Ramananda Raya’s Disappearance Day, part one

Ramananda Raya’s Disappearance Day, part one
A Lecture by Giriraj Swami
May 25, 2008
Houston

Today is an auspicious day in Krsna consciousness. Of course, every day is
auspicious in Krsna consciousness. When we first arrived in India, in
Bombay, Srila Prabhupada was invited to a program on the lawn of an
aristocratic gentleman’s house. Most of us went ahead, and Srila Prabhupada
followed with a few disciples. When we arrived, ours hosts told us, “It is
very auspicious that you have come today, because today is a holy day.” We
had never heard of the holy day and were somewhat doubtful, so when Srila
Prabhupada arrived I asked him, “Is it true that today is a holy day?” And
Srila Prabhupada replied, “For us every day is a holy day; we are Krsna’s
servants.”

But today is a special holy day because it is the disappearance day of one
of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s most confidential associates, Sri Ramananda
Raya. Lord Caitanya is Krsna Himself in the mood of Srimati Radharani, with
Her bodily luster. Thus Lord Caitanya is the combined form of Radha and
Krsna (sri-krsna-caitanya radha-krsna nahe anya). And in krsna-lila
Ramananda Raya is the gopi Visakha, one of the most confidential associates
of both Srimati Radharani and Krsna. Spiritually, Visakha enjoyed a very
intimate relationship with both Sri Krsna and Sri Radha.

In His later years, after He toured South India, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu
retired to Jagannatha Puri, and He experienced intense separation from
Krsna, just like Srimati Radharani did after Krsna left Vrndavana. In that
ecstatic mood of separation, He would confide in two very close
associates–Sri Svarupa Damodara Gosvami, who in krsna-lila is the gopi
Lalita, and Sri Ramananda Raya.

Today we shall read about the first meeting between Lord Caitanya and
Ramananda Raya. Lord Caitanya was just beginning His tour of South India.
When He arrived in Jagannatha Puri from Navadvipa after taking sannyasa, He
went straight to the Jagannatha temple, and as soon as He saw Lord
Jagannatha He fainted in ecstasy. He had been in the mood of searching for
Krsna, and when He saw Jagannatha He felt that He had found His Lord, for
whom He was searching, and fell into a deep ecstatic trance. Eventually,
Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya, the chief appointed pandita in the court of the
king, Maharaja Prataparudra, removed Sri Caitanya to his home, and there
they had some discussions. When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was about to depart
on His tour of South India, Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya suggested that He meet
and speak with Ramananda Raya, a most learned scholar and expert in the
transcendental mellows of devotional service (bhakti-rasa).

Eventually Lord Caitanya and Ramananada Raya met on the banks of the
Godavari. Their meeting is vividly described in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta.
After their initial meeting they decided to meet again in the evening to
discuss confidential topics of Krsna. Their discussions, called
ramananda-samvada, contain all the truths of Gaudiya Vaisnava philosophy
(siddhanta) and, with Lord Caitanya’s instructions to Rupa Gosvami
(rupa-siksa) and His instructions to Sanatana Gosvami (sanatana-siksa), are
most important for understanding Vaisnava siddhanta, both rasa and tattva.

We shall read from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, Chapter Eight:
“Talks Between the Lord and Ramananda Raya.”

TEXT 1

sancarya ramabhidha-bhakta-meghe
 sva-bhakti-siddhanta-cayamrtani
gaurabdhir etair amuna vitirnais
 taj-jnatva-ratnalayatam prayati

TRANSLATION

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is known as Gauranga, is the reservoir of all
conclusive knowledge in devotional service. He empowered Sri Ramananda Raya,
who may be likened to a cloud of devotional service. This cloud was filled
with all the conclusive purports of devotional service and was empowered by
the ocean to spread this water over the sea. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself
was the ocean of knowledge of pure devotional service.

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

In this discussion between Ramananda Raya and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Lord
Caitanya took the position of the student, or questioner, and Ramananda Raya
was obliged to take the position of the teacher, or respondent. Ramananda
Raya was hesitant, because apart from Caitanya Mahaprabhu being the Supreme
Personality of Godhead, in terms of the Vedic social system He was a
brahmana and a sannyasi, whereas Ramananda Raya, although a most learned
scholar and exalted devotee, was a grhastha and was considered a sudra. So
it was awkward for him to instruct Caitanya Mahaprabhu, but Mahaprabhu told
him, kiba vipra, kiba nyasi, sudra kene naya: it doesn’t matter whether one
is a brahmana, a sudra, a sannyasi, or whatever; yei krsna-tattva-vetta, sei
‘guru’ haya: anyone who knows the science of Krsna is a guru.

We shall read from the beginning of their discussion.

TEXT 56

namaskara kaila raya, prabhu kaila alingane
dui jane krsna-katha kaya rahah-sthane

TRANSLATION

Ramananda Raya approached Lord Sri Caitanya and offered his respectful
obeisances, and the Lord embraced him. Then they began to discuss Krsna in a
secluded place.

TEXT 57

prabhu kahe,–“pada sloka sadhyera nirnaya”
raya kahe,–“sva-dharmacarane visnu-bhakti haya”

TRANSLATION

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu ordered Ramananda Raya to recite a verse from the
revealed scriptures concerning the ultimate goal of life.

Ramananda replied, “If one executes the prescribed duties of his social
position, he awakens his original Krsna consciousness.

COMMENT

The original word in the text is sadhya–“the goal of life,” “that which is
to be achieved.” Sadhana is the means by which we achieve the goal. Lord
Caitanya asked Ramananda Raya to say something about sadhya, the ultimate
goal of life, and Ramananda Raya replied by citing different verses.

First, Ramananda Raya quoted a verse from the Visnu Purana:

TEXT 58

varnasramacara-vata
 purusena parah puman
visnur aradhyate pantha
 nanyat tat-tosa-karanam

TRANSLATION

“‘The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Visnu, is worshiped by the proper
execution of prescribed duties in the system of varna and asrama. There is
no other way to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One must be
situated in the institution of the four varnas and asramas.'”

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

This is a quotation from the Visnu Purana (3.8.9). As stated by Srila
Bhaktivinoda Thakura in his Amrta-pravaha-bhasya, “The purport is that one
can realize life’s perfection simply by satisfying the Supreme Personality
of Godhead.” This is also confirmed in Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.2.13):

atah pumbhir dvija-srestha
 varnasrama-vibhagasah
sv-anusthitasya dharmasya
 samsiddhir hari-tosanam

“O best among the twice-born, it is therefore concluded that the highest
perfection one can achieve by discharging the duties prescribed for one’s
own occupation according to caste divisions and orders of life is to please
the Personality of Godhead.”

COMMENT

The goal of all of our activities should be to please Krsna, and in the
verse quoted by Ramananda Raya, executing one’s duties according to one’s
varna and asrama is recommended. Prabhupada often said that
varnasrama-dharma is the beginning of human life. Dharmena hinah pasubhih
samanah: without dharma, men are on the level of animals. Why? Because
dharma, religious principles, or varnasrama-dharma, occupational duties,
regulate the activities of the living being. Without being regulated a
person is just like an animal. An animal eats whatever he wants, sleeps
whenever he wants for as long as he can, has sex with whomever he wants
whenever he can, and defends himself, arranges some shelter for himself,
however he can. Even if a man engages his superior, human intelligence in
these same activities, he is no better than an animal.

The human being may eat on a nice plate on a nice table, and the animal may
eat on the floor of the jungle, but the animal enjoys his eating as much as
the human being. The human may sleep on a nice mattress in a nice house, and
the animal may sleep on the ground, but when asleep the animal doesn’t know
he is sleeping on the ground or the human that he is sleeping on a mattress.
Sleeping is the same, and in fact the human’s sleep might be more disturbed
than the animal’s, because he has so many worries and anxieties and causes
of depression. And the animal might defend himself with his teeth and claws,
and the human with sophisticated weapons of mass destruction, but it is the
same principle–defending.

Eating, sleeping, mating, and defending are common to human beings and
animals. What distinguishes a human from an animal is dharma, following
religious principles to become God conscious. Otherwise, there is no
difference.

ahara-nidra-bhaya-maithunam ca
 samanyam etat pasubhir naranam
dharmo hi tesam adhiko viseso
 dharmena hinah pasubhih samanah

“Both animals and men share the activities of eating, sleeping, mating, and
defending. But the special property of the humans is that they are able to
engage in spiritual life. Therefore without spiritual life, humans are on
the level of animals.” (Hitopadesa)

Now, one might question, “You mean to say that all the big leaders of the
world–the presidents and prime ministers and scientists and Nobel Prize
laureates–if they are not Krsna conscious, God conscious, they are no
better than animals?” Srimad-Bhagavatam says that they are just bigger
animals. In the jungle the small animals all fear the big animals–respect
the big animals–and the Bhagavatam says that those who never engage in
krsna-katha, who never hear the glories of the Lord, are just small animals
who praise the bigger ones. That’s all.

sva-vid-varahostra-kharaih
 samstutah purusah pasuh
na yat-karna-pathopeto
 jatu nama gadagrajah

“Men who are like dogs, hogs, camels, and asses praise those men who never
listen to the transcendental pastimes of Lord Sri Krsna, the deliverer from
evils.” (SB 2.3.19)

So, dharma is the beginning of human life, and one should execute one’s
duties in varnasrama-dharma for the pleasure of the Supreme Lord, Visnu. By
that process one advances to the goal of life.

Here, Ramananda Raya and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu are discussing krsna-katha.
And after hearing this verse, what does Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu say?

TEXT 59

prabhu kahe,–“eho bahya, age kaha ara”
raya kahe, “krsne karmarpana–sarva-sadhya-sara”

TRANSLATION

The Lord replied, “This is external. You had better tell Me of some other
means.”

Ramananda replied, “To offer the results of one’s activities to Krsna is the
essence of all perfection.”

COMMENT

Varnasrama-dharma is required, but following the regulations of
varnasrama-dharma does not necessarily mean that one will be Krsna
conscious. One can follow the rules and regulations, but if one is not in
the mood of offering the results of one’s work to Krsna, he will not be
Krsna conscious–directly Krsna conscious.

Ramananda Raya next quoted a verse from the Bhagavad-gita (9.27):

TEXT 60

yat karosi yad asnasi
 yaj juhosi dadasi yat
yat tapasyasi kaunteya
 tat kurusva mad-arpanam

TRANSLATION

“‘O son of Kunti, all that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer and
give away, as well as all austerities that you may perform, should be done
as an offering to Me.'”

COMMENT

Here we are going a step further. One still works according to one’s
position in the varnasrama system, but one offers the results of one’s work
to Krsna, as Krsna advises in the Bhagavad-gita. That is definitely a
further development. And what does Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu say?

TEXT 61

prabhu kahe,–“eho bahya, age kaha ara”
raya kahe,–“svadharma-tyaga, ei sadhya-sara”

TRANSLATION

“This is also external,” Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said. “Please proceed and
speak further on this matter.”

Ramananda Raya replied, “To give up one’s occupational duties in the
varnasrama system is the essence of perfection.”

COMMENT

Ramananda Raya cited two verses in support of this proposal, and Sri
Caitanya Mahaprabhu responded:

TEXT 64

prabhu kahe,–“eho bahya, age kaha ara”
raya kahe, “jnana-misra bhakti–sadhya-sara”

TRANSLATION

After hearing Ramananda Raya speak in this way, Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu
said, “Go ahead and say something more.”

Ramananda Raya then replied, “Devotional service mixed with empiric
knowledge is the essence of perfection.”

COMMENT

To offer the fruits of one’s work to Krsna is good, but even then one might
be attached to one’s work. To give up one’s position in varnasrama-dharma is
better because it shows more detachment. But even if one has detachment, one
may not have knowledge. So Ramananda Raya went further, including knowledge
as part of the means, with reference to a verse from the Bhagavad-gita
(18.54).

And what did Lord Caitanya say? “Eho bahya, age kaha ara.” He wanted
Ramanandaya Raya to go further. And Ramananda Raya responded.

TEXT 66

prabhu kahe, “eho bahya, age kaha ara”
raya kahe,–“jnana-sunya bhakti–sadhya-sara”

TRANSLATION

After hearing this, the Lord, as usual, rejected it, . . .

COMMENT

He rejected devotional service mixed with empiric knowledge (jnana-misra
bhakti).

TRANSLATION (continued)

. . . considering it to be external devotional service mixed with knowledge.
He again asked Ramananda Raya to speak further, and Ramananda Raya replied,
“Pure devotional service without any touch of speculative knowledge is the
essence of perfection.”

COMMENT

Ramananda Raya then quoted an important verse from the Tenth Canto of
Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.14.3):

TEXT 67

jnane prayasam udapasya namanta eva
 jivanti san-mukharitam bhavadiya-vartam
sthane sthitah sruti-gatam tanu-van-manobhir
 ye prayaso ‘jita jito ‘py asi tais tri-lokyam

TRANSLATION

Ramananda Raya continued, “[Lord Brahma said:] ‘My dear Lord, those devotees
who have thrown away the impersonal conception of the Absolute Truth and
have therefore abandoned discussing empiric philosophical truths should hear
from self-realized devotees about Your holy name, form, pastimes, and
qualities. They should follow the principles of devotional service and
remain free from illicit sex, gambling, intoxication, and animal slaughter.
Surrendering themselves fully with body, words, and mind, they can live in
any asrama or social status. Indeed, You are conquered by such persons,
although You are always unconquerable.'”

COMMENT

Then Lord Caitanya said, eho haya, “This is it!”–not eho bahya, “This is
external.” But even then He added, age kaha ara: “Please speak further.”

TEXT 68

prabhu kahe, “eho haya, age kaha ara”
raya kahe, “prema-bhakti–sarva-sadhya-sara”

TRANSLATION

At this point, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu replied, “This is all right, but
still you can speak more on the subject.”

Ramananda Raya then replied, “Ecstatic love for the Supreme Personality of
Godhead is the essence of all perfection.”

COMMENT

In the purport Srila Prabhupada says, “In his Amrta-pravaha-bhasya, Srila
Bhaktivinoda Thakura summarizes the conversation up to this point, where
Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu says to Ramananda Raya, eho haya, age kaha ara:
‘This is the process accepted in devotional service, but there is something
more than this. Therefore please explain what is beyond.'”

The point is that although the verse from Srimad-Bhagavatam describes the
process of pure devotional service, in the neophyte stage devotional
activities may sometimes appear impure; there may appear to be some material
taint in one’s devotional activities. Therefore, although Lord Caitanya
said, “You have come to this point of pure devotional service, which I
accept as the goal of life and simultaneously the means to achieve the
goal,” He also said, “Go further,” because He wanted to make sure that we
come to the goal, prema-bhakti.

Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.3.31) says, bhaktya sanjataya bhaktya: bhakti comes
from bhakti. We have come to the point of bhakti, pure bhakti, but bhaktya
sanjataya bhaktya–prema-bhakti, or sadhya-bhakti, comes from
sadhana-bhakti. Sadhana-bhakti will lead to the goal, but one must stick to
the process. If one does stick to the process, he will reach the goal,
prema-bhakti.

Now we shall discuss the process of pure devotional service described in the
verse cited by Sri Ramananda Raya, because that is a process that each and
every one of us can and should follow. It is feasible for every one of us.
We shall discuss each word, because each word is important.

Jnane here means “for speculative knowledge.” Speculative knowledge almost
always leads to an imperfect, impersonal conclusion. Prayasam means
“unnecessary endeavor”–it is unnecessary. And udapasya means “giving up
completely.” The endeavor for speculative knowledge has absolutely no value
for a devotee and should be given up completely. Namantah. In his synonyms,
Srila Prabhupada writes, “completely surrendering.” More literally, namanta
is translated as “offering obeisances.” Obeisances are an indication of
submission and surrender. Once, Srila Prabhupada paraphrased these words:
“You should give up the bad habit of speculation and just become
submissive.”

San-mukharitam bhavadiya-vartam. Bhavadiya-vartam means “discussions related
to You [Krsna],” and san-mukharitam means “from the mouths of pure devotees
[sat].” We should hear the messages of Godhead from the mouths of truthful
devotees, not from professional reciters.

In India there are many professional reciters, and some also tour. Although
they may be very popular, hearing from them will not help. People go to them
to be entertained, or they may feel that they are performing some pious
activity. But what result do they want from such piety? Often they just want
to be happy in the material world.

Srila Prabhupada spoke of one Bhagavata reciter who would tell his audience,
“Srimad-Bhagavatam teaches that you should be happy in family life.” Now,
the Bhagavatam is filled with stories of devotees who left their families to
realize God, beginning with the speaker of the Bhagavatam, Sukadeva Gosvami.
He did not remain at home long enough even to have his sacred-thread or
other ceremonies. He just walked out of the house, and his father, Srila
Vyasadeva, the literary incarnation of Godhead, went running after him into
the forest, calling for him, but all he heard was the echoing of his voice
in the trees.

yam pravrajantam anupetam apeta-krtyam
 dvaipayano viraha-katara ajuhava
putreti tan-mayataya taravo ‘bhinedus
 tam sarva-bhuta-hrdayam munim anato ‘smi

“Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto that great sage [Sukadeva
Gosvami] who can enter the hearts of all. When he went away to take up the
renounced order of life [sannyasa], leaving home without undergoing
reformation by the sacred thread or the ceremonies observed by the higher
castes, his father, Vyasadeva, fearing separation from him, cried out, ‘O my
son!’ Indeed, only the trees, which were absorbed in the same feelings of
separation, echoed in response to the begrieved father.” (SB 1.2.2)

Sukadeva Gosvami was gone. So, from the very beginning of Srimad-Bhagavatam
we hear the histories of great devotees who left hearth and home to realize
God. All five Pandavas left for the Himalayas. And Maharaja Pariksit gave up
his family and kingdom to sit on the bank of the Ganges and hear
Srimad-Bhagavatam.

Why did the professional reciter claim that the Bhagavatam teaches that you
should remain happy in family life? Prabhupada said that he wanted to get
donations from the householders, so he wanted to say something that would
please them. Sadhu means “to cut.” We have to hear from the mouths of sadhus
(san-mukharitam). Then it will be effective. Srila Prabhupada said–and I
saw it myself when I visited a large Bhagavata-saptaha–that immediately
after the recitation, everything is as it was. People do not change. After
the recitation people light up their cigarettes and talk about what a nice
katha they heard. This kind of katha–Bhagavata-saptaha or whatever–will
not help. Sanatana Gosvami says, avaisnava-mukhodgirnam putam
hari-kathamrtam sravanam naiva kartavyam: one should not hear talks about
Krsna from a non-Vaisnava. San-mukharitam–one should hear from pure
devotees, self-realized souls.

Sthane sthitah means “remaining in their position.” It doesn’t matter if one
is a grhastha. One can remain a grhastha–he need not become a sannyasi.
That is not the point. One can remain in his position in the varnasrama
system (although in natural course one may change his position), because
pure devotional service is transcendental. Anyabhilasita-sunyam
jnana-karmady-anavrtam. It is not limited by any material condition; it
cannot be covered by karma or jnana or anything else. It is transcendental.
So you can stay in your position, but you must follow the process described
here.

In his translation Srila Prabhupada writes, “You should completely follow
the principles of devotional service and remain free from illicit sex,
gambling, intoxication, and animal slaughter.” Now, we don’t find these
words in the Sanskrit. There are different types of translation, which have
different names in Sanskrit. In one kind of translation one puts a bit of
the purport into the translation, and that is what Srila Prabhupada did
here. And I really appreciate it, because one can take this phrase sthane
sthitah, “you remain in your position,” to mean, “Oh, I am fine as I am. I
was getting worried for a while, but I can stay in my position and do
everything the same.” Srila Prabhupada, perhaps anticipating such a response
from some readers, qualified the phrase right in the translation. He did not
take any chances that a reader would harbor any misconceptions  going into
the purport, but in the translation itself he says, “Yes, you can remain in
your position, but you must follow the process of devotional service and
refrain from illicit sex; gambling (and speculating); intoxicants, including
tea, coffee, and cigarettes; and eating meat, fish, or eggs.”

If you do that, you can stay in your position and become Krsna conscious.
That is the beauty of Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s movement, the beauty of the
bhakti cult, that one can remain in one’s position and execute devotional
service in Krsna consciousness. A grhastha can become a pure devotee, and a
sannyasi can become a pure devotee. Anyone can become a pure devotee if he
or she follows the process. And anyone can follow. So it is very easy. One
can remain in his or her position and simply follow. Jivanti means that a
devotee who always hears about Krsna will go back home, back to Godhead. He
or she must simply follow the regulative principles and remain alive in
Krsna consciousness by hearing and chanting about Krsna.

Tanu-van-manobhih. Tanu means “body,” vak means “words,” and mana means
“mind.” Our acaryas have explained how these words can relate to other words
in the text. The basic meaning is that one should surrender fully, with
body, words, and mind, to the topics of Krsna spoken by self-realized souls.
Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti says that one should offer all respects and
obeisances (namantah) with one’s body, words, and mind. With one’s body one
can offer obeisances to the Bhagavatam, to the speaker of the Bhagavatam,
and to the holy place in which the Bhagavatam is recited. With one’s words
one can glorify the Bhagavatam and the speakers of the Bhagavatam, and one
can repeat the message and narrations of Krsna. And with one’s mind one can
feel reverence for and take pleasure in the topics of Krsna, and one can
remember the instructions and pastimes of Krsna. Thus one can be fully
engaged with one’s body, words, and mind–not that with our body we sit in
the krsna-katha but with our mind we are somewhere else, calculating how
much money we have in the bank and if we have enough to make the next
payments. It is possible that one’s body could be in the krsna-katha but
one’s words or mind could be somewhere else. But if we always engage
everything (tanu-van-manobhih), our whole being, in krsna-katha, in Krsna
consciousness, that is pure devotional service.

And what is the result? Ye prayaso ‘jita jito ‘py asi tais tri-lokyam. One
of Krsna’s names is Ajita, “unconquerable.” Even though Krsna cannot be
conquered by any means, He can be conquered by pure devotees who follow this
process. That is the conclusion. In other words, they will come to the stage
of prema-bhakti, because Krsna is conquered only by prema, the pure love of
His devotees.

Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains tanu-van-manobhih (“by body, words, and
mind”) in relation to conquering Krsna, who is unconquerable, in three ways.
He says that nondevotees can never conquer Krsna. They cannot conquer Him by
their physical strength (like Hiranyakasipu), by their verbal expertise, or
by their mental power. Despite all their endeavors, the Absolute Truth
remains beyond their grasp. But devotees, by engaging fully in devotional
service, become perfect in Krsna consciousness, and thus they can conquer
Him. Then they can touch His lotus feet with their hands, they can call Him
to come with their words, and simply by thinking of Him they can gain His
direct audience within their minds.

His Holiness Rtadhvaja Swami told me about a dream he had last night. We
have been participating in a japa workshop, and tomorrow will be the last
day. In his dream he was chanting Hare Krsna, and Krsna appeared. This is
what we say, what our philosophy tells us: nama cintamanih krsnas
caitanya-rasa-vigrahah purnah suddho nitya-mukto ‘bhinnatvan
nama-naminoh–the name of Krsna and Krsna Himself are the same. So, in his
dream he was chanting Hare Krsna and Krsna appeared. And in his dream he
thought, “Oh, it’s true!” [laughter] This is an example of how Krsna can be
conquered by one’s words. If we chant Hare Krsna purely, Krsna comes. He
appears. And the pure devotee, the self-realized soul, if he just thinks of
Krsna, Krsna appears in his mind–or in person. He remains by the side of
His devotee.

Sanatana Gosvami further explains these words in relation to Krsna, that
Krsna’s body is conquered because He always remains by the side of His pure
devotee, His words are conquered because He always sings the praises of His
devotees, and His mind is conquered because He always thinks of His pure
devotees. One can completely conquer Krsna by pure devotional service.

In the discussion between Lord Caitanya and Ramananada Raya, this verse from
Srimad-Bhagavatam marks the beginning of pure devotional service. But the
discussion goes further. Lord Caitanya keeps saying, age kaha ara: “Speak
more; go further.” Then we come to vaidhi-bhakti and raganuga-bhakti, and
then to santa-rasa, dasya-rasa, sakhya-rasa, vatsalya-rasa, and
madhurya-rasa. In madhurya-rasa there are many gopis, and among them Srimati
Radharani is the foremost. And Srimati Radharani Herself has various
developments of ecstatic feelings, culminating in prema-vilasa-vivarta, the
height of ecstatic love in separation. When Ramananda Raya came to that
point, Caitanya Mahaprabhu covered his mouth with His hand. He said, “This
is the limit of the goal of life. Only by your mercy have I come to
understand it.”

At the end of their discussions, Ramananda Raya said to Lord Caitanya, “At
first I saw You as a sannyasi, but now I see You as Syamasundara, the
cowherd boy, and now I see you with a golden luster. Please explain the
reason.” Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was playing the part of a devotee, and for
a devotee to be addressed as Krsna or even considered on the same level as
Krsna is anathema. So Caitanya Mahaprabhu replied, “You are an advanced
devotee, and an advanced devotee–a maha-bhagavata–sees Krsna everywhere.”

sthavara-jangama dekhe, na dekhe tara murti
sarvatra haya nija ista-deva-sphurti

“The maha-bhagavata, the advanced devotee, certainly sees everything mobile
and immobile, but he does not exactly see their forms. Rather, everywhere he
immediately sees manifest the form of the Supreme Lord.” (Cc Madhya 8.274)
Then Mahaprabhu quoted a verse from Srimad-Bhagavatam that describes the
maha-bhagavata, that he doesn’t exactly see the forms of the material world
but sees Krsna manifest everywhere.

sarva-bhutesu yah pasyed
 bhagavad-bhavam atmanah
bhutani bhagavaty atmany
 esa bhagavatottamah

“A person advanced in devotional service sees within everything the soul of
souls, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna. Consequently he always
sees the form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead as the cause of all
causes and understands that all things are situated in Him.” (SB 11.2.45,
quoted as Cc Madhya 8.275)

Ramananda Raya replied, “Please give up these serious talks. Do not try to
conceal Your real form. I know who You are.” Then Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu,
out of His causeless mercy, revealed His combined form of Radha and Krsna
(rasaraja and mahabhava). We have a relief on the wall of the temple here
that shows Ramananda Raya witnessing Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu manifesting His
form as Radha and Krsna. And Ramananda Raya became overwhelmed with
transcendental bliss. There are some esoteric explanations of this pastime,
in which Caitanya Mahaprabhu revealed the confidential truth of His
identity–sri-krsna-caitanya radha-krsna nahe anya. On occasion He would
manifest Himself, but He would always say, “Do not disclose this fact to
anyone,” because He was playing the part of a devotee and wanted to maintain
His role as a devotee, to fulfill His purpose to show by example how to be a
devotee and practice pure devotional service.

Especially in Kali-yuga, people are so fallen and prone to become imitation
gods or accept imitation gods that the Lord as Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu hid
His identity. He was a channa-avatara, a “concealed incarnation,” as
mentioned in Srimad-Bhagavatam.

Srila Prabhupada told the story of a man in Calcutta who could imitate the
barking of different types of dogs. He would hold programs in halls and sell
tickets, and people would come to hear his demonstrations. Srila Prabhupada
remarked that people would pay money to hear the imitation dog but that real
dogs were barking in the street yet no one paid them heed. Similarly, the
real God–Krsna–is there, but nobody cares. Yet if some imitation God
comes, they flock. Get on a plane and go. Jump in a car and go. That is
Kali-yuga.

That is why Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s identity as Radha and Krsna was revealed
only to certain select devotees such as Ramananda Raya, and it is by their
mercy and by the mercy of Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami, who wrote Sri
Caitanya-caritamrta, and by the mercy of Srila Prabhupada, who translated
and presented it to us in a most appropriate way, through parampara, that we
are able to enter into these transcendental mysteries and have the
opportunity to realize the most confidential service of Radha and Krsna–by
their mercy, following in their footsteps.

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