In order to settle all questions as to the circumstances under which women may act as initiating spiritual masters, or dīkṣā-gurus, we have presented here an authorized description of the system of initiations that Śrīla Prabhupāda and our ācāryas have prescribed. The authority for this presentation is that it is extensively grounded not only in Śrīla Prabhupāda's own statements but in the authorized statements of the śāstras and our ācāryas. As such, this is the first authorized account of the process of initiations followed in ISKCON today. This book is divided into three parts.
In Part One, we present the system of pāñcarātrika initiations known as pañca-saṁskāra, as explained by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. It is also shown how this system of initiations is connected with bhajana-kriyā and anartha-nivṛtti.We have also translated into English for the first time the sections of Nārada Pañcarātra that detail the pañca-sāṁskara process. These sections show that ISKCON closely follows this process.
Using evidence from these sections and the statements of our ācāryas, we show that the process of first initiation, or giving harināma, is administered according to the nāma-saṁskāra process from pañca-saṁskāra. It is thus shown that in order to be qualified to administer harināma as an initiation, one must be qualified to be a dīkṣā-guru according to pāñcarātrika-vidhi, the rules and regulations of the pañcarātra śāstras.Part One also discusses the special qualifications that Nārada Pañcarātra requires of women if they are to be considered able to act as dīkṣā-gurus. A more in-depth discussion of this is given in Part Two. Also included in Part One are discussions on the rarity of female gurus and why it is necessary for women to be spiritually advanced at the stage of bhāva in order to be considered eligible.
Part Two provides an in-depth focus on reconciling all of Śrīla Prabhupāda's statements about women as dīkṣā-gurus by introducing the authoritative statements of Nārada Pañcarātra. It is in this section that statements dealing with the qualifications of a dīkṣā-guru are presented, along with specific instructions pertaining to women. Why a female dīkṣā-guru needs to be a siddha instead of a sādhaka is also discussed.
Part Three systematically answers many frequently asked questions (FAQs) and some objections that were raised by devotees after reading the initial arguments on which this book is based.The remaining part consists of supporting appendices.