Initiation, Guru-Disciple Relationship And
An offering at the Holy Lotus
Of the Masters
Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj
Sri Swami Chidananda Maharaj
Sri Swami Venkatesananda Maharaj
What is initiation?
Initiation is ritual admission to a way of life and sacred spiritual
technique which is to be the disciple’s means of liberation, subject to the disciple’s allegiance
to the guru (spiritual preceptor).
Initiation into the Atlantean-Egyptian mysteries of Isis and Osiris
included “dying while living,” that is, conscious astral projection. In Indo-Aryan religion, the
ancient precursor of all enlightened religion and the foundation of Yoga, initiation of suitable
candidates includes introduction to practices which also lead to such inner experiences,
psychic and mystic. These include a meditation technique known to masters, and imparted only
In the Bible western scholars may find references to ceremonial
admission to a path of spiritual evolution. The master John initiated Jesus by baptism. The
Nazarene master’s rituals resembled those of Freemasonry (giving sight to the “blind;” (raising
Lazarus from the “dead”), and Sufism (turning “water” into “wine”).
Why is initiation necessary?
Initiation is given selectively because not all are spiritually
mature enough to receive safely and respectfully the spiritual science whereby mystics have “gone
within” and been
”…caught up into paradise and heard the things which should not and
cannot be expressed.”
2 Corinthians 12
The avatar Jesus
the Nazarene cautioned:
“Do not give dogs what is holy; neither cast your pearls before
swine, lest they trample them underfoot and turn on you and rip you open.”
When his apostles asked the master why he taught in parables, he
“The mysteries of the kingdom of heaven are revealed to you, but they
are not revealed to them.”
“I tell you truly, many prophets and holy men longed to see what you
see, and never saw it: to hear what you hear, and never heard it.”
But even to these, his initiates, he said:
“I still have many things to say to you, but you could not bear them
Who is a candidate for initiation?
The meeting of guru and one ready for discipleship is predestined.
The guru can recognise those whom he/she may guide, for which reason such devotees are sometimes
referred to as “marked souls.” These are souls whose experiences over many incarnations have led
them to an inner appreciation of the philosophy of the masters, and a yearning for “that peace
which the world cannot give.”
No longer content with pseudo-spiritual distractions, they want
God-realisation and Moksha (liberation, via enlightenment, from reincarnation). Suitable candidates
for initiation are those who:
a) live moral, ethical, unselfish lives.
b) know spiritual evolution as the only purpose of life, and place
their efforts to attain it before all else in their lives, including their
c) have proved their sincerity by being diligent in their sadhana
(spiritual curriculum) for a prescribed period, and can be relied on never to lapse in their
sadhana after initiation.
d) will faithfully fulfill the resolves required of them at
What must candidates resolve?
During mantra-diksa (mantra-initiation into the guru-disciple
relationship) the candidate must resolve to:
1. obey the guru.
2. remain a vegetarian for life.
3. avoid all intoxication and overindulgence, and abstain from
non-medicinal use of drugs.
4. live charitably, within her/his means.
5. pray regularly and frequently for the welfare of others
6. repeat regularly, as instructed, the mantra given at
7. meditate regularly, as taught at initiation.
Before applying for initiation it is essential to understand why
compliance with the guru’s instructions is a sine qua non. The guru-disciple relationship is not
restrictive. The devotee is assured of freedom, within the parameters of decent conduct, of
religion, association, spiritual explorations, pursuit of personal interests, and membership of
other societies. It is the devotee’s duty to ensure that there are no unresolved queries by the
time of initiation. In particular, the candidate must understand something of the natures of
consciousness, mind, ego, the psychic faculties, direct perception and spiritual discrimination.
Attending discourses on the
philosophy of the masters is recommended.
The nature of a Master
In the west, a gurudeva (guru divine) of the highest quality may also
be called a master. After initiation the master will not leave the disciple, regardless of the
disciple’s conduct or changing beliefs, and there is nothing the disciple can do to break that
bond. The master has unconditional love for every disciple, utterly free of any motive except the
disciple’s inner progress and eternal joy. Yet, although the love of an enlightened being is
selfless and impersonal, in a sense disciples do not share “our guru” in common. Each disciple has
“my guru,” because each guru-disciple relationship is unique.
Benefits and effects of Mantra-Diksa and Guru-disciple
During initiation the disciple is taught the final stage of the
sacred meditation technique, which includes the secret of the Sacred Sound-Light and leads to
expansion of consciousness, and is given her/his personal mantra, which the disciple must not
reveal. Also, an esoteric link is established between guru and disciple whereby the disciple is
able to contact the gum on an inner plane. This provides the disciple with a measure of protection
while assisting the disciple to “go within.”
The Principle of Obedience
The rationale of this vital principle is that, by obeying the guru,
even when it seems illogical to do so, when it seems unwise, especially, indeed, when it hurts the
ego to do so, the disciple is learning to submit and surrender to the Divine Will, and that is the
essence of spiritual evolution. The only thing standing between the soul and God-realisation is the
Ego. Obedience to the guru is the microcosm of obedience to God, and what the disciple cannot force
her/himself to do in the microcosm, he/she has no hope of doing in the macrocosm. Intellectual
fencing with the guru about what is or isn’t possible or advisable has its origin in only one
thing: the resistant ego. Therefore, even if he/she hates the advice; if it appears unwise; if the
guru seems ill-informed, the faithful disciple obeys! If carrying out an instruction will cause
humiliation, or seems to fly in the face of fairness, the disciple obeys! Obedience to a true guru
will not enslave, but liberate in the highest sense. A true devotee has a reverence tantamount to
worship of the guru, who is God’s ambassador, and takes opportunities for satsang and darshan
(blessed sight) of the guru.
This is a festival sacred to disciples, who make every effort to
attend this celebration of divine grace in the form of the guru, paramguru, and their spiritual
lineage. All initiations at the Sivananda School of Yoga receive the disciple into the spiritual
family of Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, his successor, Pujya Swami Chidanandaji Maharaj, and
the hierarchy of their spiritual colleagues.
Om Namo Bhagavate Sivanandaya