May 042018
 

Today is the disappearance day of one of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s most confidential associates, Sri Ramananda Raya. Lord Chaitanya is Krishna Himself in the mood of Srimati Radharani, with Her bodily luster. Thus Lord Chaitanya is the combined form of Radha and Krishna (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 Krishna. Spiritually, Visakha enjoyed a very intimate relationship with both Sri Krishna and Sri Radha.

In His later years, after He toured South India, Sri Chaitanya retired to Jagannatha Puri, and there He experienced intense separation from Krishna, like Srimati Radharani did after Krishna left Vrindavan. In that ecstatic mood of separation, He would confide in two 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 Chaitanya and Ramananda Raya. Lord Chaitanya 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 Krishna, and when He saw Jagannatha He felt that He had found His Lord and fell into a deep ecstatic trance. Eventually, Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya, the chief appointed pandit in the court of the king, Maharaja Prataparudra, removed Sri Chaitanya to his home, and there they had some discussions. When 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 Chaitanya and Ramananda 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 Krishna. Their discussions, called ramananda-samvada, contain all the truths of Gaudiya Vaisnava philosophy (siddhanta) and, with Lord Chaitanya’s instructions to Rupa Gosvami (rupa-siksa) and His instructions to Sanatana Gosvami (sanatana-siksa), are most important for understanding Vaishnava siddhanta, both rasa and tattva.

We 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 Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Sri Chaitanya 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 Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s being the Supreme Personality of Godhead, in terms of the Vedic social system He was a brahman and a sannyasi, whereas Ramananda Raya, although a most learned scholar and exalted devotee, was a grihastha and considered to be a sudra. So it was awkward for him to instruct Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, but Mahaprabhu told him, kiba vipra, kiba nyasi, sudra kene naya: it doesn’t matter whether one is a brahman, a sudra, a sannyasi, or whatever; yei krsna-tattva-vetta, sei ‘guru’ haya: anyone who knows the science of Krishna 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 Chaitanya 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 Krishna, and in the verse quoted by Ramananda Raya, executing one’s duties according to one’s varna and ashrama is recommended. Prabhupada often said that varnashrama-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 varnashrama-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. And 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, nor 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, the human with sophisticated weapons of mass destruction, but it is the same principle—defending.

Eating, sleeping, mating, and defending are common to both 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 Krishna 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 varnashrama-dharma for the pleasure of the Supreme Lord, Vishnu. By that process one advances to the goal of life.

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

Varnashrama-dharma is required, but following the regulations of varnashrama-dharma does not necessarily mean that one will be Krishna 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 Krishna, he will not be Krishna conscious—directly Krishna 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 varnashrama system, but one offers the results of one’s work to Krishna, as Krishna advises in the Bhagavad-gita. That is definitely a further development. And what does Sri Chaitanya 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.”

TEXT 62

ajnayaivam gunan dosan
  mayadistan api svakan
dharman santyajya yah sarvan
  mam bhajet sa ca sattamah

TRANSLATION

Ramananda Raya continued, “ ‘Occupational duties are described in the religious scriptures. If one analyzes them, he can fully understand their qualities and faults and then give them up completely to render service unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Such a person is considered a first-class man.’

TEXT 63

sarva-dharman parityajya
  mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo
  moksayisyami ma sucah

TRANSLATION

“As stated in scripture [Gita 18.66], ‘After giving up all kinds of religious and occupational duties, if you come to Me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and take shelter, I will give you protection from all of life’s sinful reactions. Do not worry.’ ”

COMMENT

Ramananda Raya cited two verses in support of this proposal, and Sri Chaitanya 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.”

TEXT 65

brahma-bhutah prasannatma
  na socati na kanksati
samah sarvesu bhutesu
  mad-bhaktim labhate param

TRANSLATION

Ramananda Raya continued, “According to the Bhagavad-gita, ‘One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman and becomes fully joyful. He never laments or desires to have anything. He is equally disposed toward every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me.’ ”

COMMENT

To offer the fruits of one’s work to Krishna is good, but even then one might be attached to one’s work. To give up one’s position in varnashrama-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 the Bhagavad-gita (18.54).

And what did Lord Chaitanya say? “Eho bahya, age kaha ara.” He wanted Ramananda 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 Chaitanya said, “You have come to this point of pure devotional service, which I accept as the goal of life and simultaneously as the means to achieve the goal,” He also said, “Go further,” because He wanted to make sure that we reach the goal, which is 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 bhaktyaprema-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, 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 [Krishna],” 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 tour. But 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 the man 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 kathaBhagavata-saptaha or whatever—will not help. Sanatana Gosvami says, avaisnava-mukhodgirnam putam hari-kathamrtam sravanam naiva kartavyam: one should not hear talks about Krishna from a non-Vaishnava. 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 grihastha. One can remain a grihastha—he need not become a sannyasi. That is not the point. One can remain in his position in the varnashrama 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 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.” Perhaps anticipating such a response from some readers, Prabhupada qualified the phrase right in the translation. He did not take a chance 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 Krishna conscious. That is the beauty of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s movement, the beauty of the bhakti cult, that one can remain in one’s position and execute devotional service in Krishna consciousness. A grihastha 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 Krishna will go back home, back to Godhead. He or she must simply follow the regulative principles and remain alive in Krishna consciousness by hearing and chanting about Krishna.

Tanu-van-manobhih. Tanu means “body,” vak means “words,” and mana means “mind.” Our acharyas 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 Krishna 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 Krishna. And with one’s mind one can feel reverence for and take pleasure in the topics of Krishna, and one can remember the instructions and pastimes of Krishna. 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 Krishna consciousness, that is pure devotional service.

And what is the result? Ye prayaso ’jita jito ’py asi tais tri-lokyam. One of Krishna’s names is Ajita, “unconquerable.” Even though Krishna 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 Krishna 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 Krishna, who is unconquerable, in three ways. He says that nondevotees can never conquer Krishna. 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 Krishna 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 Krishna, and Krishna 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 Krishna and Krishna Himself are the same. So, in his dream he was chanting Hare Krishna and Krishna appeared. And in his dream he thought, “Oh, it’s true!” This is an example of how Krishna can be conquered by one’s words. If we chant Hare Krishna purely, Krishna becomes manifest. He appears. And the pure devotee, the self-realized soul, if he just thinks of Krishna, Krishna appears in his mind—or in person. He remains by the side of His devotee.

Sanatana Gosvami further explains these words in relation to Krishna, that Krishna’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 Krishna by pure devotional service.

In the discussion between Lord Chaitanya and Ramananda Raya, this verse from Srimad-Bhagavatam marks the beginning of pure devotional service. But the discussion goes further. Lord Chaitanya 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, of whom 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, Chaitanya 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 Chaitanya, “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 Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was playing the part of a devotee, and for a devotee to be addressed as Krishna or even considered on the same level as Krishna is anathema. So Chaitanya Mahaprabhu replied, “You are an advanced devotee, and an advanced devotee—a maha-bhagavata—sees Krishna 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 Krishna 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 Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, out of His causeless mercy, revealed His combined form of Radha and Krishna (rasaraja and mahabhava). We have a relief on the wall of the temple here that shows Ramananda Raya witnessing Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu manifesting His form as Radha and Krishna. And Ramananda Raya became overwhelmed with transcendental bliss. There are some esoteric explanations of this pastime, in which Chaitanya 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 becoming imitation gods or accepting imitation gods that the Lord as Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu hid His identity. As mentioned in Srimad-Bhagavatam, He was a channa-avatara, a “concealed incarnation.”

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. 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—Krishna—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 Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s identity as Radha and Krishna 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 Krishna—by their mercy, following in their footsteps.

[A talk by Giriraj Swami on Sri Ramananda Raya’s disappearance day, May 25, 2008, in Houston]

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