Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha


“Anything done as sacrifice, charity or penance without faith in the Supreme, O son of Pritha, is impermanent. It is called asat and is useless both in this life and the next.”[1]

So after all these elaborate expressions and explanations, there is one focus in this last verse of the Seventeenth Chapter, and it is faith. Whatever you do without faith is impermanent. Therefore we should act on the platform of faith. But then we should understand what is the definition of faith. What is faith?

Paramananda: Conviction.

Tirtha Maharaj: Very nice! So this is not fantasy. It’s not a future hope. Conviction. How can you achieve conviction? Actually, we can arrive to conviction through love. So, faith is a conviction achieved through love. If somebody wants to understand what is faith, this is the definition. Conviction achieved by love.

Try to remember this definition. Because usually people will say about faith: “What I don’t know I believe – this is my faith.” This is very weak. This is like a superstition.

Shrila Shridhara Maharaj says that faith is the strongest capacity of a human being, the greatest power. With this you can bridge the gap between the present position of you and the future prospect. And we can add that faith has a rasic definition also: faith is the ever-growing ecstasy derived from the service of the Divine Couple.

So one little thing… well, not little, but one important thing and so many different angles. And without faith nothing works. We have to cultivate our faith. And how to obtain faith? Through love, you would say. Clever, but actually we should associate with faithful people. If you associate with people who have strong faith, you might also have strong faith. Many times we have discussed – if you associate with drunkards, you will also become a drunkard. Therefore we should select our company.

Remember, faith is very important in our spiritual progress. And don’t put your faith or belief only in things or objects outside of you, but purify yourself so much that you can trust yourself, so that you can be faithful to yourself – not to your false egotism, but to your real identity.

Question: Till now I was thinking that faith is built on the basis of knowledge. In “Bhagavad Gita”, in Second Chapter I think, Shrila Prabhupada says that faith without knowledge is emotion, fanaticism; and only philosophy without faith is mental speculation. Now I learn that faith is conviction achieved on the basis of love. And the first one? Is it correct?

Tirtha Maharaj: Well, that quotation that you mentioned goes like: “Religion without philosophy is sentimentalism and philosophy without religion is dry speculation.” So this is concerning religion, not faith. But these are very general terms, so we can say both are true, of course! There are different teachers and different pure devotees – they can show different angles of the same truth. But actually if you check BG 9.3, so Ninth Chapter, third verse: “asraddadhanah purusa dharmasyasya paran-tapa aprapya mam nivartante mrityu-samsara-vartmaniThose who don’t have faith, they will not achieve Me, they return back to the material practices – mrityu-samsara-vartmani – they will return to the death circle of samsara.” And there in the second or the third sentence Shrila Prabhupada says: “Faith comes from the association with devotees.” So this is his version – faith comes from the association with devotees. And you can check your association – if it helps your faith to grow, this is vaishnava association; if it does not help your faith to grow, this is false. Right?

[1] Bhagavad Gita 17.28

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