By His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Founder-acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
Lecture given in Toronto, Canada on June 18, 1976

Our Inability to secure the complete happiness we all week points to our diseased condition (an initiation lecture.)


The Sanskrit word for initiation is diksha. As stated in an authoritative Vedic dictionary, divya jnanam kshapayati iti diksha: Diksha means to expand or reveal transcendental knowledge.”

There are two kinds of knowledge: transcendental (divya) and mundane. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam (5.5.1) Lord Rishabhadeva tells His sons,

nayam deho deha-bhajam nriloke
kashtan kaman arhate vid-bhujam ye
tapo divyam putraka yena sattvam
shudhyed yasmad brahma-saukhyam tv anantam

“My dear boys, of all the living entities who have accepted material bodies in this world, one who has been awarded this human form should not work hard day and night simply for sense gratification, which is available even for dogs and hogs that eat stool. One should engage in penance and austerity to attain the divine position of devotional service. By such activity, one’s heart is purified, and when one attains this position, he attains eternal, blissful life, which is transcendental to material happiness and which continues forever.”

Rishabhadeva is the father of Maharaja Bharata, under whose name this planet is called Bharatavarsha. Formerly, the whole planet was called Bharatavarsha. Before that it was known as Ilavritavarsha. Maharaja Bharata was the eldest son of Rishabhadeva, an incarnation of God. Before retiring and making Bharata Maharaja the emperor of the world, Rishabhadeva advised His one hundred sons. That is the duty of the father. Generally, we do that also. Before retirement, the father gives instructions on how to rule over the kingdom or manage the business.

Retirement was compulsory in Vedic culture. It was not that unless the father is shot dead he’s not going to retire. No. That was not Vedic civilization. At the present moment there is no Vedic civilization. Nobody is going to retire unless he’s shot dead. But Vedic civilization was not like that. Retirement was compulsory. There are four spiritual orders in life: brahmachari (celibate student life), grihastha (married life), vanaprastha (retirement), and sannyasa (renunciation).

Human life is meant for spiritual realization, and sense gratification is animal life. This meeting here today is for human beings, not for cats and dogs. They cannot come here, nor will they understand what is going on here. A human being has the chance to understand the philosophy of life as it was enunciated by Rishabhadeva.

Everyone has a body. Lord Brahma has a body, and the small insect has a body. The spirit soul is encaged in the material body. There are many forms of life.

Rishabhadeva said, “Now that you have the human form of life, don’t spoil it like the hogs and dogs simply for sense gratification.”

Sense gratification is available to the hogs and dogs. That was the instruction of Rishabhadeva. And what is the duty of human life? Tapasya – voluntarily accepting some inconvenience for spiritual advancement.

The Need for Self-control

In the Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.5.11) the sage Narada says, loke vyavayamisha-madya-seva nitya hi jantoh: ” In this material world the conditioned soul is always inclined to sex, meat-eating, and intoxication.”

Amisha means meat-, fish-, egg-eating. It is the general tendency of the living being to eat meat. That is the general law of nature. Jivo jivasya jivanam: one living entity is the life for another living entity. The four-legged animals are food for the two-legged animals. As long we remain like two-legged animals, then there is the necessity of eating meat – and taking intoxication and having sex. That is the general tendency. But when one gives these up voluntarily for a higher status of life, that is called nivritti-marga. Pravritti-marga and nivritti-marga. Pravritti-marga means to fulfill the desires for meat-eating, intoxication, and sex. But when one is trained to give up these habits, that is called nirvrtti-marga. We have many pravrittis, or inclinations. But when we voluntarily give up all these nonsense habits, that is called nivritti-marga and tapasya.

Human life is meant for tapasya. Don’t be carried away by the general, menial, abominable tendencies. Tapasya is required. For tapasya, we prescribe no illicit sex, no meat-eating, no intoxication, and no gambling. We have to accept these prohibitions if we want a superior position of life. The aim of tapasya is to be situated on the transcendental platform of knowledge, tapo divyam. This human form of life is meant for tapasya and transcendental knowledge. That is the purport – not to waste this human form of life.

Analyze the body of a dog and analyze your body. What is the difference? No difference. There is blood, there is flesh, there are veins. There are so many things in common. Then what is the difference between the cat’s body and the dog’s body and your body? The human body affords opportunity for advancement in knowledge and consciousness.

For divyam jnanam – transcendental knowledge – one has to be initiated. Diksha means the beginning of transcendental knowledge.

According to Vedic civilization, everyone is born a shudra, a fourth-class man. But there is opportunity for the fourth-class man to become the first-class man. That is possible. Janmana jayate shudrah: everyone born by sexual intercourse of the father and mother is a shudra. Then: samskarad-bhaved dvija. By samskara, by the purificatory method or by tapasya, one becomes a dvija. Dvi means “twice,” and ja means “birth.” Second birth. One who becomes dvija, properly initiated, is allowed to read the Vedic literature. Veda-patha. If you remain a shudra, with no samskara, no purification, then you have no right to understand Vedic knowledge. Either you have no right or you cannot understand. Throughout the world, everyone knows Bhagavad-gita, but they have misunderstood it because they are kept as shudras.

When purified, one becomes dvija and receives the sacred thread. That is called upanayana. Upa means “near,” and nayana means “bringing.” When one is brought nearer to the spiritual master who accepts him as his disciple, the spiritual master gives the sacred thread as a kind of badge: “This man is now dvija, twice-born. He’s no longer a shudra. He’s a brahmana. So he has the right to read the Vedic literature.”

The Bhagavad-gita is the summary of all Vedic knowledge. If we pass through the process of divya-jnana, by diksha, then we rightly understand what is Bhagavad-gita, or we become interested to know what is the lesson of Bhagavad-gita.

Bhagavad-gita is the summary of Vedic literature. You cannot read all the Vedas at the present moment, nor do you have the time or the capacity. In Kali-yuga, the current age, everyone is fallen.

Happiness by Purity

Human life should be utilized for understanding the Vedic knowledge, divya-jnana; then one will be purified. One’s existential identity will be purified. At the present moment it is not purified. Because it is not purified, we are repeatedly dying.

People have no knowledge of how to stop death. They think death is natural. It is not natural. It is unnatural. They do not know this. But in the Bhagavad-gita (2.20) you’ll get the information. Na jayate mriyate va kadacit: “The soul is never born and never dies.”

“I see he has died; he is dead.”

No. By seeing that the body is destroyed, don’t think the person is destroyed. He’ll get another body. Tatha dehantara-praptir dhiras tatra na muhyati (Gita 2.13).

This is our position. We have accepted one body, and we live in that body for some days, and then again we give up that body – tatha dehantara-praptir. This is a disease. To get out of this disease there is the need for tapasya.

Don’t think that initiation is something official, a ritualistic ceremony, and that as soon as I get the initiation, I become perfect and whatever nonsense I like I can do. No. Tapasya must continue. To purify yourself, your existence, you have to continue the tapasya – no illicit sex, no meat-eating, no gambling, no intoxication, and chant Hare Krishna. If you follow these five principles, then your existence will be purified. You’ll understand Krishna from the Bhagavad-gita, you’ll know Krishna, and you’ll know the purpose of life.

The purpose of life is to understand Krishna. There is no other business in the human form of life. But because we have given up Krishna, we have invented so many occupational duties. These so-called occupational duties – running here and there in a motorcar – are not the end of life. There is something more for the human being, and that is divya-jnana, transcendental knowledge.

Why should you purify your existence? Because you want happiness. That is your desire. You’ll get brahma-saukhyam, the greatest happiness, which will never end. If you purify your existence by tapasya, then you will be happy eternally. There will be no end. Here in the material world any happiness is temporary – either for five minutes or five days or five years or five hundred years or five million years. It will end. But if you purify your existence, then the happiness will never end.

Krishna consciousness is a very serious thing, and it is offered to the human being. Anyone can take advantage of this opportunity and make his life successful.

Thank you very much.