The Spiritual Path of the Kailasa Parampara
The Master Course
Those wishing to pursue spiritual life and soul evolution under the guidance of the Kailasa Paramapara begin with a program called "The Master Course Supervised Study". Its primary focus is to practice the Master Course teachings throughout the day. As the lessons explain in detail, it is this practical application of the spiritual teachings that moves you forward on the path. This five-part, 15-month program is followed five days a week, Monday through Friday. The study workbook encourages you to "Perform every task in ways that it advances you spiritually." Click here for more details about The Master Course
Taking Religious Vows, called Vratas
An important step on the sadhana marga is the making of a promise to observe certain practices in a strict manner. This step involves taking certain vows, religious oaths, or vratas. After completing the 15-month Supervised Study, a student preparing to become a member of Saiva Siddhanta Church reads our Saiva Dharma Shastras PDF book and takes four vratas to govern important areas of his or her life: ahimsa (noninjury), shakahara (vegetarian diet), Kailasa Parampara (allegiance to our spiritual lineage) and dashama bhaga vrata (tithing). These four vows, taken before God, Gods, guru, family and devotees, are designed to move the soul forward on the sadhana marga through the traditional stages of charya, kriya, yoga and jnana. Upholding these four vows, chaturvrata, builds discipline and character. After taking these vows the student is referred to as an "Arul Sishya." Which means the student is requesting to be sishya of the Kailasa Parampara and is in a "grace" period where they catch up any requirements they have not fulfilled yet. Ideally the vows are taken at a satsang with other members at which time they are entered into the extended family of one of the senior Kulapatis and Kulamatas. At this stage, Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami starts taking a more personal interest in getting to know the student who is, as an Arul Sishya, requesting to have him as their Satguru.
The nonviolence vow builds character through harnessing the instinctive tendency to harm others and replacing it with the soul quality of helping others. The vegetarian vow builds character through the control of appetite, which is the control of the instinctive mind. The lineage vow builds character through control of mental and philosophical ramification, which is control of the intellect. The tithing vow builds character through the control of money, which is the control of desire. All of this mastery of the forces of mind, body and emotion gives strength to face the future and perhaps, though there are no guarantees, to attain God Realization in this life. The Arul Sishya then begins another period of study in preparation to becoming a Vrata Sishya or full member, this is a six-month period during which the daily readings of the trilogy continue as the devotee works to complete their Maha Vasana Daha Tantra and further test their knowledge of Hindu philosophy.
After the preparation, if all qualifications have been met, the devotee takes two additional vows, which are the Saiva Shraddhadharana Vrata (the vow to uphold and preach the Saivite Creed) and the Nandinatha Sutra Vrata (the vow to uphold the 365 Nandinatha Sutras). The devotee is formally accepted as a disciple of Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami, and is a formal member of Saiva Siddhanta Church. Now the platform is strong for the initiations and spiritual practices that may follow for those who are ready.
Diksha, Spiritual Initiation
Karma, the flow of life, is regulated and brought under control through diksha, initiation, the placing of a special, life-changing, religious impression deep into the mind of the shishya. Dikshas catalyze and empower spiritual unfoldment, granting access to new areas of inner consciousness by enlivening the kundalini power in the initiate. After diksha, additional study begins. Diksha provides the spark to clear barriers. It is the satguru's blessing and inner sanction for further sadhana. Giving diksha may be likened to planting a seed. Fruition, growth and ripening come with time and naturally depend on the shishya's sincerity and personal effort to perform the sadhana given with the diksha, or to fulfill any assigned prayashchitta, penance, to compensate if the sadhana is not performed. In Saivism, diksha is the defining spiritual moment, the sought-after blessing and the inner awakening to life's most profound pursuits. The Church regards traditional dikshas as its central empowerments and ultimate teachings, and thus gives them rarely and only after the candidate has fully proven worthy.
The First Initiation
Mantra diksha, also called samaya diksha, is the fundamental Saivite initiation, for through it the devotee is formally connected to a particular lineage by virtue of the preceptor's spiritual power and authority. Sishyas are instructed in how to transform themselves by themselves through daily puja, temple worship, attending festivals, tithing, vegetarianism, pilgrimage, scriptural reading, Ganga Sadhana and more. Samaya diksha enters the shishya into the Nandinatha Sampradaya as a dikshashishya. Samaya diksha is also the blessing and empowering to enter the kriya pada and perform certain daily sadhanas, including chanting the Panchakshara Mantra, Aum Namah Sivaya, at least 108 times on a mala of rudraksha japa beads. This mantra quiets the mind, harmonizes the nerve system, bringing forth knowledge from within, reminding the shishya of his purpose in life and relationship with Lord Siva. Those who receive this initiation are "Diksha Sishya" members, who may, if they wish, enter into another period of study to prepare for the next initiation.
The Second Initiation
Vishesha diksha, "distinguishing initiation," marks the shishya's formal entrance into the Sri Subramuniya Rishi Gotra, our lineage's select assembly of followers, affectionately known as chelas. After this initiation, the devotee is obligated to personally, daily perform the Saiva Atmartha Puja, which, though perhaps performed before, now has new power. This worship is performed during the early morning, followed by scriptural study and 108 repetitions of the Panchakshara Mantra. The puja obligation of vishesha diksha is not fulfilled by attending the puja performed by the head of the house in the shrine room. Each member who has received this initiation performs the puja privately (the long, medium or short version) and attends the family puja as well. Vishesha diksha is also the empowering to perform yoga, to worship internally and undertake serious austerities. This diksha opens access into inner realms heretofore not accessible. After receiving this initiation, which is the highest for the grihastha community, the devotee is called a "Chela" which is a Sanskrit word that connoting, in this context "a close disciple who is working closely with the Satguru in the work of spiritual unfoldment." Chelas are guided directly from Kauai Aadheenam in the inner work of meditation, raja yoga, through the Shum language and guidance from the Satguru.