Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha


“Jagadananda Pandita stayed at the house of Shivananda Sena for some time, and they prepared about sixteen seers[1] of scented sandalwood oil. They filled a large earthen pot with the aromatic oil, and with great care Jagadananda Pandita brought it to Nilacala, Jagannatha Puri.”[2]

Sandalwood oil, this is a very precious substance. You have to wait for a long time until the oil, or the scent manifests in the tree. Let’s say twenty years you have to wait until this little, little scent starts to manifest in this tree. And then to prepare fifteen kg of this oil is like a wealth, it’s very precious. The real sandalwood oil is close to, or even higher than the price of gold. Just imagine, you’re wearing fifteen kg of gold in the divine service. It’s a responsible job, but it’s got a good reason. And we shall understand why.

“This oil was placed in the care of Govinda[3], and Jagadananda requested him, “Please rub this oil on the body of the Lord.” Govinda therefore told Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, “Jagadananda Pandita has brought some scented sandalwood oil. It is his desire that Your Lordship apply a little of this oil on Your head so that blood pressure due to bile and air will be considerably diminished.

I’ve heard that Ayurveda is very popular and many people have problems with their blood pressure – so, here is a remedy: bring 15 kg of sandalwood oil from India and apply a little on their foreheads every day.

He prepared a large jug of it in Bengal, and with great care he has brought it here.” The Lord replied, “A sannyasi has no use for oil, especially perfumed oil such as this. Take it out immediately.”[4]

Purport from Srila Prabhupad: “According to Raghunandan Bhattacharya, the spokesman for the smarthas regulative principles says: ”One who smears oil on his body while observing a vow in conjunction with the ritual, while bathing in the morning, while performing the shradha ceremony or on a dvadashi day may as well pour wine over his body. Therefore oil should be rejected.”

For you to pour wine over your body doesn’t mean anything, you might think: ‘Oh, it’s nice, a wine bath’. But for a traditional Indian brahmana wine, or alcohol at all, is just highly repelling, disgusting. Therefore it is compared to this abominable practice. Then the same person, this Raghunandan Bhattacharya says: “Clarified butter, mustard oil, floral oil and boiled oil may be used only by grihasthas or householders.”

Then “Mahaprabhu said: “Deliver this oil to the temple of Jagannatha, where it may be burned in the lamps.”

So, burn the as precious oil as gold in the temple – it shows the renounciation of Mahaprabhu. He is not attached. Rather He said: “In this way Jagadananda’s labor in manufacturing the oil will be perfectly successful.” When Govinda informed Jagadananda Pandita of this message, Jagadananda remained silent, not saying even a word. When ten days had passed, Govinda again told Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, “It is the desire of Jagadananda Pandita that Your Lordship accepts this oil.” When the Lord heard this, He angrily said, “Why not keep a masseur to massage Me? Have I taken sannyasa for such happiness? Accepting this oil would bring My ruination, and all of you would laugh. If someone passing on the road smelled this oil on My head, he would think Me a dari-sannyasi, a tantric sannyasi who keeps women.” Hearing these words of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Govinda remained silent.”

This example shows that the renounced order is not for sense gratification, it’s not for comfort. It is for realizing the Supreme. But actually in our line, in our tradition sannyas is not primarily case of renunciation; rather this is a practice of dedication. And why should you not accept too much comfort in life as a sannyasi? Because you should depend on divine mercy. So, if you depend on others’ help that’s not properly direct dependence on God’s mercy. Of course, who will inspire others to help you as a sannyasi? It’s again Lord Krishna.

Sannyas order has four levels, four grades. One is kuticaka. What is kutir? A hut. So, kuticaka has only a kutir, only a hut. That type of renounciant lives a little bit outside of the village, in a little hut as a shelter and accepts food from the previous family members. The other is bahudaka – many helpers. That means many people started to appreciate his renunciation and come to help him. It’s not only the ex-family that helps him by supplying food, but many come. The third one is parivrajakacarya or hamsa. That means a wandering mendicant, a wandering teacher. He doesn’t stay in one place; he has not even a kutir, no home, no house. Still he feels at home everywhere in the world. This is the lifestyle of renounciants. And finally the fourth level is paramahaṁsa – as supreme as a swan – who has achieved the topmost level of spiritual realization and doesn’t depend on anything except the divine providence.

And all the other orders do have these four categories. Do you want to hear the four categories of grihasthaashram? Yes? Are you sure? All right, I wash my hands. So, one is vartta-vritti – he cultivates the land, raises animals or engages in trade, and for hundred years – that means for whole lifetime – he performs the sacrifices. So, such a person has certain kind of income and he uses his income for sacrifice. The second is shalina-vritti – he performs the sacrifices himself, but doesn’t sacrifice for others. He follows some studies, but doesn’t teach, and what about donations? He gives, but doesn’t accept. And he performs this for full lifetime. The third one is yayavara – he performs sacrifices himself and does it for others, studies and teaches, accepts and gives donations and performs this for hundred years. And the fourth one is ghorasamnyasika – who worships with water, drawn and purified, and who lives by collecting the fallen ears of wheat day by day, and performs this sacrifice for hundred years. So, what is the first? The first is the general householder – normal engagement, normal profession. The second, this is a basic person, taking care of his family, the third one is a wanderer, and finally the fourth is a radical renounciant.

Just imagine yourself according to these principles. My dear fellow brothers, today you go home in the evening and tell your wife: ‘Here are the few wheat-ears that I have collected today on the market place! This is my contribution for our family today.’ And dear matajis, if your husband comes home and provides you the ears that he had collected for that day don’t be angry, don’t be surprised. Be happy! If your husband is renounced so much, you also have to follow that example. Because grihastha-ashram means that you work together and you appreciate the contribution of the other, however small or insignificant it might be. So, this is not only a duty of the head of the family to collect enough ears, but this is the duty of the wife to be satisfied. Which one is more difficult – to collect, or to be satisfied? I think both are very nice spiritual practices. But from this we can see that in the old ages they tried not to overcomplicate their lives.

Of course all brahmacharis and the vanaprasthas they also have their four orders, but we don’t enter into details now. Yet we can conclude that sannyas order is not for the comforts of life. The grishastha order is for the comforts, as much as they can collect the ears in the marketplace.

From this we can see that we have to apply the ideal, it’s not that we have to follow the few hundred year’s back practice, but apply the principle under your conditions.

[1] 15 kg

[2] Chaitanya Charitamrita Antya Lila, 12, 102-103

[3] The personal servant of Mahaprabhu

[4] Chaitanya Charitamrita Antya Lila, 12, 104-108

Leave a Reply