Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha


Our topic for today is the “Bhagavad Gita”, the Song Divine. Let’s start with a little exposition of the “Bhagavad Gita”. This is something that we all have read many times, but I have to tell you, whenever I open the “Gita” it brings some new message for me. So if we can accept that this is a divine revelation, then it will start to touch our heart and give some effect on our realization.

Nevertheless I think it’s useful to try to find the place of the “Bhagavad Gita” in the ancient tradition of mystic India. This is like an encyclopedia of divine truths. We can say: as many people, ас many opinions about the “Gita”. Some admire it as a divine revelation, others study or consider it as a scientific topic, still others don’t really comprehend what it’s all about. We have to decide which group we belong to. My suggestion is that we should belong to the group of admirers.

And as we belong to a school of divine knowledge of Indian tradition, if you want to prove something or if you want to discuss any topic, you have to give some references. What is this Indian system of philosophical reference? This is called prasthana-traya, the three types of reference. The first reference should be based on revelation. This is called the shruti. And the reference precisely here – these are the Upanishads. One main body of the Vedic revelation is the Upanishad literature. There are a lot of different Upanishads but mainly they consider 108 as major ones. So this is one main reference – whenever you want to study, prove or disprove anything, you have to quote from the Upanishads.

The second body of reference is the sacred tradition – this is the smriti side. And from the vast smriti literature, the most important is the “Gita” itself. So shruti means something that you hear – in this way the divine revelation reaches the humans. And smriti concerns the human reflection or remembrance, memory. You have smaranam as one main practice of spiritual life.

Now we have two basic pillars of our discussion – the Upanishads and the “Gita” – and the third body of reference is the “Vedanta Sutra”. This is called the logical reference. So, you have one revelation, you have one traditional and you have one logical.

What is the meaning of Upanishad? Upanishad means secret teachings. And also if you examine the Sanskrit word, it means “to sit close by”. Where should we sit? We should sit close to a master. Then by this being close to a master, to a person who is very close to the truth, you can also take some of this truth, some of this revelation. And in this way the secrets are revealed to a practitioner – if he or she is close to his/her master.


(to be continued)

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