Swami Lakshmanjoo explains what is initiation and what is its most important feature. This excerpt is from the book, Kashmir Shaivism The Secret Supreme by Swami Lakshmanjoo, Chapter Twelve.
The Fivefold Contacts of Masters and Disciples
In this universe from time immemorial the initiation of masters has taken place from Lord Śiva up to the mortal beings. This contact of the master with the disciple takes place in five different ways. The highest contact of the master with the disciple is called mahān saṁbandhaḥ (the great contact). This highest contact took place in the very beginning of the manifestation of the universe. Lord Śiva became the master and Sadāśiva was the disciple.
Next, after this highest contact, a lower contact took place, called antarāla saṁbandhaḥ. This is the contact of the master who is residing in the state of Sadāśiva with that disciple who is residing in the state of Anantabhaṭṭāraka.
Then the third contact between master and disciple took place. This third contact is called divya saṁbandhaḥ, which means “divine contact.” It took place when the master was at the state of Anantabhaṭṭāraka and the disciple who was at the state of Śrīkaṇṭhanātha.
The fourth contact is called divyādivya saṁbandha, which means “that contact which is partly divine and partly not divine.” In this fourth contact, Śrīkaṇṭhanātha took the place of divinity as the master and Sanatkumāra Ṛiṣi took the place of being the disciple.
And last, the fifth contact of masters and disciples took place with the masters residing in the place of Sanatkumāra Ṛiṣi and the disciples as mortal beings (manuṣya). This fifth contact is called adivya saṁbandha, which means “that contact which is not divine.”
This fifth contact of masters and disciples has occurred many times. In the latest movement of this contact, the master was Durvāsā Ṛiṣi, as he was from the school of thought of Sanatkumāra Ṛiṣi, and the disciple was Tryambakanātha.
Although our Kashmir Śaivism recognizes these fivefold contacts of masters and disciples, yet it explains that only that initiation is a real initiation where the contact of the master and the disciple takes place in such a way that, at the time of initiation, the master is united with the disciple and the disciple is united with the master. In this real initiation the master becomes one with the disciple and the disciple becomes one with the master. You should understand, however, that for this supreme contact to take place, the disciple should never find any fault in his master or his master’s activity. If he does, then he is lost. This kind of initiation can take place in any state of these five contacts. It is the real supreme contact. It is even above mahān saṁbandhaḥ (the great contact) and is called para saṁbandhaḥ (the supreme contact). It is that contact by which all contacts become divine. The real theory of our Śaivism is that this contact, which is the supreme contact, must take place between each and every master and each and every disciple. When this occurs, then that initiation is a real initiation.*