Questions and Answers with Swami Shantananda  about the
Siddha Yoga Shaktipat Intensive

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What is Shaktipat-diksha ?

The experience of love for God and the longing to become one with God is innate in every soul. Deep within, every human being knows that greatness and joy awaits — if they could only discover how to find it. Shaktipat-diksha , initiation by Guru's grace, is the key that unlocks the greatness within.

In Sanskrit, shaktipat literally means the “descent of power” and diksha is initiation. On the Siddha Yoga path, shaktipat-diksha is an act of grace. It is the initiation by which the Siddha Yoga Guru, Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, transmits divine energy to an aspirant and awakens their Kundalini Shakti , the inner spiritual energy. Shaktipat initiation signals the beginning of Siddha Yoga sadhana , an inner journey that culminates in liberation — freedom from limiting energies and the realization of divinity as one's own Self.

What is the Siddha Yoga Shaktipat Intensive?

The Siddha Yoga Shaktipat Intensive is an event that serves as the primary vehicle through which Gurumayi Chidvilasananda bestows shaktipat-diksha.

The Shaktipat Intensive acts much like an ancient initiatory ceremony that provides an auspicious atmosphere for participants to receive, with reverence, the transmission of Guru’s grace. An important aspect of such an initiation is understanding the value of the awakened Kundalini Shakti and the need to nurture the expansion of this divine power through daily engagement with the Siddha Yoga teachings and practices. In the Shaktipat Intensive, participants receive the Siddha Yoga initiation mantra and are taught how to use the mantra to practice Siddha Yoga meditation. They also engage in chanting of the Divine Name and are given guidance on how to apply the Siddha Yoga teachings to their spiritual development.

Baba Muktananda created the Siddha Yoga Shaktipat Intensive. In 1973, during a series of meditation retreats in India, Baba developed what became the Intensive format. When he came to the United States in 1974, Baba further delineated this format and gave it a name. The first Siddha Yoga Shaktipat Intensive took place in Aspen, Colorado, from August 27 to August 30, 1974. Since then, Baba and Gurumayi have held hundreds of two-day and one-day Intensives around the world.

In 2006, Gurumayi made the Siddha Yoga Shaktipat Intensive held in October a yearly event in honor of Baba Muktananda’s Mahasamadhi, the anniversary when Baba—Gurumayi’s Guru—left his body, attaining final union with supreme Consciousness. After mahasamadhi, the shakti of an enlightened being continues to be ever-present and all-pervasive, uplifting the world and illuminating the lives of devotees. Baba’s Mahasamadhi is a favorable time to engage in spiritual practices such as participating in the Shaktipat Intensive, for such a sacred occasion enhances the power of one’s practices.

After receiving shaktipat initiation, does one continue to participate in Shaktipat Intensives?

The Shaktipat Intensive is both a sacred initiation and a precious opportunity to immerse yourself in spiritual practice in a grace-filled atmosphere. Through Gurumayi’s sankalpa, through her intention, the Intensive is a vehicle for the Guru’s anugraha-shakti, the grace-bestowing power that pervades every moment and every practice of the Shaktipat Intensive. Whether we are newcomers to the Siddha Yoga path or have been practicing for some time, in the Intensive we are held by grace. As we engage in spiritual practices during the Intensive, the practices begin to reveal the love, beauty, and greatness of the Truth that is our own Self.

Each Intensive you take gives further momentum to the original impulse initiated by shaktipat. Though the splendid power of grace at the heart of the Shaktipat Intensive may be ancient, it is ever fresh and it is rejuvenating. This has been the experience of many participants with each of the Intensives they’ve taken—each holds the same power and yet each is unique. With each Shaktipat Intensive, sadhana is strengthened and one’s awareness of the divine Self expands.

How can we prepare to participate in the Shaktipat Intensive?

One way is to participate in the Preparation for the Shaktipat Intensive. In this way, we follow the ancient practice in which seekers prepare their bodies and minds to receive the Guru’s grace. During this event, both newcomers and experienced Siddha Yogis engage in what Baba Muktananda called the four wheels of the Intensive: meditation, posture, breathing, and mantra. This preparation is important to create a disposition of receptivity, focus, and reverence towards the Guru’s anugraha-shakti and the Siddha Yoga teachings.

What I’d like to emphasize is that each element of the Shaktipat Intensive and the Preparation for the Shaktipat Intensive is energized by the Guru’s shakti and serves to support the purpose of the Intensive: to experience one’s own Self.

What would your advice be to someone taking their first Shaktipat Intensive?

Create space in the weeks leading up to the Shaktipat Intensive to prepare for this sacred event. Participate in the Preparation for the Shaktipat Intensive.

The experience of grace can happen at any time during the Shaktipat Intensive. So I would suggest that you be open and have no expectations about what form that grace will take. In fact, I can’t emphasize that enough. And I would give the same advice to anyone who is taking the Intensive again. Our role is to be present for grace to flow into our being. So in the Shaktipat Intensive, offer yourself to the moment. Focus on each element of the Intensive: when the time comes to meditate, meditate; when it’s time to chant, then chant; when a talk is given, listen to it attentively. All the practices of the Intensive will support your immersion in the nurturing grace that reveals the Truth.

What do participants experience during a Siddha Yoga Shaktipat Intensive?

Both tangible and mysterious, the effects of grace received in the Shaktipat Intensive can’t always be measured or anticipated. It could be that you enter into deep meditation, or that insights arise from within, or that a teaching speaks directly to your heart. At times, you could experience the sweetness of unconditional love, your mind might find genuine peace, or you could discover a new way to perform the spiritual practices. Sometimes people go through a remarkable breakthrough that changes their behavior from then onwards.

Whether your experience is subtle or dramatic, or even if you think you didn’t have an experience at all, just know that the effect of grace is observed over time and that this is true for everyone.

What happens after the Shaktipat Intensive?

What you experience in a Shaktipat Intensive carries over into your daily life. Afterwards, you might find that your daily meditation practice has progressed to a deeper level. You refine your ability to call forth the noble virtues — such as courage, kindness, strength, and compassion — through your words, thoughts, and actions. You might develop greater respect and love for yourself, and greater consideration of others. Or it might be that your love for God naturally manifests as love for your fellow human beings. This inner transformation allows the power of grace to bring ever-fresh revelations and insights.

For this transformation to become a reality, you have to integrate the power and teachings of the Shaktipat Intensive into your day-to-day life. And the way to do this is through steady engagement with the Siddha Yoga teachings and practices. The awakened power of grace then reveals the splendor of your own Self.

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Swami Shantananda

Swami ShantanandaCopyright SYDA FoundationSwami Shantananda began following the Siddha Yoga path in 1972. In 1977, he took monastic vows to become a Siddha Yoga Swami. Swami ji serves Gurumayi as a Siddha Yoga meditation teacher, teaching in Siddha Yoga workshops, courses, satsangs , Sadhana Retreats, and Shaktipat Intensives. He also serves as a member of the Siddha Yoga Teachings Council, which plans how the Siddha Yoga teachings will be presented on the Siddha Yoga path website and in global teaching learning events.

Swami Shantananda is the author of the book The Splendor of Recognition , an illuminating commentary on the Pratyabhijña-hrdayam , a key text of the philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism. Swami ji has also authored many of the letters and expositions featured on the Siddha Yoga path website. He has an extensive knowledge of the Indian scriptures, and his writing elucidates the teachings of these scriptures in a way that is accessible to contemporary seekers.