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Sharanagati

Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha




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(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 11.01. 2014, morning, Sofia) 
 
(continues from the previous Monday)
 
Now we continue our reading about the 64 elements of devotional service by Shrila Rupa Goswami. “The next ten important items are as follows: One should decorate the body with tilak, which is a sign of a vaishnava. The idea is that as soon as a person sees these marks on the body of a vaishnava, he will immediately remember Krishna. Lord Chaitanya said that a vaishnava is he, who when seen reminds one of Krishna.”[1] Of course it depends on our vision also. Because if we are in a very limited consciousness, even if Krishna appeared here we wouldn’t recognize Him. So in order to recognize Him properly or to remember Him, we must have a conception and we must have a clear mind. “Therefore it is essential that a vaishnava marks his body with tilak to remind others of Krishna.” 
All right, but if there is no audience to remind others of Krishna by painting your tilak, you can be your audience also. By this mark you can deeply establish in your understanding: ‘My body is a temple. My body is a temple for my soul and the Supersoul.’ So, this is a divine instrument. Or we might say a divine residence. And can we misuse a divine instrument or a divine residence? We are not allowed to leave the temple of God dirty or misused. So, it immediately helps our consciousness to fix. ‘Ah, my body is a temple!’ – then you immediately feel: ‘I have to use this temple properly today.’ 
And how to recognize a temple from other buildings? It’s clean. Some purity emanates from there. Because divinity is present. So, we should help that shine manifest more and more. Once it happened somewhere in the west – the devotees started a new center in a very risky, dangerous environment, not the best part of the city. And what happened? Soon this neighborhood started to be very posh, elegant. Why? Because a new mentality appeared in the place and soon people started to feel this good influence and also follow the good example. So, if there is nobody else to remind of Krishna, let’s remind ourselves: ‘Yes, my body is a temple of God’. 
Next point is: “In marking such tilak, sometimes one may write ‘Hare Krishna’ on his body.” If in the morning you have absorbed yourself in devotion and you remain in such an absorbed mood that ‘Hare Krishna’ is on your forehead, when you start your journey on the bus to your job, I’m sure people will remember Krishna. But I’m not sure in how much positive way. 
You see, it’s very easy to perform these practices in Vrindavana, where the rikshavalas will say: “Radhe Radhe!” when they want to overtake somebody. Here you say: “Radhe Radhe!” and nothing happens on the street. So, the environment is a little different. But who knows after five thousand years what will happen if you say “Radhe Radhe!” on the streets of Sofia?! We never know. We should start somewhere. If we don’t start, we shall not reach. 
So, what does it mean? Sometimes devotees, in different other vaishnava lines also, decorate their body with the names of God. Many times you see devotees in India with the name of Rama on their foreheads. Why? Because it is said our destiny is written on our forehead. So if I write the names of God on my forehead, this is my destiny. It will change the karmic destiny. And in this way we can start a very bright journey of spirituality. 
Of course this is also for protection. If we mark the tilak signs on the different body parts, they are also sanctified and connected. 
 
(to be continued)
 
1.  Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 6

 



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