Dhruva & Suniti

“Suniti, however, being a woman, and specifically his mother, could not become Dhruva Maharaja’s diksa-guru.” [SB 4.12.32]

This is the only place Prabhupada deals directly with the topic of women giving diksa. As a purport to Srimad Bhagavatam it constitutes weighty negative evidence. Simply read, the above references states Suniti did not/could not initiate Dhruva due to her womanhood. The SAC disagrees, offering speculative conclusions.

SAC: “The one significant negative statement—“Suniti, however, being a woman, and specifically his mother, could not become Dhruva Maharaja’s diksa-guru.” (Bhag. 4.12.32 purport)—can be interpreted differently. One possible interpretation is that women cannot initiate male devotees, but could do so for female devotees. Another could be that women can initiate all others except their own offspring. This second interpretation could be supported by the fact that Lord Nityananda’s second wife, Sri Vasudha Devi, did not initiate her own son, Viracandra, but Sri Jahnava Devi did so.”

The SAC offers as a supporting “fact” that Lord Nityananda’s wife initiated her co-wife’s son, Viracandra. This contradicts Srila Prabhupada’s assertion that:

“All the devotees who are followers of Jahnava-mata are counted within the list of Sri Nityananda Prabhu’s devotees.” [CC Adi 11.21]

Indeed it is Nityananda Prabhu’s (and Advaita Acarya’s) names in our sampradaya, not Jahnava Devi (or Sita Devi), thus we accept Jahnava as a siksa-guru, not diksa-guru. Jahnava’s example is more recent than Suniti, but they both mirrored the ancient Vaisnava Vedic tradition according to Narada-pancaratrika. More on Jahnava Devi is presented in SAC’s FDG Arguments.

The SAC indirectly suggest that Suniti could today become a diksa-guru since any Vaidika contraindication against a woman becoming initiating guru is irrelevant in Kali-yuga; under more “recent pancaratrika system”, “qualified women” are allowed to both “accept and offer initiation”, thereby nullifying former ancient meaningfulness by current “positive evidence”.

The pancaratrika system, according to Hari-bhakti-vilasa and the Goswamis, specifies a woman’s primary qualification as chastity, echoing the injunctions of Manu, Narada and other Mahajanas like Kapila and Janaka. Chastity has been eulogized and followed by great chaste women, never dismissed or violated. A woman’s spiritual advancement does not, for the purposes of giving diksa, nullify her duty as a chaste wife or give her full and equal privileges with a male brahmana.

Srila Prabhupada upheld, and practically applied, the restrictions cited in Sanatana Goswami’s Hari-bhakti-vilasa and Manu’s Manu-samhita, both of which prescribe Narada Muni’s instructions on stri-dharma for women. FDG contradicts all four authorities who authorized certain restrictions.

Suniti was Dhruva’s primary instructor guru, who had perfectly described the system of bhakti-yoga to her son, which teaches:

Everyone can continue in his constitutional occupational duties and at the same time keep the Supreme Personality of Godhead within his heart. This was also instructed by the Lord Himself to Arjuna in Bhagavad-gita: “Go on fighting, but keep Me within your mind.” [SB 4.8.22 Purport]

In other words, bhakti-yoga is simultaneously performing one’s constitutional occupational duties, stri-dharma for a woman, for the pleasure of Lord Krsna as taught in Bhagavad-gita. It is unauthorized to teach women to ignore or defy codes of stri-dharma in the practice of bhakti-yoga.

The reason behind why Suniti did not initiate Dhruva is absolutely relevant today because women, according to pancaratrika rules, do not receive the sacred thread that is necessary to be accepted as a brahmana and give diksa. Diksa-gurus initiate according to the regulations of the sastras[CC Madhya 8.128]

Additional evidence contradictory to FDG from Srimad Bhagavatam:

Srila Vyasadeva
Lord Kapila
Queen Kunti