Questions About Initiation and Preaching
When someone is initiated they have received transcendental knowledge and their past karma is burned up, they must be a bit like a new born baby. Why is it they still appear and behave the same and even fall down, where has that divine knowledge gone?
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
It’s wonderful to receive your questions as it gives me a chance to think about how to answer them. It’s inspiring to both ask questions about Krishna and also to answer them. It helps us both to make some spiritual advancement.
“So when some one is initiated then they have received transcendental knowledge & their past karma is burned up, they must be a bit like a new born baby, why is it they still appear & behave the same and even fall down, where has that divine knowledge gone?”
It’s true that at the time of being initiated by a pure devotee one’s past karma is burnt up. But initiation is not such a cheap thing. Sometimes devotees go through the formalities of initiation, but they do not actually surrender to the spiritual master or even strictly follow the regulative principles or chant 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra daily. So they are not really initiated at all. Also sometimes devotees take initiaiton from “gurus” who themselves are not pure devotees so how can they expect to be purified if even the “guru’s” heart is not pure?
Initiation, becoming a disciple, means to accept the discipline of the spiritual master. So if we do not agree to follow even the most basic things like chanting 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra daily and following the four regulative principles there is no initiation.
Another point is Krishna has given us a little independence. So we can always choose to reject Krishna and Srila Prabhupada and try to enjoy in the material world independently. So even if one is properly initiated, by bad association, he can become deviated from the path, and for some time fall back into maya. But it is temporary. Any devotee who has actually tasted even a little bit of the transcendental pleasure one gets from serving Krishna can never be satisfied with the momentary so-called pleasures offered by the material world… Ultimately any one who has done any sincere service to Krishna and Srila Prabhupada will have to come back to Krishna consciousness.
“What is the best thing to say to people who do not accept reincarnation, how can you convince them that reincarnation is a fact?”
Many people are very much attached to sense gratification in the material world and for them to believe in reincarnation would mean they would have to accept the eternality of the soul and the next life and responsibility for their actions. They would have to accept they will suffer for their sinful actions in the future. So they do not want to accept this therefore no matter how logically and clearly we explain to the simple facts of karma and reincarnation, they refuse to accept it. We can’t make people accept these things. All we can do is present the knowledge and some people will accept and some will not.
To preach we have to find those people who are a little interested to hear about Krishna and speak about Krishna to them. The preacher devotee has to differentiate between three types of people: the innocent, the envious and the devotees. He preaches to the innocent, avoids the envious and associates with the devotees. This is because if we preach Krishna consciousness to someone who is an envious demon they just become more envious and more offensive. It is said that if one feeds milk and bananas to a snake the snake just uses it to store up more and more poison which he will use in the future to bite the person feeding him… That is the nature of the envious persons. So we do not try very much to preach to people who are not interested in hearing what we have to say, however, we want to help them. So we have to help them by letting them taste prasadam and letting them hear the Hare Krishna maha-mantra.
To be interested in hearing about Krishna is not an ordinary thing. Most people are not interested in hearing about Krishna. It requires some piety. And that can be developed if the people hear the Hare Krishna mantra and eat Krishna prasadam. That is why we are the “sankirtana” movement. Our business is to perform sankirtana, to chant Hare Krishna, so everyone can get the chance of hearing the Hare Krishna mantra chanted by devotees and that will purify their hearts and they will become interested in hearing about Krishna, then we can preach to them like anything and they will accept reincarnation and karma and everything else.
Srila Prabhupada’s spiritual master Srila Bhaktsiddhanta Saraswati Thakura extended the definition of “Sankirtana” to include the printing press so book distribution is also sankirtana. Prabhupada said his books are recorded chanting and when the people read them they are hearing the recorded chanting. So book distribution enables the general public to hear directly from Srila Prabhupada, a pure devotee of Krishna. And hearing from a pure devotee is the most powerful spiritual purifying process. That is why distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books is so important.
In my case I became completely convinced about Krishna consciousness and karma and reincarnation and everything else simply by reading Srila Prabhupada’s books and so many other devotees have also. Before coming in contact with Srila Prabhupada I had no real idea about spiritual life at all and did not really believe in karma, reincarnation, etc, but Srila Prabhupada explains everything so clearly and logically in his books and presents Krishna consciousness as a very logical scientific process. This presentation was very attractive to me.
So a very good way of interesting people in Krishna consciousness is to somehow inspire them to read some of Srila Prabhupada’s books. Even ‘demons’ can be encouraged to read Srila Prabhupada’s books and they will become purified. Even if one does not believe in Krishna or reincarnation, if he sees some very enthusiastic devotees chanting Hare Krishna and obviously very happy he will become curious and wonder what it is that has made them so happy. There are four types of people who come to spiritual life [catur viha bhajate mam jnana sukritino arjuna arto…] “O best among the Bharatas [Arjuna], four kinds of pious men render devotional service unto me–the distressed, the desirer of wealth, the inquisitive, and he who is searching for knowledge of the absolute. [ bg 7.16] It is a very important verse for a preacher to understand and so is the next verse [Bg 7.17] if we read and understand these two verses and Srila Prabhupada’a purports the preaching process will be easier. If we know which people will accept devotional service and which people will not it makes preaching easier.
Of course a devotee wants to engage everyone in Krishna consciousness and he will find the ways and means to even engage big demons in Krishna’s service. Even though Krishna says “don’t preach to them, they will just get angry.” Still the devotee will try to find a way to engage even the biggest demon in Krishna’s service.
“Regarding first & second initiation, devotees generally say they are initiated or not, but no one seems to enquire about 2nd initiation, it makes me wonder how many devotees are 2nd initiated disciples.
As we said before, initiation is not a very cheap thing, it mean accepting the discipline of the guru. And in any case initiation is only the beginning. If you look the word up in the dictionary it will say something like beginning. So the initiation is only the beginning of ones devotional life. It is a serious commitment by the devotee that he will strictly follow the process of Krishna consciousness under the instruction of his spiritual master. But if he takes initiation but does not surrender to his spiritual master there is actually no initiation at all.
Also, these days, so many are “initiated” by “gurus” who themselves are not even pure devotees. So that sort of initiation is not at all the same as being initiated by a pure devotee. If the spiritual master’s heart is not even free from all dirty things how can a disciple of such a bogus guru expect his heart to become purified on initiation?
Even if one has taken initiation from Srila Prabhupada that is no guarantee he is actually initiated. We all have free will. Unless we actually surrender to the spiritual master, even if we had lots of personal association with Srila Prabhupada and accepted formal initiation from him, if we don’t actually surrender to him, there is no initiation at all.
Thank you very much for the questions. I hope this is of some use to you and please write with more questions.
All glories to your service. Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!