June 2019
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Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha


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

Question: My question is about humility, as we know that humility is the shortest way for attaining the purpose. What should be our approach towards different groups – vaishnavas, other people, God? What should be our approach in humility?

Swami Tirtha: Our approach in humility should be humble. You know, sometimes some preachers speak of trinad api sunichena – ‘Be more humble than a blade of grass’, but they are ready to enter any fight or any gossip about others. They march in like grand generals in the lecture room and give a very heavy lecture – on humility. Don’t forget, people usually speak about their weak points. If somebody stresses too much this or that specific topic, may be he’s got some problem with that. Therefore usually I speak about humble dedication to the Lord, because that’s very difficult for me. But I hope that by repeating this topic something will come to my mind also.

Humility is a very powerful principle, I agree. Therefore we should be very careful how to apply it properly. The guidance of Shrila Shridhara Maharaj is very useful in that sense, because he says: “Don’t be humble to the fools. Humility should be exercised in the company of the vaishnavas.” And he says, for example, a robber comes to the temple and in the name of humility you say: “Ah, it’s all right that you collect everything from the altar, but don’t forget about the money of the temple, it’s also here.” In the name of humility. No, you will take a stick and chase him out – in the name of humility.

So we should learn how to apply humility properly. There are some fears in vaishnavas. For example you might think that to disagree is an aparadha. No. No. If you have a different opinion and you represent it in a nice way, it’s not offensive. It’s not offensive to have an opinion. And if you give your opinion, and the answer is: “Ah, this is aparadha!” don’t believe that – if your intention is pure and you are following the etiquette and the rules. You know your heart. If you are a stupid fighter, always trying to create troubles – of course I’m not talking about that. But if in certain respects we have a certain conviction, it’s not aparadha to disagree on certain points.

Let me tell you one story. Once a spiritual master told one of his disciples: “I want you to go to one other disciple of mine. I have some problems with him. Tell him that I take back his name and take back his japa. He is not my disciple anymore. I reject him. And you, please, tell him this and bring the japa back to me.” So our friend, as an obedient servant of his master, went to this god-brother. He knew the message, but he also knew the science of politics. So he did not start with the fourth principle – violence, but he started with the first – be nice, be friendly. They started a discussion and finally our friend understood that this person is not against their spiritual master, he is only simply weak and he’s got some problems in his private life. And in the end he decided not to take back his initiation, not to take back his japa, not to take back his name.

Soon he went back to the spiritual master and the guru asked; “Did you do what I told you? Did you take back the name? Where is the japa?” And he said: “No, I didn’t fulfill your order.” Usually we should fulfill the order of our spiritual master, right? And he was a very responsible devotee – because this is a responsible job, it’s not that ‘wipe the floor’, it’s something serious. Then the guru asked: “Why didn’t you fulfill it?” and he started to explain: “Well, this happened and I understood his position and I understood that he is nice basically, it’s only some temporary shortcoming.” Then the guru said: “Well done, my son. I’m very happy that you didn’t fulfill my order.”

And this is a very qualified case. It’s not simply having a different opinion about certain topics. It’s directly going against the instruction: “Do it” and you did not do it. But a real master will be satisfied in such a case. Therefore he said; “Well done, my son.” Because the point is not to torture another person, but to come closer to the truth. And we can come closer to the truth by understanding the situation better – by getting more information, by getting more friendship, by showing more willingness to share – then the mission is accomplished. Of course I don’t say that in every occasion we should be more clever than our spiritual master and we should go against his directions – no. But try to understand the essence.

So, humility is a very-very powerful principle. Therefore we have to apply it properly. But if we chant the holy names, it will help us to understand how to do it nice. I have seen that in the practice of Shrila Paramadvaiti Maharaj. I have seen when there were some conflicts, some decisions had to be taken, he kept silent, chanted a few rounds and then he gave his opinion. This is the point, this is what we should follow. Always try to invite divinity into the situation – then you can resolve it nicely.

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