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Sunday, November 4, 2012

What is initiation (dikcha) and disciplic succession? Part 1 of 3

Update: Click here for part 2
Kripaluji Maharaj disciple speaks on disciplic succession
In this 3-part post we will examine some of the greatest spiritual confusions of today. Who is the Spiritual Master (Guru)? What is disciplic succession? What is initiation? The article below is excerpted from a lecture by a disciple of Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj in 1975 in Vrindavan, India.

Before dealing with the topic of disciplic-succession, I will explain the qualifications of a Spiritual Master.

The Ved describes the qualifications of a Spiritual Master as 'shrotriam brahmnishtham', and the Gita and the Bhagwatam repeat the same theory. They say that the Divine Personality, Who is well versed in the scriptural knowledge and is simultaneously absorbed in the Divine pleasure of Godhead Personality, is called a Spiritual Master.

Kripaluji Maharaj disciple speaks on disciplic succession
A Saint who has complete scriptural knowledge and knows their secrets, is capable of being called a Spiritual Master or Guru, and we know from the history that all Spiritual Masters had these qualifications

The names of the main scriptures have been given. A Spiritual Master must have a complete knowledge of the theme of all scriptures. This is the specific quality of being a 'shrotriya'.

Jagadguru Ramanujacharya explains, that the root word 'brinhi' with the suffix 'manin' forms the word 'brahm', which elucidates the qualitative absoluteness of Absolute Divinity. That is why, Krishna is called Brahm. 'Nishth' means the natural state of the mind, thus 'brahmnishth' means, a real Saint whose mind is completely established in Godhead Personality. So, a Saint who has complete scriptural knowledge and knows their secrets, is capable of being called a Spiritual Master or Guru, and we know from the history that all Spiritual Masters had these qualifications.

The Descension of a Spiritual Master

Sometimes a 'general associate' acts as a Spiritual Master but mostly 'eternal associates' are appointed as Spiritual Masters by Godhead.

Among the eternal associates, who descended on this earth as Spiritual Masters, some were not personally related to any sect but their disciples formed a new sect in their names. For examples, there are two sects in Vrindavan in the name of Hit Haribanch and Swami Haridas. Some Saints were related to a particular sect, just as Surdas to Vallabhacharya sect, Roop, Sanatan etc. to Madwacharya sect, and so on; and some Saints were specially sent by Godhead Personality to rejuvenate Spirituality on this earth. They were prominent personalities called the Jagadgurus, who represented a particular sect.

Though these Jagadgurus were not the actual originators of these sects, they re-established them in a proper style, so these sects were renamed after their names, and thus we know them as Shankaracharya sect, Ramanujacharya sect, Madhwacharya sect, Nimbarkacharya sect and Vallabhacharya sect.

Kripaluji Maharaj disciple speaks on disciplic succession
They were accompanied by several other eternal associates who came to assist their mission, Thus, simultaneously, there were many eternal associates, working together and gracing the souls with their satsang

These Jagadgurus did not come alone. They were accompanied by several other eternal associates who came to assist their mission, Thus, simultaneously, there were many eternal associates, working together and gracing the souls with their satsang.


As a social rule in India, the eldest son or the first disciple owns the property of the matha that belongs to his father or Guru. So the mathas or the properties (temples and houses etc) of the Spiritual preceptors, who were family men, were inherited by their sons, called Goswamis. As their families grew, some of them built up their separate temples and some of them jointly shared with the original property (house of temple). Similarly, the mathas of the Spiritual preceptors, who had no family, were owned by their disciples; and so on.

In this way, we find two kinds of people representing themselves as successors to our ancient Spiritual preceptors, one as family men (the Goswamis) and the other as non-family men (the sanyasis).

The Present Situation

It is human nature that when a person receives a lot of money, he becomes proud, sensual and turns away from Spiritual devotion.

When the original Jagadgurus established their mathas, there was not much property, but later on the faithful and the religious-minded people gave plenty of gifts and offerings in the name of God, and thus, these religious mathas became very rich.

The first successor of every matha or temple, nominated by the original Jagadguru, was no doubt a real Saint. But later on, any influential or elderly person of that particular sect, held the proprietorship of the matha and represented himself as 'preceptor', gaining, both, prestige and wealth. Thus, a good deal of materialism developed under the curtain of sects and people quarreled,  fought, went into litigation and used diplomatic means for holding their proprietor rights over these religious mathas and temples. In this way, Spirituality vanished and materiality remained.

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu did not build any matha or temple. His disciples were of both types, family men and non-family men. They made their own disciples and thus their succession began. The later generation of these disciples formed a number of independent mathas in the name of Chaitanya and everyone claimed himself to be the chief successor of the Chaitanya sect. In this way, there are, at present, thousands of religious personalities, flaunting their flags and claiming themselves the actual successor and the true Master of their sects.

Now we should again come to the question of 'disciplic-succession', and to understand its significance, firstly we will have to understand the science of initiation.

What is an Initiation?

Some people think that initiation is a teaching of some special words (mantra). They believe that if a religious person, representing any of the above-mentioned sects, performs a brief initiation-ceremony and tells them the prescribed mantra of his sect, it is an 'initiation'. This is wrong, and the cause of such misconception is the selfish propagation by such initiators, who say that whoever takes initiation in the sect, gains admittance into the Divine abode. Though it is all bluffing business, worldly people accept such things due to their ignorance and blind faith.

Some people think that there are some secret techniques of meditation which are told at the time of initiation, and some think that initiation gives immediate experience of transcendental vision or something of that sort.

The present-day initiators fall into mainly two categories. Those, who relate themselves to any sect of any Spiritual preceptor, are of one kind, and those, who have formed their own sect and teach their own concept about the Divine, are of the second kind.

Thus a number of groups of disciples have been formed all over the world who praise their own sects and disrespect others.

It is commonly seen that a person calling himself a Krishna devotee criticizes another Krishna devotee who belongs to a different sect. There are four main sects of Krishna devotion established by different preceptors and Jagadgurus. The followers of these sects show their pride by saying that their sect is the greatest of all and thus they quarrel among themselves.

Such senseless talks and irresponsible behaviour are certainly transgressions which darken the mind instead of enlightening it and the devotee never receives any Divine favour because, all Spiritual preceptors who descended on this earth and established their sects, represented Godhead Krishna Himself. So disrespect to any of these, is a disrespect to Krishna and a disrespect to his own preceptor, because all the Saints are one.

Just as all the Saints are one, similarly all the forms of Godhead which are the different representations of Krishna, are also one. Any devotee disrespecting Krishna's glory (for instance a Ram devotee disrespecting Krishna's glory or a Krishna devotee calling Ram a demi-god and thus disrespecting His Divine status) will never develop virtues in himself, rather he will develop a deep conceit in his heart.

I advice such people, that whatever sect they follow or whatever form of Godhead they worship, they should try to overcome their material weaknesses, reduce worldly attachments and long to love their adopted form of Godhead with an ambition to get Divine love, then everything will be alright.

If we look carefully at the act of initiation, we will find that the method of initiation of our preceptors and Jagadgurus etc. was quite different from what is seen nowadays. They taught the form of 'remembrance' to their disciples and imparted bhava bhakti to their hearts. That was their way of initiation. Now, people receive only a mantra during a formal ceremony related to it and call it initiation. Mostly the initiator neither teaches the form of remembrance nor does he impart Divine power, because his heart itself is full of worldly ambitions, not Divine love. This is the reason why after taking a formal initiation from a Guru (who may represent a sect or may sit on the throne of a matha) the disciple's heart remains attached to material possessions. Thus, all such initiations remain as an unsigned cheque, nice-looking but useless.

Kripaluji Maharaj disciple speaks on disciplic succession
Our history tells us that whomsoever Mahaprabhu Ji embraced or looked at with love, certainly entered into bhava bhakti

Our history tells us that whomsoever Mahaprabhu Ji embraced or looked at with love, certainly entered into bhava bhakti, and whomsoever Vallabhacharya gave the Brahm-sambandh mantra, definitely got consciousness of Krishna Love to the extent of his faith and purity of mind. The same words are given by the initiators of today as mantra. Why people do not get the consciousness of Krishna Love? The reason is that nowadays people receive only the words at the time of initiation, while our preceptors imparted divine love along with the Name or mantra, which they told their disciples to remember.

Kripaluji Maharaj disciple speaks on disciplic succession
Whomsoever Vallabhacharya gave the Brahm-sambandh mantra, definitely got consciousness of Krishna Love to the extent of his faith and purity of mind

Any person calling himself a Guru, can tell the 'words' of any mantra to anyone and make him his disciple, but he cannot impart Divine Love, because Divine Love is a Divine power which remains in the heart of a Saint. Only a real Saint can impart Divine Love to a devotee, and thus, his initiating act (whatever it might be) is called an initiation in the true sense. Others, who pretend to be initiating people, only deceive themselves and their disciples.

Thus, we must understand that 'listening to a mantra' from a religious personality in private, is not an initiation, but 'receiving the consciousness of Krishna Love', is the initiation. Our scriptures say the same truth:

[Sanskrit Shloka]

"To give bhava bhakti to the disciple is called initiation (dikcha)"

- Excerpted from a lecture by a disciple of Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj in 1975 in Vrindavan, India.

(In the next post we will look at the "Form of Initiation", "Regular Initiation" and "Final Initiation (premdan)".)

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