In a short discourse, I shall try to say something regarding diikśá and initiation.
As you know, for want of sufficient vocabulary in certain tongues, we are to use some words having close proximity to the required term. [Here, for instance, we have to use the English word “initiation” for the Sanskrit diikśá. But] the word “initiation” cannot represent the spirit of diikśá. The rudimental meaning of “initiation” is “to resort to a new avenue of progress”. Certainly diikśá is a new avenue of progress, but diikśá is also something more.
The first thing to be known and remembered is that, as per the science of yoga, diikśá is divided into two important phases. The first phase is known as Vaedikii diikśá, and the second phase is known as Tántrikii diikśá. In Vaedikii diikśá, the aspirant requests the Supreme Entity, Parama Puruśa, to show him or her the path. It is not a cult; it is just requesting the Supreme Father to let him or her know the secrets of success in the stratum of spirituality. The Gáyattrii Mantra (it is commonly known as the Gáyattrii Mantra, but its actual name is the “Savitr Rk”) is Vaedikii diikśá. Here the request is, “O Lord, show me the path. O Lord, guide our intellect towards the supreme path, so that I may be one with the Supreme Entity.”
Oṋḿ bhúr bhuvah svah oṋḿ tat saviturvareńyaḿ;
Bhargo devasya dhiimahi dhiyo yo nah pracodayát.
This is the “Savitr Rk”, or “Gáyattrii Mantra”. Here the aspirant says, Bhúr bhuvah svah maha janah tapah satya asya saptalokasya savitur devasya, savitur pitur devasya, savitur devasya, tatpitur devasya, vareńyam bhargo dhiimahi, vareńyam pújaniiyam, bhargo jyoti, dhiimahi bayaḿ dhyánam kurmah, kena kárańena bayaḿ dhyánaḿ kurmah. Dhiyo yo nah pracodayát. Dhii buddhih medhá yah nah asmákaḿ sah asmakaḿ dhii pracodayát saḿvidhámaḿ karotu satpathi paricálanaḿ karotu anena kárańena bayaḿ tad vareńyaḿ bhargo dhiimahi dhyánam kurmah.
The exact English translation will be “The Supreme Father who did create the seven strata of manifestation – we meditate on His divine effulgence. And why do we meditate on His divine effulgence? So that He may guide our intellect unto the path of bliss, unto the path of supreme blessedness.” So here the prayer is to guide the brain unto the proper path. It is Vaedikii diikśá – tan no dhiyo pracodayát – “so that He may guide our intellect towards the path of blessedness”… sah no buddhyá shubhayá saḿyunaktu – “so that He may connect our intellect with blessedness.”
So these things are Vaedikii diikśá. There is no scope for such an interpretation or such a phase in “initiation”.
Now, the second phase is Tántrikii diikśá. Actually this Tántrikii diikśá is a cult. In the term “initiation” this cult is not properly clarified, or rather, nothing has been clearly said regarding this cult. As you know regarding the word tantra: tan means “to expand”, and tra means “liberator”; so the science that frees the aspirant from the fetters of bondages by expansion – by expanding the mind, by expanding the existence – is Tantra.
Another meaning: ta is dullness, and tra means liberator. So the science that liberates the aspirant from dullness and expands his or her entire existence is Tantra – Taḿ jádyát tárayet yastu sah tantrah parikiirttitah.
Now this Tántrikii diikśá has three phases, rather you may say three sub-phases: and they are diipanii, mantrágháta and mantra caetanya. And the derivation of the word diikśá is also from diipanii:
Diipajiṋánam yato dadyát kuryát pápakśayaḿ tatah;
Tasmátdiikśeti sá proktá sarvatantrasya sammatá.
[The process which produces the capacity to realize the inner import of mantra and which expedites the requital of the saḿskáras, or reactive momenta, is called diikśá.]
Diipajiṋánam. What is the first letter? Dii. Then, kuryát pápakśayaḿ tatah. Kśayam – what is the first letter? Kśa. So the word becomes diikśa, and the feminine term will be diikśá.
Now what is diipanii? Everything lies coverted within the self. The Supreme Entity is also within your “I” feeling. [He] is with you, but you do not know Him. That is, the Supreme Entity is with you, but You cannot see Him. You cannot realize Him. Why? Because you are covered by, you are surrounded by, Máyá, the cimmerian darkness of Máyá. This diikśá, Tantrikii diikśá, is just like a torch. And by focusing the torch, you see your route through the darkness. That is why the first sub-phase is diipanii – diipanii means “showing the torchlight”. But no such thing is there in the term “initiation”.
Diikśá gives the aspirant the route, the way, or rather the path, of bliss. It shows the path of bliss. And to show the path of bliss, light is required; and that light is also supplied by diikśá. This light is diipanii.
Then, pápakśayam. You know what pápa is: pápa is negative reactive momenta. Whatever you do, the reaction is there, and when the reaction is not satisfied, not quenched, it remains in dormant form. The momentum is there, but not expressed. And there is also the case of positive work, that is, when you do something for the advancement of living beings – that is something positive, it is a positive action. In samája shástra [social scriptures] this positive action is called puńya, and when you do something against the public interest, this negative action is known as pápa. Now this negative action in reactive form, that is, this negative reactive momentum, is called pápa; and pápakśayam is brought about by diikśá. And how is that kśayam(2) to be effected? Through actions – through reactive actions.(3) These reactive actions may be on the physical plane, or may be on the psychic plane. But diikśá teaches us how these reactive momenta are to be satisfied on the psychic plane, thus freeing the person from the bondages of pápa.
Now this process of freeing a person from the fetters of pápa is divided into two sub-phases: mantrágháta and mantra caetanya. Mantrágháta means, as I have already told you, that each and every mantra has the support of an acoustic root: and when that acoustic root strikes at the root of the coiled serpentine, it is aroused. This is called mantrágháta. After that this roused coiled serpentine moves with the force, or the stamina, it gets from the mantra. It moves towards the supreme positivity, and this movement is called mantra caetanya. With the help of this mantrágháta and mantra caetanya, a spiritual aspirant is freed from all the mundane bondages, bondages both on the physical and on the psychic plane.
So whereas in the case of “initiation” we see that it is just a resort to an avenue of progress and nothing more than that, nothing amplified, diikśá is divided into two phases, one primordial and the other final, and that final phase is further divided into three parts, or phases: diipanii, mantrágháta and mantra caetanya. But as we have no proper word for diikśá in English or any other language, we have no alternative but to use the word “initiation” for diikśá. The actual Sanskrit word for the English term “initiation” is abhiśeka, not diikśá.
2 December 1978 Evening, Madras