Srila Prabhupada’s instruction on initiation

Srila Prabhupada on First & Second Initiation

Gayatri Mantra Initiation (Boston, May 9, 1968):

Prabhupāda: So we shall now begin our ceremony. If any question? (pause) So we can begin. Any question?

Student: Is this the ceremony which is often referred to as mantra-dīkṣā?

Prabhupāda: Yes. Mantra-dīkṣā. Yes. The first ceremony is hari-nāma-dīkṣā, and then mantra-dīkṣā. Hari-nāma-dīkṣā, all these boys present, they were, one year before, they were initiated for chanting, and now they are being second time initiated by mantra-dīkṣā, yes. Any other questions?

Student: Has there been a fasting or other preparatory?

Prabhupāda: No. According to Vaiṣṇava tantra, we do not require to fast because we are taking Kṛṣṇa's prasādam. Hare. Just like in Jagannātha Purī, there is no fasting, so long one is accepting Kṛṣṇa's prasādam. The fasting means purificatory, one, one who is taking all nonsense things, at least one day fasting to become purified. But one who is eating simply Kṛṣṇa prasādam and simple foodstuff, vegetable, grains, milk; they are not allowed to eat anything and everything. They are not allowed to take anything in the hotel. So practically, they are fasting. According to the general regulation, they are fasting every day. They are simply accepting Kṛṣṇa prasādam. That is already accepted. And because this ceremony is Vaiṣṇava smṛti, so we do not require particularly to fast.

Student: Do the disciples take on new injunctions and prohibitions at this time? You mentioned that there were four nisidhacara (?) mentioned.

Prabhupāda: No. This.

Student: the earlier stage.

Prabhupāda: Earlier, earlier stage, the injunctions were.. They have already practiced those injunctions. They have already practiced and they now stand firmly situated in those practices and they have chanted. Therefore the second initiation. Just like in the school education—from one class to another is promotion stage—similarly, it is like that.

Student: Are there any formal rules that they agree to accept at this stage? Over and above the earlier...

Prabhupāda: Yes. Only form is that the mantra which will be given to him, he has to chant that mantra three times a day, morning, early in the morning, and in the noon, and in the evening. Tri-sandhya. Tri-sandhya means three times, junction of different moments. Morning, day and night, evening, day and night, junction, and the noon, afternoon and before noon. Three times.

Student: Does taking the initiation create a permanent bond between disciple and guru?

Prabhupāda: Yes, that is already done. When they were initiated hari-nāma, chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, that acceptance of... Tasmāt guruṁ prapadyeta. Just like one has to enter himself into some educational institution for being educated more and more, similarly, one has to first of all accept a bona fide spiritual master. Then he gives him education one after another, one after another. So that initiation means that is the beginning. But that is not the end. There is no end. It will go on. It will go on. This is the second stage only. But the rules and regulations, they have already practiced, and they are doing them.

Student: The first mantra, Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, that's for, you say, that's to clean the mind of the material contam...

Prabhupāda: Yes, that is the basic, that is the first principle. Lord Caitanya says, ceto-darpaṇa-mārjanam: (CC Antya 20.12) "By chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, one becomes cleansed of the dirty things, material contamination."

Student: And this mantra. What's the purpose?

Prabhupāda: This mantra is secondary. Of course, one who has purified himself by Hare Kṛṣṇa, this mantra is not very important. But, according to the tradition of Vaiṣṇava smṛti, it is offered better, better, to make the position still confirmed and better. But even this mantra is not given, simply by chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, everything is done. This is extraordinary so that... In the other, other feature of this sacred ceremony, is that one may not commit offense at the feet of a Vaiṣṇava by thinking him, "Oh, he's a mleccha, he's a yavana, or he's lower class, he's higher class," like that. Therefore this is offered. No, he's brāhmaṇa. He's brāhmaṇa. Otherwise, still in India, a person born in a brāhmaṇa family, the most wretched condition and most abominable habits, and he claims to be a brāhmaṇa. And a person who is highly elevated in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, he's not accepted. So in order to save one from the injustice, this ceremony is required that it is bona fide. He's a bona fide brāhmaṇa. As it is prescribed and ordered in the Nārada-pañcarātra or Vaiṣṇava smṛti. So my Guru Mahārāja, His Holiness Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Mahārāja, he introduced this, and we are following. So there is no question. Mahājano yena gataḥ sa panthāḥ (CC Madhya 17.186). Follow the principles of a spiritual master who has come down in disciplic succession.

- Source: Questions regarding mantra-diksa, or second initiation (From Vaniquotes)

Professor: How many levels of initiation do you have?

Prabhupāda: Two.

Professor: Two. The first...

Prabhupāda: First initiation, experimental...

Professor: Yes.

Prabhupāda: Chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra. Then, as he practices, becomes more purified, then second initiation. Gāyatrī. Gāyatrī-mantra. But the first initiation, according to Jīva Gosvāmī, that is sufficient.Chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, that is sufficient. But still, to purify them more, the second initiation, Gāyatrī, is given. So we are creating brāhmaṇas in the western countries.

(Room Conversation with Sanskrit Professor - August 13, 1973, Paris)


As I have several times explained, when initiation is given, the Spiritual Master becomes the spiritual father and the gayatri mantra becomes the spiritual mother and thus second birth takes place.

(Letter to Hrdayananda - Los Angeles, 6 July, 1971)

Anecdotes of Srila Prabhupada's disciples on his instruction on initiation

Srila Prabhupada, in his room conversation with his disciples, and through his letters has always instructed his few disciples to initiate on his behalf.

Many dear senior disciples of Srila Prabhupada throw light on his instructions to them on the subject:

Guru Krpa Das

In 1977 during the months of May, June, July 1977 I was in Vrindaban with Srila Prabhupada, giving him his massage in his bed between 1 AM and mangala aratik. During the day, many letters would arrive. Satsvarupa Swami was the secretary and we decided that only letters that would give joy to Srila Prabhupada would be read. Like numbers of books sold, etc. A maximum of five letters daily were read to Srila Prabhupada.

After some weeks like this, there were stacks and stacks of letters, all relating to initiation. Hundreds of people were panicking that Srila Prabhupada would leave the planet before they were given initiation. At this time, this situation was brought before Srila Prabhupada in his room by Satsvarupa, Tamal, myself, and maybe some others.

Up until this time it was a very simple matter that we were doing the initiations, but we first had to ask permission. Srila Prabhupada NEVER refused any recommendation from his senior men. And personally, I would sometimes argue with some GBC that they were giving it too easily. At this meeting, Srila Prabhupada basically said, “From here on, if you feel they are ready, then you may give the initiation on my behalf.” I understood this for what it was, simply extending the authority a little further than it had been. Tamal Krsna Swami, began to say, “But who will do it?. Which devotees will do this?” Srila Prabhupada said, “The nearest one will do it. Whoever is closest.” Tamal said, “Can Bhavananda do? Can Jayapataka do?” Thus these eleven names came out.

Question: Why were you not on the list of eleven?

Answer: Because it did not matter. Srila Prabhupada said whoever was closest. I was already doing and Srila Prabhupada never told me or anyone else not on the list to stop.

- Reference: Gurukrpa Prabhu Ji speaks on ISKCON History

Gauridas Pandit Das

One of my services for Srila Prabhupada was to take care of his garden and fan him with the camara while he was there every morning from about sunrise until about 9 AM. At these times he would chant japa or listen to devotees chant bhajans or read the books to him. Sometimes the secretary, Tamal K.G., would read letters from the devotees. Srila Prabhupada would dictate a response, then the secretary would type it and bring it back later to read it again to Srila Prabhupada who would approve and sign it.

On July 5th Tamal asked Srila Prabhupada about some devotees who wanted to get initiated as he was getting many requests from the Temple presidents. This conversation occurred in the garden as I fanned him.

Srila Prabhupada said: “Tomorrow I will I will announce some ritvik acharyas who will initiate disciples on my behalf when I leave the planet.”

It was actually two days later on July 7th when Srila Prabhupada named the first eleven ritvik acharyas.

- Excerpt from the article "On My Behalf" - Historical Account Of Srila Prabhupadas Last Days. Srila Prabhupada’s Initiation System. By Gauridasa Pandita Dasa

  • Gauridas Pandit Prabhu Ji had the fortune of serving Srila Prabhupada as personal servant in 1977.

Vaikunthnath Das

In 1972, when Prabhupada gave a series of lectures on The Nectar of Devotion for one month in Vrindavan, a thought was plaguing me. When I first joined, I’d been taught that the parampara system is like a chain, and if you’re not initiated, if you’re not linked up to this chain, then you can’t go back to Godhead.

I thought, “We’re distributing so many books, but if the people who read them are not initiated, then they can’t go back to Godhead.”

So, one day I followed Prabhupada from Rupa Goswami’s samadhi, where he lectured, and just before Prabhupada stepped onto his courtyard, I said, “We’re distributing so many books but if people aren’t initiated, then they can’t go back to Godhead.”

Prabhupada turned, looked at me right in the eyes and said, “Just by reading my books they are initiated.” I thought, “That is an incredible example of compassion."

- Reference: Vaikunthanatha das - Memories of Srila Prabhupada

Rohini Kumar Swami

At our center at 26th Second Ave., Srila Prabhupada, when asked who would be the next acarya after him stated, “There will not be any more acaryas."

- Reference: Appendix 8 - Rohini Kumar Swami's paper on "Regular Gurus."

(More references to be added shortly)

  • Read the meaning of Gayatri Mantra here.
  • Check Srila Prabhupada Gayatri Tape here.

Jai Jai Shri Radhe!

Hare Krishna!

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