Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha


(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2013, Sofia)



Question of Yamuna: Why the soul through reincarnations is forgetting the previous events? Don’t we need this in order to make the connection and get the picture? Isn’t it more useful to us to remember rather than to forget? Krishna says in the Gita that: “I am the forgetfulness.”[1] Why does this forgetfulness come to us not through maya, but through Krishna?

Swami Tirtha: In good case it comes through Krishna; in general case it comes through maya.

Yamuna: So, to put the question: when the body dies and the soul reincarnates in another body, is the forgetfulness coming from Krishna or is it coming from maya? And why is it necessary for the soul to forget the previous experience? Isn’t it rather necessary to make the cross-references and stop feeling rebellious that: ‘I am the victim. I don’t deserve that!’

Swami Tirtha: I like this last part. So, in ordinary cases forgetfulness comes from maya, illusion, but in special cases it comes from Krishna. Just like remembrance also comes from Krishna. They all have a big part to play in our system. Because forgetfulness covers not only our previous merits and achievements, but also our mistakes, our big faults and our failures. Many people think: ‘Oh, it would be so nice to have an impression of my previous lives. Because in this lifetime I am suffering so much that definitely I want to have the information of my previous lifetimes!’ But my dear brothers and sisters, if you suffer today, what was your story last time? Same! So, why do you want to remember that much? It’s better to have it covered. It is not by chance that there’s something you forget, something you remember. Especially with a sincere practitioner this is also under divine guidance. So, don’t poke your nose into your past soup. Lord Buddha was said to remember one thousand lifetimes back. But he was powerful enough to carry the burden of thousand lifetimes. We are so weak even to tolerate the burden of one, this present lifetime. And then we want to see the others? Didn’t you have enough in this lifetime? Why do you want to know the previous ones and the upcoming ones? One element of sharanagati is to accept Krishna as the maintainer and the protector. If He wants to protect us by making us remember something, then we should accept. If He wants to protect us by making us forget something, we should accept that also. This is for our benefit.

Otherwise if we always know permanently something, it might become boring. And it is said that Krishna likes the fresh gopies. This is His nature. Sometimes it’s good to forget about something. Because then it will feel like new. Permanent and complete consciousness and memories – it’s a heavy burden. Sometimes we even have to pray for forgetfulness. ‘Please, my Lord, help me to forget about my mistakes! Help me to forget about the shadows of others’, because that is not the real thing. The real thing is something essential, it’s not the shadow. The light is always ahead of us and the shadow is always at our back. This should be our approach and we shouldn’t worry. Even if you want to remember, by age Krishna will provide you the forgetfulness. 

Yamuna: That’s bothering. 

Swami Tirtha: No, that’s sweet. Because what is it we shall remember at the end? Not so much, because philosophy is too complicated. ‘Yes, some years back I was able to see, but not anymore. So, I didn’t read the Gita for twenty years now. And I heard so many teachings, but I cannot remember anything. But one thing I remember is… how was that? Hare Krishna! Yes! I remember this!’

So, we shouldn’t be too proud of our knowledge and of our understanding, because Krishna will remove it very easily. When we are young… Bhaktivinod Thakur said: “When I was young I was collecting knowledge! And I thought that this is the way; but now in my old age I see that knowledge made a fool out of me. Now I am so old and I am so incapable to enjoy life. And what a misfortune – I forgot to worship you, my Lord!”[2] This is something essential; this is what we should not forget. Not very complicated – He is there, don’t forget about Him!

So, remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness also come from the divine source. And we should be sure, that whatever is necessary for our benefit, for our connection back home – it will be provided. Some might reach the same destination by knowledge; others might reach it by forgetfulness. So, it’s a kind of special duty if we remember our past lives. And actually if we analyze the present situation, we should be able to understand the past and also the future. Because the present is the future of the past and the past of the future.

But we should never forget that we are spiritual sparks. Sharing the divine qualities. He is eternal, we are also eternal. He is shining, we are also shining a little bit, reflecting something. Because if we forget about that, then we compromise the divine glory, so to say.

So, in one sense you are all great! I don’t want to flatter you, but you are great! You are part of a divine plan. Not only by dedicating yourself, but ontologically, by nature, you are all part of a divine plan. So, the more we realize this, the closer we are. Because there is a dignity of the soul. It’s not only the horror of the body. And also there is the joy of self. So it is this we should not forget.


[1] Bhagavad Gita 15.15

[2] See Bhaktivinod Thakur’s song: Vidyara vilase


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