Hawaii: January 13, 2003
[Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja spent the week of January 11-17 in Hilo, Hawaii, enlightening his audience of two hundred fifty on the topics of guru-tattva and the gradual development of devotion for Sri Krsna. Meanwhile, as sometimes occurs, certain individuals, in an attempt to disinterest others from attending Srila Narayana Maharaja's classes, were engaged in passing out copies of a paper. This time the paper was written on the subject of the relative necessity of harinama initiation (first initiation) and diksa (second initiation). The paper tried its level best to prove that Srila Prabhupada Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja and Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Maharaja have a different view on the subject than Srila Narayana Maharaja. If this were true, it would place Srila Narayana Maharaja outside the disciplic line of his predecessor acaryas. When Srila Narayana Maharaja became aware of this attempt to show a difference between them, he gave the following class and clearly showed that the three above-mentioned acaryas are exactly in the same line. They are all saying, in fact, that the acceptance of the diksa mantras is essential.]
[Srila Narayana Maharaja:] In my classes I have been explaining the meaning of bhakti and I have explained how we can gradually achieve it, beginning from the smallest fraction of bhakti called sraddha. We discussed many points, among which was the necessity for guru-padasraya and diksa. In the meantime, a topic has arisen that I want to clarify. You should very carefully and seriously hear this very important subject matter. First Sripad Padmanabha Maharaja will present the argument and then I will reply it.
[Sripad Padmanabha Maharaja:] There is a question concerning the relationship between gayatri-mantra (diksa) and harinama initiation. Some persons have presented quotes from Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Maharaja in order to present the idea, based upon their own understanding, that harinama is complete and sufficient in itself for the conditioned soul, and that initiation into the gayatri mantra is not actually required for him. I will read their quotations, and then Srila Maharaja will explain the conclusive philosophical understandings. First of all they quote Srila Prabhupada in a room conversation in 1973 in Paris, where he says, "Chanting the Hare-Krsna maha-mantra. Then, as he practices, he becomes more purified. Then second initiation gayatri mantra. The first initiation, according to Jiva Gosvami, that is sufficient. Chanting the Hare Krsna mantra, that is sufficient. But still, to purify them more, the second initiation, gayatri, is given." That is one quote.
Then they quote Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Maharaja in his book Sri Guru and his Grace. There he says, "We accept the mantra only to help the nama bhajana, the worship of the holy name. Otherwise it may not be necessary at all. It has been judged in such a way. The name alone can do everything for a person; it is full and complete. The gayatri mantra helps us to do away with the aparadhas (offenses) and the abhasa or hazy conception. The gayatri mantra comes to help us only so far."
With these two quotations these persons have attempted to support their statement that it is not actually completely essential or necessary for us conditioned souls to accept the gayatri mantra diksa because harinama is sufficient. They have also suggested that Srila Narayana Maharaja is saying something contrary to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Sridhar Maharaja. I am also reading the two statements they have quoted from Srila Narayana Maharaja. The first is from his book, Going Beyond Vaikuntha: "Without the gopala-mantra and the kama-gayatri, will our sadhana be complete with only the nama-sankirtana? No, because by nama-sankirtana alone we will not be able to chant suddha-nama, the pure name of Krsna." The second quotation they cited is from a lecture given by Srila Narayana Maharaja on the topic of Sri Bhajana Rahasya: "Everything is there, but don't think that we can realize all this by chanting krsna-nama alone. We must chant harinama and gayatri-mantra as well. If we want full understanding and realization of what is in the Hare Krsna mantra, we must also chant the gayatri mantras.
I want to request Srila Narayana Maharaja to kindly give the proper philosophical conclusions, so that everyone can understand clearly the position of gayatri-mantra initiation and harinama initiation, and their relationship.
[Srila Narayana Maharaja:] I think you have all understood the argument; now you should try very carefully to understand the reply so that you can reconcile all the statements. Someone has presented the idea that the acceptance of diksa is not essential, and he has indirectly indicated the verse:
diksa-purascarya-vidhi apeksa na kare
["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 be delivered."]
The holy name is sufficient. The holy name is very powerful and can fulfill all desires. The name will even give vraja-prema. What, then, is the need of taking initiation? The paper has quoted my statement, along with the statement of Prapujya-carana Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Maharaja and Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja; so I want to reconcile all statements.
It is true that diksa-purascarya (initiation and the purificatory activities performed before initiation) is not needed in all circumstances; but we should know something about the actual meaning of this verse. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada has written a book of rules and regulations in deity worship called Arcana Dipika, and there he has explained that harinama is bhagavata-svarupa, the actual form of Krsna and Radha, and for this reason it is stated in Sri Siksastakam, "Param vijayate sri krsna-sankirtana." By chanting and remembering Krsna's names, all kinds of perfection — like vraja-prema and even radha-dasya (becoming a maid servant of Srimati Radhika) — can be attained. In the first stage, however, when a devotee is uttering the holy name he is full with many aparadhas, and also anarthas such as laya (sleep), viksepa (distraction), apratipatti (indifference or disinterest in spiritual topics), and so on. It is guaranteed that such a person cannot utter the pure name. Rather, his chanting will be nama-aparadha. Chanting the pure name is only possible after the diksa-samskara.
Srila Jiva Gosvami explains diksa in his Bhakti-sandarbha (283):
divyam jnanam yato dadyat kuryat papasya sanksayam
["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 this process as diksa." (quoted in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta: Madhya 15. 108 purport)]
The gayatri-mantra gives all kinds of divya-jnana, transcendental knowledge, including the knowledge of krsna-tattva and jiva-tattva, and it also gives a relationship with Krsna. Nama alone will not give this relation to the person filled with anarthas. All of our acaryas, from top to bottom, have stated that in order to purify us from our sinful actions and to clear offenses (anartha-nrvrtti) so that we can develop the ability to chant the pure name, we must accept diksa-vidhana (the process of initiation). Di — ksa. Di means divya-jnana, or realized knowledge of our relationship with Krsna. Ksa is the washing away of all sins, aparadhas, and other impurities. For this, diksa-vidhana is essential. Without diksa-samskara, one's relationship with Krsna (sambandha-jnana) cannot manifest and one cannot chant suddha-nama. It is essential to accept diksa.
["As bell metal (a mixture of copper and tin) becomes gold by mixing with mercury, similarly, by the process of diksa, initiation, a person becomes a brahmana."( Sri Hari-bhakti-vilasa)]
Bell metal turns into gold by the help of the element mercury in an al-chemical process. Similarly, by this element, the process of diksa, our chanting of the holy name will become pure; otherwise it is not possible.
If there is no necessity to accept diksa-mantra, why did Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada take second initiation from Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji Maharaja, and why did he give diksa initiation to all of his disciples? Parama-pujyapada Srila Sridhara Gosvami Maharaja also took diksa from him. If there is no necessity, why did Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura give diksa initiation, and why did his disciples accept it?
Not only that, Brahma received kama-gayatri and Gopal-mantra from Krsna Himself. Brahma then gave the diksa-mantra to Sri Narada Rsi, and Narada gave it to so many disciples. Narada not only gave harinama to Dhruva Maharaja; he gave him diksa by the mantra: om namo bhagavate vasudevaya. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu took initiation from Sri Isvara Puripada, who first gave Him harinama, and to purify that chanting of nama, he gave Him Gopal-mantra. Gopal-mantra is transcendental and ever-existing, and it gives a relationship with Krsna as Gopijana-vallabha. We should consider all this evidence.
All the acaryas in our guru-parampara have accepted second initiation from a bona fide guru. Can those who say that harinama is sufficient for conditioned souls name any acarya in our guru-parampara who has not taken diksa initiation? Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji Maharaja, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, and the Six Gosvamis took second initiation, and Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada took it. Why did they take diksa initiation if it is not essential? You should know the gravity of this truth. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Sri Nityananda Prabhu, Sri Advaita Acarya, Sri Gadadhara Pandita, Sri Isvara Puri, and Sri Madhavendra Puri have all taken diksa. Why, then, should we not take it? Why is it not essential? If it is not essential, then why did Sri Sanatana Gosvami write about it in his Sri Hari-bhakti-vilasa? Why did Sri Gopal Bhatta Gosvami also write about it? Did he say it was useless? Those who say that diksa is not essential will not be able to answer these questions in hundreds and millions of years.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu took initiation even though he is the Lord of lords — Radha and Krsna combined — and yet He went to Gaya and took initiation. He vividly explained this fact in a gathering of sannyasis in Kasi when those sannyasis asked Him, "O, You are a very young and qualified sannyasi. Why do you not hear Vedanta? Why do you engage in singing and dancing and rolling on the ground? A sannyasi should not dance and do all these things." Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu replied by telling them of the order of His guru, Sri Isvara Puripada:
Mahaprabhu said, "Guru mora murkha dekhi — My Guru Maharaja told me that because I am foolish and unintelligent, I am not qualified to study Vedanta. He said that instead I should always chant Hare Krsna and I should remember this verse:
harer nama harer nama
kiba mantra dila, gosani, kiba
Caitanya Mahaprabhu told the sannyasis, "You ask why I dance and sing and roll on the ground. Here is the reason: When My gurudeva initiated me, he gave me both the harinama mantra and the gopal mantra." Then He said, "japite japite mantra." If He had only received harinama, the maha-mantra, He would not have said the word "mantra"? Mantra especially refers to Gopal-mantra and kama-gayatri. He first received harinama and then gopal-mantra. "Japite japite mantra karila pagala — and this made Me mad. Krsna nama mantra — meaning gopal and maha mantra made Him "like a madman".
For those who always remember and meditate on the gopal-mantra and kama-gayatri, by the power of the mantra, rati (bhava-bhakti) will at once enter their hearts. It has been written in Caitanya-caritamrta: Antya-lila 4.192:
diksa-kale bhakta kare
["At the time of initiation, when a devotee fully surrenders unto the service of the Lord, Krsna accepts him to be as good as Himself."]
First initiation is called harinama initiation only, and the second initiation is called diksa. Atma samarpana — at the time of diksa the disciple totally surrenders unto the feet of his gurudeva. Sei-kale. At that time Krsna gives the shelter of His lotus feet, and He makes that disciple atma-sama, very near and dear to Him.
According to the Vaisnava regulative principles, one must be initiated as a brahmana. As quoted in the Hari-bhakti-vilasa (2.6) from the Visnu-yamala, Lord Sankara says to his wife Parvati:
adiksitasya vamoru krtam
akrstih krta-cetasam su-manasam
["'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. When a person simply chants the holy name with his 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 any of these activities. It is self-sufficient.'"(quoted in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 15.110]
Can this occur if one's chanting is not pure? This is the question that has been raised here. Can this occur without diksa? In the Hari-bhakti-vilasa (17.4-5, 7) it is stated:
vina yena na siddhah syan mantro varsa-satair
["Without performing the purascarya activities, one cannot become perfect even by chanting this mantra for hundreds of years. But 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." (quoted in Srila Prabhupada's purport to Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 15.108)]
Srila Jiva Gosvami has quoted a verse, in order to further dissolve any misunderstanding in this regard. In his Bhakti-sandarbha (283-84), Srila Jiva Gosvami describes the importance of Deity worship and initiation (diksa) as follows:
avasyakatvam nasti, tad vinapi saranapattyadinam ekatarenapi purusartha-siddher abhihitatvat, tathapi sri-naradadi-vartmanusaradbhih sri-bhagavata saha sambandha-visesam diksa-vidhanena sri-guru-carana-sampaditam cikirsadbhih krtayam diksayam arcanam avasyam kriyetaiva.
yadyapi svarupato nasti, tathapi prayah svabhavato dehadi-sambandhena kadarya-silanam viksipta-cittanam jananam tat-tat-sankoci-karanaya srimad-rsi-prabhrtibhir atrarcana-marge kvacit kvacit kacit kacin maryada sthapitasti.
["It is Srimad-Bhagavatam's opinion that the process of Deity worship is not actually necessary, just as the specific prescriptions of the Pancaratra and other scriptures do not have to be followed. The Bhagavatam enjoins that even without practicing Deity worship one can achieve the complete success of human life by any of the other devotional processes, such as simply offering oneself at the Lord's feet for His protection. Nonetheless Vaisnavas, following the path of Sri Narada and his successors, endeavor to establish a personal relationship with the Lord by receiving the grace of a bona fide spiritual master through initiation, and in this tradition the devotees are obliged at the time of initiation to begin engaging in Deity worship.
"Although Deity worship is not essential, the material conditioning of most candidates for devotional service requires that they engage in this activity. When we consider their bodily and mental conditions, we find that the character of such candidates is impure and their minds are agitated. Therefore, to rectify this material conditioning the great sage Narada and others have at different times recommended various kinds of regulations for Deity worship." (quoted in Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 15.108 purport)]
Simply by the tongue touching the Krsna-mantra, that holy name gives all kinds of perfection, including krsna-dasya and radha dasya. But Srila Jiva Gosvami has written a very clear commentary to this verse, and you should note this down in your heart for continual remembrance. In his Bhakti-sandarbha (283) he has written:
["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 only after initiation and the sacred thread ceremony. Unless one is initiated as a brahmana, one cannot worship the holy name properly." (quoted in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 15.108)] [See Endnote]
It is true that simply by touching the tongue krsna-nama can give everything, but the material tongue, the tongue of the conditioned soul cannot touch the transcendental holy name.
atah sri-krsna-namadi na bhaved grahyam indriyaih
["With the material senses one cannot understand the transcendental holy name of the Lord or His form, activities and pastimes. But when one actually engages in devotional service, utilizing the tongue, the Lord is revealed." Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu 1.2.234)]
Sri Narada Muni, and other previous acaryas like Brahma, Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana, and Sanat Kumar, have all taken diksa. One receives diksa and then he performs his sadhana bhajana and worships his istadeva (worshipful deity), Radha and Krsna. Srila Jiva Gosvami has written that without diksa there will be no relationship with Krsna — neither, dasya, sakya, vatsalya nor madhurya. It will never be possible without diksa. In our sampradaya, sambandha-jnana comes only by uttering "gopijana-vallabhaya"; otherwise it cannot come.
Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura has written an explanation of this same verse, and therein he vividly explains that one may have given up all kinds of sadhana and pious activities. He may be chanting and remembering the holy names of Bhagavan and he may have determined that his Istadeva is Krsna. Still, if he has not taken initiation from a Vaisnava guru, thinking that it is not essential, he can never achieve Krsna. The only good result he achieves is that he will not go to hell. He cannot achieve the lotus feet of Krsna, in any life, until he is properly initiated. In a future life, by the fruit of his previous activities of bhajana, he will take birth in a very religious family and there he will have sadhu-sanga, guru padasraya, and then diksa. At that time he will make solid advancement in bhakti. This is the only way.
Also, Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami has written in the first verse of his Sri Manah-Siksa:
Gurau gosthe gostalayisu sujane
["O my dear brother my foolish mind! Taking hold of your feet, I humbly pray to you with sweet words. Please give up all pride and quickly develop sublime and incessant rati for Sri Gurudeva, Sri Vraja-dhama, the residents of Vraja, the Vaisnavas, the brahmanas, my diksa-mantras, the holy names of the Supreme Lord, and the shelter of Kisora-Kisori, Sri Sri Radha-Krsna, the eternally youthful divine couple of Vraja."]
Why has he said "mantra" if diksa initiation is not necessary? Why he has not said only "Sri namni"? What is sva-mantra? There is some difference between mantra and harinama, and that is why he has told his mind, "You should develop sublime and unprecedented attachment for both. Take shelter of nama and mantra, and then your life will be successful." So there are two things not one. Srila Raghunatha has written, '"Sada dambham hitva kuru ratim apurvam O mind, you should give up your false pride and try to develop sublime and unprecedented attachment for both." His guru gave him mantra, and that is diksa.
We should now reconcile all these things.
[Endnote: The quote of Srila Prabhupada speaking in Paris in 1973, as quoted by Sripad Padmanabha Maharaja in the beginning of this lecture, refers to this verse of Srila Jiva Gosvami.]
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