Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha


Of sacrifices, the sacrifice performed according to the directions of scripture, as a matter of duty, by those who desire no reward, is of the nature of goodness. Sometimes sacrifices and rituals are performed for elevation to the heavenly kingdom or for some material benefits in this world. Such sacrifices or ritualistic performances are considered to be in the mode of passion. Any sacrifice performed without regard for the directions of scripture, without distribution of prasādam [spiritual food], without chanting of Vedic hymns and remunerations to the priests, and without faith is considered to be in the mode of ignorance.”[1]

Sacrifice is also influenced by the different modes of nature. If you are under the influence of light, sattva, then you follow the scriptural directions, but unfortunately to achieve that you have to study the shastras. Yet another sacrifice! You have to dedicate your time and attention to learn. It is called swadhyaya-yagya – to study the scriptures, swadhyaya-yagya. And it is not simply like study, but it is like a repetition, it is like chanting, it is like glorifying the scriptures. Swa-adhi – self-manifesting the scriptures – that means while you chant the vibration will come by itself. Swadhyaya-yagya means when you repeat, when you chant the shlokas, you will feel these waves of vibration.

So, first of all study! And perform as a matter of duty. And what is the real duty? – when you perform something without a desire for remuneration. That means selfless.

These are the qualities of sattvic sacrifice – you follow the instructions, you are selfless and you are shastric.

But a sacrifice, performed for some material benefit or for the sake of pride – that is in the mode of passion. So, the mantra of the passionate sacrifice is “For me!” Can we do anything without some material or financial remuneration? Very difficult. It is very easy to inspire people by money. If you get a higher salary, you will run after this. If you start a course: “Work more and better for less salary”- who will attend?

Once we were giving a lecture. In the big hall there was a business seminar – hundreds of people there, applauding each-other: “Golden jubilee for you achieving this and this level of distributing and making money, etc.” And in a small little room there was a lecture about “Bhagavad Gita”: how to be selfless. Only few people were there. But some of them became vaishnavas.

Other times I met a young man on a lecture also and I have noticed that he is paying full attention. So after the lecture I approached him and asked: “Who are you and what is happening to you?” He was listening very nicely and I was talking, unusually one and a half hours to him; and when somehow I mentioned that we have to be humble, although he was standing like this for one and a half hours, paying full attention very humbly, when he heard “humility” he said: “Yes, I have to learn how to be humble.” Then I thought: “This is a bhakta.” And so it happened.

So, from certain attitudes, from certain signs you can understand what is happening. The majority of people are running after selfish ambitions. But those, who are touched by such an idea to be humble or selfless, this is a very good sign to cultivate more.

So those who sacrifice out of pride and with some ambition, they are called passionate. This selflessness is also mentioned in the Bible: your left hand should not know what is done by the right hand. So whatever you have given just forget it! Namaha.

And “Any sacrifice performed without regard for the directions of scripture, without distribution of spiritual food, without hymns and alms to the priests, and without faith is considered to be ignorant.”[2]

So if we generalize the different qualities – if you go against the tradition and if you have no faith that is ignorant.


[1] Bhagavad Gita 17.11-13

[2] Bhagavad Gita 17.13

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