What Is Initiation? by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura
The process of attaining transcendental knowledge is called initiation. We should know that the Supreme Lord is the transcendental Absolute Truth, and we are His eternal servants. We have no duty other than to serve Him. Knowing this is actual initiation. The absence of this understanding is ignorance. At present, there is a controversy about the word ‘initiation’. People proudly claim that they have taken initiation from a bona fide spiritual master, but how can they maintain material attachment even after taking initiation?
How can they desire to make advancement in material life? If they don’t learn about their relationship with the Lord, self- dependent and proud people uselessly brag about their initiations. Rather than treating their spiritual master as if he were as good as God, they treat him as their disciple, fit to be their order-supplier. Considering the guru an ordinary mortal being, these persons become offenders at his lotus feet. The spiritual master is worshipable. There is no one more worshipable to us than guru. Serving the guru is superior to serving the Lord.
There is no greater religious principle than serving the spiritual master. Even though we repeatedly hear this, due to our strong attachment to body and house, we forget it and think that serving our family members and ourselves is more important. Our position is similar to that of the boy who forgets his duty and absorbs himself in play rather than study. If after accepting initiation we do not awaken our propensity to serve the Lord, then we must be cultivating a desire for fame, wealth, and serving our family members.
It is only by good fortune that one receives the opportunity to serve the Lord, but we foolishly waste that opportunity. The results of our folly are so poisonous that we are left only with disappointment. Do not doubt my words. If we do not follow the guru and the Vaishnavas’ orders, what can they do to help us?
—Amṛta Vāṇī – Nectar of Instructions for Immortality, Adapted and Published by Īśvara dāsa. Translated from Bengali by Bhumipati dāsa