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) 

“When there is an order from a superior about doing something, there is simultaneously a prohibition also. When the order is that one should always remember Krishna, the prohibition is that one should never forget him. Within this simple order and prohibition, all regulative principles are found complete. This regulative principle is applicable to all varnas and ashramas – the casts and occupations of life. There are four varnas: namely the brahmins – the priests and intellectuals; the kshatriyas – warriors and statesmen; the vaisyas – businessmen and farmers; and the shudras – laborers and servants. There are also four standard ashrams: namely brahmacharya – student life; grihastha –householder life; vanaprastha – retired life; and sannyas – renounced life. The regulative principles are not only for the brahmacharis or celibate students to follow, but are applicable for all. It doesn’t matter whether one is a beginner brahmachari or if one is a very advanced sannyasi. The principle of remembering the Supreme Personality of Godhead constantly and not forgetting Him at any moment is meant to be followed by everyone without a fail.”[1]

Here we receive some information about the social structure – the brahmins, like priestly order; the kshatriyas like the knights, etc. So, where is your place?

Answer: In the ashram.

Swami Tirtha: In the ashram – but which one? Vanaprastha, brahmachari, grihastha ashram? Many times I inquire from people when they have to follow some studies: “What is your information about the classical, traditional Indian social system?” The caste system – usually they know this expression. And usually everybody comes with: “Ah, no! This is not good! It isolates and segregates people – it’s very bad!” After we discuss this topic for one hour and I ask them again: “Now what is your opinion about this system?” they say: “It’s quite good!”

Why? Because it shows a different vision of human society. We are trained to think of society made up of individuals: if we put enough individuals together they will form a society. Therefore western scientists came to such definitions and conclusions – that human society is an organized way of destroying ourselves. While the Indian system says: no, this is not made of individuals, but this is determined and given by God. The big structure is given and I am a small little part of this big structure; not that I am a small particle and we shall form a big structure. Because in the western way of thinking we are accustomed to this ascending process – from the small you go to the big. And sorry to say, but this is basically a materialistic point of view. Then you can very easily come to the conclusion that mud, the small thing, starts to feel, which is the big thing. So, matter will produce life – which is, you know, incompatible! While the oriental vision says that the big structure is given, it’s created by God and you are a part of that great structure – that’s a descending process. There is life, like a sacred principle, and it can manifest on the planet Earth also.

In the same way, the caste system for example is not a system of segregation, this is a system of unity. And we have to find our place in these categories also. Actually there is a so to say material or worldly varna-ashrama, and there is daiva, a divine varna-ashrama system. I think the first one is obvious: you have certain capacities, certain qualities and then you belong to one or another category. But do these material designations concern us as souls? You might say ‘no’. Still we can see that the devotees also have certain different-different qualities. One is a good organizer; we shouldn’t say that he is a passionate guy, because he has dedicated his life to the service of the Lord. So, he is not simply passionate, but he is divinely passionate. Or if somebody has a kind of scientific or ritualistic attitude, we cannot say that he is simply brahminical; no, he is divinely brahminical. Because devotional service is added to the qualities – that makes it divine. And there is one quality we all share. What stands at the end of our names? Das – yes, we are the divine shudras. We all share this quality – to be… well, not able, but to be ready to serve. This should be our basic quality. And then accordingly we can find our place in this structure.


(to be continued)


[1] Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 2


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