Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha


Question of Radha Kunda: I did not understand what you said that sometimes we have to sacrifice a lower principle for a higher principle. What is meant by lower – is it some material principle that we should sacrifice?

Tirtha Maharaj: May I tell you two stories describing this? One is classical and the other is even more classical.

So, once upon a time Arjuna, who was the greatest fighter, had to fulfill a divine plan. The divine plan was that Krishna, even from the beginning wanted to tell the message of “Gita”. “But how can I tell this in peace?! If everything is in order, how can I give a heavy message? If everybody is happy and satisfied, how people will listen to My voice? These human beings are a little dull-headed. When they suffer, they start to understand better. When there is danger, then they are more receptive. So how am I to convey My message? Let’s make a little disturbance!” So He decided: “Maybe I have to put Arjuna into such a difficulty that he will inquire after perfection.” But in order to achieve, let’s say, the eastern direction He started to send Arjuna to the West. Because real mysticism is not telling, it’s not opening up, it’s not covering, it’s not hiding, but always giving the hints. By sending Arjuna to a certain path, Krishna wanted to achieve the opposite destination.

So what happened? Arjuna, as a fighter, started a pilgrimage. On this pilgrimage he met some demigods and by his heroic character he got some divine weapons. Because they already knew that sometime Arjuna will have to fight, “so we have to supply him the best weapons”. He got a very powerful bow, this is the Gandiva. And when Arjuna received this weapon, he said: “Ah! This is a heavenly divine weapon! Who will blame or defame my weapon I will kill him on the spot!” So he made a very strong vow: “I will protect the dignity of my weapon.” And you know, the real heroes stick to their words. It is not very popular these days, ha? People give words here and there yet even at the beginning they don’t think it seriously. But in the old, old times it was happening in a different way.

And as the story evolved we have entered the war between the branches of this family. Practically after the discussion of “Bhagavad Gita” there was the war. And one day during this fight somehow Arjuna was very busy and he could not protect Yudhishthira correctly. So almost, almost Yudhishthira was beaten. Finally the fight was over for that day and in this way he escaped. But then in the evening he started to discuss with his brother Arjuna. He said: “Hey Arjuna, what kind of fighter you are?! You have to fight for me! And remember, today I was in a very heavy difficulty and you did not come to save me. What kind of fighter you are?! What kind of weapons you have?! Fie on your Gandiva bow!” Arjuna was enraged: “What!? You were blaming my Gandiva bow!” And he immediately remembered his vow: “Whoever blames or defames my weapons, I will kill him on the spot!” So he was ready to take the sword and kill his brother. But fortunately Krishna was there and He caught the hand of Arjuna: “Wait a minute! What are you doing?” “What?! Did You hear!? He was blaming my bow so I have to kill him – I made a vow!” “But wait a minute, Arjuna, didn’t you make another vow that you will do everything to protect your brother?” So by the divine intervention the power of one vow was overcome by the higher principle. And you know, for a fighter, for a kshatriya to give up his word is very shameful. Still he was ready to sacrifice one vow for the higher vow.

So this is one very strong argument for sometimes giving up one vow, for breaking one rule in order to fulfill a more important rule. Is this heresy? It is! If you read only half of the story. But if you get the full version, you will understand that this is the correct choice.


(to be continued next Monday)


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