Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha

Madhavendra Puri and Krishna

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2012, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday)

“Riding on his swan carrier, Brahma arrived on the spot, but he could not see Hiranyakashipu. Like the sun covered by clouds, Hiranyakashipu’s body was hidden and Brahma had to look very carefully. When finally spotted him, he was amazed and addressed Hiranyakashipu with a smile: “Ah, son of Kashyapa, please arise! May you be blessed! Your tapasya has been successful and I have come to offer you a boon. Please ask for whatever you may desire. I’m truly astounded to see your great penance. Ants have eaten up your body and you’ve been able to retain your life in your bones only. In the past not even Bhrigu and the other rishis were ever able to perform such a severe penance. And in the future no one else will be able to do the same. Who could survive like you without taking even water for one hundred years of demigods?!” One year on the planet Earth equals one day of the demigods, on the higher platforms. “Ah, son of Diti! Whatever was impossible for the rishis, you have successfully performed and I had been attracted by your tapasya. Ah greatest amongst the asuras, for this reason I am ready to offer you the boon that you desire. Meeting with an immortal cannot be fruitless, so you may ask whatever you like from me.”[1]

Hiranyakashipu was not only standing on one leg, but he did not take anything – no food, no water, nothing. Still he was alive. Now you can see how in Hiranyakashipu’s case his sankalpa was successful. With great trouble, for a long time he was doing a very difficult penance, and finally he came to success, he achieved his boon. Finally his beloved god Brahma came and offered him: “Whatever you like. you can ask from me”

We should be clever enough what kind of tapasya to make. If you want to achieve something, there are different ways. The best way is to satisfy the superiors. And in a gentle way they will shower their blessings upon us. If you are not so gentle, then you can ask for something. And if you are stupid, you can cry for something. Why do I say this? Because our superiors know everything. They know exactly well what is beneficial for us at the present stage of our development. This connection is based on trust, full trust! Therefore you don’t really have to ask anything; it’s enough if by your service you satisfy your spiritual master. If you are not on that platform, you can ask. “Gurudev, please, can you give me this, can you give me that?” Like a kind father, he will supply: “All right, my dear son. You are still in this phase of wanting and desiring so many things – I can give you.” If you didn’t reach even that platform of asking nicely, then you can cry and forcefully desire for something. Like you will start a penance to achieve some attention of your spiritual master. And as Brahma was satisfied by his servant and worshiper Hiranyakashipu, if you satisfy your beloved Lord and master, they will come to you and they will ask: “What do you want, my dear son, my dear daughter?”

“After saying this, Brahma poured water from his divine water pot onto the bones of Hiranyakashipu, immediately transforming them into a new body, perfectly strong and useful, powerful like lightening, with a beautiful golden complexion. Hiranyakashipu emerged from the anthill and the cluster of reeds in the same way as fire rises from woods. Directly before him he could see Brahma on his swan airplane and tears of joy began to roll down his eyes. He prostrated himself on the ground to offer his obeisances and with hair standing on end and faltering voice he started to speak.”

Jay! Maybe you have some remarks concerning Hiranyakashipu’s penance?

Question of Hayagriva: It is interesting that Hiranyakashipu began with selfish motive, but we can see from the story that he showed some devotion to Lord Brahma. Can you, please, elaborate on this?

Swami Tirtha: Actually he was always very dedicated to Brahma, he was worshiping Brahma. This again shows the difference between general worship of different authorities in this universal structure and the direct worship of the Supreme Lord, the head of the hierarchy. Because the demigods worship Krishna. The definition of demigod is tat-priyartham – they live only for the happiness of Krishna, Supreme. So if you live only for the sake, for the happiness of Shri Krishna, then you are a demigod. And the demons worship the demigods, not God Supreme. So this is the difference – the demigods worship the Supreme; and those who are not demigods, they worship the demigods. But without dedication, even in a demoniac way, you cannot achieve anything. And Hiranyakashipu’s sankalpa, his decision, was very strong, he was very determined. He was ready to stand hundred years of the demigods – it was a very long time, and a very difficult thing that he decided. But only for a selfish motive.

Do you want to perform greater tapasya than Hiranyakashipu? Yes? Then do your spiritual service. That is even greater tapasya – to accomplish the desire of your spiritual master. Because Hiranyakashipu accomplished his own desire, he was serving his own purpose. So much so that his worshipable god had to come to fulfill his desire. Our policy should be different. We have to ask Krishna: “How can I serve You?” It’s not that you make your tapasya of not taking prasadam for a long time – to force Krishna to come to you and ask you: “How can I serve you?” Right, this is not our policy.

Paramananda: Madhavendra Puri was doing something similar actually.

Swami Tirtha: He was absorbed in his ecstasy. It’s not that he wanted to force Krishna to appear. This is the ‘little’ difference. The demoniac approach is: ‘I want to force others to come to me and serve me’; the devotional way is ‘I submit myself and ask: ‘How can I serve you?’ This is the main difference. Service is there in both cases, but the motivation is different.

[1] The reading continues  from B.B.Tirtha Maharaj’s book The holy life of Prahlada

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