Parama Samhita (English translation)

by Krishnaswami Aiyangar | 1940 | 69,979 words

This page describes diksha (initiation) which is Chapter 8 of the English translation of the Parama Samhita, representing a manual of the Pancaratra school of Vaishnavism philosophy. These pages summarize ritualistic worship, initiation and other topics, as contained in the various Agamas belonging to the Pancaratra school

Chapter 8 - Dīkṣā (initiation)


1. I shall hereafter expound to you the character of the supreme Dīkṣā by the attainment of which a pure-souled Vaiṣṇava gains Siddhi (Salvation).

2. Those well versed in initiating people recommend consecration (dīkṣā) as the best means of concentration to those of infirm mind, and, as yet, unacquainted with the means by which to gain emancipation.

3. That dīkṣā is to be gained by performing with devotion three duties; the first of these three is (principles), the rule of the community; the next knowledge of what is laid down to be done (discipline, Tantra or Śāstra bearing on the subject) and then the actual practice of worship.

4. These three things have to be practised in order, with earnestness by the learned, for the prosperity of the Dharma at all times.

5. Having first of all given one’s agreement, one must hear the rule of the community (Samaya) then one should gain knowledge of the tantra by the method of learning a Śāstra.

6-7A. Then again having received initiation by means of the proper recital of the mantras (mantra-dīkṣā) let him worship God, after being duly consecrated. Whoever, in devotion, practises the dīkṣā (the course of consecration ordained) with earnestness, gains, by grace of God, all he. wishes to attain to.

7B-10A. Having drawn in paint, with the attendant fetures [features?] the Cakra (the mystic-wheel), the teacher should show it to the disciple receiving consecration. The disciple then, becomes initiated into the community (Samaya Dīkṣita). Similarly drawing thereafter, the mystic cakra with coloured powder let the Ācārya make the disciples see in proper form, then the disciple becomes consecrated, in the Tantra-Dīkṣā (initiation into the science), Offering all the mantras as oblations in fire, and having invoked the Supreme Lord into it, then show the mystic circle (maṇḍala) to the disciple who then becomes an upāsaka (worshipper).

10B-11. First take note of what has to be done (tantra); then re-collect the mantras to be used; then worship God. This is the triple order of worship. After this I shall state in general terms the rules of ordination.

12-13. This rule of ordination is the means of accomplishing all that one may wish for, O Brahman! therefore listen with attention. Having first fixed upon the place, and, having drawn the mystic circle as prescribed in the Śāstras, one well versed in the mantras, will place, in all the points of the compass pots filled with water. These pots should have cloths thrown round the neck, with flowers, shoots of plants and fruits with them.

14-15. These may be 12, 8 or 4, and must be set up uttering the vāri-mantra, with a canopy set up with the vyoma-mantra, presenting lamps with tejo-mantra, fly whisk with vāyu-mantra and umbrella with kṣiti-mantra. Make the agni-kuṇḍa (receptacle for fire) for Vāsudeva in the west.

16. For the purpose of carrying the fire service to good result, have plenty of ghee melted and free from clots. Then wash all the, vessels required and get ready the sticks of wood (samid) and sacrificial grass (kuśā or Poa cynosurcides).

17. Make the fire with churning sticks, or by flint. Then, make the disciple, devoted and humble, read the tantra (the proper course of service).

18. Looking eastwarḍs one should, by the method of destruction, destroy (the physical body); then creating a fresh body make it remain ith the senses subdued.

19. Having as described above got everything ready, the initiating ācārya (teacher) having then protected himself and having entrusted the various organs of the body to the proper deities in charge, should perform the bīja-nyāsa (the placing the bīja-akṣaras in their respective places).

20. Place the akṣa-bīja at the nave, the nābhi-bīja at the centre (axle-hole); in the petals (of the lotus-cakra) the bījas of the various mūrtis should be placed, and in the filaments the bījas of the Śaktis.

21-22. In the spokes, place the kāla-bījas, which are the origin of the Śaktis from the point of view of the respective bījas At the top of the spokes place the tattvas or bījas of Mūrti-pālas. On the rim place the bījas of the (fortnights) and tithis (days) in the proper order to the right and left of the cities of Loka-Pālas marked on them.

23. In the rim of the circle and in the houses of the Dik-Pālas, make room for the bīja-akṣaras of the others (NakṣtrasGṛhas etc.), and in the outer circle place the bījas of the Bhūtas.

24. In the lotus placed amidst the circle, invoke the Supreme God. Having thus invoked His presence, offer Him Worship mentally in the manner prescribed by the Śāstras.

25-27. Contemplating the Supreme Soul as present in the seat (piṭha), offer Him water welcoming Him; then having obtained His permission and. making the ambulation by the right in an attitude of deferential worship, approach the fire-altar for the performance of the fire-oblations. In the place all round the fire-pit, mark out an outer circle one hasta (18 inches or a cubit) all round the fire-pit and do all else down to the complete formation of the circle. Then getting up Worship the Supreme God in the prescribed form.

28-30. Mentally worship God up to the presentation Añjana (face-mark) and then bring the mirror and present it. Then getting up from your seat take out a third of the cooked food (caru) in the vessel, and, having offered it first, then present to God whatever has been collected of food and other eatables (bhakṣya and bhojya). Protecting yourself in due form right up to the offer of a handful of flowers, and, obtaining permission, perform the fire oblation beginning with the placing of the sticks (to mark the fire-altar). In the middle of the fire invoke the God in the lotus by the tejo-mantra.

31. Then offering worship and then making the fire-oblation with sticks, and then bringing the new spoon (for fire-service), perform with the Pīṭha-mantra the pouring (of ghee) in one continuous flow.

32. Then again offer the ghee oblation by means of dharvi (improvised leaf spoon) fifteen times with the Parama-haṃsa mantra. In this manner let the teacher (Guru) make a thousand ghee oblations.

33. First make a hundred oblations each by the mantra, then by the Pañcopaniṣad-mantra; then the Śakti-mantra; then Mūrti-mantra, then Mūrtipāla-mantra and again by the Śakti-mantra.

34. By the Akṣa-mantra, etc., offer the ghee oblation ten times. Having in this manner made the fire burn and sprinkling water round it, bring the disciple outside into the circle (maṇḍala).

35-36. From the cooked food taking out a little, three times each, from the navel, the heart and the crown of the head, the teacher (guru), being seated to the. west of the fire and sprinkling it over three times with water, give it to the disciple with the mantra Puruṣātma. The disciple should then and there, eat food consecrated to Viṣṇu in great humility.

37. Having eaten and then taken the holy sip suitable to the occasion, the disciple should get close to the teacher. The teacher should give him the toothstick (danta-dhāvana) with the Guṇa-mantra (guṇenaiva).

38. In the evening give him, when ready washed and taken the holy sip, the protection with the Tie up at the fore-end of the hand a string of three strands made holy with due incantation.

39-40. Having touched him with the make him sleep over a bed spread with darbha grass, having touched his eyes with Rūpamantra for the obtaining of the dream, and, asking him to keep watchful (for the coming dream), he should sit up awake along with a number of Dīkṣitas diverting them with stories relating to Viṣṇu.

41. Thus the teacher shall spend the night without sleep. If he is physically unable, let him deliver the God into the circle containing the fire-alter.

42-43. Having got up in the morning and after full bath, body purified by the use of the proper mantras, he must give up the place he made use of the previous day, and prepare a new circle as before. Then he should call up the novitiate, and, after giving him the bath etc. and making him again pure by the use of the mantras, make the fire oblations as was done before.

44. Having covered the face of the novitiate with a cloth, he should take him by the hand, and enter the circle by the doorway intended for his own use.

45-46. Taking him round by the right he should make him offer obeisance to the Guardians of the Directions. Whatever flower among the flowers he touches by accident in the act of obeisance, that shall be his flower, and the mantra proper to that deity shall be his mantra for his protection and prosperity. Now taking off the blind, he should show him the Cakramaṇḍala.

47. Then explain to him, in due order and in the appropriate division, the tattvas (elements or principles). Then order him to contemplate, having thus understood the true nature of the principles.

48. With the highest devotion make him give himself up and all that belongs to him. Similarly, let him give up the gems, the jewels, and the clothing.

49. Make him give free gifts of love, and adopt the discipline (vrata) of a devotee of Viṣṇu. Then grant him full permission for the performance of all acts of worship of God.

50. Make him hear the teaching and the secrets coming in unbroken succession. Even in the same manner initiate all others as well.

51. In case of evil dreams, or, if other portents of evil should appear, then make one hundred oblations in the fire with the Pañcopaniṣadmantra.

52. The teacher may, with easier ceremonies, consecrate a disciple of his, possessed of learning, lineage and discipline in religion (tapas).

53. Dismissing the disciple, sending out the Supreme God from the space up to the border of the maṇḍala (circle), and leaving in God invoked in the midst of the fire-altar clear all other space of everything.

54. Whichever of his disciples, possessed of the necessary qualities, the teacher (ācārya) wishes to install as ācārya, let him (the chosen disciple) be anointed by one versed in the mantra in the manner prescribed below.

55. Make 12 pots filled with sandal, flowers, fruits, milk, fine paddy (śāli), black pulse (māṣa) barley and other grains, and put into them gems, minerals and gold.

56. Fill them with clean holy water, and then set them up in the different directions, adorned with sandal and flowers in the prescribed order, with the mūrti-mantra.

57-58. Then seating, face to the East, the disciple who has been already initiated according to the rites prescribed in the tantra (Sāstra or science), who is interested, disciplined, learned and free from greed, let the Ācārya (teacher) facing east, worship mentally the Lord God invoked in the seat, and then intimate Him what he intended doing.

59. Having obtained permission, the Ācārya (Guru) being seated and having the pots brought to him with the proper mantras, should pour the water over the head of the disciple in the order of creation (Sṛṣṭi-krama).

60. Having finished the ablution with all the pots of water, let the Ācārya himself give him his seat (bṛsi). The disciple shall, on the other hand, take his seat, silent and humble, upon it after having taken clean clothing.

61. The Ācārya should then give him the Cakra (make the mark of the discus,) and then grant him the upper cloth (Yoga paṭṭakam, worn across the chest from the left shoulder). He shall then say “Become preceptor in the Vaiṣṇava-tantra (the science of Pāñcarātra), and remain beloved of all created beings”.

62. May disciples come to you. Conduct yourself with them in accordance with the Śāstra. Do not conduct yourself towards them as a greedy man, nor show desire or fear in your conduct.

63-64. “Be always mindful of God as taught in the Pāñcarātra”. Having been thus instructed, let the disciple get up, go round the teacher keeping him to the right, place him on a seat, and then wash his feet with water. Let him sprinkle the water from the teacher’s feet over his own head with humility and devotion.

65-67A. Let the disciple please the Guru with presents of money, to the extent of his means and devotion. Whatever the disciple gives his Guru, be it gold, vehicle, land, clothing, the Lord of Gods is well pleased with that. “I am now seeking refuge with you, and place my body and wealth at your disposal”. So saying let him fall prostrate at the Guru’s feet in obeisance,

67B-70. “O, Lovely one, may you prosper in life and in wealth”. So saying let the Guru dismiss the pupil with affection. That disciple who gained his initiation at the of Viṣṇu, pleases his Guru with folded hands by gift of money. Having thus pleased him, let him take hold of the Guru's feet in his own hands, let him pray for permission to worship the God of Gods, Let the Guru then declare “I permit you to offer worship to God”

71. Having obtained permission, the disciple, who has now been initiated in the mantra, shall worship the Supreme Lord. It is only by worshipping in this manner that one obtains the benefit of worship.

72. Whoever performs worship without the permission of his Ācārya the God of Gods is not pleased with his worship in the least.

73. Therefore seeing God shown to him by his teacher, in the middle of the Maṇḍala and having gained the Guru’s permission, let him, the disciple, worship the Supreme God.

74. One who thus grants the Vaiṣṇava dīkṣā, and one who causes another to grant it, both of them go to Heaven (Svarga). He who declines to grant it shall go to Hell.

75. Whoever grants the Viṣṇu dīkṣā out of sheer love of money, to one who, though seeking, has no faith in it, that Guru becomes one fallen from righteousness.

76. Whoever, in ignorance, deals contemptuously with the Guru (teacher) who is an acknowledged initiate, he should be regarded as fallen from the path of the Śāstra (tantra). The granting of dīkṣā to him is of no benefit.

77. As soon as the dīkṣā-ceremonies are over, all the things used therefor should be deposited in a large body of water. Otherwise they should be buried in clean earth away from the footpaths.

78-82. First having made the maṇḍala (circle), then performing the fire-oblations with mantras in due order, having given the cooked food, leading him, then giving him the tooth-stick for use, making him sleep in the Cakra—maṇḍala, having had him dream, having remained fasting the next day, having drawn the whole maṇḍala again on the day following, entering it after incantation and fire-oblations, with mantra at sunset, and then revoking everything, proceed the next morning to a holy bathing place for the closing bath; There get devoted Brahmans pronounce their benediction after doing everything to please them. This is, in due order, the series of rites for the granting of the dīkṣā. What shall I expound next for the good of the devoted, O, Kamalāsana!

In the Parama Saṃhitā of the the Eighth Chapter, entitled Dīkṣā.