Who Gives Diksa?

By Krishnakant

One of the proofs for Srila Prabhupada's status as the diksa guru for ISKCON that we have provided has been through an analysis of the definition of diksa.  We have shown previously that since diksa involves the functions of transmitting knowledge (divya jnana) and destroying sinful reactions (ksapayati), then by determining who is responsible for delivering these constituent parts it must be Srila Prabhupada who is the diksa guru for ISKCON even today.  In this paper we wish to take this analysis further and formalise it by looking precisely at how diksa was given pre Nov-77 and comparing it to how diksa is supposed to be given now.   

  How Was Diksa Given Pre Nov-77?

During Srila Prabhupada's physically manifest pastimes, the process for receiving diksa was well understood and standardised throughout the movement.  Srila Prabhupada describes this process in the C.C: 

Due to the necessity of these activities, we do not immediately initiate disciples in the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.  For six months, a candidate for initiation must first attend arati and classes in the sastras, practice the regulative principles and associate with other devotees.  When one is actually advanced in the purascarya-vidhi, he is recommended by the local temple president for initiation.
(Madhya, 15:108)

Here the process is clearly described:  

1.  Practice the principles and chant 16 rounds in the association of devotees.
2.  Do it for 6 months. 

Provided 1 and 2 had been successfully completed, the candidate was recommended for initiation, the formalities of the ceremony were performed, and diksa was received.  Please note that the ceremonial rituals that constitute the initiation are not considered an integral part of diksa but merely a formality, and in the last few months Srila Prabhupada had no involvement at all in these ceremonial aspects of diksa

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. 
(Lecture, Hyderabad, 10/12/76)

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.
(Letter to Tamal Krishna, 19/8/68)

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.
(Interview, 16/10/76, Chandigarh)

Initiation is a formality.  If you are serious, that is real initiation.  My touch is simply a formality.  It is your determination, that is initiation.
(BTG, Search for the Divine)

Thus, the key was for 1 and 2 to have been completed in order for diksa to be given.  The actual ceremony itself is not what constitutes the diksa, but merely the formalisation of diksa, as seen both from the definition of diksa given at the beginning and the quotes above.  In addition, as long as 1 and 2 were completed it was very clear that the bhakti lata bija had been planted, diksa had been received and SRILA PRABHUPADA WAS THE DIKSA GURU.  The point about the ceremonials is very important to understand.  Pre Nov-77 there were many cases where the initiation ceremony would not be conducted until well after the candidate had been accepted by Srila Prabhupada as his initiated disciple, and in some cases, not at all.  Moreover, once the recommendation had been received from the temple president, the disciples were accepted automatically by Srila Prabhupada.  So automatic was the process that in 1977, Srila Prabhupada was able to hand this part over to 11 ritviks.  And the process for recommendation, according to the above guidelines, was also supposed to be automatic, with recommendation granted as soon as the minimum standard of pursacarya had been achieved.  Thus the key to receiving diksa, was steps 1 & 2, which would then kick in further non-essential steps automatically. 

Now let us turn to what is supposed to occur now.  

How is Diksa is given Post-1977?

The current process for giving diksa in ISKCON is also well understood and documented:  

2.3.1.  Qualifications for First Initiation  First six-month period
During the first six months of following the four regulative principles and chanting sixteen rounds daily, a new devotee who is aspiring for initiation should not commit himself to a particular initiating guru.  Rather, he should chant Srila Prabhupada's pranama mantra and worship him as Founder-Acarya of ISKCON and as his siksa guru. 

(Gurus and Initiation in ISKCON, 1995)

What maybe noted is that the GBC themselves today insist on a process for diksa that re-creates the IDENTICAL situation that existed pre Nov-77 for diksa to be granted.  Please read the above again carefully.  One will see that the above essentially constitutes conditions 1 & 2 given above.  That is one joins, focus on Srila Prabhupada, and practices the same rule and regulations of Bhakti, EXACTLY as given by Srila Prabhupada and as was followed pre Nov-1977.  No other Gurus are even allowed on the scene.  Of course the GBC have tried to dress it up differently, but exactly the same process goes on.  For 6 months one chants 16 rounds, follows the regulative principles and gets trained up in the pursacarya vidhi.  Now here is the mystery.  If one had done this pre Nov-1977 then one would be considered to have received Diksa provided he was put forward to go through ceremonial rituals.  Moreover, the diksa would be from SRILA PRABHUPADA. 

Under the current process though, absolutely nothing is considered to have happened in terms of receiving diksa.  Rather it is simply considered the preparation necessary to receive diksa from someone else, provide they carry on doing the same activities for the next 6 months and associate with this other person:  Second six-month period

After successfully completing the first six-month preparatory period, and after passing the required examination, the candidate may choose his future diksa guru.  Receiving permission from that guru, and notifying the local temple president, the candidate should take shelter and begin to worship that guru as his own spiritual master and chant his pranama mantra.  Actual initiation may take place only after a minimum six-month period from the date shelter was taken and the local temple president notified.
(Gurus and Initiation in ISKCON, 1995) 

We thus have a two-tier system.  Pre-Nov/1977, a certain standard of pursacarya vidhi would have got one DIKSA from Srila Prabhupada.  Now the same standard of pursacarya vidhi is mandatory, but does not constitute diksa from Srila Prabhupada.  Rather it simply acts as a preparation for receiving diksa from someone else.  Thus, what was considered sufficient to constitute having received diksa from Srila Prabhupada, is now considered to not have the same effect.  But only constitutes a preparation stage for receiving diksa from someone else.  From an analytical view-point what this means is that in 'receiving diksa' from a current guru, one has to automatically first get diksa from Srila Prabhupada, according to Srila Prabhupada's standard. 

Thus the question remains.  How can we say that those who came to the movement after 1977 are not considered to have received diksa from Srila Prabhupada, though they perform exactly the same activities as those who did receive diksa from Srila Prabhupada? 

The only possible answer can be that diksa is not possible if the Guru is not physically embodied, for this is the only difference in the two scenarios.  However this restriction is not supported from Srila Prabhupada's teachings, where there is no physical considerations placed on the process of diksa, nor is it supported by the actual practice and reality of how diksa occurred pre Nov-77.  For at that time Srila Prabhupada had no physical involvement in many cases where diksa was successfully granted, and in the last few months, his physical non-involvement was institutionalised throughout the movement.  Indeed, even if one was to postulate that the physical embodiment of the diksa guru was necessary in order for diksa to be granted, we are then left with the question of at what times does the physical embodiment need to occur: 

Should it be at the time the ceremonial formalisation is to be performed, as the GBC currently argue?  

This however then leads to the absurdity that in order for diksa to be granted, the diksa guru would need to be:  

a)  Physically present , though this is not taught by Srila Prabhupada, and thus the process of diksa is not dependent on physical factors.

b)   Physically present at the specific time when we are entering the stage of ceremonial rituals, which are not even necessary for diksa to take place, but only assist to formalise the process.  

Thus we can not identify any reason from Srila Prabhupada's teachings why post 1977, diksa is not granted by Srila Prabhupada according to the very process that the GBC have instituted and insist upon.    



1)    The same process that led to the receipt of diksa from Srila Prabhupada pre Nov-77 has been practised post-77 as well.

2)    Thus there is no reason why diksa from Srila Prabhupada cannot be happening in ISKCON today.

3)    Thus no reason to doubt that diksa from Srila Prabhupada is and has been taking place since 1977.