Is Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava Sampradāya, exclusively, meant for mañjarī-bhāva-āśritas or for all types of bhagavad-upāsakas? The all-encompassing nature of Sampradāya revealed shunning the narrowly driven ideology of some fanatics.
Caitanya-caritāmṛta 1.3.13-18, explicitly, suggests that the primary focus of Śrī Caitanyadeva, in making His advent onto Earth, was to give the rāga-mārgīyā bhakti to the fellow saubhāgyavān saṁsārī jīvas. Caitanya-caritāmṛta 1.3.26 suggests that the svāṁśa-svarūpa Kṣīrodaśāyī Viṣṇu (the third puruṣa incarnation) is responsible for the yuga-dharma-pravarttanam in every eon and that Śrī Vrajendranandana (not Golokādhipati) is, solely, responsible for the propagation of Vraja-prema (a very specific variant of Vraja-prema is, also, known as unnata-ujjvala-rasa aka bhāvollāsa-rati aka mañjarī-bhāva aka rādhā-kaiṅkarya). To support this conclusion, Laghu-bhāgavatāmṛta 1.5.37 has been cited, too.
However, Caitanya-caritāmṛta 1.3.19 makes a very unprecedented declaration – (“yuga-dharma pravarttāimu nāma-saṅkīrttana / cāri bhāva bhakti diyā nācāimu bhuvana //” – “युगधर्म प्रवर्त्ताइमु नामसंकीर्त्तन । चारि भाव भक्ति दिया नाचाइमु भुवन ।। “ – “যুগধর্ম প্রবর্ত্তাইমু নামসংকীর্ত্তন । চারি ভাব ভক্তি দিয়া নাচাইমু ভূবন ।।”.) Above assertion of Caitanya-caritāmṛta substantiates that Caitanyadeva had come to bestow all the higher four rasas of vraja-bhakti (rāga-mārga) excluding the śānta. These four rasas are two-fold i.e. belonging to vidhi-mārga and belonging to rāga-mārga. Though, Caitanya’s focus was to propagate the four rasas belonging to rāga-mārga, His nitya-siddha associates like Śrī Anupama Vallabha Gosvāmī (Śṛī Jīva Gosvāmī’s biological father), Śrī Śuklāmbara Brahmacārī/Śrī Nṛsiṁhānanda Brahmacārī etc. proved to follow the path of vidhi-bhakti by dedicating themselves to Bhagavān Nṛsiṁhadeva & Prabhu Rāghavendra, respectively.
Thus, it cannot be asserted that Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava Sampradāya is, strictly, for the mañjarī-bhāva-sādhakas, or that only for the rāga-mārgīya sādhakas – though, they are the vast majority in this sect and the sect’s mood prevails with an emphasis on rāga-mārga.
The reason why ‘śānta-rasa’ is not highlighted as a separate fifth element in the above proposition of CC 1.3.19 is due to two reasons. Firstly, just as the concept of ‘veda-trayī’ (Sāma, Yajuḥ & Atharva) includes the fourth Veda viz., the Atharva-veda, too, similarly, herein, the talk of four higher rasas prevalent in Vraja includes the first lowest rasa of ‘śānta’, too (we are alluding to the ‘śānta-rasa’ of Vraja). However, the reason why ‘śānta’ rasa is not, specifically, mentioned in CC 1.3.19 is because, though certain of Caitanya’s associates like Śrī Anupama & Śrī Nṛsiṁhānanda etc. were vidhi-mārgīya bhaktas in dāsya-rasa permeated with aiśvarya-bhāva, nevertheless, Caitanya considered the śānta-rasa of the vidhi-mārga to be on the outskirts of uttamā-bhakti as it is evident from His assertion with Rāya Rāmānanda. In Caitanya-caritāmṛta 2.8.59, Caitanyadeva considers ‘varṇāśrama-dvārā bhagavad-ārādhanam’ (“varṇāśramācāravatā puruṣeṇa..”/”वर्णाश्रमाचारवता पुरुषेण…” – Viṣṇu-mahāpurāṇam) to be external to the domain of uttamā-bhakti (uttamā-bhakti as depicted in Bhaktirasāmṛtasindhu 1.1.11). In CC 2.8.61, Caitnayadeva considers bhagavad-arpita-karma-yoga (“yat-karoṣi yad-āśnāsi..”/”यत्करोषि यदश्नासि” – Gītā 9.27) to be external (bāhya) as well. These points have been well summarized by Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravarttī in his Sārārtha-darśinī commentary to Śrīmad-bhāgavatam 7.5.24 (“iti puṁsārpitā viṣṇau”/”इति पुंसार्पिता विष्णौ”) & in his Sārārtha-varṣiṇī commentary to Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā 9.27. In CC 2.8.64, Caitanyadeva labels even the ‘sva-dharma-tyāga’ (as denoted by Gītā 18.66 – “sarva-dharmān parityajya…” / “सर्वधर्मान् परित्यज्य…”) – the demarcating boundary line between all that is non-uttamā-bhakti and the uttamā-bhakti (uttamā-bhakti is threefold – sādhana, bhāva/rati and prema/prīti and divided into two paths – vaidhī/maryādā and rāgānugā/puṣṭi) – as ‘bāhya’ or external to the domain of uttamā-bhakti. In CC 2.8.66, even the concept of jñāna-miśṛā-bhakti as denoted by Gītā 18.54 (“brahma-bhūtaḥ prasannātmā..”/”ब्रह्मभूतः प्रसन्नात्मा”) has been labelled by Caitanyadeva as ‘bāhya’. However, starting from CC 2.8.68 onwards, Caitanyadeva has labelled all successive stages of spirituality beginning from jñāna-śūnyā bhakti (as verified by Śrīmad-bhāgavatam 10.14.3 – “jñāne prayāsam udapāsya…”/”ज्ञाने प्रयासमुदपास्य…”) as something acceptable and as the starting point of uttamā-bhakti. In CC 2.8.71, Caitanyadeva accepts the notion of premā-bhakti as part of uttamā-bhakti (sarva-sādhya-sāra-svarūpa). The premā-bhakti which is alluded to by Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī in his anthological work Padyāvalī 13-15 (“nānopacāra-kṛta-pūjanam…kṛṣṇa-bhakti-rasa-bhāvitā matiḥ….”/”नानोपचारकृतपूजनम्…कृष्णभक्तिरसभाविता मतिः…”) is accepted by Caitanyadeva as integral to the concept of uttamā-bhakti and not bāhya. However, in CC 2.8.71, Rāya Rāmānanda starts counting the various successively hierarchical stages of such uttamā-bhakti, directly, from the platform of ‘dāsya-bhakti’ and the two scriptural citations that Rāmānanda gives to elucidate this dāsya-bhakti are from Śrīpāda Yāmunācārya’s Stotra-ratnam 43 – “bhavantam evānucaraṁ nirantaraḥ..”/”भवन्तमेवानुचरं निरन्तरः…” (Yāmunācārya is a Viśiṣṭādvaita-vedāntī Śrī-vaiṣṇava and grand-master/parama-guru of Śrīpāda Rāmānujācārya/Lakṣamaṇa Deśika; Yāmunācārya is considered by Gauḍīya orthodoxy to be belonging to the vidhi-mārgīyā bhakti and its advocate.) & from Śrīmad-bhāgavatam 9.5.16 – “yan-nāma-śruti-mātreṇa…”/”यन्नामश्रुतिमात्रेण…” – a verse spoken by Durvāsā Munī – a haṭha-yogī – in eulogy of Bhaktarāja Rājarṣi Ambarīṣa – another vidhi-mārgīya bhakta. In CC 2.8.74, Caitanyadeva approves the concept of such dāsya-bhakti depicted by citing pro-vidhi-mārgīya statements by Rāmānanda. However, Caitanyadeva, still, does not consider such dāsya-bhakti (substantiated by vidhī-mārgīya statements) to be on very high level, though part of uttamā-bhakti. The mood of Caitanyadeva, however, takes turn from CC 2.8.76, when He labels the depiction of ‘sakhya-bhakti’ as done by Rāmānanda in CC 2.8.75 by citing a pro-rāga-mārgīya statement from Śrīmad-bhāgavatam 10.12.11 (“itthaṁ satāṁ….”/”इत्थं सतां…”) – as “uttama” or the top platform. The sakhya-bhakti of the eternal vraja-parikaras of sakhya-rasa are depicted in ŚBMP 10.12.11. From all this analysis, it is proved, that Caitanyadeva, specifically, came to propagate the four higher rasas of vraja-prema, but did not disapprove of the concepts of dāsya-bhakti or any other bhakti-rasa (like sakhya etc.) which was on the platform of aiśvarya-jñāna-miśrita vidhi-mārga. This analysis, also, proves the 2nd reason why śānta-rasa is not mentioned, separately, in CC 1.3.19 and that is — even though śānta-rasa (śānta-rasa of the vidhi-mārga) is part of the uttamā-bhakti (that śānta-rasa is part of uttamā-bhakti is substantiated by CC 2.19.183-184 where it is mentioned as one of the five primary bhakti-rasas) and is not, in any way, on the platform of jñāna-miśṛā-bhakti (jñāna-miśṛā bhakti of the jñānī-upāsaka as mentioned in Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā verse – ‘caturvidhā bhajante māṁ..’/’चतुर्विधा भजन्ते मां’ – is considered in Bhaktirasāmṛtasindhu 1.2.20-21 – “tatra gītādiṣūktānāṁ caturṇām adhikāriṇāṁ…sa kṣīṇa-tat-tad-bhāvaḥ syāc chuddha-bhakty adhikāravān….”/तत्र गीतादिषूक्तानां चतुर्णामधिकारिणाम्……स क्षीणतत्तद्भावः स्याच्छुद्धभक्त्यधिकारवान्…” to be not at all on the domain of uttamā-bhakti; the five rasas beginning from śānta are categories of uttamā-bhakti), nevertheless, it has not been counted in the four rasa stages of premā-bhakti viz., dāsya, sakhya, vātsalya, śṛṅgāra (both of vidhi-mārga and rāga-mārga types) during Rāya Rāmānanda’s enumeration is because of the definition of the vidhi-mārgīya śānta-rasa given by Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindu 2.5.18 – “prāyaḥ śama-pradhānānāṁ mamatā-gandha-varjjitā…śānta-ratir matā”/”प्रायः शमप्रधानानां ममतागन्धवर्ज्जिता….शान्तरतिर्मता”. The śānta-rati of vidhi-mārga is devoid of all traces of ‘mamatā’ (feeling of intimacy that Bhagavān is mine or devotee’s), whereas, the actual prema (irrespective of vidhi or rāga type), properly, starts from the stage of ‘mamatva’ for Bhagavān (feeling that Bhagavān is mine – as felt by the devotee) and this has been substantiated, explicitly, in Bhaktirasāmṛtasindhu 1.4.2 by quoting the Nārada-pañcarātra verse – “ananya-mamatā viṣṇau mamatā prema-saṅgatā bhaktir ity ucyate…”/”अनन्य-ममता विष्णौ ममता प्रेमसङ्गता भक्तिरित्युच्यते..”. The basic characteristic of prema-bhakti proper is that it is permeated with this bhāva of mamatva/mamatā. Whereas, the śānta-rati of the vidhi-mārgīya type lacks this essential principle of mamatā, it is considered on the borderline of premā-bhakti and not within its proper domain – unlike in the case of śānta-rati which is of the rāgamārgīya type present in Vraja in the śānta-parikaras of Vraja like the Kakkhaṭī female monkey companion of Rādhā (mentioned in the very 1st Chapter of Govinda-līlāmṛtam by Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī) and many such other śānta-rati companions of Rādhā-Mādhava in Vraja who are permeated with the ardent feelings of mamatva. Because, śānta-rati of the vidhi-mārga is devoid of mamatva (unlike other ratis like dāsya/sakhya etc. which are permeated with mamatva irrespective of whether they are of the vidhi-mārgīya or rāga-mārgīya types), it is not counted in CC 1.3.19. However, the śānta-rati of the rāga-mārgīya type is alluded to in CC 1.3.19 by employing the logic of veda-trayī’s inclusion of the fourth Veda viz., Atharvaṇa. Therefore, the śānta-rati of vidhi-mārga falls neither within the category of the jñāna-miśrā bhakti (not part of uttamā-bhakti) nor within the proper category of premā-bhakti beginning from dāsya-rati onward (dāsya-rati etc. irrespective of vidhi or rāga types). Hence, Rāya Rāmānanda does not enumerate the śānta-rati concept at all and limits his discussion to the higher 4 ratis, solely. However, he alludes to the vidhi-mārgīya śānta-rati in CC 2.8.68 when he mentions the concept of the ‘jñāna-śūnyā bhakti’ – a stage before the proper premā-bhakti. This categorization of vidhi-mārgīyā śānta-rati in CC 2.8.68 matches with the similar categorization of vidhi-māgīyā śānta-rati as alluded to in Upadeśāmṛtam (by Śrī Rūpa) 10 in the phrase – “…jñāna-vimukta-bhakti-paramāḥ…/”ज्ञानविमुक्तभक्तिपरमा:…” – a categorization which falls between its earlier/preceding stage viz., — “hareḥ priyatayā vyaktiṁ yayur jñāninaḥ…/”हरेः प्रियतया व्यक्तिं ययुर्ज्ञानिन:” (denoting to the “udārāḥ sarva evaite jñānī..”/”उदारा: सर्व एवैते ज्ञानी…” – verse of Śṛimad-bhagavad-gītā) & its successive latter stage viz., — “premaika-niṣṭhās tataḥ…”/”प्रेमैकनिष्ठास्तत:”. Śānta-parikaras of Vraja are, beyond any doubt, fully permeated with mamatva for Rādhā and Mādhava as evident from their behavioural and personality related depictions in Govinda-līlāmṛtam. Hence, śānta-rati of Vraja is ‘premaika-niṣṭhā’ and not on the outskirts unlike the śānta-rati of vidhi-mārga. This is the reason why CC 1.3.19, only, speaks of Caitanyadeva bestowing 4 ratis/rasas.
The same (what CC 1.3.19 states) has been corroborated by Śrīla Kavi Karṇapūra Gosvāmī’s / Paramānandadāsa’s Gaura-gaṇoddeśa-dīpikā 22 – “tasya śiṣyo mādhavendro yad-dharmo ‘yaṁ pravartitaḥ kalpa-vṛkṣasyāvatāro vraja-dhāmani (not goloka-dhāmani) tiṣṭhataḥ prīta-preyo-vatsalatojjvalākhya-phala-dhāriṇaḥ…”/”तस्य शिष्यो माधवेन्द्रो यद्धर्मोऽयं प्रवर्त्तितः कल्पवृक्षस्यावतारो व्रजधामनि तिष्ठत: प्रीतप्रेयोवत्सलाख्योज्ज्वलाख्यफलधारिण:”. The commencement of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava Sampradāya is from Mādhavendra Purī, the embodiment of the Kalpavṛkṣa personifying all the 4 rasas (including the śānta of Vraja through upalakṣaṇa nyāya) in Vraja. 23rd verse of the same book mentions – “tasya śiṣyo ‘bhavacchrīmān īśvarākhya purī yatiḥ / kalayāmāsa śrṅgāraṁ yaḥ śrṇgāra-phalātmakaḥ //“तस्य शिष्योऽभवच्छ्रीमानीश्वराख्यपुरी यतिः । कालयामास शृङ्गारं यः शृङ्गारफलात्मक: ।।“ – This statement proves that among the four (total five if śānta of Vraja is considered included through upalakṣaṇa) bhakti-rasas (of the rāga-mārgīya type as bestowed by the desire tree in Vraja) personified by Mādhavendra Purī, Īśvara Pūrī (the disciple of Mādhavendra & mantra-dīkṣā-guru of Caitanya) was the embodiment of the śṛṅgāra-rasa-phalam (of rāga-mārgīya type present in Vraja). 24th verse of the same book mentions, yet another unprecedented fact – “advaitaḥ kalayāmāsa dāsya-sakhye phale ubhe / śrīmān-raṅgapurī hyeṣa vātsalye yaḥ samāśritaḥ //” – “अद्वैतः कलयामास दास्यसख्ये फले उभे । श्रीमान्रङ्गपुरी ह्येष वात्सल्ये यः समाश्रितः ।।“ – proving that, whereas, Advaitācārya personified fruits of sakhya and dāsya ratis, Śrī Svāmī Raṅgapurī (another disciple of Mādhavendra Purī and one of the companions of Caitanyadeva in Jagannātha Purī – name mentioned in Caitanya-caritāmṛta 2.1.113 + CC Madhya-līlā’s 9th Ch.) embodied the fruit of vātsalya-rati.
The whole dilemma is solved by studying the 34th verse of Gaura-gaṇoddeśa-dīpikā which cites from Gauracandrodaya/Caitanyacandrodayanāṭakam10.74 (another work by Kavi Karṇapūra Gosvāmī) – “gaura-candrodaye ‘dvaitaṁ prati gaura-vaco yathā ‘dāsye kecana kecana praṇayinaḥ sakhye ta evobhaye rādhāmādhavaniṣṭhayā katipaye śrīdvārakādhīśituḥ sakhyādāvubhayatra kecana pare vāvatārāntare mayyābaddhahṛdo ‘khilān vitanavai vṛndāvanāsaṅginaḥ”/“गौरचन्द्रोद्वयेऽद्वैतं प्रति गौरवचो यथा ‘दास्ये केचन केचन प्रणयिनः सख्ये त एवोभये राधामाधवनिष्ठया कतिपये श्रीद्वारकाधीशितु: सख्यादावुभयत्र केचन परे ये वावतारान्तरे मय्याबद्धहृदोऽखिलान्वितनवै वृन्दावनासङ्गगिन:”. The above statements of Caitanyadeva proclaim that He will, in the Gaurāvatāra, attract the bhaktas of all bhagavat-svarūpas (like Rāmacandra, Dvārakādhīśa, Nṛsiṁha etc.) and bhaktas of all rasas/ratis (like dāsya, sakhya etc. – both or rāga and vidhi types – as the bhaktas of Rāma/Nṛsiṁha etc. are vidhi-bhaktas) and will influence them by bestowing on them the ‘āsakti’ or attachment for the mood of Vraja/Vṛndāvanam. What does this really mean? Does it mean that Caitanyadeva will transform the bhaktas of other bhagavat-svarūpas into the bhaktas of Nanda-nanda and, also, the bhaktas in other ratis/rasas like dāsya etc. into the śṛṅgāra devotees? Not at all. It, simply, means that the bhaktas of vidhi-mārga (aiśvarya-jñāna) devoted to the worship of other bhagavat-svarūpas like Rāma/Nṛsiṁha/Dvārkādhīśa etc. will continue their respective worships with an add-on peculiarity of developing a high regard for the Vraja-rasopāsanā and the rāga-mārga (though, not necessarily entering the domain of and traversing the path of rāga-mārga). If not so, intimate associates of Caitanyadeva like Śuklāmbara/Nṛsiṁhānanda Brahmacārī & Anupama Vallabha Gosvāmī would have renounced their respective vidhi-mārgīya worships of Nṛsiṁha & Rāghava, respectively, something not seen in the actuality. Also, what it means is that the bhaktas of dāsya etc. ratis will not forsake their respective ratis and all come on the level of śṛṅgāra/unnatojjvala-rasa. Otherwise, we would have seen, bhaktas like Mīnaketana Rāmadāsa (One of the twelve sakhya-rasāśrita gopālas/gopas of the Vraja-līlā and eternal companion of Balarāma of Vraja and Nityānanda Avadhūta of Navadvīpa-līlā; Mīnaketana Rāmadāsa is mentioned in CC 1.11.53 and in the whole 5th Chapter of the Ādi-līlā of Caitanya-caritāmṛta.) switching over to the śṛṅgāra/mañjarī-bhāva – something not seen to have happened. All what the statements of Caitnayadeva as cited from Caitanya-candrodaya-nāṭaka in the Gaura-gaṇoddeśa-dīpikā 34 mean is that the bhaktas of various bhagavat-svarūpas like Rāma etc. & the bhaktas of various ratis/rasas like dāsya etc. – will develop a high regard for the śṛṅgāra-rasa-upāsanā and esp. the unnata-ujjvala-rasa/mañjarī-bhāva/bhāvollāsa-rati/rādhā-kaiṅkarya – though being situated in their own respective devotional positions as before. Hence, it has been established once and for all that Gauḍīya Sampradāya is for all types of bhagavat-svarūpa-upāsakas and for the bhaktas of all mārgas (vidhi and rāga) and for the bhaktas of various ratis/rasas (dāsya etc.) – though, its unique contribution, predominant mood of and emphasis on the unnata-ujjvala-rasa will remain for eternality, without doubt. Only the ‘Rupānuga’ camp of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava Sampradāya is exclusive mañjarī-bhāva-āśrita-upasanā-pradhāna, and not the whole Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism.
Various vaiṣṇava sampradāyas in Vedic Dharma are specialised in various bhakti-rasa-upāsanās like the Vallabhīya Śuddhādvaita-vedāntī Puṣṭi-mārga in the rāga-mārgīya vātsalya & sakhya upāsanās dedicated to Nandanandana + the Mādhva Dvaita-vedāntī Tattva-vādī Sampradāya in the dāsya and sakhya upāsanās of vidhi-mārga dedicated to Dvārakādhīśa Vāsudeva + the Viśiṣṭādvaita-vedāntī Rāmānujīya Śṛi-vaiṣṇava Sampradāya + Viṣṇusvāmī Rudra Sampradāya dedicated to the vidhi-mārgīya dāsya-bhakti upāsanā dedicated to Vaikuṇṭhanātha + the Nimbārkīya Svābhāvika-dvaitādvaita-vedāntī Sampradāya dedicated to the vidhi-mārgīya śrṅgāra-rasa-upāsanā to the Golokādhipati Kṛṣna (not Vrajendranandana) + the Ānandādvaitīya Rāmānandīya Rāmāvata Sampradāya dedicated to the all 5 rasas’ upāsanas dedicated to the Jānakī-vallabha (esp. its 17th Century Rasika-sampradāya sub-sect is a total copy of the concepts mentioned in Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi of the Rūpa Gosvāmīpāda). Whereas, the Bhāgavata-pantha sub-sect of the Śaṅkara Advaita-vedāntī Sampradāya is an endeavour by Advaitins to delve deeper into bhakti-mārga (their traditional path is the jñāna-mārga) by maintaining the conviction of – ‘bhakty-arthaṁ kalpitaṁ dvaitam advaitād api sundaram’/’भक्त्यर्थं कल्पितं द्वैतमद्वैतादपि सुन्दरम्’ or that ‘Dvaita (difference between the identities viṣayālambana vibhāva – Bhagavān and the āśrayālambana vibhāva – bhakta) is imagined (this difference doesn’t exist in actuality and in eternality – pārmārthika-bheda-niṣedhaḥ), only, for the sake of the execution of bhakti/devotion and such devotion rooted on the imagined Dvaita is even more beautiful than the Advaita (but, the ironical fact is that Advaitins consider this more beautiful nature of bhakty-artha-kalpita-dvaita to be not pāramārthika or ultimate/actual in the end).
— Gurupādācārya Svāmī