Initiation: Diksa

INITIATION is the giving of mantra by the guru.(1) At the time of initiation the guru must first establish the life of the Guru in his own body; that is the vital force (prana-sakti) of the Supreme Guru whose abode is in the thousand-petalled lotus.

As an image is the instrument (yantra) in which divinity (devatva) inheres, so also is the body of guru. The day prior thereto the guru should, according to Tantra, seat the intending candidate on a mat of kusa grass. He then makes japa of a “sleep mantra” (suptamantra) in his ear, and ties his crown lock. The disciple, who should have fasted and observed sexual continence, repeats the mantra thrice, prostrates himself at the feet of the guru, and then retires to rest. Initiation, which follows, gives spiritual knowledge and destroys sin. As one lamp is lit at the flame of another, so the divine sakti, consisting of mantra, is communicated from the guru’s body to that of the S’isya.

Without diksa, japa of the mantra, puja, and other ritual acts, are said to be useless. Certain mantras are also said to be forbidden to sudras and women. A note, nowever, in the first Chalaksara-Sutra to the Lalita (2) would, however, show that even the sudras are not debarred the use of even the Pranava, as is generally asserted. For according to the Kalika-Purana (when dealing with svara or tone), whilst the udatta, anudatta, and pracaya are appropriate to the first of these castes, the svara, called aukara, with anusvara and nada, is appropriate to sudra, who may use the Pranava, either at the begining or end of mantra, but not, as the dvija may, at both places.

The mantra chosen for initiation should be suitable (anukula). Whether a mantra is sva-kula or a-kula to the person about to be initiated is ascertained by the kula-cakra, the zodiacal circle called rasicakra and other cakra which may be found described in the Tantrasara. Initiation by a woman is efficacious; that by a mother is eightfold so. Certain special forms of initiation, called abhiseka, are described in the next note.

1. As to who may initiate see Tantrasara, chap. L
2. First Chalaksara-Sutra. This is an index to the Sahasra-nama, like the Sarvanukramanika to the Veda. There are three svaras in laukikavyakarana-viz; udatta, the high accent, anudatta, its opposite or the low accent and,svarita, which Paninil says is the combination (samahrta) of both. Pracaya is Vaidik (chandasa).