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5. Gauranga-nagaris: rasabhasa bhaktas
"From the life of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, an intelligent person engaged in pure devotional service can understand that He always felt separation from Krishna within Himself. In that separation He sometimes felt that He had found Krishna and was enjoying the meeting. The significance of this separation and meeting is very specific. If someone tries to understand the exalted position of Lord Caitanya without knowing this, he is sure to misunderstand it. One must first become fully self-realized. Otherwise he may misidentify the Lord as nagara, or the enjoyer of the damsels of Vraja, thus committing the mistake of rasabhasa, or overlapping understanding." (Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi 4.106, Purport)
The gauranga-nagaris are quite prominent in Bengal and Bangladesh. Outwardly, they appear as regular Bengali vaishnavas, but there is a subtle sahajiya contamination in their conception of Lord Caitanya's mood of devotion. Thus their position is strongly refuted by the acaryas of the Gaudiya Vaishnava Sampradaya, even though other aspects of this sect may seem praiseworthy: like staunch vaishnavas, they wear tilak and neck beads, are good kirtan performers and strictly abstain from flesh and fish.
In his purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.23.31, Srila Prabhupada focuses on the sahajiya contamination that the gauranga-nagaris represent:
"Sometimes the sahajiya class of devotees are interested only in Krishna's personal pastimes to the exclusion of the activities of the devotees."
But such an attitude can only baffle the attempt to comprehend the person and activities of Sri Caitanya Mahapabhu, for Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi 1.14 states:
"I offer my obeisances unto the Supreme Lord, Krishna, who is non-different from His features as a devotee, devotional incarnation, devotional manifestation, pure devotee and devotional energy."
The gauranga-nagaris are not interested in Lord Caitanya as a devotee, or in His five features as the Sri Panca-Tattva. They desire to relate to Lord Caitanya as Krishna Himself, particularly as lampat (yatha-tathava vidhadhatu-lampato: "He is a debauchee, so it is His nature to do as He likes"). They style Him as nagara, and themselves as nagari.
The gauranga-nagari doctrine is very briefly and yet very completely explained by Srila Prabhupada in several purports of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta. A few relevant quotes are as follows.
"...the gaura-nagaris, who place Lord Caitanya in the position of enjoyer and themselves as His enjoyed, are not approved by Lord Caitanya or by Lord Caitanya's followers. Instead of being blessed, the foolish imitators are left completely apart. Their concoctions are against the principles of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. The doctrine of transcendental enjoyment by Krishna cannot be mixed up with the doctrine of transcendental feeling of separation from Krishna in the role of Radharani." (Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi 4.41, purport)
"Doctrines like those of the nadiya-nagaris, a class of so-called devotees, are never presented by authorized persons like Svarupa Damodara or the six Gosvamis. The ideas of the nadiya-nagaris are simply mental concoction, and they are completely on the mental platform." (Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi 4.107, purport)
"...a so-called party of devotees named nadiya-nagari has sprung up and introduced the worship of Vishnupriya. This certainly indicates ignorance of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's pastimes. In the opinion of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur, such worship is a product of the imagination." (Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya 14.7, purport)
Refuting the Gauranga-nagari Doctrine
In Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi 1.5, Lord Caitanya is described as radha-bhava-dyuti-suvalita, "adorned with the mood and luster of Srimati Radharani." Nowhere in any revealed scripture is He said to be krsna-bhava-dyuti-suvalita, "adorned with the mood and luster of Sri Krishna," which would support the gauranga-nagari conception. Spokesmen of this apasampradaya not only say that Lord Caitanya exhibited Krishna's enjoying mood, they claim further that Vishnupriya-devi, the Lord's second wife, is Srimati Radharani, and that her close female friends are gopis. But as Srila Vrindavan das Thakur makes clear in Sri Caitanya-bhagavata, Vishnupriya-devi is actually Bhu-sakti, a form of Laksmi. The wives, mothers and daughters of Lord Gauranga's associates in Nadia attend Vishnupriya in her bathing and dressing exactly as the maidservants of Lakmiji serve Her in Vaikuntha-dhama. Their mood is different from the mood of the damsels of Vrindavan.
Sri Caitanya Bhagavata is also very clear about Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's extreme gravity in His dealings with women -- even with His own wives, what to speak of other women. He never so much as looked at the village girls of Nadia, let alone smile or talk to them. But in the tradition of the sahajiyas, the gauranga-nagaris have invented offensive myths about Lord Caitanya's supposed love affairs with a mistress named Kancana and other fictional consorts. These stories should never be heard.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur appreciated the manifestation of Krishna's mood in Lord Caitanya in His dealings with Sri Gadadhara Prabhu. Sri Gadadhara was so meek and submissive that the Lord sometimes remarked to His confidential associates, "Gadadhara is My consort in the spiritual world." Indeed, Gadadhara Prabhu's spiritual emotions for Lord Caitanya are described as suddha gadha bhava rukmini-devira ("pure, deep ecstatic love in the mood of Rukmini-devi") in Antya 7.144 of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur thus worshiped Sri Sri Gaura-Gadadhara Deities in his bhajana. Here is an example of an internal flavor of attraction in an advanced devotee for a confidential feature of Lord Caitanya's pastimes. But this is not a subject matter for preaching. Lord Caitanya's preaching pastimes are relished in Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai worship, as seen in ISKCON temples around the world. This mode of Deity worship is performed to inspire the public at large to engage in harer-nama-sankirtan. But in any case, the worship of Sri Gaura-Gadadhara by the pure devotee has nothing to do with the rasabhasa of the gauranga-nagaris.
As Srila Prabhupada states above, the gauranga-nagaris are on the mental platform. Their so-called mood of devotion is really just eroticism, a creation of their impure minds. Their wrong meditation upon Lord Caitanya simply arouses their lust, and they foolishly take that lust to be spiritual ecstacy.