Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha

Question of Indulekha: In bhakti it is said “Die to live” – we should die for ourselves to be born for service. Is this one time death or a permanent process? Surrender can be achieved at one time or this is a progressive state?

Tirtha Maharaj: We can say that both aspects are there. Because if we dedicate our life, it is dedicated; but it does not mean that there is no chance of any further progress. And I think I have mentioned that kshatriyas die once and achieve heaven; but the brahmins die many times for the false concepts. So their dying is a permanent death. But fortunately we are not brahmins, but vaishnavas”. “Those who think that a vaishnava dies are mistaken, because the vaishnava lives forever in the Holy Name.”[1]

Dedication, devotion is an eternal process, endless.

Question: Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said that we should go deeper. Depth and darkness are very close to each other. I’m wondering if this means that we should face our dark sides. What is the method to face ourselves, to find the depths?

Tirtha Maharaj: I think the method has already been given. Chant the Holy Names, do your service, dedicate your life. Many times devotees think: “Ah, I have the general practice and I need something extra, for me!” No, everything is given to you. The Holy Name is a transcendental touchstone, being able to turn iron into gold. Ah my God, maybe we do not have to go down deep in the mine! Just have a touchstone! By this divine touch even our rusty ego will become purified gold.

So, everything is given; and I can tell you, if somebody practices bhakti completely, then no other mystic or this and that process is omitted from that practice. Because, for example, the yogis make their breathing exercises in the morning. What is our breathing exercise? “Samsara davanala lidha loka…” Or: the yogis torture the body by limiting the eating. What is our control over the eating? This is ekadashi, etc. Nothing is missing from this practice. Just do it nicely and try to enter deep into the secrets of the Holy Name.

Abhay Charan: This “go deeper” comes when Ramananda Raya and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu are talking. Mahaprabhu inquires what is the goal of life, then Ramananda first says: “Well, follow the social rules in order to satisfy Vishnu.” Then Mahaprabhu says: “This is very superficial; go deeper.” But when Ramananda mentions prema-bhakti, then He says: “Now excavate more! Go on, go on, tell me more!”

Question of Kripadham: You said that a vaishnava is hidden in the Holy Name. Where exactly is hidden?

Tirtha Maharaj: Did I say this? “He reasons ill who says that a vaishnava dies because he ever lives in the Holy Name.” Is this what you mean? He is not “hidden” – he lives in the Holy Name, by the Holy Name. This is our life and soul – the Holy Name. This is our prana. This is amrita! The Holy Name is amrita – to make you immortal. I think God is hiding in the Holy Name!

Kripadham: Should we search the vaishnavas inside the Holy Name or just try to serve the Holy Name?

Tirtha Maharaj: All right, what is the Holy Name?Krishna, God Himself, right? Where is God? God is in the hearts of the pure devotees. That means, the Holy Name is in the hearts of the pure devotees. But let me ask you another question: who is in the heart ofKrishna? This is the pure devotee. So… you try to find one, and you find the other also; you try to find the other and… it is just like a…

Kripadham: Dance?

Tirtha Maharaj: Hahaha! I wanted to say: just like a marketing trick. You want to obtain God and you have to obtain the vaishnava also. Which is, I think, a good bargain. So, that means that we have to capture the hearts of the pure devotees and then we shall obtainKrishna. You have to work hard for that.

Saraswati: But God is present everywhere, then why we specify: in the hearts of the pure devotees?

Tirtha Maharaj: No, God is not present everywhere. Maybe the Universal Form is here and there ; and Brahman-shakti is everywhere, but this is not God. God is Nandanandana Krishna, playing the flute.  He says: “I am not living in Vaikuntha, I am not living in the hearts of the yogis, but where My devotees chant My Holy Names, for sure I am there.”

Kripadham: Does it mean that when we chant as you told us it is good to pray like: “God, engage me in service to You.” Does it mean that service means to be engaged in service of the pure devotees? And then He will reveal Himself?

Tirtha Maharaj: Yes, we can say…

[1] Quotation written on the tomb of Haridasa Thakura

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