August 2020
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Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha


(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, May 2013, Sofia) 
(continues from the previous Friday)
We continue our readings from Shrila Shridhara Maharaj, The Purest Prayer.
The question comes: “Maharaj, also regarding Tulasi Devi – I noticed that at this math, while circumambulating Tulasi during her arati, here, the devotees don’t like to chant the mantra yani kani ca papani brahma-hatyadikani ca, tani tani pranasyanti pradaksinah pade pade (“Those who circumambulate Shrimati Tulasi Devi step by step destroy whatever sins they have committed, even the killing of a brahmana”). Why is this?”[1]
You see, conditioning works in a very strong manner. At first we have no idea about the botanical science of India. Then we understand that some plants are considered sacred. Then we learn that some plants should be worshiped like this and like that. Then if we meet a temple where that sacred plant is worshiped in a different way, we are surprised. So, from absolutely conditioned dullness,you come to the condition that ‘it should be like that and not any other way’. And if you find that it is in another way, then you are surprised: ‘How come!? My knowledge should be followed.’ You might consider this like an insignificant question, but it is not. 
The answer of Shrila Shridhar Maharaj: “A devotee of higher order must not have any prayer to “Absolve me from sins”. Practically all other religions first try to teach people, and this is their maximum achievement: “Please, try to excuse yourself for your sins!” Yet Shridhar Maharaj says: “The first class devotee is not concerned with such insignificant things – reactions of my sinful activities.” 
“The first class devotee would pray: “Whatever I have done wrong, I am ready to suffer for that to the farthing. But my prayer is only that I may get a drop of the nectar of the favor of Krishna.” That should be the prayer of a real devotee: according to my karma I may be a bird, I may be a beast, I may be a worm or an insect, I may be in heaven or in hell – I don’t care about that. According to my own karma, let me suffer accordingly. But my only prayer is, “Let me not be devoid of the favor of Krishna; let me get that. I want His grace; I want devotion for Him. Only devotion – that is all I want. Whether I have to enjoy the result of my good works in heaven, or I have to suffer for the misdeeds of my previous life and go to hell, I don’t care to get out of that. As a result of my karma I shall have to suffer or enjoy, but I don’t care about that. My prayer is not to remove the reactions to my sins, to take away any good merit or bad result – but only that I may obtain pure devotion independent of these two.”
You see the upgrade of devotional thinking? Because whether we want to enjoy some heavenly benefits or we want to avoid our reactions, the story is still about us. ‘It’s me! The story starts and ends with me.’ But what is that – is this our religion? ‘I’m in the focus of my religion.’ No! The upgrade is: ‘Whatever I have to face, please provide me Your connection!’ That also means that even in hell you can practice bhakti-yoga. I am not sure that in heaven you would be able to follow, because the lifestyle there is too mild, too nice. But at least here, I mean at least in hell we can have some motivation. 
(to be continued)
1. The Golden staircase, Ch. 3 The Purest Prayer, by Shrila Shridhar Maharaj

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