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Sharanagati

Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha




shelter

Let’s first start with the ideal of the ashram – what is the ashram for? We know the inner side of the ashram – the difficulties and the shortcomings, but we should always consider the feeling of people when they come to the ashram. Because we know how much difficulty is there to maintain, still when people come, they say: “Ah, this is an island of peace! This is the heavenly world!” People feel the shelter. And actually this is the main meaning of the ashram – to provide shelter. Sometimes devotees called the ashram like temple. But my feeling is like shelter. Temple has different function, ashram has different function.

Once Gurudev explained the three levels of the function of the ashram. The most general function for the widest circle is to provide general information: how to improve their lives, coming closer to sattvic standards and like this. And sometimes these functions do not happen in the ashram, because we have a cooking course outside, we have yoga, we have bhajans there – these are like a network, reaching people. So this is for the most general people, everybody is invited. If somebody wants to improve their life standards coming closer to the sattvic platform, we provide some information, some connection there.

The second, which is for a more limited circle, is to teach dharma, to teach the truth, to teach the teachings. For that reason we must provide lectures, programs, meetings, trainings. If somebody wants to learn about our faith, they should be provided. So, you can feel that it concerns a little less people, because less people are interested deeply.

And the third level function is to provide a real shelter for those who want to join. Like a home.

So, these are the three levels of the ashram and the most demand is expected from those who are there. Because we have to do the job. And of course others may help, but we try to serve people. Therefore we generate energy inside to distribute. So this is the structure of the field of the ashram – reaching general people, providing the knowledge and providing shelter.

Our motto is “slowly but steadily”. We don’t invite too many people to join the mission, but I want to provide for all those who have joined, a permanent place, so that they can find their future in the community of devotees.

Once I’ve heard a remark and I wonder what is your opinion. Once a temple president said: “We are so strong that in one year 70 percent of the people who joined the temple will go away.”

Comment: This is like in management – if so many people leave, it means something with the management is not okay.

Tirtha Maharaj: So, from this you can see that sometimes we are prone to explain our mistakes like achievements. If 70 percent of people who are coming to you in one year go away, think for yourself: what are you doing? Therefore we don’t invite hundreds, we invite few people – but we want them to stay. Because this is a lifelong engagement – for me. My understanding is that this is a lifelong commitment. And my motto when somebody visits the ashram or the temple is that they should never forget. It should be such a peaceful, such an elevated, such a spiritual experience, that it will always stay in their heart. This is not only the job of those who live in the ashram, but this is a general job. Whoever comes in contact with you, please be such nice persons, such nice vaishnavas, that everybody appreciates. This is my expectation towards devotees.

The ashram is a very important center of service and attention. You know that in Pecs we have ashram since ’92 practically unbroken. There was only half a year when we did not have ashram in Pecs. But that was horrible, everybody could feel the lack of the ashram. Of course worship was going on somehow, but this focus, this meeting point was just missing. And practically all the services were half-broken. Since that time everybody is working very hard for the ashram in Pecs, they never want to give it up again.

We are working on a long run, on a long term – not on the immediate success and then nothing. So steady service. Therefore we want to maintain that place and to provide the service to Mahaprabhu. Because actually what is the ashram – this is our center – center of our faith, center of our association, center of our service. If we have a focus, we are structured, if we don’t have a focus, everything is just running out. Therefore I ask everyone: please, help and serve this ashram very nicely!



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