What Is Diksa?


IRM

Back To Prabhupada, Issue 55, Spring 2017

Before claiming to offer diksa, those offering it should at least know what it is!

Physical event

GBC-elected diksa guru, HH Romapada Swami ("RPS") claims:

"So we surrender unto Krsna through the medium of his representatives which come in the form of disciplic succession and specifically diksa is an event that requires physical presence of guru in the line of disciplic succession."
(RPS Vyasa-puja 2017)

RPS claims that:

1) Diksa is an event;
2) This event requires the physical presence of the guru.

However, as usual, let us consult Srila Prabhupada's teachings, and examine whether RPS is simply repeating what Srila Prabhupada taught, or has simply invented his own teachings. All emphases below added.

Process, not event

Srila Prabhupada states:

"Diksa is the process by which one can awaken his transcendental knowledge and vanquish all reactions caused by sinful activity. A person expert in the study of the revealed scriptures knows this process as diksa."
(Cc., Madhya-lila, 15.108)

"[...] the spiritual master awakens the sleeping living entity to his original consciousness so that he can worship Lord Visnu. This is the purpose of diksa, or initiation. Initiation means receiving the pure knowledge of spiritual consciousness."
(Cc., Madhya-lila, 9.61)

"Diksa actually means initiating a disciple with transcendental knowledge by which he becomes freed from all material contamination."
(Cc., Madhya-lila, 4.111)

Thus, diksa is not an event. Rather, it is a process. A process that requires one to receive the transcendental knowledge by which one is freed from all material contamination – that is, becomes liberated. Thus, rather than happening as a one-time event, diksa is an ongoing process.

Not physical

Srila Prabhupada didn't teach that this process of awakening or receiving transcendental knowledge requires the physical presence of the diksa guru. On the contrary, Srila Prabhupada taught that:

"Reception of spiritual knowledge is never checked by any material condition."
(SB, 7.7.1)

Indeed, Srila Prabhupada never met many of his disciples, even though he is their diksa guru. Rather, this transcendental knowledge which leads to liberation will always be received from Srila Prabhupada via his books, as RPS himself admits:

"He [Prabhupada] wrote books and who were the books for? Everybody. He was particularly, he was repeatedly strong about it. He wanted his disciples, he wrote these for you so we can have the means of crossing the ocean of material existence, very specific instructions."

It is not disputed by the GBC that this liberating transcendental knowledge, in the form of Srila
Prabhupada's books and other recorded teachings, will form the mainstay of ISKCON's teachings for its lifetime (GBC Resolutions 35, 1994; 404, 1999). And thus, it does not require Srila Prabhupada's physical presence.

Therefore, RPS's definition of diksa is shown to be false, both by Srila Prabhupada's teachings, and by RPS's own teachings.

False parallel

The GBC diksa guru just featured falsely claims that he must be physically present in order for diksa to occur. But it is also just as false to claim that a ‘ceremony performer' must be physically present as part of transmitting and receiving diksa. For example, the website promoting the "IA77" paper featured in the last issue (produced under the guidance of Sundar Gopal Dasa, Singapore), states:

"diksa is actually the transmission of spiritual knowledge from a bona fide spiritual master to a sincere student of spiritual life. But the ceremony formalises or solidifies the agreement between the master and the disciple and is therefore equally important."

The claim that the initiation ceremony is as equally important as diksa itself would mean that: since diksa is delivered by the diksa guru and the ceremony is delivered by the ceremony performer; and since both things being delivered are supposedly equal, then those delivering them would also be of similar vital importance, as they would both be delivering something of equal value.

In this way, the person performing the ceremony is falsely elevated to being on a par with the diksa guru, and his physical presence to deliver the ceremony supposedly becomes just as necessary as diksa itself. However, Srila Prabhupada does not teach this, or that the ceremony is "equally important" as diksa. Rather, when referring to the initiation ceremony, Srila Prabhupada states that it is a mere formality which is "not very important":

"Well, initiation or no initiation, first thing is knowledge... knowledge. Initiation is formality. Just like you go to a school for knowledge, and admission is formality. That is not very important thing."
(Interview, 16/10/76)

The website also claims:

"diksa is the formal acceptance of spiritual vows".

However, as we showed earlier in the article, diksa is not defined as a one-time event involving the formal acceptance of spiritual vows. But by falsely stating this, the person facilitating this formal acceptance of vows via a ceremony, would again become just as essential as the diksa guru himself, because diksa would be dependent on this ceremony, and hence the person performing it.

Conclusion

These false teachings serve to insert a physical intermediary who is supposedly absolutely essential as part of getting diksa, whether it's a GBC "diksa guru" or one performing an initiation "ceremony". But diksa is not dependent on such physical intermediaries. It is dependent only on Srila Prabhupada. The situation is summarised in the diagram above.

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