Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha


(excerpts from a seminar of Swami Tirtha on the holy name, Ludashto, July 2013) 

(continues from the previous Monday)

Question: Before Mahaprabhu how was the holy name, krishna-nam present?

Swami Tirtha: The holy name was present more like Vishnu or Hari. It was named like hari-nam. But of course krishna-nam is always present. From the time of Jayadev Goswami, who lived in the 12th century, this loving mood, loving rasa is also very much stressed. And that means if it was available in the 12th century, it had a history before – it was a result of some cultivation. Nevertheless Mahaprabhu has focused our attention very much on the gopi mood approach to Krishna. Therefore we can say that our maha-mantra is very specific, because from the aishvarya mood it brings us to the rasic mood. And that is also in a hidden, covered way, because Radharani is not mentioned. Therefore our maha-mantra is considered a very high conception, because it is not open – it’s secretly mentioning the essence. Radhe Shyam is more open, because Radharani and Shyam are mentioned; in Hare Krishna – no direct mention of Radha. It’s a big jump from Narayan mood. Radhe-Shyam mantra is svakiya mantra – everything is open. Svakiya means ‘he is mine’ or ‘she is mine’. So everything is open – Radhika is there, Krishna is there. While in the Hare Krishna maha-mantra Radharani is not directly mentioned, and therefore this is considered parakiya mood – hidden, secret love.

Question of Yamuna: How was the Hare Rama mantra for Kali-yuga changed into Hare Krishna? And in which scripture this shift of Mahaprabhu is described?

Swami Tirtha: Hare Rama mantra is mentioned in the Kali-santarana Upanishad. It is described by Shrila Shridhara Maharaj that as an upanishad is a secret teaching, it’s not public, but then how to make a secret mantra public? You cannot. Therefore Mahaprabhu changed it to start with Hare Krishna for that reason, and then it became a public mantra.

Yamuna: So He followed the rule by going around it.

Swami Tirtha: Well, it’s a little more complicated than that. But one thing is for sure – mercy overcomes all the rules and difficulties. Therefore we have to apply this principle! Therefore we don’t consider a vaishnava according to the material qualities. Therefore we are not lost in the complicated intricacies of the different rituals. Why? Because by devotion and by the mercy of the maha-mantra everything is possible. So please, don’t forget this principle! We have a transcendental object in our hands! It comes from beyond! That might bring this extra power that we need to overcome the shortcomings.

Different sources lead us to this conception that by emotionally surcharged way we should approach and chant the names of God. What is the first mantra of the Shrimad Bhagavatam? Om namo bhagavate vasudevaya – this is like an invocation. But check the first shloka. Janmady asya – it’s also mentioned in the Vedanta Sutra. But what is most important here – satyam param dhimahi. This is the end of the first shloka – satyam param dhimahi – “Let’s meditate on the supreme absolute truth!”[1] And what is the last shloka of the Bhagavatam? Nama-sankirtanam yasya/ sarva-papa pranashanam/ pranamo duhkha-shamanas/ tam namami harim param – “The holy name of Shri Krishna can purify us from all sins, all shortcomings of character and all limitations. Therefore we should pay respects to the holy name.”[2] I think this is very remarkable – that from a general invitation to meditate over the supreme truth, we come to the understanding of ‘Chant the holy names!’ That also proves that it’s fully in harmony with Mahaprabhu’s mood. And actually chanting and propagating the holy name is also part of the yuga-dharma.

The different yugas were dominated by different gunas or qualities. Sattva in Satya-yuga is stability and it’s in ayshvarya mood, respectful. Kali-yuga is dominated by a total block-out of any deeper understanding, it’s full ignorance. But this is very beneficial for higher rasa. I told you that, please, build your Satya-yuga in the character – be focused on meditation, on tapas, simplicity, etc. Not in a historical way, but in a personal way.

Kripadham: I’d like to ask how – by developing these sattvic qualities in us – to keep our tamasic divine vision?

Swami Tirtha: No, don’t worry! Until you don’t have the divine blindness, don’t worry to develop your spiritual vision. But actually this is a question of deeper cultivation. Generally we can say that live according to dharma and think according to rasa. And not the other way round that live according to rasa and think according to dharma – that’s disgusting.

(to be continued)

[1] Shrimad Bhagavatam 1.1.1

[2] Shrimad Bhagavatam 12.13.23


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