Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha


Question of Manjari: I want to ask about the fear. Is there fear in the spiritual world? And what is the difference between this and material fear?

Tirtha Maharaj: Hm. History repeats itself. Twenty five years back somebody asked the same question from Gurudev. May I repeat what I have heard on that lecture? But that question was a little more specific. The question sounded like this: “Gurudev, we know that life is suffering. But in the shastras, in “Krishna Book” we can read that the gopis are suffering so much from the separation of Krishna that they die! So then what is the difference between spiritual life and material life – it’s suffering all over.” Then Gurudev started to explain: “Ah, it’s a big difference between the two! Why? Because the material suffering is limited and it will end sometime. The spiritual suffering is unlimited and it will never end!” So, we were “pacified”. Are you satisfied? You have made the bad choice.

But apart from joke – what is more intensive feeling: happiness or suffering?

Manjari: Suffering.

Tirtha Maharaj: And what is the ultimate dimension of life?

Yamuna: Intensity.

Tirtha Maharaj: So if we are searching for intensity, be ready for some little sacrifices meanwhile. And this is philosophy. Between separation and union, separation is stronger. Mahaprabhu was glorifying that as the highest principle, the highest achievement. And you can also see and feel how it happens when you are with the devotees and when you are not. It’s very good to enjoy the company of the devotees, but it is more intensive when we are separated.

The same was declared by Kuntidevi. She was praying for more suffering. Because she said: “Whenever we were in a very difficult situation, I could pray so deeply, so sincerely. I felt that You are so close to us. Now everything is so fine, the exile is finished, we have won the war, we are back to power, everything is fine, yet where are You?! And where am I?!”

But don’t worry, this is a happy suffering. This is a fulfilling one.

Question of Kripadham: My question is connected to the question of Manjari. What is the mood of suffering in the material world and what is the mood of suffering in the spiritual world?

Tirtha Maharaj: The mood of suffering in the material world is hopeful. The natural spiritual suffering is hopeless. It’s devastating. And who is the best example of that? This is Mahaprabhu. He is like a golden volcano of divine love. And the magma, the eruptions are so wild that they almost kill you, at the same time they are so sweet that enlivens you. So we cannot really understand the nature of divine feelings with our limited material senses. Just like it is very difficult to understand divine love under the experience of material “love”, in the same way it is very difficult to understand spiritual “suffering” on the basis of material experience. Because here the principle is that everybody tries to gain more happiness and everybody wants to avoid suffering. But what the gopis say to Krishna?

Fate of a person is written on the forehead. The amount of suffering and happiness is just determined – how much you will have. And no matter how much you try to avoid suffering and gain more happiness, it’s determined. So next morning when you look into the mirror, check your foreheads, what is written there – before the arati and after the arati. Before you see horizontal lines. After you have painted your tilak you will see vertical lines. So there is a chance to rewrite your fate on your forehead.

But then the gopis added: “Maybe this is our fate? But we did not expect that this is so difficult. Separation from our beloved one… “Atah sri-krsna-namadi na bhaved grahyam indriyaih sevonmukhe hi jihvadau svayam eva sphuraty adah – You cannot understand Shri Krishna’s name, form, lila, guna; we cannot understand it by the limited material senses. Sevonmukhe – but if you have this mood, this attitude of seva (of service), then you will understand..”[1] He will reveal these to us. Therefore we try to apply this method, we try to develop our dedication; therefore we try to do our practice, sadhana, and pray for the blessings of the Supreme.

Question of Kripadham: Because we are not abhay, we are not fearless, what we should fear from?

Tirtha Maharaj: I can only quote one of my god-brothers, who wrote in one offering for the vyasa-puja book of Gurudev: “I pray to Krishna so that from lifetime to lifetime I should never lose the vision of your footprints.” So, you can be afraid of forgetting Krishna. Of giving up that good association. But if you are under divine protection, there is no fear, there is only fulfillment. If you can give up the second nature, the material nature that you have acquired, then automatically you are established in your first, original nature. Then there is no fear. Therefore Shrila Shridhara Maharaj says that spiritual life, spiritual progress means that from the land of fear you arrive to the land of dedication. This is the distance that we have to cover – from the land of fear we have to come to the land of dedication. Please, write, because this is very important. Don’t forget, our process is leading us from the sphere of fear to the world of bliss and happiness.

Question of Giridhari: Gurudev, it is easy to understand suffering in the material world. From one hand there is suffering, from the other hand there is happiness – like the sugar and the stick. The point is clear, we learn. In the spiritual world what is the meaning of suffering? Only to taste this sweet suffering or there is something hidden behind, some purpose, some improvement towards perfection, like here?

Tirtha Maharaj: Yes, material happiness and suffering is like a very basic education. This is good, that is proper, that is improper. Action-reaction. Spiritual sky is different. It’s not the karmic network of action and reaction, this is a question of rasa.

But we should not have an improper vision of the spiritual sky. This is not a place of suffering. This is a place of eternal happiness, bliss. So even suffering there is blissful. Therefore I said that we cannot really understand the divine nature, the divine principle.

In Gokula Vrindavana, the earthly Vrindavana, separation exists. But in Goloka Vrindavana it is more like sambhoga, more like meeting. If separation is there, the reason is only to enhance the taste of union.


[1] Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu 1.2.234

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