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Extra English Issues issues

20130625GF79878

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2012, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday) 

Question: You have mentioned the two important qualities of a guru – to have divine knowledge and faith. Why it is not mentioned here that he has to be a member of a lineage?

Swami Tirtha: Because it is mentioned in another place. We cannot mention everything in one place. It’s very simple.

And actually the qualities of a guru – it’s a very long list. There are many gurus. Like Shanda and Amarka – belonging to the bramin caste, yet being in educational service of the asura race and they are specialized in politics. They are teachers, and they should be respected. All the teachers should be respected – this is point number one. If you give proper respect to everyone according to their position, you will not commit any mistake. This should be the basic principle – respect everyone according to their status.

But as Shanda and Amarka are the servants of their father and master, Shukrachariya, and also they are in the service of Hiranyakashipu, they are not free to teach, they are not free to act. If you eat somebody’s bread, you are committed to that person. Do you understand this? It’s clear? Once I tried to tell this on a lecture. The next day somebody came to me: “How was that, you mentioned something about prasadam yesterday?” So maybe I couldn’t express myself properly. Therefore I ask: “Do you understand what I mean?” For example, you are a young man, you live at home with your parents, you eat their food; and yet you criticize them. Come on, what is that!? Be on your own, eat your own bread – then you will understand what it means. So it’s not nice. If you depend on others and you criticize those on whom you depend, it’s not nice. Because on dharma, karma, tradition, blood, whatever – you depend on them. Then you are not free.

Shanda and Amarka took the bread of their father and teacher Shukrachariya, and he was at the service of Hiranyakashipu, the demon king. That means they were eating his prasadam. What can we learn from them? Therefore these teachers were committed to this dark tendency.

And what about the vaishnava gurus? Whose bread do they eat?

Hayagriva: Krishna’s.

Swami Tirtha: They eat Krishna’s bread, correct. Are they free to act and to speak? No, no. And there is a very special transmission of energy by food. Some energy is transmitted to you from the person who cooks or whose bread you eat. Some qualities will come to the eater. And this is proven. Once a devotee was somehow in a very bitter mood – sad, a little angry, somehow in a very bad temper. And she was cooking. And believe me, the food was bitter. It was bitter! So be very careful if you cook to have a very positive, very happy and very jolly mood, very dedicated mood to our Lord. Then the food that you prepare will not be only sweet, but divine. And all those who will take this food will also dance in ecstasy.

(to be continued)

 

 



handsWater630

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2012, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday) 

Prahlada said: “It is not possible to attain devotion to Krishna from those who are attached to material life. Those materialistic people are fully engaged in enjoying their senses without restriction. So they fall into the darkest hell and go on chewing the already chewed. Although these two gurus, Shanda and Amarka, have knowledge of the Vedas, they are unable to understand that Vishnu is the only object of the Vedas. Because they are full of material desires, they remain attracted by the sweet words of the flowery language of the karma-kanda section of the Vedas. Just as a blind man cannot show the right path to another blind man, they cannot teach me devotion to Vishnu because their eyes are densely covered by the three gunas. Unless one purifies himself with the dust of the lotus feet of a mahatma, who has no material desires, it is not possible to come in touch with the lotus feet of the Lord. If one is so fortunate to encounter such a rare soul like a mahatma, by sincerely engaging his heart and soul in service of the feet of Shri Krishna, all anarthas, the bad qualities and habits, will disappear.”[1]

So, who can give bhakti? One of the books of Shrila Prabhupad is Life comes from life. We can enhance on that: we can say that knowledge comes from consciousness and love comes from prema, divine love. Where does bhakti come from? If life comes from life and love comes from love, then bhakti comes from…? Correct, from bhakti. So who can give you bhakti? Only those who have it. Who doesn’t have it cannot give it to you. Therefore we should desperately search for one person who has it and then we should ask our share: “Please, be merciful! You take your prasad at the opulently-laid table of Krishna. Please, give me some morsels also.” This should be our desire. So try to obtain bhakti from those who have bhakti. What else can I say?

And how to recognize who has got bhakti? It’s not easy. Shrila Shridhara Maharaj says: “How to recognize if someone is intelligent? If you are also intelligent.” Then immediately you will understand ‘Yes, this person is intelligent’. But how to recognize who has got bhakti? Only those can recognize who’s got bhakti, who also have bhakti. But if I don’t have bhakti, how can I recognize who has bhakti? Ah, very complicated… Yet fortunately we have some well-wishers who will inform us: “Hey, here is the source.”

In order to find water you have to dig deep. In order to find divine knowledge you have to dig deeper. In order to find divine love you have to dig even deeper. And then you will not find it. ‘It’s not here! I’m digging, digging, I’m beyond knowledge, but it’s not here!” Then you come back to the surface from the big hole you’ve made. And when you come again to the surface you say: “Hey! It’s just here! Somebody is spreading it around.”

So this is our hope – to find the source and to find the persons who will help us.

(to be continued) 

[1] From B.B.Tirtha Maharaj’s book The holy life of Prahlada

 



12-0

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2012, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday) 

So, Prahlada was thinking for himself: “Shanda and Amarka are not real gurus. I had the opportunity to learn vishnu-bhakti, devotion to Vishnu, from Narada Muni, who is my real guru. I can say something from the teachings of Shanda and Amarka as my father desires, but because I have been asked in the presence of others, I shall speak about the instructions of my real sad-guru Narada Muni.”[1]

From these two other teachers what can you learn? Only politics. From Narada Muni what can you learn? Devotion. Usually all the rishis and teachers give their knowledge in certain shastras, in certain written form. Narada also is considered to be the author of a very important scripture; it’s called the Narada-bhakti-sutras. Sutra is ‘the thread’ or ‘the essence of thought’ and bhakti is ‘devotion to God’. So this is an essential treatise on bhakti. And if this is the ultimate scripture of Narada, what can you learn from him? Only bhakti.

“After reflecting like this, Prahlada answered his father’s question as follows: “The highest form of knowledge is the desire to surrender to Vishnu and to try to please Him directly by the means of the nine paths of devotion, such as listening to and reciting anything related to Vishnu, remembering Him, serving His lotus feet, worshiping Him, offering Him respects, following His instructions, becoming His friend and giving oneself to Him completely with body, mind and speech. I consider that a person who regularly practices all these has learned the best science.”

So, Prahlada sticks to the truth. He never compromises. Although he is trained by demoniac teachers, although the expectation from his father: “What have you learned, my son?” is completely different and he knows that his honest answer will not be popular, nevertheless he is ready to say his opinion. So “What is the best in life?” “Surrender to Vishnu.”

“Upon hearing from the lips of his own son, Prahlada that serving and worshiping Vishnu is the best type of knowledge, Hiranyakashipu felt sure that such ideas had been taught to Prahlada by his teachers. Out of terrible anger his lips started to tremble and he shouted insults at Shanda, the son of his guru: “Ah most unworthy bramin, you idiot! What have you done? You have insulted me by taking the side of my enemy, teaching that ignorant child meaningless devotion to Vishnu! One may commit sinful activities in secret, but sooner or later such activities become manifest in the form of a disease or other symptoms. Similarly in this world there are many ill-natured people, who dress like sadhus and act like friends, but their true nature will be manifested in time.” Hiranyakashipu blamed the sons of his family guru and they were very anxious to avoid any blame, so they answered: “O, conqueror of Indra, the three worlds tremble before your power and even the lord of Svarga is afraid of you. How could a low person like me gather the courage to take sides against you! Believe me, these ideas of Prahlada are the results of his inborn nature. These thoughts have not been learned from anyone else. Don’t blame us, don’t get angry!”

At that time, in Satya Yuga, everyone was truthful. So there was no good reason to doubt the words of others. Hiranyakashipu accepted the truthfulness of the words of the son of his guru and again he inquired from his son Prahlada: “Ah, disgrace and destruction of your family, if you did not get these ideas from the teachings of your gurus, then how could you become so unfaithful and disgraceful? How did your mind turn to this inauspicious path?”

 

(to be continued)

 

[1] From B.B.Tirtha Maharaj’s book The holy life of Prahlada

 



offering_Radharaman

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2012, Sofia) 

We continue our readings. We heard about the troubles of Prahlada in his school – that his dedication to Vishnu and his willingness to share his commitment brought him his troubles.

“The teachers of Prahlada were scolding him severely, but they did not have the courage to beat him, because he was the son of the king. After some time they again began to teach Prahlada with great care and attention about the principles of dharma, artha and kama and the three kinds of shastra that would inspire him to follow these paths. After few days they ascertained that Prahlada had learned everything about the science of politics, because he was able to answer all their questions properly. Feeling very happy, first they took the boy back to his mother. The queen was extremely happy to see her child and bathed him very nicely, smearing his body with perfume and decorating him with auspicious marks. She then dressed him with beautiful clothes and many valuable ornaments. After this the teachers took Prahlada to see the king Hiranyakashipu. Prahlada offered his respects as soon as he arrived in the presence of his father. Seeing his son prostrated at his feet, Hiranyakashipu blessed him and embraced him with both arms, taking great pleasure in this. He then took the child on his lap and quenching him in tears of joy he said with pleasure smile: “Ah Prahlada, my dear child, may you live long! Please tell me whatever good things you like best among the teachings you have learned from your gurus?” After being questioned in this way by his father, Prahlada thought: ‘These two sons of Shukrachariya are not bona fide teachers. The scriptures say that a sad-guru, a real guru, must have two qualities. The first is shrotriyam  – that is, he must know the scriptures very well. The second is brahma-nishtha – he must have full faith in God. It can be said that Shanda and Amarka, the two teachers, know the scriptures very well. But they have no faith in God. On the contrary, they are very attached to material objects and therefore they cannot be considered real gurus.”[1]

Many times you ask: “Who is a real guru?” Usually at that time my question is: “Who is a real disciple?” So we all have questions and topics to discuss. But here these two qualities are mentioned: shrotriyam brahma-nishtham. Shrotriyam – knowledgeable about the shastras; and brahma-nishtham – no other engagement, but commitment to God.[2] That means no private life anymore. There are many-many other qualities and requirements, formulated by ancient tradition or by the followers of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. But if from these two qualities we have to choose, which is more important? The knowledge of the shastras or the deep faith in God? Deep faith is much more important. Because there is no end of the shastras. It’s unlimited! Of course there must be a certain level of information, but ultimately there must be this divine quality of commitment and realization.

Generally people think that ‘If I’m knowledgeable, I will achieve more respect.’ Therefore you collect some little knowledge here and there and you try to show it to others. But this type of knowledge is just like the butter – the less you have it the more you spread it. Later on, when you are a little bit in a more ripe stage of your spiritual path, you are not interested anymore in collecting too much knowledge, much less in spreading it. And this was very beautifully shown by Bhakti Vaibhava Puri Maharaj. His young sannyas disciples were giving extremely proficient lectures – eloquent, shining, brilliant, full of stories and quotations, and this and that… While once I visited a temple, where he gave a lecture. And you know, devotes after the lecture usually discuss what they have heard. This time it also happened, they said: “Ah! Gurumaharaj said that if we enter the temple, we should try to offer our respects in a humble way to the deities.” And I thought: ‘No proficiency, no extra stories, no quotations; something very simple – try to offer loving respect to the Lord.’ But is that an essential message, beyond all the possible brilliant lectures? I think it’s very much essential. So, if we have to choose between these two – knowledge or faith – better we choose faith. Because if you have faith, knowledge will be given to you. If you have knowledge, even that little-little faith that you have you might lose it very easily.

(to be continued)

 

[1] From B.B.Tirtha Maharaj’s book The holy life of Prahlada

[2]  Referring to Mundaka Upanishad 1.2.12

 



humility

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2012, Sofia)

Question: My question is about humility, as we know that humility is the shortest way for attaining the purpose. What should be our approach towards different groups – vaishnavas, other people, God? What should be our approach in humility?

Swami Tirtha: Our approach in humility should be humble. You know, sometimes some preachers speak of trinad api sunichena – ‘Be more humble than a blade of grass’, but they are ready to enter any fight or any gossip about others. They march in like grand generals in the lecture room and give a very heavy lecture – on humility. Don’t forget, people usually speak about their weak points. If somebody stresses too much this or that specific topic, may be he’s got some problem with that. Therefore usually I speak about humble dedication to the Lord, because that’s very difficult for me. But I hope that by repeating this topic something will come to my mind also.

Humility is a very powerful principle, I agree. Therefore we should be very careful how to apply it properly. The guidance of Shrila Shridhara Maharaj is very useful in that sense, because he says: “Don’t be humble to the fools. Humility should be exercised in the company of the vaishnavas.” And he says, for example, a robber comes to the temple and in the name of humility you say: “Ah, it’s all right that you collect everything from the altar, but don’t forget about the money of the temple, it’s also here.” In the name of humility. No, you will take a stick and chase him out – in the name of humility.

So we should learn how to apply humility properly. There are some fears in vaishnavas. For example you might think that to disagree is an aparadha. No. No. If you have a different opinion and you represent it in a nice way, it’s not offensive. It’s not offensive to have an opinion. And if you give your opinion, and the answer is: “Ah, this is aparadha!” don’t believe that – if your intention is pure and you are following the etiquette and the rules. You know your heart. If you are a stupid fighter, always trying to create troubles – of course I’m not talking about that. But if in certain respects we have a certain conviction, it’s not aparadha to disagree on certain points.

Let me tell you one story. Once a spiritual master told one of his disciples: “I want you to go to one other disciple of mine. I have some problems with him. Tell him that I take back his name and take back his japa. He is not my disciple anymore. I reject him. And you, please, tell him this and bring the japa back to me.” So our friend, as an obedient servant of his master, went to this god-brother. He knew the message, but he also knew the science of politics. So he did not start with the fourth principle – violence, but he started with the first – be nice, be friendly. They started a discussion and finally our friend understood that this person is not against their spiritual master, he is only simply weak and he’s got some problems in his private life. And in the end he decided not to take back his initiation, not to take back his japa, not to take back his name.

Soon he went back to the spiritual master and the guru asked; “Did you do what I told you? Did you take back the name? Where is the japa?” And he said: “No, I didn’t fulfill your order.” Usually we should fulfill the order of our spiritual master, right? And he was a very responsible devotee – because this is a responsible job, it’s not that ‘wipe the floor’, it’s something serious. Then the guru asked: “Why didn’t you fulfill it?” and he started to explain: “Well, this happened and I understood his position and I understood that he is nice basically, it’s only some temporary shortcoming.” Then the guru said: “Well done, my son. I’m very happy that you didn’t fulfill my order.”

And this is a very qualified case. It’s not simply having a different opinion about certain topics. It’s directly going against the instruction: “Do it” and you did not do it. But a real master will be satisfied in such a case. Therefore he said; “Well done, my son.” Because the point is not to torture another person, but to come closer to the truth. And we can come closer to the truth by understanding the situation better – by getting more information, by getting more friendship, by showing more willingness to share – then the mission is accomplished. Of course I don’t say that in every occasion we should be more clever than our spiritual master and we should go against his directions – no. But try to understand the essence.

So, humility is a very-very powerful principle. Therefore we have to apply it properly. But if we chant the holy names, it will help us to understand how to do it nice. I have seen that in the practice of Shrila Paramadvaiti Maharaj. I have seen when there were some conflicts, some decisions had to be taken, he kept silent, chanted a few rounds and then he gave his opinion. This is the point, this is what we should follow. Always try to invite divinity into the situation – then you can resolve it nicely.



saffron

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2012, Sofia)

Question: What does exactly divine mercy mean?

Swami Tirtha: What does it mean: air? What does it mean: water? What does it mean: life? What does it mean: love? Mercy is not something strange or unusual that we have to obtain and it’s far away – no! This is the natural element that is around us. It’s here! Do you see that, do you feel that? If not, this is not the mistake of divine mercy. Other question?

Question of Hayagriva: One of the things we learnt from this story of Hiranyakashipu was that despite his severe penances and austerity he does not give up his enjoying mentality. So how can one get rid of this enjoying mentality?

Swami Tirtha: But my dear friend, if we give up our enjoying mentality, what will be left in our construction? Nothing, you are just like an empty shell. So shall we give up our enjoying mentality? No, we understood that we have to be attached, we have to be full of desires, we have to be envious. Don’t give up your enjoying mentality, please! Transform it! Because people on the material platform think that they enjoy. But that’s a mistake, they suffer. It’s called suffering! Their enjoyment is called suffering. So don’t give up your enjoying mentality, transform it. Come to the real platform of enjoyment.

Can you tell me what the most expensive spice is? Saffron. And they can produce oil from saffron. It’s not the flower itself, it’s only this little stamen inside that will bring the nectar. So with a heavy job they collect all these little containers of essence. Therefore it is more expensive than gold. But if you press it, it’s oily; so you can make oil from saffron. And in previous times maharajas used saffron oil for their body massage. So, today some westerners think that they know something about enjoyment. I have to tell you, they don’t know anything.

But what is the real level of enjoyment? This is devotional life. Because then you don’t put some saffron oil on your body, which will perish anyway, but you bathe your soul in the ocean of nectar. So yes, we want to enjoy! Bur really, in a substantial way. We are not satisfied with simple material enjoyments, no. We should be more clever. Come in contact with the real happiness! It’s never-ending.

Question of Dragi: I have read in Shrimad Bhagavatam that the living entity can pass in seven or twenty four dimensions. Whether by reading Shrimad Bhagavatam one can go to some of these dimensions and develop there some spiritual knowledge?

Swami Tirtha: Reading is one, listening is second and following is third. So it’s not enough only to read, even some spiritual advice; it’s much better to listen to that message. And if that message is transmitted to us through a living channel, we have to follow. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu selected Shrimad Bhagavatam as the best of the shastras. And the best part of Shrimad Bhagavatam is contained in the Tenth Canto, describing the loving pastimes between Krishna and His devotees. Rupa Goswami has clarified that picture even better. So we can agree that by following Rupa Goswami as rupanuga-vaishnavas you can cross all the different layers, levels and gradations of existence. Not only in the material sphere, but also in spiritual sense. So, the answer is ‘yes’ – by reading, studying, following, practicing we can cross.



saffron

(от лекция на Свами Тиртха, май 2012, София)

Въпрос: Какво точно означава божествена милост?

Свами Тиртха: Какво означава въздух? Какво означава вода? Какво означава живот? Какво означава любов? Милостта не е нещо странно или необичайно, което трябва да добием и което е някъде много далеч – не! Това е естествената среда наоколо ни. Милостта е тук! Виждате ли я, чувствате ли я? Ако не, грешката не е в божествената милост. Друг въпрос?

Въпрос на Хаягрива: Едно от нещата, които научихме от тази история за Хиранякашипу беше, че въпреки суровите си отречения и аскетизъм, той не се бе отказал от манталитета си да търси наслаждение. Как може човек да се избави от подобен манталитет?

Свами Тиртха: Но скъпи ми приятелю, ако се откажем от манталитета си да търсим наслаждение, какво ще ни остане? Нищо, ставаш просто една празна черупка. Трябва ли тогава да се отказваме от своето настроение за наслаждение? Не; нали разбрахме, че трябва да сме привързани, трябва да сме изпълнени с желания, трябва да сме завистливи. Не се отказвайте от настроението си за наслаждение моля! Трансформирайте го! Защото хората на материално ниво си мислят, че могат да се наслаждават. Но това е грешка, те страдат. Тяхното наслаждение се нарича страдание. Затова не се отказвайте от манталитета си за наслаждение; променете го. Стигнете до истинското ниво на насладата.

Можете ли да ми кажете коя е най-скъпата подправка? Шафран. От шафрана може да се прави масло. Не от самото цвете, а само от малките тичинки вътре се извлича нектарът. Тези мънички близалца, пълни с есенция, се събират с тежък труд. Затова шафранът е по-скъп от златото. Ако го пресовате, той е маслен, затова може да се прави масло от шафран. И в древността махараджите са използвали шафраново масло за масаж на тялото си. А днес някои хора от запада си мислят, че разбират нещичко от наслаждение. Казвам ви, че не знаят нищо.

Но кое е истинското ниво на наслаждение? Това е животът в преданост. Защото тогава не помазвате шафраново масло върху тялото си, което така или иначе ще изгние, а къпете душата си в океана от нектар. Така че да, ние искаме да се наслаждаваме! Обаче истински, по удовлетворяващ начин. Не ни стигат обикновените материални удоволствия, не. Трябва да сме по-умни. Да влезем в досег с истинското щастие! То е несекващо.

Въпрос на Драги: Чел съм в „Шримад Бхагаватам”, че живото същество може да премине в седем или двайсет и четири измерения. Дали чрез четене на „Шримад Бхагаватам” човек може да иде в някое от тези измерения и да развие там някакво духовно знание?

Свами Тиртха: Четенето е едно, слушането е друго, а следването – трето. Така че не е достатъчно просто да се чете, дори и да са духовни напътствия; много по-добре е да се слуша посланието. А ако това послание достига до нас посредством жив канал, трябва да го последваме. Чайтаня Махапрабху е посочил „Шримад Бхагаватам” като най-добрата сред шастрите. А най-добрата част от „Шримад Бхагаватам” се съдържа в Десета Песен, описваща любящите взаимоотношения между Кришна и Неговите предани. Рупа Госвами е изяснил тази картина дори още по-добре. Затова можем да се съгласим, че следвайки Рупа Госвами като рупануга-ваишнави, можете да прекосите всички различни планове и пластове на съществуването. Не само в материалната сфера, но и в духовен смисъл. Така че отговорът е „да” – чрез четене, изучаване, следване, практикуване, можем да прекосим.



Depositphotos_32655729_l-2015

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2012, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday) 

So the four ways of dealing with an enemy, with a conflict situation or a challenge are: first be friendly – this is the best option. If there is a challenge to you, try to be friendly. Many times it’s not enough, right? Then we should apply point number two – giving presents, offering gifts. If you approach your enemy with something very dear to him, he will like it: ‘Ah, very nice, very nice!’ You can bribe him. If even that doesn’t help, then you can use the third method – bheda; bheda means ‘divide’, divide the attention. Try to create some doubts in his conviction. And if even that doesn’t help, then punch him in the nose. But violence is the last, is the last way in resolving conflict situations.

All right, maybe you are not an international diplomat. But you are a diplomat of your life, of your home and of your family. So please, if you have any conflicting situations, don’t start with the fourth! ‘I will punch you if you don’t agree with me!’ First… what was the first? Be nice. Be friendly. But I know that by nation you are very generous also. Then you can use the second option – present some gifts. For example if your wife is angry at you, bring her a bouquet of flowers. That’s a cheap solution. If you are wealthier, bring a diamond ring. Ladies cannot resist these things. Ah sorry, we should discuss these topics only privately. But you, Bulgarians, are good diplomats also. So in case this doesn’t work, then try to disseminate some doubt. And I know that you are great fighters also. So in some cases the last one might also happen. But only, only on the basis of ‘we belong together’.

You know, from time to time I visit some devotee friends. There is one place I’ve been visiting for more than ten years now and all the time I listen to some conflicts there – some fighting, some misunderstandings, some clashes. And I did not understand, I thought that they have some problems. But then after many years I understood – no, this is their natural sadhu-sanga. This is how they are, this is their ways. Since that time I don’t take it serious when they complain about something, when there’s a next scandal coming. Because this is the salt and pepper on their daily bread.

“The dynasty of the daityas is like a garden of sandalwood trees. But this child took his birth as a thorny tree. Vishnu is like an axe to cut down and uproot the family of the daityas and this Prahlada is the strong wood which will supply the handle for that axe, so that the destruction can be completed fully.”[1] For them it was like a complaint, for us it sounds like a compliment. 

[1] From B.B.Tirtha Maharaj’s book The holy life of Prahlada



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(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2012, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday) 

“Hearing Prahlada’s intelligent reply, the two teachers became very frustrated, because they could not obtain the answer they wanted. Actually they hoped that Prahlada would tell them some particular name, so that they could catch that person and present him to the emperor. Now that their plan had failed, they became very angry and began to scold Prahlada. They shouted: “Hurry! Someone, bring a stick! If we don’t beat this disgrace of the family, he will not get the instruction he requires. This disgraceful boy has destroyed the name and fame of our family. Among the four kinds of actions – being friendly, offering gifts, dividing others) and punishing – he must definitely be punished and there is no other way of dealing with him.”[1]

These are the four ways of politics, as Shanda and Amarka were teaching politics. One is sama – being friendly. The next one is dana – offer some gifts. The third is the old-old-old policy divide et impera – divide and rule. And finally the last one is punishment – force, power.

You can understand the character and the level of people in two ways, in two situations. One is when there is a danger, when there is a conflict. For example if you want to judge a leader – a boss or even a spiritual leader – one way to understand his abilities is to see how he can manage conflicts. So, conflict management – this is not a business topic, this is a general universal human situation. Life always brings some conflicts. Our ambition is not to have any conflicts. Our ambition should be to give good answers to the conflicting situations. So conflict management is a sign where you can understand who is more able and who is less able. Because usually we expect from our leaders to solve our problems. “Gurudev, I have this and this problem – can you solve this? Can you give me a little advice on conflict management?” Other times: “Can you give me some financial advice?” So beware, if you want to become spiritual leaders, you have to be qualified in many-many respects. The guru is not an investment advisor. The guru is not a conflict manager. Anyway, if he can give good advice, you are happy, right?

So this is one way to recognize the potency or the position of any person – in conflict situations. The other way to understand the mood and the character of a spiritual person is how he is swimming in the ocean of nectar. Our vision is basically dominated by conflicts. What we see is the problems. What they see is the nectar. So don’t forget, these are the two ways to understand a person – in conflict situations, how he resolves conflicts; and in swimming in the waves of the ocean of nectar. But I tell you one thing – it’s very difficult to swim without getting wet. So if you don’t submit yourself to this ocean of loving service to the Lord, how do you expect to get the nectar?

(to be continued)

[1] The reading continues from B.B.Tirtha Maharaj’s book The holy life of Prahlada

 



Prahlada-Maharajas-Teachings-in-Front-of-Hiranyakashipu

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2012, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday)

 

“According to social custom, a child should always be respectful to his father. But here we see that Prahlada addressed his father as ‘greatest among the demons’. Asuras, or demons, are never interested in discussing subjects that are good or auspicious, nor are they interested in the conversations of sadhus. So we can imagine how incredible it was for Hiranyakashipu, the king of the demons, as to hear something genuinely good from his son. Therefore Prahlada hinted at this by addressing him ‘ah, greatest asura!’ because such a great demon was asking about the most important and beneficial thing in life. We should try to understand and accept this for important instructions of Prahlada: temporary objects cannot give happiness.” Bad news for the consumers’ society. “On the contrary – they give only misery and problems. One should give up materialistic family life in the same way that one escapes from a dry well, and one should choose to live in a quiet place, taking shelter of the feet of Shri Hari.

After hearing these words from the mouth of his son, Hiranyakashipu laughed and said: “Someone has spoiled the intelligence of this innocent child. He definitely must have heard these ideas from some vaishnava and now he is repeating.” With this understanding he gave orders to his demon servants: “Ah, daityas, take this child back to the house of his teachers and protect him very strictly, so that no sadhu would be able to come in contact with him, even if disguised. Rather be very careful not to allow any sadhu even to enter my capital, because he will spoil my child’s understanding.” So the demons took Prahlada back to the house of his teachers and carefully reported the words of Hiranyakashipu. Shanda and Amarka, the two teachers, were very frightened and began to think: “If Prahlada goes to the king, praising devotion to Vishnu, the king might think that we had taught him this and he will punish us accordingly. This idea of worshiping Vishnu has not come from us! He must have heard it from some vaishnava. Now we shall ask Prahlada in a clever way where did he get his knowledge. After obtaining this information we shall capture the culprit and bring him tied up before the king. In this way we shall amply demonstrate our loyalty to the king.”[1]

You see, the roles are changed. Before these Shanda and Amarka were the teachers, and Prahlada was supposed to be the student. Now the teachers are inquiring from the small boy. This is due to the knowledge coming from Vishnu. So if you want to change your position, take the divine knowledge.

“With this intention they addressed Prahlada in very sweet words: “Dear Prahladji, all good fortune to you! Please tell us the truth and do not lie to your teachers. We had instructed you together with the other boys in your class, yet no one else has obtained the knowledge that you have. Please tell us, from whom did you get this rare knowledge? Ah, descendant of a great dynasty, did someone else convince you about this against our teachings? Or is this idea coming only from you? We are very interested to know this, please, do not keep secrets from your teachers.” Prahlada answered: “Many times I have heard of people caught up in illusion and falling into maya of the Lord, making them see everything according to the false identifications of ‘me and them’. Today I have practically witnessed the demonstration of such illusion. But I offer my respectful obeisances to the Supreme Lord, the master of illusion. Only by the mercy of the Lord this misunderstanding, which divides the world into friends and enemies will be cleared. If even Brahma, Rudra and all the great demigods, rishis and followers of the Vedas are subjects to this energy of the Lord, then what can be said of those, who think only in terms of friends and enemies? Know it for sure that it was God Himself who shaped my understanding. Ah brahmanas, just as iron is naturally attracted to a magnet, my heart is naturally attracted to Lord Vishnu.”

 

(to be continued)

[1] The reading continues from B.B.Tirtha Maharaj’s book The holy life of Prahlada