Question: I have seen on your website that you are worshiping Gaura-Gadadhara at your ashrama. Why are you worshiping Gaura-Gadadhara rather than Gaura-Nitai?
Answer: We are also worshipping Gaura-Nitai at our asrama in a separate temple. However, your question was once asked to Srila Bhakti Pramoda Puri Gosvami to which he replied:
"If you do not worship Gaura-Gadadhara then you cannot understand Radha and Krsna."
In essence, it is as straight forward as that - without approaching Radha and Krsna through Gaura-lila we will be baffled in our attempt.
There is no difference between Radha-Krsna and Gaura-Gadadhara. Gaura-Gadadhara and Radha-Krsna are identical and have decended to teach the mellow of sankirtana-rasa, madhurya-rasa. Through Caitanya-lila we can approach the lake of the sweetest nectar.
krsna-lila amrta-sara, tara sata sata dhara
dasa-dike vahe yaha haite
sri caitanya-lila haya, sarovara aksaya
mano-hamsa caraha tahate
"The pastimes of Krsna are the quintessence of all divine nectar, and Caitanya-lila is an inexhaustible lake of that nectar which, flowing in hundreds of streams, floods the hearts of the devotees in all directions. Therefore, O nectar-seeking friend, please let your mind swim in that lake like a regal swan." (C.c. Madhya-lila 25.271)
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura says,
bhale gora-gadadharer arati nehari
nadiya-puraba-bhave jau bolihari
"As I behold the wondrous arati of my Lords Gaura and Gadadhara, I enter into the mood of Their existence previous to appearing in Nadiya (Their Vrndavana-lila as Sri Sri Radha-Madhava). It is simply indescribable."
At his place of bhajana in Godrumadvipa known as Svananda Sukhada-kunja, Bhakivinoda Thakura installed beautiful Deities of Sri Sri Gaura-Gadadhara and composed these beautiful prayers.
ha ha mora gaura-kisora
kabe doya kori' sri godruma-bane
dekha dibe mana-cora
"Oh, my most youthful Lord Gaura-kisora! When will You be merciful and show Yourself to me, thus stealing my mind within the forest of Godruma?"
ananda-sukhada, kunjer bhitore,
gadadhare bame kori'
kancana-barana, cancara cikura,
natana suvesa dhori'
"Within the grove of Ananda-sukhada-kunja, You stand with Sri Gadadhara on Your left side, radiating the effulgence of pure gold. With beautiful curling hair, You are wearing the fine dress of a dramatic actor."
dekhite dekhite, sri radha-madhava,
rupete koribe ala
sakhi-gana-sange, koribe natana,
"In an instant Sri Sri Radha-Madhava will appear and brilliantly illuminate the entire scene. Accompanied by all of Their confidential friends and associates, They will dance with Their necks decorated with various types of golden necklaces."
ananga-manjari, sadoy hoiya,
e dasi-korete dhori'
duhe nivedibe, dunhara maduri,
heribo nayana bhari'
"The merciful Ananga Manjari, catching the hands of this maidservant, will take me to offer me in devotion unto Sri Sri Radha-Madhava, and my eyes will be brimming with pleasure to behold the beauty and sweetness of Them both."
When completing the compilation of Bhagavata Arka Marici-mala, Bhaktivinoda also expressed his vision of Gaura-Gadadhara and Radha-Madhava as follows.
"The garland of verses from Srimad Bhagavatam sewn by Bhaktivinoda, who is always absorbed in ecstatic love for Sri Gaura and Gadadhara, is now complete. Those devotees who blissfully relish this book daily will certainly obtain the mercy of Sri Radha-Madhava. Sri Radha-Madhava have appeared in Sri Navadvipa in Gauda-mandala along with Their abode Vraja, as Sri Gadadhara-Gauranga, and They have performed Their eternal pastimes in a different manner."
Why should we give so much consideration to the words of Bhaktivinoda? Because we are in the parampara of Bhaktivinoda. We are 'Bhaktivinoda-parivara' (members of the transcendental family of Bhaktivinoda, Kamala-manjari). Therefore, we take his words as supreme guidance. Bhaktivinoda Thakura appeared in this world to reveal the place of Sri Caitanya's appearance and to teach us the most effective mood of worship in Gaura-lila.
Some people claim to be raganugas (followers of the path of spontaneous love) and others claim to be rupanugas (followers of Srila Rupa Gosvami) but in this day and age that is not enough. If you are not a follower of Bhaktivinoda, if you have not placed your head at his divine lotus feet and begged to be admitted as a member of his clan, then you are nowhere!
The position of Bhaktivinoda Thakura is so exulted that at the end of his commentary on Caitanya-caritamrta, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta wrote that he saw Bhaktivinoda as Gadadhara Pandita. It may be inconceivable to our tiny brains how such transcendental arrangments are possible, but the deep thinking devotees know that such divine wonders are possible by the grace of the Lord.
Srila BR Sridhara Deva Gosvami Maharaja spoke of this as follows in Follow the Angels.
"In another place he (Bhaktisiddhanta) wrote that the eternal pastimes are always going on in Navadvipa-dhama. Sometimes they are underground, invisible to us, and sometimes on the surface. Nitya-lila always is invisible to us. Now, suddenly, these two personalities have come to the surface, Gadadhara Pandita and Svarupa Damodara. Both have come. Svarupa Damodara came as Gaura-kisora and Gadadhara Pandita came as Bhaktivinoda Thakura. This is not to be given expression in any and every place. This is concealed truth, not to be expressed everywhere and anywhere. This is the fact: they are always here, continuing their own function, their participation in the lila of Gauranga. Sometimes it is underground, sometimes over-ground, but it is always difficult to recognize them.
'I suddenly found Svarupa Damodara as Gaura-kisora, and Gadadhara Pandita as Bhaktivinoda Thakura — they most graciously gave me that sort of vision. I could see them as two parsadas, the eternal companions of Gauranga. I found that."' It is mentioned in the conclusion to his Caitanya-caritamrta Anubhasya, "'Here, in Navadvipa-dhama, the eternal pastimes are going on continuously; only those who have got that deep vision can perceive it.'
gadadhara mitra-vara, sri svarupa damodara,
sada kala gaura-krsna yaje
jagatera dekhi' klesa, dhariya bhiksuka-vesa,
aharaham krsna-nama bhaje
sri gaura icchaya dui, mahima ki kava mui,
prakata haiya seve, krsna-gaurabhinna-deve,
aprakasya katha yatha tatha
'It is very difficult to perceive the sweet will of Sri Gauranga, but if we can lift ourselves to that level, we see that Svarupa Damodara Gosvami and Sri Gadadhara Pandita are always engaged in their service here in Navadvipa. Sometimes it is suppressed and sometimes it is appearing on the surface. In that plane all is going on by the sweet will of Sri Gauranga, without any restriction. But now I find that those two have appeared on the surface as Srila Gaura-kisora Dasa Babaji and Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. I have seen it with my own eye of divine service. But this is not to be advertised, not to be given publicity anywhere and everywhere; people will laugh at it. But this is my heartfelt conclusion.' (Follow the Angels - available online)
When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu decends He does so with His associates, the Pancha-tattva and others. Together they teach the fallen souls how to perform pure devotional service to the divine couple in five transcendental mellows culminating in madhurya-rasa.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is Krsna Himself, concealed with the luster and mood of Srimati Radharani - mahaprabhu sri caitanya radha-krsna nahe anya. With the luster and mood of the supreme lover of Krsna, Vrndavana-candra has appeared to taste the transcendental mellows of His own sweet devotional service.
Although Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is Krsna Himself, He should not be confused as Navadvipa-nagara, a paramour or an enjoyer. Those who are malajusted and make the mistake of considering Mahaprabhu as an enjoyer are mixing incompatible mellows and are thus comitting a great offence. Their devotional service is thus ruined.
In the Panca-tattva to the right of Mahaprabhu is Nityananda who is non-different from Baladeva. Sri Baladeva is the origin of the guru-tattva for the rasas of santa-rasa, dasya-rasa, sakya-rasa, and vatsalya-rasa. Thus in Gaura-lila, Nityananda Prabhu heads the guru-varga of those devotees absorbed in santa, dasya, sakya, and vatsalya-rasas.
To the left of Mahaprabhu is Gadadhara Pandita who is non-different from Radharani. Srimati Radharani is the origin of the guru-tattva in madhurya-rasa. Thus in Gaura-lila, Gadadhara Pandita heads the guru-varga of those devotees absorbed in the mellow sweetness of madhurya-rasa.
If you are chanting the Panca-tattva mantra or worshipping the Deities of Panca-tattva then you are also worshipping Gaura-Gadadhara, but you are most probably doing that without any specific focus or attention. In other words you are doing so indirectly or in general.
Gadadhar Pandita has the greatest love for Mahaprabhu. His love for Mahaprabhu is catagorically greater than even that of Nityananda or Advaita Acarya. And how could it be otherwise? He is non-different from Radharani, the greatest lover of Krsna. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura comments in this regard as follows:
"Sri Gadadhara Pandita Gosvami was the foremost amongst Mahaprabhu's intimate devotees. As he is the origin of the sakti-tattva, he was present in the Lord's pastimes at both Navadvipa and Nilacala. He lived first in Navadvipa, and later he lived as a ksetra-sannyasi in a subforest near the ocean at Nilacala. The pure devotees who worship the sweet feature of Sri Sri Radha-Govinda take shelter of Gadadhara and thus become known as intimate devotees of Sri Gaura. Those who are not enthusiastic to worship the sweet feature of the Lord perform devotional service under the shelter of Nityananda Prabhu." (Caitanya-bhagavata, Adi 2.2, Purport)
When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is worshipped on the path of archana-marga He is worshipped along with Visnu-priya but when he is worshipped on the path of bhajana-marga He is worshipped along with Gadadhara Pandita. Gaura-Visnu-priya means Sri Caitanya as Gaura Narayana and Visnu-priya as Bhu-devi (consort of Narayana). In the spontneous stage of bhajana Lord Gauranga and Gadadhara Pandita are worshiped in raga-marga - Gauranga as Madhava and Gadadhara as Radharani. This is also confirmed in Jaiva Dharma, chapter 14.
Arcana or Deity worship is in and of itself not considered by our acaryas as bhajana. This is no doubt a subtle topic but we must endeavor nonetheless to have some proper understanding of it.
Arcana or the process of Deity worship is considered a practice of vaidhi-bhakti wherein one's devotional service is regulated by rules and regulations while one's mood is in awe and reverence. At this stage the worshipper still has attraction for aisvarya (opulence) and rituals such as performing mudras and yajnas (fire sacrifices), etc.
Bhajana however is a stage of bhakti or devotional service that transcends worship. It is difficult to find a single English word equlivent to bhajana. Simply to substitute the word worship for bhajana will not surfice.
Bhajana is considered to be raganuga-bhakti or the process of expressing one's natural spontaneous love for the supreme object of love, Sri Krsna. In such a stage of pure devotional love one transcends rules and regulations in favor of spontaneous affection to which opulences and rituals fall by the wayside. In such a stage awe and reverence also vanish and one knows the object of love as one's dearmost.
When the higher devotee installs a Deity and performs Deity worship then that is also bhajana, but generally speaking bhajana means chanting the Holy Name. When advanced sentiments of love of God manifest in a devotee who always chants the name of Krsna with love, such a devotee is said to be performiing bhajana.
In other words bhajana is not just anyone's chanting of the Holy Name. Bhajana is a stage of affection for Krsna that is achieved through pure chanting.
The solace for the neophyte devotees is that we should always think that, "my guru is worshipping the Deity and I am simply assisting". If we think in this way then our progress is guaranteed.
The worship of Gaura-Nitai has for many devotees become synonymous with sankirtana-lila and this is rightly so. But sankirtana may be performed in either vaidhi-bhakti or in raganuga-bhakti depending on the stage of one's advancement. In fact one may worship Gaura-Nitai and perform sankirtana simply as a matter of yuga-dharma (duty) or one may perform sankirtana in the mood of prema-dharma (the religion based on divine love). Gaura-Gadadhara however are only worshipped in the mood of prema-dharma.
Sometimes a neophyte devotee rejects or even ridicules the worship of Gaura-Nitai thinking that he should only be engaged in the highest type of service, the worship of Gaura- Gadadhara. Such a mentality falls short of the proper siddhanta and is certainly hellish. In reality both Gaura-Nitai and Gaura-Gadadhara are worshipped by the pure devotees.
gadadhara-devera sankalpa ei-rupa
nityananda-nindakera na dekhena mukha
This is the vow of Gadadhara: he would never see the face of one who offends Nityananda.
nityananda-svarupere priti yara nani
dekha o na dena tare pandita-gosai
Gadadhara Pandita would avoid being seen by anyone who has no love for Nityananda Svarupa. (Caitanya-bhagavata, Antya 124-125)
gadadhara subha-drsti karena yahare
se janite pare nityananda-svarupere
Whoever receives the merciful glance of Gadadhara can know Nityananda Svarupa.
nityananda-svarupo yahare prita mane
laoyayena gadadhara jane se-i jane
And whoever Nityananda is pleased with can know Sri Gadadhara.
(Caitanya-bhagavata, Antya 7, 161-162)
The first Deities of Gaura-Gadadhara to be installed in a temple can be found at Campahati in West Bengal not far from Sridhama Mayapura. This temple of Gaura-Gadadhara was established by Vaninatha Vipra a devotee of Sri Caitanya. In the beginning of the 20th century Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura had this temple renovated and revived the service of the Deity.
Other Deities of Gaura-Gadadhara can be seen at Bhaktivinoda's birth place in Viranagar, at Bhaktivinoda's place of bhajana (Svananda -sukada-kunja) in Godrumadvipa, at the Adbhuta Mandira at Yogapitha in Mayapura, at the Gadai-Gauranga Gaudiya Matha in Dacca, at Gopinatha Gaudiya Matha in Mayapura and at many other Gaudiya Mathas.
Put simply, we are worshipping Sri Sri Gaura-Gadadhara because we have been directed to do so by the example of our previous acharyas. The worship of Gaura-Gadadhara is a fundamental aspect of Gaudiya Vaisnavaism and is not to be neglected or forgotten. One cannot even think of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura or Srila Sarasvati Thakura without accepting the worship of Gaura-Gadadhara, it is inseparable from their very life of Krsna consciousness.
nilambhodi tate sada sva viraha ksepanvitam bandhavam
srimad bhagavati katha madiraya sañjivayan bhati yah
srimad bhagavatam sada sva nayanasru payanaih pujayan
gosvami pravaro gadadhara vibhur bhuyat mad eka gatih
"On the sands of the blue ocean in Puri, feeling deep separation from Himself (Krsna), Mahaprabhu is consoled by His friend Gadadhara (Radharani). As one nears death, suffering the loss of a beloved, Gadadhara tries to resuscitate Mahaprabhu by supplying the intoxicating wine of krsna-katha to drown the agony of separation plaguing His heart. As Gadadhara sings the songs of the Bhagavata, tears cascade from his eyes, like a shower of flower offerings, washing the words from its pages. My only goal is to enter that current of devotion flowing from the divine heart of that best of Gosvamis - Gadadhara." (verse by Srila B.R. Sridhara Deva Gosvami Maharaja)
"Just remember the artistically playful pastimes of Gaura and Gadadhara. Just become a loyal follower of Gaura and Gadadhara's camp. Just listen to the captivating stories of Gaura and Gadadhara and just worship the beautiful Moon of Godruma's forest bowers."
(Godruma Bhajanopadesa by Bhaktivinoda Thakura)