Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 11.05.2017 am, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Friday)

Question of Manjari: The snake is a very interesting symbol; it may represent good, bad and maybe other things also. Could you please elaborate on this?

Swami Tirtha: Yes, I agree snakes are very unusual living beings. Humans somehow have a little apprehension towards snakes. Usually we don’t really like snakes, especially too close to our body. You like the very elegant shoes made of the skin of a snake, but just imagine that a snake is moving around your body – it’s an uneasy feeling, right?And for example in India there live the majority of the snakes on this Planet Earth. Therefore there they have quite deep understanding in relationship to the snakes. But as you said, they represent both good and bad, so to say, or very positive and dangerous aspects. Their diet, for example, is very interesting. Usually the big snakes eat, for example, goats in one chunk. So, they devour everything and then start to digest – slowly, slowly, slowly. That’s interesting; but another interesting fact about snakes is that they also like one real super-food – milk. Milk is one of the favorites of the yogis and the snakes. Therefore there is a danger – for example, if a baby is fed by the mother’s breast milk, and the baby falls asleep, and all of a sudden a snake comes. So, the fresh milk is inside the belly of the baby and the snake is ready to go after that milk, to enter your baby. Therefore if you are living in such a place, it’s better to have a mongoose in your home. Because they can protect your home and your baby from the snake searching for the milk.

But beyond biology or daily life, the milk and the snake are also mentioned in the tradition: the milk touched by the lips and tongues of a snake converts into a poison. In the same way, even the holy message or the talks about Krishna, the Supreme Lord, if it is done by unfaithful people, this nectar turns into poison. Therefore it is said: shravanam naiva kartavyam[1] – don’t listen to such talks of unfaithful people.

Also there are certain levels of the Universe which are inhabited by snake-like beings. And also they are connected very much to the story of the Bhagavatam. Because in the beginning, when one brahmin was meditating in his hut and the king Parikshit came and was disturbed by not being paid attention, he hurled a dead snake over this saint. And that was the cause of all the consequences of being cursed, etc. So king Parikshit died due to the curse connected to a snake and by a snake bite. Therefore his son started to make sarpa-yagna – to sacrifice, to eliminate these snakes. But finally the solution was different and the advice was different: to accept your karma, to accept even a curse and to provide a proper place for everybody.

Kundalini-shakti is also described as a snake inside the body. This is like the general, universal power of life distributed to the individuals. And by spiritual practice you can raise the level of this power, of this consciousness. So much so, that your shakti, your power of life, reaches the topmost platform of your chakra system. This is called enlightenment, or a trans state. And, in yoga, who represent this perfect state of consciousness? Shiva, correct. Shiva is also a big friend of snakes. We can hardly tolerate snakes crawling all over our body, but he is very satisfied with this. Some snakes here around his neck like a scarf, like a decoration.

And I think many times we discussed that Lord Shiva also represents the guru-tattva. Because he is always fixed in his meditation. You will see him with two eyes plus one more eye, the third eye. Always focused. Sometimes his third eye is closed and sometimes open, but that’s a different case. Anyway, he is undisturbed although the snakes are all over his body. I have a yogi friend, I mean bhakta, but he is a yogi type. And in Navadvip, which is practically on the bank of the Ganges, in Shridhara Maharaja’s ashram they also have snakes in the garden. And you know people are afraid of the snakes. But this my yogi friend was catching the snakes by hand. So the local devotees were very much afraid: “Oh, what’s gonna happen!” But he was very brave and protected the others from the snakes. Maybe he achieved the blessings of Lord Shiva.

All right, if Lord Shiva represents the guru-tattva and the perfect state of consciousness, then who are the snakes around him? The snake is the disciple. Always moving, always coming with some problems: “Guruji, this and that”. The snake can never stay, it’s always moving, you know his very unusual movements. But Shivaji is undisturbed. He doesn’t move. He is not shaken by the unusual input of the disciples. So, maybe our consciousness as disciples is always in a curly, shaky, snaky, sneaky mood, but on an accomplished platform your consciousness should be undisturbed.

(to be continued)

[1] Shrimad Bhagavatam 6.17.40

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