----- Initiation Promises ------





Initiation Promises

(Compiled from notes on lectures of H. H. Mahavishnu Goswami)

On the day of our spiritual initiation we mainly promise to chant minimum 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra and to follow the four regulative principles. On every occasion of giving initiation, our beloved Guru Maharaja gives a wonderful explanation of the meaning of initiation and it is really a treat to hear these initiation lectures and to treasure them in our hearts. I was recently listening to the initiation lecture of our beloved Guru Maharaja in Singapore (September 2008) and Maharaja gave the list of the promises we are making and the conclusions we are arriving at by taking the spiritual initiation. This is a subject matter we have to seriously ponder over, not only for the newly initiated but also for those who have been initiated for long, to really get initiated every day on these lines. I am listing herewith the promises and I shall try to share the nectarean instructions on each of the following points given by Maharaj. 1. We promise to hear the voice of the Lord situated within our hearts.
2. We promise to try to realize the presence of consciousness everywhere.
3. We promise to stop being mad after sense gratification and become completely simple.
4. We promise not to exploit the other living entities but depend on our own self.
5. We promise to take a dip into the spiritual literature every day.
6. We promise to come to the right direction.
7. We promise to become ‘prasanna’ by coming to the ‘sat’ instead of ‘asat.’
8. We promise to recognize the supreme authority.
9. We promise to hand over this tradition to the younger generation.
10. We promise to understand that I am the only reason for my miseries.
11. We promise not to prolong the material matters unnecessarily.

These promises really make us understand our great and grave responsibility. Maharaja concluded by saying that there are no supervisors appointed to check whether we are following our promises. The Supersoul is always watching. He knows what we are doing. If we don’t hear the Supersoul and correct ourselves, the miseries are waiting. It is for our own good that we become nice.

With the blessings of our beloved Gurudev, I shall try to transcribe the lecture of Maharaja on each of the above promises.

1. We promise to hear the voice of the Lord situated within our hearts:

We are all in search of a guide all the time. From guide, the word, ‘guidance’ comes. Every living entity young or old, is in need of guidance. The Supreme guide is the Lord Himself. It is declared in the scriptures, ‘Krishnam vande jagadgurum’. He is already situated in our hearts as Chaitya guru. But our lives, day by day are victimized by the Kali yuga forces. That is why we cannot hear His voice. From today we are promising in front of the fire, the Lord Himself and Srila Prabhupada that we will hear that voice. The vibration is always there. As soon as we perform some activity, He either favours you or discourages you. These two feelings are there already. We cannot catch Him by our senses. It is said,
atah sri-krsna-naamaadi
na bhaved graahyam indriyaih
sevonmukhe hi jihvaadau
svayam eva sphuraty adah
No one can understand the transcendental nature of the name, form, quality and pastimes of Sri Krishna through his materially contaminated senses. Only when one becomes spiritually saturated by transcendental service to the Lord are the transcendental name, form, quality and pastimes of the Lord revealed to him.” (Bhakti-rasaamrita- sindhu 1.2.234)

Being part and parcel of Krishna, service or seva is our constitutional position. The amsh has to always serve the amshi. We are always serving. Either we are serving our family, our kinsmen, society, our country or the whole planet.

2. We promise to try to realize the presence of consciousness everywhere:

We have to come to the position of feeling the presence of Supreme consciousness which is equally distributed all over the material manifestation as well as the spiritual manifestation and beyond. That supreme consciousness we are not conscious of. That is our greatest defect. We have the soul but we cannot see. But the symptom of the soul is there. There is consciousness all over the body. We have the experience that even if somebody is touching us from the back, we can feel the touch. Every hair follicle has the consciousness. We have seven crores of follicles and in each hair follicle we have the consciousness. If somebody touches the hair also we know. To that extent, the consciousness is flowing in our body. This is limited consciousness. I can only feel my body. I can never feel the other bodies. But today we have come to the conclusion that it is not only my consciousness but everywhere there is consciousness. Everywhere, everybody has consciousness- moving or non-moving. That is why we don’t mishandle anything.

3. We promise to stop being mad after sense gratification and become completely simple:

We have to minimize our necessities with the understanding that everything belongs to Krishna. Isopanishad Mantra 1 declares,
isaavaasyam idam sarvam
yat kinca jagatyaam jagat
tena tyaktena bhunjithaa
maa grdhah kasya svid dhanam
"Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord. One should therefore accept only those things necessary for himself, which are set aside as his quota, and one should not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong."

So some quota is reserved for us. So we have to use the minimum things. We don’t touch otherwise. That is our understanding from our culture. In India, simplicity is our monopoly but because of contact with the West, we are complicating our life and because of these complications our consciousness is completely covered and polluted. With that polluted consciousness, we try to exploit the resources. We think we are enjoying but we are ourselves getting entangled into the complexities. We call the complex situation as advancement. Today we become conscious of this that this is not advancement but degradation and unlimited foolishness. Everything has a limit but our foolishness has no limit. So we are promising today that we will stop being mad like this after sense gratification. With our senses, which are perverted, however hard we try, we can never enjoy. Even then we are blindly taking a dip in the fire like a moth which enters into the fire till it dies. This moth tendency should completely stop and this can be done only by being completely simple.
4. We promise not to exploit the other living entities but depend on our own self :
The greatest test from today is that our work must be done by us. Those who are getting initiated or not get initiated, they are all getting initiated on this principle. We promise to do our own work, if not everybody’s work. We should not depend upon anybody. Our foolishness is that, for our own survival, we try to exploit others. We try to harm the others like anything daily. The thing is I want to waste my time. So I can’t waste my time, until I waste your time. I should have somebody. This we have to stop from today. No wasting of your time and don’t waste other’s time. At least you do whatever you want, but don’t waste other’s time. Leave the living entities alone. If you do not want to exploit, then you have to wash your own clothes yourself, you have to cook and clean yourself and that will give you a very healthy life. The needs have to be curtailed to the minimum and we have to depend on our own self. This way we will definitely be economical.
5. We promise to take a dip into the spiritual literature daily:
Because you are simple, and depend upon your own self, you will have plenty of time and that time has got to be utilized for inquiring into the Absolute Truth. Only a seriously inquisitive person can realize the supreme Absolute Truth. Fortunately, you have so much spiritual paraphernalia left by Srila Prabhupada. He has written, he has talked and so many letters and conversations are available. We are really lucky to have such vast spiritual paraphernalia. Why are we roaming here and there? There is no need of it. This is the day we promise ourselves that daily I will take a dip into the spiritual literature. There is nothing to be read in the ordinary literature. The newspapers are so thick, but there is nothing to be read. Why do they print so many papers, felling down so many trees? Again there is one argument our mind will present before us. By me stopping reading the newspaper, how much difference does it make? Everybody is reading, so by that the forest will not be stopped from being cut. But don’t think like that. Srila Prabhupada was also all alone in Vrindavana. He could also have thought like that. I am alone and if I am simple, what is going to happen? If I write Srimad Bhagavatam, what difference it is going to make? There are so many Bhagavatams. No. He didn’t think like that. He tried very sincerely. As we know, today, millions of devotees are there. Without his mercy, how could the movement have spread like this? These things have to be ingrained in our life style.
6. We promise to come to the right direction :
We are completely misguided and misdirected in organising our lives. The civilization is misdirected and Godless. This is the day we are promising ourselves, to add God to our consciousness and thus come to the right direction. Instead of wasting time in false pursuits, come to the right direction. We change our direction and that is what is wanted. Srila Prabhupada said we are misdirected and correcting direction means that all the excessive sense gratification is stopped. Everything will be within limits. The formula for obtaining the mercy of the Lord is beautifully told by Him in Srimad Bhagavad gita. 2.64
raaga-dvesa-vimuktais tu
visayaan indriyais caran
aatma-vasyair vidheyaatmaa
prasaadam adhigacchati
"But a person free from all attachment and aversion and able to control his senses through regulative principles of freedom can obtain the complete mercy of the Lord."
This should be our guideline. Bhagavad gita is our guide. Don’t depend upon anybody. They may mislead again. You go to Krishna directly through Prabhupada and you will be self sufficient, guided by Bhagavad gita.
7.We promise to become ‘prasanna’ by coming to the ‘sat’ instead of ‘asat’:
Once our senses are allowed to have only the minimum sense gratification, there is no difficulty. Anything beyond limits makes our body sick. If we are within limits, then we become prasannaatma. - fully joyful. ‘Prasaana’ is a word which comes from the combination of two words, ‘prabhu’ and ‘sat.’ In the word ‘prasanna’, ‘pra’ means ‘prabhu’ or the Lord. Those living entities who run after Sri Krishna, their life is converted from ‘asat’ to ‘sat’. At the moment, our life is guided by ‘asat’ or temporary things. From ‘asat’ we are coming to the ‘sat’ or eternal things and that is the initiation day. So far, we were completely ignorant of all the supreme values of human existence. Now we are coming to the eternal values of human existence, with the witness of the lord and our guru. We are not running only after the ‘sat’. We don’t believe in only following the good habits. With good habits, we are running very fast towards Krishna. That is our way. That is brahma bhuta prasannaatma. The effect of it is ‘na socati na kaankshati’- no more lamentation or hankering. Good or bad, everything is good for us. Everything is temporary. At the most what is going to happen? So we run after the eternal values.
8.We promise to recognize the supreme authority:
Once we are running after the eternal values, spiritually, our goal of existence is to recognize the supreme authority. As soon as we recognize authority, obedience comes. The boss appoints you in the office means; you promise him that you will obey. As soon as you accept the supreme authority, obedience is the other side of the coin. So we have to obey. Srila Prabhupada has condensed the whole sinful paraphernalia in four regulative principles. That is why we are very particular about these four regulative principles. Our sinful life stops from today. The more you follow very sincerely, the more you will be very happy. Formerly the sins were minimum because our profession was farming. In farming there was no sin at all. Cows and bullocks were happy. Dung was used as manure. Land had so much incentive to produce. Now because of sinful attitude, the land has lost the incentive. So again to have the land to have the incentive, our quality of life must improve. It is not a day’s job. It is lifelong and beyond.
9.We promise to hand over this tradition to the younger generation:
We stop sinful life and we pass on this tradition to our younger generation. That is the greatest responsibility. Follow seriously, and hand over as it is to the younger generation. In turn, the younger generation will hand over to the youngest generation and non-stop it goes on. These things are auspicious everywhere and beyond our imagination, they do good. On the other hand, if we disobey, we are already miserable and more miseries are waiting.
10.We promise to understand that I am the only reason for my miseries:
We are the reason for our miseries. That we have to understand today. That is ‘caksur unmilitam’. Otherwise, always I was blaming others for my miseries. That is our tendency. Today we learn that we made the mistake. As soon as you blame yourself, you reduce all the troubles. Blaming others means counter blaming and again enmity, envy everything will come. If you blame yourself, the matter ends there.
11.We promise not to prolong the material matters unnecessarily:
Material matters should never be prolonged. Never. Please as soon as possible, end the material matters. Otherwise, they will consume the very vitality of human existence. Don’t do that. That is a suicide. From today we are promising before Agni and Krishna, that I will not prolong unnecessarily, foolishly, the material tiffs. Cut it short. We were advised by our elders never to climb these two steps. One is the solicitor’s and the other is the doctor’s.


Hare Krishna Hare Krishna

Krishna Krishna

Hare Hare

Hare Rama Hare Rama

Rama Rama

Hare Hare

and be happy.



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  • Wonderful prabhu

    very inspiring and uplifting lectures

    Hare krishna

  • Hare krishna Prabhu


    inspiring and uplifting

  • Sevak
    Very Informative Spiritual Content
  • hare krishna

    must read non-initiated devotees to be in the path of devotional service.

    hare kishna

  • How awesome Prebhuji, after reading this entire wording, I really feel humble by this. It is way forward to our self contained lifestyle and very simple to live once is been adopted.


    It is hard for a common man to get out from the misery been created from beginning in our life to keep one itself away because of the commitments around been adopted for very long time.

    I have seen Prebhuji in Temple saying exactly the same thing about life and the way Prebhuji explained it was really heart touching words. He said I worked many years for materialistic values, which were never been mine from start to end and continued with it until one day i came to Temple and realised my own being. He said work and work towards unwanted goods of values and carry on and one knows there is no end so one day he gather what he could manage, left all the unwanted items so he could spend more time with his Wife and Kids where he lack of it 365, 24/7 because of the materialistic belongings he had to provide by creating  delusion within himself that all is needed without realising it is his own creation in mind and forcing his young kids to except it?


    Life became happier and happier where before he had no time from running without stopping. He realised Srilaprebhupada way of journey toward Bhaktimarg and all valuable time he had for his wife and kids and finally secure future from all backward knowledge he had given to his family so true happyness is where Krishna is.


    Yes it took him few years to reach his goal with this marg but through hard work he got there and it was such a life experience moment

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