Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha

Hiranyakashipu tapas

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2012, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday)

“Because of the intolerable fire of the great tapasya, all the demigods fled from Svargaloka and approached Brahmaloka to pray to Brahma for protection. After offering prayers, they said: “Ah master of the universe, ah protector of everyone! This Hiranyakashipu, the lord of the demons, is performing a terrible penance. The power of his tapasya is forcing us out of Svargaloka, our heavenly planets. Please, help and protect us, as we are your servants and worshipers. If you wish to protect your servants before they are destroyed, please, stop Hiranyakashipu from his tapas which is destroying the whole world! Hiranyakashipu is engaged in this penance, because he wants to obtain a boon. It is not impossible for you to grant him his wish. Although you know everything, we want to inform you about his desire, as we have understood it. Hiranyakashipu is thinking: ‘By my tapasya I wish to obtain position like that of Brahma, who became the creator of the universe and is worshiped by everyone. The position of Brahma is greater than that of any king, even Indra. I want the topmost position in Satyaloka. Since time is eternal and the soul is also eternal, I do not care how many lifetimes of penance I shall have to offer in order to attain this position according to my desire. When I obtain sufficient power, I shall change the rules of this world. At the end of the day of Brahma, this kalpa, the whole universe will be destroyed, including the vaishnavas. Therefore I’m not interested in any position lower than Brahma’s.” Now Hiranyakashipu has begun this great tapasya with the intention of obtaining your post. You are the lord of the three worlds, so please, do whatever is necessary to solve this problem. This is our prayer, o, creator and protector of the world. Your existence is the cause of pleasure, opulence, welfare and happiness for the cows and brahmanas. If Hiranyakashipu obtains your position, all these things will be destroyed.”[1]

From this part of the story we not only get information about the worries of the demigods, but also we take a very good lesson in vaishnava etiquette. Did you see how that was? The demigods were in great worries, so they approached their authority. And what did they do? Immediately jump into the problem: ‘Ah, we have this trouble, we have that problem’? No. First they offered prayers. “Ah Brahma, you are so great, you are so nice!” And then they started: “And we also have a little problem…” This is education, this is etiquette.

How to apply that? You meet your spiritual master: “Dandavat, Gurudev! I have this and this problem.” No, please! Say at least a few nice words. For example: “Krishna is so great, Krishna is so nice!” And then you come with your message. So, be aware what’s going on. Every little moment is very precious for our purification and our proper understanding how to behave. Then they said: “Although you know everything, still we would like to call your attention to certain events in this universe.” Sometimes you approach your spiritual master as if you bring some news, something that he doesn’t know.

But we are also informed about the intention of Hiranyakashipu – that he wanted to attain immortality. And you remember from the last time, that he knew very well the philosophy. Here again it is mentioned that although the body will perish, the soul will survive. He wants to come to the highest position in the material world.

“The demigods concluded their prayers and Lord Brahma, accompanied by all the sages, such as Bhrigu, Daksha and others, departed for the hermitage of Hiranyakashipu. Meanwhile Hiranyakashipu had been performing penance for a very long time in the same position without ever moving. So much so that an anthill, upon which grass and reeds were growing, covered his body. Ants had eaten his body to such an extent, that the skin, flesh and blood disappeared, leaving only the bones.”

Still he was considered alive. That means while performing his tapasya, he achieved mystic powers. He was able to circulate his life-force in the skeleton. This is the result of mystic practices – that you can rewrite your personal history. What was the intention of Hiranyakashipu? To rewrite the history of the universe, according to his own version. And what happens to you if you achieve your mystic and bhaktic results? That you can rewrite the story of your own life. From the predestined karmic path you can enter the path of freedom, of divine slavery.

So, he was still alive, although only in the bones – no flesh, no skin, nothing, only a skeleton. In our culture the skeleton is a symbol of death. So in one sense he could rewrite symbolism. Even an anthill started to grow over his body. It takes a long time.


(to be continued)

[1] The reading continues from B.B.Tirtha Maharaj’s book The holy life of Prahlada

Leave a Reply