The Meaning of Initiation
(Compiled from notes on lectures of H. H. Mahavishnu Goswami)
The day of spiritual initiation is a very important day in all our lives. Initiation is actually a second birth for the human beings. In this second birth, the spiritual master is our father and the scriptures are our mother. It is a very auspicious and memorable occasion in our lives. We are all born in the darkness of ignorance and on the day of initiation we are taking a second birth in the mode of goodness.
The philosophical points from our scriptures are regarded as universal because it is applicable and good for everyone. That is why Srila Prabhupada unknowingly attracted all kinds of people whoever they may be. Religions are man made divisions but essentially every living entity is the same, being part and parcel of Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead. This important and essential fact of our relationship with the Supreme Lord is recognized on the day of initiation. Our beloved Guru Maharaja makes the day all the more important by his incomparable initiation lectures which are cherished by one and all. He opens our heart to very sublime meanings of initiation and thus completely uplifts us and changes the whole vision for good. I was listening to the initiation lecture given by Maharaja in December 2008 in Rajkot and I would like to share with you all the wonderful meanings of initiation expounded by our beloved Guru Maharaj.
1. Initiation means we change our pursuit from the worst to the best:
The Supreme Lord Krishna declares in Srimad Bhagavad gita 15.7:
“The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind.”
So this is our situation. Here we are all struggling and nobody can deny this. We have to come out of this struggle. We are all essentially spirit souls. But we are running after our body, which is a silly pursuit. However you try to keep this body alright, it is never alright. It is all stool and urine. How long can you tolerate stool and urine? How much bad smell we have? If you enter the toilet which is not clean, we cannot smell. How can you tolerate this filth for the whole of life time? We do not have any happiness in the body. The best thing we can do is to recognize our own spiritual identity and get in touch with the supreme spiritual whole. That is the main thing. To get in touch with the Supreme living entity is so very essential and because it is very much essential for our survival, it has been made very easy by the internal potency of Krishna. The things which are connected to the internal potency of Krishna, they are the best. The things which are connected to the external potency of Krishna, they are the worst. And the worst we are following. The best we are ignoring. This should never happen. Initiation means you change your pursuit from the worst to the best. Again and again and again and again we have the experience that material pursuit is not our position. We are just carrying on but things can be palatable only if there is connection with the spirit. That is especially said in the second seed verse in Srimad Bhagavatam 2.9.34:
rte ‘rtham yat pratiyeta
na pratiyeta caatmani
tad vidyaad aatmano maayaam
yathaabhaaso yathaa tamah
“O Brahma, whatever appears to be of any value, if it is without relation to Me, has no reality. Know it as My illusory energy, that reflection which appears to be in darkness.”
Illusory energy or maya means that which is not connected to Krishna and that is the definition of illusory energy.
2. Initiation means the revival process of our relationship with the Supreme:
We are all spirit souls and at the moment it is forgotten. This forgotten relationship has got to be revived. It is already there. The revival process is known as initiation. Please understand this and this is the only point. Otherwise we are alright. Now from today, we know that we are connected to the supreme whole. And that relationship has got to be re-established so that we completely forget the temporary existence of the body and give priority to the spiritual matters. This is initiation.
3. Initiation means to recognize our own death:
Death is like a snake. The snake bites and you are finished. This snake in the form of death has a ‘pracanda vega’. Very great speed. With very great speed it is chasing us. Day and night, every hour and every second. Death is bound to come for everyone without exception and that is why we say ‘as sure as death’. To recognize mrtyu or death is initiation. Those who recognize their own death, they go on the right path. They are magnanimous like Krishna. Because we see that this is all temporary. So we do not have any reservations in our behaviour. Those who are completely ignorant about these matters, they are fool number one. They try to have their own interest or whatever. We do not have any separate interest because we cannot take with us anything. To understand this is initiation. To some extent we have to have our own quota to maintain ourselves, but apart from that we don’t have any excess.
4. Initiation means renunciation of bad things and activities:
We do not smoke, we do not drink and we do not eat nonsensical things. This renunciation is our initiation. We have saved ourselves from all the bad language. This is the most important renunciation. In this compound, there is no bad language. That is why it is very peaceful. You go out and it is all disturbance. The bad vibrations are absent here. From today we should not even think bad. Bad thinking destroys us. Our face reveals our heart. The face is the mirror of the heart. Whatever is going on in the heart, it comes out on the face. Please, the innocent life is the best life in this world.
5. Initiation means we stop killing ourselves:
Worry free life is the best life. Otherwise we are killing ourselves. From today we should stop killing ourselves. Why to kill ourselves? I do not know. Just come to this side and nice cultivation is there. Temples are there or your own house is a temple. That is the best way to pass our life.
6. Initiation means learning what should be done at the time of death:
We should try to recognize that death is chasing us every hour and every moment. Abhidhaavato bhrsham. Nobody can avoid. Everybody has to agree. If this chasing is there, what happens? We are afraid – bheetam. Then what should we do? Once in a hospital, an old woman was dying and she asked the nurse ‘I am dying now. What should I do now?’ The nurse could not answer the old woman. Eventually the nurse got the reply from Prabhupada’s literature and she joined the temple and now she is a nice devotee. We do not know our position. Death is coming and what should we do? To answer these questions, you read Srila Prabhupada’s book ‘Beyond Birth and Death’. The answer is there as to what a dying man should do. Please learn these things and that is initiation. A small book of Srila Prabhupada will also correct you. Whenever you have time, please read. That is the easiest way.
7. Initiation means we fully depend upon Him:
We are always afraid (Bhitam ) and we require shelter. The firm shelter is Krishna.
krsnam vande jagat-gurum
From Him the Guru starts and the same message is imparted ‘as it is’. The message is the same. The bodies may change. This is known as parampara. Everybody is afraid without exception for the life and death and many times we have so many fears – I’ll lose my job, I may be driven out of my country, some chronic sickness may attack me, I will be sick, or my father will be sick or my wife will be sick or children will not be alright. So many worries. These worries from today have no place. The initiation is we fully depend upon Him. As it is we have to depend. Whether we depend or not, we are depending. So better consciously depend upon Him. This is the secret of the existence and if we depend upon Him, there is no struggle. Otherwise it is hard struggle for existence. Our existence depends upon Him. This is initiation. From today there is no worry. ‘brahma bhuta prasannaatma’ . What stops you from talking good? Who is stopping you from smiling? If you smile and others smile, both increase the red blood cells. If you are morose, others are morose. We do not want that. We want red cells. Anyway we are not doing anything. At the best we are like a dog under the bullock cart. The dog is thinking that it is pulling the cart and seems to be very busy. We are not doing anything. We should understand this.
8. Initiation means surrender:
In Srimad Bhagavatam 8.2.33 Shri Gajendra prays,
yah kascaneso balino ‘ntakoragaat
pracanda-vegaad abhidhaavato bhrsam
bhitam prapannam paripaati yad-bhayaan
mrtyuh pradhaavaty aranam tam imahi
“The Supreme Personality of Godhead is certainly not known to everyone, but He is very powerful and influential. Therefore, although the serpent of eternal time, which is fearful in force, endlessly chases everyone, ready to swallow him, if one who fears this serpent seeks shelter of the Lord, the Lord gives him protection, for even death runs away in fear of the Lord. I therefore surrender unto Him, the great and powerful supreme authority who is the actual shelter of everyone.”
We are all afraid of the situations of life and this is ‘bheetam’. Those who are afraid, theysurrender – prapannam. Srimad Bhagavatam is so nice that in just two words ‘bheetam’ and ‘prapannam’ the whole instruction is given. It is an ‘order’ to surrender. Krishna doesn’t say, ‘please you surrender’. It is an order. As soon as we surrender, there is ‘paripaati’- He protects. He is ready to protect but surrender has got to be there and that is initiation. So far we do not know how to surrender. We are very egoistic. We are all carrying only stool and urine. You may carry 5 kg and I my carry 25 kg. It doesn’t matter. The more you have, the more dirty you are. Why are we then proud? We are so proud of our material body, our material possessions, my wife, my children, my father, my father in law, my grand uncle so on and so forth. With the whole paraphernalia we cannot do anything. We do not know that because Krishna is kind, everything is going on alright. Otherwise, within a second, Krishna can finish us off. We see so many things happening in front of us. We have to keep our eyes open and these practical things will force us to surrender. He is ‘aranam’- He is worth taking shelter. He is the only ‘sharanyam’ to whom we can surrender. Nobody else. If somebody guides us to Him, he is our guru. Somehow or the other, you should surrender and guide everybody to surrender. Saint like Srila Prabhupada is with us. Forget about our own qualifications. Sarvopadhi vinirmuktam. We are thinking I am doctor, I am engineer, I am rich and so on. Money just inflates you. Just like a rubber doll stays afloat as long as it is inflated with air. I am talking and moving because of air. As soon as the air is gone, nothing is there. How long can we be egoistic about the inflated position? The day is bound to come when we will be lying flat. Daily He is chasing us. How long we live depends upon His wish. He has to just order the breath to stop. That’s it. He has to just order the mucus in our body to choke our throat. It is so easy for him. Mucus is water and water is His energy. Energetic can immediately withdraw the energy. The best way to save ourselves is to chant ‘Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare’. There is no other way, no other way and no other way. There is no expense and only sincerity is required. We are protected from the fear because even death is afraid of Him and runs away. Thinking that we are going to die, we are so fearful. Why should we die before we die? We are moaning and crying because we are not chanting. Please take shelter of Harinaam and you will be completely safe.
Srimad Bhagavatam guarantees in 1.1.14:
aapannah samsrtim ghoraam
yan-naama vivaso grnan
tatah sadyo vimucyeta
yad bibheti svayam bhayam
“Living beings who are entangled in the complicated meshes of birth and death can be freed immediately by even unconsciously chanting the holy name of Krishna, which is feared by fear personified.”
The best example is that of Ajamila. At 80 years of age, he had a small son. The lust never decreases and lust will only decrease with the idea of death. Those who clearly see their last day on the death bed, they can never be lusty. Our eyes should be under our control. This is the only window through which the sins go in. Eyes are very bad nasty windows. That is why we train ourselves to always see Krishna. Don’t open the eyes fully. Keep it half open to see the path like Sukhadev Goswami because we are his followers.
We have taken shelter of Harinaam and we are not afraid at all. What is there to be afraid of? If we are alive, so many things will come. If you are dead nothing is there. Respect this life and everything will be arranged according to Krishna’s desires. Take firm shelter of Krishna by remembering the verse SB 8.2.33. The end is to take shelter of Him through His names. Name is non-different from Him. Anytime anywhere you can chant. Don’t put conditions on your devotional service that you have to go to Vrindavan to chant. Wherever you are, you chant and that place becomes Vrindavan. Don’t put conditions. Make devotional service easy for everybody. Wherever you are, just take japa mala and chant and you are protected by Krishna. Be sure about Him and be guided by Srimad Bhagavatam and Bhagavad gita. Follow the vedic culture and respect the elders and take care of the elders and the children. We have the jewel in our hand. So do not run after the glass pieces and that is initiation.
H.H. Mahavishnu Goswami Maharaja ki jai! Srila Prabhupada ki jai!
Let us take shelter of our exalted spiritual master by offering the following prayer at his lotus feet.
mandasmita mukhaambojam / mahaneeya gunaarnavam
madhura bhaashinam shaantam / sarva-bhuta- dayaa-param
sadaa krsna rasaavishtah / paramaananda vigraham
srimad bhagavata magna hrdayam / sri gurum tam natosmyaham
“I offer my humble obeisances at the lotus feet of my beloved Spiritual Master, who has a smiling lotus like face, is the ocean of all great and exalted qualities, whose words are very sweet, who is always peaceful, who is full of mercy for all the living entities, who is always fully absorbed in Krishna consciousness, is an embodiment of Supreme bliss, and whose heart is always immersed in the nectar of Srimad Bhagavatam.”
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Hare Rama Hare Rama
and be happy.