It was 11th January, eighteen years ago, in 2003 when Jagrata & I took our diksha from our Guruji in the holy city of Varanasi, near the bank of the holy river – Ganga. It was a very chilly morning, with temperature hovering around 1°C when we bathed ourselves in cold water and got us ready for the diksha ceremony. The day was fixed before by our Guruji and we went to Varanasi from Jamshedpur for our diksha. Our Guruji stays in Varanasi. He had also made all the necessary arrangements for the rituals. We were then staying in the steel city of Jamshedpur.
Diksha is a ceremony of initiation and the entering of a religious order. It involves a guru giving a mantra to a disciple and having the disciple agreeing to follow a certain religious practice. The English word initiation derives from the Latin, initium: “entrance” or “beginning,” literally “a going in”. The related English verb, initiate, means to begin or start a particular action, event, circumstance, or happening.
Diksha is a one-on-one ceremony which is practiced in Indic religions such as Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism, as well as in the yogic tradition. It is believed that the process of diksha allows the disciple to blossom in their spiritual development. They are able to transcend the intellect and find their happiness in the ultimate quenching of their thirst for knowledge.
There are several possible origins of the term diksha. The word comes from the Sanskrit roots da, meaning “to give,” and ksi, meaning “to destroy.” Alternatively, it may be derived from the verb diks, meaning “to consecrate.” Finally, it can also be taken that di means “intellect,” and ksha means “the horizon” or “the end.” The idea behind this is that when the disciple is initiated by the guru, the mind of the guru and the mind of the student become one. Then the mind is transcended and the journey becomes one of the heart.
गुरु ब्रह्मा, गुरु विष्णु, गुरुर्देवो महेश्वरः।
गुरु साक्षात् परब्रह्म, तस्मैः श्री गुरवे नमः।।
During diksha, a Guru provides a disciple with a Guru Mantra. Guru Mantra, as the name indicates is a letter, a word or group of words that a Guru suggests to a student or Shishya when he/she is accepted as a disciple. The sole aim of the Guru Mantra is to control the senses and set the individual in the path of Brahman consciousness. The one who leads a spiritual aspirant from the darkness of ignorance to the effulgence of spiritual realization is the Guru.
That day was a memorable day for us having received our Guru Mantra and also the training for sandhyavandanam, a mandatory religious ritual that needs to be performed after taking diksha in Hindu dharma. The term, sandhyavandanam, is a Sanskrit compound consisting of sandhyā, meaning “union”, or more specifically the union or junctions of day and night which takes place in the morning or evening twilight, and vandanam meaning worship. In addition to dawn and dusk, noon is considered the third juncture of the day, and hence meditations and prayers are performed daily at those times.
It’s now been eighteen years that we are doing our sandhyavandanam regularly. It does give us some mental peace in the time of distress and otherwise. It gave us a new meaning to our life.
Incidentally, it was also our Guruji, who performed our marriage ceremony as per Vedic traditions, amidst chanting of Vedic mantras at Sarnath, near Varanasi, in 1991. Sarnath is the deer park where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dharmacakra Pravartana Sutra on the day of Guru Purnima, and where the Buddhist Sangha came into existence.
Dhyaana moolam guror murtih;
Pooja moolam guror padam;
Mantra moolam guror vakyam;
Moksha moolam guror kripa।।
“The Guru’s form should be meditated upon; the feet of the Guru should be worshipped; his words are to be treated as a sacred Mantra; his Grace ensures final liberation”.