many things. Depends on the family, on the training, on the experience, so many factors – it’s limited. It changes from time to time. But the individuality never changes. Your being a chit-kana or a spark of consciousness – it never changes. Whatever changes this is the conception that we have about ourselves.

Usually people have three different identities: one that they show to others; the second – what they think themselves to be; and the third – what they really are. In most of the cases these three are very far away from each other. But in case of devotional purification these come together. You don’t want to show a face to others, your self-analysis is strong and precise enough – to understand your self, not your false identity. We shall lose all these misconceptions in this process. So if we lose something – it is this personality basket, so to say – conceptions, feelings, misconceptions, etc. – all the things that are impermanent. But this loss will help us to come closer to our real selves, to our real identity, individuality. Because if there is no individuality, if there is no in that sense personal concept, vigraha, then there is no chance for service.

So please try to remember this difference between your personality and your individuality. Personality changes, individuality or identity never changes.

And the next question was how we can develop this gaining mentality. Our well-wishers have great faith in us. We don’t see our future. They don’t only see our future, but they are working for that future. And their power is stronger than our resistance. So we might think that we lose, but actually finally we shall gain everything.

Shrila Shridhara Maharaj described it in a following way: first when I’m introduced in the practice of devotion, I might think that I should risk everything and it is unsure if I will gain anything. All risk – no gain. Would you join such a game? It’s risky! All risk – no gain. But meanwhile you will get the instruction: no risk – no gain. If you don’t risk, you will not achieve anything. And at the end, after accomplishment you will see – no risk and all gain. Because what I have lost is insignificant, what I have gained – invaluable.

 

 

 



fire&wave

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 09.01.2014, evening, Sofia) 

Question of Yadunath: Our spiritual master has love for us and this love is bringing us closer to our real identity. Our vision about him is different. Our love is childish or even like that of a puppy dog. How can we develop our love, how can we make it grow – our real love towards the spiritual master?

Swami Tirtha: Water the seeds. By chanting our mantras we water the seeds of devotion. And if our bhakti-lata grows, automatically it will bring different fruits.

The devotees of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu were so expert, they were so sensitive to feel the mood, to feel the spirit and the emotions of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu so much so that they could always supply the appropriate shlokas from different scriptures. Sometimes to agitate His fire, otherwise to pacify the waves of emotions in His heart. But if we want to apply that example in the service of our spiritual master, we have to understand his mood. We have to come close.

There are very subtle ingredients to enhance or to pacify the mood. For example the gopis carry different substances for the service of Krishna. Sometimes they bring camphor, other times they bring incense or very precious fragrant oils and actually all these different substances help to increase the taste, enhance remembrance, agitate the fire or pacify the waves.

In the same way, we all have some ingredients in our hands. We have to use all these ingredients, all these capacities that we have in life in general for trying to serve the purpose of the master, trying to serve his moods. But if we don’t know how to do it, because we are not so sensitive, we cannot understand what he likes, we have a very simple method that was described by Shrila Rupa Goswami – inquire. Ask: “Swamiji, what do you like? How can I serve you? What do you need?” Yet you know, a really surrendered devotee doesn’t need anything. So with such an open question: “What do you need?” he will say: “I have everything, thank you! I don’t need anything.” So we have to be very careful in our inquiries.

And even sometimes the direct instruction is very difficult to understand. If I may tell one example for that; I think I’ve told you the story many times, but it is so classical that it’s worth repeating. Once Gurudev asked one of his disciples: “Can you bring me a cup of water?” And he started to think: ‘A cup of water? Such a simple thing for my highly elevated master? No, it’s not enough. That is not good enough service. Better I bring another liquid for him. And what is the best liquid? I have learned on the lectures that the best liquid is milk.” So, really it happened. They brought a cup of milk to Gurudev. And you know, you expect your master to be very satisfied with your services. ‘Gurudev, you are so great and I am bringing the greatest liquid for you!’ And what happened? Gurudev was very much upset. “Stupid! What are you bringing me? I only wanted to paint my tilak – why did you bring this milk to me?”

So sometimes even the direct instructions are very difficult to understand. Nevertheless we should inquire. That was the fifth principle – to inquire: ‘How can I develop my devotion?’

 

 



MAM-14-KH0211-01P

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 09.01.2014, evening, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday) 

Question of Gandharvika: Well, you explained our relationship with the spiritual master – how it should be. I’ve heard many times that the most important is to have a relationship with the heart with the master. So my question is: what is more important – to approach the person with the most qualifications, with the highest diploma in the line; or to approach a person with whom you have heart connection?

Swami Tirtha: How do you choose your husband? You examine the biggest car, or the most profound bank balance, or the most famous guy on TV shows? Or you simply are enamored with someone? And this is not a sour grapes choice: ‘If I cannot have a horse, I’m satisfied with a donkey’. Not like this. But if you see your donkey and say: ‘Ah! Such a beautiful color! So nice ears you have, my dear!’

Gandharvika: Do you call this a relationship with the heart, sorry?

Swami Tirtha: Yes! Yes, love changes your vision, definitely. It gives the best-best part of the other person. It will reveal the real qualities that maybe the other person doesn’t even have – yet. Hate and love will provide a distorted vision of the other person – that’s for sure. But hate gives you a bitter picture, while love gives you a sweet picture. Therefore it is said that a mother will call even a blind son Padmalochan – beautiful lotus-eyed son.

But maybe again we are too much on the emotional waves. So, returning to your question – how can we judge who has the best diploma? It’s very difficult to judge. Maybe somebody is famous, maybe somebody has millions of followers, but maybe an unknown personality is dearer to Krishna. We can never know how it happens.

Of course we should inquire where a reliable source of spring water is. And if you have found it and if you have checked this water, you can draw from this. Because Shrila Shridhara Maharaj says that in spiritual life there is no periphery, everywhere is a center. Please, think very deeply what it means. In spiritual life there is no periphery, everything is a center – if this is a real spiritual community and service, etc. Once a very dear friend of our Gurudev, who was living in California, was starting his journey back home from Navadvip, from Shrila Shridhara Maharaj. So he said good-bye to his spiritual master, and then Shridhara Maharaj said: “Yes, now you are facing to that very remote part of the world.” California, San Francisco! Our friend said: “I’m going to California! It is not a remote place.” But then he understood: ‘Wait a minute, compared to Mayapur, Navadvip, this is a very remote part of the world.” Because that is a very holy place, the place of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. So from that perspective San Francisco is somewhere there… It doesn’t really exist.

So, how can we choose? I don’t know, by divine mercy it comes to us. Some say that this is like a general practice – you can surrender to any spiritual master. Which is not bad, as a generic instruction. Yet if we personalize this contact more and more, then other sweetness will also appear. But either this way or that way, we should try to find our shelter. I wouldn’t go after famous qualifications like big numbers and this and that. It depends also on our understanding, on our desire – what kind of guidance we are searching for. But definitely we have to check for ourselves if we take the inspiration. If we take the inspiration, then go ahead! This is the way how we find our place.

 

 



incense&flowers

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 09.01.2014, evening, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday) 

Finally the fifth principle[1] here about the spiritual master is: inquire from the spiritual master how to advance in Krishna consciousness. As we agreed, the classical way of studies in spiritual life is inquiry. This is an exchange of questions and answers. The proper questions concern the overall fate of humanity, the benefit of humanity. So, this should be the topic of our inquiries: ‘How to serve the divine purpose? How to serve the human beings? And how to serve myself finally? How can I serve my soul, my most important part? I have given my enthusiastic attention to serving my body so far. Finally how can I serve my self?’ This should be the inquiry concerning our connection with the spiritual master. Not that ‘How can I improve my material standards? Gurudev, please help me, I have no job. Ah, I’m so sad, because I have no husband.’ After one year when you receive your husband, you will come crying again: ‘Ah Gurudev, I’m so sad I have a husband.’ Is your basic standard only crying, crying about these material things? Once Gurudev was very strong, he said: “Is this your kirtan?” So don’t wait to receive such a remark from your masters.

Why? Because this process is about loving and happily serving God with so many different nice offerings. ‘Here are some flowers for You! Here is the best incense for You! I had found the most special incense in Vrindavana. This is called ‘Super Hari-lila’. The shopkeeper said that everybody is searching for this, everybody wants this! I said: “I want a packet of that also!” And here is my chapatti, here are my prayers, and here is my reading the books, and here is my wiping the floor… I have so many ways to serve You!’ If somebody wants to do something, they will find a way. If you don’t want to serve – who will help you?! How can I help you?

We should develop this willingness. Right now we discuss very basic things. But if you apply the same principles on the higher levels of our spiritual life, again you will be successful if you follow.

So these are the five very positive principles from the 64: search, accept the shelter, receive the sacraments, follow the instructions, follow the previous acharyas and inquire. We started with some inquiries and we ended up with some inquiries. This is like a method that we have to properly apply in the spiritual life.

(to be continued)

 

[1] Out of the 64 principles of devotional service according to Shrila Rupa Goswami

 



incense&flowers

(от лекция на Свами Тиртха, 09.01.2014, вечер, София)

(продължава от предишния понеделник)

И накрая, петият принцип тук[1] за духовния учител е: запитвайте духовния учител как да напредвате в Кришна съзнание. Както сме говорили, класическият начин на изучаване в духовния живот е запитването. Това е обмен на въпроси и отговори. Правилните въпроси касаят всеобщата съдба на човечеството, благото на човечеството. Така че такава трябва да е темата на нашите запитвания: „Как да служа на божествената цел? Как да служа на човешките същества? И как в крайна сметка да съм полезен на себе си? Как мога да служа на душата си, на най-важната си страна? Досега ентусиазирано съм влагал вниманието си в служене на своето тяло. Как най-сетне мога да послужа на душата си?” Такива трябва да са запитванията към духовния учител. А не: „Как да подобря материалните си стандарти? Гурудев, моля те, помогни ми, нямам работа.” Или: „О, толкова съм тъжна, защото нямам съпруг.” След една година, като получиш своя съпруг, отново идваш плачейки: „О, Гурудев, толкова съм тъжна, че имам съпруг.” Това ли е стандартът ви – само да плачете ли плачете за такива материални неща? Веднъж Гурудев беше много строг, той каза: „Това ли е вашият киртан?” По-добре не чакайте да чуете подобна забележка от духовните си учители.

Защо? Защото този процес е любящо, щастливо служене на Бога с толкова много различни, красиви приношения. „Ето малко цветенца за Теб! Ето най-добрия инсенс за Теб! Намерил съм най-специалния инсенс във Вриндавана. Нарича се „Супер Хари-лила”. Продавачът каза, че всеки го търси, всеки го иска! Казах: „Искам и аз един пакет!” Ето и моите чапати, ето моите молитви, ето, за Теб мия пода, ето, за Тебе чета – това са моите начини да Ти служа.” Ако някой иска да прави нещо, той ще намери начин. Ако не искате да служите – кой може да ви помогне! Как бих могъл да ви помогна?

Трябва да развиваме това желание. В момента говорим за много елементарни неща. Но приложите ли същите принципи на по-висшите нива в духовния живот, отново ще имате успех, ако следвате.

И така, това са първите пет толкова позитивни принципи от 64-те: търсете, приемете подслон, получете тайнствата, следвайте напътствията, следвайте предишните ачарии и питайте. Започнахме със запитвания и завършваме със запитвания. Това е метод, който трябва правилно да прилагаме в духовния живот.

 

(следва продължение)

 

[1] От 64-те принципа на преданото служене според Шрила Рупа Госвами



following the footsteps of Prabhupad

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 09.01.2014, evening, Sofia)

 

(continues from the previous Monday)

 

So, with faith and devotion we have to follow the orders of the spiritual master. This is very easy until the master asks something according to our taste. “Yes, Gurudev, I also wanted to do the same!” But if he asks something that is not according to our taste? Nevertheless we have to apply the same principle – with faith and devotion to execute.

I mentioned that here Rupa Goswami will give a list of 64 principles; but actually there are only two rules in devotional life. Paragraph number one: the guru is always right. Paragraph number two: in case the guru is not right, automatically the first paragraph applies. If you remember these two principles, you are safe – after examining, accepting and discharging. Don’t accept stupidity! Don’t accept nonsense. After due consideration if you can fully dedicate yourself, then first examine, then obey. Why? Because guru’s vision is quite different from our vision. If an ant and an elephant climb the same mountain, their vision will be different. Their perspective is different also. Therefore if we have this commitment, if we have this admiration for the broad and penetrating vision of our master, then we shall try to follow as much as we can.

Then the fourth principle is to follow in the footsteps of the great acharyas (teachers) under the direction of the spiritual master. That means, a real master will always glorify his previous masters. He also follows the previous masters, therefore he invites others, the newcomers, to follow in the same way. Why? Because this is a descending process. We might think that we know something in spiritual science. But spiritual progress means that you understand: ‘My masters, my superiors – they know.’ Therefore it is stated in the Vedanta Sutra that first you should become knowledgeable – that is the part of our process when we gain and collect information, experience, etc.; but then you should become like a child – innocent, pure, fully depending, with full trust in Krishna. So until we are in the knowledgeable part of our progress, you should know, you should examine, you should collect all the experience. This is more like the phase of achieving. But later on this is the phase of applying. ‘I have learned, and I try to apply the theory in my practice.’

A descending process is like picking the mangos from the tree. The best mangos, of course, are on the top. This is a very tender fruit, very precious fruit, so you have to take nice care. And the tree is high. So what to do? Therefore many people climb the same tree; one picks the top fruits and hands them down to the next one. In this way the same fruit is transferred down to the earth. In the same way we have to follow the previous teachers, because they hand the principles of devotional service to us.

(to be continued)

 

 



guru

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 09.01.2014, evening, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday) 

Shrila Rupa Goswami gives a list of 64 principles of devotional service:

“The first is accepting the shelter of the lotus feet of a bona fide spiritual master. Second: becoming initiated by the spiritual master and learning from him how to discharge devotional service. Third one: obeying the orders of the spiritual master with faith and devotion. Fourth: following in the footsteps of the great acharyas (teachers) under the direction of the spiritual master. And the fifth: inquire from the spiritual master how to advance in Krishna consciousness.”[1]

So, the first five of these 64 elements of bhakti are focused on guru. And these first five principles are very positive: do this, do this, do this. They don’t say ‘don’t do that, don’t do that’. Let’s analyze a little bit these suggestions.

What does it mean to accept the shelter of the lotus feet of a spiritual master? You might think that this means to be fully connected to him. But then why is there the second principle that you should be initiated by him? There must be a difference between the two levels. First level is that ‘I accept him’. And the second level is that ‘he accepts me’. Do you see the difference? That means to establish your contact more and more. To take the shelter of a saintly personality is open for all. There are not so much requirements to do that. But to be initiated – that’s a different case. There are some requirements.

So, what happens if we take the shelter of a saintly teacher? That act will open the door for us. And what does it mean to be initiated? That means you are empowered to practice fully in this school. This is the meaning of being initiated. You become a full member, so to say. Of course it doesn’t mean that before you were not a full member. Because it doesn’t depend on the formal ritual, but it depends on the level of acceptance and surrender. Just to give you one example. In the times of Shrila Prabhupad there was one lady candidate who waited to being initiated by Shrila Prabhupad. But meanwhile she died in an accident. So, the devotees were very upset, disturbed: “Now what happened to her! She didn’t receive her initiation, what is her future?” And then Shrila Prabhupad said: “She returned home, back home, back to Godhead.”

Nevertheless initiation is like an official agreement, an official stamp on our connection. Therefore it is suggested: find a spiritual leader, take his shelter and try to receive initiation. So, do you see the difference between the two levels? At the same time, as it was mentioned before in the text, initiation is not the end of the story. That means that you were accepted in this school of thought, you are a fully recognized member of these spiritual studies and practices, but your diploma will come later.

And how to obtain our diploma? For that we have to follow the third – to obey the orders of the spiritual master – with faith and devotion. This is the real requirement. Therefore initiation means commitment. What can you say if the guru says: “The moon is made of ice.”? You have to say: “Yes, Gurudev!” All right – once we exercised our surrender. But the next time the spiritual master sees the full moon, he will declare: “Ah, this full moon looks like made of cheese.” Then what can you say? “Yes, Gurudev, it looks like!”

But apart from jokes, what do I want to say? Sometimes the teachings and the instructions of the master are just beyond our capacity to grasp. Because we are so stubborn in our own perspective. If somebody comes with a completely different conception of the same thing, it’s very difficult to say ‘yes’. But this third level is not blind following. Because there were the previous levels – to accept the shelter and to receive initiation. And what does it mean to accept the shelter – I have examined. I have examined myself – this is the best. Usually we examine the guru – this is also necessary. But let’s examine ourselves. This is the main point – ‘If I fit into this picture?’ To take the shelter means ‘Yes, I’m happy in this shelter. I like it, I can take it, this is for me.’ And then by entering this initiated relationship, both sides declare very strongly: “Yes, I belong to you and you belong to me.” So initiation is like a sacrament. Sacraments are very important in life. This is like an official license. And would you like to take a taxi with a driver with a new license? He has just changed the sign on the top of the car from L to T. Would you enter happily, with peaceful heart such a taxi? No, we need the expertise. Official license is there, now you can drive, but my opinion is: until you crash your car the first time you are not experienced in driving.

What will make our official license – initiation – valid? If we also take the experience – in faithfully discharging instructions of the spiritual master. You can see how these different steps are necessarily following one another.

(to be continued)

[1] Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 6

 



Tevno ezero

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 09.01.2014, evening, Sofia)

Unity is a great power. And if we are united in divine service, that will bring unusual blessings to all. Your presence always reminds me of the presence of my masters, my superiors and in this way I feel safe. I think we all share the feeling that to feel this home comfort is very important in life. Just imagine yourself if you have to explore an unknown country. Have you had that experience – that during the night you have to walk in an unknown place out in the forest? It’s very uneasy, right? Although this is the same country, this is the same continent, the same planet, the same universe. Just imagine yourself all of a sudden entering into a different planet, into a completely different environment. It’s a surprise. But if somebody prepares a place for us, then we feel safe.

It’s so nice to find a shelter in the mountains. By the mercy of some of you I have also been introduced into your mountains a little bit. Some of the travelers from ancient times say: “Bulgaria is much better than Switzerland.” Your mountains are nicer. And you know, when sometimes we find shelter up there, it always comes to my mind that somebody had to take the stones and the logs before us to prepare that place. Somebody has taken care – in order to receive us in a safe place. In the same way our spiritual superiors work very generously to create a home environment for us – where we can feel safe, where we can find our shelter. We have to be very grateful for that.

Therefore let’s read from Shrila Prabhupad, explaining the book of Shrila Rupa Goswami, Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 6.

“How to discharge devotional service. Shrila Rupa Goswami states that his elder brother, Sanatana Goswami, has compiled Hari-bhakti-vilasa for the guidance of the vaishnavas, and therein he has mentioned many rules and regulations to be followed by the vaishnavas.” Hari-bhakti-vilasa is a big book – like a law book of pros and cons, dos and don’ts. And there are some very difficult rules mentioned there. Shall I mention one difficult rule? Maybe some easy pills will also come at the end, but first let’s take the bitter pill. It’s said if somebody performs perfectly all the rules and regulations of varnashrama-dharma for thousands of lifetimes, then he is eligible to enter devotional service. That means we are excluded from this company.

Once I heard a description of the rules of taking evening meals as the South-Indian bramins do. First of all you have to sit in a row with bramins only. Quite difficult in Sofia, right? Then men have to wear only their dhoti and no upper clothes. All right, this January is quite mild, but you know, to take your lunch in a simple dhoti is again difficult. Then they explain how you should cleanse your hands – of course with complicated mantras and mudras of dropping water here and there; plus the water from your palm should come all the way down to your elbow. And you should let this water down drop by drop, etc, etc. So until you get to your prasadam, you will praise all the rules and regulations – that’s for sure. There are so many rules of this varnashrama structure of the traditional way of life that it’s practically impossible to know all, and even if you know – to follow everything.

Nevertheless there are some very important rules concerning everyone. “There are some rules which we can say are limited to time, space and circumstances, but there are some general rules that should be followed. Shrila Rupa Goswami will now mention these very important items for our benefit. Shrila Rupa Goswami proposes to mention only basic principles, not details. For example, a basic principle is that one has to accept a spiritual master. Exactly how one follows the instructions of his spiritual master is considered a detail. For example, if one is following the instruction of his spiritual master, and that instruction is different from the instructions of another spiritual master, this is called detailed information.”

Here is something very important. Because we are accustomed to the principle that teachings of the spiritual masters should be the same. Nevertheless Shrila Prabhupad states here that it might be different – and at the same time bona fide). You see the multiplicity of opinions and approaches to the Supreme even inside one school.

“The basic principle of accepting a spiritual master is good everywhere, although the details may be different. Shrila Rupa Goswami does not wish to enter into detail here, but he wants to place before us only the principles.”

(to be continued)

 



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