Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha


(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


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