Nityānanda’s Sannyāsa (05/27/05)
Daṇḍavats V_____ Mahārāja,
Thank you for clearing up the issue of the Kāma-sutra and explaining who that R_____ Mahārāja is.
Thank you also for offering me a copy of the Gīta Govinda, but we already have a Sanskrit copy of it in our reference library. If you have the one published by your saṅga I would be happy to receive it.
Once upon a time, we asked Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja about printing Govinda-līlāmṛta and he responded by saying , “Yes, you can print one deluxe copy and then place that on your altar to worship.” What he meant to say was that very high topics belong in very high places. And as Sarasvatī Ṭhākura once wrote in a letter to a disciple who was inquiring about līlā-kathā, “These high topics do not look good in our small mouths.”
So yes, some of your saṅga’s publications are indeed controversial. By and by I wanted to calmly discuss some other points of ‘contention’ with you. We have all of X_____ Mahārāja’s books in our reference library and I have gone through most of them. I have also seen many transcripts of lectures etc. of X_____ Mahārāja and those who represent him. As such I have some questions that I wanted to ask you, but being that our services keep us in different parts of the country, I thought that I might ask some of those questions via email.
For example, in one book, X_____ Mahārāja states that Nityānanda Prabhu was a sannyāsi.
“Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu’s previous name was ‘Kuvera’. ‘Nityānanda is his sannyāsa name.”
Also in a lecture of January 2, 2002, X_____ Mahārāja states:
“Mādhavendra Purīpāda was a tridaṇḍi sannyāsī, as were Īśvara Purīpāda, Śrī
Caitanya Mahāprabhu Himself, Svarūpa Dāmodara, Nityānanda Prabhu, and so
many of their associates.”
In contrast to this, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura says as follows
in his Anubhāṣya Commentary of Caitanya-bhāgavata (Madhya-khaṇḍa 5.67)
“A brahmacārī is supposed to carry the kamaṇḍalu of a parivrājaka-sannyāsī.
According to the opinion of some persons, since Śrī Nityānanda Svarūpa lived
as a brahmacārī with Śrī Lakṣmīpati Tīrtha, He had a kamaṇḍalu and a
brahmacārī daṇḍa (made from either khadira, palaśa, or bamboo). According to
others, Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu traveled as a brahmacārī with Śrī Mādhavendra
Purīpāda. At present, the brahmacārī disciples of the Tīrtha and Āśrama
sannyāsīs are known as Svarūpa. The brahmacārī disciples of Sarasvatī,
Bhāratī, and Purī sannyāsīs are known as Caitanya. The brahmacārī name of
Nityānanda Prabhu was Svarūpa. Since Svarūpa is the brahmacārī name of a
Tīrtha sannyāsī’s disciple, some people consider Him a follower of
Lakṣmīpati Tīrtha rather than a follower of Mādhavendra Purī.”
The version of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura that Nityānanda was a brahmacārī (not a
sannyāsī) is also confirmed to us by Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja on several
“Nityānanda was not a sannyāsī, he was a brahmacārī. He performed Vyāsa-pūjā
in Śrīvāsa Aṅgana. There some say that He was a sannyāsī, but there He had
no special garment either for sannyāsī or brahmacārī. He was a very
independent spirit.” (SSM lecture, 81.09.23)
“That Nityānanda was a sannyāsī, it is not a proven fact. The Nityānanda,
this is Ānanda, this indicates the affix added to brahmacārī. Ānanda,
Svarūpa, Prakāśa, all these types of brahmacārī. Ānanda, a name also in the
sannyāsī we find, but no other title. Ānanda is a part of the name but
title, no title of Nityānanda. And also no mention who was the sannyāsa-guru
of Nityānanda. But dīkṣā-guru of Nityānanda is Mādhavendra Purī, it is
known. Avadhūta does not mean who is sannyāsī. Avadhūta means who is not
very particular of his external practices and sometimes commits something
wrong which should not be committed, should not be practiced. When lower
practices are seen in connection with the high-leveled person then they are
considered as avadhūta. He is above that but his practices are of lower
nature. Ava means lower; dhūta – that also he can either remove or he can
purify.” (SSM lecture, 82.02.06)
However, the version that Nityānanda was a sannyāsī and gave up his sannyāsa
to become a gṛhastha is the version that is commonly accepted by the bābājī
and sahajiyā communities of Govardhana and Rādhā-kuṇḍa.
So my question is Mahārāja, how are we to reconcile these two different
opinions; 1) Nityānanda was a sannyāsī, 2) Nityānanda was not a sannyāsī?
This may seem trivial to some devotees, but when such clear opposing views
are published by ācāryas the tendency of most devotees is to want to know
who is wrong and who is right.
Looking forward to your early reply.
Swami B.G. Narasingha