July 2020
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Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha




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

Question: You were speaking about sacrificing the mundane for the spiritual. The mundane also includes our families, our children, which is why many renounciates don’t have either, while the tantrists do. So, in this tradition obviously you are not renouncing families. But it is still a vedantic tradition, not a tantric one.  How would you elaborate on that?

Swami Tirtha: Thank you for your question and I appreciate that you are being informed well. First of all even ascetics are born in families. So, family is a very important institution. Without the contribution of a mother and a father nobody can come to this Earth. Well, some very special souls can come, but generally we cannot. And I think we all agree that to renounce the object and still cherish the attachment is nothing. It’s a lie, cheating yourself.  So, it is not the object that is mistaken, it is the attachment that we have to give up, right? There’s nothing wrong with your children, there’s nothing wrong with your family. But if you are attached in a wrong way, then it’s a trap. If we take it as a chance for serving God through them, and if we consider them as God-given, gift of God – yes, please consider your husbands and respective wives God-given – then we are not attached to the object, but we are attached to the principle manifested through that object. And that is a divine principle, gift of God. Even our attachments to our beloved ones are given by Krishna. But what kind of quality you will attribute to this attachment, to this responsibility? It depends on our spiritual elevation. Is this clear? 

Concerning the different schools of Hinduism, like tantric and vedantic traditions: tantra means ‘practice’, tantra doesn’t mean sex mysticism, or some sexual black magic art. This is a practice. All different schools have tantra teachings, tantra practices. There is a vashinava tantra also. For example one very important mantra comes from the vaishnava tantra: om agyana-timirandhasya gyananjana-shalakaya chakshur unmilitam yena tasmai shri-gurave namaha. It comes from the vaishnava tantra – so are we tantric? In one sense, if we follow the principles that are favorable for our spiritual practices – yes, we are tantrists. But of course we don’t belong to the tantra school proper, because that’s a different line. 

The three main instruments of meditation аrе yantra, mantra and tantra. Yantra is a visual object, like a mandala. Тantra, as we discussed, is a practical set of rules and regulations –  ‘do and don’t do’. And mantra is the audible way of meditation. The word mantra has a double meaning.  Two words are connected in mantra: one is manas and the other is trayate. Manas is the mentality or the consciousness of a person, and trayate means ‘to liberate’. So mantra liberates your mind, liberates your consciousness. 

So, this is some little information about the tantric school. And as you mentioned we belong to the vedanta school. Vedanta is considered to be the most elevated or the topmost of the six classical philosophies of India. Because vedanta has also a double meaning: veda is ‘knowledge or science’ and anta is ‘the end of’. So, this is the top of all divine sciences. Of course, even vedanta has different schools and different lineages. But we can say that this is practically the highest intelligent or scientific way of approach. And actually our specific line is determined by emotions. So this is an emotional way to the approach – through service, through worship. We worship Krishna as a small boy when He was playing on this planet Earth. I am sure all the mothers and fathers sometimes recall Krishna observing their sons and daughters, especially when they make some nonsense. “Oh, my dear one, again you stole the butter!” So, this is a way to remember. Because there are two main instructions in bhakti vedanta. Only two, it’s easy to remember: “Always remember God and never forget Him!” Only these two are the essence of bhakti vedanta

In our tradition we have both families and renounciates. Generally in India, in Hinduism there are four different orders of life. One is the student life, the second is the family life, the third is the hermit life and the fourth one is the renounced life. All four are considered to be ashrams. Ashram is a place of spiritual practice. So, it’s not only a temple building, but this is where my spiritual growth is provided. We try to be life positive because Krishna is the protector of life. He is the God of love and He likes children. As children like Him, that’s for sure. Nevertheless, I myself belong to the renounced order, but you know, we discussed a little before that if you renounce something, you will be compensated. So, I don’t have a house, yet I have many homes to live! I don’t have a blood family, but many consider me to be a part of their families. Just between you and me, recently I started to count my grandsons and granddaughters. After thirty I gave it up. Well, if somebody can do that without having a blood son or daughter… So, in one sense I don’t have my social family, but on the other hand I am very happy to be part of a spiritual family. And be sure, sometimes I have to make the duties and the services of a father – like paying the bills if one of my sons made something stupid. And from time to time I have to make the duty of a mother also – to wipe the ass if somebody passes stool. But this is a happy engagement. So, I deeply appreciate the services of the fathers and the mothers, because I also have a little understanding how much love and care you have to give until a person grows up. And this is the compensation for all the trouble that we might take meanwhile. To see the spiritual growth of another person is a great service.


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