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(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



(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



(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 



(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 10.01.2014, morning, Sofia)
(continues from the previous Monday)
To be satisfied with what you have – this was the principle number eight; and number nine: “Observing the fasting day on Ekadashi.”[1] Fasting is very beneficial. It is also very healthy. We fast according to the moon calendar – on the eleventh day after the full moon and the new moon. Therefore this is called Ekadashi or ‘the eleventh day fast’. And this also is a principle of yoga – that we should perform this little control according to some principles, according to some guidance. And you know how it happens: on the other days you even forget about eating sometimes, but on these specified days – ah, it’s very difficult to tolerate. Therefore it is given to you – to follow the principles. 
On this eleventh day usually we abstain from grains and beans. So if you want to keep this fast which is very beneficial in bodily and spiritual purification, you can do this. You can take a full fast, you can take a ¾ fast, or a half day fast. Even if a little control you try to do, it’s beneficial. And in order to avoid this confusion: ‘Whether this is allowed today or not allowed,’ it’s most easy to take fruits, for example. There is no problem with the fruits. But definitely if you take something, at least until noontime you don’t eat anything. And then you can keep a very moderate diet on this day. It will help your purification. It will give a rhythm to your body also. 
And finally the tenth principle here: “Worship the sacred trees like the banyan and other sacred plants and bushes.” Well, again this is not so easy in Sofia. How many banyan trees do you have here? Not so many. But usually temples have tulasis. Tulasi is a sacred plant for Krishna. And for example you can do that kind of worship or service. How can we serve a tree? Definitely not by cutting it down, but by watering the roots. If we have tulasi in our home, it’s very nice if you give the water. 
Tulasi is not simply a bush, but this is like an incarnation of the goddess of devotion in a plant form. The ancient visionaries didn’t see only the material object, but they could see the spirit behind. Therefore for them Ganges is not simply a river, but this is Mother Ganga. This is the goddess of purification and liberation. In the same way tulasi, this sacred plant is not only a botanical object, but something that reminds us of the service of Krishna. Because this plant is very dear to Krishna, so if we are connected to the plant, we are connected to the lord of this plant – it’s very reasonable. 
So, if we apply this second set of five principles, it will also enhance our devotional life and principles. Just to summarize again: “Be prepared to give up certain practices for the satisfaction of Krishna and accept others that you are not so much willing; reside in a holy sacred place of pilgrimage; accept only what is necessary; observe fasting; and worship sacred trees and objects. These ten items are preliminary necessities for beginning the discharge of devotional service in regulative principles. If in the beginning a neophyte devotee observes these ten principles, surely he will quickly make good advancement in Krishna-bhakti.” Maybe you have something to ask or discuss more?
Question: What exactly do you mean by spiritual advancement? 
Swami Tirtha: Spiritual advancement means that you isolate yourself from stupidity more and more – to be very practical. 
Comment: Maybe change in the taste.
Swami Tirtha: Ah! Very nice! What was impossible yesterday it is very much possible today. I think we all have some conception about spiritual progress. And it is very nice to exchange our views about this. We can also say that every day, step by step, we have to come closer to our spiritual ideals. So this is something very practical, this is not some distant theoretical construction. And change of taste, as you mentioned, is a definite proof that from the material taste we might come to the spiritual taste. That is spiritual progress – from your ego to your good self. This is the journey that we have to take. Asato maa sat gamaya/ tamaso maa jyotir gamaya/ mrityor maa amritam gamaya[2] – “From the unreal, material taste, lead me to the real, spiritual taste! From the darkness bring me to the light! And from death lead me to immortality!” I think this is a good program for spiritual progress. From the unreal – this is the world of illusion – to come to the real.  
1. Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 6
2. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.3.28



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

(continues from the previous Monday)

The eighth principle of bhakti is “Accepting only what is necessary or dealing with the material world only as far as necessary.” I don’t know what your experience is, but I observe that this material world is like a wolf – devouring everybody. Not satisfied with your fingers, he wants your arm. And not satisfied with your arm – he wants to catch you completely. 

In the Indian tradition they compare the material existence to a huge snake. Have you studied the digestive system of the snakes? They take the entire foodstuff in one gulp. If a big enough snake catches a sheep, it can devour it completely and then starts to digest inside. Material life is the same – skin and bones, it’s ready to devour you. And the jaws of this snake are like phases of time – past and future. So actually what happens? Your past and future are slowly but steadily catching you completely. 

We cannot satisfy the material environment. It captures us completely. So we should be very careful about dividing our attention, dividing our time and efforts between the material engagements and the spiritual goals. 

This principle is very important, because it says “accept only what is necessary in life”. Yoga means control. Therefore our masters are ready to help us understand what proper control is. Let’s take one very simple example – in yoga we have to control our eating habits. If our master said: “Don’t eat!”, this advice would be very difficult to accomplish, right? Therefore they give a license – to make it easier: “Don’t eat meat.” So, you can eat this and this, but don’t eat that and that. Certain control is there; it’s not necessary to give up our eating habit totally, but have a limit, have a control over this bodily function. Accept only what is necessary.

Actually this was also formulated in the medieval European philosophy – accept only what is necessary. If you have proven one truth, it’s not necessary to bring another proof. Why? Because if something is proven, why should you support it more and more and more? 

But then the main question is: if we want to apply this principle in our life, we should open the debate ‘What is necessary for me?’ ‘A little excursion to Hawaii is very much necessary. This is part of my life. It’s nothing special.’ So I think you understand that we might come up with certain special needs which are not really necessary. But if you go down to the basics, you will find very simple principles – eating, sleeping, shelter, company…

Ultimately humans have only two basic needs: one is to love and the other is to be loved. Which one is more important? 

Answer: First.

Swami Tirtha: To love someone. This shows that ultimately humans are emotional beings. If your body has to fast, you can tolerate that, right? But if your heart and soul have to fast, it’s much more difficult to tolerate. 

So, accept what is necessary. Find your limits in a reasonable way. It is said that this world is equipped in such a way that everybody’s needs are fulfilled, taken care of. And this principle helps us to establish a very good culture – the culture of contentment. Don’t complain! 

Here is one story coming from the Jewish tradition. A head of a family goes to the rabbi and he says: “Ah, rabbi, I have a problem.” “What, my dear?” “Ah, I have my wife and I have my family; it’s always a scandal there and you know, it’s very difficult to tolerate, and we have such a small place, only one room, so I have no privacy there. What should I do to find my inner peace?” Then the rabbi asked: “Do you have some relatives?” “Yes, yes, I have some relatives.” “And do you also have some animals?” “Yes, I have some animals also.” “So, please follow my advice: invite all your relatives and take also your animals inside the room. And come back to me after two weeks.” I think we don’t have to enter more into the story. If you think that ‘I have a reason to complain,’ just look around. So many fellow human beings live a very miserable life. ‘I was complaining of not having shoes until I met a person who didn’t have legs.’ 

So please, accept what is necessary. In a very positive way this means – be satisfied with what you have got. Actually this is a very important yoga practice. On the material platform we shall find all the reasons why to complain about our position. But in the spiritual life we have to find all the reasons why to be satisfied. Turn the complaints into compliments. Just imagine: God provided you this lifetime – your environment, your body, your brain, your karma, good and bad – everything. He is working very hard to do that. And then you start to complain about it? It’s not very nice. Better we say: “Thank you, my Lord, You are so generous! You have given such a good chance for me.” 

(to be continued)




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

(continues from the previous Monday)

The sixth principle of bhakti was: be ready to give up certain things and to accept certain things. You can see how practical Shrila Rupa Goswami is. He gives such a practical advice; not some complicated philosophical or rasic explanation. 

What is the seventh principle? “Residing in a sacred place of pilgrimage like Dwaraka or Vrindavana.” This sounds a little impractical. Shall we change our nationality? Or move to another country? From time to time we are very happy to visit the sacred places of pilgrimage, but how can we manage to permanently live there? It’s quite complicated. Nevertheless, what to do about it, how to understand this principle? 

One solution is that yes, you take your residence in a holy place. Just like as I told you about a mataji staying in Vrindavana for more than 20 years now. She became like a local saint. So even that is possible. But what can we do, what can I personally do in that respect? If you cannot physically live in a holy place, then spiritually you should live in a holy place. Create a holy place from your home. Establish your altar – this like a connection, like an extended hand of the spiritual sky in your room. There you can offer your incense, you can chant your prayers, you can meditate. It will surcharge the place with divine energies, and it will help you whenever you enter to regain that special mood of prayers. 

But what happens if I don’t have a home? If I don’t have a room to establish a sacred corner? Nevertheless you have an inner home, an internal home also. We as souls reside in this body. And there is a very special place inside this body – this is your heart, which is the real residence of our self, the soul. There within the heart there is a special cavity. It’s a very small, very tiny place. Yet it is so huge that the whole universe can fit in there. So by purification we can achieve that platform – when the doors of your heart, your heart-chakra opens up and this small little cavity inside your heart becomes so vast that it can encompass the whole world. And who should be the Lord of that cavity? I think you all know. 

So this is the place that you can establish as a sacred spot in your inner organ. We should reside in this holy pilgrimage place. And that also means that your body serves this holy function. 

(to be continued)


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

We started our studies on the 64 main practices of bhakti. Bhakti as the path of divine love is a school of yoga. And yoga means a certain set of rules, set of practices, by which to establish a contact with something superior. Actually for the philosophers yoga is for establishing contact with the Supreme Absolute Truth – which is a little sterile idea. While for those who search perfection in a personal way, yoga is for establishing a contact with God Supreme. This is not only an energy concept of the existence, but like a personal concept of the Truth. 

Yet as all other types of yoga have their rules and practices, our yoga also has certain rules and practices. After the first five very positive instructions, we’ve come to the next five. 

“We should be prepared to give up everything material for the satisfaction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Shri Krishna. This means that when we are engaged in devotional service to Krishna we must be prepared to give up something which we may not like to give up and also we have to accept something which we may not like to accept.”

And now our rebellious mind starts to revolt. ‘Yes, you see? Here is violence! Something is forced on me which I don’t like to accept. And I have to leave something that I’m very much attached to.’ So, think twice if this is a process for you. ‘Maybe this is something sectarian? It’s very dangerous – so beware!’

But my dear ones, tell me one thing in life, any practice in life that is not working under the same principles? You join a job; you have to accept certain rules that you don’t really like – wake up early, be on time, have your night shifts, accept the boss… There are so many things you have to accept that you don’t like. Although you wouldn’t be afraid that joining a job is some sectarian approach. And you would like to achieve some promotion in your job, but it’s not coming – so whatever you like you don’t get it; whatever you don’t like you have to accept it. Anything you try in this life works under this principle. Therefore don’t be afraid that in the spiritual practices you have to accept certain rules and you have to give up certain bad habits. This willingness is very much necessary to progress in spiritual development. 

Once I heard a very profound explanation about bhakti-yoga. Bhakti-yoga means that you isolate yourself from stupidity. And in order to achieve that goal we have to accept something which is not very easy in the beginning and we are ready to give up something which seems to be very attractive. 

This is also connected to the gunas; gunas are the basic qualities of material nature. The happiness derived from rajas, the passionate side of the world, is very attractive. It seems to be very sweet in the beginning, but later on it might turn into bitter taste. While the happiness derived from goodness, the best part of the material existence, sometimes in the beginning looks unusual, not so tasty, but later on it starts to be like life-giving nectar. Therefore while practicing this bhakti-yoga process, don’t be afraid to accept good practices which are for your benefit and don’t be afraid to give up something that is harmful in spiritual growth. I think that makes some sense. If we want to reach this goal, we should do everything favorable and we should avoid everything unfavorable in that respect. 

May I inquire from you about this? Can you tell me something that seems to be frightening at the beginning, or very unusual? 

Damodar: To repeat the holy names is strange in the beginning.

Swami Tirtha: Yes! But later on it becomes very sweet. This is a good example for something that seems to be very unusual, but if we accept it, we shall understand the deeper meanings and we shall get the taste. Anything else? 

Hayagriva: Hatha-yoga exercises.

Swami Tirtha: But we don’t perform hatha-yoga exercises. Well, actually we do perform. Sitting on a lecture for two hours in lotus or half-lotus position – this is our asana. And also we have breathing exercises – to chant our bhajans loudly. So we have all the practices of different yoga schools included in our very gentle process.  


(to be continued)


(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!’


(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.





(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?’