What is diksa (initiation)?
Srila Jiva Gosvami explains diksa in his Bhakti-sandarbha (283):
divyaṁ jñānaṁ yato dadyāt
kuryāt pāpasya saṅkṣayam
tasmāt dīkṣeti sā proktā
“Dīkṣā is the process by which one can awaken his transcendental knowledge and vanquish all reactions caused by sinful activity. A person expert in the study of the revealed scriptures knows this process as dīkṣā.”
How important is diksa?
Guru Tattva, or the truth about the spiritual master, is one of the most important item in Krishna Consciousness.
Srila Prabhupada mentions the Hari-bhakti-vilāsa (2.6) quoting the following injunction from the Visnu-yamala:
kṛtaṁ sarvaṁ nirarthakam
“Unless one is initiated by a bona fide spiritual master, all his devotional activities are useless. A person who is not properly initiated can descend again into the animal species.”
According to Srila Rupa Gosvami is the most important item, so much so that in the Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu he writes down the 64 most important disciplines in the bhakti, and the acceptance of a bonafide Guru are the first five.
(1) accepting the shelter of the lotus feet of a bona fide spiritual master,
(2) becoming initiated by the spiritual master and learning how to discharge devotional service from him,
(3) obeying the orders of the spiritual master with faith and devotion,
(4) following in the footsteps of great ācāryas (teachers) under the direction of the spiritual master,
(5) inquiring from the spiritual master how to advance in Kṛṣṇa consciousness,
Furthermore Srila Prabhupada says:
“Yes, there is definitely a vast difference between initiated and non-initiated. One who is initiated is authorized, and one who is not initiated is not authorized.”
Letter to Satsvarupa, Los Angeles, 14 November 1968
Therefore those who think that can advance in spiritual life without accepting a bonafide spiritual master, learn and serve him, is simply deluding himself.
About second initiation
Second initiation is important. Srila Prabhupada quotes Srila Sanatana Gosvami and Srila Jiva Gosvami (Hari Bhakti Vilasa 2.3-4 and Bhakti Sandharbha 238):
syāc copanayanād anu
nādhikāro ’sty ataḥ kuryād
“Even though born in a brāhmaṇa family, one cannot engage in Vedic rituals without being initiated and having a sacred thread. Although born in a brāhmaṇa family, one becomes a brāhmaṇa only after initiation and the sacred thread ceremony. Unless one is initiated as a brāhmaṇa, one cannot worship the holy name properly.”
Initiation is when the Guru accepts you verbally or when formal initiation happens?
You first ask the Guru to accept you. The moment he says yes, you are his disciple and you should act as one.
However formal initiation must be there, so much so that the Guru arranges for a fire ceremony.
If it was “just a formality”, meaning useless, then Srila Prabhupada wouldn’t have initiated all his disciples with a fire ceremony and he himself wouldn’t have been initiated with a fire ceremony.
During the fire ceremony you become officially a member of the Brahma Madhva Gaudiya Sampradaya and will receive the blessings of the Acaryas and of the Lord.
Verbal acceptance by the Guru and formal ceremony is one thing, and both are necessary steps.
This is just a glimpse of a very large topic. Also in the future we’ll deal with the topic if by chanting Hare Krishna one could skip all the steps of accepting a spiritual master, taking initiation and so forth or not.
– Manonatha Dasa (ACBSP)
26 may 2019