Chakra Discussions

Initiation is formality - Reply to Ramagopal Uppaluri

by Deepak Vohra

Posted June 10, 2003

Ramagopal Uppaluri Prabhu states in his posting of May 31:

"formal initiation through a Vaisnava guru is necessary. This basic rule of ISKCON shall remain as long as neophyte devotees come to take shelter of Krsna...Formal diksa initiation is necessary for neophytes to advance gradually to devotional service." ('Not accepting formal diksa should be rare exception', CHAKRA, May 31, 2003).

However, this is a misrepresentation of Srila Prabhupada's position:

"Well, initiation or no initiation, first thing is knowledge. [break] ...knowledge. Initiation is formality. Just like you go to a school for knowledge, and admission is formality. That is not very important thing." (Srila Prabhupada, October 16, 1976, Chandigarh)

Indeed, the so-called "formal" ceremony actually has no meaning unless it is preceded by the "real" initiation - the surrender to the transmission of knowledge from the Guru:

"The official initation has no meaning unless one who has fully surrendered to guru. There is no question of initiation. “Dibya-jnana hrdi prokasito" (Srila Prabhupada S.B. lecture, New Vrindavana 1974)

Thus, the 'real' initiation begins when one receives transcendental knowledge - often way before the official initiation ceremony, as Srila Prabhupada demonstrated by his personal example:

"So anyway, from 1922 to 1933 practically I was not initiated, but I got the impression of preaching Caitanya Mahaprabhu's cult. That I was thinking. And that was the initiation by my Guru Maharaja." (Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 10/12/76, Hyderabad)

"The chanting Hare Krishna is our main business, that is real initiation. And as you are all following my instruction, in that matter, the initiator is already there." (Srila Prabhupada Letter to Tamala Krsna, 19 August, 1968)

So while the formal ceremony is required, it is NOT essential to the process of diksa, as clearly explained by Srila Prabhupada in his statements above. In fact, Srila Prabhupada states that it is "not very important thing".

Ramagopal Prabhu then states:

"However, some future devotee may propose Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Maharaja as his "Prominent Link". Mastering the words of Bhagavad-gita, one could argue that Sri Krsna Himself is his "Prominent Link". Sri Krsna has been our guru (and so-called "Prominent Link" in English word jugglery) residing in our heart as Paramatma and guiding us every day." ('Not accepting formal diksa should be rare exception', CHAKRA, May 31, 2003).

Of course, some future devotee MAY propose the above, but he/she would be acting in direct violation of the sastras, which clearly state that one must only accept the CURRENT LINK as one's spiritual master:

"...in order to receive the real message of Srimad-Bhagavatam one should approach the current link, or spiritual master, in the chain of disciplic succession." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.9.7, purport)

That "current link" is, of course, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada - as delineated by him in his description of the disciplic succession in the Introduction to Bhagavad-Gita As It Is.

Your servant,
Deepak