Question: Bhāgavata-vidhi and Pañcarātrika-vidhi are different kinds of initiations. Is Pañcarātrika-vidhi the first initiation?
Answer: The initiation process that is practiced in the Caitanya school is of Pañcarātrika-vidhi. There is no mention of Bhāgavata-vidhi initiation. I do not know what it would mean. In Śrīmad Bhagavata Purāṇa, Śrī Kṛṣṇa mentions only two types of dīkṣā, namely Vedic and Pāñcarātrikī—vaidikī tāntrikī dikṣā madīya-vrata-dhāraṇam (SB 11.11.37).
Question: Was it traditional to have a fire sacrifice for Pañcarātrika-vidhi? Is it prescribed in scripture? Was it Śrīla Prabhupāda’s idea to perform initiation with fire yajña?
Answer: In Hari-bhakti-vilāsa, there is a description of a fire sacrifice for initiation. It is part of Pañcarātrika-vidhi.
Question: What are the different varieties of initiations?
Answer: There is nāma dīkṣā, mantra dīkṣā, and then bābājī-veṣa dīkṣā among the vairāgī lines, which is equivalent to sannyāsa dīkṣā in ISKCON and Gauḍīyā Maṭh.
Question: Should the quote by Prabhupāda, “Just by reading my books they are initiated,” be taken literally?
Answer: No. Dīkṣā has to be given by a living guru. Prabhupāda himself gave dīkṣā, and also appointed ṛtvika gurus to give dīkṣā on his behalf when he was physically unable to give dīkṣā. If he meant this statement to be taken literally, there was no need of giving dikṣā because anyone who reads his books would become initiated. There is no point in giving dikṣā twice. Since his departure, his disciples have been giving dīkṣā to newcomers on the path of bhakti.
A sentence has to be seen in context, and in a specific context, it may not be the meaning in its primary sense. This is a common principle of hermeneutics. So, it has to be seen in which context this particular sentence was postulated. In any case, it cannot be the literal meaning, because that would militate against all those statement that prescribe dīkṣā from a guru, and it would also contradict the behavior of the speaker himself, who personally gave dīkṣā.
Question: Brahmāji was initiated by a flute. What kind initiation was that?
Answer: Mantra dīkṣā.
Question: Can you get the second initiation from a devotee who himself only has the first initiation?
Answer: No, a person can only give what he or she has.
Question: Can you get the first initiation from a devotee who only has the first initiation?
Answer: You can get it, but you have to consider whether it is worth it.
Question: As for Vedic initiation, I understood that this is not suitable for Kali Yuga. Is that right?
Answer: This is not true. Vedic initiation means to study the Vedas, and it is taken in early childhood between the age of five to eight years, depending upon one’s varṇa. There are some students in India who undergo this ceremony, even if they do not study the Veda. It is to be noted that there is an age limit on this initiation. After one has passed that stage, one has to undergo atonement to have it.
The authority of the Guru is coming from sastra only. Guru and sastra are not independent. They go together. Guru is the embodiment of sastra. You will not know sastra because you are going to study it with your samskaras. You need a Guru who has risen above that conditioning and who can give you the light of the sastra.
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