Initiation

Initiation is the formal process in ISKCON for a guru to accept a disciple.

  • Harinam Initiation (also known as First Initiation)
  • Brahmana or Diksha Initiation (also known as Second Initiation)

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami requires all disciples and aspiring disciples to follow ISKCON law regarding initiation, which are contained in Chapter 7 of the ISKCON Law Book. Devotees should read and fully understand these laws. The GBC passes amendments to ISKCON law from time to time, such amendment resolutions can be found here. Notable resolutions are 2013/303 (GBC Statement on the Position of Srila Prabhupada), 2013/305 (Harmonizing ISKCON’s Lines of Authority” Paper Required Reading”) and 2013/306 (Amendment to Required Examination Prior to Accepting a Diksa-guru).


ISKCON Disciples Course

Guru Maharaj requires that all aspiring disciples take the ISKCON Disciples Course, as is required by ISKCON Law. Most major ISKCON temples around the world are now offering this course. Distance learning options are available here (Mayapur Institute) and here (Bhaktivedanta College).


Contact

All queries and documentation should be sent in the first instance to the Initiation Coordinator in your area. This is usually a senior disciple of Maharaj. If you are unsure who this is, please ask the local temple president.

Other questions can be sent to Atmarama Krishna Das by email: initiation [at] bhakticharuswami [dot] com.


Requesting Shelter

First Six Month Period
During the first six months of following the four regulative principles and chanting sixteen rounds daily, a new devotee who is aspiring for initiation should not commit himself to a particular initiating guru. Rather, he should chant Srila Prabhupada’s pranama-mantra and worship him as Founder-Acharya of ISKCON and as his siksa-guru.

At the end of the First Six Month Period, ask your local ISKCON temple or centre to administer the ISKCON Shelter Examination to you.

  • The examination should be administered in a controlled environment by a senior devotee and you should not have access to any books or resources when taking the examination.
  • You should prepare thoroughly by reading the examination paper, reading Srila Prabhupada’s books and planning your answers .
  • You should complete the exam to the best of your ability and write comprehensive answers based on ISKCON philosophy along with authorised shastric references.
  • There is no fixed time limit for the exam, but it should not take you more than sixty minutes to complete.

Second Six Month Period
After successfully completing the first six-month preparatory period, and after passing the required examination, you may choose Guru Maharaj as your future diksa-guru. You may request shelter (i.e. request to aspire to be a disciple) of Guru Maharaj by completing the Application for Shelter form online. After receiving permission from Guru Maharaj, and notifying the local Temple President, you should take shelter and begin to worship Guru Maharaj as your own spiritual master and chant Guru-Maharaj’s pranam-mantra. Actual initiation may take place only after a minimum six-month period from the date shelter was taken and the local Temple President notified.


First Initiation

If you have met the requirements of the One Year Preparatory Period (First Six-month Period, passed the examination, requested and received shelter, and Second Six-month Period) as per ISKCON law, you may apply for First Initiation by completing these documents and emailing them to the Initiation Coordinator for your area. Try to complete the application, questionnaire and essay electronically, but you may also scan and email hand-written forms if you wish.

  1. Recommendation Letter: Get a recommendation letter in this format from your local ISKCON temple president or recommending authority.
    • This letter should be prepared on the official letterhead of the temple/centre and should have the official stamp.
    • Scan and email this letter to your Initiation Coordinator no later than two weeks before the date of the initiation ceremony.
    • Also, bring the original letter with you to the initiation location and hand it to the Initiation Coordinator (keep a copy for your records).
    • The criteria for granting a recommendation letter may vary by location, but at a minimum they should meet the criteria stated in ISKCON law.
    • The contents of the letter should cover all of the points mentioned in the format provided, but may optionally provide further information too.
  2. Application: Complete the form.
  3. Questionnaire: Complete the questionnaire.
  4. Essay: Complete the essay.
  5. Photo: Your recent passport-style colour photo, light background, square 600 x 600 pixels in size. See http://goo.gl/Taug6 for picture guidelines and a cropping tool.

You must bring your original Recommendation Letter with you to the initiation location and hand it to the Initiation Coordinator. Also bring with you any of the other completed documents that you have not already emailed to us.

If you are not fluent in English, you may ask your local temple to translate these documents into your local language, but your answers must be given in English, Hindi or Bengali.

If you are in a remote location, do not have internet access, or have difficulty in using computers, you may seek assistance from the spiritual authority or temple president at your local ISKCON temple or anyone else that can help you. Ask them to scan and email these documents to us no later than two weeks before the initiation date. You should also bring these documents with you to the initiation location and submit them to the Initiation Coordinator.

Initiation Oath: On the day of the initiation ceremony, you will be given this Initiation Oath to complete and hand in.


Second Initiation

To be qualified to receive second initiation, a first-initiated devotee must have been steadily engaged in favorable devotional service, chanting sixteen rounds a day without fail, and strictly following the four regulative principles for a period of at least one year from the time of receiving first initiation. In addition, the candidate must have regularly attended a morning program, whether in a temple, preaching center, nama-hatta center, or at home. Additionally, Guru Maharaj requires that candidates must have completed the Bhakti Shastri course, which is taught at various ISKCON centres around the world.

A devotee who, after receiving first initiation, falls severely from the spiritual standard by neglecting or forsaking his initiation vows in a serious way or by rejecting the association of ISKCON devotees for a prolonged time, shall, after he returns to normal practice, be required to wait for at least two years before being given second initiation.

If you have met the requirements as per ISKCON law, you may apply for second initiation by completing these documents and emailing them to us. Try to complete the application electronically, but you may also scan and email hand-written forms if you wish.

  1. Recommendation Letter: Get a recommendation letter in this format from your local ISKCON temple president or recommending authority.
    • This letter should be prepared on the official letterhead of the temple/centre and should have the official stamp.
    • Scan and email this letter to your Initiation Coordinator no later than two weeks before the date of the initiation ceremony.
    • Also, bring the original letter with you to the initiation location and hand it to the Initiation Coordinator (keep a copy for your records).
    • The criteria for granting a recommendation letter may vary by location, but at a minimum they should meet the criteria stated in ISKCON law.
    • The contents of the letter should cover all of the points mentioned in the format provided, but may optionally provide further information too.
  2. Application: Complete the form.
  3. Photo: Your recent passport-style colour photo, light background, square 600 x 600 pixels in size. See http://goo.gl/Taug6 for picture guidelines and a cropping tool.