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Sharanagati

Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha




(from lecture of B.K.Tirtha Maharaj on Sharanagati–part 1), 7th of September 2006, Sofia)

“In order to provide mercy for the fallen souls of this Earth, Shri Krishna Chaitanya descended into this world with His personal associates and with His divine realm in order to educate the people about Sharanagati –dedication to the almighty Lord – and to distribute freely otherwise almost unachievable ecstatic love of Godhead.”
This song is called “Sharanagati” – gati means to go, go for something, go for sharana, for shelter. Sharanagati is the life of the true devotees. Sometimes there might be a question: what is the difference between a vaishnava (a devotee) and other practitioner of any other type of religion? On the surface it is very difficult to find difference. Because sometimes devotees are the same fanatics as other practitioners also could be – very narrow-minded. Many times they have the same shortcomings, the same mistakes as the normal human beings. And in certain cases we might see that the other religions, or other practices do have bigger effect on the outside manifest platform on the practitioners. But the characteristic feature of a vaishnava is that dedication is his or her life.
There are six elements of sharanagati. There are two as the threshold, as the entrance. These are: do what is favorable and avoid what is unfavorable for your bhakti. These are actually not the practices of sharanagati, these are just preparations to do it nice. Use your brain: what is good for your spiritual cultivation – do it! What is harmful – don’t do it! This is not devotional service yet, this is just simply: use your common sense. If you want to go to Plovdiv, don’t take the train to Dimitrovgrad, right, because it goes in the opposite direction. Common sense. And still this very simple basic principle is so difficult to put into practice! People are ready, they want to light the fire. But from time to time they bring a bucket of water over the fire – not for heating, but just pouring on it. It’s a little stupid! You want to enjoy the heat, the light and the energy of the fire, and you bring water?! What’s that!?
Or to create conflicts – it’s the same. Is it helpful for your spiritual cultivation? Sometimes yes, because from the difficulty, you know, may be some more results will come. But as a rule we can say: better preserve your peace inside. Or to start a gossip – does it help spiritual cultivation or not? I think everybody knows the answer: no, it is not good! Still the vaishnava news network works in a very good speed.
So even the basic, elementary practices of sharanagati are so difficult to practice. To do these we need control, we have to control ourselves. Therefore the basic principles are given in devotional service – how to control the body, how to control the speech, how to control the mind. Bhagavad Gita describes it in the 17th chapter. So you can check it out what does it mean. Because if you don’t know what is control, how you can do it? Bhakti Yoga is a double-sided process: one side is bhakti, the other side is yoga. Everybody has some conception about bhakti: “O, these are some feelings”. But what about proper knowledge? What about control, yoga? We have to know what is real control – therefore we have to learn, we have to study that. So please, all those who want to progress in devotional life, in devotional service, you should learn this controls – how to control the body, the words and the mind. In this way we can do the favorable and avoid the unfavorable. Favorable is to associate, to do some service, to chant your rounds – all these practices are favorable. But what is unfavorable – to be lazy, to be negligent or not to learn the basic controls.

(to be continued)



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