The following injunction is given in the Hari-bhakti-vilāsa (1.194) regarding mantra-adhikārī, the qualification for receiving mantra initiation:
- tāntrikeṣu ca mantreṣu dīkṣāyāṁ yoṣitām api
- sādhvīnām adhikāro ‘sti śūdrādīnāṁ ca sad-dhiyām
“Śūdras and women who are chaste and sincerely interested in understanding the Absolute Truth are qualified to be initiated with the pāñcarātrika-mantras.” This is confirmed by Lord Kṛṣṇa in the Bhagavad-gītā (BG 9.32):
- māṁ hi pārtha vyapāśritya ye ‘pi syuḥ pāpa-yonayaḥ
- striyo vaiśyās tathā śūdrās te ‘pi yānti parāṁ gatiṁ
“O son of Pṛthā, those who take shelter in Me, though they be of lower birth—women, vaiśyas [merchants] and śūdras [workers]—can attain the supreme destination.”If one actually wants to serve Kṛṣṇa, it doesn’t matter whether one is a śūdra, vaiśya or even a woman. If one is sincerely eager to chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra or dīkṣā-mantra, one is qualified to be initiated according to the pāñcarātrika process. However, according to Vedic principles, only a brāhmaṇa who is fully engaged in his occupational duties can be initiated. Śūdras and women are not admitted to a vaidika initiation. Unless one is fit according to the estimation of the spiritual master, one cannot accept a mantra from the pāñcarātrika-vidhi or the vaidika-vidhi. When one is fit to accept the mantra, one is initiated by the pāñcarātrika-vidhi or the vaidika-vidhi. In any case, the result is the same.