Scriptural instructions for one of the supreme spiritual initiations

The following is excerpted from Dr. S. P. Sabharathnam’s translation of the Kamika Agama’s Uttara Pada, chapter 24

The eminent acharya should perform the jnana diksha for competent disciples through the perfect instruction on the essence-of-knowledge section of the Agamas. He should do this in the auspicious bright side of a lunar month, on an auspicious day and nakshatra and in an auspicious duration (muhurta), giving attention to all exacting rituals. Especially, he should perform this jnana diksha during the last phase of midnight. This jnana diksha should be done in a solitary place, a place not frequented by the people. 1-2

A Siva temple, the residence of the guru, a sakthi pitha, monastery, house, a sacred place frequented by saints—these are suitable locations for the performance of jnana diksha. The acharya may select any one of such auspicious places. The disciple, born in the lineage related to five gocaras (regions), should stay in his guru’s residence, contemplating the attainment of the essence-of-knowledge section of the Agamas. He may sit on a seat designed with darbha grass or tiger skin or on a seat made of wood based on the vastu mandala consisting of a 36-square grid. 3-4

The disciple should honor his guru seated on the yoga pitha, offering all kinds of services such as cleaning and others. He should adorn him with silken cloth and ornaments. Having worshiped him with sandal, flowers and such other substances, he should offer payasam (milk boiled with green gram and sugar), sweet cakes and tambula (betel leaf and areca nut) to him. Then he should worship the feet of the guru, with the accompaniment of sixteen kinds of offerings. 5-6

The most eminent acharya should perform jnana diksha, giving attention to specific aspects of this kind of diksha. The disciple should spontaneously come forward to surrender his body, wealth and prana to such a great guru. Without showing any sign of shyness, he should prostrate before the guru, casting himself down on the floor like a fallen long staff. To such a competent disciple, the acharya should give instructions on the essence-of-knowledge section (jnana pada). 7-8

The guru should place his right palm, holding fragrant flowers, on the head of the disciple. Then the compassionate guru should place his feet, which were worshiped before, on the head of the disciple. After this, he should give instruction on the eternal principles which are to be contemplated by the sadhaka, and which enable the sadhaka to be in a state of total absorption. The eternal principles are listed here. 9

Tattvarupa, the nature and function of the tattvas, is the first; tattvadarsana, knowing the dependent state of tattavas, is the second; tattvasuddhi (to be dissociated from the tattvas) is the third; atmalakshana, the state of the Self in which it takes cognizance of Pati, pashu and pasha (God, soul and world), is the fourth; atmadarsana, cognizance of the exact nature of the self, is the fifth; atmasuddhi, being immersed in the grace of the Lord, is the sixth; sivarupa, being motivated towards the attainment of Sivajnana, is the seventh; sivadarsana, the state in which Siva reveals Himself to the self, is the eighth; sivayoga, the state in which the self transcends the triple state (triputi: knower, known and the knowledge), is the ninth; sivabhoga, the state in which Siva grants the ineffable bliss to the Self by showing the exact path to the Self and himself seeing that path, is the tenth. 10-12

The impeccable knowledge of the three realities, Pati, pashu and pasha, is woven in these ten eternal principles which remain grouped in three sets. The first three constitute one set; the next three constitute the second set; the last four constitute the third set. By mere instruction of such principles done by the guru, the state of jivanmukti—being in a liberated state even while living as an embodied being­­—is fully unfolded with all its effulgence. Continued contemplation on these ten eternal principles is prescribed for those who are following the jnana marga (sanmarga or “direct path” to God). 13-14

This is the end of the 24th chapter, “Directions for the Performance of Jnana Diksha,” of the Uttara Kamika.

Dr. S. P. Sabharathnam Sivacharyar, of the Adisaiva priest lineage, is an expert in ancient Tamil and Sanskrit, specializing in the Vedas, Agamas and Silpa Shastras.