How to take Diksha (Initiation) and become a disciple of a guru (spiritual master) in ISKCON?
Actual Question from three devotees:
(1) A Girl devotee asked like this (Name hidden):
“Prabhuji I want deeksha. Can you tell me about the process regarding it?”
(2) A male devotee who requested anonymity asked like this:
“prabhu ji hare krishna,I am ……………. and i am doing ………….. prabhu ji i need your help.Prabhu ji i am taking classes of personality development from iskcon temple,………….(place hidden). prabhu ji i want to be a disciple of a spiritual master. can you tell me how to do so. I do have some health related problems like thaellasemia,and also a bit alone in my life.I want to get connected with krishna and remove all sorrows of my life. if you will post this as a counseling on your page kindly do not post my name. hare krsna
(3) A devotee who requested anonymity asked like this:
“Hare Krishna…i’v been visiting ISKCON temple from quite sometime…i would really appreciate if you let me know how to acquire Diksha in the temple??? As i want to offer prayers to the Lord systematically or in a correct manner…so whom do i approach for Diksha and how??? I’l be really helped if you reply to this with my name hidden…Hare Krishna”
Yes, a spiritual master is meant to relieve us from this material bondage and he is responsible for our going back to Godhead. But, this is possible for a guru only when the disciple follows all his instructions. Actually, just accepting a spiritual master as a ritual need not relieve you from miseries. You have many responsibilities and commitments to fulfil as a disciple.
First, we have to ascertain ourselves whether we are qualified to accept a guru. Srila Prabhupada has simplified those things and has given us a simple formula for purifying us.
(1) First he recommends a person to chant Hare Krishna Maha Manthra and to stage by stage increase the number of chanting. This chanting should not be ritualistic, but sincere and from heart without diversions. If a devotee likes to accept a guru, he/ she must be chanting Hare Krishna 16 rounds daily atleast for the past one year.
You may have to take SIKSHA first, for one round, four round, 8 rounds and 16 rounds, stage by stage. If the temple president/ manager is convinced with your determination, he may directly go to the next siksha stage bypassing any lower stage. So, you can fast come to the stage of 16 rounds.
During this SIKSHA process, you have to visit the temple as regularly as possible and do some possible services to the Lord and His devotees in the temple.
(2) Second requirement is following regulative principles. If a person eats meat, involve in gambling activities, smoke or drink or use narcotics or coffee/ tea, and have some illicit sexual relations, he should avoid accepting a guru before quitting them.
(3) Third requirement is having sathsangha at the nearest ISKCON temple regularly and do some possible services there.
(4) Fourth requirement is to worship Krishna daily at home and offer food to Krishna daily and honour only prasadam. The devotee is expected to offer Mangal arati and other aratis in their home and offer food to Krishna regularly and honour only prasadam. He should not take food from outside except from devotees, except under extreme circumstances.
(5) Fifth requirement is to select from which guru you like to take initiation and why? You should know well about your aspiring guru before accepting him. You can also follow him directly and know about him.
(6) Sixth requirement is to convey your wish to accept that guru to your temple president or manager. He will recommend your name if he is convinced that you are following devotional practices sincerely. He will offer some training in the spiritual practices and also suggest some corrections in your approach and follow up of devotion. After getting convinced about your preparedness, he will recommend your name to the spiritual master. Then, you will be given shelter from that guru first whenever he arranges ceremony. After one year of getting shelter, you will become eligible to get initiation from him.
Every spritual master offer initiation on particular occasions/ festivals, or during their visits to the temples. There will be a ritual called DIKSHA YAGNA in which your master gives you HARINAM INITIATION and accepts you as his disciple. He chants on a chanting mala and give that to you. It is believed that HE INVITES KRISHNA ON THESE BEADS AND GIVE TO YOU. In other words, HE GIVES KRISHNA HIMSELF TO YOU.
Of late, a simple written test is also given for the aspiring devotees. You will be given training classes in your associated temple.
(7) As an initiated devotee , you will have to follow some regulations in your day to day life and you should not behave like neophite devotees. You should show in your every approach that you are fully dedicated to Krishna and guru. You should avoid highly materialistic activities.
(8) As said by H.H. Radhanath Swami, though you accept a guru, you can’t go back to Krishna IF YOU DO NOT FOLLOW ALL THE RECOMMENDED DEVOTIONAL RULES MENTIONED ABOVE. So, acceptance of a guru MUST follow all the disciplinary procedures and chanting 16 rounds.
So, first, evaluate yourself and then decide whether you are now prepared for getting initiated. And also evaluate your conviction in following Krishna Consciousness consistently in all situations.
If you are confident in all the above procedures, accept a guru and after accepting a guru, all your past karma will be kept under suspension. If you follow all the rules throughout your life, you will get permanent immunity from karma. If you do not follow rules, you will still be under karma’s hold.
So, initiation will be effective only until you are following all the recommended rules. When you violate, you are also like other devotees who are not initiated.
Rules means not serious. Chanting, discipline and regular worship with service. That’s all. If you have determination, you can follow all these things successfully and go back to Krishna’s abode.
WHEN A DISCIPLE IS FOLLOWING ALL THE RULES, IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF A GURU TO ENTRUST THAT DISCIPLE IN THE HANDS OF KRISHNA IN KRISHNA’s ABODE. Yes. A guru has that responsibility for a perfect disciple.
SOME POINTS TO BE REMEMBERED BEFORE TAKING DIKSHA
(1) Diksha should not be taken just because others are taking (or) there is good respect for initiated devotees (or) just to show ourselves an advanced devotee. An unqualified devotee should not lie to the temple administrator and take diksha. Even a single mistake is not bearable in devotional service as the people blindly trust us and we should not deceive them by taking diksha to show ourselves as a big devotee.
Taking Diksha is NOT AN ADVANCED STAGE, but the BEGINNING of a serious process of devotional service. This means, you are committing that you will serve as per the direction of your guru. So, if you are not confident that you are following the above rules of diksha, postpone it till you make up your mind and start to follow all the rules.
(2) If you are just going to marry in near future, postpone Diksha, as the marital life (sexual exchanges) needs to be regulated as recommended by the sccriptures after diksha. After consulting your husband and ensuring his co-operation, take diksha. Because, girls need the cooperation of their husband to lead a good initiated life.
(3) If you are not confident of following any of the above rules due to your work nature, family nature, postpone taking diksha. Because, after diksha, if you commit any offence, it will affect your guru only. So, we must remain a perfect devotee after taking diksha if we like to see our guru healthy. So, be perfect in following devotional practices and discipline after taking diksha. Otherwise postpone and take later.
(4) As per the system, after diksha, you need to visit your local temple regularly and do possible services there. So, review whether you can do that regularly.
(5) Some company promoters, business people, shop owners, people working in unsuitable atmosphere must evaluate whether they can follow all the rules in their work atmosphere and after confirming that they can somehow manage, they can take Diksha. You must follow the rules after taking diksha.
I have written these things because, a small portion of the initiated devotees take initiation out of curiosity and fail to follow the rules of initiated devotees. Because of their acts, the health of their gurus get affected and the image of the spiritual organization is affected as they mercifully give diksha believing the seekers that they will follow their vows. So, we have to be very sincere in our vows.
So, I very much appreciate your decision. Of course, the rules are really manageable and good for spiritual advancement. So, if you follow them, take steps to take diksha. First you cross the SIKSHA process and attend temple programs regularly. You can get diksha within a year or two.
All the best.