(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 14 July 2018, Fruska-Goranga Camp, Serbia, Youth Q & A)

When is the perfect time to take initiation from one’s spiritual master?

I do not know if there is a perfect time for someone to take initiation. I compare it to jumping into a pool. You know, first you put your toes in and go, “I don’t know. This is too cold for me. I’m not ready to go in there.” But then you start to think, “No, come on now. Jump! Jump! Jump!” And at some point, you finally have to jump! Before you take initiation, you must be able to for at least for some time, follow the the four regulative principles and chant a minimum of 16 rounds, both of which you are going to promise to the spiritual master. If you have been able to follow these rules for some time, then that is a good beginning.

A crucial thing that needs to exist is a relationship with the spiritual master; some sense of friendship, some sense of faith, some trust. Otherwise, it is going to be very difficult to keep your vows because you are going to need that relationship with your spiritual master somewhere along the way. We may take initiation, but it tends to get difficult after some time. However, if there is a friendly relationship with the spiritual master, it will save you in the long run.

The story of Giriraja Maharaja is very relevant here. He was explaining how he was in Mumbai, fighting with lawyers in that court case over the temple against Mr Nair. One day, Mr Nair sent a prostitute to seduce Giriraja. Giriraja was in the car and suddenly this lady came and sat up against him in the back seat of the car. It was too much for him and he said it himself that his mind was thinking, “I’m going to fall down. This is it. Today, I will fall back down!” But then he began thinking, “No! Prabhupada will be so disappointed if he hears about such a thing. I cannot fall down. I will control myself.” It was Giriraja’s relationship with Prabhupada that saved him. So I think before taking initiation, besides following everything, there has to be some close relationship with the spiritual master because it will help you progress when it is going to get difficult later on. 

For example, even after getting married, there is a risk that you can get attracted to someone else. We are human and it is not necessarily betrayal, but it happens. This is a part of life. But then you have developed the strength to cut it out and say, “No! I am faithful to my wife. I am not going to do this.” This is not going to be the easiest thing to do but a close relationship with your wife would assist. Similarly, if you have a spiritual master who you trust, who is your supporter, then you can open up to him. You can express to him, “Look, this is what is going on with me right now.” Then, by his support, you can persevere through the difficult times. But if you are hiding it from him and trying to deal with it all on your own, it is going to be more difficult and it also goes to show that you do not trust your spiritual master. So when you realise that you have such a close relationship with a spiritual master through which you can be saved, that is an indication for when it may be the right time to take initiation!