Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha

Patachitra style

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2013, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Friday) 

Question of Damodar: What I am hearing about guru-disciple relationship, takes me to the direction of thoughts that it’s possible that somewhere before the positions of these two personalities have not been in the form of guru-disciple. Maybe they could be completely normal – like friendship, like husband and wife. So, it comes out that one of these two personalities somehow managed to elevate himself on the spiritual path, while the other one remained backwards.

Swami Tirtha: I’d like to agree with you. Of course this is my private, personal opinion. But this is heresy, so beware! If you listen to this, in some cases they will burn you at the stake. Yet do you want to hear my opinion?

Answers: Yes!

Swami Tirtha: This is the way to improve your desire. So, I also think that due to some divine arrangement these positions, accepted by one and the other, might change from time to time. But I wouldn’t say that one could elevate and the other remained back. Because without a younger brother there is no senior brother. Without a weak one there is no powerful one. The other party is very much necessary for the connection. And maybe the younger one is more important than the powerful one. If there is nobody to save, what can a savior do? So, the fallen guys are very important because this will engage the saviors in their duty, this will help them to accomplish their divine mission. Therefore we should be very careful about our vision. Pure spirituality is 100 percent perfect. Not that one is better and the other is weak or not so elevated. Everything is divine; on the divine platform everything is divine. Shridhara Maharaj says that in the spiritual sky even the specks of dust should be considered as superior. Everything is divine there.

Guru is a special person. Why? Not due to his human character, but due to the divine function that is manifested through that person. Therefore it is said in the Shrimad Bhagavatam that who considers the murti to be a stone, or the holy place to be a simple reservoir of water, or the spiritual master to be a simple person… well, he is an animal – it’s a big mistake. Big mistake, because then you miss something. What does a horse do at the Ganges? Goes there and drinks the water. This is not bad if you drink the Ganges water, but you know, he cannot take a purifying bath in the waves of the sacred river.

Of course there are many critics. One famous person said: “I was waving the ghee lamp to this piece of stone for years and nothing happened! If you think that taking a bath in a holy river will purify you, then what about the fish there? They should be holy!” You can never know! Anyway, you will always find criticism about sacred things, sacred objects, sacred faith. But if you want to find the essence, then you should come to the spiritual platform, where the cloud of illusion doesn’t block your vision. And if there is such an intimacy of the connection between souls, that they are ready to exchange their roles even, I think that is very high.

But why I said that this is heresy? Because in most of the cases you will hear: ‘Oh, the spiritual master is a Param-Bhagavat! He is absolute and we have to tremble in front of him!’ But what happens if he doesn’t feel satisfied with some guys always trembling? He needs sometime some reliable, reasonable guys around him.

So, the roles might change under certain divine arrangement – they might change their positions of being a guru, being a disciple. But this is my personal understanding. And I have something to support that vision. For example, the guru should be considered the main authority on any questions. Shrila Prabhupad was a famous guru and a big authority on many things. His disciples took him to a studio to make some recordings, Prabhupad had the earphones, he was listening to the different tracks. Then the devotees asked: “Prabhupad, how should we mix the different tracks?” And he said: “I don’t know! You know it better!” Would you expect such an answer from your divine master: “I don’t know!” You wouldn’t expect such an answer. But this shows his humility: “I’m not an authority in sound engineering! I can play the mridanga, I can sing my song! This is your job, do it!”

Or what did Krishna do? God Supreme, controller of everything, the worshipable and servable object of all! He took the position of Partha-sarathi – the chariot driver of Arjuna. God became a servant. So, He is ready to change his position. Isn’t that intimate? When He is ready to give up His divine position and He acted like a friend, like a servant to His worshipper. So, this exchange of positions, when the servant and the master change – I say in very intimate cases it might happen.


(to be continued)


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