Monday, April 20, 2009

A rite of passage

(Srila Prabhupada giving initiation)
For many, the word initiation conjures thoughts of performing something painful or humiliating in order to be one of the select few of a particular group or society.

In the Hare Krishna movement, initiation is neither painful nor humiliating. It is a sweet and intimate rite of passage that forever connects you to your spiritual master and the guru parampara, all the way up to Krsna Himself.

I was fortunate enough to be a part of an initiation ceremony yesterday, where my husband and I received our second initiation, and where three enthusiastic and very deserving devotees received their first.

I was reminded of the nerves and anxiousness of the moments running up to the actual initiation - will I remember all 4 principles? What if I don't? What if I make a mistake? What is my new name going to be? All these thoughts run through your mind and make your head spin, but then you sit before your guru and he looks you straight in the eyes, and asks what the four principles are that you are vowing to follow for the rest of your life. And in that moment, its just you and him, taking such sacred vows - you vowing to follow those four principles, your guru vowing to take you back to Krsna. There is no moment like it.

I was happy to have been a part of that initiation and be reminded of the vows I took 5 years ago. Bhaktimarga Swami gave first initiation to three devotees, and three couples, including myself, received second initiation. Initially I felt so disconnected. My Guru Maharaja was not there, so I would never share that moment of him giving me the mantras and teaching me how to chant them. And from what Maharaja had told me (after he and Bhakti Caitanya spoke in South Africa), I was under the impression that he would simply e-mail me the mantras. But it worked out very well - my Guru Maharaja sent me a sound file of him saying the mantras, and Bhaktimarga Swami, who is my siksa-guru in every way, taught me, along with his other disciples, how to chant them. So rather than lacking in any way, I felt like I had been given a double-dose of mercy:) I was also glad to take this important step with my husband. We weren`t around for each others first initiations, and rather than just watch the other take their second initiation, we got to do it together.

All in all it was a good day and a very good experience. I pray that I am able to do more and more for Srila Prabhupada`s movement and be better able to serve Krsna and His devotees.

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