Initiation (Dikṣha)

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Written by Sir John Woodroffe, Book: Introduction to Tantra Sastra 


INITIATION1 is the giving of mantra by the guru. At the time of initiation the guru must first establish the life of the Guru in his own body; that is the vital force (prānaśakti) of the Supreme Guru whose abode is in the thousand-petalled lotus. As an image is the instrument (yantra) in which divinity (devatva) inheres, so also is the body of guru. The day prior thereto the guru should, according to Tantra, seat the intending candidate on a mat of kuśa grass. He then makes japa of a “sleep
mantra” (suptamantra) in his ear, and ties his crown lock. The disciple, who should have fasted and observed sexual continence repeats the mantra thrice, prostrates himself at the feet of the guru, and then retires to rest. Initiation, which follows, gives spiritual knowledge and destroys sin. As one lamp is lit at the flame of another, so the divine śakti, consisting of mantra, is communicated from the guru’s body to that of the Śiṣ ya. Without dikṣ a, japa of the mantra, pūjā, and other ritual acts, are said to be useless. Certain mantras are also said to be forbidden to śūdras and women. A note, nowever, in the first Chalākṣ ara-Sūtrā to the Lalita2 would, however,
show that even the śūdras are not debarred the use of even the Praṇava, as is generally asserted. For

1 As to who may initiate, see Tantrasāra, chap. i.
2 First Chalāksara-Sūtra. This is an index to the Sahasra-nāmā, like the Sarvānukramaṇ ikā to the Veda. There are three svaras in laukikavyākarana—viz, udātta, the high accent, anudātta, its opposite or the low accent and, svaritā, which Pānini says is the combination (samāhrta) of both. Pracaya is Vaidik (chāndasa).

according to the Kālikā-Purana (when dealing with svara or tone), whilst the udātta, anudātta, and pracaya are appropriate to the first of these castes, the svara, called aukāra, with anusvara and nāda, is appropriate to śudra, who may use the Praṇ ava, either at the beginning or end of mantra, but not, as the dvija may, at both places. The mantra chosen for initiation should be suitable (anukūla). Whether a mantra is sva-kūla or a-kūla to the person about to be initiated is ascertained
by the kūla-cakra, the zodiacal circle called rāśicakra and other cakra which may be found described in the Tantrasāra. Initiation by a woman is efficacious; that by a mother is eightfold so.1 Certain special forms of initiation, called abhiṣ eka, are described in the next

1 Tantrasāra, loc. cit.














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