Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha



mahaprabhu party

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

(continues from the previous Monday)

Now comes a very important moment of the story and this is ‘The tapasya of Hiranyakashipu’[1].

“The lord of the daityas, the terrible Hiranyakashipu, wanted to become immortal, free from old age and invincible in all the three worlds. To attain his goal he went to a cave in Mandara Mountain and performed great penance by standing still on his two big toes while keeping his hands stretched towards the sky, his whole body straight like a stick. Due to the force of his penance, a bright light emanated from Hiranyakashipu’s body. All the demigods were afraid of Hiranyakashipu and consequently they’ve been hiding here and there. When they saw that Hiranyakashipu was engaged in penance in a secluded place, they felt relieved and went back to their own palaces, convinced that there was no more cause for fear. However, as a result of the terrible austerities of Hiranyakashipu, fire and smoke started to emanate from his head, which scorched all the living entities in the lower and higher planetary systems. All the rivers and oceans became disturbed. The mountains, islands and continents started to shake. The planets and stars became unsteady and all the directions were filled with the burning radiance of Hiranyakashipu’s penance.”

Here is a method described. This is called tapasya, tapas. What is the meaning of tapas, tapaha?

Answer: Renunciation.

Swami Tirtha: Yes, tapas, tapasya, tapah is ‘penance’. And in the Shrimad Bhagavatam it is clearly described that penance, or a kind of self-control, is a source of power. Do we need power to perform our spiritual activities? If we are realistic: we need much power. How to achieve that? Shall we start a penance like Hiranyakashipu? Maybe go out in Vitosha Mountain to stand on the tips of our toes, stretched to the sky? Well, fortunately Chaitanya Mahaprabhu brought a different method of generating spiritual energy. But it is very much similar to this, yes. You have to stand, sometimes jump on the tips of your toes and you have to stretch to the sky. I cannot promise that smoke will emanate from your heads if you jump like that on the arati. But I can promise you that all the negative forces will be removed from your system and a very special power will manifest on your faces. It’s called smile. You see – this will manifest on your faces.

But the result is the same – you can generate more spiritual power by following self-control. So in case somebody needs more power – because sometimes in our life we need extra power to resolve some difficulties or to attain some goals – then you can make a little tapasya, a little penance. Because this will generate power.

Actually tapas in Sanskrit means ‘heat’. And heat is energy, right? So, by curbing, by holding back your bodily activities, you can generate spiritual energy, Therefore we have to follow the principles that are given to us, because that is self-control. And the heat energy that you generate by your austerities will help you to accomplish your spiritual goals.

Then what is the difference between Hiranyakashipu, standing on the tips of his toes, stretched to the sky and a devotee jumping high on the kirtan – what is the difference? The same as with the camel and the ant. Hiranyakashipu is working for himself, and we should jump for God. So, don’t lose your temper, patience and commitment.


(to be continued)


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


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