devotee meditating

Karma, Guru–Disciple, Mantra-diksha

Question: What is the use of karma if person cannot remember what he has done wrong in a past life, but his karma fructifies this life? The lesson is likely not to be learned.

Answer: Suppose a person is heavily drunk and is driving. He loses control of his car and kills a pedestrian. In the accident, he also gets injured and is taken to hospital. Afterwards, when he comes to consciousness, he does not remember what happened. My question to you is: Should this person be punished for drunk driving and killing a person? If you say “yes,” then you have the reply to your question. If you say “no,” then please give me the reason. This also implies that forgetfulness is a good way to escape punishment for one’s misdeeds. Punishment for a wrong deed has many reasons. Rectification is only one among them but not the only one. Your question assumes that punishment is only for rectification.

Secondly, there are many criminals who are punished for their crimes. After they have completed their punishment, did they learn any lesson, i.e., not to repeat the crime? Maybe you can research it, but my guess is that most criminals continue their crimes. So, this defies your premise that remembrance of one’s crime is necessary for improvement. If this were true, then most criminals would not be criminals because they all know that they would be punished for their crime if proven guilty. Knowledge of punishment does not deter them.

What really matters is one’s understanding of the principle of karma, and śraddhā in śāstra, and not remembrance of one’s past misdeeds. If one does not have śraddhā, then one will continue to act frivolously.


Question: Throughout my years of hearing from devotees, I have heard that the guru’s connection to the disciple is so deep that the guru is prepared to be endlessly reborn into this world until the disciple is relieved from the material condition. Can you help me understand this?

Answer: This sounds appealing, but it does not make much sense. It sounds like a big punishment to be a guru! If this were true, the guru would probably remain in the material world eternally. There is a high probability that at least one disciple would not attain liberation, and then the guru would have to come back to deliver him or her. This means that he would again become a guru and surely make more disciples, some of whom would again fail to attain liberation. The cycle could continue forever! 

The fact is that anyone who has attained bhāva-bhakti will not take birth again, regardless of whether he or she is a guru. This is very clearly stated by Śrī Kṛṣṇa in Bhagavad Gītā 8.5–7 and 12.6–7. There is no scriptural proof for the statement that the guru will come back to deliver the disciple. But there are plenty of statements that a perfected devotee never takes birth again.

However, you can understand the statement that the guru comes to deliver the disciple as follows. Kṛṣṇa is the original guru. He comes in the form of a guru. So, if a disciple does not make his life successful in this lifetime, then such a disciple will get a guru in the next life. That guru will also be a representative of Kṛṣṇa. In that sense, the guru comes to deliver. 


Question: Is it necessary that mantra-dīksa be taken from the same guru from whom harināma is taken? 

Answer: Yes. 

Question: If a devotee wants to take mantra-dīksā from another guru, is it necessary to take permission from the guru who gave harināma?

Answer: Yes.

Question: What should one do if the harināma-guru does not give his personal time, rāganugā-sikśā, or permission to take sikśā from others?

Answer: Not much. It is you who accepted him as your guru. I do not believe that he coerced you to take dīkṣā from him. It was your choice. You should have considered all these things before accepting him as your guru. So do not blame him; take responsibility for your decision. Pray to Kṛṣṇa that He show you the light. That is all I can say. 

Question: Is there a reference stating that both harināma-dīksā and mantra-dīksā should be taken from the same guru?

Answer: As there is no śastric reference that I know of, I answer on the basis of tradition. Not everything is written in black and white. Certain things are known from tradition. That is why it is said, “mahājano yena gataḥ sa panthāḥ”—follow the path followed by great devotees (Mahābhārata, Vana-parva 313.117), and “sādhu-vartmānuvartanam”—follow the path of the sādhus (BRS, Purva-vibhāga 1.2.100).

I don’t know any examples where the harināma-dīksā and mantra-dīksā gurus are different. Therefore, I see no reason why they should be different. Why should one not take mantra-dīksā from the same guru that one took harināma-dīksā from? I don’t think there is a distinction that one guru is specialized only in mantra-dīkṣā and another guru only in harināma-dīksā, like modern specialist doctors.


2 thoughts on “Karma, Guru–Disciple, Mantra-diksha”

  1. Is the concept of first taking harinam diksa and then later mantra diksa a newer system primarily in iskcon /gaudiya math, or is it also practiced in other gaudiya lineages as well?

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