Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha

eye to eye

(continues from the previous Friday)

The next point is “Don’t submit to sadness or depression”. Don’t give yourself to that. You should avoid this, it is not favorable for your practices. So, the previous one was: ”Don’t overestimate yourself”, now “Don’t underestimate yourself”. This is the same egotism with another extreme. ‘I’m your best servant!’ or ‘I am the most fallen servant!’ – the same egotism is there: ‘At least in some respect I am the best!’ And it really happened. Once Srila Prabhupad came to one center and he saw a devotee and he didn’t know his name or engagement, so he asked: “Who are you, my dear?” and he said: “Oh, Prabhupad, I am your most insignificant servant”. But Prabhupad looked at him and said: “Sorry, you are not the most in any respect”. So, if you over- or underestimate yourself, this is not proper. Don’t submit to sadness, don’t think you are unable to reach the goal.

Then the next point is “Don’t worship or neglect the demigods”. So, that means respect the faith and the tradition of others. And something very important is added here: “Don’t criticize others”. This applies especially very much in India. Don’t criticize what you don’t understand. If you go to India, this is point number one that you have to memorize: “Don’t criticize that you don’t understand”. Then you will not commit any aparadha. Why should we avoid criticism of others? Because our mind has an all acquiring nature – in such a way that you chew the mistakes of others, and in this way the mistakes will penetrate your system. And even if we don’t pay too much attention to criticism, the mistakes of others will not help us. So, don’t criticize. At the same time a very practical definition of Krishna consciousness is that you isolate yourself from stupidity. So, to isolate yourself from some nonsense is not a criticism. Clear, you follow?

The next point says: “Don’t listen to the criticism of Vishnu or the vaishnavas”. So, don’t listen to the bad words about Vishnu or the vaishnavas. You can avoid that by different processes, I won’t mention the violent ones. But there is a non-violent way also: Leave! Leave! ‘Sorry, I am engaged. I have some more rounds to chant. Sorry! I have no time for this.’ Should I tell you the soft violent way? Always have a ladhu in your pocket and as soon as somebody starts to criticize, you fill up their mouth with prasadam and they should stop speaking. The more violent ways I don’t mention here.

The last but one point says: “Don’t listen or read worldly stories”. All this is considered gramya-katha. That means village katha, stupid affairs. All the time the same thing is happening – same problems, same false solutions that people come with and it’s always the same. Nothing is new under the sun. People are limited by their emotions, by their knowledge, by their practices. Some cry because they don’t have a husband, but after some time others cry because they have a husband. Some cry: ‘I have no job!’, others cry: ‘I have a job!’ No end of gramya-katha. But don’t be engaged in this. Instead of gramya-katha we should have Krishna-katha. Instead of worldly affairs we should focus on the divine affairs. And what is the most popular topic on the worldly platform? These are the love affairs. Most people, I mean practically everybody thinks that the best story is “Romeo and Juliet”. No, the best story is “Radha and Shyam”! Their love story is eternal. What happened to Romeo and Juliet? Both died! But what happen to Radha and Shyam? It’s never ending. So, we should substitute the insignificant with something higher. Worldly affairs are reflections of something higher, a fake reflection. All things must pass, don’t forget. So, don’t be engaged in the impermanent and focus more and more on the spiritual, on the divine.

And finally the tenth unfavorable practice that should be avoided says: “Don’t give any trouble to any living beings neither by words, thoughts, or action”. So, if we want to cultivate our spiritual practice in a favorable way, we should try to avoid all these mistakes.

Question of Manjari: You said that the tenth recommendation is not to give troubles to any living being with words, thoughts and action. But in the material sphere it happens unwillingly. Is there any way to make it in a most soft way, at least not to do it more than we really have to?

Swami Tirtha: By sharing this life on this planet Earth we are forced to associate with others, we are put together here – with all the positive and the negative aspects. But the more we are purified the less harm we shall give. There is one very high expectation in the “Gita” where Krishna says that “A completely purified soul loves everyone and everybody loves him”[1]. I had seen the first part, but the second part I haven’t seen yet. I had seen such persons who have this very positive, very loving approach to everything around them, but even they have some opponents and critics. So, it’s very difficult to come to that platform. But the more we are purified, the less harm we shall give. So, we should be engaged in positive service and then automatically the mistakes or the shortcomings will diminish.

And you know, sometimes the system is very subtle. There was one story – unfortunately I don’t remember exactly how it was – but somebody while in his contemplation thought of Krishna in a very jolly way. When Krishna was playing, He was showing such a nice feature that he started to laugh. And while he was laughing, outside on the street there was a crippled devotee. And he thought that: ‘Hey, somebody is laughing at me, at my problem!’ So, immediately the meditation of the other was broken, because somebody was offended by his expression. And all of a sudden he started to search: ‘Oh, I had made some mistake. What is the mistake?’ And he couldn’t find the explanation for the mistake, because there were no mistakes around. Finally he turned to this crippled person and then he understood that it was like a misunderstanding. He thought that he is being laughed at due to his condition, although it was not the situation.

So, in order to be sensitive for such subtle feelings we have to be very purified. What else can we do? Let’s chant our rounds and do our services, because this will purify us so much so that we commit fewer mistakes around. But Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura said that: “Oh, I know I had committed so many mistakes towards you. I had offended you so many times. But there was only one reason for doing that – to help you become more conscious about our Lord.” So if our superiors give us some, so to say, troubles, this is for a good reason.


[1] Bhagavad Gita 5.7


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