Written by Nandan
The Initiation Ceremony
Monday, 25 April – 3.45pm and it was still crisp outside and rather muggy. But inside the temple it was very warm indeed. Warm in the physical sense from all the people assembled and warm in the subtle sense from the abundance of goodwill emanating from the vaishnavas present. First there was a sweet, old-school harinam style kirtan by Sadbhuja Prabhu followed by an introduction by Gurudas, the MC of festival this year.
Without much ado, the first part of the ceremony began with switching kanthi (neck) beads and performing archaman (purification). The whole set up looked gorgeous; the centre of the temple room was made into a yajna kund or sacrificial fire square. Surrounding it was an assortment of brass water pots, ghee pots, rice trays, fruit trays and multi-coloured flower garlands. The preliminary rituals were being conducted by a wonderful, gentle devotee from Bulgaria named Tulsi Prabhu.
When the initial rites were over, the microphone was handed to Maharaj. He started of by explaining how this samsara (material existence) has so many waves and we are being tossed from one intense experience to another but it’s just chewing the chewed. For example, family is everywhere – birds, cats, dogs… they’re all engaged in family life! We think we make choices according to our desires but these are not pure desires. They are desires based on the dictates of the body. And then we come into contact with Krsna. Many say they couldn’t understand the books initially but actually we didn’t want to allow the message to penetrate our consciousness. Maharaj was emphatic on this point!
Soon after, the devotee feels ready to give themselves to Krsna through his representative, the spiritual master. Maharaj was effectively describing the psychological journey of a sadhaka coming into Krsna consciousness. Initiation was also a time for reflecting on how many times we have tried to satisfy our senses but now, as Srila Prabhupada said, “Just give this one life to Krsna.”
Of course, initiation is not based on force but on friendship, on trust in the spiritual master, trust that the guru is a good example in his spiritual practices but also trust that he is our dear friend and we can take shelter of him. Maharaj also stressed the value of the vows we take. After all, these vows make us act on values that are higher than what we would normally do. Ultimately, they are based on scriptures through which Krsna is talking to us!
Maharaj made it clear that spiritual life isn’t always easy but we must keep going, despite all the ups and downs. And make no mistake; there will be ups and downs, he emphasized! He gave another analogy here stating that when driving in the darkness of night, we only see the white lines but in the day, we can see and appreciate the scenery. We keep going regardless.
Maharaj then turned to the subject of second initiation. This time, the emphasis wasn’t so much on vows. It was about appreciating more of Krsna and going deeper. It was a question of searching out the higher taste and a deeper inspiration.
Somehow or other we have to be inspired. Maharaj then put on a nerdy voice, saying “Yesss, yesss, yesss. I must keep my vows till I die!!” The way Maharaj did it was hysterical and everyone in the temple room was hitting the roof. The point was that spiritual life could not just be based on vows. There has to be that inspiration. All devotees need that, something they love doing for Krsna. In this way, Krsna consciousness is also light and fun and thus initiation is not just supposed to be just a heavy thing.
Maharaj concluded by asserting that initiation is a gift but not some mundane gift that runs out. It is a gift that actually grows and grows. It is essentially the Lord’s mercy; even astrology cannot predict such sukriti (good fortune). In fact, we need not bother too much with astrology; we have more important things to do like going back to Godhead…
On this note, Maharaj started off the initiations. First he instructed in Tattvati Mataji to sit next to another German Mataji, Maria, and translate to her what was going on.
First to get initiated was our very own Ganesh from England. Maharaj named him Gaura Narayan Das, which is the understanding that Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the Supreme Personality of Godhead a truth now that Gaur Narayan Prabhu has to make his life’s mission.
Next to be initiated was Robbie from Prague who became Rasacharya Das; servant of the great Srila Rupa Goswami. Matthew from Scotland became Mandapa Das, implying one who is always connected to the Scotland temple. His wife April became Aditya Dasi, the servant of the Lord. Gunar Prabhu from Leipzig became Govinda Kund Das, named after the sacred place where amongst other things, Madhavendra Puri used to do his bhajan. Suzanne Mataji, a mother of two from Leipzig and the wife Pradyumna Prabhu, became Sudevi Dasi.
Lyla from Stockholm became Lila Mohini Dasi – indicating pastimes conducted under the influence of transcendental illusion so that devotees would forget their mood of awe and reverence towards Krsna. Asami Mataji from Japan became Sangita Dasi. Rather appropriate considering she’s a singer. So now her name means to sing, specifically singing Krsna’s glories. There was also a German Mataji, Maria, who Maharaj spoke to entirely in German and she became Madri Dasi. Also, Kavita Dasi from Prague sat in for the yajna, she received her name and beads in January.
After the first initiations, there was some more kirtan and then the yajna. For the second initiates (Harsarani dd, Champakalata dd, Navadwip Das, Purushatraya Das and Madhupandit Das), Maharaj took them away to a private room to give them their Gayatri mantras, initiating them into a brahminical standard of life for Krsna.
All Glories! All Glories! All Glories to all the first and second initiates of Maharaj’s 2016 Vyasa Puja!
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