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Discussions on the doctrines of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Please place practical questions under the Miscellaneous forum and set this aside for the more theoretical side of it.

Diksha and conversion -



Jagat - Wed, 21 Jul 2004 09:44:08 +0530
People are mixing the two up. Probably due to Christianity's "born again" philosophy. Conversion is falling in love. Initiation is getting married.
Madhava - Wed, 21 Jul 2004 16:22:54 +0530
But marriage is just a ritual, a formality... the real thing is falling in love.
Jagat - Wed, 21 Jul 2004 17:01:04 +0530
Adau zraddhA, tataH sAdhu-saGgo'tha

Perhaps marriage is a formality, but some kind of reciprocal commitment is necessary. Otherwise love does not progress.

I can love a picture, but can I marry one?
Jagat - Wed, 21 Jul 2004 17:07:48 +0530
Of course, God is not limited. Jiva says "saranagati is enough." But then he argues that initiation in the sense of receiving mantra is still necessary. So why is there a need for any such formality at all?
Madhava - Wed, 21 Jul 2004 17:09:25 +0530
And marriage lasts (in theory, anyway) through both the uphills and the downhills of life, even when the initial zeal (utsAha-mayI) of the relationship wears off.
Jagat - Wed, 21 Jul 2004 17:16:54 +0530
Actually, Jiva says that in certain cases there are people who do not need initiation. I know some people like that, at least who I respect greatly as highly realized.

But initiation is about moving on from sraddhA to sadhu-sanga and further. Otherwise, why would Rupa put it at the top of the list?

If you deliberately keep yourself outside the sangha, how can you become part of it?

It's a formality--like a degree. But try getting a job as a doctor without the right degrees. Sure, you may have studied medicine in India, but try being a doctor in Canada with your Indian degree.

Though bhakti is predominantly subjective, diksha is about creating some kind of objective standard.
Jagat - Wed, 21 Jul 2004 17:36:47 +0530
Why does it say that the guru's mercy takes the form of diksha and mantra?

BTW, "initial zeal" is good. Maybe we should go with that.
Madhava - Wed, 21 Jul 2004 17:51:03 +0530
All analogies fall short of describing the function of dIkSA. Though as a ceremony it is a formality something very essential is given in the formality. Bhagavat-svarUpa-jJAna and bhagavat-sambandha-vizeSa-jJAna embedded in the beautiful mantra. This aspect more or less lacks in all the formalities cited as analogous with dIkSA. Actually in the example of marriage the establishment of a specific sambandha is there, but it is nevertheless not quite the same in principle.
Kishalaya - Wed, 21 Jul 2004 18:15:35 +0530
QUOTE (Jagat @ Jul 21 2004, 05:16 PM)
If you deliberately keep yourself outside the sangha, how can you become part of it?

"Match the charts", otherwise there is some serious trouble brewing!
-horse sense
Jagat - Wed, 21 Jul 2004 18:50:50 +0530
The resistance to formalities is a part of prophetic religion. Human beings naturally resist being told what to do, what they can or cannot do. I can even sympathize with that sentiment. The idea is to become free, so how can bondage of any sort -- to guru, to institution -- be freedom? And if I think that mercy has already come, then hasn't it? Why do I have to conform to anything other than my own inner voice?

Yes, I sympathize. But I don't agree. I think the freedom comes AFTER, not before.

And here we have a case where sastra and sadhu seem to be at odds, and thus reason and experience have to play an important role in attaining a conclusion.

It is certainly an important subject on which prolonged and repeated reflection is necessary.
Kishalaya - Wed, 21 Jul 2004 19:37:24 +0530
QUOTE

The resistance to formalities is a part of prophetic religion.
[snip]
I think the freedom comes AFTER, not before.


Resistance to formalities can be overcome as long as the ultimate concern is safe. The idea is not to become free, but to achieve *the* goal.

QUOTE

And here we have a case where sastra and sadhu seem to be at odds


In matters transcendent, usually one man's meat is another man's poison. Unless there is some rational criterion applied to nail it down objectively, shastra and sadhu will always be relative.
Audarya-lila dasa - Wed, 21 Jul 2004 22:38:30 +0530
There really is no such thing as 'free love'. When the hippies coined that term what they really meant was 'as long as I don't have to have any commitment'. Real love is born of sacrifice. Certainly the conversion experience being compared to falling in love is good but that has to be tempered with - falling in love is just the beginning. Real love grows and develops through sacrifice and commitment.

Diksha is not just a formality nor is marriage. It is a commitment from two parties. Before such a connection is established the individuals involved may have a loving relationship but it is not a dedicated and commited relationship. Through Diksha the Guru agrees to share his/her heart with the disciple and all that that entails.

Got to go for now - just wanted to add a few thoughts to this thread.

Gaura Hari Bol!

Your servant,
Audarya-lila dasa
Kishalaya - Thu, 22 Jul 2004 11:54:08 +0530
It is easy to throw words like "sacrifice" and "commitment", but unless the lowest common denominator is met, such "sacrifice" and "commitment" usually go to the dogs. Real life has to afford some sensible adjustment. It is as much the responsibility of the spiritual master as of the disciple. Making the dynamics of the transcendental sphere totally different and divorced from how things operate in the corporeal world is a mistake, in my humble opinion. Love needs trust to develop just as a child trusts his mother.

Of course, this is not to say that such one way traffic of demand and supply are not well established. However, to many, these seem so very strained. I believe that God has a plan for everybody, at least for those who try to seek Him out. And if He does not, then God has been dehumanized to such an extent that He is not worth the effort!

But even before that one needs to be clear about the objective with which one is entering a relationship. In other words, 'Do I want to become a doctor, that too in Canada?' blink.gif May be becoming a primary school math teacher in the neighbouring village could afford my life some simplicity. Some individuals need to be told their "ultimate concern", but some others have quite a clear picture etched out - not whimsically but after going through the trials and tribulations of life and a good amount of self-churning reflection supported by study and, of course, by meeting learned experienced persons from diverse spiritual backgrounds. It is so very easy to disregard the latter. And these are the people who have have a dire need for the "right" spiritual master. There is a difference between "seeking the easy way out" and "seeking out your cherished goal".

Regards,
Kishalaya
Audarya-lila dasa - Fri, 23 Jul 2004 22:45:52 +0530
Well Kishalaya, I don't think I was merely bandying words about devoid of their inherent meaning - why you chose to take it that way is a mystery to me.

My post was not meant as a judgement of anyone - whether they are in a commited relationship or otherwise.

By sacrifice and commitment I mean quite clearly that one will have to do things that one wouldn't otherwise do is not for the relationship. Commitment means being there through good and bad. I have been married for seventeen years and believe me - there are many ups and downs and living together requires a great deal of sacrifice and commitment. That's what I'm talking about - not something esoteric or mental - genuine worldly experience. It's the same with the Guru/disciple relationship. Does that help to clarify what I was trying to say in my previous post?

Your servant,
Audarya-lila dasa
Kishalaya - Sat, 24 Jul 2004 00:49:27 +0530
QUOTE

I don't think I was merely bandying words about devoid of their inherent meaning - why you chose to take it that way is a mystery to me.


Your singular reference to the hippie culture seems to insinuate that people who have not volunteered for the "mercy" inspite of hanging out for so long are indeed looking for an excuse to avoid it altogether. I believe Bhaktivinode Thaakura took initiation at forty one and at that time also it was on Vipin Bihari Gosvaami's insistence.

QUOTE

By sacrifice and commitment I mean quite clearly that one will have to do things that one wouldn't otherwise do is not for the relationship. Commitment means being there through good and bad.


All relationships are contracts, euphemisms notwithstanding. If you have found your path to your heart's desire in a relationship, you will be willing to go through a lot more trouble than usual. Of course, there are some pathological cases (may be the majority of them) where, persons who have no clue whatsoever regarding the purpose of such a relationship, enter into it thereby damaging both their own soul and that of their master's.

Therefore some are careful. They don't want to put up a list of "Don't ask me to do this master" right after the initiation ceremony, because they are searching after a *specific* spiritual objective which is so *very* dear to them. And if the proper guide is not available, whatever be the reason (may be I am bad in God's eyes), they would rather remain without the "mercy" than risk their cherished goal. I am not speaking just for myself. And they are not all "hippies".

Regards,
Kishalaya
Kishalaya - Sat, 24 Jul 2004 00:59:08 +0530
Perhaps this will help:-

from Bhaktivinoda Thakur and Bipin Bihari Goswami

QUOTE

I had been searching for a suitable guru for a long time, but had not found one, so I was feeling disturbed. Whenever I met someone in whom I could have a little faith, when I studied his teachings and character, I would lose whatever little faith I had. I was quite worried, but Prabhu eradicated these worries in a dream. In that dream, I had a hint of what would happen and when morning came, I felt joyful. A day or two later, Gurudeva wrote me a letter saying, "I will come soon and give you initiation." When he came and performed the initiation rituals, I became cheerful. From that day on the sin of meat eating vanished from my heart and I began to feel a little compassion toward all beings.
Audarya-lila dasa - Sat, 24 Jul 2004 12:51:09 +0530
Dear Kishalaya,

Thank you for clarifying your misunderstanding. Please try not to think I was 'insinuating' anything. My point was direct, not indirect - there is no such thing as love without commitment and the hippie idea of 'free love' was the example I used to convey that point. Very simple, not judgemental at all. I totally agree that one must have faith and genuine feeling to commit oneself. We are not talking about a fashion or fad, nor or we talking about peer pressure. We are talking about a genuine feeling and when that feeling is strong enough and supported by sastra and whatever intelligence we have to apply to such matters then we will step forward with commitment.

I personally like something that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta said in this regard. He said that we should be serious and sincere in our search for a good guide and pray with all our hearts that Krsna come before us as Sri Guru. If after a long time (whatever that is - I agree that we should have some patience and definitely don't commit unless it is right for you) we find that there are no qualified guides then we really should begin to examine our own selves more carefully. He also said that those who are sincere will get a guide.

I don't really know. I can't judge anyone. I began this search in the mid seventies and only fairly recently did I find a guide in whom I could place my trust and faith and in whom I have confidence.

But I really wasn't talking about where a person is at in terms of being in a spiritual family or not. The thread is about diksha and conversion and my comments were related to the issue of whether or not diksha is a formality or more than that. My point is that it is much more than a mere formality.

BTW, I think the quote from Bhaktivinode is very important not because it shows that it may take a long time or that one may be disappointed along the path - but because it illustrates the point that one must be serious and sincerely wanting Krsna to come as a guide, and a sincere seeker will naturally be troubled and disheartened to some degree when Krsna does not appear before him/her.
Kishalaya - Sun, 25 Jul 2004 00:25:47 +0530
QUOTE

He also said that those who are sincere will get a guide.


Thank you for the reassurance!

QUOTE

If after a long time (whatever that is - I agree that we should have some patience and definitely don't commit unless it is right for you) we find that there are no qualified guides then we really should begin to examine our own selves more carefully.


I would not really feel comfortable with that statement. I would declare, even in the face of the obvious danger of being accused of self aggrandizement, that I have seen people with *exactly* the same aspiration as myself, so I believe that God has ways, unfathomable by some, in which He communicates His message. May be I have not obtained a Guru because I am suffering some consequence of my past misdeeds and have taken birth in a wrong planet! May be in the next human birth I will get a Guru. I do not think God will make me an animal if I don't accept a Guru now. And even if I were to become one, should that fear overcome my attraction to my spiritual desire. I leave this decision for God to make. After all, not a leaf moves without His approval.

You see, I want a Guru who wants to be what I want to be. Just like a person wanting to be a manjari needs to approach a manjari, otherwise he or she is just wasting time.
Audarya-lila dasa - Sun, 25 Jul 2004 06:40:16 +0530
Dear Kishalaya,

I am not judging you or anyone. You must, by all means, be true to yourself. I can't say that I agree with your last statement though. A genuine Guru has some attainment and position in God consciousness. He/she can help you even if your bhava is different from his/hers. A genuine Guru can help you. Any devotee who has progressed to the stage of bhava bhakti is very advanced and can help you advance, regardless of their eternal identity. We are all eternal servants afterall.

Anyway - I hope you understand that my interest in this topic has to do with diksha - the bond between Guru and sisya, which, as I have said, is far more than a formality.

I don't think you sound arrogant. You appear to be a very genuine seeker and my only prayer to Nityananda is that he embrace you and shower his mercy on you.

Your servant,
Audarya-lila dasa
Kishalaya - Sun, 25 Jul 2004 13:10:56 +0530
QUOTE

A genuine Guru has some attainment and position in God consciousness. He/she can help you even if your bhava is different from his/hers.


I realized right after writing that that was quite an ambitious statement, at least when circumstances do not seem to bow before you. In any case, recent developments make me understand that a Guru may not be of the same bhaava, but at least, one who has sympathy for the disciple in regard to the latter's aspirations, should be Ok. However, some bhaavas are characteristically opposed and it requires great strength to adjust. It may be a bit too much for the spiritual master. So here also some care is needed.
Talasiga - Sun, 25 Jul 2004 15:19:45 +0530
QUOTE (Jagat @ Jul 21 2004, 11:31 AM)
Adau zraddhA, tataH sAdhu-saGgo'tha

Perhaps marriage is a formality, but some kind of reciprocal commitment is necessary. Otherwise love does not progress.

I can love a picture, but can I marry one?

You can even love a god
you can never marry.
Eternally.
Talasiga - Sun, 25 Jul 2004 15:35:16 +0530
QUOTE (Jagat @ Jul 21 2004, 04:14 AM)
People are mixing the two up. Probably due to Christianity's "born again" philosophy. Conversion is falling in love. Initiation is getting married.

No, falling in love is the initiation and its transmutation from the mundane to the spiritual is the process of conversion.
Jagat - Sun, 25 Jul 2004 18:18:36 +0530
You are playing with definitions.

Though we use our own intelligence and modern sociological studies to try to better understand our tradition, our principal source of understanding is our own acharyas. Therefore, when trying to understand this particular point, we are following Rupa Goswami and Vishwanath Chakravarti and their various texts, in particular "Adau zraddhA" (BRS 1.4.15-16) and the "Madhurya Kadambini", which explains those two verses.

I think that "conversion" can be understood more clearly in terms of the sudden entry of bhakti into the heart. In other words, it more clearly resembles the beginnings of "sraddha," rather than anything else. Diksha is indentified with sAdhu-sanga.

Jiva and Vishwanath say that there are two kinds of sadhu-sanga, a before sraddha and after. In other words, even sraddha itself depends on some kind of devotional association, call it involuntary. The second kind has to be voluntary on the part of the seeker with sraddha. This second kind involves diksha, or a process of commitment to the path of bhakti, of cultivating bhakti to achieve its higher realms.

Though there is such a thing as kripa-siddha, i.e., a person who skips the steps and achieves the ultimate goal, for the most part the steps are unavoidable. One cannot go to higher realms of bhakti without being admitted into the society of devotees, because Krishna does not exist without his devotees. (sAdhavo hRdayaM mahyam)

Talasiga - Tue, 27 Jul 2004 20:16:45 +0530
QUOTE (Jagat @ Jul 25 2004, 12:48 PM)
You are playing with definitions.

Though we use our own intelligence and modern sociological studies to try to better understand our tradition, our principal source of understanding is our own acharyas. Therefore, when trying to understand this particular point, we are following Rupa Goswami and Vishwanath Chakravarti and their various texts, in particular "Adau zraddhA" (BRS 1.4.15-16) and the "Madhurya Kadambini", which explains those two verses.
.........


(and now an excerpt from the 9th post at page 2 in another topic)

QUOTE (Jagat)

...............
First of all, in general, I feel that there are certain limitations in arguing purely from shastra. I don't want to minimize, but I am very wary of the calls to substantiate everything with scriptural references.

There is always the possibility that someone has insight that he cannot substantiate, and there has to be some leeway for this, otherwise we will get caught in a straightjacket where only the person who has the most arcane knowledge wins, rather than the person who has the most meaningful interpretation.

............
Jagat - Tue, 27 Jul 2004 21:41:12 +0530
My point is this: Yes we need to understand things from our own experience. At the same time we are participating in a tradition where sages from the past have delivered valuable opinions about spiritual culture.

If we are going to discuss a question like diksha, we need to know what the tradition had to say about it first.

Then we may examine modern discussions of conversion, etc., and compare the two.

If someone makes a point with no reference to shastra, then we must try to understand that point in the context of the tradition. If someone makes a point with reference to shastra, we must see whether any light can be shed on it in the context of modern social science, the comparative study of religion, etc.

In other words, can anything new from one side or the other enlighten our understanding of the religious experience itself and our attempt to attain the fullest perfection of our humanity?

In the case of diksha, I object to those who say it is anything other than receiving the mantra from a guru. I admit that something happens when one converts, but it is not initiation. It is the entering of faith, the planting of the seed of devotion, or whatever, but it is not initiation. This is what I mean when I say you are playing with definitions, and why the word "initiation" must be used with care when translating "diksha."

Everyone has the right to speculate according to their own personal wishes. But belonging to a tradition means accepting a certain channel of mercy and placing a high value on certain sources which guide their speculations.

I will speak to the other point on the other thread.
Talasiga - Thu, 29 Jul 2004 20:18:15 +0530
QUOTE (Jagat @ Jul 27 2004, 04:11 PM)
............
In the case of diksha, I object to those who say it is anything other than receiving the mantra from a guru. I admit that something happens when one converts, but it is not initiation. It is the entering of faith, the planting of the seed of devotion, or whatever, but it is not initiation. This is what I mean when I say you are playing with definitions, and why the word "initiation" must be used with care when translating "diksha."
.................

I don't recall anywhere having said that
diksha = initiation
neither here nor there or the other place
despite c.3000 posts.

I have said that spiritual initiation
is a reception of grace
that is a ground breaking experience
like falling in love.
Without such an experience
the formalities may, in the long run,
crumble like deserted shells.
Jagat - Sat, 31 Jul 2004 04:54:02 +0530
I was not necessarily addressing you personally here, Talasiga, but rather a general misconception that seems to have become somewhat rampant. Nevertheless, I have am not really objecting when I say that "initiation" is generally equated with "diksha." I personally think that this is an adequate translation. Those who wish to identify a spiritual experience as initiation and then neglect diksha as peripheral or unimportant are making a mistake.

Yes, it is true that diksha without faith is meaningless. Therefore it is said, Adau zraddhA. Ananta Dasji (on the basis of 10.51.53) identifies zraddhA as "mati" or the intention to serve or attain Krishna.

But that does not mean that faith is a substitute for diksha. Faith is just the first step on the path. The next step is to give shape to one's faith by finding the association of devotees, because if one really has the intention of finding Krishna, one needs to answer questions about how one goes about it.

"Well, we could just read books," is a typical answer that we are hearing a lot of these days. There is no denying that reading books is important, as are all the other devotional practices, but for Rupa Goswami, step two, sAdhu-sanga, has five essential aspects and these are the basis of all devotional service, the first five in the list of 64 devotional activities.

(1) guru padAzrayas (2-3) tasmAt
kRSNa-dIkSAdi-zikSaNam
(4) vizrambheNa guroH seva
(5) sAdhu-vartmAnuvartanam

Later, of course, we get things like the following amongst the five chief or most important devotional activities.

zrImad-bhAgavatArthAnAm
AsvAdo rasikaiH saha
svajAtIyAzaye snigdhe
sAdhau saGgaH svato vare

But this is sadhu-sanga of a something different order.

At any rate, I am sure that you have heard all this before, so I won't burden you with this. I really only wanted to repost this text below, which has been placed on these forums before with a different translation. It's from Vishwanath's commentary to Bhag. 6.2.10

harir bhajanIya eva bhajanaM tat-prApakam eva | tad-upadeSTA gurur eva | gurUpadiSTA bhaktA eva pUrve hariM prApur iti viveka-vizeSavattve'pi

no dIkSAM na ca sat-kriyAM na ca purazcaryAM manAg IkSate
mantro'yaM rasanA-spRg eva phalati zrI kRSNanAmAtmakaH

iti pramANa-dRSTyA ajAmilAdi-dRSTAntena ca kiM me guru-karaNa-zrameNa nAma-kIrtanAdibhir eva me bhagavat-prAptir bhAvinIti manyamAnas tu gurv-avajJa lakSaNa-mahAparAdhAd eva bhagavantaM na prApnoti, kintu tasminn eva janmani janmAntare vA tad-aparAdha-kSaye sati zrI-guru-caraNAzrita eva prApnotIti |


Some say, "I know that the Lord is worshipable and that bhajan is the means to attain him. I also know that the person who instructs one is such bhajan is the spiritual master and that in the past, only those who have followed the directions of such spiritual masters have attained the Lord. Even so, the scriptures say, 'The mantra of Krishna's Holy Name needs only to touch the tongue of the devotee to give results, and depends on neither initiation or any other ritual, including purascharan.' There is also the example of Ajamila, who attained Vaikuntha without all these complications, so why should I bother going to the trouble of taking a guru. I will simply chant and I will be sure to attain the Lord."

This however is a great offense to the Holy Name known as Guru Avajna, which will block one's progress and assure that he does not attain the Lord. Rather he will have to return birth after birth until this particular offense has been rectified by taking shelter of a spiritual master.

================================================

Please don't take these things as personal admonishments, Talasigaji. I just came across this passage in the Madhurya Kadambini and thought I'd share it with the world, and felt this was an appropriate place.
Perumal - Sat, 31 Jul 2004 05:54:34 +0530
Jagat,

Just exactly what procedure do you feel is required in the procedure of diksa, as practiced in Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Is it necessary that a person be give a palm leaf with the names....

- Muralidhar
Kishalaya - Sat, 31 Jul 2004 13:18:15 +0530
QUOTE
This however is a great offense to the Holy Name known as Guru Avajna, which will block one's progress and assure that he does not attain the Lord. Rather he will have to return birth after birth until this particular offense has been rectified by taking shelter of a spiritual master.

Just a viewpoint, nothing against anybody (and please forgive if sentiments are hurt). For guror avagnyaa, there needs to be a Guru. And for some, a stick wielding Guru (with a stick wielding God) is not quite appropriate for progress.
Jagat - Sat, 31 Jul 2004 20:05:54 +0530
(1) Each sampradaya has its own way of dealing with these things. The essence of diksha is giving mantra, but traditions build around institutions like initiation. Since diksha means appurtenance to a tradition, some of the traditional lore naturally accompanies it.

(2) Guru means Guru-tattva. Krishna is Guru. By deliberately ignoring the guru principle itself, you hamper your spiritual advancement. Pick a path and follow it. When you learn your instrument you can improvise.
Kishalaya - Sat, 31 Jul 2004 22:47:56 +0530
QUOTE

(1) Each sampradaya has its own way of dealing with these things. The essence of diksha is giving mantra, but traditions build around institutions like initiation. Since diksha means appurtenance to a tradition, some of the traditional lore naturally accompanies it.


Since the commentary is on a scripture accepted by others too, making generic statements will attract comments from others. This has always been the case. Of course, you can appeal to your reasoning that this is a sectarian website. However, seeing that people here are free to propound some of the most novel Vaishnava philosophies, I doubt you really mean to enforce your sectarian agenda.

The essence of diikshaa may be "giving mantra" (spiritual potency), but I suppose you don't really mean it ends there. What is the "extra baggage"? Just "traditional lore" or something more? Is it "You don't get our mercy unless you tow the sampraadaya line?" That's fine, I don't need that kind of mercy. Or does it mean "Unless you choose one 'bonafide' sampradaaya, you will never get Krishna's mercy?" That is something very questionable. We see one 'bonafide' sampradaaya, the Madhvas, who do not consider anybody other than themselves as 'bonafide'. Then I suppose there is this 'Gadaadhara parivaara' who consider themselves as the only 'bonafide' distributors of maadhurya rasa. What if there is no sampradaaya for me? What if one sampradaaya says, "Caitanya is not God" and the other says, "You cannot go to Satyabhaamaa". Some sampradaayas will straightaway deny diikshaa, others may be a bit liberal, but then what about the dynamics between the Guru and the disciple. In such a context, what would "diikshaa" mean? Perhaps it is the heartfelt compassion and empathy of a devotee who can understand my heart!

QUOTE

(2) Guru means Guru-tattva. Krishna is Guru. By deliberately ignoring the guru principle itself, you hamper your spiritual advancement. Pick a path and follow it. When you learn your instrument you can improvise.


If Krishna is Guru then you weaken you own argument. But let us assume He has instructions about a terrestrial guru in His bag. What He says is approach a tattva darshi. I don't know where the "sampradaaya" or "paramparaa" word has come in between. These could be practical means of ensuring safety of the flow of a *particular* kind of "tattva darshan" (evam paramparaa praaptam), but it does not necessarily pre-empt the possibility of a tattva-darshi outside any paramparaa, or "mercy" outside of ceremony!

What can I do if others are not able to see my instrument ?

Regards,
Kishalaya
Keshava - Sun, 01 Aug 2004 05:55:40 +0530
QUOTE
Just exactly what procedure do you feel is required in the procedure of diksa, as practiced in Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Is it necessary that a person be give a palm leaf with the names....


Again we are not talking about names or Harinama we are talking about diksa. It is clear from HBV that the essence of diksha (the indespensible ritual) is the giving of the mantra (generally Krsna mantra although other mantras are mentioned in HBV)

So although there are many different complex or simple procedures and details involved with diksa the main indespensible one is the giving of the mantra (where mantra here is defined as a pancaratric Vaisnava mantra not Hare Krsna mahamantra which is technically Nama being in the sambodhana vibhakti or vocative case, Pancaratric mantras also contain names of God but those names are in caturthi vibhakti or dative case, and also one could make the case that Hare Krsna mahamantra is actually Vedic being from kalisantaranyopanisad)

Another very common definition of what constitues diksa is:

tApaH puNDras tathA nAma
mantro yAgaz ca paGcamaH
amI hi paGca saMskArAH
paramaikAnti hetavaH

Jayakhya Samhita 21.233

PANCA-SAMSKARA

The Five Sacraments of the Srivaishnavas

INTRODUCTION - by Smt Sita Padmanabhan

The material world with its manifold attractions, is too much for one; it is so all-engrossing that it hardly leaves any leisure to one think of anything beyond it. The involvement in worldly life deprives one of one's innate joy and wisdom, and causes one to forget the true purpose of life. One is lured away from the path of virtue and becomes a victim of temptation and vice. One becomes so deluded by the material nature that even the idea of escaping from it becomes anathema, and like the proverbial pig, one simply wallows in the mire not even realizing that there is something beyond the self-imposed limitations of materialism.

It was the sages of the Upanisads that realized the Truth and strove to arouse others from their slumber of ignorance to a state of Self-consciousness, and the realization of one's true mission in life.

The awakening of the consciousness is the turning point in one's life. One then resolves to pass the remaining days of one's life in carrying out the wishes of the Lord who has reclaimed one after eons of separation. And this dawning of awareness in mankind is the result of the grace of the Lord Himself.

This Absolute grace does not descend indiscriminately upon all, only those who seek it receive it, those who cry for it receive it, and understand what it is. it does not mean to say that the Lord deprives others of His mercy, who do not request it; He dwells within their hearts and thus saves them from perishing.

"antaryAmitvAt santArakzAm karoti" (Rahasyatrayam of LokAcArya)

In fact He is always anxious and eager to reclaim a rebellious soul, just as a father is always ready to receive back the prodigal son. Even when the prodigal son runs away from home refusing to take the advice of his father, the father out of natural affection for his son, gives intimation to the heads of various monasteries to feed and care for him.

"maTha-bhojayitA pitA iva" (Rahasyatrayam)

Thus we see that God is not unkind even to the most rebellious of souls. In His capacity as In-dweller (antaryamin) he always accompanies them wherever they go, takes care of them and sees to it that they do not perish. Unkindness and impartiality can never be attributed to God.

The soul which is thus aroused to a state of awareness, feels regret for its past mis-deeds and develops an ardent desire to atone by repentance and resignation.

The deeper the awareness of sin, the deeper the sense of humility on the part of the soul, and then surer is the chance of attracting the compassion and grace of God. The soul then in its despair surrenders unconditional at the feet of the Lord.

" I cry for mercy before Thee, who alone can save me at this crisis. Your mercy is meant only for sinners like me."

The Lord is an ocean of compassion having no limitations whatsoever. He Himself does not know the limit or measure of His own compassion even though He is omniscient.

The repentant soul cries for compassion in a spirit of profound humility and complete resignation then it is sure to obtain the grace of the Lord. The spirit of absolute resignation has been beautifully expressed by Yamunacarya;

"ruSA nirasto'pi zizu stanadhnayo na jAtu mAtu caraNau jihAsati "

"when a mother being angry with her suckling baby turns it aside in a fit of anger, it only cries piteously and continues to cling to the mother."

As soon as the soul reaches this state of resignation to the Holy Feet then it becomes reconciled to the Lord and all its sins are forgiven. The Holy feet are the mediator between the Lord and the souls, they emblematically represent the Saviour Himself. The worship of the Holy Feet is symbolic of the utter humility of the soul, which considers itself as fit only to cling to the lowest part of the Body of the Lord, and that too because of helplessness.

When the soul cries to the Lord for mercy, God then comes to its help in the form of a godly man, whose sole duty consists of helping repentant souls to be reconciled with the Lord. Such a selflessness and godly man is called an "acarya".

"acaryAstu hariH sAkSAt cara-rUpi na samzayaH"

The acarya is doubtless the direct perceptible form of the Lord.

In order to obtain such an acarya, one should be possessed of the following 6 qualities;

1. Love of God Izvara sauhArdam
2. Providential virtue yadRccha sukRtam
3. Grace of God bhagavad kaTAkSa
4. Freedom from jealousy advezaH
5. Perpetual advancement towards the goal abhimukhyam
6. Frequent association with the devotees. sAttvikaiH saMbhASanam

When these factors are present and then the acarya appears - The acarya being the indirect mediator between the Lord and the souls. He teaches them to forget the transitory and fleeting happiness of the material plane, and makes one aware of the true goal of life viz. eternal service to the Lord.

This teaching is constantly being inculcated into the minds of the disciples by the Great Person, he also cultivates their mind, bestowing his loving glances upon them and when absent from them by praying for them and invoking the blessings of God on them.

The acarya purusa administers the five purificatory sacraments to his disciples when he accepts them, these are;

1. tApa branding
2. puNDram marking of the body
3. dAsya nAma naming
4. mantra upadeza teaching of the sacred mantras
5. yAga worship

1. TApa
The first purificatory rite, that of branding is done as repentance for past sins. This in turn brings about a reformation of the self and the postulant bears the marks of the conch and discus upon his shoulders to remind him that he is an eternal servant of the Lord. The wheel or sudarsana reminds the devotees that they are not subjected to the laws of time and fortune, and that they should be free from the fear of being crushed by the false charges that are brought against him by the enemies of the devotees.

The awful and solemn sound of the conch; pancajanya, silences the voice of opposition, and rends the hearts of the enemies of the devotees.

2. PuNDram
The second purificatory rite, pundram, guarantees protection against temptation. The different parts of the body are considered to be the seats of different manifestations of the Lord. The forehead is the seat of Kesava, which means that He is thought of as protecting the head form wicked thoughts. The belly is the seat of narayana, the breast that of madhava, the throat is that of govinda or 'the giver of delight'; the right side is the seat of Vishnu, the 'all-pervading-lord'; the right arm is the seat of madhusudana, and the right shoulder that of trivikrama, the Mighty Lord who with His three strides measured the universe; the left side is that of vamana; the left arm is that of sridhara, and the left shoulder that of hriskesa, the Lord and guide of the senses and the mind. The back is the seat of padmanabha - the original fountainhead of creative power. The neck is the seat of Lord damodara, the all independent Lord, who is always dependant upon His devotees. And finally the head is thought to be the seat of Vasudeva or the-one-who-dwells-everywhere.

The necessity of wearing the pundra has been enjoined in the Katha sakha of the yajur veda in the words;

'dhRte Urdhva puNDraH kRta cakra-dhAri viSNum param dhyAyati yo mahAtmanaH'.

The Great Souls are they who wear the urdhva pundra upon their forehead and are marked with the conch and discus and constantly contemplate upon the Great Lord Vishnu

This proves that the wearing of these marks is as old as the vedas themselves. Many Puranas also support this custom and claim it absolutely necessary to wear these marks, and further stress this by saying that no religious work yields merit if the performer is devoid of pundram.

The pundram that is worn on the forehead and body has three lines, two vertical white ones with a red line in the middle. Some say that these lines represent the Holy Feet of the Lord, with the goddess of mercy between them, while some others hold that they represent the Trinity.

Among the Srivaisnavas, those belonging to the southern school (tengalai) have a projecting line running down the nose, perhaps representing the First Principle - Parabrahman, the rootless root.

The white lines are made of a fine white clay and the centre line may be made of black, red or yellow colors.

In the Pancaratra rules are laid down with regard to the making of the marks with particular fingers of the right hand.

The Thumb produces strength, the middle finger longevity
The ringfinger perpetual nourishment, the forefinger liberation.
These are the differences of the fingers, but the nail should never be used

3. DAsya nAma
The third rite is that of the Namakarana or name-giving. It is the noble ambition of the penitent soul to earn a name worthy of a true servant of the Lord - "a dasya nama". In Tamil the word Tiru is added before the word nama to signify, that the person who has received such a name has become the object of Divine favour in as much as he or she has been favoured by the spiritual master by giving a name other than the one by which one is ordinarily known by all and sundry. Such a name preserves the moral integrity, and acts as a powerful protection against temptation by reminding one constantly, that the servitude of God and Godly persons, is the very essence of one's being and the goal of one's existence.

The spiritual master to whom the disciple has become the special object of affection and favour, stands in the position of the Saviour himself, and it is the duty of the sisya to serve him in a spirit of unflinching devotion. By serving the guru, God is served thus the shishya must always show every respect and attention to the guru and and remember him with reverence, awe and devotion.

dhyAna mUlaM guroH mUrtiH, pUja mUlaM guroH padam |
mantra mUlaM guroH nAma mokSa mUlaM guroH kRpA ||

4. Mantra upadea
The fourth purifying act is the obtaining of mantra from the guru. Mantra is so called because it saves and redeems the person from the shackles of samsara or cycle of birth and death.

mantAram anusandhAtAram trAyate iti mantraH

The pranava consists of three letter a-u-m and sri Parasara Bhattar has beautifully explained the meaning of these letter in his Astasloki;

The letter A means Vishnu, the-all-pervader. The letter M includes all the three classes of jvas. The letter U means the connecting link between the two; the Guru himself, who submits himself to personal suffering in order to redeem the fallen ones.

The resorting to a Guru as a mediator is both an independent means as well as an auxiliary means to others such as Karuna (compassion), jana (wisdom), bhakti (devotion), prapatti (surrender) and others.

The benevolent acarya initiates him into the mantra-ratna (the three precious jewels); the first of which is the 'aSTAkSari' - Om namo nArAyaNAya

The meaning of the prananva has already been explained. The word namah here describes the true nature of the Soul i.e. subservience to the Lord. The word does not merely mean 'prostration' but absolute surrender at the feet of the Lord. Such a surrender is possible only through the annihilation of the will and the ego.

Every mantra has a rishi who gave it, a devata or presiding deity, a particular cchandas or metre, and a bija or seed mantra which gives it a special power. The sakti is the energy that is created by the sounds. These sound waves carry the repeater to the deity who is invoked and worshipped. Then there is the klaka or pin which supports the mantra and makes it strong.

It must be mentioned that it was the great Vaisnava Teacher Sri Ramanuja who revealed the great truth that the Divine Mother is the natural and original saviour. Ramanuja is regarded as the founder of this doctrine, although his predecessors has preached this same truth. The sect to which he belonged came to be called the Sri "Sampradaya" in as much as the followers of this sect acknowledge the divine Mother or "Sri" to be their original saviour, because the sinful souls can approach the Lord only through the Mother who is the Mediatrix between God and the Souls. The followers of this sect have come to be called "Srivaishnava". The word "SRI" has a six-fold derivation.

1. She corrects the faults of all beings
2. She causes their virtues to increase continuously
3. She affords shelter to all, at all times
4. God holds her in His very heart for the tender solicitude that She shows to her erring children, and also for helping Him to redeem them.
5. She is both the supporter and the supported in as much as she supports the universe and in turn, She is supported by the Lord of the universe.
6. She hears the appeals of her children as well as appealing to God on their behalf. Because of possessing all these virtues, the title of 'Sriyah Patih' is given to the Lord.

God is the Lord of all blessings, simply by virtue of His association with the Divine Mother, who is the very embodiment of all blessings. Separate from Her, He becomes a mere Lord.

Her appeal to Him seems to be so strong and so well grounded, Her arguments so convincing and irresistible, the Causes She espouses so noble, and the manner in which she pleads on behalf of Her erring children happens to be so eloquent and persuasive that He is made to overlook all the faults of the sinful creatures and receives them as objects of His love and affection. The Divine Mother then is the natural saviour of all Her children.

The fourth purification helps the soul to be reconciled to the Lord through the mediation of the Divine mother, and the servitude of the Divine Couple culminates in the service to the Lord's devotees.

ArAdhanAnAm sarvezAm viSNor ArAdhanam param |
parAt parataram proktam tadIya ArAdhanam nRpa ||
(prapannamrtam)

Of all modes of worship the best is the worship of the Supreme Person Lord Vishnu;
higher than that is the worship offered to His devotees.

5. YAga
The fifth and last samskara helps one in following a sacred routine of life. It is called 'yaga' or 'aradhana-viddhi', or the method-of-divine-servitude. A sacred routine of life means, a routine that is calculated to sanctify one's life. Life consists of a series of actions which may be mental verbal or physical, and these actions can become sacred when a routine is followed which transforms one's thoughts, actions and aspirations. The routine must be planned in such a way as to leave no room for for indulgence in anything unworthy and undesirable.

A part of the day must be set aside for prayer and meditation. Prayer purifies the heart. The worldly duties should be attended to after the daily devotions.

The daily programme of a Vaisnava is divided into five parts; abhigamana, upadana, ijya, svadhyaya & yoga.

Abhigamana commences with the rising from the bed 45 minutes before sunrise, uttering the Holy name of the Lord; daily ablutions, sipping of water - achamana, cleansing of the teeth, bath, wearing of the pundram on the body, tarpana - water offerings to the deities, rishis and manes, the performance of sandhya - adoration of the rising sun and recitation of the gayatri mantra, and the japa of the astaksari mantra which is preceded by the singing of the glories of all the acaryas or spiritual masters, beginning from one's own preceptor up to the Lord Himself.

Then comes the adhara Shakti tarpana, after which the brahma-yaja is performed. Next is the worship of the Lord in the temple. after returning home the aupasana or fire-sacrifice is performed. Finally is the aradhana or worship of the family Deity, performed according to the injunctions of the Pancaratra Agamas.

The second part is the upadana, which should be performed in the second yama (quarter) of the day. It consists of collecting all the articles of worship such as flowers, twigs, darbha grass, tulsi leaves etc. All the articles offered to God must have been acquired by fair means.

The third part is called ijya which includes such activities as the noon-day bath, performing of mid-day sandhya, offerings of bali to the Visve-devas, and the performance of the paca-maha-yajas or the five-great-sacrifices enjoined in the scriptures. Every person is under obligation throughout his life to repay five debts ; to the deities by performing religious rites, to the manes by performing sraddha rites, to the rishis by religious studies, and to mankind by feeding of guests and strangers, and finally to the birds and the beasts by food offerings.

Before beginning to eat, the food should first be offered to the Lord in the form of offerings to the five vital breaths (pranahuti).

Having partaken of food, he should then in the 4th yama of the day engage himself in the study of the Shastras such as the Dravida Veda, Itihasas, Puranas and other sacred literature, and expound the mysteries of the various mantrarthas to his pupils.

In the fifth Yama of the day he should again perform sandhya while the sun remains visible. Thereafter he performs japa of the three sacred mantras, and performs the evening fire-sacrifice. He should then partake of food as at midday and the again engage himself in the recitation of the Vedas and Puranas.

Then before retiring to bed he should perform meditation upon the divine form of the Lord with all His excellent attributes, the remembrance of which removes all mental impurities. The mind which is difficult to restrain, is brought under control by dharana or steady concentration, controlling of the senses and speech.

And then finally when sleep overcomes him, he should retire to bed with the thought that he is safe at the feet of the Lord.

In this manner not a moment of the day is wasted in idle pursuits. Such an ideal sacred routine of life can be followed only be the grace of the Supreme and All-merciful Lord. Indeed fortunate are those that can lead such a life, they are truly the favorites of the Lord, and are worthy to be followed by others.

Thus in brief is given the description of the five purificatory rites which make a person ripe for perfection - a paramaikanti - one who leads a fully religious life. By following such a life-style the life's mission is fulfilled.
Jagat - Sun, 01 Aug 2004 09:06:29 +0530
I think Muralidhar was talking about the guru-pranali and the siddha-pranali when he said "names."
Madhava - Sun, 01 Aug 2004 15:35:30 +0530
QUOTE (Kishalaya @ Jul 31 2004, 05:17 PM)
Then I suppose there is this 'Gadaadhara parivaara' who consider themselves as the only 'bonafide' distributors of maadhurya rasa.

For the record, there may be a branch or some branches of that tradition who present such a claim, but that is by no means universal among them.