Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha

Humility is one great key for success. But humility does no mean stupidity. Did I tell you the story of the snake? Once there was a snake, living a little bit outside of the village. He was a father of his family and he was taking very nice care of the wife and the children. They were living in a secluded and deserted house. And he was very fearful, so people were always escaping the place, because they were afraid of being bitten by the snake. From time to time he was going out and hissing; and everybody was very much afraid. Once he was again on a tour. Then he noticed somebody approaching, without any fear. He was looking: what is this?! And in the night he had seen some shining garment of saffron color. A sannyasi was approaching without fear. Finally the cobra was just raising the hoods and trying to stop and influence the sannyasi: “This is my territory! Do not enter!” Then swamiji said: “Ah my dear son, I am so happy to meet you! You are such a nice creature of God!” And then the snake said: “Are you not afraid of me?” “Not at all, my dear! You are jiva, I am jiva, we belong together, we belong to the same father, I am so happy to meet you!” So, the snake was impressed: “How is that!? He is not afraid of me, treating me so gently, so nicely.” Immediately he could understand that he had met a great saint. So he surrendered on the spot: “I want to accept you as my guru. Please, teach me! What am I to do?” Guru started to give lectures. “Do like this, do like that… You know, ahimsa is there, but you are a grihastha, so take care of the family… I will give you this mantra, chant this mantra nice and do your spiritual practices. I will return in one year and then we can discuss.” Swamiji slept for the night and on the next morning he went on.

So our cobra stared to meditate deep: “Gurudev blessed us! So I am chanting my mantra and I feel so much love towards all the living entities.” And he was so much absorbed in these feelings and mantras, that he started to neglect dharma. Before he was strong and long, and powerful, but now as he understood: “Ah, my Gurudev is so thin, so less eating, such an ascetic!” he started to follow the example. Week and months are passing and he is not eating and not taking anything – losing the power, losing the strength. Before from time to time he was carrying some foodstuff for the family; now the wife was quarreling: “Again these mantras!? No birds?! The children are dying! Why are you neglecting your duties?!” He said: “You know, my guruji told me like this and I want to become a nice devotee.” And he started to neglect duty not only feeding the family, but also hissing at people. So the small boys from the village were approaching more and more, throwing some small pebbles first, and later bricks on him. Because he was not hissing at them, he was trying to follow ahimsa, started to take only grass. His body was totally thin and full of wounds.

Finally this one year expired. Guruji is returning. And he is searching for his nice, strong, stalwart disciple…. But he had seen some very thin ascetic snake, hiding in the bushes. Then he asked: “Hey, what is happening to you? This is you!?” “Yes, yes, guruji, I am so happy that you came,” but he could not hear his voice, because he was so weak. And then he started to explain what was happening to him: “You know, I was always chanting my mantras and I started to change my diet and like this, like that… But I had a little trouble: these boys started to throw stones over me.” And guru was very much dissatisfied. “All right, I told you to follow ahimsa, but I did not tell you to stop hissing!”

What was the point of the story? Humility is not stupidity. Humility should be applied to saints. But you can fight for your rights. It is not necessary to bite people, but you can hiss. Lord Jesus said: “Be gentle as a dove and be clever as a snake”. You can have both qualities.


(to be continued)

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