Spiritual Master / Guru

Published on June 19th, 2018 | by Madhudvisa dasa | Full size image


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?

Dear Prabhu

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!

Your servant

Madhudvisa dasa

If you Love Me Distribute My Books -- Srila Prabhupada

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26 Responses to Questions About Initiation and Preaching

  1. Phupinderpall Singh says:

    Hare Krishna,

    Recently, by Lord Krishna’s grace, I’ve been attracted towards the devotional worship and singing of the Mahamantra in my heart centre.

    This devotional awakening has led me to download most of Swami Prabhupada’s ebooks which I have begun to read.

    I am also interested in initiation but at the same time wary of fake and unqualified Gurus.

    However, I also believe that initiation is a spiritual process and not a physical one.

    Although Swami Prabhupada has physically left us, he is till spiritually present with us and hence we should still be able to take him as our master and request him to initiate us through his spiritual touch and to bless us with the understanding and knowledge through his books.

  2. Sri charan says:

    Hare krishna prabhu,
    Does one’s spiritual life get advanced only after initiation?if so who initiates us?and what’s the actual process of surrendering to guru?Lord Krishna says in Bhagavadgita that a spiritual master is required for every neophyte devotee. what’s the meaning of that ?please clear my doubts prabhu ji?How can I progress ?

    • The initiation ceremony is a formality. It is not that one gets advanced after a formal ceremony. Real initiation happens when a sincere student surrenders to a bona fide spiritual master, offers obesances, serves the spiritual master, inquires submissively from the spiritual master, and makes his mission in life to execute the orders given by the bona fide spiritual master.

      So it is only this sincere student who gets the chance to surrender to and serve an actual pure devotee, bona fide spiritual master, who really gets initiated.

      There are so many bogus spiritual masters who have no power to initiate anyone, for them it is just a show, a business, of collecting followers for fame, profit, adoration and distinction.

      Real spiritual master and real disciple is a rare thing. So it does not depend on the official ceremony, it depends on the sincerity and surrender of the student and the purity and qualifications of the master..

  3. Manoj says:

    please send me your blessing

    • Please read Srila Prabhupada’s books and follow the instructions you find Prabhupada giving you as you read his books. That will make him happy and you will get his blessings by surrendering to him and serving him in this way.

  4. naresh says:

    Material world considered to be suffering almost all the time.leave other 3 things one person distressed they come to krsna consciousness means the whole world should be krsna consciousness because we are suffering four primary problems of birth,death ,old age disease and other secondary problems education,job,frustation other …. problems!why whole world not taking krsna consciousness only few people taking?

    • Hare Krishna Naresh

      There are two reasons why almost noone is taking to Krishna consciousness now. One reason is only a very rare soul will surrender to Krishna. [manusunanm sahareshu cascid…] ‘Out of many thousands of men one may be interested in spiritual life, out of them a few may become liberated and out of them hardly one knows Krishna in truth.’

      Most people in the material world are completely blinded by sense gratification. They are completely in maya. And are not interested in surrendering to Krishna.

      The other reason is only a pure devotee of Krishna can preach and convince people to surrender to Krishna. And currently ISKCON has suppressed the teachings of Srila Prabhupada and replaced them with the teachings of so many bogus gurus who have no real Krishna consciousness themselves and therefore no power to awaken the dormant Krishna consciousness in the hearts of others.

      So the pure devotee preacher is required and when the people in general hear from him some of them will become Krishna conscious. That is not happening at the moment except for those who are reading Srila Prabhupada’s books and listening to his tapes. But anyone who is interested in Srila Prabhupada will be attacked and rejected by ISKCON…

      So that is why at the moment we do not see many actual devotees of Krishna…

  5. Aman Pandey says:

    Hare Krishna Prabhuji! I want to know if I can proceed to read Shrimadbhagavatam now that I have finished reading Bhagavad-Gita once? And can I read Krsna book before going through 9 cantos of Shrimad Bhagavatam?

    • Hare Krishna Aman

      Yes, you can read Krsna Book before reading Srimad-Bhagavatam. Srila Prabhupada has written it in such a nice way that you can do this.

      And yes, now that you have read Bhagavad-gita As It Is please read Srimad-Bhagavatam. If it is at all possible for you to read it aloud including chanting the Sanskrit verses aloud that will be very good, but in any case please read it.

      Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

      Madhudvisa dasa

  6. Glenn Tolbert says:

    I am interested in receiving initiation. At this time I have been doing 5-9 rounds of the maha-mantra japa practice for the past month and I’m presently about halfway through the Bhagavad Gita As It Is and I have the first three canto’s of the Shrimad Bhagavata, which I will begin reading after the Gita. I have several copies of other books by Swami Prabupada too on hand that I read when I’m not reading the above books. I even have an alter set up too. I am a long time vegan and do not imbibe in intoxicants. I resonate very strongly with the Hari Krishna approach.
    So, my question is, what specific process should I follow to perhaps receive initiation. Would I be qualified to take initiation at this point or should I wait until more time has passed and approach a HK devotee guru about this? I just need to know the specifics of what I need to know about receiving initiation and the general process involved etc.
    Thank you.

    • Hare Krishna Glenn

      Taking initiation is the most dangerous thing, the biggest potential stumbling block in spiritual life, for today’s devotees.

      The problem is there are so many bogus gurus, even in ISKCON, most gurus are bogus. It does not mean they may not be sincere and it does not mean they are not devotees. But the qualifications for a bona fide spiritual master are very high. It is a simple thing, but bona fide spiritual master has to be a pure devotee of Krishna. He has to have controlled his senses. He can not be in maya. Unless the spiritual master is actually a pure devotee of Krishna no longer on the material platform he has no power to elevate his disciples off the material platform. Actually if the spritual master still has material desires if you surrender to such a bogus spiritual master it will not help you advance in spiritual life. Rather as you surrender to and server your bogus spiritual master more your material desires will increase more and more and you will be more and more in maya… So it is the greatest disaster if you accept as your spiritual master someone who is not a pure devotee of Krishna.

      The minimum standard for initiation is chanting at least 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra every day and strictly following the four regulative principles: no illicit sex, no meat eating, no gambling and no intoxication, and reading Srila Prabhupada’s books at least 1-2 hours a day.

      Srila Prabhupada’s system was that prospective disciples would almost always have to be living in a temple and serving under the direction of one of his Temple President disciples and the Temple President would have to give his recommendation to Srila Prabhupada and certify that the disciple was actually chanting at least 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra every day, following the regulative principles and reading his books, and that he was engaged in devotional service in the temple. And that he had been doing this steadily for at least 6 months.

      The point is to be engaged in the service of Srila Prabhupada. Krishna consciousness means devotional service. It means engaging all our senses in the service of Krishna 24 hours a day.

      So do not worry about initiation. Just try and become a very qualified disciple and read Srila Prabhupada’s books and try to understand from him what he would like you to do to spread this Krishna consciousness movement all over the world. Then do it.

      Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

      Madhudvisa dasa


    I love Krishna(God).

  8. Ajaypal Singh says:

    Hare Krsna

    How do i come to know if the mala japa being done by me is accepted by the Krishna or not?

    • You will find your consciousness is changing. As you advance in Krishna consciousness you will find you are no longer attracted by the materialistic things you used to be attracted by but are now more interested in chanting Hare Krishna and hearing about Krishna and being engaged in devotional service.

      It is not exactly that Krishna is going to accept or not accept your chanting of Hare Krishna. No, it is not like that. The sound “Krishna” is Krishna. So when you chant Hare Krishna Krishna is there with you in the form of transcendental sound. So when you remember Krishna, when you chant Hare Krishna, you are associating with Krishna. And when you associate with someone you develop their qualities. So just chant Hare Krishna and always remember Krishna and read Srila Prabhupada’s books and follow the four regulative principles and surrender to the instructions you find Srila Prabhupada giving you as you read his books. It is this surrender that is the real key to advancing in Krishna consciousness. We have to surrender and we have to serve. Krishna consciousness means devotional service. So if we are actually becoming Krishna conscious we will want to and we will use all our energy in the service of Krishna under the direction of a pure devotee of Krishna.

      So overall it is a great science, Krishna consciousness, and you have to learn the science, so you need to read Srila Prabhupada’s books.

  9. Bhatia Sunil says:

    Hare krishna pr Dandavat pranaam
    pl tell me what are the duties of a person who os nearing 50 years and he understood that the whole material things will leads to frustration.

    • Hare Krishna Bhatia

      Everyone’s duty is the same, no matter what age.

      Actually our first duty is to realize that we are not the material body, but we are the spirit soul within the body. So thinking that we are a 50 year old person is in the bodily concept of life. We are not the material body, we are the spirit soul within the body.

      As you have observed every action in the material world will ultimately end in frustration. So the solution to this is that we have to give up all material activities. But we can not give up activities. Because the nature of the soul is to be active. There are some transcendentalists who try to stop activities altogether. But this is not possible. We, as spirit souls, are eternally active. So to become Krishna conscious we have to engage in transcendental, spiritual activities.

      So the art of transferring our activities from material to spiritual has to be learned from a bona fide spiritual master. It is a science and we have to learn that science. So to do that you have to follow the process of saddhana-bhakti as Srila Prabhupada teaches us in his books. It means surrendering to chanting at least 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra every day, strictly following the four regulative principles: no illicit sex, no meat eating, no gambling and no intoxication. And you need to read Srila Prabhupada’s books at least 1-2 hours a day. This is the beginning. You have to surrender to these things. Otherwise we do not even start the process of Krishna consciousness. So once you have surrendered to these things and are following them strictly you are on the path and if you stay on the path and follow it you will ultimately reach the destination, you will ultimately go back home, back to Godhead and be with Krishna and His devotees in the spritual world…

      Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

      Madhudvisa dasa

  10. Ush says:

    Namaste. I am not a Hare Krishna devotee but I do believe and pray to Lord Krishna. I know of an individual who is initiated but is now living with my husband. She is aware now that he is a married man but will still not leave him. She insists that she is sleeping in different rooms and says that she cannot leave him as he told her he is no longer in love with me.
    I am trying to understand what type of initiation is this. How can she shelter another person’s husband and want to get married to him. She is involved in other projects of the Organisation as well. Is this the type of people that are allowed to be initiated?

    Hare Krishna

    • There are all sorts of demons posing as devotees for some personal benefit. This is Kali-yuga, the age of quarrel and hypocrisy so we should not be surprised or shocked by all these crazy things happening around us.

      A devotee sees everything as Krishna’s mercy. Even things that appear to non-devotees to be reverses or difficulties in life, a devotee does not see like that, he sees Krishna’s hand in everything.

      So in your case you need to accept all this craziness as Krishna’s mercy and use your time and energy to become an actual devotee of Krishna yourself. This is the only valuable and useful thing we can do with our lives. Serve Srila Prabhupada and Krishna. So just do it. Read Srila Prabhupada’s books to find out what he wants you to do and do what Srila Prabhupada wants you to do.

      That will be the perfection of your life. It will give you spiritual power and clear vision and you will be able to help so many others also come to the spiritual platform.

      Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

      Madhudvisa dasa

  11. Bharti says:

    Hare Krishna Prabhuji,

    if one wants to join Hare Krishna , how to go about doing this and is a Guru selected for you or do you have a choice.

  12. Sarvesh says:

    I have tried many different paths during these last 15 years. However i have come to a conclusion that unless and until we surrender completely to God and as long as we have even an ounce of our own schemes, we will not feel his grace. And his grace is the only one way to cut down the ropes of our habits and bad karmas. I feel that i have finally come home…it took a long time…my experiments with many different meditation methods…many different gyana yoga methods..nothing worked…at least for me…it did not work..i am now waiting for the grace of Krishna to fall on me..i would like to repent for my sins as well as start chanting Hare Krishna Mantra…however i am in China now..i do not think i will land upon an acharya too soon…so what would u advise?

    • Hare Krishna

      It is impossible for us to directly surrender to Krishna. That is only possible by the mercy of Krishna’s pure devotee. We have to surrender to Krishna’s pure devotee and if he is pleased with us, by his mercy only, it may be possible for us to surrender to Krishna.

      So Prabhupada is there in China in his books and other recorded Vani. Surrender to him, serve him. That is the way to Krishna.

      Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

      Madhudvisa dasa

  13. miheal says:

    The truth is that i need material thing wealth and power in life,but want to be a member and live good life with peace,Please reply me on the way forward THANKS.

    • Hare Krishna Miheal

      Really our material situation is already fixed up. We will get what is coming to us according to our karma. You can not change this really. So there is no use spending a huge amount of energy trying to change your material situation. You just try your best with what you have and be satisfied with that.

      The real way forward is to work in such a way that we can escape the cycle of birth and death and at the end of this life, instead of taking another birth in the material world and suffering again and again, we can go back home back to Godhead — to the spiritual world with Krishna…

      There is a scientific program to achieve this and Srila Prabhupada has very nicely explained everything about this in his books. So the way forward is to read Srila Prabhupada’s books. You can purchase them at:


      and read online at:


      • Vinay says:

        What happens if I get initiated and then I’m not able to follow the 4 regulative principles, can I again pick myself up or is everything lost? Is it guru aparadha? do i have a chance to get Krsna prema still in this lifetime even though I am initiated and fall down?

        • Hare Krishna Vinay

          You have to practice following the four regulative principles and become fixed up in following the four regulative principles before you get initiated. Yes. If we do not follow the four regulative principles that is guru aparahada. We promise to follow the principles so if we don’t follow then that is a very bad thing.

          If there is accidental falldown then yes, certainly, we can pick ourselves up and chant Hare Krishna and follow the four regulative principles again and regain our position in Krishna consciousness. But we can not plan in advance, thinking I will take initiation but I know I will not follow the regulative principles. That is cheating. So the idea is not to take initiation until we are firmly fixed up in following the four regulative principles.

          Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

          Madhudvisa dasa

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About the Author

My first contact with a Hare Krishna was a most merciful Mataji in Oxford Street, London who sold me a "Higher Taste" cook book in 1984 while I was on holidays there. I started seriously reading Srila Prabhupada's books in Australia 1985 and by 1986 Srila Prabhupada had convinced me "Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead" and "we should surrender to Krishna." I joined the Hare Krishnas in Perth, Western Australia in 1986. Since then I have been chanting Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, reading and distributing Srila Prabhupada's books and preaching as much as I can. That's my life and full-time occupation now really. I like it more than anything I've ever experienced before. Srila Prabhupada's books are so amazing... Even after reading them all many times they're still fresh and new. They are truly transcendental! That's it really. Now I'm just hankering to once again see the world chant Hare Krishna, dance and feast and float away in the ecstasy of Lord Caitanya's Sankirtana movement as it did in Srila Prabhupada's physical presence. Let the whole world drown in the ecstatic flood of love of Krishna!

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