The Process of Initiation

The Process of Initiation


The ceremony of initiation in the Himalayan tradition involves certain traditionally established procedures. Because it is a turning point in a student’s life, the student is asked to purify himself/herself for at least a day prior to initiation. This is done by restricting oneself to a sattvic (pure) diet of vegetarian food and avoiding emotionally disturbing activities while cultivating serenity of the mind. The student then receives her/his mantra after bathing and dressing.

At the time of initiation itself, the student is asked to bring a gift of fruit and flowers along with the dakshina. These gifts are symbolic of the five sensed – rupa (sight), rasa (taste), sparsha (touch), shabda (sound), and indicate a student’s sincere intention not to renounce sensual enjoyment, but to subordinate it to the greater benefits of spiritual upliftment.

The student is asked to sit quietly and meditate for some time. Then she/he is led to a room where the initiator is engaged in meditation. The student and teacher meditate together briefly before the mantra is conferred. Generally the mantra is whispered into the student’s right ear, after which meditation is continued for a few more minutes. The ceremony ends with a blessing form the initiator to the student. This is a process of giving and sharing at the highest level. The student gives his/her trust and willingness to seek the truth and embark on the journey of self-discovery (sadhana). The teacher, through the grace of gurus, gives the mantra and commitment to help the student to grow spiritually.

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