Forums Forums New Age Ideologies Initiation

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    Ankita Pandey

    Hare Krishna, what is initiation?

    What if one just simply chants and follow regulative principles but never takes initiation then what is his position?

    Ashish Dalela

    Initiation is a formality.

    Nārada Muni did not perform an initiation ceremony for Dhruva. He just gave Druva a mantra to chant, which he chanted sincerely, and that was enough. Nor was Prahalāda initiated with a ceremony. He just heard from Nārada Muni while in the womb of his mother. He was still a child when he went back to his father, and just 5 years old when Narasimhadeva appeared to protect him from his father. Likewise, Gajendra did not get initiation. He just offered a flower to Lord Viśnu while he was about to be killed. Nārada Muni just asked Vālmīkī to chant “marā”. Jada Bharata was never initiated. He pretended to be a fool so that society will reject him.

    Arjuna was never initiated by Lord Kṛṣṇa. Arjuna just said: śiṣyas te ’haṁ śādhi māṁ tvāṁ prapannam, or that I am your disciple and surrendered to you, so please instruct me. Note the word śiṣya or disciple. Just by saying that I’m a disciple surrendered to you, initiation is done. Similarly, Sukadeva Goswami never performed a ceremony of initiation for Parikshit. Parikshit just fell before him, and asked him how to save himself in the next seven days. Srila Mādhavāchārya was instructed by Vyāsadeva, 4000 years after the disappearance of Vyāsadeva. No initiation ceremony was performed by Vyāsadeva for instructing Mādhavāchārya. Brahma was instructed in the heart by inspiration, and he is ādi-kavi or “original poet”. Lord Visnu did not perform an initiation ceremony for Brahma.

    Formerly, every person in the upper three classes underwent 16 purificatory ceremonies from the time before conception. There was a garbhādhāna samskāra or a pregnancy ceremony, where the married couple will announce that they were going to have sex to conceive a child. Everyone would be invited, a fire sacrifice would be performed, and Brahmanas were given charity so that they will bless the couple to have a good child. Similarly, there was an annaprāśana samksāra when the newborn child was given some grain for the first time, implying that the child is now weaning off the mother’s milk. At every new stage in life, such as going to study in a gurukula, getting graduated, getting married, and so on, there was some purificatory ceremony being performed. One of these ceremonies was when the child was to start chanting the Gayathri mantra. It was routine, or one of the 16 ceremonies purificatory during the course of one’s life. It was not a big thing.

    Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati reduced all these to just 2 ceremonies, and Srila Prabhupada continued with that system. These are just purificatory samskāra. It was a kind of social custom earlier. Of course, these are not meaningless activities. But not more meaningful than chanting the Lord’s names. It was a system of formalization by calling people first-initiated, second-initiated, etc. These things are required for institutions. Some rules, regulations, formalities, and rituals.

    Some people gave it too much importance like it was a graduation ceremony, and those initiated were somehow “superior” to those who were not. Those second-initiated were somehow “superior” to those first-initiated. People created a hierarchical system, quite like companies give their employees titles. Even today, those who were initiated by Srila Prabhupada consider themselves superior to those that followed. Then some people think they get extra bragging rights because they have been initiated by a more powerful guru. I don’t know if they ever read books or try to compare what is described in Srimad Bhāgavatam or other texts to their life. Most people are not reading. And those who read don’t pay attention to it.

    Anyway, we should just remember two things. One, from a spiritual perspective, initiation is when you start following the instruction of the perfect person. Two, there is a social custom carried forward from purificatory ceremonies of the past. These two are not connected. But some people have not only connected them but also given them a high level of importance. This is the age of kali-yuga. Brahmana will be identified not by knowledge, but just by wearing a thread. Likewise, devotees will be identified not by devotion, but simply by performing a ceremony.

    Ankita Pandey

    Hari bol!!! Well understood.


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