Diksha, Guru, Parampara, Yoga and Tantra

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Diksha, dIkSA/n – in Sanskrit: दीक्षा in Devanagari, dīkṣā, dIkSA; Tamil: தீட்சை – also spelled deeksha or deeksa in common usage, translated as an „initiation” or „preparation or consecration for a religious ceremony”, is giving of a mantra or an initiation by the Guruh in Indian Yoga, Tantra and religions such as Vedism, Brahminism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikkism. Diksha is given in a one-to-one ceremony, and typically includes the taking on of a serious spiritual discipline. The word is derived from the Sanskrit root („to give”) plus kṣi („to destroy”) or alternately from the verb root dīkṣ („to consecrate”). When the mind of the guru and the disciple become one, then we say that the disciple has been initiated by the guru. There are yogic and tantric initiations, such as mantra dīkshā, deity yoga, and powerful spiritual initiations such as sannyasa dīkshā, initiation into renunciate orders where people dedicate their lives to a higher purpose. 

Initiation is a rite of passage ceremony marking entrance or acceptance into a group or society. It could also be a formal admission to adulthood in a community or one of its formal components. In an extended sense it can also signify a transformation in which the initiate is 'reborn’ into a new role. Examples of initiation ceremonies might include Hindu diksha, Christian baptism or confirmation, Jewish bar or bat mitzvah, Sufi Bayat, acceptance into a fraternal organization, secret society or religious order, or graduation from school or recruit training. A person taking the initiation ceremony in traditional rites, such as those depicted in these pictures, is called an initiate or initiand, in sanskrit: dikshani.

Diksha (dīkṣā, dIkSA) can be of various types, through the teacher’s sight, touch, or word, with the purpose of purifying the disciple or student. Initiation by touch is called sparśa dīkṣā. The bestowing of divine grace through diksa is called śaktipāt. Vishnu Yamala (tantra) says: „The process that bestows divyam jnanam (transcendental, spiritual knowledge) and destroys sin (pāpa), the seed of sin and ignorance, is called diksha by the spiritual persons who have seen the Truth (desikais tattva-kovidaih).” The English word derives from the Latin, initium: „entrance” or „beginning,” literally „a going in.” The related English verb, „initiate”, means to begin or start a particular action, event, circumstance, or happening. 

Different traditions and yoga schools treat diksha in various ways. Tantra mentions five types of initiation or diksa:

– initiation by a ritual or samaya-diksa;

– sparsa-diksa is an initiation by touch and is done without a ritual;

– vag-diksa is done by word or mantra;

– sambhavi-diksa is arising from perception of external appearance of the guru;

– mano-diksa is when initiation is performed in the mind.

For Vaishnava members first diksa, or harinama-diksa initiation, is performed as part of a fire sacrifice where grains, fruit, and ghee are placed on an open fire of the sacrifice. In the tradition of Lahiri Mahasaya, initiation into Kriya Yoga is given as diksa. The Bengali saint Anandamayi Ma often gave sparśa dīkṣā (divine touch) or drik diksa (through her look), in which she would bestow shaktipāt (divine grace, zaktipAt). Lalitamohan in Laya Yoga traditional lineage gives all kinds of Yoga and Tantra Diksza. 

Another type of diksa, into a monastic order, involves a vow of celibacy, renunciation of all personal possessions and of all worldly duties, including family ties. Diksha has the same meaning in Jainism. Diksha is also called Charitra or Mahanibhiskraman in Jainism. A spiritual initiation rite normally implies a shepherding process where those who are at a higher level guide the initiate through a process of greater exposure of knowledge. This may include the revelation of secrets, hence the term secret society for such organizations, usually reserved for those at the higher level of understanding. One famous historical example is the Eleusinian Mysteries of ancient Greece, thought to go back to at least the Mycenaean period or „bronze age”. 

In the context of ritual divine magic and esotericism, an initiation is considered to cause a fundamental process of change to begin within the person being initiated. The person conducting the initiation (the initiator), being in possession of a certain power or state of being, transfers this power or state to the person being initiated. Thus the concept of initiation is similar to that of apostolic succession. The initiation process is often likened to a simultaneous death and rebirth, because as well as being a beginning it also implies an ending as existence on one level drops away in an ascension to the next. Initiation is a key component of Shaivita, Shakta, and even Vaishnavism, Santa Mata, Surat Shabda Yoga and similar religious gnostic traditions. It denotes acceptance by the Guru and also implies that the Chela (student or disciple) agrees to the requirements (such as living an ethical lifestyle, meditating, etc.).  

Diksha (dīkṣā, dIkSA) is a unique and rare process of making the life of a disciple more pure, more enlightened and more successful. Generally a human being remains under the sway of bad karmas of past lives which do not allow him to make the desired level of progress in spite of hard work and sincere efforts. In such cases nothing can work better than Dikshas to remove the baneful effects of past Karmas and propel a Sadhak onwards on the path of success. Just as a cloth has to be washed thoroughly to free it of stubborn stains similarly Diksha is a method adopted by a Guru to free the disciple of his mental, physchological and physical drawbacks so that he could make good progress with a free mind in the spheres of spiritualism and materialism. True Guru in authentical Yoga Path (Margah) always represents the Shiva God (Mahadeva, Maheshvara, Vishvedevah) and Shree Parvati (Uma, Shree Devi, Shakti). 

Diksha (dīkṣā, dIkSA) is the foundation of a disciple, fuel of the spiritual life, completeness of the mind, basis of the fusion with Shiva God and the path to reach one’s destination. This type of soul has three shackles-body, age and pleasure, which can be completely subdued by the help of Diksha. New energy can be transferred into the Sadhaka, thus enlightening him and helping him in the success of Sadhanas and the realisation of Shiva God. It is a subtle transfer of the divine energy of a Guru into the heart, soul and body of a disciple. This pure energy initiates a process of change in the person which ultimately leads to destruction of all evil and negative tendencies, and spurt of creative and positive powers which encourage him to strive for the highest and best in both the spiritual and material fields.

When the Guru gives Diksha (dīkṣā, dIkSA) a flow of energy takes place from Him to the disciple, which can be in any form – spoken words in the form of Mantras, subtle radiation emitted from the eyes or gentle warmth from a touch on the forehead with the thumb. But the Sadguru is not limited to these means. Instead He can transfer His energy across continents and give Diksha through the medium of a photograph as well. But Diksha cannot be had so easily as it seems. Firstly only when one’s good luck is running does one have the inclination to go in for spiritual initiation. Then secondly one has to find or come across a real Guru who can transform one’s life. And even if one does one has to devote oneself fully to benefit from the Diksha.

Diksha (dīkṣā, dIkSA) into Yoga is the foundation of every kind of worship and penance, therefore a Sadhaka must always avoid long methods and adopt the easy way. Receiving Diksha is such a way. A Guru who cannot grant Diksha is not fit to be a Guru, he is a fraud. An Ashram  without the tradition of Diksha is just like a desert. Unless there is arrangement of transferring spiritual energy, it cannot be called an Ashram. A real Guru is the one who knows the methods of Diksha, because it is the only power which transfers knowledge and wisdom into the disciple. Even though he is sinful, he is freed from all bondages. In fact Diksha is the greatest treasure, boon of life, basis of the fusion with Shiva God (Mahadeva, Vishvedevah) and a system by which a human being transforms into Maheshwara. The Sadhaka not only achieves divinity, but also gets Gurudeva’s power. 

The task of the Guru during Dikshan is to fuse himself with the soul of the disciple, so that his inner faults are demolished as quickly as possible, thus converting him into an enlightened being. The Guru can do this either by preaching, by giving Diksha or by the transfer of energy. First of all the Guru preaches about the original state of the disciple. In fact the disciple is full of faults and sins. He is totally impure. His soul is affected by all such shackles. As a result he comes under the influence of Maya, which is a barrier to his success in Sadhana and realisation of God (Brahman, Shiva Mahadeva). The Guru shows us that such kind of animal life is useless. The God (Shiva, Mahadeva) has given us human form not to waste our life, but to know our potentialities. Only by wisdom can we understand how to make our life holy and sanctified. This wisdom itself is known as Diksha. 

Photo: Master Lalitamohan blesses all yoga dikshanis (initiated)! 

Mantra-diksha and its benefits

Through Mantra-Diksha, the Shree Guruh rekindles the dormant powers of the aspirant. Diksha/n is composed of two syllables, 'Diksha’, 'Di’ and 'ksha’. 'Di’, means what is given or the person capable of bestowing divine grace (Danah). And 'ksha’ means one who is capable of assimilating or „wisdom” which is given. On one side is the benediction of the one (The Guru) who is capable of imparting the Lord’s grace and on the other hand is the assimilating capability of the aspirant. The combination of these two is Diksha/n. When the Guruh initiates His disciple with the mantra, He also bestows His sensitive power of intuition and empowers the disciple with His 'sankalpa’ (benign resolve) as well. When a farmer sows seeds in his farm, a stranger cannot tell whether the seeds are sown. But slowly and surely, when the seeds are watered and nurtured, they gradually sprout forth and only then there is proof that seeds were sown. Similarly, we are unaware of what is imparted unto us at the time of Mantra-Diksha. But when we water that seed in the form of spiritual practices and devotion, the hallowed grace of Mantra-Diksha does sprout forth. 

Dikshan is of three kinds: 

– Shambhavi-Diksha, 

– Mantra-Diksha, 

– Sparsha-Diksha. 

Shambhavi-Diksha is given through a glance as Shukdeva Muni gave to king Parikshit on the fifth day of the seven-day long narration of the holy Srimad Bhagwata. Sparsha-Diksha is given through sparsha, touch. Mantra-Diksha is given through a mantra. The greater the spiritual elevation of the Guruh, the more effective is the mantra given by him. If an ignorant illiterate man tells you to chant 'Rama’, it will not benefit you so much. But the same 'Rama’ coming from the mouth of a God-realized Saint like Ramanandji (The Sadguru of Kabirji) or Yoga Master Shree Lalitamohan Babaji, becomes a powerful mantra. Kabirji performed japa of the mantra with faith and devotion and became accomplished. The mantra was the same 'Rama’ but in this case the inner self of the Guruh was perfect with enlightenment. 

If a peon says something, it does not carry much weight. But if the same thing is uttered by the Prime Minister, then it becomes very effective. The mantra given by Saints of great spiritual accomplishment delivers us when practised with faith and devotion. Mantra = manan (reflection) + antar (in heart); that which is to be reflected upon in the heart. Alternatively, mantra = mann (the mind) + tarr (deliver), that which delivers the mind from samsara. The smaller the mantra given at the time of Mantra-Diksha, the more rhythmic its recital and the more convenient and propitious it is for the aspirant. This leads him fast on the track of spiritual progress.

Master Naradaji was a Yoga Saint who was completely un-attached to any political community or sect. His prime concern was the welfare of anyone coming in contact with him. Those who have the welfare of others close to their hearts, are 'Loka Santas’ (Universal Saints). When Naradaji initiated the robber, Valia, the mantra had a longer 'Raa’ and a shorter 'ma’. Valias, life-force was in the lower centres of the subtle body. He blessed Valia with Shambhavi-Diksha as well, thus transmitting his own spiritual energy unto him. Gradually his Kundalini was awakened with the japa „Raa-Ma” becoming more and more rhythmic, and thus the robber was transformed into Valmiki Rishi. 

It is very important to know, that word Diksha is very important meaning and energy and persons who takes Diksha as their own name may be after years crazy even if thay lead spiritual life. Similarly when take as personal name ar aka such words like Yoga, Mantra, Shiva, Shakti, Acharya, Guru or another which are technical mantrika terms for special spiritual forces or mind states. 

Parampara – Yoga lineage

Parampara (Sanskrit: परम्परा, paramparā) denotes a succession of teachers and disciples in traditional Indian or Vedic culture and Indian religions such as Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism. It is also known as guru-shishya paramparā („succession from guru to disciple”).The Sanskrit word literally means an uninterrupted row or series, order, succession, continuation, mediation, tradition. In the traditional residential form of education, the shishya (ziSya, śiSya) remains with his or her guru as a family member and gets the education as a true learner. In some traditions there is never more than one active master at the same time in the same guruparamaparya (lineage). In the paramparā system, knowledge (in any field) is passed down (undiluted) through successive generations. E.g. division of Veda and its transfer through paramparas describes Bhagavata Purana. The fields of knowledge taught may include, for example, spiritual, artistic (music or dance) or educational. 

Traditionally the word used for a succession of teachers and disciples in ancient Indian culture is parampara (paramparā in IAST). In the parampara system, knowledge (in any field) is believed to be passed down through successive generations. The Sanskrit word literally means „an uninterrupted series or succession”. Sometimes defined as „the passing down of Vedic knowledge”, it is believed to be always entrusted to the ācāryas. An established parampara is often called sampradāya, or school of thought. For example in Vaishnavism a number of sampradayas are developed following a single teacher, or an acharya. While some argue for freedom of interpretation others maintain that „Although an ācārya speaks according to the time and circumstance in which he appears, he upholds the original conclusion, or siddhānta, of the Vedic literature. 

Titles of Gurus in Parampara

In paramapara, not only is the immediate guru revered, the three preceding gurus are also worshipped or revered. As the Lord Shiva, founder of all yoga lineage said: „without guru there is no yoga”! These are known variously as the kala-guru or as the „four gurus” and are designated as follows: 

– Guru – the immediate guru

– Parama-guru – the Guru’s guru

– Parapara-guru – the Parama-guru’s guru

– Parameshti-guru – the Parapara-guru’s guruparamaparya

Api Guru – an elder guru, master founder, like Shiva and Parvati. 

The guru-shishya tradition, lineage, or parampara, denotes a succession of teachers and disciples in traditional Indian culture and religions such as Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism. It is the tradition of spiritual relationship and mentoring where teachings are transmitted from a guru „teacher” Sanskrit: गुरु) to a śiṣya „disciple” (Sanskrit: शिष्य) or chela. Such knowledge, whether it be Vedic, agamic, architectural, musical or spiritual, is imparted through the developing relationship between the guru and the disciple. It is considered that this relationship, based on the genuineness of the guru, and the respect, commitment, devotion and obedience of the student, is the best way for subtle or advanced knowledge to be conveyed. The student eventually masters the knowledge that the guru embodies. The word Sikh is derived from the Sanskrit word „śiṣya” and is related to the brahmacharya traditions. 

Beginning in the early oral traditions of the Upanishads (c. 2000 BC), the guru-shishya relationship has evolved into a fundamental component of Hinduism. The term „Upanishad” derives from the Sanskrit words „upa” (near), „ni” (down) and „şad” (to sit) — so it means „sitting down near” a spiritual teacher to receive instruction. The relationship between Krishna and Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita portion of the Mahabharata, and between Rama and Hanuman in the Ramayana are examples. In the Upanishads, gurus and disciples appear in a variety of settings (a husband answering questions about immortality, a teenage boy being taught by Yama, the Hindu Religion’s Lord of Death, etc.) Sometimes the sages are women, and the instructions may be sought by kings.In the Vedas, the knowledge of Brahman (brahmavidya) is communicated from guru to shishya by oral lore. 

Characteristics of the guru-shishya relationship

Within the broad spectrum of the Hindu religion, the guru-shishya relationship can be found in numerous variant forms including tantra. Some common elements in this relationship include:The establishment of a teacher/student relationship. A formal recognition of this relationship, generally in a structured initiation ceremony where the guru accepts the initiate as a shishya and also accepts responsibility for the spiritual well-being and progress of the new shishya.Sometimes this initiation process will include the conveying of specific esoteric wisdom and/or meditation techniques. Gurudakshina, where the shishya gives a gift to the guru as a token of gratitude, often the only monetary or otherwise fee that the student ever gives. Such tokens can be as simple as a piece of fruit or as serious as a thumb, as in the case of Ekalavya and his guru Dronacharya.

The guru-shishya tradition plays an important part in the Shruti tradition of Vaidika dharma. The Hindus believe that the Vedas have been handed down through the ages from guru to shishya. The Vedas themselves prescribe for a young brahmachari to be sent to a Gurukul where the Guru (referred to also as acharya) teaches the pupil the Vedas and Vedangas. The pupil is also taught the prayoga to perform yajnas. The term of stay varies (Manu Smriti says the term may be 12 years, 36 years or 48 years). After the stay at the Gurukul the brahmachari returns home after performing a ceremony called samavartana. The word Śrauta is derived from the word Śruti meaning that which is heard. The Śrauta tradition is a purely oral handing down of the Vedas, but many modern Vedic scholars make use of books as a teaching tool. 

Advaita Vedānta requires anyone seeking to study Advaita Vedānta to do so from a guru (teacher). The guru must have the following qualities (see Mundaka Upanishad 1.2.12):- Śrotriya — must be learned in the Vedic scriptures and sampradaya- Brahmanişţha — literally meaning „established in Brahman”; must have realised the oneness of Brahman in everything and in himself. The seeker must serve the guru and submit his questions with all humility so that doubt may be removed. (see Bhagavad Gita 4.34). According to Advaita, the seeker will be able to attain liberation from the cycle of births and deaths (moksha). 

In Shaktipat (śaktipat, zaktipat) tradition the guru passes his knowledge to his disciples by virtue of the fact that his purified consciousness enters into the selves of his disciples and communicates its particular characteristic. In this process the disciple is made part of the spiritual family (kula) – a family which is not based on blood relations but on people of the same knowledge.

The best known form of the guru-shishya relationship is that of Ishvara-Prani-Dhanah. Prani-dhana (Sanskrit = Devotion toward Living Ishvara, Master, God) means surrender to God or Shree guruh. Prani-dhanah as Seva or Bhakti extends from the simplest expression of devotion to the ego-destroying principle of prapatti, which is total surrender. The Ishvara-prani-dhana form of the guru-shishya relationship generally incorporates three primary beliefs or practices:- Devotion to the guru as a divine figure or Avatar. – The belief that such a guru has transmitted, or will impart moksha, diksha or shaktipat to the (successful) shishya.- The belief that if the shishya’s act of focusing his or her devotion (bhakti) upon the guru is sufficiently strong and worthy, then some form of spiritual merit will be gained by the shishya. 

In the ego-destroying principle of prapatti (Sanskrit, „Throwing oneself down”), the level of the submission of the will of the shishya to the will of God or the guru is sometimes extreme, and is often coupled with an attitude of personal helplessness, self-effacement and resignation. This doctrine is perhaps best expressed in the teachings of the four Samayacharya saints, who shared a profound and mystical love of Siva expressed by:

– Deep humility and self-effacement, admission of sin and weakness;

– Total surrender to God as the only true refuge; and

– A relationship of lover and beloved known as bridal mysticism, in which the devotee is the bride and Siva the bridegroom.

Often a guru will assert that he or she is capable of leading a shishya directly to the highest possible state of spirituality or consciousness, sometimes referred to within Hinduism as moksha. In the bhakti guru-shishya relationship the guru is often believed to have supernatural powers, leading to the deification of the guru.

In the Himalayan Yogi and Tantric tradition, the teacher is a valued and honoured mentor worthy of great respect and a source of inspiration on the path to Enlightenment. In the Himalayan and Tibetan tradition of Yoga and Tantra, however, the teacher is viewed as the very root of spiritual realization and the basis of the entire path. Without the teacher, it is asserted, there can be no experience or insight. The guru is seen as Shiva, The Lord God and Yoga Founder. In Tibetan texts, emphasis is placed upon praising the virtues of the guru. Tantric teachings include generating visualisations of the guru and making offerings praising the guru. The guru becomes known as the vajra (literally „diamond”) guru, the one who is the source of initiation into the tantric deity. The disciple is asked to enter into a series of vows and commitments that ensure the maintenance of the spiritual link with the understanding that to break this link is a serious downfall. 

Gurukula (Sanskrit guru „teacher” or „master”; kula domain, from kula, „extended family”) is a type of traditional esoteric or yogic school in India, residential in nature, with shishyas living in proximity to the guru, often within the same house or ashram. In a gurukula, shishyas reside together as equals, irrespective of their social standing, learn from the guru and help the guru in his day-to-day life, including the carrying out of mundane chores such as washing clothes, cooking, etc. The guru-shishya tradition (parampara) is a hallowed one in Hinduism and appears in other religious groups in India, such as Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism. While living in a gurukul the students had to be away from his house and family.  

Gurukulas have existed since the Vedic age. Upanishads mention many gurukulas, including that of Yajnavalkya, Varuni. Brigu Valli, the famous discourse on Brahman, is mentioned to have taken place in Guru Varuni’s gurukul. Vedic school of thought prescribes an initiation (Upanayanam) to all individuals, including women, before the age of 8 or latest by 12. From initiation until the age of 25 all individuals are prescribed to be students and to remain unmarried. The gurukuls were supported by public donation. This was followed by the many following Vedic thoughts making gurukul one of the earliest forms of public school offices. By the colonial era the gurukul system was declining in India except in a few regions, such as Kerala, where the warrior Nair clan and their own military gurukulas, called Kalaris, still maintained the tradition. Gurukulas are maintained in Himalayas too. There is no Yoga without Shree Guru! 

Diksha – Initiation, Dedication, New Beginning 

We take dīkshā to begin a sacred ritual or teaching auspiciously. Dīkshā means initiation, preparation or consecration for a spiritual ceremony. It is the undertaking of spiritual or religious observances, dedication, or any devotion to a person or god. The English word initiation derives from the Latin, initium: “entrance” or “beginning,” literally „a going in”. The related English verb, initiate, means to begin or start a particular action, event, circumstance, or happening.

The meaning of initiation depends on the context in which the initiation takes place. For example, an initiation can be part of a rite of passage, can commence a sacred ceremony, or it can just be the beginning of learning something new that could be of great importance in your life. Initiation can be part of a ceremony marking the entrance or acceptance into a group or society, such as a religious order, fraternal organization or secret society such occurs in aboriginal societies and the Freemasons. Christian baptism, or confirmation, is a form of initiation or consecration.

There are yogic and tantric initiations, such as mantra dīkshā, deity yoga, and powerful spiritual initiations such as sannyasa dīkshā, initiation into renunciate orders where people dedicate their lives to a higher purpose. In an extended sense, initiation can be any event in which we experience some form of personal transformation, or a sense of having been ‘reborn’ into a new role. Initiations are a vital part of our psychological and spiritual growth and development. They can define who we are and how we feel about ourselves. Initiation is a way of developing conscious connection. In this context, loss of understanding of the power of initiation in our personal and social life is a symptom of our inability to connect. This can lead to loss of meaning and mental distress.

Initiations are important parts of life that feed our deeper sense of who we are, linking us to a greater part of us. We need to remain conscious of the importance and power of initiation in our personal, social and spiritual life. Without initiation we will feel as though something is missing, that we are unable to spark and propel ourselves into the different phases of our life. Without some form of initiation that sparks the change or transformation to a new phase of life we may remain trapped in a younger phase, as occurs in mid-life crises.

It is a great and a rare opportunity to learn from a guru or from a wise teacher. However, it can be difficult to find a guru and we do not need to take initiation every day. In fact, we need to be discriminating in terms of which initiations we take. Only take an initiation if you are clear about what you are doing.

In every day life we can think of initiation, dīkshā, as learning or starting something new, a new beginning. Each time you have the opportunity to learn something new, or when you take on a new yoga practice, you can imagine that you are being given a rare opportunity. The first time you engage the practice imagine that you are being initiated into a new phase of your yogic, spiritual or inner life. This will help to make the process special and meaningful, and will help you to consciously engage in what you are doing.

Shiva or Yogeshvara (Yoga Ishvara), living in Himalaya mountains about 9 thousand years ago the Yoga Founder and Owner said: Without Guru and Diksha from the Guru, there is no Yoga, no Tantra, no Spirituality. Particularly, better known original Raja Yoga, Laya Yoga, Kriya Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Mantra Yoga, Sahaja Yoga or Bhakti Yoga always starts from Initiation (Diksha) given through the Guru hands. Where is no Diksha received there is really no Yoga practices… 

(Excerpts from the Yoga Master Lalitamohan Babaji lectures and teachings) 


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