So this firm conviction is the beginning of initiation. The Bhagavad-gītā teaches this firm conviction gradually. And ultimately the Lord says, Kṛṣṇa says to Arjuna, sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja: (BG 18.66) "My dear Arjuna, you give up all other engagement. Just be engaged in My service or be engaged in executing My order." "Then what about other things?" Kṛṣṇa assures, ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo mokṣayiṣyāmi. If somebody thinks that "If I give up all other engagements and simply be engaged in Your service, to carry out Your order, then what about my other engagements? I have got so many other duties. I am engaged in my family affairs, I am engaged in my social affairs, I am engaged in my country's affairs, community affairs, so many things, my... Then what about those things?" Kṛṣṇa says that "That I will see, how you can do it properly." Just like Arjuna. Arjuna was a military man. So Kṛṣṇa said that "You give up all your engagements." That did not mean that Kṛṣṇa..., Arjuna gave up his engagement as a military man. To give up all other engagements means to give up the engagements of your sense gratification. Instead of... At the present moment, with all our activities we are trying to gratify our senses. That's all. And surrender to Kṛṣṇa means the beginning of satisfying the senses of Kṛṣṇa. That is called bhakti. This is the definition of bhakti. What is that bhakti? Sarvopādhi-vinirmuktaṁ tat-paratvena nirmalam (CC Madhya 19.170). One has to become free from all designations. So long we are in the material conditional life, we have got various designations—"I am Indian," "I am American," "I am Hindu," "I am Muslim," "I am Christian," "I am this," "I am that," so many designations, "I am nationalist," "I am Communist," "I am socialist," so many designations. So sarva-dharmān parityajya (BG 18.66), means you have to give up the designations. Sarvopādhi-vinirmuktam. Now I am thinking, "I am nationalist," "I am Communist," "I am American," "I am Indian." So I have to give up these designations. And what I have to think? There must be thinking. I am not stopping my thinking what I am. That is indicated in the Vedas. Ahaṁ brahmāsmi. That aham, my identity, is not lost, but at the present moment I am thinking that "I am this, I am that," but you have to think, you have to identify with Brahman, the Supreme Brahman. And when you identify with the Supreme Brahman, that is your liberated stage. Brahma-bhūtaḥ prasannātmā (BG 18.54). When you identify yourself with Brahman, then at once you become free from all these designative activities, prasannātmā: "Oh, I have no more any duty in this material world." In this way, when you make further progress,
- brahma-bhūtaḥ prasannātmā
- na śocati na kāṅkṣati
- samaḥ sarveṣu bhūteṣu
- mad-bhaktiṁ labhate parām
- (BG 18.54)
So when one, after being freed from all designation, when one is actually engaged in the activities of Brahman, that is called bhakti, or devotional service. So initiation means to be engaged in that Brahman activities. How Brahman activities? The same example can be cited, that Arjuna remained active, engaged in the battlefield, but in the beginning his identification was with his country, family, and so many other things. But later on, after understanding Bhagavad-gītā, he identified himself with Kṛṣṇa. This identification with Kṛṣṇa means beginning of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. So ādau śraddhā, when one becomes firmly convinced that "By becoming Kṛṣṇa conscious or being engaged in the transcendental loving service of Kṛṣṇa, my life is successful, life will be successful," that is the beginning of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, or initiation. It is a stage. We have to go further and further till the stage of perfection. But initiation is the beginning. Ādau śraddhā. When one is firmly convinced, then he makes association with the devotees. Just like we have got this society, International Society for Krishna Consciousness. We are picking up persons who desire to be Kṛṣṇa conscious. This is a society.
So firm conviction, then association. Ādau śraddhā tato sādhu-saṅga. Unless there is good association, you cannot be strong enough. In every field of activities you must have good association, either in business field, or if you want to be licentious, then you have to mix with persons who are drunkards. So association has got some strength. If you want to become scholars, then you have to associate with scholarly persons in the university. And if you want to be a thief, then you have to find out the association of the thieves. Similarly, if you want to be Kṛṣṇa conscious, then you have to find out persons who are Kṛṣṇa conscious. So firm conviction, then association. After association, the next stage is regulated life for following the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. This is called initiation. Or initiation from the very beginning. This is called dīkṣā. The Sanskrit term is called dīkṣā. Dīkṣā means... Di, divya-jñānam, transcendental knowledge, and kṣā, ikṣā. Ikṣā means darśana, to see, or kṣapayati, explain. That is called dīkṣā. Ādau śraddhā tato sādhu-saṅga. First faith, then association, then beginning of regulative principles. And if one follows, then the next promotion is to the stage of anartha-nivṛtti, disappearance of all misgivings. Just like in our association we don't allow four kinds of sinful activities: illicit sex life, nonvegetarian diet, intoxication, and gambling. So by following the regulative principles one becomes freed from all these sinful activities. He does not any more indulge in illicit sex life, he does not indulge in nonvegetarian diet, he does not indulge in intoxication and he does not indulge in gambling. That is called anartha-nivṛtti. Unless one is above these four kinds of anartha, or sinful activities, one cannot be fixed up. When one is free from these four kinds of sinful activities, then he becomes fixed up. Ruci. Niṣṭhā, fixed up, and then ruci. Ruci means he increases the taste. Then āsakti. Āsakti means attachment. Then ecstasy, bhāva. Then the last stage is that he becomes a lover of Kṛṣṇa, and that loving stage of Kṛṣṇa, there are different stages: śānta, dāsya, sakhya, vātsalya, mādhurya. The highest stage is the loving affairs between Kṛṣṇa and the gopīs. Of course, that is postgraduate stage of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, but that stage is considered to be the most perfectional stage, how to love Kṛṣṇa in the bhāva, or in the position, of a gopī.