Shraddha means faith in what the Guru or the Vedanta says.
Shraddha is the source of all fulfilment; Shraddha is the cause of genuine knowledge. For truth, knowledge and Shraddha mean the same thing.
So you see, the disciple who has faith in Guru and Mantra does have his Mantra vitalised, irrespective of the quality of his Guru. While Gurus may be found in lakhs, scarcely can a true disciple be met with.
Lord Siva says:
Gurureva Shivah proktah soham devi na samsayah
Guru stvamapi Deveshi mantra-o-pi Guru ruchyate.
The only Guru is Siva, I am that Shiva. Oh Goddess!
You too are Guru, the Mantra also is Guru.
In another Mantra you have:
Mantra data Guruh Prokto Mantro hi Paramo Guruh
Parapara Gurustvum hi Paramesthi Gurustwaham
He who gives Mantra is Guru. Mantra is Parama Guru (Grand Guru), Prakriti or kundalini is Parapara Guru (Great-grand-Guru), while the Indeterminate Absolute is Paramesthi Guru (Great-Great-Grand-Guru).
The respectful disciple resorts first to Guru and Parama Guru and throws himself heart and soul into spiritual exercise. When his reliance comes to be absolute, no longer can the Mother hold off; she has to wake up. It is she who unites the seeker with the Paramesthi Guru and relieves him of the bondage of life (i.e. attachment).
Many receive Diksha, but few ever achieve anything Pray, why?
If you enquire, you will see that the vast majority of men receive Diksha just on the impulse of the moment; a month or two and they give up practice. They hardly ever care even so much as to sit down for japa, but keep standing while they count the Mantra for barely ten or at best one hundred and eight times. Not even a siddha Guru can be of much use to such disciples. Work you must, or how can you expect to reap the harvest? Very often again an ignorant Guru gives an incorrect Mantra, which necessarily leads to no tangible result.
Is it possible for a Mantra to be incorrect?
All Mantras come from Shiva, who uttered them first. Any fanciful collation of letters or arbitrary combination of words cannot attain to the status of a Mantra.
This cannot of course give joy. If ever proper japa should fail to fetch bliss, joy or some other tangible result, it is to be presumed that something is wrong with the Mantra itself. An incorrect Mantra may be abandoned in favour of a new one. If the Guru lives, the correct Mantra ought to be received from him. In case, however, it is obtained from another Guru, it does not amount to change of Guru or Mantra. For, he is the Guru who gives Mantra and an incorrect Mantra is a faulty combination of letters without sense; it does not enjoy the sanctity of a Mantra. Nonetheless, the Mantra ought to be taken from the previous Guru. A little alertness on the part of the family of the Guru and that of the disciple and all troubles cease.
One who draws water from a well, keeps it ready for all and deals it out freely, can of course, gratify any thirsty man that cares to approach him. So the Siddha Guru, having attained fulfilment after spiritual exercise, infuses power into disciples, out of his own infinite mercy, and rescues men scorched with the heat of life. Thanks to that power, the disciple can easily attain Jivan-mukti (the state, that is, of a liberated spirit while yet alive in the body). But a siddha Guru of this category can rarely be found: it is only the accumulated austerities of many previous births that can bring you to the feet of such a Guru.
It is idle therefore to resolve not to drink water unless it is already drawn and kept in readiness. One should rather tie the bucket of Mantra received from the Guru with the rope of Japa, lower it into the well and pull it up, when filled with water, with “Jai Guru” on the lips. There is always a reward to honest effort. If thirst be there, my son, water will not be wanting. What is wanting is genuine thirst. Lord says:
Sakrideva prapannaya tavasmeeti cha yachate
Abhyam sarva bhute-bhyo dadabhyetad vratam mama.
“Whoever but once prays saying, ‘I am yours’, is promised every security by me: whoever he may be, I assure him of complete safety.” Only say, “I have come to you for refuge” and go on with Japa, night and day. All shall be well. The Crazy wench will wake up, you know. If you take refuge, the lord will not be able to hold himself but come in some form and vitalise your Mantra.
Japanmuktih Japanmuktih Japanmuktih Na Samshayah.
“Out of Japa comes Mukti, out of Japa comes Mukti, out of Japa comes Mukti, there can be no doubt about it.”
Naam Kirtan accomplishes everything.
Bhakti of every category—secondary as well as primary—comes from the recollection or chanting of the name. So long as you have power of speech, go on, my child, with Ram Ram.