Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 29.09.2017 evening, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Monday)

Many people try to achieve spiritual perfection through some ascetic practices. But what is the greatest ascetic practice? It is not when you fast if you like it; it is not when you invent how you will torture yourself. The greatest ascetic practice is to be obedient. Have you tried? It’s really difficult, I tell you. Of course! Because then it is not you who will decide – therefore it is difficult.

Other times it is suggested to make different vows in spiritual life – like you chant this number of mantras, and you make that number of sacrifices, and you make that number of offerings, and you invite that number of brahmins to feed – so mantra, tarpan, yagya, seva… it’s complicated. But it is also said in the shastras that if we nicely, obediently serve the spiritual master, it will bring much more happiness to our Lord Shri Krishna than all these complicated rituals. Krishna says: “I’m more satisfied if you serve a pure devotee than if you try to do other types of spiritual practices.” Therefore we have to be very intent and very committed in this respect. This should be our vow, our vrata. This is the door[1] of perfection.

But what kind of vrata? Simple, small, easy; or a grand, grandiose vrata? I think we need a maha-vrata! Do you agree? Shall we check what are the qualifications of a candidate for a maha-vrata? I don’t want to frustrate you, just to give some information. So, you agree with a happy face. I like this so much!

Baladev: It’s before the reading, Gurudev.

Swami Tirtha: Let’s see what happens after. “Maha-vrata – this is one special function and collection of qualities of yoga. So, the character of a yogi, who is a proper candidate for that grand vow is the following: it is necessary to practice the yama and niyama[2] rules; also the asana and pranayama; and then also the withdrawal – pratyahara; and then concentration – dharana; after that meditation – dhyana; and finally spiritual penetration – samadhi.”[3] We know that these are the eight principles of yoga, right?

So, the yama, or ‘the don’t do’s’, are the following: “We have to practice ahimsa, or nonviolence; then also truthfulness; we have to respect others’ properties; we have to compose ourselves in the relationships; and also we need not to depend on others” – not to receive too much from external sources, not to crave for donations or support. We can say that these are ‘the don’ts’; and let’s see what are the ‘do’s’ in spiritual life. “We have to practice purity; also we have to practice satisfaction, contentment; also a little renunciation; also we have to practice some studies; and finally – full and perfect dedication towards God Supreme.”

We can say that these are the ten commandments of yoga. Starting from ahimsa – don’t kill others! It’s a basic principle, but we have to tell it. And finally reaching up to ishvara-pranidhana – the total surrender to God Supreme. It’s quite a path, right? And recently the scientific side of psychology also comes closer to these ancient principles. For example there are these trainings for nonviolent communication, right? They are very popular! Starting from ahimsa; so it is not a scientific accomplishment, this is an entrance fee to a spiritual school. And I’m not very well informed in psychology, you are better informed: is there such a training where ishvara-pranidhana is explained? Maybe you can invent a new school. So, these are the ten commandments of yoga and those who are determined to practice all this, they are the candidates for this maha-vrata.

(to be continued)

[1] Gurudev makes a wordplay: in Bulgarian ‘vrata’ means ‘door’

[2] The moral codex of yoga

[3] Readings from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Leave a Reply