diksha-purashcharya-vidhi apeksha na kare
jihva-sparshe a-candala sabare uddhare
"One does not have to undergo initiation or execute the activities required before initiation. One simply has to vibrate the holy name with his lips. Thus even a man in the lowest class [chandala] can be delivered.
Srila Jiva Gosvami explains diksha in his Bhakti-sandarbha (283):
divyam jnanam yato dadyat
kuryat papasya sankshayam
tasmad diksheti sa prokta
"Diksha is the process by which one can awaken his transcendental knowledge and vanquish all reactions caused by sinful activity. A person expert in the study of the revealed scriptures knows this process as diksha." The regulative principles of diksha are explained in the Hari-bhakti-vilasa (2.3,4) and in Bhakti-sandarbha (283). As stated:
dvijanam anupetanam svakarmadhyayanadishu
yathadhikaro nastiha syach chopanayanad anu
tathatradikshitanam tu mantra-devarchanadishu
nadhikaro 'styatah kuryad atmanam shiva-samstutam
"Even though born in a brahmana family, one cannot engage in Vedic rituals without being initiated and having a sacred thread. Although born in a brahmana family, one becomes a brahmana after initiation and the sacred thread ceremony. Unless one is initiated as a brahmana, he cannot worship the holy name properly."
According to the Vaishnava regulative principles, one must be initiated as a brahmana. The Hari-bhakti-vilasa (2.6) quotes the following injunction from the Vishnu-yamala:
kritam sarvam nirarthakam
"Unless one is initiated by a bona fide spiritual master, all his devotional activities are useless. A person who is not properly initiated can descend again into the animal species."
Hari-bhakti-vilasa (2.10) further quotes:
ato gurum pranamyaivam
sarva-svam vinivedya cha
grihinyad vaishnavam mantram
"It is the duty of every human being to surrender to a bona fide spiritual master. Giving him everything-body, mind and intelligence-one must take a Vaishnava initiation from him."
The Bhakti-sandarbha (298) gives the following quotation from the Tattva-sagara:
yatha kanchanatam yati
dvijatvam jayate nrinam
"By chemical manipulation, bell metal is turned into gold when touched by mercury; similarly, when a person is properly initiated, he can acquire the qualities of a brahmana."
The Hari-bhakti-vilasa (17.11,12) in discussing the purashcharya process, quotes the following verses from Agastya-samhita:
puja traikaliki nityam
japas tarpanam eva cha
homo brahmana-bhuktish cha
guror labdhasya mantrasya
purash chaitad vidhiyate
"In the morning, afternoon and evening, one should worship the Deity, chant the Hare Krishna mantra, offer oblations, perform a fire sacrifice, and feed the brahmanas. These five activities constitute purashcharya. To attain full success when taking initiation from the spiritual master, one should first perform these purashcharya processes."
The word purah means "before" and charya means "activities." Due to the necessity of these activities, we do not immediately initiate disciples in the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. For six months, a candidate for initiation must first attend arati and classes in the shastras, practice the regulative principles and associate with other devotees. When one is actually advanced in the purashcharya-vidhi, he is recommended by the local temple president for initiation. It is not that anyone can be suddenly initiated without meeting the requirements. When one is further advanced by chanting the Hare Krishna mantra sixteen rounds daily, following the regulative principles and attending classes, he receives the sacred thread (brahminical recognition) after the second six months.
In the Hari-bhakti-vilasa (17.4,5,7) it is stated:
vina yena na siddhah syan
mantro varsha-shatair api
kritena yena labhate
sadhako vanchitam phalam
mantro hi phala-dhayakah
atah purashkriyam kuryat
purashkriya hi mantranam
pradhanam viryam uchyate
virya-hino yatha dehi
sarva-karmasu na kshamah
tatha mantrah prakirtitah
"Without performing the purashcharya activities, one cannot become perfect even by chanting this mantra for hundreds of years. However, one who has undergone the purashcharya-vidhi process can attain success very easily. If one wishes to perfect his initiation, he must first undergo the purashcharya activities. The purashcharya process is the life-force by which one is successful in chanting the mantra. Without the life-force, one cannot do anything; similarly, without the life force of purashcharya-vidhi, no mantra can be perfected."
In his Bhakti-sandarbha (283), Srila Jiva Gosvami states:
yadyapi sri-bhagavata-mate pancharatradi-vat archana-margasya avashyakatvam nasti, tad vinapi sharanapattyadinam ekatarenapi purushartha-siddher abhihitatvat, tathapi sri-naradadi-vartmanusaradbhih sri-bhagavata saha sambandha-vishesham diksha-vidhanena sri-guru-carana-sampaditam chikirshadbhih kritayam dikshayam archanam avashyam kriyetaiva.
Of similar importance is diksha, which is explained as follows in Bhakti-sandarbha (284):
yadyapi svarupato nasti, tathapi prayah svabhavato dehadi-sambandhena kardaya-shilanam vikshipta-cittanam jananam tat-tat-sankochi-karanaya srimad-rishi-prabhritibhir atrarchana-marge kvachit kvachit kachit kachin maryada sthapitasti.
Similarly in the Ramarchana-chandrika it is stated:
vinaiva diksham viprendra
purashcharyam vinaiva hi
In other words, the chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra is so powerful that it does not depend on official initiation, but if one is initiated and engages in pancharatra-vidhi (Deity worship), his Krishna consciousness will awaken very soon, and his identification with the material world will be vanquished. The more one is freed from material identification, the more one can realize that the spirit soul is qualitatively as good as the Supreme Soul. At such a time, when one is situated on the absolute platform, he can understand that the holy name of the Lord and the Lord Himself are identical. At that stage of realization, the holy name of the Lord, the Hare Krishna mantra, cannot be identified with any material sound. If one accepts the Hare Krishna maha-mantra as a material vibration, he falls down. One should worship and chant the holy name of the Lord by accepting it as the Lord Himself. One should therefore be initiated properly according to revealed scriptures under the direction of a bona fide spiritual master. Although chanting the holy name is good for both the conditioned and liberated soul, it is especially beneficial to the conditioned soul because by chanting it one is liberated. When a person who chants the holy name is liberated, he attains the ultimate perfection by returning home, back to Godhead.
In the words of Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita (Adi 7.73):
krishna-mantra haite habe samsara-mochana
krishna-nama haite pabe krishnera charana
"Simply by chanting the holy name of Krishna one can obtain freedom from material existence. Indeed, simply by chanting the Hare Krishna mantra one will be able to see the lotus feet of the Lord."
The offenseless chanting of the holy name does not depend on the initiation process. Although initiation may depend on purashcharya or purashcharana, the actual chanting of the holy name does not depend on purashcharya-vidhi, or the regulative principles. If one chants the holy name once without committing an offense, he attains all success. During the chanting of the holy name, the tongue must work. Simply by chanting the holy name, one is immediately delivered. The tongue is sevonmukha-jihva—it is controlled by service. One whose tongue is engaged in tasting material things and also talking about them cannot use the tongue for absolute realization.
na bhaved grahyam indriyaih
sevonmukhe hi jihvadau
svayam eva sphuraty adah
According to Chaitanya-charitamrita (Madhya 17.134):
ataeva krishnera 'nama', 'deha', 'vilasa'
prakritendriya-grahya nahe, haya sva-prakasha
"With these material senses, one cannot understand the transcendental holy name of the Lord or His form, activities and pastimes. However, when one actually engages in devotional service, utilizing the tongue, the Lord is revealed."
anushanga-phale kare samsarera kshaya
chitta akarshiya karaya krishne premodaya
"By chanting the holy name of the Lord, one dissolves his entanglement in material activities. After this, one becomes very attracted to Krishna, and thus dormant love for Krishna is awakened.
akrishtih krita-chetasam sumanasam ucchatanam chamhasam
achandalam amuka-loka-sulabho vashyash cha mukti-shriyah
no diksham na cha sat-kriyam na cha purashcharyam manag ikshate
mantro 'yam rasana-sprig eva phalati sri-krishna-namatmakah
"'The holy name of Lord Krishna is an attractive feature for many saintly, liberal people. It is the annihilator of all sinful reactions and is so powerful that save for the dumb who cannot chant it, it is readily available to everyone, including the lowest type of man, the chandala. The holy name of Krishna is the controller of the opulence of liberation, and it is identical with Krishna. Simply by touching the holy name with one's tongue, immediate effects are produced. Chanting the holy name does not depend on initiation, pious activities or the purashcharya regulative principles generally observed before initiation. The holy name does not wait for all these activities. It is self-sufficient.'"
This verse is found in the Padyavali (29) by Srila Rupa Gosvami.
"ataeva yanra mukhe eka krishna-nama
sei ta' vaishnava, kariha tanhara sammana"
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu then finally advised, "One who is chanting the Hare Krishna mantra is understood to be a Vaishnava; therefore you should offer all respects to him."
In his Upadeshamrita, Srila Rupa Gosvami states: krishneti yasya giri tam manasadriyeta dikshasti chet. An advanced devotee should respect a person who has been initiated by a bona fide spiritual master and who is situated on the transcendental platform, chanting the holy name with faith and obeisances and following the instructions of the spiritual master. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura comments that serving Vaishnavas is most important for householders. Whether a Vaishnava is properly initiated or not is not a subject for consideration. One may be initiated and yet contaminated by the Mayavada philosophy, but a person who chants the holy name of the Lord offenselessly will not be so contaminated. A properly initiated Vaishnava may be imperfect, but one who chants the holy name of the Lord offenselessly is all-perfect. Although he may apparently be a neophyte, he still has to be considered a pure unalloyed Vaishnava. It is the duty of the householder to offer respects to such an unalloyed Vaishnava. This is Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's instruction.