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Process of initiation
by Srila B.B. Tirtha Goswami Maharaja

The words 'Initiation' in the west and 'Diksha' in India are not synonymous. The words do not express completely the same meaning. India's spiritual characteristics and cultures are intrinsically different from the cultures prevalent in other countries in this world. Very often Indians find difficulty in using appropriate words to express their thoughts in other languages. This is because of the prevalence of materialistic way of thinking in other countries outside India.

Even after about sixty years of independence, we are to face dominance of the western culture in India and day by day the influence of foreign culture is increasing.

To understand the implication of spiritual thoughts peculiar to India, it seems necessary to introduce some words in their languages. As per English Oxford dictionary, 'Initiation' means: admitting or introducing somebody to membership of a group etc, often by means of a special ceremony e.g. initiate somebody into a religious sect, secret society, etc. By the word 'initiation', externally it seems to be at par with 'diksha' for mentioning the words group, religious sect and secret society.

The definition of 'diksha' is given in Hari-bhakti-vilas referring evidence from 'Vishnujamala':

divyam jnanam yato dadyat
kuryat papasya samksayam
tasmat dikseti sa prokta
desikais tattva kovidaih

'The procedure by which self-effulgent knowledge (Divine Knowledge) is conferred, eradicates the cause of all sins and because of that it is stated as 'diksha' by the wise who have realized the Divinity.' In the word diksha, the knowledge is divine and self-effulgent, which indicates that self-effulgent knowledge descends through bona fide preceptorial channel from Supreme Lord.

Sin is the cause of sufferings. Cause of sin is desire for committing sin. Misconception of self is the cause of desire for committing sin. Nescience is the cause of misconception of self and aversion to Absolute Knowledge is the cause of nescience. So the root cause of sin is aversion to Sree Krishna, Who is All-Existence, All-Knowledge and All-Bliss. This Divine Knowledge only can be imparted by a bona fide Guru, the absolute-counterpart and grace-incarnate form of Supreme Lord. This implication of diksha is not clearly mentioned in the word initiation. Divine knowledge descends to a completely surrendered soul through revelation. One who has got realization of Supreme Lord can impart that self-effulgent knowledge to others also, provided the aspirant has complete submission to Lord and His Absolute Counterpart Guru. Conditioned souls of the world are not eligible to impart or to get that Transcendental Divine Knowledge.

Initiator Guru must have two qualifications as mentioned in Mundaka Sruti are (1) Srotriyam- Well-versed in Sruti sastras- the Vedas and other allied scriptures, another interpretation of Srotriyam is- blessed by the descent of the Divine knowledge through preceptorial channel and (2) Brahma-Nistham- must have realization of Divinity. Only academic or theoretical knowledge is not sufficient, he must have practical realization also.

After eight million births we have got this precious human birth, Supreme Lord is pleased by creating human beings because human beings have got the discriminating power between eternal and non-eternal, good deeds and bad deeds, they have got the capability to worship Lord. But other living beings have got no such conscience, discriminating power. So it is said 'Shubhasya shighram, ashubhasya kalaharanam'- when there will be good desire, we should do it immediately, otherwise later there might be some hindrance and obstacle to it and when there will be evil desire, you should make late to do it, you should not do it immediately- this is Ravana's advice to Lakshman. There is no guarantee that next we shall get human birth.

It is stated in the Gita (8.6):

yam yam vapi smaran bhavam tyajaty ante kalevaram
tam tam evaiti kaunteya sada tad-bhava-bhavitah

Whatever we shall think at the time of death, we shall get birth accordingly. The votary should have firm faith in God- Supreme Lord Sri Krishna. Supreme Lord is One, He cannot be many. Even a particle cannot be outside Krishna. He is the only sustainer and maintainer. By serving Him we serve all. If we pour water at the root of the tree, all parts of the tree will be nourished, if we give food to the stomach, all parts of the body will be nourished, like that we should have firm faith- by serving Him we serve all. Without serving Him, Who is the Prime Cause of all causes, we can neither do any good to ourselves nor to others, but only the valuable time of precious human birth will be unnecessarily wasted.

Krishna has stated in the Gita (9.24) - 'aham hi sarva-yajnanam bhokta ca prabhur eva ca'- I am the only Master and Enjoyer. Srila Rupa Goswami has stated in 'Sri Laghubhagvatamrita':

Visnos tu trini rupani purushakhyany atho viduh
ekam tu mahatah srashtri dvitiyam tv anda-samsthitam
tritiyam sarva-bhuta-stham tani jnatva vimucyate

Here in this world we see male and female living beings, but actual Purush (male) is Supreme Lord and all living beings are the outcome of His energy (prakriti), tatastha sakti (marginal potency). When we see Supreme Lord as Purush (male) then we will be delivered from this maya, we shall have no desire to enjoy this world.

The aspirant should associate with bona fide sadhu to get firm faith in God and worship God with different devotional forms to satisfy Him- mainly nine forms of devotion of which Nama-sankirtan is the best. We are to accept that which is congenial for His service and give up that which is prohibited viz. gambling, any kind of intoxication, illicit connection with women, eating meat, onion, garlic etc. which increase raja-guna and tama-guna such as onion, garlic etc. Harinam is medicine, remedy of the disease and food should be Prasad- so that which cannot be offered to God, we cannot take. This basis should be there before taking Harinam initiation. In addition, we should observe devotional vows viz. Ekadasi tithi, Janmashtami tithi, Advent Anniversary of Gauranga Mahaprabhu, Narasingha Chaturdasi, etc. We should wear Tulasi (holy basil) neck beads.

There are two kinds of Guru- (1) 'So-called guru' who initiates to get worldly benefits for himself and his disciples. A bona fide Guru does not think himself as Guru while giving mantra to disciples. Outwardly it is seen that somebody is giving mantra and instruction and some persons are taking mantra for worship of God. But actually a real Guru never makes disciples with the ego of being Guru. He always serves his object of worship. Krishna is highly satisfied if those conditioned souls who are averse to Him, accept rules and regulations to serve Him.

This kind of showing the actual path of eternal welfare to the aspirants or votaries is the greatest service of Krishna. Outside person by seeing the ceremony may think that one is giving mantra as Guru and other is taking mantra as disciple. True eternal servant of Krishna, wherever they may stay, their ultimate goal is to serve Krishna and His devotees and not for any other ulterior motives. There is a gulf of difference between a bona fide Guru and a pseudo guru- one is serving Krishna, his target is to satiate Krishna and other's motive is to get mundane non-eternal benefit.

Those who give mantra with mundane ulterior motives are to suffer for the sinful acts of the disciples because they are not doing it for Supreme Lord's satisfaction. But the surrendered souls who are giving mantra as per direction of Guru and Gauranga for Their satisfaction, cannot get the fruits of the sinful actions of the so-called disciples. As God is Omniscient and controller of the fruits of actions, so nobody can deceive Him.

Conditioned souls who are entangled by illusory energy are unable to remove their non-eternal desires imbibed in their hearts after passing through numerous births. It is not possible for them to remove the previous bad impressions by their own efforts. But if they take shelter to the lotus feet of a bona fide Guru without deceitfulness, by Guru's grace their spiritual life will be successful. Even Krishna has given warning in the Gita (9.30):

api cet su-duracaro bhajate mam ananya-bhak
sadhur eva sa mantavyah samyag vyavasito hi sah

A devotee who has taken absolute shelter to Supreme Lord Sri Krishna and does not stop worshipping Krishna steadfastly, in case does any abominable action due to the pressure of his previous bad impressions caused by bad actions, should not be condemned or censured for his evil deed, because he will have serious repentance for his bad actions, he will pray continuously to Lord to forgive him for the offence.

This verse- this pithy saying of Krishna proves how much love he has got for the neophyte votaries who want to worship Him sincerely from the core of their hearts. Lord has directed his personal associate Arjuna to declare with pledge in the whole universe to all other forms of worshippers, Karmi, Jnani, Yogi etc. and worshippers of all other demigods that His worshipper will never be ruined, instead he will become a great saint at the earliest and he will get eternal bliss.

In this connection this is to be seriously noted that offence of a hypocrite will never be forgiven, because his prayer to the Lord is only an outward show, he cheats himself and cheats others. He does not want eternal welfare. A deceitful person is ever doomed. It is already stated earlier, 'Shubhasya Shighram, ashubhasya kalaharanam'.
There is no guarantee that we shall get human birth after our present birth. Why one should take risk. Atleast if you do worship sincerely for some years in the company of Sadhus, the association will not go in vain. That good impression sometimes may not remain permanently- but the momentum of good ideas in the heart will come again with greater velocity.

So it is better to start bhajan immediately rather than not doing anything. Take absolute shelter and pray to Nityananda Prabhu and Gauranga Mahaprabhu. They have come to rescue all and give the highest Krishna prema to all, without consideration. Utter their names and pray to Them. It is the nature of Supreme Lord to rescue the surrendered souls. He has said in the Gita (6.40), 'Na hi kalyana krit kascid durgatim tata gacchati'- 'A sincere soul will never be deceived.'



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