Importance of Initiations
Madhya 15.103 The Lord Accepts Prasada at the House...
Satyaraja Khan said, "My dear Lord, being a householder and a materialistic man, I do not know the process of advancing in spiritual life. I therefore submit myself unto Your lotus feet and request You to give me orders."
Madhya 15.104 The Lord Accepts Prasada at the House...
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu replied, "Without cessation continue chanting the holy name of Lord Krsna. Whenever possible, serve Him and His devotees, the Vaisnavas."
Madhya 15.105 The Lord Accepts Prasada at the House...
Upon hearing this, Satyaraja said, "How can I recognize a Vaisnava? Please let me know what a Vaisnava is. What are his common symptoms?"
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu replied, "Whoever chants the holy name of Krsna just once is worshipable and is the topmost human being.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura says that simply by chanting the holy name of Krsna once, a person becomes perfect. Such a person is understood to be a Vaisnava. With such faith and belief, one may begin a life of Krsna consciousness, but an ordinary person cannot chant the holy name of Krsna with such faith. This is confirmed by Srila Rupa Gosvami in his Upadesamrta:
krsneti yasya giri tam manasadriyeta.
One should accept the holy name of Krsna to be identical with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Transcendence Himself. The holy name of Krsna is also identical with Krsna and is also cintamani. The name Krsna is the personification of sound perfectly transcendental and eternally liberated from material contamination. One should understand that the name Krsna and Krsna are identical. Having such faith, one must continue to chant the holy name. When one is situated on the neophyte platform, one cannot understand the devotional ingredients of a pure, unalloyed devotee.
However, when the novice engages in devotional service-especially in Deity worship-and follows the order of a bona fide spiritual master, he becomes a pure devotee. Anyone can take advantage of hearing about Krsna consciousness from a pure devotee and thus gradually become purified.
A devotee who believes that the holy name of the Lord is identical with the Lord is a pure devotee, even though he may be in the neophyte stage. By his association, others may also become Vaisnavas.
One is known as a materialistic devotee if he simply worships the Deity of Hari with faith but does not show proper respect to the devotees and to others. This is confirmed in Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.2.47):
arcayam eva haraye
pujam yah sraddhayehate
na tad-bhaktesu canyesu
sa bhaktah prakrtah smrtah
"Anyone who engages with faith in the worship of the Deity of Hari but does not show proper respect to the devotees and to others is known as a materialistic devotee." However, by associating with a neophyte devotee who believes that the holy name of the Lord is identical with the Lord, one can become a devotee also. When Lord Caitanya was teaching Sanatana Gosvami, He said:
sraddhavan jana haya
yahara komala-sraddha, se
krame krame tenho bhakta ha-ibe
"A person who has attained firm faith is a real candidate for advancing in Krsna consciousness. According to the faith, there are first-class, second-class and neophyte devotees. One who has preliminary faith is called kanistha, or a neophyte. The neophyte, however, can become an advanced devotee if he strictly follows the regulative principles set down by the spiritual master. The pure devotee whose faith advances becomes a madhyama-adhikari and uttama-adhikari." (Cc. Madhya 22.64,69--70)
It is thus concluded that even a neophyte devotee is superior to the karmis and jnanis because he has full faith in chanting the holy name of the Lord. A karmi or a jnani, regardless of his greatness, has no faith in Lord Visnu, His holy name or His devotional service. One may be advanced religiously, but if he is not trained in devotional service, he has very little credit on the transcendental platform.
Even a neophyte devotee engaged in Deity worship in accordance with the regulations set forth by the spiritual master is in a position superior to that of the fruitive worker and speculative philosopher.
Madhya 15.107 The Lord Accepts Prasada at the House...
"Simply by chanting the holy name of Krsna, one is relieved from all the reactions of a sinful life. One can complete the nine processes of devotional service simply by chanting the holy name.
The nine types of devotional service are mentioned inSrimad-Bhagavatam (7.5.23):
sravanam kirtanam visnoh
arcanam vandanam dasyam
iti pumsarpita visnau
bhaktis cen nava-laksana
kriyeta bhagavaty addha
tan manye 'dhitam uttamam
These are the activities of hearing, chanting, remembering, serving, worshiping, praying, obeying, maintaining friendship and surrendering everything. As far as chanting the holy name of Krsna is concerned, one can be freed from all sinful reactions by chanting the holy name without committing offenses. If one chants offenselessly, hemay be saved from all sinful reactions . It is very important in devotional service to chant the holy name of the Lord without committing offenses. The nine devotional processes such as sravana and kirtana can all be attained at once if one simply chants the holy name of the Lord offenselessly.
In this regard, Srila Jiva Gosvami states in his book Bhakti-sandarbha (173):
yadyapi anya bhaktih kalau kartavya,
Out of the nine processes of devotional service, kirtana is very important. Srila Jiva Gosvami therefore instructs that the other processes, such as arcana, vandana, dasya and sakhya, should be executed, but they must be preceded and followed by kirtana, the chanting of the holy name. We have therefore introduced this system in all of our centers. Arcana, arati, bhoga offering, Deity dressing and decoration are all preceded and followed by the chanting of the holy name of the Lord-Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare. Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Madhya 15.108 The Lord Accepts Prasada at the House of...
"One does not have to undergo initiation or execute the activities required before initiation. One simply has to vibrate the holy name with his lips. Thus even a man in the lowest class [candala] can bedelivered.
Srila Jiva Gosvami explains diksa in his Bhakti-sandarbha (283):
divyam jnanam yato dadyat
kuryat papasya sanksayam
tasmad dikseti sa prokta
"Diksa is the process by which one can awaken his transcendental knowledge and vanquish all reactions caused by sinful activity. A person expert in the study of the revealed scriptures knows thisprocess as diksa." The regulative principles of diksa are explained in the Hari-bhakti-vilasa (2.3,4) and in Bhakti-sandarbha (283). As stated:
syac copanayanad anu
tathatradiksitanam tu mantra-devarcanadisu
nadhikaro 'sty atah kuryad atmanam siva-samstutam
"Even though born in a brahmana family, one cannot engage in Vedic rituals without being initiated and having a sacred thread. Although born in a brahmana family, one becomes a brahmana after initiation and the sacred thread ceremony. Unless one is initiated as a brahmana, he cannot worship the holy name properly."
According to the Vaisnava regulative principles, one must be initiated as a brahmana. The Hari-bhakti-vilasa (2.6) quotes the following injunction from the Visnu-yamala:
krtam sarvam nirarthakam
"Unless one is initiated by a bona fide spiritual master, all his devotional activities are useless. A person who is not properly initiated can descend again into the animal species." Hari-bhakti-vilasa (2.10) further quotes:
ato gurum pranamyaivam
sarva-svam vinivedya ca
grhniyad vaisnavam mantram
"It is the duty of every human being to surrender to a bona fide spiritual master. Giving him everything-body, mind and intelligence-one must take a Vaisnava initiation from him."
The Bhakti-sandarbha (298) gives the following quotation from the Tattva-sagara:
yatha kancanatam yati
dvijatvam jayate nrnam
"By chemical manipulation, bell metal is turned into gold when touched by mercury; similarly, when a person is properly initiated, he can acquire the qualities of a brahmana."
The Hari-bhakti-vilasa (17.11,12) in discussing the purascarya process, quotes the following verses from Agastya-samhita:
puja traikaliki nityam
japas tarpanam eva ca
homo brahmana-bhuktis ca
guror labdhasya mantrasya
puras caitad vidhiyate
"In the morning, afternoon and evening, one should worship the Deity, chant the Hare Krsna mantra, offer oblations, perform a fire sacrifice, and feed the brahmanas. These five activities constitute purascarya. To attain full success when taking initiation from the spiritual master, one should first perform these purascarya processes."
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 andassociate 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 withoutmeeting 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. In the Hari-bhakti-vilasa (17.4,5,7) it is stated:
vina yena na siddhah syan
mantro varsa-satair api
krtena yena labhate
sadhako vanchitam phalam
mantro hi phala-dhayakah
atah puraskriyam kuryat
puraskriya hi mantranam
pradhanam viryam ucyate
virya-hino yatha dehi
sarva-karmasu na ksamah
tatha mantrah prakirtitah
"Without performing the purascarya activities, one cannot become perfect even by chanting this mantra for hundreds of years. However, one who has undergone the purascarya-vidhi process can attain success very easily. If one wishes to perfect his initiation, he must first undergo the purascarya activities. The purascarya process is the life-force by which one is successful in chanting the mantra. Without the life-force, one cannot do anything; similarly, without the life
force of purascarya-vidhi, no mantra can be perfected."
In his Bhakti-sandarbha (283), Srila Jiva Gosvami states:
yadyapi sri-bhagavata-mate pancaratradi-vat arcana-margasya
avasyakatvam nasti, tad vinapi saranapattyadinam ekatarenapi
urusartha-siddher abhihitatvat, tathapi
ri-naradadi-vartmanusaradbhih sri-bhagavata saha sambandha-visesam
iksa-vidhanena sri-guru-carana-sampaditam cikirsadbhih krtayam
iksayam arcanam avasyam kriyetaiva.
Of similar importance is diksa, which is explained as follows in Bhakti-sandarbha (284):
yadyapi svarupato nasti, tathapi prayah svabhavato dehadi-sambandhena
kardaya-silanam viksipta-cittanam jananam tat-tat-sankoci-karanaya
srimad-rsi-prabhrtibhir atrarcana-marge kvacit kvacit kacit kacin
Similarly in the Ramarcana-candrika it is stated:
vinaiva diksam viprendra
purascaryam vinaiva hi
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. In the words of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Adi 7.73):
krsna-mantra haite habe samsara-mocana
krsna-nama haite pabe krsnera carana
"Simply by chanting the holy name of Krsna one can obtain freedom from material existence. Indeed, simply by chanting the Hare Krsna mantra one will be able to see the lotus feet of the Lord."
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.
na bhaved grahyam indriyaih
sevonmukhe hi jihvadau
svayam eva sphuraty adah
According to Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya 17.134):
ataeva krsnera 'nama', 'deha','vilasa'
prakrtendriya-grahya nahe, haya sva-prakasa
"With these material senses, one cannot understand the
transcendental holy name of the Lord or His form, activities and pastimes. However, when one actually engages in devotional service, utilizing the tongue, the Lord is revealed."
Madhya 15.110 The Lord Accepts Prasada at the House of...
"By chanting the holy name of the Lord, one dissolves his
entanglement in material activities. After this, one becomes very attracted to Krsna, and thus dormant love for Krsna is awakened.
Madhya 15.110 The Lord Accepts Prasada at the House of...
" '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...
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu then finally advised, "One who is chanting the Hare Krsna mantra is understood to be a Vaisnava; therefore you should offer all respects to him."
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.
[Editor's note: Hare Krsna-so the conclusion is this: anyone who once chants the Holy Names of Krsna, according ot Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is worshipable/one should take vaisnava initiation in order to easily perfect this mantra chanting/ if one does not take initiation he or she can fall down into the animal species and all previous devotional activites are useless / the life force of the chanting is purascarya or initiation by a bonafide spiritual master. its true that by once chanting the names of God one can be liberated-like Ajamila-but this story is to show a unique example and the power of the Holy Names in a severe situation / Prabhupada mentions elsewhere that due to our restless minds, we MUST engage in Deity worship and follow all the rules and regulations he has written in his books about, in order for us to continue from neophyte to more advanced vaisnava and ultimately learn how to chant without ANY offenses, because its in THAT state we get the ultimate result-liberation and prema.]