In Srimad Bhagvatam, it is mentioned that
na kiṅkaro nāyam ṛṇī ca rājan
sarvātmanā yaḥ śaraṇaṁ śaraṇyaṁ
gato mukundaṁ parihṛtya kartam” (SB 11.5.41)
Every human being is obliged and has an obligation? We are under whose obligation? Demigods – Sun God, He gives us heat and light; moon nourishes our eatables and like that Indra, Chandra, Surya, Brihaspati, they all are demigods and are supplying. They are supplying and they don’t send bill for what they are supplying so we are indebted to them.
We are obliged to cow and ox. Ox is tilting the ground and cow is giving us milk, butter, butter milk, ghee, etc. Mother Cow is nurturing us so we are under obligation to cow and ox.
We are indebted to our forefathers also. Why? because they not only brought us to this human form of life which is very rare and valuable but also nourished us, nurtured us. They provided us food, clothing and education so we are indebted to them.
Those who are cent percent surrendered and are serving Krishna, they are not under any obligation of “devarṣi-bhūtāpta-nṛṇāṁ pitṝṇāṁ na kiṅkaro nāyam ṛṇī ca rājan”. Why? Because they are surrendered and are serving Krishna. “Sarvātmanā”, the king is dependent on Krishna, demigods are dependent on Krishna and everybody else. Just by supplying food to the stomach, we automatically nourish our hands, nose, ear, whole body so simultaneously, serving Krishna, “sarvātmanā yaḥ śaraṇaṁ śaraṇyaṁ”, by surrendering to Krishna we pay up our debt.
Why perform Shradh Ceremony?
So that we can relieve our ancestors from the hellish conditions, suffering condition.
If we are not cent percent surrendered to Krishna then we must perform Shradh. Lord Ramchandra did, he performed for Dashrath Maharaj, pinda daan. There was no question of Dashrath Maharaj going to hellish conditions because Lord Ramchandra was his direct son. It is the greatest fortune to have Krishna as your son, God as your son, Dashrath Maharaj will never suffer from hellish conditions, go to hell, even then Lord Ramchandra performed shradh. Lord Chaitanya is God himself, he also went to Gaya to perform Shradh Ceremony for his departed father, Jagannath Misra. So if we are not cent percent surrendered then we must perform Shradh Ceremony to pay up our debt to our forefathers, to relieve them from their hellish conditions.
How to perform Shradh?
It is stated in Srimad Bhagvatam that one must call pure brahman and perform the ceremony. One must cook sumptuous, beautiful, tasty, rich prasadam and that one has to offer to Lord Vishnu. This is written in Srimad Bhagvatam that first one must offer it Krishna, Vishnu, Ram, Narayan, Laxman and then one must offer to the Brahmans. When Advaita Acharya performed Shradh Ceremony of his father, first, he offered to a vaishnava, not even brahmans and Srila Haridasa Thakur was the most exalted vaishnava present there; He was a Muslim, he was not within varnashrama even, not even a brahman but a pure vaishnava. After offering to the Lord, one must offer to the vaishnavas, then one must offer to brahmans and then to one’s relatives, after that one is supposed to offer to people in general, beggars and after everything is over, one is supposed to honour that prasadam and give dakshina to brahmans, vaishnavas, the best donation is to vaishnavas. One should do it with faith and that will relieve one’s ancestors from the pangs of maya, suffering.
We can only correct a Vaishnava, if he is surrendered to us, otherwise, we may incur a Vaishnava Aparadha or we may get into a Vaisanava Aparadha.
The line is if he is surrendered, if he is ready to listen to us, ready to obey us.
‘Tad viddhi praṇipātena paripraśnena sevayā’
First is ‘praṇipātena’, Is he surrendered to us? Is he going to listen to us? If not, then leave it to his Guru, to his superior and to his Krishna, Maya and everybody else.
Everybody has a different level. If we are on the same level or if somebody is surrendered to us, then we can instruct him, he will hear, he will listen and there would not be any aparadha but if he is not going to listen to us and if he is thinking that he is above us (he may/may not be), equal to us and we try to instruct him, then Vaishnava Aparadha may happen. Also because he is dear to Krishna, if he is a devotee and we are also dear to Krishna and both of us start fighting, then Krishna will never like it, Krishna doesn’t appreciate this.
If someone is ready to listen that means he is surrendered to us and we can instruct him but if he is not surrendered and doesn’t want to listen to us, then we should not get into any offence. Read More Teachings
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.