Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha


“To practice yoga, one should go to a secluded place and should lay kusha grass on the ground and then cover it with a deerskin and a soft cloth. The seat should be neither too high nor too low and should be situated in a sacred place. The yogī should then sit on it very firmly and practice yoga to purify the heart by controlling his mind, senses and activities and fixing the mind on one point.”[1]

This chapter of the Gita is called Dhyana-yoga, or the yoga of meditation. So, here we find some instructions concerning the classical yoga. We have heard what is one goal of yoga – to control the mind and the senses. And also in the previous verse we have understood that all three capacities that we have – the body, the mind and our selves also included – we should connect to the Supreme. Then how to do it? This is the next question. Invitation is nice, but tell me the know-how.

Therefore these two verses give some ideas about this classical yoga of meditation and renunciation of the world. “To practice yoga one should go to a secluded place.” Show me a secluded place here in Sofia! Even the ashram is full now. So, to find a really secluded place is difficult. Then, “one should lay kusha grass on the ground.” Very nice, but where can I find my kusha grass? And even if one finds some kusha grass, the next step is “then cover it with deerskin” and then “with a soft cloth”. So, even if you have kusha grass, and deerskin, and secluded place, if you go out in Vitosha in December or January, you will freeze! And if your body is frozen, how your meditation will flow?

There must be some general method of yoga also, not only this specific method. Of course what is the goal we understand later: The yogī should sit very firmly and practice yoga to purify the heart by controlling the mind, senses and activities and also fixing the mind on one point.” So this is the goal! Therefore we should go out to find the secluded place; therefore we need this kusha grass, which is a sacred plant, because then it will isolate you from all negative influences. This is called asan. What was the definition of asan? Vyasasan?

Answers: The place of Vyasa. The throne of Vyasa. This is the place where the spiritual master sits in order to preach.

Tirtha Maharaj: Right, the elevated seat of the teacher, who is a representative of Vyasa. And who is Vyasa? Vyasa is the archetype of gurus. This is asan. Therefore such a place we should find somewhere in our environment. It’s not very easy, not very difficult, yet we should find it. But why should we sit on an asan? In order to provide ourselves a sacred and safe place for our meditation.

Have you ever tried to sit on a vyasasan? This is a very responsible job. How can you sit on the Vyasa asan? Only if you are very humble. Otherwise you will not be able to perform this service. As this is a very responsible job, we have to surrender to this duty. Just imagine – if you have only three minutes to condense the essence of your teachings and you have a chance to sit on an elevated place to teach others – what would be your message? In three minutes to save humanity… One of our friends has got a very condensed message – not in three minutes, but in three words: live, love, leave. If you tell this message with the proper force, then everybody will be benefited.

But why this kusha grass and why this deerskin – what is the use? In some scriptures the different results of sitting on different asans are mentioned. So, by sitting on deerskin you will reach general knowledge. If you sit on cotton, then you will be purified. If you sit on stone, you will be sick. If you sit on the ground you will be unhappy. If you would sit on wood, there will be no results at all. If you will sit on the skin of a black deer, you will reach indirect knowledge. If you sit on the skin of a tiger – like the humble yogis sometimes do – then you will achieve liberation. If you sit on kusha grass, then you will have direct realization. And if you sit on wool, then all blessings will come to you. This is said in the shastras. So, choose what you like. If you want liberation, first you have to find a skin of a tiger. If you want indirect knowledge, then you just sit on the skin of a black deer. But beware, if you sit on a tree like a monkey, there will be no results at all. And of course it is not mentioned here, if you sit on a plastic floor or artificial threads, then what will be the result – maybe some Kali-yuga effect will be there.

Therefore everything has got a meaning. Nothing is by chance. So why it was suggested in the Gita first kusha grass? That was the direct knowledge, direct realization. Then to cover it with deerskin – general knowledge. Then cover it with soft cotton – you will be pure. So, nothing is by chance, this is instruction. And in this way the goal of sitting on such an asan will be realized very quickly. What was that? Purify the heart! This purity is provided by the soft cloth. And then controlling the mind, senses and activities – this is provided by the other two layers. If you control the senses and your activities, this is the indirect knowledge. And the direct knowledge that you can get is by controlling your mind; direct knowledge means mystic revelation.

So, this is the goal why we should sit in meditation – to purify our existence, to get general knowledge and to get this divine vision. And this is the goal even if you don’t have the deerskin, even if you don’t have the kusha grass, even if you don’t have anything! This is the goal why we should work very hard. So, it does not matter if you have or don’t have – the goal should be observed.

(to be continued)

[1] Bhagavad Gita 6.11-12

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