Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha


(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 05.01.2016, morning, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday)

Of the three types of devotional service let’s discuss the first one: “Practice means employing our senses in some particular type of work. Therefore devotional service in practice means utilizing our different sensory organs in the service to Krishna. Some of the senses are meant for acquiring knowledge and some are meant for executing the conclusions of our thinking, feeling and willing. So practice means employing both the mind and the senses in practical devotional service. There are certain prescribed methods of employing our senses and mind in such a way that our dormant consciousness of loving Krishna will be invoked, as much as a child with a little practice can begin to walk. One who has no basic walking capacity cannot walk by practice. Similarly Krishna consciousness cannot be aroused simply by practice. When we wish to develop our innate capacity for devotional service, there are certain processes which – by our accepting and executing them – will cause the dormant capacity to be invoked. Such practice is called sadhana-bhakti.”[1]

Sadhana. I think we all know many features of sadhana-bhakti. Many times it is stressed that it’s very important to follow all the rules and regulations and all the prescriptions that are given to us. Why? Because if we agree on some points, on some basic principles in life and if we follow them, then we are protected. If we agree on the point that ‘The goal of my life is to achieve pure devotion’, then practically we have to agree that we shall do everything possible to achieve this goal. That is sadhana. One part of sadhana is to take a bath. This is not the goal. The goal of life is not to take a bath every morning. But without that sooner or later you will be stinking. If we purify our body, then automatically mind is also purified – to a certain extent. And then with this purified body and cool mind it’s easier to focus on our practice.

Therefore all this basic information on the daily necessities of life is meant in order to facilitate your practice. In the same way eating is a very popular habit in human life. We repeat this practice quite a few times per day. And if you are very careful about feeding your car with the proper fuel, you have to be careful about what fuel you provide to your body. In England for example, more than 20000 people feed their cars with a wrong fuel – into a diesel car they put petrol or vice versa. And some engines work, other engines don’t work after such a shocking experience. But this is not the topmost mistake of a person; once I heard that somebody put the liquid for cleaning the screen into the tank – that was a total disaster. Even the people in the car-repair service were astonished. They’ve never seen such a case before.

So, we commit mistakes from time to time. But we have to be careful about these very basic things – what we eat. Why feed our body with the wrong fuel? And we are not satisfied with simply a sattvic alternative. Because the pigeons are very sattvic in eating as well. They are eating only some grains, but we don’t consider them a very high type spiritual authority. Or a monkey for example – he is eating only bananas, but he is not the main acharya. So simply the sattvic alternative is not enough; we need sanctified food – that is the proper fuel for the body and the soul.

Sadhana-bhakti also includes certain ritualistic part, like puja should be done like this, chanting should be done like that. And this is very important to learn all the rules and practices – just to tame the wild animal first. Then when you obtain your control, you can go further in your finer cultivation.

Mahadev: Gurudev, my question is about this veganism that is so popular nowadays. How do we as vaishnavas refer to it?

Swami Tirtha: This vegan lifestyle I consider a sattvic alternative – which is not bad in that respect. But we consider the prasadam principle a higher principle. Simply to avoid certain foodstuff will not save you. But to be connected in this divine circulation of energies by offering and receiving – that will save you.

And what can we do – our dear Krishna appeared as a cowherd boy! He likes butter. That is His preference.

So if somebody wants to practice the vegan lifestyle, I think we should encourage him: “Go ahead! This will purify you on sattvic and karmic platform to a certain extent.” But we should understand that sacrifice is a higher principle than diet. And if we sacrifice so to say our food, then it’s a different type of practice than simply avoiding this or that type of foodstuff.


(to be continued)

[1] Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 2



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