I had accumulated things to say, but most of them have withered into silence, where in all likelihood they belonged. Wheat and chaff are separated by the steady sighs of time.
I spent a little more than two weeks at Gadadhar Pran's. On the whole it was a good stay, but the encroaching Ganga has Gadadhar feeling as though he is under siege. Nothing new there: if you are a raganuga bhakta in the domain of Iskcon and the Gaudiya Math, their animosity is like a steady tide that wears at the banks of your self-assurance anyway. But it is a cruel blow to have Nature attack on the West when the silent opposition of one's neighbors has been gnawing away steadily from the East. And so Gadadhar said to me many times, "I have no friends. My only friend is my sadhana."
It is true that without Ma Ganga's special mercy, Gadai Gauranga Kunj may not be spared. The flow of the current is taking direct aim at the attractive new guest house that was only built two years ago. So if there are any rich benefactors out there who would like to contribute to the propping up of the banks with pilons and sandbags, this is an invitation to do so. The time may already be gone as the lowest level of the river may have passed.
At any rate, Gadadhar's phone number is +91-933-266-0732. I leave you to talk to him, but I honestly hope that some people will come forward and assist in preserving this oasis of originality in the midst of a desert of Vaishnava conformity.
In the time I was there, I completed the editing of the two Why Did Chaitanya Come and What Did He Come to Give books, and on my way back, dropped them off along with the Govinda Lilamrita at Ras Bihari Lal's. These are now thankfully out of my hands. The GL was left at the "whatever state it is in, it is finished" stage. Frankly, I did not have the time to give it my full attention and I was under the distinct impression that my ingerence into the peculiarities of Gadadhar's language were not fully appreciated. So it will come to the world in a rather uneven state. Perhaps it is for the best: some parts of it will sound jarringly like the rasanabhijna kramelaka Jagat, but aho! most will resonate the authentic voice of rasika-shiromani Gadadhar Pran Dasji.
I will not report on everything that transpired at Gadai Gauranga Kunj. There were many memorable positive moments and only a few that, almost inevitably, were not. I had the pleasure of meeting Anadi Krishna Dasji from Romania/Germany, who stayed with Gadadhar for a month, hearing and discussing about Vishnupriya's Gaura-bhakti and other elements of Gaura-nagara-vada.
I would like, however, to record briefly some elements of a conversation that Gadadhar and I had about Sahajiyaism. This conversation was staggered over the time spent there, and I have embellished my responses to make myself sound a little more agile of wit.
Gadadhar: Why did you use the term Sahajiyaism? It is so loaded and attracts so much negativity. You could have used another word, rather than inviting condemnation for using that term.
Jagat: The term is already being used to designate us. You are called a Sahajiya by everyone in the Gaudiya Math and Iskcon. No amount of pure behavior on your part will change that. But I am prepared to call a spade a spade. I accept that the physical and emotional relationship between devotee couples is an essential part of prema sadhana. It is my intention to articulate an intelligent and coherent vision of that philosophy, to present it in a way that makes the IGM caricatures of Sahajiyaism apparent for what they are: straw man arguments that are not worth the straw they are made of. Indeed, I wish to show that for all the service they have done and continue to do for Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's mission, it is they who are misunderstanding and misrepresenting the essence of prema dharma.
Gadadhar: Why not just go on having sex or practice tantric sex or whatever on the quiet, privately? Why do you have to advertise publicly that you are a Sahajiya?
Jagat: Well, I happen to believe in it. You are asking me to be a hypocrite. The thing is that like many others, you misunderstand completely what this is about. You think it is about sex, whereas it is really about bhava and prema. You preach Nagara bhava even though you are condemned for it. You even aggressively state your beliefs to people you know oppose them. I don't even do that. I simply present them in a way that those who come looking may find them if Krishna gives them that grace.
Gadadhar: That argument is invalid. Nagara bhava is a genuine tradition that was followed by many of Mahaprabhu's associates, chiefly Narahari Sorkar. But show me any evidence that anyone of authority in the Gaudiya Vaishnava sampradaya has promoted or even condoned Sahajiyaism.
Jagat: That is true. I cannot find any overt evidence that makes that connection. Prabodhananda uses the words kapata-sannyasi to describe Mahaprabhu in Chaitanya-chandramrita, which is often taken as evidence that he was a closet Nagara. It most likely shows only that he recognized the existence of this stream of devotion. I say, however, that Mahaprabhu took this path of Mayavada sannyasa to ultimately subvert it, because madhura rasa bhakti is subversive to the path of celibacy, in the same way that personalism is to Mayavada.
Once you start looking at texts like Ujjvala-nilamani from the optic of Sahajiyaism, it becomes impossible to see them in any other way. It seems clear and obvious that the intention is to make love in this world the doorway to consciousness of Radha and Krishna, as well as making consciousness of Radha and Krishna the doorway to finding love in this world. The two vantage points dance hand in hand, leading one to the bhuma sukham that is the ultimate goal of the Upanishads. Vaishnavism is not about a tireless struggle against the onslaught of sex desire. It is about harnessing and channeling that power for the attainment of love, the most powerful energy of the Lord, the stuff from which the spiritual world is made.
That means that it is not about simply disposing of one's sexual urges and then using one's freed energies for bhajan. Swami Veda, in whose ashram I am staying, likes to say, "Speak only when in silence. Eat only when fasting." To this I add, "Make love only when celibate." This is the purport of the first part of the Gopala Uttara Tapani. The making of love is the essence of the bhajan itself. So how can I, who believes this, ever not state it?
Gadadhar: But you are always making the wrong choices in women. You had that affair with the horrendous X back in 1985, and now you seem to be making a similar disastrous relationship with a Western woman. Stay here and I will help you find a Bengali Vaishnava girl who will be a real bhajan partner.
Jagat: Yes, sannyasis often tend to make bad choices when they fall down, I will admit it. But I am afraid you do not understand the difference between svakiya and parakiya love. The svakiya mentality means one thinks he can control love through reason. He writes an advertisement to put in the newspaper: "American Vaishnava looking for like-minded bhajan partner." Then he sifts through the responses and hopes for the best, ticking off all the points that he figures are necessary in a "bhajan partner." The word samanjasa indicates a kind of calculating mentality.
Parakiya love is about fortuitous discovery, about the invasion of self by the presence of another. It is about kripa. In someone who is purely sexual in his mentality, such choices be vitiated by rajas and tamo-gunas. That is called sadharani rati. In someone who truly understands the meaning of bhajan, who is patient and who believes in the mercy of the Lord, the communion will be one of souls and not just of bodies. And it will not be vitiated by formality.
The mail-order bride system may work in some cases to attain a degree of svakiya love, a comfortable state no doubt. And I suppose it is not impossible for it to lead to parakiya state, in fortunate cases. But unless one is prepared to see the sadhana partner as a guru, at least in some areas, that will not happen. When you try to control the agenda, then it is inevitably svakiya, and I think that you will pay the price in the long run.
Gadadhar: I think you are making too much of sex.
Jagat: You are one to talk, with all your descriptions of Gauranga Nagara love! You don’t see how that looks to the uninitiated eye? Besides, I have come to believe that the love/sex dynamic is at the basis of spirituality itself. So meditating on sambhoga with Krishna or Gauranga in the mind cannot be seen as essentially different from any other kind of sex. And you cannot really resolve this problem by pretending that Manjari bhava is some kind of superior state of renunciation.
Gadadhar: That is preposterous! I don’t want to hear anything about it. This is obviously going to divide us, Jagat. Couldn't you just share a rewarding love life with your partner and stick with the Goswami teachings? If you preach Sahajiyaism, however, I fear that you will only end up isolating yourself from our Gaudiya Vaishnava world.
Jagat: It may be too late for that! Anyway, Gadadharji, I pray that Mahaprabhu and our guru varga give us their unreserved blessings. Our paths have evolved differently, but let us keep following the Truth as It reveals Itself to us.