Dear Swami Gaurangapada Maharaja, Nityananda! Gauranga! Hare Krishna! Please accept my most humble obeisances.
Just recently i encountered something very astonishing and surprising in the book "Encounters with the Divinity" by His Divine Grace Shrila B.R. Shridhara-dev Goswami Maharaja (chapter "Divine Manifestation", subchapter "Only Krishna No Other"):
...Lochana dasa wrote Chaitanya Mangala where we find some contamination of nagari-bhava. So, we are not fully in agreement with Lochana dasa in this regard. And there is also Bhakti-ratnakara, which was written 2 hundred years after Shri Chaitanyadeva - there also we find a tinge of gaura-nagari-bhava. Our Guru Maharaja (Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura Prabhupada) mentioned that we may take some aspects of geography and history from Bhakti-ratnakara but not the tattva, the ontological side. Even then, some of the history found in that book has been spoilt with ontological misconceptions. So, we are not to take everything from that book completely.
Afterwards the followers of Narahari Sarkara Thakura had some misconceptions of gaura-nagari-lila and could not conceive the true spirit of Narahari Thakura...
Please Swami Gaurangapada Maharaja, give me Your enlightening explanations, as i am very much confused at the moment regarding the authority of Shrila Lochana dasa Thakura and His Shri Chaitanya Mangala. i fall also at His Lotus Feet and the Feet of all the bonafide devotees of Lord Chaitanya, and beg for their mercy not to commit any offense and to be able to understand and appreciate rigthly the spirit of Shrila Lochanda dasa Thakura.
Nityananda! Gauranga! Hare Krishna! Jaya Shrila Guru Parampara! Thank you for raising this question. Before commencing the reply, I would like to give this link in the NITAAI Veda for those who want to know more about the Gauranga Nagari Bhava apasampradaya.
BR Shridhara Maharaja:...Lochana dasa wrote Chaitanya Mangala where we find some contamination of nagari-bhava. So, we are not fully in agreement with Lochana dasa in this regard.
Firstly, I am not quite sure whether His Holiness Bhaktirakshaka Shridhara Maharaja literally intended the meaning in the above statement of not being in agreement with Shrila Lochana Dasa Thakura and if it has been transcribed accurately from his conversations. If he did, with great respect for his super-excellent services and staunch faith in his Gurudeva His Divine Grace Shrila Bhaktisiddanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada, for this specific issue about the authenticity of Shrila Lochana Dasa Thakura, I humbly beg to disagree with him on this understanding of the divine instructions of His Divine Grace Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada specifically regarding this point. I will try to enumerate some of the reasons by remembering the lotus feet of Shrila Lochana Dasa Thakura:
(1) Shrila Lochana Dasa was the topmost mahabhagavata devotee of the Lord and his Gurudeva Shrila Narahari Sarkara Thakura, the most intimate associate of Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu in Navadvipa Dhaam, directly ordered and empowered him to compose Shri Chaitanya Mangala which is purest of all scriptures with no contamination. It should be understood very clearly that Mahabhagavatas like Shrila Lochana Dasa Thakura never indulge in rasabhasa or any misconception or contamination because they are fully conscious of the pure rasa (mellows) at every moment due to being immersed in the eternal pastimes of the Lord.
(2) There is no proof anywhere to state that Shrila Lochana Dasa Thakura is not a pure devotee and eternal associate of the Lord. In fact anyone who reads his compositions including Shri Chaitanya Mangala easily understands his greatness as an undisputed mahabhagavata.
(3) Certain sections of Shri Chaitanya Mangala are based on the Sanskrit Shri Krishna Chaitanya Charita Mahakavya of Shrila Murari Gupta which is considered the pure and original biography of Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu.
(4) Shrila Vrindavana Dasa Thakura, the great Acharya who strictly warned us about Gauranga Nagari Bhava in Shri Chaitanya Bhagavata, fully respected the authority of Shri Chaitanya Mangala and changed the name of his own book from Shri Chaitanya Mangala to Shri Chaitanya Bhagavata when he came to know that Shrila Lochana Dasa Thakura has named his authorized biography as Shri Chaitanya Mangala. If Shri Chaitanya Mangala had any tinge of any misconception, then Shrila Vrindavana Dasa Thakura would have publicly proclaimed the lack of authencity of Shrila Lochana Dasa Thakura's book and also maybe not changed the name of his own book. Or any other Vaishnavas at that time like Shrila Virachandra, Shrimati Jahnava Mata, Shrila Kavi Karnapura etc. would have pointed it out. Shrila Vrindavana Dasa Thakura would never have tolerated a book having even a slightest philosophical misconception of Gauranga Nagari Bhava and would have certainly pointed it out publicly if this was the case in Shri Chaitanya Mangala. So the first step understanding is that this proves that the original Shri Chaitanya Mangala written by Shrila Lochana Dasa Thakura was fully pure and totally free from any kind of anamolies.
(5) Now to address the second step whether some section of Shri Chaitanya Mangala was interpolated later by the later followers in the line of Shrila Narahari Sarkara. There does not seem to be any full-proof concrete evidence for this either specifically about Shri Chaitanya Mangala. The later followers may have introduced the Gauranga Nagari Bhava in their other books or songs and attributed them to these two Acharyas but there is proof to claim that they have directly changed some sections of Shri Chaitanya Mangala.
(6) The greatest proof that Shri Chaitanya Mangala is fully pure and bona-fide even in the present available form is that His Divine Grace Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada himself published it for mass distribution in 1928 after editing it. So even in the theoretical case that some small tinges of Gauranga Nagari Bhava would have been added in Shri Chaitanya Mangala by the later followers of Shrila Narahari Sarkara Thakura (never by Shrila Lochana Dasa Thakura), Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati would have certainly removed it from the edition which he published which is the same one available now and translated into English by a few translator devotees. This proves that all Bengali and English (translated) editions available presently in the Bhaktisiddhanta line are fully authentic and nectarean.
(7) Shrila Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada would not have published Shri Chaitanya Mangala for mass distribution in 1928 if there was any doubt about this issue and also if he considered that Shri Chaitanya Mangala is not important or should not be read by the common people. But he did publish it which means he wanted the nectarean Shri Chaitanya Mangala to be read and distributed in to one and all.
(8) Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada would not have taken the pains to go through each and every verse of Shri Chaitanya Mangala before publishing it if he thought that Shri Chaitanya Mangala has many anamolies or if he had any doubt about the authority of Shrila Lochana Dasa Thakura.
(9) This same Shri Chaitanya Mangala Bengali edition is still printed by the followers of Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta in Gaudiya Mission and it is a wonderful service.
(10) Now to come to the third phase in my reply. The few songs in Shri Chaitanya Mangala about how the heart and souls of the women of Navadvipa Dhaam are totally captivated by the beauty of Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu casting their sidelong glances on Him, are not Gauranga Nagari Bhava at all, because the women of Navadvipa Dhaam never engage in conjugal pastimes with Lord Gauranga like the Gopies do with Lord Krishna in Shri Vrindavana Dhaam. Such a thing has never ever been described in the bonafide writings of Shrila Lochana Dasa Thakura. It is to be understood that Lord Gauranga being the all-attractive Master of all His Associates and souls with His super-excellent bodily beauty (combined form of Lord Krishna and Shrimati Radha) will certainly enchant the hearts and minds of all His associates including the eternal women associates of the Lord. This is perfectly divine and there is nothing Gauranga Nagari about it.
(11) When Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada names a few later books which have these misconceptions in his commentary to Shri Chaitanya Bhagavata, he never mentions the name of Shri Chaitanya Mangala which is thus obviously fully pure in all respects. In fact he pointed out that some songs attributed to Shrila Narahari Sarkara Thakura which have Gauranga Nagari connotations were written or changed by the later followers of Shrila Narahari Sarkara Thakura so we do not accept them. Also a book known as Dhamali, attributed to Shrila Lochana Dasa Thakura, has recently been published and even a few of Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura's songs are used in it to wrongly justify Gauranga Nagari Bhava which they never intended to. I am surprised that even the supremely pure name of Shrila Sacchidananda Bhaktivinoda Thakura is being dragged into it. As they say that if you are wearing green spectacles, you will see everything green even if there is no green there.
(12) Finally my humble proposition on how to understand the instructions of Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada in this regard. Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada may have felt that some may misunderstand these few sections in Shri Chaitanya Mangala and wrongly use them to prove Gauranga Nagari Bhava which never exists in Shri Chaitanya Mangala. He never had any disrespect for Shri Chaitanya Mangala or never minimized it in any way otherwise he would have never published it for one and all. He was fully aware of the supreme glories of Shri Chaitanya Mangala and Shrila Lochana Dasa Thakura. He just wanted to caution us from the dangers of wrongly interpreting these few songs in Shri Chaitanya Mangala by Shrila Lochana Dasa Thakura and thus thinking unfavourably about Shrila Lochana Dasa Thakura.
These are some of the points which spontaneously came to my mind when I read your question. There are a few points which I may have missed but I think these twelve points make things pretty clear.
I humbly want to conclude by stating that there is absolutely no disagreement with Shrila Lochana Dasa Thakura in our Bhaktivinoda Bhaktisiddhanta Bhaktivedanta Dhara since he has never ever preached or wrote or even indirectly supported the Gauranga Nagari Bhava apasampradaya. How can we disagree with a pure mahabhagavata devotee and how can he ever preach something which disturbs the mood of Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu? Thus we accept his holy dust on our head and his holy and most nectarean book Shri Chaitanya Mangala as a necklace around our neck. Shrila Lochana Dasa Thakura ki jaya!!! Shri Chaitanya Mangala ki jaya!!!
The most nectarean Bhakti Ratnakara has been composed by another Mahabhagavata Shrila Narahari Chakravarti Thakura. Bhakti Ratnakara has been repeatedly quoted by our Acharyas like Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada, and Shrila Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada in Shri Chaitanya Charitamrita etc. and is published by Gaudiya Mission with the original Bengali verses. The pastimes of Shrila Shrinivasa Acharya dasa, Shrila Narottama Dasa Thakura, Shrila Shyamananda Pandita and Their Divine Associates are super-excellently described in Bhakti Ratnakara, what to speak of the most beautiful descriptions of Navadvipa, Puri and Vrindavana Dhaam Parikramas in Bhakti Ratnakara by Shrila Narahari Chakravarti Thakura. His great knowledge of divine music has also fully manifested in his greatly nectarean descriptions of the Lord's supreme pastimes. I remember when I read Bhakti Ratnakara first, I ended up crying profusely with love after hearing about the ecstatic Associates of the Lord. I picked up Bhakti Ratnakara at 9 pm and completed reading the full book by 5 am. That was one the most nectarean nights in my life.