Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha

Question of Yamuna: Maharaj, it is said that Shukadeva knows, and Vyasa may know or may not know. Who is saying this and how do we have to take it? Is this humility of Vyasadeva, or  it is really the higher position of Shukadeva Goswami compared to him? But how to understand this if Vyasadeva is God Himself, actually an incarnation?

Tirtha Maharaj: Actually the verse is spoken by Lord Shiva: “aham vedmi, shuko vetti, vyasa vetti na vetti va – I know, Shuka knows, Vyasa might know or might not know.”

Just to clear the persons whom we are talking about: Vyasa – actually he is shaktyavesha-avatar, he is empowered to transmit the message. He had a son, Shuka, Shukadev, who was a transcendentalist already in the womb of the mother. And when he was born, he became a personalist, a personal worshiper of God. And due to his lineage, due to his father and spiritual education, he became a high authority on spiritual topics. Therefore in the great conference in the old times he was selected as a lecturer. And Lord Shiva, who is telling, is a mahajan – mahajan means a great personality, who knows everything about the secrets of religion. So he says: “I know, I know everything; Shuka as a young authority – he knows everything. But Vyasa – who is the father, who is the elder, who is the literary incarnation – he might know, he might not know.” How is that possible? He is the writer, he is the compiler, he is the seniormost – is there anything he does not know?!

This shows the benefits of the parampara system. Even if we do not understand everything fully, if we receive a perfect message and if we repeat that perfect message in a perfect manner, then that knowledge, that is transmitted through us, is perfect. But of course it does not mean that you should not have to try to understand what you repeat. Because otherwise the mp3-player would be the best preacher – it does not understand, but repeats correctly.

This verse was quoted when Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati received once a letter from one of his disciples. And this devotee was writing about some very high topics in the letter. So high, that the guru was astonished. Others were reading the letter for him, so he asked: “Where did he take this?!” Then the other devotees told him: “You were sending this to him in your previous letter.” He said: “No, no! It is impossible! I did not!” “Yes, yes, Gurudev, you were doing that.” “No, impossible. I do not know this! How can I teach what I do not know?!” And then they quoted the verse: “aham vedmi, shuko vetti, vyasa vetti na vetti va”. And then the next devotee told: “But only by the mercy of the master.” So the disciple will understand by the mercy of the master, even if the master declares: “I do not know!” This is the power of dedication – when divinity is manifested in unknown, unexpected way.

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