Initiation Defined


“A disciple means one who is always following the orders of the spiritual master. So I instruct my disciples to refrain from four prohibitions, namely no eating of meat, fish or eggs, no illicit sex life, no taking of intoxication, including tea, coffee, cigarettes, etc., and no gambling. Besides that my students must chant sixteen rounds of japa-mala of Hare Krsna mantra daily. So if you are able to follow these principles without fail, then you are as good as my disciple. And after you have practiced these things for a few months’ time, then we can see to your formal initiation.” (Letter to Suresh Candra — London 11 August, 1972)

“An initiated devotee is given the chance for becoming free from the entanglement of karma wheel. Initiated means beginning, not perfection. The Spiritual Master’s business is to guide him to the perfectional point. But if one does not strictly follow the guidance of a bonafide Spiritual Master his initiation does not bear any meaning. The initiation performance is an agreement by the disciples to abide by the order of the Spiritual Master. Therefore, if the Spiritual Master is bonafide and the disciple is serious to abide by His order, then the success is sure.” (Letter, January 11, 1970)

“As Kṛṣṇa takes away all the sinful reactions of a person immediately upon his surrender unto Him, similarly the external manifestation of Kṛṣṇa, the representative of Kṛṣṇa who acts as the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, takes all the resultant actions of the sinful life of the disciple immediately after the disciple’s initiation. Thus if the disciple follows the principles instructed by the spiritual master, he remains purified and is not contaminated by the material infection.” (SB 4.21.31)

“A disciple means who voluntarily agrees to be disciplined by the spiritual master. When one becomes disciple, he cannot disobey the order of the spiritual master. […] “I am now surrendered to You, and I agree voluntarily to accept Your ruling.” This is the relationship between the spiritual master and the disciple.” (Lecture on Bhagavad-gita 2.11 — Mexico, February 11, 1975)

“This is the process of initiation. The disciple must admit that he will no longer commit sinful activity […] He promises to execute the order of the spiritual master. Then, the spiritual master takes care of him and elevates him to spiritual emancipation.(C.c. Madhya, 24.256, purport)

“Initiation is a formality. If you are serious, that is real initiation. My touch is simply a formality. It is your determination, that is initiation.” (“The Search for the Divine”, Back To Godhead #49)

Devotee: How important is formal initiation?

Srila Prabhupada: Formal initiation means to accept officially to abide by the orders of Krishna and his representative. That is formal initiation.  (Lecture, 22/2/73, Auckland)

“So one has to accept a spiritual master whose guidance will make his life perfect. That is the relation between spiritual master and disciple. It is not a formality. It is a great responsibility both for the disciple and for the spiritual master.” (Lecture: Bhagavad-gita 2.7-11 — New York, March 2, 1966)

“Well, initiation or no initiation, first thing is knowledge… knowledge. Initiation is formality. Just like you go to a school for knowledge, and admission is formality. That is not very important thing.” (Interview, 16/10/76, Chandigarh)

“So anyway, from 1922 to 1933 practically I was not initiated, but I got the impression of preaching Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s cult. That I was thinking. And that was the initiation by my Guru Maharaja.” (Lecture, 10/12/76, Hyderabad)

“…disciplic succession does not always mean that one has to be initiated officially. Disciplic succession means to accept the disciplic conclusion.” (Letter to Dinesh, 31/10/69)

“The chanting of Hare Krishna is our main business, that is real initiation. And as you are all following my instruction, in that matter, the initiator is already there.

Now the next initiation will be performed as a ceremony officially, of course that ceremony has value because the name, Holy Name, will be delivered to the student from the disciplic succession, it has got value, but in spite of that, as you are going on chanting, please go on with this business sincerely and Krishna willing, I may be coming to you very soon.” (Letter — 19/8/68)

“…unless there is discipline, there is no question of disciple. Disciple means one who follows the discipline.” (Morning walk, 8/3/76, Mayapur)

“If one does not observe the discipline, then he is not disciple.” (S.B. Lecture, 21/1/74)

“Diksa 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 diksa.” (C.c. Madhya, 15.108, purport)

“In other words, the spiritual master awakens the sleeping living entity to his original consciousness so that he can worship Lord Visnu. This is the purpose of diksa, or initiation. Initiation means receiving the pure knowledge of spiritual consciousness.” (C.c. Madhya, 9.61, purport)

“Diksa actually means initiating a disciple with transcendental knowledge by which he becomes freed from all material contamination.” (C.c. Madhya, 4.111, purport)

Srila Prabhupada: Who is my disciple? First of all let him follow strictly the disciplined rules.

Disciple: As long as they are following, then he is…

Srila Prabhupada: Then he is all right.

(Morning walk, 13/6/76, Detroit)


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