Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha


(continues from the previous Monday issue)

As I am thinking there are innumerable cases to prove that certain principles should be given up in order to fulfill a higher principle. Another classical story was given by Shrila Sadhu Maharaj. I am sure you remember that story when on an ekadashi day he was visiting his spiritual master. On this day we should fast, refrain from grains and pulses. And of course his Gurudev was fulfilling that vow for many, many years. But in that morning he went to his spiritual master and what did he see? Gurudev is eating dal and rice and chapati – the three forbidden foodstuffs on that day. That was a little unexpected. But you know, a nice disciple doesn’t expose the spiritual master on the spot. So he did not speak up, but then his Gurudev told him: “Very nice that you came! Why don’t you come and join us to take some prasadam?!” You know, this is a difficult situation. There is a binding law that on ekadashi day, on this fast day, you should not eat dal, rice and chapati. But then your spiritual master invites you for eating together with him dal, rice and chapati. And whatever is given by the spiritual master we should not reject, we always have to say “yes” to the spiritual master. Then what to do?

Just imagine yourself in the situation. For example, if your spiritual master says: “You should not eat ice-cream. And you had renounced bananas. Yet I give you a license to take banana ice-cream.” That’s double impossible, right! I have renounced bananas and I am forbidden to eat ice-cream, so banana ice-cream is highly forbidden for me! But next time you meet your spiritual master and he invites you to take banana ice-cream – what can you do? So sometimes there are very difficult moments in spiritual life. Fortunately enough, we have a brain, we have a mind. It’s a good old friend. He can find a way not to break the rules, but to achieve the goal.

So, as an obedient disciple Sadhu Maharaj said: “Well, rules and guru – who is more important?” And he said: “Guru is more important!” so he sat down and started to eat the highly forbidden dal, rice and chapati on ekadashi day. And now you know Sadhu Maharaj as a very gentle, sweet-hearted grandfather of everyone. But I have heard that at that time he was so strict, so heavy like anything! So to give up such a shastric rule – don’t eat grains on ekadashi – this is very great renunciation.

But this is still not the end of the story. Because then another disciple came. Another very strict and very strong disciple came and saw both of them sitting there and eating the forbidden foodstuff on this special day. Our new disciple was also a little bit embarrassed. But the master of Shrila Sadhu Maharaj said: “Ah, very nice that you came! Why don’t you come and join us to take some prasadam?” And he said: “No, thank you! You know, I am following ekadashi.” Then gurudev said: “Very nice! Just follow ekadashi!”

Did it help you to understand? Shall I tell you yet another story? This one was a happy story, but the next one is a little difficult story. Once a spiritual master had a very obedient disciple. If the guru would say: “Jump into the well”, he would jump. This was the level of his surrender. And once the spiritual master was dissatisfied with another disciple, so he told to this obedient disciple: “Go to him, take his japa, tell him that he is off the list of the disciples, and tell him that he is not my disciple anymore. Take his japa, take his name, take everything.”

Try to imagine yourself in that situation. You are a messenger of your spiritual master, you have to go to one of your brothers and tell him: “You are excluded from the family.” Easy? It’s a very difficult situation. So that person went to this disciple with the message. But before intruding with this message, they started to discuss, talk. And as they started to talk he understood that this other person is not bad. Maybe he is weak, but he is not bad, he has no bad intention. And more and more they were discussing, our friend came to the conclusion: “No! I will not fulfill the desire of my spiritual master! I will not exclude him, I will not take his japa, I will not tell him that he is out.”

Next time he met his spiritual master, the guru asked: “Have you been there?” “Yes.” “Have you taken the japa?” “No.” “What is your explanation?” Then he started to explain. What do you think, what was the remark of the spiritual master?

Kripadham: Positive.

Krishna Premi: He was also excluded.

Tirtha Maharaj: Well, fortunately the remark was: “Well done, my boy!”

Krishna Premi: Wise master!

Tirtha Maharaj: “Well done, my son!” So you break, you directly oppose the direct instruction of your spiritual master and then he says: “Well done, my son!” I think you would never expect that in life. But sometimes it does happen.

So in such special, special cases we have to think always what is the higher principle. And the higher principle is to help others in their spiritual path! In order to achieve that we can give up some other principles.

I humbly beg all of you, when somebody starts to criticize your weapons, think twice. And even if you get a direct instruction, it’s not enough to use your brain, use your heart to understand the inner meaning of the instruction. Because the words of the guru are the living Veda, living shastra. And the master’s degree is when you can apply the principles correctly. It’s not only that you can repeat principles, but you can apply the principles correctly. Like this.

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