Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha

We can continue our discussion about the laws of nature, concerning the different elements and aspects of our life. We started with elaborating on faith – how the energies of nature influence the faith of a person, and also they influence the food, the mentality. So whatever input we have, it will have some influence also – food for the stomach, food for the brain. So let’s check what other influences are there.

Of sacrifices, the sacrifice performed according to the directions of scripture, as a matter of duty, by those who desire no reward, is of the nature of goodness. Sometimes sacrifices and rituals are performed for elevation to the heavenly kingdom or for some material benefits in this world. Such sacrifices or ritualistic performances are considered to be in the mode of passion. Any sacrifice performed without regard for the directions of scripture, without distribution of prasādam [spiritual food], without chanting of Vedic hymns and remunerations to the priests, and without faith is considered to be in the mode of ignorance.”[1]

So, here we gain some information about the different sacrifices that we make. If our sacrifice is in the mode of goodness, then we follow the scriptures, the instructions, glorify God, we follow the instructions concerning time, place and circumstances, and we do it very selflessly.

But let’s start with the basic term – sacrifice. Because until we do not understand what is sacrifice how can we specify the qualities of sacrifice? Sacrifice here is called yagya. What is sacrifice?

Krishna Priya: To give up something, consciously.

Tirtha Maharaj: Unconsciously there is also sacrifice, but maybe it is called “bitter sacrifice”. Yes, something that is not for us, right?

Hari Lila: Most specifically, for God.

Tirtha Maharaj: Correct.

Yamuna: It can also have some ritualistic form, but it might have a hidden form as well, to be a personal sacrifice.

Tirtha Maharaj: This is like a vow. But generally, basically sacrifice is a ritual act, by which we extract something from mundane use and usually by destructing somehow this object – that is drawn from the material or the normal use – is dedicated to God. Usually things are provided for the people on the planet earth and something we take, with a ritual we sacrifice it and dedicate it to God. This is an expression of faith; sometimes this is an expression of prayer for excuse, or trying to achieve something. Sometimes it might be a substitute sacrifice – for example you don’t sacrifice yourself, but you sacrifice a ram, which is very easy. He dies and I go on living – that’s a practical sacrifice, ha?

But if we get the mood of sacrifice – that something should be given, to be very simple, something should be given, dedicated – then we shall understand that sacrifice is not for the western Kali-yuga society of enjoyment and sense gratification. The consuming society wants to sacrifice something on the altar of consuming, not of God. We are trained from the very beginning of childhood to use and enjoy the facilities of the world – without paying any price. I mean on the cosmic or on the divine platform. Because on the material platform you have to pay the price. Still we forget to pay the price on the divine platform. For example, you push the button and the light comes. You open the tap and the water will come. Not always, but basically it happens like this. But by using all these energies at the end of the month you will find a nice envelop in your post box. And if you forget to do this sacrifice, you will not be able to enjoy the facilities anymore. You push the button and no light is coming. You turn the tap and no water is coming.

Still we forget to pay a little price to divinity who provides all these different energies. And Krishna does not need your money. With little prayers you can remunerate His blessings. No prayers, no flowers, no incense… Don’t be such a miser! Because, you know, the universal system is so huge that the reaction is not so immediate. Wherever you forget to offer your incense in the morning, during the day no food is coming to you – it is not so direct. But sooner or later the selflessness of God is also exhausted. Therefore we have to learn to make sacrifice.

[1] Bhagavad Gita 17.11-13

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