January 2021
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Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha


(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 07.01.2016 evening, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday) 

“In the Eleventh Canto of Shrimad Bhagavatam, Chamasa Muni, one of the nine sages, who came to instruct king Nimi, addressed the king as follows: “The four social orders, namely the brahmanas, the kshatriyas, the vaishyas and the shudras, have come out of the different bodily parts of the universal form of the Supreme Lord.”[1] So, how did it happen? The brahmanas represent the…?

Answer: The mouth.

Swami Tirtha: Mouth, yes… The head. And you are correct, the head has certain apertures and one very important is the mouth. And what do you do with your mouth? Speech and eating – this is the function of the mouth. Therefore we have to be careful about what goes in and what comes out, because it has an effect. So, if you put bad stuff, it will have an influence on your mind; then what comes out will be also bitter. Therefore it is said that to feed a brahmin is like a real sacrifice given to God in a sacrificial fire. And therefore we have to listen to the teachings of the brahmins, because the brahmins represent the head of the Supreme.

The kshatriyas come from the hands, right. What is their function?

Answers: To keep up the dharma. To take and to give.

Swami Tirtha: Yes. To protect also. And also to bring the food into the mouth. So to collect, as you said, and to give, give to the brahmins – to serve the whole system.

The third group is the vaishyas. They come from the abdomen. Their function is actually to supply the energy to the whole social structure. Like your stomach is able to digest everything and in this way it supplies the energy to the whole body.

And finally what is the source for the shudras? This is the legs. And what is their function? To bring the whole body to the proper place and serve in this way. But the origin of all of them is the divine universal form – the Supreme. So they belong together! They help each other.

Can you live without a leg? Difficult, but it’s possible. Can you live without a head? No, it’s impossible! Therefore the brahmin is the most important guy in the whole structure. Because he is the head, he will give the direction, he will chant the prayers, he will think of God and he will manage the sacred energy, the sacred part of the society. The kshatriyas have to take care of the secular power. First is the sacred power, second is the secular power. The third group will take care of the economic power and the fourth group will take care of the physical power. And if they serve each other, everybody will flourish. This is not a question of privilege. Because you have to be a qualified brahmin, you have to be a qualified kshatriya, you have to be a qualified shudra – meeting the expectations, not simply claiming some titles.

You remember the story when a young boy went to a guru to be accepted as a disciple. The guru said: “My dear son, very nice that you came. But, you know, I accept only brahmin disciples. So, which rank do you belong? Who was your father?” The boy said: “I don’t know. I know only my mother, I don’t have a father.” The master said: “All right, my dear son, then go back to your mother and inquire who your father was.” Because usually if your father was a brahmin, most probably you will also become a brahmin. Why? Because the pear does not fall too far from the pear-tree. So, our boy went home to inquire from the mother: “My dear mother, I went to guruji and he told me this and this… so, who is my father?” And the mother said: “Well… You see, at that time when you were conceived I knew not only one man. I knew more.” You know, it’s a little uneasy, even in our societies in the 21st century, right? What to speak of the classical age of India’s very strict social statuses and structure! Just imagine yourself, next day you have to approach your future spiritual master again. And he asked: “Now, my dear son, who was your father?” He said: “My dear master, I don’t know who my father is, because…” and he told the story. Then what did the guru say? “All right, my dear son, I will accept you. Not due to your lineage, but because you posses the quality of a brahmin – you tell the truth.”

So this type of meeting the standards is expected from anybody who is a part of this dharma structure. Then you are a qualified member of this structure. So, we have to find our place also. And we should appreciate the best quality of a vaishnava – and this is not the ritualistic or the scientific understanding of theology, this is not the heroic qualities of organizing or fighting, this is not the ability to manage financial cases properly, and this is not the quality to be simply physically strong – but this is the readiness to serve, this is dedication. Gurudev said that if we have devotion, even the shortcomings of a person become like ornaments. So nice! What do I have? I have only a long list of shortcomings. So, if I add a little devotion to that list, they might become ornaments.

In this way we can enter the divine social structure. And what is the goal of this ancient traditional social structure? This is the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord Vishnu. Because all the different groups originate from His divine cosmic body and all the members of that society are entitled to return home, back to Godhead.

(to be continued) 

[1] Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 2


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