Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha


(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 10.01.2014 evening, Sofia)
(continues from the previous Monday)
The third principle is very interesting: “One should not be very enthusiastic about constructing costly temples and monasteries.”[1] I think this is the part from the 64 practices of devotional service we already perform. We don’t construct too costly temples for Krishna. At least there’s one quality we can meet. But why it is mentioned here? If we are sincere with ourselves, usually people, us included, go to places to visit some monuments, to see the buildings or the big temples locally, right? So it’s got some importance. And this here is also an ashram. It’s also got some material dimensions. This is a place for us to come together and share our ideas. So it’s got some very good purpose. Nevertheless there is a nice saying from Rabindranath Tagore: “When God wants to construct a temple from hearts and souls, human beings are ready to jump and bring the bricks and the stones.” So we should be very careful about this. Bring the proper material, what is really necessary for Krishna. 
Once I heard devotees build a very huge, very gorgeous temple. Of course, to satisfy Krishna. But what happened? People started to criticize them: “Ah, such a costly temple instead of using the money for service of the poor!” So we should find a very proper balance between these expectations. Anyway, all the temples in the world and the entire world belong to God. We cannot impress Him with some small tiny buildings. So, don’t over-endeavor in that respect. 
But also monasteries are mentioned here. All right, you build a nice, wealthy temple, house for God; but a wealthy monastery? A hermits’ ashram with full comforts? It doesn’t sound very good. I have a book – it’s a Buddhist treatise about certain different spiritual practices. There is a big portion about how to achieve mystic powers – if you want to multiply your body and extend in many different roles – so many things are described there. But also it is mentioned which type of monastery you should be part of. It is said: “Well, don’t join a very new monastery which is not finished yet. Because in such a place you have to construct and work a lot, so your meditation will be curbed by the too many physical activities.” But then it was also said: “Yet don’t join a very comfortable and very nice monastery either. Because then your sadhana will decrease – you will feel very comfortable, become lazy and give up your spiritual practices.” Then what kind of monastery to join? If it is not ready, it is not recommended; if it is ready, it is not recommended. 
Of course, if we can accomplish some nice service to the Supreme in this way – to establish a temple or to serve in any cases, for example in a monastery, an ashram – that is nice. But we should never think that by this we have accomplished everything. If we give  the stones, but if we don’t give our heart and soul, it’s only half done. 
Now, here comes another instruction which most of us follow very rigidly: “Don’t read many books. One should not try to read too many books, nor should one develop the idea of earning his livelihood by lecturing or professionally reciting Shrimad Bhagavatam or Bhagavad Gita.” 
Why it is said “Don’t read too many books”? Too many books mean too many opinions. Then it’s very easy to lose the focus. Actually it’s enough to read one book, if in that book everything is contained. It is not necessary to remember all the seven hundred verses of the Gita. If you remember one verse properly, that’s enough for accomplishment. Bhaktivinod Thakur in one of his songs[2] said: “When I was young I was captivated by knowledge. I studied and studied and studied, but later on in this old age I understood that knowledge made an ass from me. And I missed the loving service meanwhile.” Actually this is the most important thing that we should learn and study: don’t forget about the Supreme! 
And it is sure: even if you try to study all the different books, revelations and philosophies, you will return to prema-bhakti. I tell you, there is no better version than this. Because philosophies satisfy the brain. While prema-bhakti satisfies your inner heart. 
And don’t make your livelihood from lecturing on divine scriptures. This is not a business. 
(to be continued)
1. Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 6
2. Vidyara Vilase

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