mantra diksa

Haridas.bts - April 27, 2005 11:11 am

i hope that some of you can send me some quotes as to the meaning and qualifications for one to take mantra diksa.


as i am still (one foot in and one foot out!) in iskcon, i have come across 2 problems with their presentations of mantra diksa


1)the reason for taking it-they feel only brahminically inclined and those who wish to be pujaris should take it.


-i feel that one should take it to help with nama bhajan for reasons swami and BRSridhara Maharaja have explained


2)qualifications for such-same as above


I was denied reccomendation for mantra diksa from local authorities because they "feel" i am not a bramana and i "do not need it anyway" as i have the holy name. BTSwami was giving one last initiations and i was denied from taking from him.


So, now my wife and i have to take from someone else and it seems like as long as i accept the iskcon structure here that i will never get it!!!!!!!!!


I have written Swami and expressed my desire to take from him, he has instructed me to read his books and hear the tapes and then meet him in person.


I carry this instruction on my head and in a few days i will have Swamis books and then subscribe to audarya audio when money allows.


My earnest desire is to take mantra and make tangible advancement with nama bhajan-is this not my right if the desire is genuine? just because i may not fit in with a stereotyped idea of what someone should be like who wears a thread does not mean i shouldnt take mantra-or does it?


I am strict with my sadhana and read a lot and worship our home deities daily without fail.


i am hoping you all can help me with this one and bless me with your understandings and quotes


Vrindavandas - April 27, 2005 2:53 pm

I am really surprised to hear this. Typically in the ISKCON structure these days, they give both harinam and mantra diksa at the same time. Your experience just goes to show that temples and zones are doing radically different things in their area. This is the first time I have ever heard this happen.

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - April 27, 2005 10:35 pm

This topic was discussed in "Guru-tattva thread", you must have mantra diksa to receive sambandha-jnana, realize your inherent relationship with Krsna and to take full advantage of the holy name. Mantra diksa does require certain qualification imposed by Guru. One of such requirements traditionally was time in each other company -- disciple must study Guru and Guru must study disciple. When Guru is satisfied with disciple’s progress and feels that he is ready mantra diksa is given.

Haridas.bts - April 28, 2005 1:20 pm

thank you Vrindavan das and Nanda prabhus for your replies


let me elaborate a bit more on the situation.


My wife and i received Nama diksa nearly 2 years ago, have been steady every

since. We worship our home deities everyday (1x arati and bhoga offering)and

read regularly.


BTSwami is giving one final set of initiations and he has literally days left on this

planet so we got reccomendation. One local devotee hates my family and went on a smear campaign against me and as a result the TP retracted my reccomendation.


I mean, how insensitive-my guru is about to leave, i have done LOTS of service for the local temple and i have been with BTS since 96 and in iskcon since 91.

What more can one want for reccomendation-anyways, they are okay about reccomending devotees who live in the temple because they need pujaris etc...


so, it is a convinience thing-but the matter is that now it would appear that i will have 2 gurus, a nama guru and a mantra guru.


Nanda , you mentioned that mantra diksa is essential for sambanda jnana- can you find me some quotes for this?


I have heard the argument that only the holy name is necessary etc...which is the iskcon viewpoint and that mantra diksa( well they call it braman initiation) is not necessary unless one wants to be a pujari for installed vigraha. BUt i see it as something that is a progression that most will go for.


Funny thing is that the TP who is a disciple of SDG but got mantra from Prthu on SDG's behalf said that he has been chanting gayatri for 20 years and felt no difference in his chanting or spiritual life!!!!


He was very defensive when i spoke to him again about this issue and basically said that he will never give me reccomendation.


It feels like it is an exclusive club (caste brahamans) that they do not want me to belong to.


So, if i want mantra diksa, and i feel i should take it and need it then he cannot complain if i get it outside of the formal iskcon structure-but he more than likely will and i will more than likely get excommunicated for such!


Good job my wife approves of my new relationship with Swami :)


thanx again, please send quotes if possible, i tried looking but couldnt find any as yet



Bhrigu - April 28, 2005 3:36 pm
Nanda , you mentioned that mantra diksa is essential for sambanda jnana- can you find me some quotes for this?


You can find a quote from the Bhakrtisandarbha in the "Guru-tattva" thread.

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - April 28, 2005 10:55 pm

Couple of words about qualifications


snehad va lobhato vapi

yo grhniyad adiksaya

tasmin gurau sa-sisye tu

devata sapa apatet


A guru who gives the mantra to his disciple out of greed or mundane affection, disregarding the standards for diksa, is cursed - along with that disciple - by the gods.

(Hari-Bhakti-Vilasa 2.7)


In the Mantra-Muktavali it is said (from Sri Hari-bhakti-vilasa, First Vilasa Text 59):

A genuine disciple is faithful, glorious, humble, pleasing to the eye, truthful, pious, intelligent, honest, not a hypocrite, free of lust and anger, devoted to his spiritual master's feet, with body, mind, and words devoted to the Supreme Personality of Godhead day and night, healthy, sinless, faithful, always devoted to the worship of the devas, brahmanas, and pitas, young, in full control of his senses, and kind. A person who has these and other virtues is qualified for initiation.


In SB 11.10.6 it is said:

The servant or disciple of the spiritual master should be free from false prestige, never considering himself to be the doer. He should be active and never lazy and should give up all sense of proprietorship over the objects of the senses, including his wife, children, home and society. He should be endowed with feelings of loving friendship toward the spiritual master and should never become deviated or bewildered. The servant or disciple should always desire advancement in spiritual understanding, should not envy anyone and should always avoid useless conversation.

Babhru Das - April 29, 2005 12:03 am
I am really surprised to hear this.  Typically in the ISKCON structure these days, they give both harinam and mantra diksa at the same time.



Well, I find that surprising. That wasn't what I saw in San Diego while I lived there. I only remember one instance of someone getting harinama and mantra-diksa together, and that was someone being re-initiated. But if that's a common practice in ISKCON, it's certainly different from Srila Prabhupada's (see our other thread), and it seems to indicate that they may be either stricter with Harinama than I'd personally like to see, or more lenient with mantra-diksa. And this business about whether Haridas is "brahminical" or "needs it" because he's not a "temple" devotee sounds to me like purely institutional considerations. It seems a shame that you have to go through those institutional screens for BTS. A friend of mine here got bumped from getting 2nd initiation from Srila Prabhupada once or twice, but he later got diksa from Srila Sridhar Maharaja. His spiritual life certainly hasn't suffered. Another friend, an older gurukuli, got bumped once in '77, and that turned out to be once too many. He hasn't taken mantra-diksa yet, although he has a plan to prepare himself. I often wonder if his life may have been different if he had gotten mantra-diksa.

Bhrigu - April 29, 2005 6:01 am

Also in my experience, Harinama and Diksha at the same time is very much an exception in ISKCON. According to the ISKCON Lawbook, there should be at least one year between them. In Finland, the standard has been two years in between. Previously, non-temple devotees would have to wait much longer, but nowadays there are some gurus (e.g. Bir Krishna Goswami) who will give it more easily.


I know of only one case where a devotee wasn't given Diksha because his guru didn't think him brahminically qualified enough. At the time I agreed -- this person was a nice devotee, but not brahminical at all. Diksha was seen as "brahman-initiation", something good but not absolutely necessary. Today, I don't agree with that idea anymore. Still, that doesn't mean that a person getting diksha shouldn't have any qualifications (I think there should be some kind of test whether the disciple knows the Gaudiya siddhanta, observation guru-disciple, etc), but linking it too much to brahmanism may not be that good an idea.


I have no way of knowing, Haridasji, whether you are qualified for mantra-diksha or not, but I do know that there is a plan behind all of this. When doing research for my thesis on Gurus, I met many devotees who had "missed out" on getting diksha from some famous guru. They expressed a sadness about it -- but often that feeling of separation made them closer to that particular guru than many of his direct disciples.

Haridas.bts - April 29, 2005 11:02 am

thanks again for replying and continuing this discussion-it is important to me and i feel happy that i can hear from you all. Thanx Nanda for the quotes and reminding us of the gravity of taking mantra diksa-it is definatly not a cheap thing.


I have also rarely come across cases wherein 1st and 2nd initiation are done together-the only reason i have seen this done in iskcon is when someone is needed for pujari service.



Vrindaranya Dasi - April 29, 2005 3:18 pm



I believe the confusion about mantra diksa arises because devotees hear that before Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur devotees born in brahmana families would take off the brahmana thread and not chant the Brahma gayatri. Therefore they assume that mantra diksa was not given previously and that it is just to establish that devotees are more qualified than brahmanas. Actually, what happened was that Bhaktisiddhanta started giving the Brahma Gayatri along with the other mantras/gayatris that are given as mantra diksa and gave the brahmana thread at the same time.


I’ll make a post after this one with excerpts from my Guru Maharaja’s Sanga about mantra-diksa (to be included in his upcoming book on Guru-tattva). This excerpt clears up the above mentioned confusion. You can also reference his commentary on Gopala-tapani Upanisad, which explains the significance of the Gopala-mantra (the main mantra of our sampradaya, which is one of the mantras that we receive at mantra diksa). His booklet Sri Guru-Parampara also talks about the diksa mantras, starting on page 17. And of course don’t forget that the Brhad-Bhagavatamrta is about the fabulous journey brought about by the cowherd boy Gopa Kumar chanting the Gopala mantra.




Vrindaranya Dasi - April 29, 2005 3:22 pm

Note: Some of the later questions in this section specifically address the question whether mantra diksa is only for those who want to worship the Deity.


Q. Generally when people talk about gayatri mantra it seems to me that they are speaking only about the first line. Can you explain the meaning of gayatri and why Gaudiya Vaisnavas chant seven lines of gayatri while others chant only one line?


A. There are a number of gayatri mantras, such as guru gayatri, Gaura gayatri, Krsna gayatri, Radha gayatri, etc. They all follow the prototype of the Brahma gayatri, which you have referred to as the first line because you received it first followed by other mantras and their corresponding gayatris at the time of your mantra diksa (initiation).


The Brahma gayatri is also known by other names, such as Surya gayatri, because different worshipers chant this gayatri with different religious conceptions. However, Sri Jiva Goswami has explained this Brahma gayatri in his Tattva-sandarbha and again in his Paramatma-sandarbha, and in doing so he has demonstrated that it petitions the Supreme Brahman and his primary sakti. He stresses that the gayatri mantra does not petition other lesser gods or goddesses as some people believe. Srila B. R. Sridhara Maharaja has also written an illuminating commentary on this mantra demonstrating this same point as well as Brahma gayatri's emphasis on Radha dasyam.


In the Gaudiya lineage, all devotees receive various mantras and corresponding gayatris from their initiating gurus. Among them the guru gayatri, Gaura gayatri, Krsna (Kama) gayatri, Radha gayatri, Nityananda gayatri, and Gadadhara gayatri are common. For the most part, these mantras and gayatris come from the Pancaratra literature, as do the procedures for worshiping the Vaisnava Deities. It is this branch of scripture that Hari bhakti-vilasa draws from when discussing these topics.


The principal mantra for the Gaudiya lineage, other than the Hare Krsna maha- mantra (a nama mantra), is the 18-syllable Krsna or Gopala mantra. Its corresponding gayatri is the Krsna or Kama gayatri. Other than the Pancaratra literature, the Krsna mantra is explained in Gopal-tapani Upanisad, a commentary on which I have just completed and is soon to be published.


Q. What is the difference between Brahma Gayatri and regular gayatri?


A. 'Om bhur bhuvah,' no difference. However, in our sampradaya we sometimes equate gayatri with the diksa mantras because Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura gave them together. Thus we sometimes call it gayatri initiation.


Q. What is the difference between Bhagavata diksa and pancaratrika diksa?


A. Bhagavata diksa refers to Harinama and raga marga of nama bhajana, whereas the pancaratrika diksa refers to mantra diksa of gopala mantra, kamagayatri, etc. Caitanya-caritamrta tells us that Krsna mantra (pancaratrika diksa) gives liberation (samsara mocana), whereas Krsna nama delivers one to the feet of Krsna (krsna carana).


krsna-mantra haite habe samsara mocana krsna-nama haite pabe krsnera carana


"The Krsna mantra liberates one from repeated birth and death in this world; the holy name of Krsna gives one shelter at the lotus feet of Krsna."


Srila Sridhara Maharaja gave the example of a smaller circle within a larger circle:


"The holy name of Krsna is the larger circle. It extends from the highest to the lowest. The mantra circle is a smaller circle within the larger circle. The mantra cannot reach to the lowest point. The holy name can extend itself down to the lowest position. The mantra gives us entrance into liberation, and then the name carries us further. This is the nature of our connection with the mantra and the name.


The name extends to the lowest position, to the candalas and yavanas. Everyone can receive the name. But not everyone is eligible for the mantra. Only after one has reached a developed stage can the mantra be conferred upon him. And the mantra's jurisdiction will be finished when liberation is attained." (Sri Guru and His Grace)


Q. Is initiation mandatory for a soul to go back home? If so, which initiation is it (mantra or harinam)?


A. 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 receive 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. Krsna has set up this system and we are to follow it in order to attract his sympathy.


Q. 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 substantial assistance for achieving the goal?


A. 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. Srila Prabhupada hardly mentions mantra diksa in his books and one wonders if it is even necessary. Everywhere we find that Srila Prabhupada stresses the importance of chanting Hare Krsna to attain all success. Certainly in Iskcon (at least during my years in the temple) the main initiation was considered to be harinama. This initiation is considered a very serious step. The vows are taken and the understanding is that the sadhaka has begun his spiritual life. It was my impression that second initiation (diksa) was considered necessary only for those in the temple who were required to serve the Deities. Other Gaudiya societies seem to give more importance to mantra diksa than harinama. Is this prevalent throughout the Gaudiya Matha? Srila Prabhupada emphasized harinama, but is this simply another example of Srila Prabhupada giving us the very basics, intending for us to learn more as we become mature?


A. Reluctance to receive mantra diksa from someone is likely based primarily on one's reservations about being considered someone's disciple, especially if one has already received the holy name and japa mala from a guru who passed on before he could give his disciple mantra diksa. Otherwise, why would one not want to take advantage of the principal mantra of our sampradaya? While one may put forth various reasons with emphasis on the holy name's efficacy and its relationship to the bhagavata/raga marg as opposed to the mantra's relationship with arcana and the pancaratika marg, this reasoning does not add up to justification for foregoing mantra diksa.


The principal diksa mantras of our sampradaya are the 18-syllable krsna/gopala mantra and its corresponding kama gayatri. About this mantra Sri Krsnadasa Kaviraja says, krsna-mantra haite habe samsara mocana krsna-nama haite pabe krsnera carana. "By chanting the Krsna mantra one will attain liberation, and by chanting Krsna nama one will attain the feet of Krsna." In this verse Sri Krsnadasa distinguishes between the effects of chanting Krsna manta and Krsna nama. Krsna mantra brings one to liberation. This devotional liberation is called svarupa siddhi, in which one realizes his svarupa and takes birth in Gokula, Krsna's manifest pastimes. Having attained this stage, the mantra retires and Krsna nama then takes us to the lotus feet of Krsna in the final stage of vastu siddhi, in which one enters the unmanifest lila of Goloka.


In his Bhakti-sandarbha Sri Jiva Goswami says that at the time of initiation the guru imparts the diksa mantra and an explanation of what is contained within the mantra. This includes knowledge of Krsna's form, his nature, and the disciple's relationship with Krsna, divyam jnanam hy atra srimati mantre bhagavat-svarupa- jnanam tena bhagavata sambandha-visesa-jnanam ca. Thus the knowledge of one's relationship with Krsna is within the diksa mantra, and the guru will instruct his disciple as to the efficacy of this mantra. It leads to the liberated stage of svarupa siddhi, muktir hitvanyatha-rupam svarupena vyavasthitih.


So the diksa mantra is not only concerned with arcana, although it is also necessary for arcana, and for the most part, all devotees need to be involved in arcana in order to be purified and take full advantage of the holy name. From arcana one comes to the platform of bhajana, while sankirtana of the holy name pervades both stages, purifying one's heart in the stage of arcana and delivering one to the lotus feet of Krsna in the stage of bhajana.


Theoretically speaking, everything is within Krsna nama, and Krsna mantra may not be necessary, but practically speaking sadhakas require Krsna mantra to take advantage of Krsna nama. Krsna mantra is dependent on Krsna nama in the sense that it consists of names of Krsna arranged in a particular formula. The very presence of Krsna nama in the mantra is what gives it its revelatory power.


Take all the help you can get! This was the opinion of Srila Prabhupada. He writes: "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, his Krsna consciousness will awaken very soon, and his identification with the material world will be vanquished."


The guru that is most important to us is the one who helps us the most, be he the nama guru or the mantra guru. Of course in almost all cases this guru is the same, but under certain circumstances it may be two different gurus. If one has great faith in his nama guru and needs to receive the Krsna mantra from another guru because the nama guru has already departed, one should find a guru in whom one feels the nama guru is most prominently represented and discuss this openly with him. The disciple's sentiments for his nama guru should then be honored appropriately.


I believe that the above is universally accepted in all branches of Gaudiya Vaisnavism.


Q. Should a devotee be considered a disciple of his harinama guru or his diksa mantra guru if they are different?


A. Whose disciple one is considered to be is not so much a matter of law. If the nama guru is more prominent, this must be given emphasis. Then again, the disciple's sentiments should rule, and it is possible that in spite of the nama guru being more prominent and even perhaps being the guru of the mantra guru, the disciple may feel more affection and help coming from the mantra guru and stress his connection with him.


Q. In what spirit should one chant the diksa mantra?


A. The spirit (pracodayat) in which one should chant the mantra was expressed by Mahaprabhu thus when elaborating on the fifth verse of his Siksastakam: 'dasa' kari' vetana more deha prema-dhana, "Make me your servant, my salary the wealth of love of God." In other words, "Let me engage in divine service for its own sake and nothing more, and let that divine service increase without measure." Full investment in the bank of service with no thought of withdrawal finds one living grandly on the interest accrued. It is significant that Mahaprabhu made this statement while explaining his fifth sloka of Sikstakam. This fifth verse corresponds with the devotional stage of asakti, the final stage of sadhana-bhakti before one enters bhava-bhakti and the world of spiritual emotion proper. Thus Mahaprabhu implies that the diksa mantra helps us within the realm of sadhana up to the stage of asakti and retires when one enters bhava-bhakti as a liberated soul. After liberation is attained, the holy name of Krsna received from Sri Guru comes to the foreground, as the eternally liberated name can only be chanted by a liberated soul.


Thus the Krsna mantra helps us to take advantage of Krsna nama, and Krsna nama takes us to Goloka. In Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Mahaprabhu says that his own guru instructed him like this, krsna mantra hoibe habe samsara-mocana, krsna nama haite pabe krsnera carana. "By chanting the Krsna mantra one will be freed from samsara. By chanting Krsna nama one will attain the feet of Krsna." There is also evidence for this in Brhad-bhagavatamrta, wherein Gopa Kumara desists from chanting his mantra after attaining liberation and goes on to attain Goloka by nama-sankirtana and lila-samaranam.


Q. Certain Gaudiya teachers in India are saying that only one who is in their 'gopi-vesa,' i.e., fully realized siddha-deha gopi body, can give gayatri initiation. They also say that only diksa or gayatri intitiation is real initiation, as opposed to first initiation, which they say is just an encouragement to chant Hare Krsna. What is your opinion?


A. This opinion is not supported by sastra. The madhyama adhikari is qualified to initiate. Such gurus are not 'situated' in their svarupa. I would ask the preacher you are talking about how he or she knows which guru is so situated. This kind of preaching is generally concerned more with sectarian propaganda than the truth.


Regarding the diksa of nama and mantra, there are different opinions. Nama is independent of diksa, yet the Hare Krsna mantra is often given as a diksa samskara while labled Hari Nama initiation. Advaita Acarya initiated Sacimata into the chanting of the Hare Krsna maha mantra. However, most sects consider the diksa mantra samskara to be the formal initiation, as opposed to encouraging persons to chant the Holy Name.


Q. In some Vaisnava lineages, when receiving gayatri mantra, women are advised not to chant the Brahma gayatri, as this is said to be only for men. However, in Iskcon women do chant the Brahma gayatri as part of their gayatri meditation. Could you explain why the difference and why female devotees in some lines do not chant Brahma gayatri?


A. Brahma gayatri is more general in its petition than the core mantras of our sampradaya, the Gopala mantra and Kama gayatri. Although one can draw the highest spiritual ideal from Brahma gayatri, this ideal is more directly represented in Kama gayatri, which is the gayatri that is to be chanted in conjunction with the eighteen-syllable Krsna mantra (Gopala mantra). Thus while many Gaudiya Vaisnavas do not regularly chant the Brahma gayatri, all Gaudiya Vaisnavas chant either the ten- or eighteen-syllable Gopala mantra and Kama gayatri.


Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura widely introduced the chanting of Brahma gayatri for initiated Gaudiya Vaisnavas, which previous to his innovative policy was not customary. Although there was no prohibition, it was not the custom. Indeed, those from brahmana families who later received Vaisnava diksa would customarily stop chanting the Brahma gayatri and remove their sacred thread upon gaining Vaisnava diksa.


Srila Bhaktisiddhanta introduced his policy of giving the Brahma gayatri to his male disciples in light of his efforts to establish what Bhaktivinoda Thakura envisioned as "daiva varnasrama." Thus even in his mission it represented more the circumference than it did the center of the sampradaya's ideal. The fact that he gave it only to men is further evidence of this, for the purely spiritual, the heart of bhakti, is open to all. Traditionally in the varnasrama socio-religious system women who were born in brahmana families did not chant the Brahma gayatri. Thus in establishing daiva varnasrama, Bhaktisiddhanta followed this same principle and only gave the Brahma gayatri to his male disciples.


However, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura's policy with regard to giving this mantra at all had much to do with encouraging his disciples who were coming to him from an atmosphere in which smarta brahmanism was considered by the masses to be more representative of true religion than Gaudiya Vaisnavism. Thus by giving this mantra and the corresponding sacred thread to his male disciples he made a socio-religious and spiritual statement to the society that Vaisnava diksa is more significant than brahmana diksa. The latter is included in the former.


In this way, he sought to encourage his disciples as to the significance of their status as initiated Vaisnavas, as well as to make a statement to the general religious public. He also reasoned that seeing his disciples wearing the thread, etc. others would not criticize them for worshipping the Deity and thus commit Vaisnava aparadha. At that time in Hindu society it was largely thought that only brahmanas were allowed to worship the Deity, and the general conception as to the significance of Deity worship was less than fully transcendental, people being unfamiliar with the Vaisnava conception of arcana.


In consideration of the above, it is no surprise that in coming to the West Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura's dearmost disciple, Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, gave the Brahma gayatri to both his male and female disciples. Although it was not customary for Gaudiya Vaisnavas to chant Brahma gayatri, Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura, in consideration of time and circumstances, instituted this policy. While some Gaudiya sects objected to his policy, it did much to spread Gaudiya Vaisnavism, and thus sometimes we have to defer to the time and place insights and subsequent policies of empowered preachers. Similarly, while it was not customary for initiated Gaudiya Vaisnava women in Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura's line to chant Brahma gayatri, my own Guru Maharaja's innovation in this regard represents once again the insight of an empowered devotee. However, given the relativity of this kind of policy, don't be left behind or caught offending if an empowered preacher comes along and changes it back.


Q. Some devotees are preaching that when Prabhupada initiated disciples though a tape recording he was in fact cheating them and never really initiated them because they were not qualified to be initiated at the time. What is your opinion?


A. Srila Prabhupada's policy of giving mantra diksa (initiation) through a tape recording of his chanting the diksa mantras is clear from the written record, and there is no indication whatsoever that he intended anything less than fully initiating those whom he accepted as disciples when he employed this convention. The earliest of the more than one hundred letters in which he clearly stated this policy was in 1970. In that letter Srila Prabhupada wrote to Gurudasa the following:


"The most important point in this letter is second time initiation of some of the devotees, specifically Jaya Hari Das Brahmacari, Jyotirmayi Devi Dasi, and Mandakinidevi Dasi. So I am sending herewith the sanctified Gayatri Mantra Tape and papers for holding the ceremony, as well as a sacred thread and special instructions for the devotees with the Gayatri Mantra.


"Now what we have to do is to hold the Gayatri Mantra ceremony according to the instruction paper, then at the end teach Jaya Hari personally how to count on the finger divisions. Then play the Gayatri Mantra tape for him, and let him repeat the Mantras along with my vibration, word-to-word, and then hang the Sacred Thread on his neck as usual. The girls don't require Sacred Thread, as you know, but they simply can responsively chant the Gayatri Mantras. In each individual case the instruction should be given and the mantra replayed. This Gayatri Mantra function should be held amongst the devotees only."


The opinion that he intended to cheat thousands of his disciples by pretending to initiate them is, in the very least, uninformed. Why then did he also engage such initiated disciples in the seva puja of the Deity?


If he cheated some and not others that he initiated in the traditional way, we would expect those who he cheated to be less advanced, but this can hardly be demonstrated to the satisfaction of any thinking person.


Prabhupada gave initiation by tape recording--or initiation by any means--only to disciples who were actively serving and had been strictly followings for many months the four regulative principles of no meat eating, intoxication, illicit sex, or gambling. These principles he established as strict criteria for living in his ashrams and for initiation. Living in his ashrams and initiation also required chanting at least sixteen rounds of japa faithfully every day. Even after meeting these requirements, a candidate still had to be recommended for initiation by a senior devotee before he would be accepted.


If those that Prabhupada initiated by tape were not qualified then, what qualifies them to hear the mantras from another guru now? This question is especially relevant when you consider that many of such persons have not been following any regulations or performing much of any spiritual practice for a number of years.


Rupa Goswami says:


anasaktasya visayan yatharham upayunjatah nirbandhah krsna-sambandhe yuktam vairagyam ucyate "When persons accept worldly objects without attachment for them, employing them in the service of Krsna, this is called balanced detachment (yukta vairagya)." (Brs 1.2.255)


Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura extended the application of this verse to include more than merely accepting the remnants of the Deity (garland, clothes, foodstuffs, etc.) and worldly things in moderation for one's upkeep. He believed in employing all modern devices in the propagation of Gaudiya Vaisnavism and considered this to be a dynamic expression of Krsna kirtana.


Srila Prabhupada's policy involved following the lead of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura, who had extended the meaning of Srila Rupa Goswami's conception of yukta vairagya. Among numerous unprecedented examples of yukta vairagya, such as riding in automobiles and employing printing presses, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta once gave Hari nama initiation over the telephone.


Srila Sridhara Maharaja was asked about Prabhupada's policy of initiating disciples with a tape recording of his chanting the diksa mantras. Upon hearing about it, Sridhara Maharaja himself and later Srila Bhakti Promode Puri Goswami adopted this policy when initiation in person was not possible.


Here is one example of what Pujyapada Sridhara Maharaja said on this topic:


Devotee: Are tapes of your Divine Grace or our own guru (Srila Prabhupada), are these transcendental sound vibrations from the tape recorder? Or does it have to be heard from the person?


Pujyapada Sridhara Maharaja: The will of the Vaisnava is everything. The books written by the mahatmas, that is something like tape. They have given instructions through the medium of so many symbols. That has got value. The will, the center from which the vibration is passed, if still in connection, if the Vaisnava's consent is there, it will work. Our Guru Maharaja through telephone gave Harinama to one person in Dacca on his death bed. He was recommended by his disciples. With phone he gave, but because of his consent, his will, the connection was there. In this way we are to take it."


When asked about the extent of the connection between Srila Prabhupada and some of his disciples who had never personally met him, Sridhara Maharaja replied with the same answer: "The will of the Vaisnava is the heart of the affair. If his will is in place, if he gives his consent, the connection is complete and everything else surrounding initiation is secondary."


Q. These devotees go on to say that Prabhupada was a strict follower of Bhaktivinoda Thakura, and that Bhaktivinoda speaks of two kinds of initiation, anusthanika and vidvaviruddha. They say that Prabhupada gave some of his disciples anusthanika diksa when he gave them the mantra on tape, whereas he gave others vidvaviruddha diksa when he spoke the mantra into their right ear. They also say that those who only received anusthanika diksa from Prabhupada must now hear the diksa mantras from their guru in order to be properly initiated.


A. The term anusthanika diksa refers to the externals of the initiatory rite, or an initiation ceremony that lacks substance. The term vidvaviruddha diksa refers to the actual transmission of spiritual knowledge. To say that Prabhupada is a strict follower of Bhaktivinoda Thakura and to then say that he gave anusthanika (external or insubstantial) diksa to many of his disciples is contradictory. Bhaktivinoda Thakura may have spoken about these two types of diksa, but he himself gave vidvaviruddha (spiritually substantial) diksa, the essence of which is the desire on the part of a qualified guru to share his own experience in the land of faith in seed form with his disciple. Those who in the name of vidvaviruddha (substantial) considerations are overly concerned with the details of initiation (such as whether initiation was through tape) may themselves be more involved in anusthanika (external) considerations. Better to be a saragrahi (essence seeking) Vaisnava, as was Bhaktivinoda Thakura.


Q. Some Vaisnava gurus now preaching in the west, both inside and outside Gaudiya Math, teach that neither Srila Prabhupada nor anyone else can properly initiate disciples by tape recording or that any such initiation cannot be considered substantial. Some of Prabhupada's own initiates have accepted these opinions and been reinitiated by one of those gurus saying the proof against initiation by tape recording is that many devotees did not make much advancement after being initiated by Srila Prabhupada in this manner.


A. We should offer due respect to every genuine teacher of Vaisnavism or Krsna consciousness. Still, everyone knows that all contemporary Vaisnava and Gaudiya gurus preaching in the west are living almost entirely on the remnants of Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada's successful preaching campaign. These gurus may not adopt the policy of diksa via tape recording for themselves, nor recommend it, but they should have the wisdom to acknowledge that what an empowered preacher does in unprecedented circumstances like those that Srila Prabhupada encountered are certainly valid. Indeed, the results--a new worldwide community of devotees--speak for themselves and are the ultimate pramana (evidence).


Although many disciples of Srila Prabhupada have not been following strictly in his absence, we do not find that those who received second initiation by tape are any more prone to this. It is very common for disciples to have more enthusiasm in the presence of a great devotee and to be carried by his spiritual strength. In his absence, many disciples need the encouragement and association of others to continue on the path. This is not abnormal or any fault on the part of the Guru or the process. After all, one of the qualities of bhakti with real feeling (bhava-bhakti) is that it is sudurlabha (rarely attained).


Gurus in any branch of Vaisnavism who tell those disciples that they could not have been initiated by tape, were not actually initiated because they were unqualified at the time, or that any initiation by Srila Prabhupada is somehow void or insubstantial, become themselves questionable by this act. This is especially apparent when these gurus want to then re-initiate devotees who have already been initiated by Srila Prabhupada. The motives behind such preaching are much more questionable than the innovative system of mantra diksa by tape recording that was employed by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in his successful and unprecedented campaign to introduce the entire world to Krsna consciousness.

it is he who is petitioned in the gayatri mantra with the words devasya dhimahi.

Audarya-lila Dasa - April 29, 2005 10:28 pm

Thank you Vrndaranya for posting that - it is truly wonderful. That book is really going to help devotees. It will be a great addition to our lineage and a prime example of the depth of understanding and clarity that our Guru Maharaja has.

Haridas.bts - May 3, 2005 9:31 am

yes, thank you vrindaranya mataji-i printed that out-very conclusive!!!!


it will help a lot of people