Preparing for initiation means taking spiritual life seriously and when one is convinced that this material world has nothing to offer, it is just for the body. Material world is going to offer everything for the body but not for the soul.
Then what about the soul ? That is preparing for initiation- “I want to do something for myself. What is that something that I want to do for myself ? That I want to advance in my spiritual life.”
Srila Prabhupada says that if we want to learn carpentry, how do we learn? By working under a good carpenter. How can we become a doctor? By working under a doctor and reading the medical books available. Similarly, if we want to do something for ourselves, if we want to become spiritually advanced, then we need a Spiritual Master who can teach us how to advance in our spiritual life.
What are our shortcomings? How can we go in the right direction ? A Spiritual Master can put us on track again and having a Spiritual Master means having a well wisher, our guardian, who serves his disciples. A Guru, helps us, holds our hand and brings us to Krishna. So preparing for initiation means taking help from the Spiritual Master to advance in the spiritual life.
Srila Rupa Goswami in Sadhna Bhakti, says that
“Aadau Guru Padashraya”
Aadau means right in the beginning, we have to find a proper Guru and take shelter of him.
“Aadau Guru Padashraya Krsna dikshaadi”, then Krishna Diksha, Diksha into Krishna Consciousness. Then “Vishrambhena Guru sewa”, serving our Guru, without any doubt.
Preparing for initiation means that we have to fix the teacher then we can advance. The following things we to follow, 4 regulative principles, 16 rounds and studying the recommended Vedic Literature, few books and prepare ourselves.
We have to accept “Vartamana Pad-Pradakshika Guru”, Siksha Guru, Diksha Guru, Chautha Guru, Guru means many Gurus so it is not that Diksha Guru is all in all, there are many other ways Guru comes to us and topmost Guru is Krsna, Chaitya Guru.
“Krsnam Vande Jagat Guru”. Krishna is the topmost Guru. So this is preparing for initiation.
Do not think that Krishna will give us less than what we give Him.
If we take 1 step towards Krishna, then He will take 10 steps towards us.
Krishna’s most important Dharma is that He is Bhakta Vatsal, He is Kripalu, He is Karuna Sindhu, Krishna gives us more than what we deserve but we have to learn to dovetail it with Krishna. Like Srila Prabhupada, He left everything and then Krishna gave Him more than He could earn in pharmacy or any other business.
So we should not be afraid to dovetail everything to Krishna, not that Krishna will run away with our money, house, family or friends, He will just purify and give it to us back in many million folds. This is Krishna’s nature, He doesn’t want to see His devotees suffer and no devotee suffers.
Dhruva Maharaj, he left his father, mother, kingdom and family and at the end, Krishna gave him everything.
Gopis, they gave up everything for Krishna and at the end Krishna says, ” I am yours and I cannot repay your debt, I am eternally indebted to you”. Same thing with Hanuman, Ramchandra couldn’t pay His debt to Hanuman, He eternally remained indebted to Hanuman.
So when we give it to Krishna, do not think that Krishna will snatch it away or run away with it. No ! He is Kripalu and His most important Dharma is that He is Bhakta Vatsal.
Krishna doesn’t keep, He gives, this is His nature, His Dharma, Bhakta Vatsalta.
If we chant attentively, then we will be able to relish the transcendental love of Krishna, that transcendental mellow. Just like if we are a very big businessman, having zillions of dollars worth factory somewhere and it is burned to ashes, somebody calls us and says, “Sir, the factory is on fire.” We will be in so much anxiety and at that same time we are also very hungry, very very hungry, almost dying and we want to eat. When we eat, there is anxiety, all our attention, our mind and everything is in the factory and we are eating. So our belly will be full but we would not be able to experience the taste of different, nice and tasty items. We would not be able to taste them because our mind is somewhere else, into our factory, so our belly will be full but that transcendental mellow, we would not be able to relish.
Similarly, if we chant, the sins will be gone as sure as death. If we chant, it will do good to us from every respect but if we want to relish the transcendental, loving exchange between Krishna and us, then we must put our mind onto his Holy name. We should just say Hare Krishna and hear that name because name and Krishna, personality is non-different.
“Abhinattva nama naamino, nama and namino,” Krishna and the Holy name are non-different, so it will do good to us. If we chant inattentively, we will not be able to derive full benefit, that is why one must put his mind onto chanting and the easiest method, Krishna is prescribing, “Wherever our mind is running, we see his activity and bring him back like that.”
“Abhyāsena tu kaunteya vairāgyeṇa,” detachment from the material world and constant practice, then the mind will focus.
So it is important but in the beginning stage, if we are not able to chant, then Srila Prabhupada says, “First quantity then quality.” Quality will come if we keep chanting, sooner or later offences will be stopped but the secret of success is to keep chanting. Not that we are not able to concentrate and let us stop. If it is not attentive then also we should chant. The idea is to chant and then when we become mature and with practice, this mind will be always there.
If we develop some attachment or some love for somebody, then the mind is always there, when we develop some love for chanting and for Lord Krishna, then our mind would to that. So it is the way and the means, we must do quantity first and then the quality will come. Srila Prabhupada says the secret of success, 90% of success will come from chanting the Holy name, Hare Krishna Mahamantra and He also says that the first and the foremost important instruction of the Spiritual Master is that one must chant 16 rounds a day .
Srila Prabhupada said, “Our first business in a day is to chant our rounds.”
This is a very important instruction of a Spiritual Master, therefore, one must chant Hare Krishna Mahamantra.
Srila Prabhupada makes it very simple to understand, He says “If you serve dog, then the dog will love you. If you serve God, then God will love you.”
To attain the ultimate goal of life i.e to reawaken our pure love for Krishna, the technique is very simple, just serve Krishna. Better service than serving Krishna is to serve His dearmost thing.
Out of all the services, the topmost is to serve Krishna and higher than the service to Krishna is serving His dearmost.
There are 4 dearmost things to Krishna, they are – Tulsimaharani, Ganga- Yamuna, Granthraj Srimad Bhagavatam and devotees of the Lord and Vrindavan Dham. So if we serve these, especially His devotees, Krishna becomes most pleased.
First and foremost thing we should understand is that we have to serve these 4 and out of them, one must not miss serving the devotees of the Lord and Bhagavatam, person Bhagavat and book Bhagavat, very important, “Nityam Bhagavat Sevaya”, we have to serve Bhagavatam and the devotees.
Also the direction changes as we advance, for a neophyte, it is prasadam. Dogs, cats, human beings, those who cannot understand much about Krishna Consciousness, cannot relate to Krishna Consciousness, then prasadam sewa. Prabhupada himself cooked feast for His disciples’ wedding parties, Sunday feasts and initiation. So this is the direction for the very very beginners. With time if we can raise ourselves a little, then Holy name hearing, then Holy name chanting. Holy name is the second place, if somebody has advanced the prasadam stage, then we can make the person hear the Holy name or if he/she has advanced more, then we can make the person utter the Holy name.
Lord Chaitanya said out of all the unlimited sadhana, the best is Navavidha Bhakti, “Shravanam, keertanam, vishnu smaranam, paada sevanam, archanam, vandanam, daasyam, sakhyam, aatma nivedanam” and out of 9, chanting the Holy name is the best kind of Bhakti. So Naam Sankirtan is the best and by taking the Holy name, without any offences to the Holy name, we can attain the pure love of Krishna.
Srila Prabhupada always said that in order to have a fixed, nice sadhna, we have to become Serious and Sincere, along with these two, Service and Surrender. If you are very Serious and Sincere about performing sadhna, then you will be getting up very early, may be 4 or 4:30, you take bath and then you start the service – chanting, deity worship or any other service to Krishna.
Two other things, Surrender and Service. If you are surrendered to the process or sadhna bhakti, if you are surrendered to Lord and His devotees, then that will make you rise early for sadhna.
Like when Lord Chaitanya visited Kurmakshetra, one illiterate Brahman who didn’t know how to read but was reading Bhagavad Gita and crying, crying and crying. Then Lord Chaitanya asked the Brahman, “Why are you crying?”.
The Brahman said that “My Guru said that please read Bhagavad Gita everyday but I am illiterate, I don’t know how to read but by looking at a picture in the front, where Krishna is driving Arjun’s chariot, the Supreme Personality of Godhead is trying to serve, I could not hold myself and I cried.” So there was Sincerity and Surrender, he was Serious about reading, even though he didn’t know how to read.
If you are Serious, Surrendered and very Sincere, then you can make a resolution and stick to it. We should not listen to our mind or intelligence or anything, tell them that “I have sold you to my Spiritual Master”.