Srila Prabhupada on Initiation [compilation of quotes]
March 11, 2011 by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Filed under Guru
Please be happy in separation. I am separated from my Guru Maharaja since 1936 but I am always with him so long I work according to his direction. So we should all work together for satisfying Lord Krishna and in that way the feelings of separation will transform into transcendental bliss.
SSR 8 Attaining Perfection
The spark of love for Krsna is struck by the spiritual master, the pure devotee. As for myself, my spiritual master, His Divine Grace Om Visnupada Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Prabhupada, ordered me to take up the responsibility of spreading Krsna consciousness in the Western world. His Divine Grace had a great desire to preach Lord Caitanya’s message in the West, and my success is both his grace and pleasure. When I first met my spiritual master, I was a very young man in India, a nationalist, engaged in a very responsible office. But although I did not want to go, one of my friends, who is still living in Calcutta, forcibly took me to His Divine Grace. I was reluctant to see him because in our home our father used to receive many sannyasis and I was not very satisfied with their dealings. I thought that Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja might be a similar man, and if he were, what business would I have in seeing him? But my friend took me forcibly. “Why not see him?” he asked. I finally relented and went with him, and I profited.
SSR 8 Attaining Perfection
On my first visit, His Divine Grace said that it was necessary for educated boys like me to go to foreign countries and preach the gospel of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. I replied that India was a foreign-dominated nation and that no one would hear our messages. Actually, at the time foreigners considered Indians very insignificant because in the face of so many independent nations India was still dependent, being dominated by Britain. At the time there was one Bengali poet who actually lamented that even uncivilized nations were independent, whereas India was dependent on the British. His Divine Grace convinced me that dependence and independence are simply temporary conditions, and he pointed out that because we are concerned with the eternal benefit of humanity, we should take up this challenge of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. This meeting with His Divine Grace, my Guru Maharaja, took place in 1922, half a century ago.
So at that time we had some talks, and of course I was defeated by his argument, my argument. (laughter) And then, when we came out, we were offered prasadam, very nice treatment, the Gaudiya Matha. And when I came out on the street, this my friend asked me, “What is your opinion of this sadhu?” Then I said that “Here is the right person who has taken up Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s message, and now it will be distributed.”
Prabhupada: So I was at that time a fool, but I opined like this. And I accepted him as my spiritual master immediately. Not officially, but in my heart. That was in 1922. Then, in 1923, I left Calcutta on my business tour. And I made my headquarter at Allahabad. Allahabad is about five hundred miles from Calcutta. So I was thinking that “I met a very nice saintly person.” That was my thinking always. So in this way, in 1928, there was a Kumbhamela. At that time, these Gaudiya Matha people came to Allahabad to establish a center there, and somebody else said, somebody informed them that “You go to that Prayaga Pharmacy.” My drug shop was named as Prayaga Pharmacy. My name was also there. “You go and see Abhaya Babu. He is religiously… He will help you.” These Gaudiya Matha people, they came to see me. So “Sir, we have come to you. We have heard your good name. So we want to start a temple here. Please try to help us.” And because I was thinking of these Gaudiya Matha people that “I met a very nice, saintly persons,” and as soon as I saw them, I was very much engladdened: “Oh, here are these persons. They have come again.”
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. Then officially I was initiated in 1933 because in 1923 I left Calcutta. I started my business at Allahabad. So I was always thinking of my Guru Maharaja, that “I met a very nice sadhu.” Although I was doing business, I never forgot him. Then, in 1928, these Gaudiya Matha people came to Allahabad during Kumbhamela. As the Kumbhamela is going to be held this year, a similar big Kumbhamela was held in 1928. In those days they came to open their branch in Allahabad, and somebody recommended that “You go to…” At that time I was running on my big pharmacy and I was very well known man in Allahabad as the proprietor of the pharmacy. So somebody recommended them that “You go to Abhaya Babu. He is a very religious man. He’ll help you.” So when they entered my shop I was very much pleased that “These men I met in 1922, and now they have come.” In this way I became reconnected. And in 1933 I was officially initiated, and my only qualification was when I was introduced to my Guru Maharaja for initiation, so Guru Maharaja immediately said, “Yes, I shall initiate this boy. He is very nice. He hears me very patiently. He does not go away.” So that was my qualification. The high standard of philosophy which he was speaking at that time, practically I could not follow what was, he was speaking, but still, I liked to hear him. That was my hobby. Whenever… I was asking that “When Guru Maharaja will speak?” So he took it very seriously.
68-05-03 Letter: Uddhava
Please accept my blessings. I am just in receipt of your letter forwarded from New York. Please be happy in separation. I am separated from my Guru Maharaja since 1936 but I am always with him so long I work according to his direction. So we should all work together for satisfying Lord Krishna and in that way the feelings of separation will transform into transcendental bliss.
72-02-20 Letter: Satadhanya
So far personal association with the Guru is concerned, I was only with my Guru Maharaja four or five times, but I have never left his association, not even for a moment. Because I am following his instructions, I have never felt any separation. There are some of my Godbrothers here in India who had constant personal association with Guru Maharaja, but who are neglecting his orders. This is just like the bug who is sitting on the lap of the king. He may be very puffed-up by his position, but all he can succeed in doing is biting the king. Personal association is not so important as association through service.
Prabhupada: Sarva-sastre kaya, lava-matra sadhu-sange sarva-siddhi haya. For me, personally, I had the opportunity to talk with my spiritual master not more than ten times in my whole life, not more. It may be less than that. But I tried to follow his instruction, that’s all, although I was a grhastha.
Prabhupada: Yes. Anyway, follow the instruction. That is required. Follow the instruction. Wherever you remain, it doesn’t matter. You are secure. Follow the instruction. Then you are secure anywhere. It doesn’t matter. Just like I told you that I saw my Guru Maharaja not more than ten days in my life, but I followed his instruction. I was a grhastha, I never lived with the Matha, in the temple. It is practical. So many Godbrothers recommended that “He should be in charge in this Bombay temple, this, that, that…” Guru Maharaja said, “Yes, better he lives outside. That is good, and he will do what is needed in due course of time.”
Prabhupada: He said like that. I could not understand at that time what does he expect. Of course, I knew that he wanted me to preach.
Initiation — General
Adi 12.50 The Expansions of Advaita Acarya and Gadadhara Pandita
Materialistic persons who are not inclined to give up their sinful activities like illicit sex, intoxication, gambling and meat-eating sometimes want to become our disciples, but, unlike professional spiritual masters who accept disciples regardless of their condition, Vaisnavas do not accept such cheap disciples. One must at least agree to abide by the rules and regulations for a disciple before a Vaisnava acarya can accept him. In fact, a Vaisnava should not even accept charity or food from persons who do not follow the rules and regulations of the Vaisnava principles.
Madhya 15.108 The Lord Accepts Prasada at the House of Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya
The word purah means “before” and carya means “activities.” Due to the necessity of these activities, we do not immediately initiate disciples in the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. For six months, a candidate for initiation must first attend arati and classes in the sastras, practice the regulative principles and associate with other devotees. When one is actually advanced in the purascarya-vidhi, he is recommended by the local temple president for initiation. It is not that anyone can be suddenly initiated without meeting the requirements. When one is further advanced by chanting the Hare Krsna mantra sixteen rounds daily, following the regulative principles and attending classes, he receives the sacred thread (brahminical recognition) after the second six months.
Madhya 15.108 The Lord Accepts Prasada at the House of Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya
In other words, the chanting of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra is so powerful that it does not depend on official initiation, but if one is initiated and engages in pancaratra-vidhi (Deity worship), his Krsna consciousness will awaken very soon, and his identification with the material world will be vanquished. The more one is freed from material identification, the more one can realize that the spirit soul is qualitatively as good as the Supreme Soul. At such a time, when one is situated on the absolute platform, he can understand that the holy name of the Lord and the Lord Himself are identical. At that stage of realization, the holy name of the Lord, the Hare Krsna mantra, cannot be identified with any material sound. If one accepts the Hare Krsna maha-mantra as a material vibration, he falls down. One should worship and chant the holy name of the Lord by accepting it as the Lord Himself. One should therefore be initiated properly according to revealed scriptures under the direction of a bona fide spiritual master. Although chanting the holy name is good for both the conditioned and liberated soul, it is especially beneficial to the conditioned soul because by chanting it one is liberated. When a person who chants the holy name is liberated, he attains the ultimate perfection by returning home, back to Godhead.
Madhya 15.108 The Lord Accepts Prasada at the House of Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya
The offenseless chanting of the holy name does not depend on the initiation process. Although initiation may depend on purascarya or purascarana, the actual chanting of the holy name does not depend on purascarya-vidhi, or the regulative principles. If one chants the holy name once without committing an offense, he attains all success. During the chanting of the holy name, the tongue must work. Simply by chanting the holy name, one is immediately delivered. The tongue is sevonmukha-jihva-it is controlled by service. One whose tongue is engaged in tasting material things and also talking about them cannot use the tongue for absolute realization.
Madhya 15.110 The Lord Accepts Prasada at the House of Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya
“‘The holy name of Lord Krsna is an attractive feature for many saintly, liberal people. It is the annihilator of all sinful reactions and is so powerful that save for the dumb who cannot chant it, it is readily available to everyone, including the lowest type of man, the candala. The holy name of Krsna is the controller of the opulence of liberation, and it is identical with Krsna. Simply by touching the holy name with one’s tongue, immediate effects are produced. Chanting the holy name does not depend on initiation, pious activities or the purascarya regulative principles generally observed before initiation. The holy name does not wait for all these activities. It is self-sufficient.’”
Madhya 15.111 The Lord Accepts Prasada at the House of Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya
In his Upadesamrta, Srila Rupa Gosvami states: krsneti yasya giri tam manasadriyeta diksasti cet. An advanced devotee should respect a person who has been initiated by a bona fide spiritual master and who is situated on the transcendental platform, chanting the holy name with faith and obeisances and following the instructions of the spiritual master. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura comments that serving Vaisnavas is most important for householders. Whether a Vaisnava is properly initiated or not is not a subject for consideration. One may be initiated and yet contaminated by the Mayavada philosophy, but a person who chants the holy name of the Lord offenselessly will not be so contaminated. A properly initiated Vaisnava may be imperfect, but one who chants the holy name of the Lord offenselessly is all-perfect. Although he may apparently be a neophyte, he still has to be considered a pure unalloyed Vaisnava. It is the duty of the householder to offer respects to such an unalloyed Vaisnava. This is Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s instruction.
Madhya 19.152 Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu Instructs Srila Rupa Gosvami
Bhakti-lata-bija means “the seed of devotional service.” Everything has an original cause, or seed. For any idea, program, plan or device, there is first of all the contemplation of the plan, and that is called bija, or the seed. The methods, rules and regulations by which one is perfectly trained in devotional service constitute the bhakti-lata-bija, or seed of devotional service. This bhakti-lata-bija is received from the spiritual master by the grace of Krsna. Other seeds are called anyabhilasa-bija, karma-bija and jnana-bija. If one is not fortunate enough to receive the bhakti-lata-bija from the spiritual master, he instead cultivates the seeds of karma-bija, jnana-bija, or political and social or philanthropic bija. However, bhakti-lata-bija is different from these other bijas. Bhakti-lata-bija can be received only through the mercy of the spiritual master. Therefore one has to satisfy the spiritual master to get bhakti-lata-bija (yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasadah). Bhakti-lata-bija is the origin of devotional service. Unless one satisfies the spiritual master, he gets the bija, or root cause, of karma, jnana and yoga without the benefit of devotional service. However, one who is faithful to his spiritual master gets the bhakti-lata-bija. This bhakti-lata-bija is received when one is initiated by the bona fide spiritual master. After receiving the spiritual master’s mercy, one must repeat his instructions, and this is called sravana–kirtana-hearing and chanting. One who has not properly heard from the spiritual master or who does not follow the regulative principles is not fit for chanting (kirtana). This is explained in Bhagavad-gita (2.41): vyavasayatmika buddhir ekeha kuru-nandana. One who has not listened carefully to the instructions of the spiritual master is unfit to chant or preach the cult of devotional service. One has to water the bhakti-lata-bija after receiving instructions from the spiritual master.
NoD 7 Evidence Regarding Devotional Principles
In the Seventh Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, Thirteenth Chapter, verse 8, Narada Muni, while discussing with Maharaja Yudhisthira the various functions of the different orders in society, especially mentions rules for the sannyasis, those persons who have renounced this material world. One who has accepted the sannyasa order of life is forbidden to accept as a disciple anyone who is not fit. A sannyasi should first of all examine whether a prospective student is sincerely seeking Krsna consciousness. If he is not, he should not be accepted. However, Lord Caitanya’s causeless mercy is such that He advised all bona fide spiritual masters to speak about Krsna consciousness everywhere. Therefore, in the line of Lord Caitanya even the sannyasis can speak about Krsna consciousness everywhere, and if someone is seriously inclined to become a disciple, the sannyasi always accepts him.
NoD 7 Evidence Regarding Devotional Principles
The one point is that without increasing the number of disciples, there is no propagation of the cult of Krsna consciousness. Therefore, sometimes even at a risk, a sannyasi in the line of Caitanya Mahaprabhu may accept even a person who is not thoroughly fit to become a disciple. Later on, by the mercy of such a bona fide spiritual master, the disciple is gradually elevated. However, if one increases the number of disciples simply for some prestige or false honor, he will surely fall down in the matter of executing Krsna consciousness.
68-04-26 Letter: Janardana
Regarding the action of Bon Maharaja: We shall discuss the matter when we meet. For the present, you may know that this gentleman is very much materially ambitious. He wants to utilize Krishna Consciousness for his material name and fame. Sometimes he greatly offended our Guru Maharaja, and it so happened that at the last stage, practically Guru Maharaja rejected him. And the result, we can find that instead of becoming a great preacher of Krishna Consciousness, this gentleman has become artificially a head of a mundane institution. To become a very important man in the mundane estimation is not success in Krishna Consciousness. He was first deputed by my Guru Maharaja, along with our late God Brother, Bhakti Pradip Tirtha Maharaja, to open a missionary center in London, and they stayed there for 3 years, but didn’t make any appreciable advance. Except that spent enormous money of my Guru Maharaja, and later on they were called back to India. So that is a great history; it is not possible to say everything in this letter, but for the present, be satisfied with these words, and later we shall talk more and more. On the whole, you may know that he is not a liberated person, and therefore, he cannot initiate any person to Krishna Consciousness. It requires special spiritual benediction from higher authorities.
68-08-19 Letter: Tamala Krsna
About my coming to San Francisco, I have already written to Jayananda. I am always hankering after going there, but because there are some other program, immediately, so please ask all the devotees on my behalf to wait and in the meantime, enjoy chanting Hare Krishna. The chanting 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. I have already written to Jayananda about this, so don’t be impatient. Pray to Krishna that I may meet you very soon.
68-08-21 Letter: Acyutananda, Jayagovinda
The first thing, I warn Acyutananda, do not try to initiate. You are not in a proper position now to initiate anyone. Besides that, the etiquette is that so long the Spiritual Master is present, all prospective disciples should be brought to him. Therefore if anyone is anxious to be initiated, he should first of all hear our philosophy and join chanting at least for three months, and then if required, I shall send chanted beads for him if you recommend. As we are doing here. Don’t be allured by such maya. I am training you all to become future Spiritual Masters, but do not be in a hurry. If the family of the boy who is so eager to be initiated certainly, are Vaisnavas, let them offer you some place, because you are in need of a place, first and foremost. In that place hold Kirtana daily, morning and evening, as we do, that will be the sign of their sincerity. So for the time being, hold Kirtana. as I have advised above, and speak from Srimad-Bhagavatam, Bhagavad-gita, and try to serve the cause of the Krishna Consciousness society. You don’t be attracted by such cheap disciples immediately. One has to rise gradually by service. If you get a place in Patel Nagar, that will be very nice.
69-01-25 Letter: Mr. Levine
Regarding your initiation, you have to decide yourself whether both you and your wife can follow our four disciplinary principles. I do not know if you are able to abide by these principles immediately. Otherwise there is no objection in the matter of initiating a good soul like you.
69-07-30 Letter: Yoland
Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your letter dated 26 July, 1969 and your nice poems, and I have read everything carefully. The poems will be submitted to Hayagriva, the editor of Back To Godhead, for his consideration for publication. I am very pleased to learn that you are now living at the Montreal temple, and this association with devotees of Lord Krishna will help you to advance further in Krishna Consciousness. You have asked me, “Could you accept me as your student until eternity?” My reply is that you may discuss this matter with Jayapataka, who is in charge there, and if he agrees, then you may submit your beads to me through the mail. Also, there is some possibility that I will be going to Germany sometime in August, and in that case I will be stopping in New York. So if you are able to meet me in New York, then the ceremony could be performed there.
69-10-31 Letter: Dinesh
Please accept my blessings. I beg to thank you for your letter dated October 21, 1969 along with a contribution of $25. I have already acknowledged receipt of your new record. Regarding the disciplic succession coming from Arjuna, disciplic succession does not always mean that one has to be initiated officially. Disciplic succession means to accept the disciplic conclusion. Arjuna was a disciple of Krishna and Brahma was also a disciple of Krishna. Thus there is no disagreement between the conclusions of Brahma and Arjuna. Vyasadeva is in the disciplic succession of Brahma. The teachings to Arjuna was recorded by Vyasadeva verbatim. So according to the axiomatic truth, things equal to one another are equal to each other. We are not exactly directly from Vyasadeva, but our Gurudeva is a representative of Vyasadeva. Because Vyasadeva and Arjuna are of equal status, being students of Krishna, therefore we are in the disciplic succession of Arjuna. Things equal to the same thing are equal to one another.
70-05-14 Letter: Syamasundara
So if from your center the surrounding villages are drawn to the attention of Krsna consciousness simply by the distribution of Prasadam and chanting of Hare Krsna Mantra, it will be a great success. It is not necessary always to be officially initiated, but if they participate in the group chanting of Hare Krsna Mantra and taking of Prasadam weekly or daily as it is possible, that will fulfill our mission.
71-01-21 Letter: Bhagavan
I will be glad to initiate the two brahmacaris mentioned by you, but it is best if they chant strongly and wait for two months. I shall be returning to the U.S. by the end of March and shall initiate them personally. I have received no slides from you as yet.
71-07-07 Letter: Bhagavan
Please accept my blessings. I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 6th July, 1971 along with ten pairs beads for chanting as well as daksina presentation by check, $305.00. Thank you very much. You will be glad to know that I have gladly consented to initiate all those boys and girls recommended by you and their beads are enclosed herewith, duly chanted on, as well as their letters. Also enclosed, please find five gayatri mantras and four sacred threads also duly chanted. So all these beads (six of the seven pair enclosed) as well as sacred threads, may be presented by fire yajna, and you should oversee the ceremony as priest.
71-07-14 Letter: Makhanlal
Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your letter undated and have noted the contents carefully. Yes, you have my blessings for the gayatri initiations of Jaya Deva Das Brahmacari and your wife Tilaka Devi Dasi. I am enclosing herewith a tape of the gayatri mantra chanted by me along with two copies of gayatri mantra and one sacred thread, duly chanted on by me, as well. The process should be that you let each of them hear the tape individually (through earphones). Show them how to chant on the fingers. Let them read the mantra and listen to the tape. Then, on my behalf you can present the sacred thread to Jaya Deva. Then hold a fire Yajna as you have seen done so many times before. If there are any questions about procedure, etc, you can consult with Karandhara and he will instruct you properly.
72-09-04 Letter: Jadurani
Regarding your questions, second initiation is real initiation. First initiation is the preliminary, just to make him prepared, just like primary and secondary education. The first initiation gives him chance to become purified, and when he is actually purified then he is recognized as a brahmana and that means real initiation. The eternal bond between disciple and spiritual master begins from the first day he hears. Just like my spiritual master. In 1922 he said in our first meeting, you are educated boys, why don’t you preach this cult. That was the beginning, now it is coming to fact. Therefore the relationship began from that day.
74-10-07 Letter: Tulsi:
I am glad that you are taking the recommendation of new initiates very seriously, that they are writing essays. Yes, it is a serious matter. Not that let me take a spiritual master as a pet and I can do whatever I want. No, one must be prepared to follow the order of the spiritual master with life and soul.
75-02-15 Letter: Jennifer
Regarding initiation, it is required that you be recommend by one of our temple presidents to me and then I shall consider it. First of all, one must have followed the regulative principle for at least six months without deviation. It is not necessarily required to live in the temple, but you must observe the rules.
75-06-03 Letter: Mr. Sharma
Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your letter dated 1-5-75 and have noted the contents. The best thing is if you continue to visit our temple regularly in Vrndavana at Raman Reti. The temple manager there is His Holiness Aksayananda Swami. Since I am overseas and cannot personally interview you, you please request Aksayananda Swami to recommend you to me for initiation, and then do the needful as he may suggest to you. By this process, it may be possible for you and your wife to be initiated as my disciples. We are very strict in the selection of disciples. We are not after large numbers. In order to be initiated by us, one has to chant at least 16 times around his japa beads daily (the Hare Krishna maha-mantra), he has to follow strict rules such as: no meat, fish, eggs, no intoxication–including tea and cigarettes, no illicit sex, and no gambling.
76-08-20 Letter: Ajita
The names and beads duly chanted upon by your local GBC man, may be given at a fire yajna. The brahmana thread and gayatri mantra which must be heard through the right ear, may also be given at the fire yajna. All initiated disciples must chant 16 rounds a day without fail and observe the four regulative principles very strictly. The brahmanas must become learned in the sastras and very clean internally and externally by regularly bathing with water and the holy name. A brahmana must be fixed up in understanding of brahmana. One should not take it cheaply. This initiation is very serious and one should endeavor to follow the orders of the spiritual master with great determination. Daksina should also be offered when one presents oneself for initiation.
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada