Why Do You Need Initiation in Your Spiritual Journey?

Every spiritual seeker has a certain goal or expectation from his/her spiritual pursuit. The Ultimate fruition of any spiritual pursuit is liberation — freedom from the cycle of birth and death, and merging into the Cosmic Consciousness. A spiritual seeker may start anywhere, but true seeking takes the seeker closer to this Ultimate seeking with every step, every day.

As the seeker matures, so do his/her desires, and liberation takes on a new meaning in their lives. Liberation is not just freedom from the cycle of birth and death, it is freedom from all the bondages in life which give us pain, suffering, lack of fulfillment and keep us going around in circles. Liberation from these bondages — Karma — is one more step progressing towards the Ultimate liberation — Moksha.

In this spiritual journey, initiation plays a pivotal role. Without initiation from an enlightened Master and Guru, the seeker can make only so much progress on their own. The purpose of all spiritual practices is to break karma which we have accumulated over multiple lifetimes. But this karma can only be broken by initiation by an enlightened master. That is where the real journey towards liberation begins.

Shiva Agama Explains Initiation — Pathway to Liberation

Shiva Agama, oldest set of scriptural texts of Hinduism, explain the significance of initiation or Diksha from an enlightened master & Guru in this spiritual journey.

Chapter 8 of Raurava Agama, Vidya Pada, is dedicated to the description of initiation and its significance in the pursuit of liberation. (Translation by Dr. S.P. Sabharathnam Sivacharyar)

“The exalted Sages, foremost among the mendicants, heard the instructions from Ruru, the great Sage. Folding their hands in the mode of supplication, they asked: O, Bhagavan! You are the knower of all systems and practices. How are the embodied souls relieved from the bonds through initiation? How do they attain the essential nature of S’iva, having severed the mighty bonds of Maya?”

Maya is all the perceptions of reality that bind you. Maya is the very ideas that make you believe that the world perceived by the sense organs is all there is to it. It stops you from realizing and exploring your higher Self.

The great sages implored Ruru to explain the importance of initiation in breaking the bonds of Maya & merging with Shiva.

“Sage Ruru said: At the very occurrence of rising of the sun, the darkness is dispelled completely and instantaneously. Likewise, upon the performance of relevant diksha, the constricting bonds of the sadhakas considered in terms of dharma and adharma get removed totally. Just as the sun illumines all these worlds through his radiant rays, even so Siva illumines the consciousness of the initiated souls through His host of Shaktis functioning in the divine path of mantras and diksha.”

Ruru explains that upon initiation, all the bonds of dharma and adharma are severed completely. It is important to note that he mentions that the process is instantaneous, just like the rays of the Sun dispel darkness instantaneously. He further adds, that Shiva blesses His initiates with His Shaktis & illumines their consciousness.

Shaktis or Spiritual Powers Are a Side Effect of Initiation

“Just as the fiery and tiny sparks shoot up abundantly in all directions from the well enkindled sacrificial fire, even so the multitudes of Saktis arise from Lord Siva. These Saktis exist pervading the body of the sadhakas who have been blessed with diksha. Just as the sun destroys through his rays the impurities accumulated in the ground, even so Lord Siva destroys the seeds of karmic effects and of other bonds of the initiated sadhakas through His perfectly maintained union with Shaktis which are His own rays.”

Ruru explains that the disciples initiated by their Guru, manifest the Shaktis of Shiva. Shiva destroys not just their karma, but their karmic seeds, which makes sure that they don’t incur further karma through their actions and inactions. He explains that the disciples are in perfect union with Shiva, and their Shaktis are verily the Shaktis of Shiva Himself.

“Just as the water poured into water, milk into milk mingles into one and become inseparable from each other, even so the knowers of the nature of mantras attain Oneness with the Supreme Being through the power of mantras related to the diksha.”

Here, Ruru explains the power of mantra and initiation. By knowing the mantras, the disciple achieve complete Oneness with Shiva.

Seeker Achieves Union With Shiva Through Initiation

“The heap of dry grass thrown into the blazing fire gets incinerated completely and it never again attains its original state of being dry grass. In the same way, the diligent sadhaka, supreme among the human beings, who is blessed with relevant diksha, reaches the adorable and worthy realm of Siva mandala effected through diksha and mantra. Thereafter, he never gets embodied again.”

This verse categorically establishes the fact that once a disciple is initiated, He is no longer the same person as before. His karma is destroyed, like a twig thrown in a forest fire, and hence s/he achieves the ultimate liberation. Such a person is supreme, as s/he is already in union with Shiva.

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“At the cessation of his bodily existence, he becomes Siva Himself, being endowed with the essential features and aspects of Siva. Having gained all the qualities of Siva, he is inseparably united with Siva. The river which flows with sweet and pleasant water reaches deeply into the ocean and attains the qualities of salty water of the same ocean. At the very instant of complete mingling with ocean-water, it attains such nature of salty water owing to the mighty power of the ocean. In the same way, the initiated sadhaka who has shed off his bodily existence attains oneness with Sivatattva. There does not occur any disunion between them.”

Ruru explains that the initiate becomes Shiva upon initiation, and starts radiating the divine qualities of Shiva. He is now inseparable from Shiva. His characteristics start becoming the characteristics of Shiva. S/he is never again disunited from Shiva.

Thus, in the Raurava Agama, not just the significance, but the power of initiation in giving Shaktis, union with Shiva and the Ultimate liberation is not just described, it is categorically stated, with multiple examples. Shiva Agama make sure that the reader understands that manifesting Shaktis of Shiva is a natural phenomenon for any seeker initiated by an authentic Guru, and that this initiation burns lifetimes of karma permanently, hence is incomparable with any “spiritual practice.” In fact, the fruit of all spiritual practice is getting initiation by an enlightened Guru.

Originally published on Medium.