Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha




Question: You said one should find one’s individual perspective and ability how we should engage in the service to Krishna and please Him. Is this something that we should find out ourselves or should we ask a spiritual master for it?

Tirtha Maharaj: Well, if you know, then do it; if you don’t know, then ask. Of course the guidance of our superiors is very important, it’s very essential. Because guru is like a conductor of a symphonic orchestra. To have a nice performance of the Fifth Symphony of Beethoven – it’s called “Fate” – we have to know which notes to play and when. Otherwise this is not a harmonic symphony, but it’s a cacophony. So therefore we have to follow the advice of the conductor – this is the spiritual master.

Comment of Yamuna: In Bhagavad Gita Krishna mentions the eight-fold yoga system and one of the processes is pranayama. So shastra is recommending pranayama in order to pacify the mind. But when I was with Sadhu Maharaj in Vrindavan I just opened one of the books from which he is reading and my eyes came upon a verse saying that pranayama is very detrimental for devotees, they should not practice that, because pranayama is for controlling the mind and the feelings and the devotees should open their feelings to Divinity. So once again I’ve seen that our shastras are behabheda[1] – they can recommend one thing and then they can say for the same thing that on another stages it is detrimental. So, you see, sometimes you can practice pranayama to pacify the mind and it can be good for the moment, but if you want to achieve something else, you should not practice pranayama. And then I thought: ‘Ah my God, I am a yoga teacher, how shall I teach pranayama sincerely since now?!’

Tirtha Maharaj: Nevertheless we can add that we have a devotional pranayama. Yogis have their pranayama, but we have our own special pranayama. Because yama here means to control, right, to control the breath, prana. Prana is like the life force, not simply the breath, but the life force. And how to control our prana, our life force? You remember Mahaprabhu, He said: mat prananathas tu sa eva naparaha[2] – “You are the Lord of my prana.” So our control of our prana is to dedicate ourselves to the Supreme. Prananath – You are the controller of my life force. And then if Krishna, or Mahaprabhu, accepts your prana offering, then He will take possession of your prana. And He will say: ‘Now your prana is Mine. You are amar prana – My life.’ So this is our pranayama. Is it detrimental to devotional practices, what do you think? I hope it’s not!

Question: I would like you to tell something about dance as spiritual practice. How this could become an offering?

Tirtha Maharaj: How can I tell about dance? How can we theoretically discuss dance? It’s impossible because these are only words, but dance is a way of expression. Once there was an occasion when we came together with some friends and we agreed upon the next topic of our meeting and they said: “Next time we should discuss silence.” I said: “Wait a minute! How to discuss silence?!” So how can I tell something about dance? It’s impossible!

Nevertheless, any spiritual practice or offering should be sincere. This is the basic point. If this is an ego trip, if this is a show of my abilities, if this is a show of my devotion or knowledge, whatever – then this is fake. So, in my humble understanding about this topic – we cannot make it, but the dance should invite us.

[1] Simultaneously one and different

[2] Shikshashtaka 8


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