04 Relative importance of chanting and initiation
The chanting of the holy name does not depend upon initiation:
[Lord Caitanya to Satyaraja]: "One does not have to undergo initiation or execute the activities required before initiation. One simply has to vibrate the holy name with his lips. Thus even a man in the lowest class [candala] can be delivered."
In the Ramarcana−candrika it is stated:
vinaiva diksam viprendra purascaryam vinaiva hi
vinaiva nyasa−vidhina japa−matrena siddhida
In other words, the chanting of the Hare Krsna maha mantra is so powerful that it does not depend on official initiation
The offenseless chanting of the holy name does not depend on the initiation process. Although initiation may depend on purascarya or purascarana, the actual chanting of the holy name does not depend on purascarya−vidhi, or the regulative principles. If one chants the holy name once without committing an offense, he attains all success. Simply by chanting the holy name, one is immediately delivered.
– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Madhya lila 15.108
The holy name is self−sufficient:
"Simply by touching the holy name with one's tongue, immediate effects are produced. Chanting the holy name does not depend on initiation, pious activities or the purascarya regulative principles generally observed before initiation. The holy name does not wait for all these activities. It is self−sufficient.'"
– Padyavali (29), by Rupa Gosvami
– [cited: Sri Caitanya caritamrta Madhya lila 15.110]
Whether or not one is properly initiated, if he chants the holy name offenselessly, he is a pure Vaisnava and must be respected:
[Lord Caitanya to Satyaraja]: Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu then finally advised, "One who is chanting the Hare Krsna mantra is understood to be a Vaisnava; therefore you should offer all respects to him."
Srila Bhaktivinoda thakura comments that serving Vaisnavas is most important for householders. Whether a Vaisnava is properly initiated or not is not a subject for consideration. One may be initiated and yet contaminated by the Mayavada philosophy, but a person who chants the holy name of the Lord offenselessly will not be so contaminated. A properly initiated Vaisnava may be imperfect, but one who chants the holy name of the Lord offenselessly is all−perfect. Although he may apparently be a neophyte, he still has to be considered a pure unalloyed Vaisnava. It is the duty of the householder to offer respects to such an unalloyed Vaisnava. This is Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's instruction.
– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Madhya lila 15.111
Although chanting the holy name is sufficient for perfection, one should receive brahminical initiation for purification:
If one is interested in the process of arcana, one must positively take shelter of a bona fide spiritual master and learn the process from him. There are many books for arcana, especially Narada−pancaratra. In this age, the Pancaratra system is particularly recommended for arcana, Deity worship. There are two systems of arcana−the bhagavata system and pancaratriki system. In the Srimad−Bhagavatam there is no recommendation of pancaratriki worship because in this Kali−yuga, even without Deity worship, everything can be perfectly performed simply through hearing, chanting, remembering and worship of the lotus feet of the Lord. The special purpose of Deity worship is to keep oneself always pure and clean.Grhastha devotees should be actual examples of cleanliness.
Deity worship should be continued along with hearing and chanting. Therefore every mantra is preceded by the word namah. In all the mantras there are specific potencies, of which the grihastha devotees must take advantage. There are many mantras preceded by the word namah, but if one chants the holy name of the Lord, he receives the result of chanting namah many times. By chanting the holy name of the Lord, one can reach the platform of love of Godhead. One might ask, then what is the necessity of being initiated? The answer is that even though the chanting of the holy name is sufficient to enable one to progress in spiritual life to the standard of love of Godhead, one is nonetheless susceptible to contamination because of possessing a material body. Consequently, special stress is given to the arcana−vidhi. One should therefore regularly take advantage of both the bhagavata process and pancaratriki process.
– Srimad Bhagavatam 7.5.23−24
Although chanting of the holy name is complete in itself, initiation and Deity worship are still necessary for purification:
To chant the holy name of the Lord, one need not depend upon other paraphernalia, for one can immediately get all the desired results of connecting or linking with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It may therefore be questioned why there is a necessity for initiation or further spiritual activities in devotional service for one who engages in the chanting of the holy name of the Lord. The answer is that although it is correct that one who fully engages in chanting the holy name need not depend upon the process of initiation, generally a devotee is addicted to many abominable material habits due to material contamination from his previous life. In order to get quick relief from all these contaminations, it is required that one engage in the worship of the Lord in the temple. The worship of the Deity in the temple is essential to reduce one's restlessness due to the contaminations of conditional life. Thus Narada, in his Pancaratriki vidhi, and other great sages have sometimes stressed that since every conditioned soul has a bodily concept of life aimed at sense enjoyment, to restrict this sense enjoyment the rules and regulations for worshiping the Deity in the temple are essential. Srila Rupa Gosvami has described that the holy name of the Lord can be chanted by liberated souls, but almost all the souls we have to initiate are conditioned. It is advised that one chant the holy name of the Lord without offenses and according to the regulative principles, yet due to their past bad habits they violate these rules and regulations. Thus the regulative principles for worship of the Deity are also simultaneously essential.
– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Adi lila 7.76