I wanted to know the qualifications or qualities one should possess to get initiation in Shiva or Shakta agamas?
As regards caste, sex etc there are no such restrictions. Everyone can be initiated. Even an
Sankara or mixed caste person reserves the right to be initiated.
Shudra sankarajAti nAmAdi shuddhirvidhiyate |
PAdodak pradAnAdyaih kuryAt pApavimochanam ||
Primal purification is ordained for the Sudra and mixed-caste (Sankara-JAti); one is freed from sin by using the water with which the feet of the Guru are washed, by gifts etc.
This verse is talking about the fact that the Shudra and the SankarajAti person will be required to get specially purified before DikshA happens.
As regards women, they can not decide on their own. They need to take permission before getting initiated.
VidhavAyAh sutAdeshAt kanyAyAh pitur AjyayA |
NAdhikArah swato nAryA bhAryAyA bharturAjyayA ||
The competence of the widow for DikshA is subject to the consent of the son; of the daughter to the father's, of the wife to the husband's; a woman has no right of her own for getting DikshA.
KulArnava Tantram verses 103 and 105 from Chapter 14.
Also, there is a system where the Guru and Shisya test each other before getting initiated. And, a Brahmin disciple is required to be tested for one year before he is deemed as qualified (Yogya). For the other three castes, the time periods are two years, three years and four years respectively. This is mentioned in another verse of the same chapter.
Moreover, there are several qualities that make a person a SatShishya or a good disciple. A Guru is obviously supposed to reject a bad disciple.
Some good qualities that aspiring disciples must have are as follows:
The disciple chosen shall be one who is endowed with auspicious features; given to sAdhana that leads to samAdhi; of good qualities and culture; clean body and apparel; wise; devoted to Dharma; pure of mind; steady in observances; of truthful practice; gifted with faith and devotion; diligient; sparsely eating; deep-thoughted; serving without motive; scrutinising; heroic; free from poverty of mind; skillful in all action; clean; obliging to all; grateful; afraid of sin; approved of the holy and good; believer in God; liberal; engaged in the good of all creatures. He shall be one who has trust and modesty; who is not given to deceive in matters related to wealth, body etc; achieves the impossible; is brave, enthusiastic and strong; engaged in favourable activities; not intoxicated; able, helpful, truthful, limited in smiling and speech; not given to blaming others; who grasps what is said but once; clever; expansive in intelligence; averse to listen to his own praise and genial to others' criticism of himself; intelligent; celibate; free from worry, disease, fickleness, fickleness, grief, delusion and doubt.
From KulArnava Tantram's Chapter 13.
There are actually many such bad qualities given in this chapter plus many bad ones. I have selected few good qualities among them. Also, omitted the Sanskrit Slokas as there are too many to transliterate.
ATTRIBUTES OF THE DISCIPLE (SHISHYA LAKSHANA)
Just as tantra lays down great standards for the Guru and prescribes divine attributes, it also prescribes the attributes of a shiShya. The competent guru should first examine an aspirant for the existence of the prescribed attributes and only then proceed to initiate him/her. In the matters of choosing a disciple, though the guru is endowed with unlimited freedom (sarvasvatantra), seldom does the guru transgress the laid down rule to initiate someone, unless, there divine indications. Further, tantra also strictly prohibits initiation of shishyas with certain qualities.
First let us see the lakShaNa-s of shiShya-s who qualify for dIkSha. KularNava details the attributes of aspirants who are fit to receive dIkShA from the competent guru.
sacchiShyam tu kuleshAni shubhalakShaNasaMyutam | samAdhisAdhanopetaM guNashIlasamanvitam ||
O kuleshAni ! (the guru should accept as his shiShya, only a person who) he is a true disciple, endowed with auspicious features with regard to the sAmudrikA lakShaNa and who is endowed with the capacity to enter into samAdhi and who possesses good qualities and character,
svacchadehAmbaraM prAjnaM dhArmIkaM shuddhamAnasam | dRDhavrataM
sadAcAraM shraddhAbhaktisamanvitam ||
who maintains cleanliness of body and dress, who is wise, possessed of righteous thoughts and purity of mind, who is steadfast in the observance of religious rites, who has good conduct and is gifted with faith and devotion,
dakShamalpAshinaM gUDhacittaM nirvyAjasevakam | vimRshyakAriNaM vIraM manodAridryavarjItam ||
who is competent, eats less (i.e. eats to live and does not live to eat J), who has the capacity to think deep, renders service without any expectations, capable of examining things, who is adept, and who is devoid of impoverished mind,
sarvakAryAtikushalaM svacchaM sarvopakAriNam | kRtajnaM pApabhItaM ca sAdhusajjanasammatam ||
who is skillful in all the works, clean, and helpful to everyone, knows what is right, afraid of committing sins, and who has the approval of the holy and good people,
AstikaM dAnashIlaM ca sarvabhUtahite ratam | vishvAsavinayopetaM dhanadehAdyavancakam ||
who has faith in god, charitable, devoted to being kind to all creatures, who is trustworthy, and endowed with humility, and who is not deceitful in regard to personal matters and wealth,
asAdhyasAdhakaM shUramutsAhabalasaMyutam | anukUlaM
kriyAyuktamapramattaM vicakShaNam ||
who is capable of achieving the impossible, valorous, cheerful, strong, pliable, active, attentive and clear sighted,
hitasatyamitasmerabhAShaNaM muktadUShaNam | sakRduktagRhAtArthaM caturaM buddhivistaram ||
who is a person of few words, ie speaks less to preserve the truth (like satyAya mitabhAShiNAM…... raghuvamsha) with a pleasing countenance / smile, who is free from blames, who is capable of grasping anything uttered even once, who is clever and possesses high degree of intelligence,
svastutau paranindAyAM vimukhaM sumukhaM priye | jitendriyaM susantuShTaM dhImantaM brahmacAriNam ||
who treats criticisms and praises alike, who has control of his senses, contented, learned, and who is in the pursuit of knowledge of Brahman is fit to be a disciple in this mArga.
gurudhyAnastutikathA devArcAvandanotsukam ||
who is free from worry and anxiety, disease, unsteadiness, grief, delusion & doubt, who takes interest in the meditation on the guru and eulogizing him and in the worship of deities
gurudaivatasambhaktaM kAminIpUjakaM param | nityaM gurusamIpasthaM gurusantoShakArakam ||
who is a devotee of the guru and devata, who is a worshipper of shakti, who is always by the side of the guru and makes him happy.
manovAktanubhirnItyaM paricaryA samudyatam | gurvAjnApAlakaM devi gurukIrtiprakAshakam ||
who is engaged in attending to the guru by mind, words and deeds and who obeys the orders of the guru, and who spreads the glory of the guru,
guruvAkyapramANajnaM gurushushrUShaNe ratam | cittAnuvartInaM preShyakAriNaM kulanAyike ||
who knows that the guru’s words are pramANa (authority) for shastra, who is given to the service of guru, whose action follows the mind of the guru, who functions as the guru’s servant, O kulanAyike !
jAtimAnadhane garvavarjitaM gurusannidhau | nirapekShaM gurudravye tatprasAdAbhikAGkShiNam ||
who in the presence of the guru, does not pride upon his class, honour or wealth, does not covet the guru’s wealth and always in expectation of the blessings of the guru
kuladharmakathAyogi yoginIkaulikapriyam | kulArcanAdinirataM kuladravyAjugupsakam ||
who is fond of recital of kuladharma, who is a favourite of yogis, yoginis and kaulikas, who is devoted to kula worship and who is not averse to the kuladravyas,
japadhyAnAdinirataM mokShamArgAbhikAGkShiNam | kulashAstrapriyaM devi pashushAstraparAGmukham |
who is devoted to japa, meditation and who is eager to know about the path to salvation, who is fond of kulashAstra and who shuns pashushAstra.
ityAdilakShaNopetaM guruH shiShyaM parigrahet ||
A guru should accept only a person endowed with the above qualities, as his shiShya.
vipraH saDguNayuktashcedabhakto na prashasyate | mleccho'pi guNahIno'pi bhaktimAn shiShya ucyate ||
gurubhaktivihInasya tapo vidyA kulaM vratam | sarvaM nashyati tatraiva bhUShaNaM lokaraJjanam ||
dharmArthakAmaiH kintasya mokSha eva kare sthitaH | sarvArthaiH shrIgurau devi yasya bhaktiH sadA sthirA ||
A mleccha is considered a shiShya who even if devoid of good qualities but is devoted to the guru where as a learned Brahmin who, even if possessing good qualities but devoid of devotion to the guru, is lower in stature.
Penance, knowledge, lineage and austerities, ornaments and stature everything perish for a disciple who is devoid of devotion to the guru
Of what use are the puruShArtha-s or all the wealth of the world when salvation itself is in his hands, right before him who has unshakeable devotion to the guru
sa shivo gururUpeNa bhuktimuktiprado mama | iti bhaktyA smared yastu tasya siddhiradUrataH ||
yasya deve parA bhaktiryathA deve tathA gurau | tasya te kathitA hyarthAH prakAshante kuleshvari ||
lakShmInArAyaNau vANIdhAtArau girijAshivau | shrIguruM gurupatnIJca pitarAviti cintayet ||
“He is verily lord shiva, who bestows on me bhukti and mukti in the guru’s form” For a disciple who remembers this with devotion, the siddhis or accomplishments are not far away !
A disciple who has supreme devotion in the devata as also in the guru is enlightened with the esoteric knowledge of the shAstra.
Like the divine couples lakShmi-nArAyaNa, vAni-vidhAtA, girijA-shiva, the guru and the gurupatni should be considered as one’s own parents.
gurubhaktyA yathA devi prApyante sarvasiddhayaH | yajJaH dAnatapastIrthavratAdyairna tathA priye ||
shrIgurau nishcalA bhaktirvarddhate hi yathA yathA | tathA tathAsya vijJAnaM varddhate kulanAyike ||
A sacrifice or charity or penance or pilgrimage or austere practices can never be a match for gurubhakti with which a disciple easily attains all the siddhis.
Even as the unshakeable bhakti to the guru increases in a disciple, his knowledge also grows accordingly o! kulanAyike
shrInAthacaraNAmbhojaM yasyAM dishi virAjate | tasyAM dishi namaskuryAt bhaktyA pratidinaM priye ||
A disciple should, with great devotion prostrate daily towards the direction in which the shrI guru resides. Here I would like to mention that the disciple is duty bound to visit the guru daily if he resides at place near his guru and at specific intervals with reference to the distance from the guru. Notwithstanding anything as above, the shiShyA is required to daily prostrate towards the direction of the guru, face that direction and do his nityanuShTAna-s.
na pAdukAparo mantro na devaH shrIguroH paraH | na hi shAktAt parA dIkShA na puNyaM kulapUjanAt ||
There is no greater mantra than the pAdukA and there is no greater deity than one’s guru, there is no greater dIkShA than the ShAkta and no greater virtue than the kulapUjA
dhyAnamUlaM gurormUrtIH pUjAmUlaM guroH padam | mantramUlaM gurorvAkyaM mokShamUlaM guroH kRpA ||
gurumUlAH kriyAH sarvA loke'smin kulanAyike | tasmAt sevyo gurunItyaM siddhyarthaM bhaktisaMyutaiH ||
sarvasiddhiphalopeto mantraH shudhyati shobhanaH | guruprasAdamUlo'yaM paratattvamahAkramaH ||
The guru is the root for everything: his physical form is the root for meditation his lotus feet are the root for worship, the words uttered by him form the root of mantra and his blessings and compassion is the root for salvation.
O! kulanayike, in this world, the root of all actions is the guru. Hence, for the sake of final emancipation, the guru should be worshipped with devotion.
The guru’s blessings alone form the root of the auspicious mantra endowed with all the siddhis that leads to the supreme reality.
yathA dadAti santuShTaH prasanno varado manum | tathA bhaktyA dhanaiH prANairguruM yatnena toShayet ||
yadA dadyAt svashiShyAya svAtmAnaM deshikottamaH | tadA mukto bhavecchiShyastato nAsti punarbhavaH ||
tAvadArAdhayecchiShyaH prasanno'sau yadA bhavet | gurau prasanne shiShyasya sadyaH pApakShayo bhavet ||
The guru when pleased and satisfied with the shiShya initiates him. The disciple should in turn, please the guru with devotion, wealth and his own life.
At the very moment when the guru offers himself to the shiShya he escapes from the cycles of birth and death. It should be understood that by way of dIkShA, the guru installs his own chaitanya inside the disciple. The shiShya is expected to identify himself/herself with the guru totally.
A disciple should worship the guru and please him with his devotion. When the guru is pleased, the disciple’s sins are annihilated.
manasApi na kAGkShante yAn kAmAnanujIvinaH | sampAdayanti tAn sarvAn svAmino bhaktavatsalAH ||
brahmaviShNumaheshAdidevatAmuniyoginaH | kurvantyanugrahaM tuShTA gurau tuShTe na saMshayaH ||
The devoted disciple of the shrIguru gets all his desires fulfilled, even those which he would not have even dreamt of. DevatA-s like Brahma, viShNu & mahesha and the great sages are no doubt pleased and bless the disciple when his guru is pleased with him