Rādhā-kānta dāsa: Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja says that divya-jñāna (being situated in transcendental knowledge of one’s relationship with Śrī Kṛṣṇa) is man’s second birth. What is the meaning of this second birth?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Do you know the meaning of dīkṣā? One’s first birth takes place by one’s worldly father and mother, and the second is by the transcendental guru – not by an ordinary guru. Guru gives dīkṣā, meaning ‘second birth.’ He gives his disciple transcendental birth and a relationship with Kṛṣṇa. Transcendental birth from a high-class guru is greater than the first birth by one’s father and mother. Why? By our material birth alone we cannot make our life successful.
Vṛndāvana dāsa: What is the importance of brāhmaṇa-dīkṣā ?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Without dīkṣā, one will not achieve divya-jñāna (transcendental knowledge). He will not be able to properly understand kṛṣṇa-tattva (the established truths about Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s identity as the Supreme Being), jīva-tattva (the established truths regarding the unlimited living entities), māyā-tattva (the established truths regarding Kṛṣṇa’s deluding material potency), prema-tattva (the truths regarding pure love of God), or rādhā-tattva (the truths regarding Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s supreme potency and dearmost beloved), and his anarthas will not go away. So, this brāhmaṇa-dīkṣā is essential.
Devotee: Is this transcendental knowledge revealed in the heart, or is it actually heard from the spiritual master?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: It will come from guru.
Devotee: When we sing saṁsāra-dāvānala-līḍha-loka in the morning, whom do we meditate upon? The dīkṣā-guru (initiating guru), the śikṣā-guru (instructing guru), or the sannyāsa-guru (the guru who initiates the disciple into the renounced order of life)?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: You meditate on the guru who is most prominent for you. Dīkṣā-guru should be meditated upon, but if śikṣā-guru is more qualified, then he should also be meditated upon.
Śrīpāda Padmanābha Mahārāja: When Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣaka Śrīdhara Mahārāja was asked the same question, he explained that if the disciple’s dīkṣā- and śikṣā-gurus are both elevated souls, he will consider the guru from whom he perceives he has received the most spiritual benefit to be his most prominent guru.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Okay.
Tribhaṅga dāsa: Gurudeva, how can I know what is best for my bhakti without having to consult you at every step?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: You should have full faith in gurudeva. If one has no faith, he will not realize anything, and if one has full faith in gurudeva, everything will be revealed.
Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja: Gurudeva, two years ago you said that loyalty is the key to success. If one is loyal to the words and instructions of Gurudeva, then he will automatically know how to proceed.
Vrajanātha dāsa: Also, Śrīla Gurudeva said that if the disciple has any question and he meditates on Gurudeva, then Gurudeva will manifest the answer if that disciple is sincere.
Śrīpāda Dāmodara Mahārāja: You are the śikṣā-guru of many disciples. Do you love them more than your own disciples? You do not take your own disciples onto your lap, but you do so for others.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: In truth, I have so much affection for the disciples of my śikṣā-guru, parama-pūjyapāda Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja, because he requested me to take care of them. The śikṣā-disciple and his śikṣā-guru have a special relationship. They can open their hearts to each other, whereas a disciple cannot always openly reveal his heart to his dīkṣā-gurudeva.
Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja: But you have also said that you have such a deep relationship with your gurudeva that you open your heart and reveal everything.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Sometimes this is very hard; but you can reveal everything to your śikṣā-guru, because he is both your guru and your friend. Regarding your dīkṣā-gurudeva, he is not like a friend; he is your controller.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: An expert professor or teacher gives lessons to his students regarding the process of studying a particular subject. A bonafide guru, by dīkṣā initiation, gives transcendental knowledge and a relationship between your soul and Kṛṣṇa. By dīkṣā, all your sins and all kinds of unwanted thoughts and habits disappear. Then, by this dīkṣā system, gradually you will realize your relationship with Kṛṣṇa.
Do you know the meaning of ‘relation’? Is your father alive?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Your mother?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: You are married?
Yasmin: Not yet.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: What is your relationship with your father? He is your father. If you are sick, will your father help you or not?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: If you are married and have a son, you do not hesitate to spend all your money and give your whole being for that son. This is ‘relation.’ Similarly, when you realize your relationship with Kṛṣṇa, you will give up everything for Him, and He will give all His mercy to you.
This is the dīkṣā process. Dīkṣā is not completed in one second; it takes time. By taking dīkṣā, we are entering into the school in which we learn all these spiritual principles and philosophical truths.
Sanātana dāsa: Śrīla Gurudeva, I have a question regarding proper etiquette. Many devotees come to take shelter of you and want to take harināma and dīkṣā. Some are not properly qualified and therefore haven’t been authorized by the local authorities. An incident happened during this festival, wherein a devotee made arrangements for some other devotees to take initiation but did not go through the proper channel.
We would like some clarification, because this does not only happen in our local saṅga, but all over. We want to know what kind of process you want. What is your standard?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: The candidates must be recommended by sannyāsīs, brahmacārīs, and someone from their local saṅga.
Vrajanātha dāsa: Sometimes, Gurudeva, the local devotees would not recommend some of the candidates for initiation. They may observe that someone is weak because he or she doesn’t chant sixteen rounds.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: We will have to give importance to that.
Vrajanātha dāsa: And sometimes a sannyāsī will encourage someone to take dīkṣā who may not be chanting.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: No, no. That is not good. There must be local permission.
Vrajanātha dāsa: Who will take responsibility? If someone is chanting four rounds, and a sannyāsī says, “You can come for dīkṣā,” and a local devotee says otherwise…
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: The local devotee will have precedence.
Padmanābha dāsa: The local devotee should also be qualified.
Vrajanātha dāsa: They know the situation.
Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja: They are taking care.
Padmanābha dāsa: What I see is that gṛhasthas don’t have the proper mood towards sannyāsīs and brahmacārīs. Everyone respects sannyāsīs, but no one knows how to treat brahmacārīs. Likewise, brahmacārīs do not know how to treat gṛhasthas.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: One’s āśrama does not matter. What matters is one’s gradation of bhakti. For example, if there is a householder devotee who is very senior and knows all siddhānta (philosophical conclusions), and a brahmacārī who has only taken up the bhakti process a few months prior and knows nothing about bhakti, who is superior? Who should offer obeisances to whom? The devotee with more bhakti is superior.
Dhīra-kṛṣṇa dāsa: Was there any formal dīkṣā initiation in Satya-yuga?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Why not? Brahmā took initiation from Kṛṣṇa, and Nārada took initiation from Brahmā.
Dhīra-kṛṣṇa dāsa: That was bhagavati-dīkṣā.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Somehow they gave dīkṣā, as Vyāsadeva took dīkṣā from Nārada. First of all, you must know the meaning of dīkṣā.
Dhīra-kṛṣṇa dāsa: Divyaṁ jñānaṁ yato dadyāt.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Does dīkṣā refer only to that mantra? What do you understand by the word dīkṣā?
Dhīra-kṛṣṇa dāsa: They will learn their relationship with Śrī Kṛṣṇa.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Did they realize their relationship with Kṛṣṇa?
Dhīra-kṛṣṇa dāsa: Yes.
divyaṁ jñānaṁ yato dadyāt
kuryāt pāpasya saṅkṣayam
tasmāt dīkṣeti sā proktā
That spiritual undertaking which awakens divya-jñāna (transcendental knowledge) and destroys all sinful reactions at the root is called dīkṣā by authorities learned in the Absolute Truth.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: This is dīkṣā. If they don’t realize their relationship via the mantras, they have not actually received dīkṣā. It is about vidvad-rūḍhī and avidvad-rūḍhī. Do you understand?
Vrajanātha dāsa: Yes. Real dīkṣā occurs when we have taken complete shelter of sādhu-saṅga and sad-guru, and when we receive nourishment from them.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: The devotee has realization; this is dīkṣā. Dīkṣā is not completed by only giving the mantra. Brahmā received kāma-gāyatrī initiation by hearing the sound of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s flute.
Vṛndāvana dāsa: Śrīla Gurudeva, does it mean, then, that unless we have realization of our svarūpa, our siddha-deha, we have not completed the dīkṣā process?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: We should know all tattvas, established truths, and be situated in those tattvas. We should know our relationship with Kṛṣṇa and our duty towards Him; we should be established in that. This is real dīkṣā.
By avidvad-rūḍhī dīkṣā you are only entering in the course of dīkṣā. If a young boy is admitted in a school, he is a student, and a PhD is also a student, but there is so much difference between the two. Similarly, avidvad-rūḍhī dīkṣā is also dīkṣā, but it is the entrance, and the other is real dīkṣā.
Jāhnavā-jīvana dāsa: Śrīla Gaura Govinda Mahārāja said that when someone in Kali-yuga takes initiation, that person becomes situated in Satya-yuga (by consciousness).
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: What he has told is okay, but we will have to think further about this. Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja was a qualified guru who gave some persons sannyāsa. Later on those sannyāsīs married and left their devotional lives, discarding their tulasī-mālā, or neck-beads. In that case, how are those sannyāsīs situated in Satya-yuga?
Gokula dāsa: I think my Guru Mahārāja’s quote about Satya-yuga is originally from Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī – that if we take dīkṣā in Mahāprabhu’s line, we are exempt from any reaction to our bad thoughts. We are effectively in Satya-yuga.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: We can reconcile this. Dīkṣā is of two kinds: vidvad-rūḍhī (with realization) and avidvad-rūḍhī (formality). If the dīkṣā initiation is not vidvad-rūḍhī, it is not dīkṣā in the true sense. Having received real dīkṣā, the devotee realizes his relationship with Kṛṣṇa, at which time all of his offenses and anarthas disappear.
In Kali-yuga, such real dīkṣā is very rare. We therefore see that even though one has participated in the official dīkṣā ceremony and has received the dīkṣā mantras, if he is not realized and all of his offenses have not gone, then his dīkṣā is not true (vidvad-rūḍhī). Rather, such a person has merely entered the school of dīkṣā, and he may still engage in nonsense activities or mentalities. However, those who have received vidvad-rūḍhī dīkṣā will never fall, and nothing unfavourable to bhakti will even enter their minds. They quickly progress.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Ladies are generally not allowed to give class in the Gauḍīya Maṭha, but if they are qualified they can do so. For example, there was a disciple of Śrīla Prabhupāda Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura named Saroja-vāsinī. She was very bold; she would even question Śrīla Prabhupāda. Once she asked him, “If you are not giving guru-mantra or dīkṣā to ladies, should we go to another guru to receive this?”
Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja: She asked, “Have you taken a vow to deliver only those in a male form and not in a female form?”
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: And thus she became Śrīla Prabhupāda’s first lady disciple.
Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja: He was saying that if ladies give class, then the brahmacārīs will be disturbed by them.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Why? If Śyāmarāṇī or Umā give classes, why would any male be disturbed? Some ladies will give class; it is not that all will give.
Giridhari dāsa: Śrīla Gurudeva, is the harināma-guru considered to be the mantra-guru?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: He is guru. Also, if that guru is qualified but he has passed away from this world and his disciple took only harināma from him, then the disciple will take dīkṣā from a guru who is equal to that harināma-guru. The dīkṣā-guru should be equal to the bona fide harināma-guru, and in the same line.
Śrīpāda Śuddhādvaitī Mahārāja: Śrīla Gurudeva, some devotees are asking that at the time of dīkṣā initiation you say that we should take Kṛṣṇa as our priyatama, our most beloved. But, since Śrīmatī Rādhikā is already Kṛṣṇa’s beloved, how can we take Him as our beloved?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: This is the meaning of gopī-janavallabha: Kṛṣṇa is the beloved of all the gopīs. You can think of this in the way that Rūpa Mañjarī or Rūpa Gosvāmī thinks. You can follow Rupa Gosvāmī in his sādhaka form, as well as in his form as the gopī, Rūpa Mañjarī.
Śrī Vṛndā dāsī: I have a question, Gurudeva. When you are giving class, as you sit on the vyāsāsana looking at all of us, sometimes you look stern and sometimes you are smiling. What are you doing with us through your eyes?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: By my eyes I am giving you kṛṣṇa-bhakti. Guru does this in order to impregnate your heart with bhakti.
Śrī Vṛndā dāsī: Sometimes when you are looking at us, it’s like, “Whoa!” Sometimes I don’t know where to look. Should I keep looking at you even though [making a gasping sound as if overwhelmed]? Keep looking? Where else to look, right?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: That is why a living dīkṣā-guru, or śikṣā-guru, is needed. Without guru, one cannot advance. Some gurus put their hand on the disciples’ head and say, “May you go to Goloka Vṛndāvana.” Nārada, for example, can do this. A madhyama-adhikārī cannot do this. He can inspire by his hari-kathā. Regarding a kaniṣṭha-adhikārī, he will take that devotee to a sad-guru (selfrealized guru).
Śrīpāda Śuddhādvaitī Mahārāja: Gurudeva, in the Upadeṣāmṛta of Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja, at the end of Purport Five, he says not to take a guru if he is not uttama-adhikārī. He also says, “Don’t become guru if you are not uttama-adhikārī.” Then he says that both the kaniṣṭha-adhikārī and madhyama-adhikārī may also take disciples, but that such disciples cannot make much progress due to insufficient guidance. The question is this: Below which level would you say that one should not venture to take disciples?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: It is not written anywhere. But I think that, at the least, one requires the qualification of a madhyama-madhyama devotee in order to give initiation.
Śrīpāda Śuddhādvaitī Mahārāja: Does his giving of the dīkṣā-mantra have the power to give divya-jñāna (transcendental knowledge)?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: It is not as powerful as if Nārada would give it. If Nārada gives initiation, at once, in a second, divya-jñāna will manifest. But we are not like him.
Śrīpāda Nemi Mahārāja: What are the symptoms of a madhyama-madhyama-adhikārī, Śrīla Gurudeva?
Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja: He is asking: what is the qualification of a madhyama-madhyama? Is it ruci, or āsakti, or niṣṭhā, or what?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: [He must have come] up to āsakti. And, if bhāva comes…
[When Śrīla Gurudeva said ‘up to āsakti,’ he meant that the guru must have already reached up to the stage of āsakti. He must already be on the stage of āsakti.]
Śrīpāda Śuddhādvaitī Mahārāja: The definition of divya-jñāna is that the guru is
putting the form of Bhagavān in the heart by the mantra, like a seed. From that seed manifests bhagavatā sambandha viseṣa jñānaṁ ca (Bhakti-sandarbha, Anuccheda 283), meaning specific realized knowledge of one’s relationship with Bhagavān. At which level can guru know this?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: If I know, and you know, why will that madhyama-madhyama not know? However, realization of that knowledge will come at bhāva. Without bhāva, or rati, realization will not come; but even at that level the realization will be as though ‘covered with glass.’
[Here, Śrīla Gurudeva is pretending to be like us, saying that he and we and the madhyama-madhyama guru may have varying degrees of theoretical knowledge of one’s particular relationship with Kṛṣṇa.]
Śrīpāda Āśrama Mahārāja: So, does ‘up to āsakti’ mean ruci? Is ruci not madhyama-madhyama? ‘Up to āsakti’ begins from where?
Śrīpāda Śuddhādvaitī Mahārāja: Ruci.
Śrīpāda Āśrama Mahārāja: [To Śrīpāda Śuddhādvaitī Mahārāja] He didn’t say ruci with his mouth. You said ruci.
Śrīpāda Śuddhādvaitī Mahārāja: [To Śrīpāda Āśrama Mahārāja] But it is understood in all śāstra.
Vrajanātha dāsa: Gurudeva said, “Āsakti.”
Śrīpāda Śrīdhara Mahārāja: If we look closely, we see that so many gurus take disciples although those gurus’ anarthas have not gone. They have not passed anartha-nṛvrtti, yet they are taking disciples. How can they do this?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Nowadays there is no consideration of qualification at all – nothing. All are allowed to give, especially unqualified persons.
Śrīpāda Āśrama Mahārāja: Śrīla Gurudeva, you said, “up to āsakti.” Do you mean niṣṭhā-ruci madhyama-madhyama, or only ruci-āsakti madhyama-madhyama?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Ki sab? [Bengali phrase, meaning, “What is it that you continue to ask again and again?”]
Śrīpāda Āśrama Mahārāja: If one is not madhyama-madhyama and he gives dīkṣā, what reaction will he receive?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Good result (gati); there is no harm in this. Kṛṣṇa will do what is needful.
Śrīpāda Āśrama Mahārāja: No, I am not referring to the madhyama-madhyama. I am asking about one who is less than that.
Vrajanātha dāsa: What is the result of an unqualified guru giving dīkṣā?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: He should be qualified.
Śrīpāda Āśrama Mahārāja: But what if he is unqualified? Then?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: What will be the result? You know.
Śrīpāda Śuddhādvaitī Mahārāja: So madhyama-madhyama begins at ruci; yes?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Do you know the meaning of māna (honour) and sammāna (honour, or respect)? The desire for these things will grow. That unqualified person will thus think, “I am the only guru,” and then he will fall down.
Baladeva dāsa: We understand from scripture that śrī guru is present everywhere. It is stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.2.2), taṁ sarvabhūta-hṛdayaṁ munim ānato ‘smi [I offer my respectful obeisances unto that great sage Śukadeva Gosvāmī, who can enter the hearts of all].
So, what is the difference between my asking in an internal prayer to gurudeva to remove all obstacles to my bhakti – like lust, anger, greed illusion, madness, and bewilderment – and asking him directly, face to face, to remove them?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: If the guru is on the level of Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī, there is no need of asking face to face. Guru is a manifestation of Kṛṣṇa, and therefore he is powerful enough that his response will inspire your heart. If the guru is not of Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī’s caliber and is a madhyama-adhikārī (an intermediate devotee), then Kṛṣṇa will fulfill the disciple’s desire on behalf of that guru.
Vrajanātha dāsa: What if the disciple prays to the qualified guru, and he also wants to ask in person?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: That is also good, but if he is far away and cannot ask in person and he earnestly prays within his heart, the reply will come.
Rādhā-kānta dāsa: Śrīla Gurudeva, it is said that the guru gives the conception of sambandha-jñāna (one’s eternal relationship with Kṛṣṇa) when he gives dīkṣā-mantras to the disciple. If the guru is only on the madhyama (intermediate) platform and the understanding of his own and his disciple’s svarūpa, or eternal form, is not complete, then what conception can he give?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: First understand that at the time of dīkṣā, all kinds of anarthas are eradicated and one’s relationship with Kṛṣṇa is realized. Nowadays, dīkṣā is not actual (vidvad-rūḍhī) dīkṣā. Rather, in the ordinary dīkṣā of present days, gurudeva is giving only some qualification to the disciple to begin his dīkṣā process. Later, when the disciple’s relationship is realized, then his dīkṣā is real, or actual.
Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja: Rādhā-kānta prabhu’s question is this: If a madhyama-adhikārī has no realization of his own relation with Kṛṣṇa, then how can he give this?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: He can give something, even though he does not have that realization. Then, in this life, or in future lives, the disciple will find a perfect guru; and by surrendering to that perfect guru he will be able to realize his relationship with Kṛṣṇa.
Rādhā-kānta dāsa: So ultimately we have to take śikṣā from an uttama-bhāgavata (topmost devotee)?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: You cannot realize who is an uttama Vaiṣṇava in your present stage. When you become a madhyama-uttama Vaiṣṇava (the highest level of madhyama, just prior to the uttama Vaiṣṇava stage), then you will be able to realize.
Gokula dāsa (from Australia): Can’t an uttama-adhikārī make you realize?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Yes, he can. He knows a disciple’s level of qualification, and he gives his mercy accordingly. A father places weight upon his son’s head according to his son’s capacity; not more than that. Guru does this as well.
Padmanābha dāsa: How can one progress from anuṣṭhānikī dīkṣā (official, ordinary dīkṣā) to vidvad-rūḍhī (actual) dīkṣā?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Listen to hari-kathā and perform guru-sevā. Both are essential:
tad viddhi praṇipātena
upadekṣyanti te jñānaṁ
[Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized souls can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth.]
You will have to serve guru, follow his orders, and hear his hari-kathā. The knowledge given by him will gradually manifest in your heart and you will become qualified for vidvad-rūḍhī.
Śrīpāda Nemi Mahārāja: Śrīla Gurudeva, in his letters, our guru mahārāja (Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja) did not usually say that he was giving dīkṣā. He said that he was giving second initiation. What kind of dīkṣā was he giving, or not giving?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Did he give the guru-mantra and all the other mantras?
Śrīpāda Nemi Mahārāja: Yes.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: That is dīkṣā. He called it ‘second initiation’ as an English translation. Harināma is given first. If dīkṣā and harināma are given at the same time, at the same ceremony, then harināma is given first and just after that dīkṣā is given.
Śrīpāda Nemi Mahārāja: You were saying that nowadays one’s dīkṣā is not vidvad-rūḍhī. It is merely giving some adhikāra, or qualification, for later advancement. Is the bona fide guru simply giving some adhikāra, or is he giving full dīkṣā?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: The guru gives an opportunity for the disciples to begin their dīkṣā process. We see in Jaiva-dharma that when Vijaya Kumāra and Vrajanātha took dīkṣā, they at once realized and saw Gauracandra (Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu), but nowadays the dīkṣā initiations are not of that caliber.
Śrīpāda Sajjana Mahārāja: Is it that the madhyama-guru gives instructions, thereby giving their disciples sukṛti (spiritual merits), and then, when the disciple follows these instructions he will get the association of the topmost devotees?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: A disciple should always think, “My gurudeva is an uttama-adhikārī and an associate of Śrī Kṛṣṇa.”
Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja: Otherwise he cannot advance.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: He should think like that. In the Bhagavad-gītā there is a śloka which states that if anyone is worshiping the demigods, the fruit of that worship is given by Kṛṣṇa, because the demigods have no power to give that fruit. Suppose you worship grass or straw, thinking, “I am worshiping Kṛṣṇa.” That straw is not Kṛṣṇa, but if you consider, “Kṛṣṇa is here, I am worshiping Him,” He will know this and sprinkle His mercy upon you at once.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: After Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvati Ṭhākura, there was a person named Ananta Vāsudeva. He was very qualified, but he became charmed by a lady devotee and left his sannyāsa. He married, after which many devotees became against him and said, “Now you should enter family life? This behaviour is like that of a dog who eats something, vomits it, and again eats hiw own vomit.” At that time he was very powerful. He had money and so many disciples, and he began to torture his godbrothers, the disciples of Śrīla Bhaktisiddānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, who opposed him.
Satyarūpa dāsī: What was the cause of the friction?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: It came about because he was attracted to his own lady-disciple and married her. His god-brothers told him that in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and other scriptures it is written that such behaviour is not a good thing for Vaiṣṇavism. They said, “You should go with her, and you should vacate your position as ācārya.” Everyone turned against him. He was at that time very wealthy and had a great deal of power, but his god-brothers left him and established their own maṭhas (temples) here and there.
So there are many sections, and everyone besides him is in the paramparā. All are like one. Sometimes they meet together and have discussions. They also meet here and there wherever there is an utsava (festival). Their preaching centers are in different places, but they are of the same opinion.
Satyarūpa dāsī: Was the falling of Ananta Vāsudeva Kṛṣṇa’s arrangement so that the Gauḍīya Maṭha will grow more?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Yes, that is right. We can reconcile it in this way. Otherwise we could not have preached all over the world.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: When Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda entered his unmanifest pastimes, the Gauḍīya Maṭha became divided over who would be the next ācārya. Ananta Vāsudeva was nominated, but in time it was seen that he was not qualified. Many devotees asked my guru mahārāja what to do, and he told them that if a guru is fallen he should be given up, and a bona fide guru accepted instead. If a disciple does not realize that his guru is unqualified at the time of dīkṣā but finds out later, he should reject that person and accept a real guru. If one’s dīkṣā-guru is unable to give pure bhakti, then one should humbly ask his permission to take shelter of a qualified śikṣā-guru. However, if the disciple is refused permission, then he must conclude that this so-called guru is selfish and worldly-minded, and should therefore be rejected.
Śrīpāda Padmanābha Mahārāja: That is why after she spoke one night at the ISKCON temple in Cebu, they would not let her come back the following night.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: They fear.
Suppose one takes harināma and dīkṣā from a guru who later falls down. Or, even if that guru does not fall down, he cannot remove the doubts of his disciples and he has no realized experience of Kṛṣṇa.
How can he give Kṛṣṇa from his heart into others’ hearts?
If a man is nourishing a cow that after a while no longer gives milk, what should he do? He should get another cow. He should get a cow that has milk. In the same way, if a guru to whom we are attached cannot give transcendental knowledge or realization, cannot remove our doubts, and cannot give Kṛṣṇa from his heart to our hearts, how can he be a bona fide guru? If he is a Vaiṣṇava and you beg permission from him to go to a more qualified guru, he will allow you to do so. If he is not a true Vaiṣṇava, then he will not allow you. He will say, “Don’t go. If you go, I will curse you.” Some persons think, “My disciples are my property,” but the bona fide guru does not think like this.
Śrīpāda Padmanābha Mahārāja: ISKCON’s philosophy is now similar to the ṛtvik philosophy. They are saying, “We do not have the highest realization, but we are connecting you with Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja Prabhupāda. You will get all things from him.”
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: If the ṛtvik system is bona fide, then why did Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja take initiation from his Gurudeva? And, why did his Gurudeva allow his many sannyāsī disciples to initiate? Why did Śrīla Prabhupāda Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura accept a guru who, being illiterate, could not even sign his name, and who was blind? Moreover, that blind personality rejected him two times, saying, “I don’t know anything. You should go to another guru.” Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura replied, “If you do not initiate me, I will fast until death.” At last Śrīla Gaura Kiśora dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja initiated Prabhupāda, who would later say with pride, “I am his only disciple.”
Dhruva dāsa: Śrīla Gurudeva, what should be my regard for senior devotees who are taking so many good things from your books, yet they are not taking guidance from you personally and simultaneously they are not allowing other devotees to come to see you?
Vrajanātha dāsa: His question is: How should we respect senior devotees who are reading your books yet do not allow other devotees to come to you?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Why don’t they allow others to see me? Oh, they are very cruel; very, very cruel.
Dhruva dāsa: Is there any value in trying to preach with them?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: If they don’t want to hear from my disciples, why go there to preach with them? The entire world is available for preaching; you can preach anywhere in this world. If they are unfavourable, then better not to preach with them.
Dhruva dāsa: What is the consequence of their taking so many good things from your teachings and your books, and at the same time disrespecting you by not letting others come to you and not coming to you for guidance themselves?
Śrīpāda Sajjana Mahārāja: And although they speak to others and give classes from your books, they do not acknowledge that the knowledge in your books is coming from you.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Their disciples should not obey them. They should kick out such so-called gurus.
Śrīpāda Sādhu Mahārāja: This devotee is from ISKCON. She is asking if it is possible to have a śikṣā-guru in her life who is more qualified than her dīkṣā-guru in ISKCON?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Certainly. Sometimes the śikṣā-guru is more qualified than the dīkṣā-guru. There are instances where the dīkṣā-guru will personally send his disciples to receive instruction from the more qualified guru. For example, the gurus of Śrīla Śyāmānanda Prabhu, Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura, and Śrīnivāsa Ācārya did this. Their gurus sent them to Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī, saying, “Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī is the authority on bhakti; go and take śikṣā from him.” They went to Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī for instruction, but they did not reject their dīkṣā-gurus. They considered Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī to be their śikṣā-guru and the others their dīkṣā-gurus. There is no fault in this; it is certainly authentic and proper.
Śrīpāda Sādhu Mahārāja: Sītā-devī is asking about the same topic: Many devotees come to you from ISKCON, where they received their first initiation, and then take shelter of you and receive dīkṣā. It is with their gurus’ blessings that they have come to you for this. What is their relationship with their gurus in ISKCON after they obtain your shelter?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: If the guru is happy that you have come to me, then you should respect him as guru. If that guru says, “You can go and take dīkṣā,” he must be respected.
Regarding how you should think of me, you can think of me as you like. I have no objection regarding anyone who wants to receive my help. My doors are open for everyone, regardless of caste or creed, and regardless of whether they are in ISKCON or anywhere else.
Śrīpāda Niṣkiñcana Mahārāja (at that time Vrajendra-nandana dāsa): Gurudeva, you once said in Costa Rica, in a conversation with Śrīpāda Paramadvaiti Mahārāja, that even if one is a madhyama devotee, if he has no connection with an uttama devotee he cannot deliver his disciple.
My question is that in order to give dīkṣā, must a madhyama-guru have a connection with an uttama devotee who is present in this world. Is that a fact?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: No, this is quite wrong. He can give dīkṣā. We should try to follow the direction of Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta and our Gosvāmīs.
Śrīpāda Āśrama Mahārāja: I have a question on guru-tattva. Yesterday you explained that if a kaniṣṭha-adhikārī gives dīkṣā, the result is zero. But it has been said that you previously mentioned that if the kaniṣṭha-adhikārī who is giving dīkṣā is himself taking śikṣā from a higher devotee, this system might be okay.
My question is this: What is the need for a kaniṣṭha-adhikārī to give dīkṣā if he can directly send that person to the higher devotee, and he himself just helps with instruction?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: The kaniṣṭha-adhikārī should not give dīkṣā. He should take the candidates to the uttama-adhikārī.
Śrīpāda Āśrama Mahārāja: Somebody said that you mentioned once before that this system may be okay. I just wanted it confirmed.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: But it is better to take them to the uttama-adhikārī.
Śrīpāda Śuddhādvaitī Mahārāja: What if there is no mahābhāgavata available in our saṅga?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Madhyama.
Śrīpāda Āśrama Mahārāja: Madhyama; madhyama-madhyama.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Madhyama is available everywhere.
Śrīpāda Śuddhādvaitī Mahārāja: Everywhere?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: [To Śrīpāda Śuddhādvaitī Mahārāja] You yourself can give dīkṣā.
Śrīpāda Śuddhādvaitī Mahārāja: Why are you cheating me now?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Nemi Mahārāja, and you [to Śrīpāda Padmanābha Mahārāja], and all. One day you will have to give dīkṣā – today or tomorrow.
Sannyāsīs: Next life.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Better to start now.
Śrīpāda Śuddhādvaitī Mahārāja: Double cheating now.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: They can all do it.
Bhakta-svarūpa dāsa: I heard once that Śrīla Gaura Govinda Mahārāja explained that the madhyama-adhikārī who is the real preacher is madhyama coming from uttama, not kaniṣṭha.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: That is right.
Bhakta-svarūpa dāsa: So, is the madhyama who is giving dīkṣā coming only from the uttama stage, or from the kaniṣṭha stage?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Do you have any doubt in him?
Bhakta-svarūpa dāsa: No, no. I am giving his statement as an introduction to my own question about dīkṣā.
Vrajanātha dāsa: His question is: Who can give dīkṣā – a madhyama who is progressing from the kaniṣṭha stage, or a madhyama who is actually uttama?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Both.
If you are not reading any books, how can you ask a question?
Bhakta-svarūpa dāsa: I am reading, Gurudeva.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: You have no time to read.
Rukmiṇī Chacon: I am asking this because, just like when Śrīla Prabhupāda left the planet – not left; he is always here – many of his disciples left bhakti. Everyone is urging me to take initiation from you, but what will happen when you are no longer here with us?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: No harm. Even if you have chanted one day, or one moment, from the core of your heart, you will definitely come in the line of bhakti. There will be no loss, only ever-increasing gain.
My Guru Mahārāja gave me harināma, dīkṣā, and sannyāsa. No one thought at that time that I would be preaching all over the world, but I am doing so. My Gurudeva and guru-paramparā have given me the power to do so.
Kṛṣṇa is very merciful. He wants everyone to enter the path of bhakti. He repeatedly comes to this world, either personally, or as His incarnation, or by sending His representative. A real, bonafide guru is His representative. A madhyama-adhikārī Vaiṣṇava can help you more, not an uttama (he sees everyone as already engaged in the Lord’s service) or kaniṣṭha-adhikārī. The uttama Vaiṣṇava therefore acts in the role of a devotee on the madhyama platform and thus give his mercy.
Mukunda dāsa: Śrīla Gurudeva, I have one question. You spoke about guru-tattva on the first night. You said that when the guru gives the disciple a relationship with Kṛṣṇa at the time of dīkṣā, brahminical initiation, it means he is giving it ‘in seed form.’ Some people are thinking that this means siddha-praṇālī, so they are confused.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: No. Until one performs pure bhajana to the extent that all kinds of anarthas have left his heart, one’s siddha-deha (one’s spiritual body, which is fit for serving Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa) cannot manifest. It may come at the stage of rati (bhāva-bhakti).
One must first attain the stages of śraddhā, bhajana-kriyā, niṣṭhā, ruci, āsakti, and after that rati manifests. At this stage śuddha-sattva will come, and then the devotee will be siddha (perfectly self-realized). Those who try to imagine their siddha-deha will be like the sahajiyā bābājīs at Rādhā-kuṇḍa, all of whom partake in immoral relationships with widows and perhaps even have sons from these relationships.
Śrīpāda Āśrama Mahārāja: Can you say something about kṛṣṇa-sevā-vāsanā, the desire to serve Śrī Kṛṣṇa?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: It may come even before initiation. One attains the seed of the desire to serve Kṛṣṇa by associating with an elevated devotee; that pure devotee, śrī guru, gives the seed of this desire. It is for this reason that a person comes to śrī guru and guru accepts him. The disciple first receives laukika-śraddhā, meaning that he will offer his obeisances in a general way. Then, when he gets more association, he becomes fixed in actual transcendental śraddhā.
The seed is already present in the heart, but it is latent. Guru gives the water, heat, and light, after which a sprout develops and gradually grows.
Śrīpāda Padmanābha Mahārāja: Śrīla Gurudeva, one question: After the Ratha-yātrā festival, when Mahāprabhu was speaking with Satyarāja Khān and others, they were asking Him what they should do as their devotional service. He told them to chant harināma and serve Vaiṣṇavas. They asked the question, “Who is a Vaiṣṇava?” in three consecutive years, and Mahāprabhu answered in three consecutive years. In the first year He answered that a Vaiṣṇava is one who chants the name of Kṛṣṇa even once.
Some devotees are asking about this. In the fifth verse of Upadeṣāmṛta it is stated, “Kṛṣṇeti yasya giri taṁ manasādriyeta – One should mentally honour any devotee who chants the holy name of Lord Kṛṣṇa.” Who is this person? Does this refer to someone who has taken dīkṣā and is chanting regularly, or to just anyone?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Dīkṣā should be real dīkṣā, not ordinary dīkṣā. Now we have been admitted in the ‘dīkṣā class,’ but the process of dīkṣā may take much time. For one who has actually received dīkṣā, divya-jñāna (realized transcendental knowledge of Kṛṣṇa and one’s eternal relationship with Him) comes at once. “Who is Kṛṣṇa? Who am I?” These questions are solved, and all kinds of anarthas are gone. This is dīkṣā. As far as you are concerned, you are now admitted in the class of dīkṣā, and it may take time to complete the dīkṣā process.
Śrīpāda Padmanābha Mahārāja: Mahāprabhu was telling them, “You should serve Vaiṣṇavas.” A Vaiṣṇava is someone who has chanted kṛṣṇa-nāma once. What kind of chanting is this person performing?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: In three years He described kaniṣṭha (the third-class devotee), madhyama (the intermediate, or second-class devotee), and uttama (the topmost, or first-class devotee). He gave answers in three consecutive years, and therefore we should consider that He was describing the kaniṣṭha-adhikārī in the first year, the madhyama-adhikārī in the second year, and then the uttama-adhikārī in the third.
Each class of devotee has been further divided into so many sub-divisions, and especially into three. For example, regarding kaniṣṭha, there is kaniṣṭha-kaniṣṭha (beginning beginner), kaniṣṭha-madhyama (intermediate beginner), kaniṣṭha-uttama (advanced beginner). This principle of beginner, intermediate, and advanced applies for the madhyama and uttama as well.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī is an uttama-adhikārī, but Nārada Ṛṣi is uttama-uttama-adhikārī. Nārada is the guru of all sampradāyas. Although he has told various things about his gradual spiritual development in Kṛṣṇa consciousness in Satya-yuga, Dvāpara-yuga, and Kali-yuga, he was actually never a conditioned soul. He showed these activities externally, but in reality he is eternally perfect.
Although Bharata Mahārāja had come to the stage of bhāva-bhakti, he lost three births due to his attachment to a baby deer. Bharata Mahārāja began from uttama-kaniṣṭha, and in his next life, as a deer, he was more advanced. And what happened in his third birth? In his third birth, as Jaḍa Bharata, he completed his bhajana.
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