We continue our discussion of the conversation between Sri Ramananada Raya and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, ramananda-samvada, recorded in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, Chapter Eight: “Talks Between Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Ramananda Raya.”
gaurabdhir etair amuna vitirnais
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is known as Gauranga, is the ocean 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 the water of all the conclusive purports of devotional service and was empowered by the ocean to spread this water over the sea of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself. Thus the ocean of Caitanya Mahaprabhu became filled with the jewels of the knowledge of pure devotional service.
COMMENT by Giriraj Swami
According to revealed scriptures, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is Krishna Himself, the origin of all knowledge—perfect knowledge. Here, Sri Chaitanya, the ocean of knowledge of the conclusive purports of devotional service, is taking the part of a student and asking questions, and He has empowered Sri Ramananda Raya to give perfect answers. Thus, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is compared to an ocean and Ramananda Raya to a cloud that draws water from the ocean and then showers the water over the ocean as rain.
We resume our discussion of the conversation between Ramananda Raya and Lord Chaitanya.
anyonye mili’ dunhe nibhrte vasiya
prasnottara-gosthi kahe anandita hana
Thus they met time and time again, sitting in a secluded place and jubilantly discussing devotional service by the question-and-answer process.
prabhu puche, ramananda karena uttara
ei mata sei ratre katha paraspara
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu asked the questions, and Sri Ramananda Raya gave the answers. In this way they were engaged in discussion throughout the night.
prabhu kahe,—“kon vidya vidya-madhye sara?”
raya kahe,—“krsna-bhakti vina vidya nahi ara”
On one occasion the Lord inquired, “Of all types of education, which is the most important?”
Ramananda Raya replied, “No education is important other than the transcendental devotional service of Krsna.”
PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada
Texts 245 to 257 are all questions and answers between Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Ramananda Raya. In these exchanges there is an attempt to show the difference between material and spiritual existence. Education in Krsna consciousness is always transcendental and is the best of all forms of education. Material education aims at increasing the activities of material sense gratification. Beyond material sense gratification is another negative form of knowledge called brahma-vidya, or impersonal transcendental knowledge. But beyond that brahma-vidya, or knowledge of the impersonal Brahman, is knowledge of devotional service to the Supreme Lord, Visnu. This knowledge is higher. And still higher is devotional service to Lord Krsna, which is the topmost form of education. According to Srimad-Bhagavatam (4.29.49), tat karma hari-tosam yat sa vidya tan-matir yaya: “Work meant for pleasing the Supreme Lord is the best, and education that enhances one’s Krsna consciousness is the best.”
Also, according to Srimad-Bhagavatam (7.5.23–24):
sravanam kirtanam visnoh
arcanam vandanam dasyam
iti pumsarpita visnau
bhaktis cen nava-laksana
kriyeta bhagavaty addha
tan manye ’dhitam uttamam
This is a statement given by Prahlada Maharaja in answer to a question raised by his father. Prahlada Maharaja said, “To hear or chant about Lord Visnu, to remember Him, to serve His lotus feet, to worship Him, to offer prayers to Him, to become His servant and His friend, to sacrifice everything for His service—all these are varieties of devotional service. One who is engaged in such activities is understood to be educated to the topmost perfection.”
This is the first in the series of questions and answers, and it seems appropriate in this environment of education, but as Srila Prabhupada says at the beginning of the purport, these questions and answers are meant to highlight the difference between the material and the spiritual. Material existence begins from the basic misconception that “I am the body and everything in relation to the body is mine.” More or less everyone is in this bodily concept of life. They strongly identify with the body and are deeply attached to things related to the body. And because they identify with the body, they think the goal of life is to give pleasure to the senses of the body. Whatever they do is more or less for the sake of the body.
Srila Prabhupada gives the example that if you are performing a mathematical calculation and you make a mistake in the first step, then even if you perform all the other steps perfectly, you will likely stray further and further from the actual answer or solution. If we begin from the mistaken premise that “I am the body,” then, because we have made the most fundamental error in the very first step, even if everything else we do is perfect in terms of the body, we will end up further and further away from the actual goal.
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