Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha


Today our invitation is a little further discussion about the different types of faith. So, we discussed different types of control – control of the body, control of the speech, control of the thoughts were mentioned – and these are practiced by those who are in the mode of goodness.

“This threefold austerity, performed with transcendental faith by men not expecting material benefits but engaged only for the sake of the Supreme, is called austerity in goodness. But penance performed out of pride and for the sake of gaining respect, honor and worship is said to be in the mode of passion. It is neither stable nor permanent. And penance performed out of foolishness, with self-torture or to destroy or injure others is said to be in the mode of ignorance.”[1]

There is an idea that by torturing the body we can achieve spiritual results. No doubt, suffering will give us some realizations. Right, if nothing happens in our life, it is very difficult to learn. But from the difficulties we learn a lot. Still, I have the very soft and tender feeling that by creating positive environment we can also learn. So, our main ideal is not to whip ourselves every day – only every second day. And if we try to create some positive environment for others, I am sure that Krishna will like that service. Never mind how much you suffer, how much you miss, but if you help others to be happy in Krishna consciousness, that’s a great service.

But penance is necessary. The exact word used here is tapaha. What is the meaning of tapaha? Tap? Actually tap is a question of energy. The meaning is to heat, to generate heat, to generate energy. What is the meaning? Penance and generating energy? Usually we think that if I practice some penance, I lose my energy. I don’t eat and I will become weak; I meditate too much and I will fall asleep always – we think of losing energy. But actually real tapasya is to generate energy.

For spiritual life we need energy, we need strength. How to gain this strength? Do some tapasya. If you feel you are weak in your practices, in your spiritual activities – do some tapasya. Make a vow: “I will not eat any sweets for one year.” Or “I will be there at every arati in the morning.” Or “I will offer four extra rounds to Krishna.” Or whatever! This type of extra practices, like a tapasya, will help you generate more power. Of course ultimately we do not generate any energy, but some energies are given to us.

But tapasya is such an important word and practice, that this was the first word that Brahma heard in this universe: “Tapaha. Do some penance!” Because he was meditating on the topic how to create this universe, how to arrange it and to find explanation for this material manifestation. Then he heard this suggestion, divine sound: “Tapaha, do some penance, then you will understand.” So, if we want to understand something, then we should make some tapasya. In this way you will generate that power that will help you to go to the next level.

And what is the greatest tapasya?

Krishna Priya: To dedicate your whole life to Krishna.

Tirtha Maharaj: Yes. And more practical? To practically carry out the service of Krishna we have to follow the instructions of the guru. This is the real tapasya, I tell you. Because until we decide how to serve Krishna, it’s very sweet. Do you agree, Giridhari? But immediately when we get the same service as a duty – we shall find all the excuses why not to do that.

[1] Bhagavad Gita 17.17-19

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