Found in Sanga, Sanga 2000.

Q. Re: Sanga. 1/12/00, “Both Are Siddha,” about Radha Ramana Caran Das Babaji and whether or not bhaja nitai gaura radhe shyam, japa hare krishna hare rama is a bona fide bhajana. What about the opposing argument that the Hare Krishna mantra is meant only for japa and that there is no instance in any Caitanya biography where the maha-mantra is sung with khol and kartals?

A. The Hare Krishna mantra is mentioned in Kalisantarana Upanisad, iti sodasakam nam nam, as the best combination of God’s names to be evoked in conjunction with the Kali-yuga dharma, which is kirtana. So speaks the sruti on kirtana of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. So to insist that it can only be uttered as a dhyana-mantra and that it is not appropriate for kirtana seems to contradict the sruti.

Furthermore, according to Rupa Goswami in his Prathama-Caitanyastaka 5, it was chanted loudly by Mahaprabhu, hare krsnety uccaih. The word “uccaih” means to utter loudly. As japa is an anga of dhyana, it is not to be uttered aloud, much less loudly. If while chanting on beads one does chant the mantra loudly, this japa is considered an anga of kirtana, not smaranam.

Thus it would appear that according to Rupa Goswami, Mahaprabhu chanted the Hare Krishna mantra in kirtana. The opposing side would probably say that Rupa Goswami’s verse indicates that even though Mahaprabhu chanted loudly, he counted while doing so, hare krsnety uccaih sphurita-rasano nama-ganana-krta-granthi-sreni-subhaga-katti-sutrojjvala-karah. Thus they would concede that one can chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra in kirtana provided that one count the number of mantras. I think based on the above argument, a third party would consider this a weak argument. Indeed, the balance of the sampradaya does not buy it.

Q. Re: Sanga, 1/12/00, about bhaja nitai gaura radhe shyam, japa hare krishna hare rama. I heard the main argument Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura gave against it was that Nityananda is Balarama and that he should not be given a place with Radha and Krishna. Radha gets up and leaves when Balarama comes on the scene and Krishna is also shy in the presence of his older brother. So no madhura-rasa with Balarama present. The counter argument is that a) Mahaprabhu gave everyone madhura rasa, so why should he deprive Balarama, his chief companion in this lila? And b) according to the Ananga-manjari-samputika, Jahnava Mata’s disciple, Ramchandra Goswami (in whose line Bhaktivinoda Thakur was initiated), further says that Nityananda serves in so many ways, as Krishna’s shoes, bed, etc., etc. In Gaura lila, he serves as a manjari in the form of Ananga Manjari, who also has an external form as Jahnava. Balarama and Ananga are Krishna’s brother and Radha’s sister, respectively. Your comments?

A. Regarding Nityananda as Jahnava and Jahnava as Ananga Manjari, this is correct. However, there is as much a distinction between Jahnava and Nitai as there is oneness. We are not Mayavadis. Let them (whoever) put Jahnava’s name or that of Ananga Manjari in their bhajana, not Nityananda’s name. Only in the form of Jahnava or Ananga Manjari does Balarama/Nitai participate in madhurya-rasa.

Furthermore, Mahaprabhu came to distribute four rasas of Vraja prema, not only manjari-bhava, and it was through Nityananda Prabhu’s dvadasa-gopalas that he widely distributed sakhya-rasa. Manjari-bhava in Nityananda-vamsa is available only through the lineage of his wife, Jahnava. Maybe it should be “nitaier jahnava hare syama radhe rama kare”? After all, don’t they say anyone can make up poetry for bhajana?

Again, Caran dasa Babaji and his group are alone in their position on this. Not only Sarasvati Thakura and Bhaktivinoda Thakura, but practically all other Gaudiya Vaisnava sects disagree with them.

Q. Re: Sanga, 1/12/00, and Radha Ramana Caran Das Babaji. You appear to be advocating peace and recognition. This was not the mood of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura in relation to the above babaji. He did not compromise. We don’t take this approach with mayavadis or sahajiyas. Please explain.

A. My point is that however strong our arguments are, there are counterarguments to them. We will see ours as correct and definitive because of our faith, as we should. Faith is not less than reason. It is greater than reason, as it has the power to reveal the whole truth.

Therefore, before we think that the logic of our side on any issue is definitive in and of itself and march out to conquer the world with it, only to find equally well-reasoned arguments on the other side of the fence, we would do well to understand that the basis of our knowing is faith, divine experience in connection with a real sadhu. Otherwise, when reason fails to satisfy the opposition or one cannot answer to opposing logic, one’s komala sraddha can be damaged.

What is komala sraddha? It is faith in the reasoning and scriptural interpretations of one’s group that does not fare well in the face of opposing views. Faith in the reasoning of our group is only as valuable as it begets faith that reaches beyond reason—guru-nistha—that plays out into intensified spiritual practice and experience. If we have this, even if we cannot counter everyone to the satisfaction of all concerned with reason and scripture, our position remains the same, and this posture is itself reasonable from a spiritual point of view.

Indeed, if we have real guru-nistha that generates intense spiritual practice, our example and underlying spiritual experience speak louder than any argument, and this is precisely our position in relation to the reforms of Bahktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. They cannot be explained to the satisfaction of all parties, but his personal spirituality cannot be denied by anyone other than the spiritually blind. We, his followers, would do well to practice intensely and experience deeply if we are to uphold his legacy. If convincing logic comes from anywhere, it is from this. Therefore, this must be stressed, and this is what I did in the answer under discussion.

I did not advocate recognition of the arguments of Caran dasa Babaji, rather recognition of the fact that his group has arguments and that reason in general is limited. As for peace, we live in a world of religious pluralism. If we are to survive, an adjusted posture in consideration of time, place, and circumstance is a valid consideration for any spiritually vital member of our lineage. Such adjustment need not be stifled by fear of stepping out of line. This is indeed the line, aher iva gatih premnah svabhava-kutila bhavet.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura agreed with Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura on the spiritual incorrectness of Caran dasa Babaji’s chant, bhaja nitai gaura radhe shyama, japa hare krishna hare rama. However, he had a different approach to opposing it, one that may be more viable in our present times in terms of convincing others of our position. Sometimes it is important to directly oppose something, at other times it may be more fruitful to do so indirectly.

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