Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha



Arjuna with bow and arrow and Dronacharya

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

Question of Yamuna: Maharaj, archery seems to have a special place in the whole Hindu tradition. There is a mantra which says that God is the target, om is the arrow, etc. If you could tell us more about the meaning – why it is compared with the archery? Maybe it’s not by chance that Krishna spoke Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna who is the best archer in the world. Can you, please, say something about the archery in the tradition – archery as practice and archery as meditation?

Swami Tirtha: Well, what is the goal of an archer? To hit the target. So, that needs one-pointed attention. Although I’m not a big archer myself, but hitting the target really needs a very intensive type of meditation. It’s a kind of yoga, because when you can reach your target, then you are connected to your target, right. When there is a link between you and the target, then the arrow will fly by itself. And this is not the technique, it’s not the sharpness of your eyes; this is something different. So, concentration is there, pranayama is there – because you have to hold your breath. There are so many aspects there – practical and mystical. And actually our soul, our identity is the arrow. And the mantra om, or practically any prayer, any service, any mantra is the bow. And as you said, Brahman, or the Supreme is the goal.

We might think that our meeting or reaching the goal happens by our own efforts. Which is no doubt a necessary element, but ultimate achievements will come as blessings to us. How did Arjuna become the best archer? By achieving the mercy of his master. He was good, but he became the best by that higher principle. So, to be one-pointed is the essence of archery.

Probably you all know that story when Drona wanted to teach his students of archery. He was the military teacher of the Pandavas and the Kauravas. Once he put a wooden bird upon a tree and the students had to shoot at the bird. So, when the first came, the teacher asked: “What do you see, my son?” “I see the scenery, I see the tree and I see the bird also.” Drona said: “Not good.” The second came and the master asked: “So, my dear son, what do you see? Do you see the bird?” “Yes, I see the bird.” “Do you see the tree?” “Yes, I see the tree.” “Bad! Out!” Then finally came Arjuna. “My dear son, do you see the bird?” “Yes, I see the bird”. “Do you see the tree?” “No, I don’t see the tree.” “Do you see me?” “No, I don’t see you.” “Do you see the whole bird?” “No, I don’t see the whole bird” “What do you see?” “I see only the eye”. Because that was the target – to hit the eye of the bird. “This is it, my son! Shoot!”

So, in order to reach the goal we have to be focused, one-pointed attention should be there. Nothing around, only your goal.

Yamuna: Should we forget guru to reach the goal?

Swami Tirtha: No, we are answering his challenging questions. How can we forget him!

One-pointed – this is an expression in yoga. And actually we can say that yoga is the best martial art, because here we have to overcome the greatest enemy. And who is that? Ourselves. So, be one-pointed.



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