Prākṛta-sahajiyās are those who understand the transcendental pastimes (aprākṛta-līlā) of the transcendental Supreme Lord to be prākṛta, or mundane, like the affairs of ordinary men and women, and who think that the aprākṛta-tattva (transcendental truth) is attained by material practices. One can simply express it like this: Contrary to the instructions of Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī, the transcendental preceptor of divine mellows, they imagine themselves to be gopīs. They decorate the inert, gross, material male body in the dress of a woman and act out performing bhajana with their fabricated gopī-bhāva. Those who do this are called prākṛta-sahajiyās. While maintaining the mood of a male within their hearts, these people outwardly hide their male bodies by keeping long hair like women, and wearing rings in their noses, long veils, sārīs or voluminous skirts, bodices, bangles on their wrists, girdles on their waists, ankle-bells on their feet, golden ornaments and so on. They introduce themselves by names like Lalitā or Viśākhā. On the pretext of parakīya-bhajana, they keep young women in their āśramas as maidservants and maintain illicit relations with them. Such is their anti-scriptural conduct.
Others do not adorn their male bodies in the dress of women but support the conception of those who do. With flirtatious gestures, they indiscriminately sing about the confidential loving play of Rāī-Kānū (Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa) in the presence of any ordinary people in the marketplace, without considering the eligibility of their audience. They give pretentious lectures on rāsa-līlā and imitate it. Thus these debauchees cheapen the aprākṛta-rasa for the jaḍa (material) rasa. They believe that it is absolutely necessary to keep the company of another’s wife as an illicit paramour in order to realize aprākṛta-rasa. Conversely, they think that Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī and Śrīla Narottama Ṭhākura cannot possibly be rasika, because Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī was a brahmacārī from boyhood and Śrīla Narottama Ṭhākura never entered household life. Such people, also, come in the category of prākṛta-sahajiyā.
Externally Śrīman Mahāprabhu was male, but internally He used to nurture the mood of a gopī in the service of Kṛṣṇa. These people act in a completely contradictory manner. They nurture the mood of a male within their hearts but externally they hide it by trying to cover their outer limbs with the attire of a gopī. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has explained that gopī-bhāva is the dharma of the ātmā, but the prākṛta-sahajiyās think that gopī-bhāva is the dharma of the body.
antare niṣṭhā kara, bāhye loka-vyavahāra
acirāt kṛṣṇa tomāya karibe uddhāra
Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya-līlā 16.239)
mane’ nija-siddha-deha kariyā bhāvana
rātri-dine kare vraje kṛṣṇera sevana
Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya-līlā 22.157)
Here Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is saying that in the beginning, one’s niṣṭhā, firm faith, is to be kept within the core of one’s heart, and at the same time one is to behave like an ordinary person in order to sustain one’s life. Gradually, when one’s faith becomes mature, one’s worldly activities will also come to correspond with one’s bhajana; that is, they will become favourable to bhajana. In such a condition, one should meditate on one’s internally conceived siddha-deha which is suitable for the service of the Divine Couple, and in the core of one’s heart one should mentally serve Them (aprākṛta mānasī-sevā). By following this procedure, at first one attains svarūpa-siddhi, realization of one’s eternal spiritual body. Ultimately, at the stage of vastu-siddhi in prakaṭa Vraja, after giving up the material body, one receives the body of a gopī corresponding to one’s internally conceived siddha-deha.
In Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, in the section on rāgānuga-bhakti-sādhana (1.2.293–295), Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has said:
kṛṣṇaṁ smaran janaṁ cāsya
kuryād vāsaṁ vraje sadā
siddha-rūpeṇa cātra hi
vaidha-bhakty uditāni tu
yānyaṅgāni ca tānyatra
The meaning is that one should always reside in Vraja, continuously remembering Śrī Kṛṣṇa and those dear associates of His whom one aspires to follow, and one should remain absorbed in hearing about their pastimes. If one is unable to reside in Vraja directly, then one should reside in Vraja by mind. On the path of spontaneous devotion (rāgānuga), one should follow Kṛṣṇa’s intimate beloved associates and their followers, always remaining absorbed in their service. This should be done with the sādhaka-rūpa, the present external material body, and also in siddha-rūpa, the internally conceived body suitable for rendering the type of service to Śrī Kṛṣṇa for which one’s heart is eager. One should eagerly desire the bhāva, the special loving mood, of those associates of Kṛṣṇa in Vraja whom one aspires to follow. Learned scholars who know bhakti-tattva point out that in vaidhī-bhakti one is instructed to observe the limbs of bhakti such as śravaṇa and kīrtana according to one’s eligibility. These same instructions also apply in rāgānuga-bhakti.
Śrīman Mahāprabhu and Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, who fulfilled Mahāprabhu’s innermost desire, have never instructed any male practitioners to hide their male forms and keep a braid, wear a veil, skirt, blouse and ornaments of a woman, and then perform rāgānuga-bhajana with others’ wives. Rather, in all cases they have said that such behaviour is abominable and opposed to śāstra. To establish a high ideal for practitioners of bhakti, Śrīman Mahāprabhu rejected Choṭa Haridāsa. The same immaculate ideal has also been set by the six Gosvāmīs. In his Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi and other writings, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has advised the performance of sādhana-bhajana following in the cooling footprints of the Śrutis (the personified Vedas) and the sages of Daṇḍakāraṇya. Śrī Svarūpa Dāmodara, Śrī Rāya Rāmānanda, Śrī Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī, Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī, Śrī Narottama Ṭhākura, Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura and others are shining examples of such bhajana. How pure their lives were! It is proper for pure devotees to follow such great spiritual personalities.
Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura has written in his essay entitled The Depravity of the Sahajiyā Doctrine : “A loathsome ideology is spreading insidiously in many places in Bengal. All the activities and conduct prescribed by this sahajiyā doctrine are extremely corrupt and contemptible. The jīva is spiritual, and its only natural dharma is spiritual service to Kṛṣṇa.
The word sahaja means saha-ja, i.e., that which arises along with the ātmā. For the pure ātmā, transcendental service to Kṛṣṇa is sahaja, or natural, because it is intrinsic to the jivātmā’s constitution. However, it is not natural for one in the state of being bound by inert matter. Sahajiyās cheat others and are themselves cheated or deprived of their pure and natural love for Kṛṣṇa by saying that the mundane union of man and woman is a natural and spiritual dharma. In actuality, the union of man and woman is not a natural dharma. On the contrary, the natural dharma of the ātmā finds the union of the dull male and female bodies extremely loathsome, depraved and inappropriate. What is called sahajiyā-dharma nowadays is totally immoral, contrary to saintly behaviour and opposed to śāstra. Pure Vaiṣṇavas should be extremely careful in regard to this. That dharma in which the custom is to accept a mantra in the left ear is in all respects a deviation.
“We never find anywhere in the scriptures instructions such as, ‘One should associate with a woman in order to attain Vrajendra-nandana.’ On entering into madhura-rasa, the minute conscious jīva attains his natural condition. Then there is no necessity whatsoever to associate with the inanimate material nature. Choṭa Haridāsa, himself being prakṛti [female nature, that is, to be enjoyed by the Supreme Male], was rejected by Mahāprabhu for committing the offence of conversing in puruṣa-bhāva (male mood) with another prakṛti. Licentious people misinterpret the verse vairāgī kare prakṛti sambhāṣaṇa in Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya-līlā 2.117) and create a path of their own sense gratification, but pure Vaiṣṇavas neglect them. Association with a married woman is not part of bhajana even for householders; therefore association with women has been accepted in a regulated way that is free from sin, for conducting household life.
“It is the opinion of pure Vaiṣṇavas that male sādhakas should perform bhajana and remain separate from female sādhakas. A female sādhaka should not invite any male person to her bhajana party. Bhajana is a completely spiritual activity. When even the slightest mundane sentiment is allowed to enter, it becomes ruined.”