Nityananda Prabhu and Sakhya Rasa in the Bhagavata Guru Parampara

The Bhagavata guru parampara conception of Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura includes Nityananda Prabhu. So the claim that all the acaryas in his Bhagavata guru parampara are in manjari-bhava is false. Nitaicanda is in sakhya rasa. And he initiated many disciples and distributed this bhava. It was prominent in the first two generations of the sampradaya. And literature exclusively dedicated to the culture of sakhya rasa with reference and deference to Rupa Goswami’s work appears as late as the 18th century. With O My Friend!, its ongoing influence to this day is further documented. These are the objective facts.

Furthermore Nityananda-rama has done more than anyone else in terms of bringing attention to Mahaprabhu and his pursuit of Radha bhava. Rupa and Ragunatha defer to him, without whose mercy no one can approach Gauracandra and Radha Vrindavancandra. Such is the nature of Ntiai’s fraternal love for Gaura. And through his sakti expansion in Vraja, Ananga-manjari who appears in Garua lila as his consort Jhananva devi, Radha dasya has also been widely distributed.

So Nityananda Prabhu is indirectly and directly involved in bringing attention to Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the Radha bhava that he is about, and the blessing of unnatojjvala rasa he bestows. But Nitai himself is steeped in sakhya rasa, and thus it is inevitable that this sentiment will also appear in the sampradaya from time to time, and really to some extent at all times. And again, history bears this out. When it does appear, and especially when it does in a prominent manner, it should be celebrated for what it is.

Those influenced by sakhya bhava are not in competition with manjari-bhava and there is no need for manjari-bhava upasakas to militate against it. Indeed, under the influence of sakhya bhava Nitai’s sector has done more to promote gopi-bhava than any other sector. Nitai started the worship of Gaura. It is under his influence that Caitanya Bhagavata and Caitanya-caritamrta were written. The road to gopi-bhava goes through him. As Narottama Thakura sings, heno bine nitai bhai radha krsna paite nai.

Jaya Nitai!

Gaura Nagar Bhava

Gadadhara-prana, a contemporary advocate of Gaura Nagar Bhava who arguably has done more to bring it to the attention of Gaudiya’s of our time than anyone else, has reasoned that in Gaura Nagar Bhava, as opposed to Radha dasyam, one actually gets to have direct union with Krsna in the form of Gaura! I was shocked to read this from his pen, as it betrays a pitiful understanding of Radha dasyam on the part of someone who had studied it for decades. It is the very lack of direct union with Krsna that places Radha dasyam above sambhogeccha madhurya rasa.

It appears that Gaura Nagar Bhava has nothing to do with the internal or external reasons for Mahaprabhu’s appearance. While some advocates of Gaura Nagar Bhava acknowledge the validity of Radha dasyam (which would be difficult to disagree with), they place Gaura Nagar Bhava above it. I can’t relate to that, nor does it make any theological sense to me to do so.

Srila Rupa Goswami’s description of svapna sambhoga is not in reference to Gaura Nagar Bhava. I believe that Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur listed Gaura Nagar Bhava as one of the 13 apasampradayas of his time. As for following it, if is actually a spiritually viable reality, in the least that would require association with someone in that bhava through whom a samskara for it would be imbibed. But again, my position and that of my lineage is one of following Vrndavana dasa and Krsnadasa Kaviraja, who do not entertain it. And for whatever it’s worth the vast majority of Gaudiyas feel the same way.

Common explanations of Gaura Nagar Bhava are a “concerted doctrine” drawn from the padas and not a specific teaching about it, how to attain it, where it manifests, and so on, outlined by the authors of the padas themselves. Much of it is difficult if not impossible to verify and speculative conclusions are drawn from it.

The poems of some of the associates of Mahaprabhu bear the stamp of Gaura Nagar Bhava, but what is often presented is based on an elaborate theory put together, not by those associates, but by much later day devotees. It involves a fair amount of speculation.

At any rate, many prominent acaryas and even seminal authors reject it. The Goswamis do not go there at all. And then a few appear to accept it theoretically, while fewer still embrace and follow it. And those who follow it today make preposterous claims. They make it out to be the highest, secret ideal of everyone. Somehow direct union with Prabhu Visvambhara in a spiritual dream land has upstaged Radha dasyam of Vraja, which includes no direct union with Sri Madan Gopala. Jaya Radhe!