Meaning of diksha (Initiation) – Everything you should know!
Two devotees asked these two basic questions that will be useful for all.
(1) Sangeeta Pahwa Kashyap asked like this:
What does initiated devotee mean? What do you mean by ‘accepting a spiritual master’?
(2) Jyoti Nagpal asked like this:
I am following Krishna conciousness for the last one year but till now i don’t have guru to guide, which according to Bagvat Gita, is mandatory. How can i know what i am doing is right or wrong ? Would I be able to get the guidance of a revered guru in my life?
The general trend in devotional practice is that the people go to the temples, worship the deities there and come back.
This is the casual way of devotion. That is, Going to temple – Asking something from the god – Coming back.
But, the real devotion means living for God. Let us mention God as Krishna hereafter specifically.
(BENEFITS OF DIKSHA (INITIATION) AND HOW IT WORKS! EXAMPLES! READ HERE!)
Devotional way of life means “Living for Krishna”.
Living for Krishna means Not just Going to temple – Asking something to god & Coming back.
It is more than that.
Doing something for Krishna. As a service.
You should first know how to serve Krishna.
This needs some guidance by an experienced devotee.
Here comes our gurus (spiritual masters).
There are two main classes of gurus.
(1) Siksha Gurus : Those who properly teach/ taught us about Krishna are our siksha gurus. Siksha means educating. There can be one or a few or many siksha gurus for us.
(2) Diksha Guru = Diksha guru is the one who initiates (formally and officially starts) our devotional service and also follows us whether we are following the rules and the oaths taken by us. There can be only one diksha guru for a devotee.
(TYPES OF GURUS (SPIRITUAL MASTERS) FROM THE SCRIPTURES! READ HERE!)
Let us now see the meaning of Diksha (Initiation).
In most of the cases, there is a formal system of INITIATION (Diksha) of a devotee. A DIKSHA YAGNA ceremony is conducted on major festival days in which the guru (whom you chose and got approval to accept you as his disciple, ie, sishya), chants once in a chanting Japa mala and gives to the devotee who desires to accept him as his guru.
This process means HE IS INITIATING THAT DEVOTEE TO CHANT KRISHNA’S NAMES UNDER THE GUIDANCE OF THAT GURU. Initiating can also be taken as igniting. The guru ignites the desires of the devotee to chant the Lord’s names, say, Hare Krishna Maha Manthra for example.
(Is Brahmana Diksha (Second Initiation) Compulsory for all? READ HERE!)
Before giving that approval of initiation, the devotee should take a set of vows in front of agni (fire). These vows include chanting 16 rounds of Hare Krishna Maha Manthra daily (Learn the process of chanting in THIS post), following four recommended disciplinary regulative principles (Know about these four principles HERE), following Ekadasi fasting (Learn it HERE), Offering food to Krishna (Learn it HERE), etc.
This is called initiation. Thus, you will accept him as your diksha guru and you will continue your devotional life as per his guidance.
Initiation by your guru also involves your purification. Since you are included in the chain of guru parampara starting from your guru ascending up to krishna, you also get the strength and blessings of the entire guru parampara (lineage) that fastens your devotional growth.
Diksha works more effectively ONLY IF you follow the set of rules recommended by your guru for his disciples.
Initiation does not mean becoming a big devotee. It is starting your serious devotional service as a servant of your diksha guru.
(The System of getting diksha in ISKCON is explained in THIS POST).
(The Exams and Courses for qualifying for diksha in ISKCON have been explained HERE).
(2) Next, the second question about getting a right guru for you.
You have seen the meaning of initiation (diksha) means in the above reply. Now, let us see how to get a guru for you.
The diksha guru has to evaluate your background, skills and interests and then request you to take up a certain service to Krishna that you can comfortably do.
If you have no choice to accept as your diksha guru, it is the matter of time. If you seriously like to accept a diksha guru and you make yourself eligible for that, Krishna Himself will show you a suitable guru for you.
However, ISKCON has a well arranged system for that. You can get diksha, ie, initiation from one of the bonafide gurus there.
Already you have some siksha gurus. Those who introduced and taught about Krishna were your siksha gurus. If you are learning sincerely and regularly from a qualified devotee to know about Krishna and devotional process, that devotee is one of your siksha gurus.
Thus, you already have or may have some siksha gurus.
You have to accept a diksha guru to commit yourself to follow the devotional way of life and get his guidance. After getting diksha from a guru, you become his disciple, ie, sishya.
If you seriously wish to have a diksha guru, you will be shown a suitable diksha guru for you. There is no doubt in that. Do not rush and fall in the hands of a non-bonafide guru. Take months or years to learn about Krishna and the sources of accepting the guru. Simultaneously, you have to follow the eligibility standards.
A diksha guru need not be located in your same town. He can be anywhere. Read this Post to know how you can follow a diksha guru even from a distance by following what he instructed. If you do what your guru says, that means, you are following him. The distance is not a barrier for that.
Srila Prabhupada fulfilled what his guru instructed him to do, even after his guru left this world.
Sri Ramanujacharya had to walk from Srirangam to Thirukkoshtiyur, ie, more than 100 kilometers 18 times to get the consent of his chosen guru to accept him as his disciple.
You have started to think of a guru. Follow all the posts in our site. The links of ALL THE POSTS of our site have been given in THIS PAGE of our site. You will definitely become a matured devotee following Krishna Consciousness in a responsible way.
Hope this reply has helped you to gain basic knowledge about the meaning of diksha (Initiation).
(INITIATION (DIKSHA) VOWS & CHALLENGES IN FOLLOWING THEM! READ HERE!)