The question is often raised if one may begin to repeat a nama of one’s own choice, or must one be first initiated by a sadguru and assigned a specific nama which he should then repeat? Nama is self-existent and complete in itself, and needs nothing else to make it perfect. And yet, nama imparted by a sadguru certainly is something very special, distinctive, in that it is reinforced by his spiritual strength and support, and consequently there is no scope for pride of doership to rise in the sadhaka’s mind. When a sadhaka repeats nama imparted by a sadguru, he gradually develops a relish, a zest for it, and in due course, derives a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction. It is therefore highly desirable that nama should be obtained by initiation by a spiritual master, a sadguru. However, till we meet a sadguru we must keep on repeating the nama of our choice; for, this itself will expedite our meeting the sadguru.
It is, however, not easy to come across a sadguru, to recognize him, and to feel faith in him. Therefore we should, till then, steadfastly repeat the nama of our choice. It is common knowledge that ants don’t need to be invited to a lump of sugar; they like it and are themselves in search of it. Similarly, if you do what the saints like, namely, maintain constant awareness of God’s presence and keep up ceaseless repetition of His name, the sadguru will himself search you out and hasten to shower grace on you.
It may happen that the sadguru initiates you in the nama that coincides with your own choice; it is then possible that you may feel that the sadguru has given you nothing new, for you were already repeating the same nama. Now, being initiated by the sadguru has the distinctive merit that it precludes the rise of ego, for the sadhaka thereafter does nama-smarana at the sadguru’s behest, and not on his own. This elimination of ego is most important, for even a vestige of pride or ego may vitiate the very purpose of meditation, just as even a grain of salt suffices to turn a pailful of milk sour. It is therefore of the utmost importance completely to renounce pride of’ doership’.
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