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June 12, 1999   VNN4092  Comment on this story

Q&A: 'Diksa Mantra And Nama Prabhu'


EDITORIAL, Jun 12 (VNN) — (from Sanga wfd@efn.org)

Our readers write. Replies by Swami B.V. Tripurari.

Q u e s t i o n: Is initiation mandatory for a soul to go back home? If so, which initiation is it (mantra or harinam)

A n s w e r: Jiva Goswami explains in his Bhakti-sandarbha that initiation (mantra diksa) is necesary because all the Mahajanas have demonstrated this. Even though the mantra has inherent power, if one does not recieve it from a guru it will not express that power. Thus 'sampradaya vihina ye mantras te nisphala matah.' If the mantra is not received from the parampara, it will not bear fruit. Krishna has set up this system and we are to follow it in order to attract his sympathy.

Q u e s t i o n: If we must embrace substance over form, then how does initiation matter at all? Because by association with elevated devotees and books of the acaryas one gets the substance. So why is this formal initiation required?

A n s w e r: Books are not enough. They are passive agents of divinity, whereas the saints are active agents. Their company is essential for understanding the books. Although some say that Prabhupada has given an explanation in his books, even a cursory reading of them reveals the need for living sadhu sanga. Page after page of his commentary stresses the need for the association of living saints. If we are associating with living saints, naturally we will want to be identified with the one who captures our heart as a disciple. If our heart has been captured by a previous acarya, we should find a living one who feels the same way.

Initiation is more than a mere formality. It is about the love one feels for a sadhu that creates a bond between him and oneself. It is the happy formalization and announcement of that realtionship, and a comittment to it in which 'divya jnana' is transmitted.

Q u e s t i o n: The second initiation (mantra diksa) makes a person 'dvija' or brahmana. But Krishna says "striyo vaisya ..." . i.e., anyone can get back irrespective of his qualification. It appears that for chanting the Holy Name one does not need an official initiation, for you also said that the Holy Name is independent of initiation (citing Caitnaya Caritamrita). So, can it be concluded that an official initiation is not necessary for a soul's return, and maybe it just provides substatntial assistance for acheiving the goal?

A n s w e r: Mantra diksa is not about becoming a brahmana. Previous to Bhaktisiddhanta, at the time of Vaisnava mantra diksa, brahmanas would take off their thread. He introduced the wearing of the thread to make a statement that Vaisnava mantra diksa includes within it whatever was present in the brahmana diksa and brahma gayatri. Our diksa mantras are for awakening the svarupa of the jiva so that he can take full advantage of the liberated Nama and culture his relationship with Krishna. Those who are not liberated cannot take full advantage of Nama prabhu, and thus they require mantra diksa. When one attains svarupa siddhi, he no longer needs to recite his diksa mantra, but he will continue to chant the Holy Name.

Q u e s t i o n: Please forgive me if these questions are offensive in any manner, but I have not been able to resolve these issues myself.

A n s w e r: The problem is that in your tender stage of 'komala sraddha' you have been subjected to a spiritual leadership crisis in a particular institution, the one where you first learned about Gaudiya Vaisnavism. Yet, were it not for this, you would not think to ask these questions.

Initiation received from a qualified guru is most desireable. I can tell you this from my own experience.

Q u e s t i o n: If one accepts the Holy Name from one guru, can he then take mantra diksa from another, when Caitanya Caritamrita says that one can have only one initiating guru?

A n s w e r: Regarding mantra diksa, this is different from what we call Hari Nama initiation. Hari Nama is independent of initiation. Caitanya Caritamrta says 'dekha-purascarya-vidhi apekha na kare'. This means that the Holy Name is not subject to initiation or puruscarya in order that it might be effective. Srila Prabhupada has said in relation to this verse, "The chanting of the Hare Krishna 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 Krishna consciousness will awaken very soon, and his identification with the material world will be vanquished."

Caitanya Caritamrita also instructs 'krishna-mantra haite habe samsara-mocana krishna-nama haite pabe krishnera carana'. This means that the diksa mantra liberates one (svarupa siddhi), while the Holy Name further delivers one to the lotus feet of Krsna. The purport is that while Nama prabhu is independent of initiation, mantra diksa is necessary for conditioned souls to take full advantage of the Holy Name. We should recieve the Holy Name from a Guru, but mantra diksa is the actual initiation into the sampradaya. Thus the Guru who gives one Hari Nama may not always be the one who gives mantra diksa.

For example, Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura received Hari Nama from Bhaktivinoda Thakura and mantra diksa from Gaurakishore dasa babaji.

Similarly, Prabhupada's sister received Hari Nama from Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta and mantra diksa from Bhakti Saranga Goswami Maharaja.

Thus, when Caitanya Caritamrta speaks of one initiating Guru, this is in reference to mantra diksa.

Questions or comments may be sent to wfd@efn.org

Many thanks to the generous support of our Sanga reading congregation.

Their donations and pledges make this work possible. Those wishing to participate, please send your offerings, payable to 'Sanga', c/o Audarya Ashram, 325 River Road, Eugene, OR 97404, USA.

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