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During the advent of Shri Chaitanya, the dearth of pure theism in South India was no less than that in the North, due to the narrow sectarianism and rigid caste rules. To deliver the people of the South from those suicidal prejudices and superstitions, the Lord proceeded with one Kalia Krishnadas on His journey to the South. He saw Alvarnath at Brahmargiri, Kurma Deva at Kurmachalam near Chicacole in Vizag district, where He gave deliverance to a Brahmin named Kurma and a Brahmin leper named Vasudeva. The Lord saw Nrsimha Deva at Simhachalam in the same district. He met Rai Ramananda, the then Governor of Vidyanagar, on the bank of the Godavari, and had a long philosophical discourse with him on the summum bonum of human existence and the means of attaining the same. This famous discourse the brightest self-luminous guiding star in the firmament of Vaishnava Philosophy, has been eternaly shining in the Chaitanya Charitamrita.
When the Lord left Puri for the South, Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya had entreated Him to meet Rai Ramananda on His way. After visiting many shrines at different places, He reached the banks of the Godavari which reminded Him of the Yamuna, and the woodlands on the banks reminded Him of Vrindavana. He crossed the river, bathed and then sat at a short distance from the "Goshpada Ghat" at Kovur (West Godavari District). While He was occupied in chanting the Holy Name of Shri Krshna, Rai Ramananda arrived in a litter attended by many musicians and Brahmins, for ceremonial bath. Shri Chaitanya Deva, at first sight knew him to be Rai Ramananda. He longed to meet him but checked His eagerness. Rai Ramananda after his bath came up to Him, and was filled with a great wonder as he lookd at His Person Which was shining like a hundred suns. He alighted from his litter and fell prostrate before Him. Shri Chaitanya Deva stood up and said, "Rise and chant Shri Krishna's Name". He was eagerly longing to embracee him yet asked, "Art thou Rai Ramananda?" The reply was "Yes, I am that slave, a vile Sudra." The Lord embraced him and both sat on the ground in the exuberance of spontaneous outburst of Prema. Both of them, overcome with pure love, began to perspire, weep, tremble with their hair standing on end, and both uttered 'Krishna', Krishna' in ecstatic joy.
The Brahmin attendants of Rai Ramananda were amazed at the sight and thought, "This Sannyasi is like Brahman Himself and yet He weeps embracing a Sudra! This Rai Ramananda, a great dignitary, is a profound scholar and of a naturaly grave demeanour, and yet he has been transported with delight by the touch of the Sannyasi!" On seeing the strangers, the Lord checked Himself. When both of them regained their composure, the Lord said smilingly, "I heard of you from Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya and he instructed Me to meet you. It is well that I could meet you so easily." Rai replied, "The great Pandit is pleased to own me as his humble servant and is always on the look-out to do me good. It is due to his mercy that I see You. My life is, indeed, blessed today. You are gracious to touch this vile Sudra, which proves Your mercy and that of Sarvabhauma to this most unworthy person. You are the Supreme Lord Narayan Himself and I am but a servant of the king, a wordly person and a vile Sudra. You did not fear the injunctions of the Vedas in touching me. The Vedas forbid You even to look at me. Your mercy on me makes You perform a forbidden act. You are Godhead Himself. Who knows Your ways? You are Mercy Personified. You have come here to deliver me. O! Saviour of the fallen, such is the habit of the Great, that He deviates from His path to deliver the fallen. "O Lord, the Saints ever visit the homes of worldly people to help them achieve their eternal good. There is no other purpose in it'. The hearts of the Brahmins and the other attendants numbering a thousand have been melted by Your darsan. All of them are shoutingThe Lord replied, "You are the greatest of the devotees, a Mahabhagavata. It is your sight that melted the hearts of all; what to speak of the others, I Myself, a Mayavadi Sannyasi am steeped in the Love of Krishna at your touch. Knowing that My heart i too hard to b e melted, Sarvabhauma advised me to meet you".
While they were praising each other and enjoying the delightful company, a Vaishnava Vedic Brahmin came, bowed unto the Lord and besought Him to accept the alms of food and residence at his house. The Lord accepted the invitation knowing him to be a Vaishnava, and then turning to Ramananda and said, "I feel a great pleasure to hear talks on Shri Krishna from your lips. I hope to meet you again". Rai replied, "You have come to save the sinners. But my wicked heart alone has not been purified by Your sight. May I pray for Your stay for a few days for purging my heart of all sins?" Rai Ramananda then made his bow and wended his way with the greatest reluctance. The Lord betook Himself to the house of the Brahmin and the evening approached in the midst of His anxiety.
The Lord was enxiously waiting when Rai Ramananda appeared with a servant. He bowed to the Lord ad was received in His exbrace. The Two now retired to the seclusion of privacy and began to converse on Sadhya (the Goal) and Sadhana (the Means). The Lord requested Rai to recite the texts of the Sastras on Sadhya and Sadhana duties of Varnasram. The Vishnu Puran says 'Propitiate the Supreme Lord Vishnu by following the prescribed duties of your social rank and fitness. There is no other means of pleasing Him. The Lord said, "This is off the point, tell Me something more advanced." Rai answered, "The acme of Sadhana is to offer actions and the fruits thereof to Shri Krishna. 'O son of Kunti! consecrate to Me whatever you do, be it eating, performing the homa ceremony, or act of charity or austerity'." The Lord rejected this view also and asked Rai to cite more advanced slokas. Rai replied "The highest devotion requires one to give up the duties enjoined by the Scriptures. 'He is the greatest of saints or holy , who, knowing full well the merits and demerits of religious duties, worships Me by giving up the Vedic duties, although they were ordained by Me.' 'Take refuge in Me alone, giving up the Vedic duties although they were ordained by Me.' 'Take refuge in Me alone, giving up all socio-religious practices; you will have no cause of grief; I will deliver you from all sins'." This was also objected to by the Lord, as this too did not touch the issue. Some other higher means should be cited. To this, Rai added that faith mixed with the knowledge of the Brahman is the only means to attain the goal. Brahmins practising devotion with the knowledge of relationship become Vaishnavas. 'A Brahman-realised soul is self-delighted, possesses calm and equitable vision and treats equally all, high or low, rich or poor, due to his extra-mundane vision, and does not grieve nor long for anything mundane. Established in Brahman, he gradually attains true devotion to Myself." The Lord was not satisfied with this, telling Rai Ramananda that this was also outside the issue, and requested him to cite more advanced methods. Rai answered, "Pure devotion unobstructed by the monistic abstract knowledge is the highest form of worship. A person submitting unconditionally at the Divine Feet of Shri Krshna is a true devotee. 'The Supreme Lord Shri Krishna is hard to be won over in this universe, yet He is realised and attained by those who, abandoning the quest of empiric knowledge or knowledge of Abstract Brahman, submit to His Divine Feet, stay at holy places sanctified by Sadhus, listen to recitals of His Leelas by pure devotees and live up to them with body, mind and soul'." On hearing this the Lord replied, "It is good; but higher stages may be stated". Rai answered, "The highest form of true devotion is Prema-Bhakti or Loving Devotion to Shri Krishna and cited his own verses: Food and drink are relished so long as there are hunger and thirst. Similarly, with the progress of devotional aptitude, the devotee delights in worshipping his heart's Darling Shri Krishna, not in multifarious ritualistic formalities but in true love alone.' Search out a heart inspired with Love for Shri Krishna and if ever you meet such a one, win him over, by ardent longing, though it cannot be attained by good deeds through millions of lives'. The Lord wanted him to proceed still higher. To this, Rai replied that the Love as that of a servant of Shri Krishna is the highest devition and cited verses in support of his view thus: "When listening only to the Holy Names of the Lord purifies all Jiva-souls, what then is left unattained by those who actually serve His Holy Feet'. When shall I have the good fortune of declaring myself to be Thy eternal servant, being freed from all selfish desires by Thy unceasing faithful service?' "Good, but there are methods deeper still. Be pleased to mention them", said the Lord. Rai replied, "Love as that of a friend is the highest form of devotion," and in this connection he related the glory of the friendship of the cow-boys: "The cow-boys of Vraja had the good fortune to join in the Pastimes of Shri Krishna Who appears to the Jnanis as culmination of felicity in the Brahman, to His servants as the Supreme Object of worship and to deluded persons, as mere Human Child". The Lord said, "This is good, but say something higher still." Rai continuing said that the highest devotion is parental affection for the Lord, and recited the following passages: 'O Brahmin! what high class meritorious deeds did Nanda perform; and what did the blessed Yasoda do that she was fortunate to suckle Shri Krishna, the Divine Child? The bliss that Yasoda derived from her Divine Child was never gained by Brahma or Siva or even by Lakshmi though She is always clasped to His bosom'". The Lord said, "This is good no doubt; be pleased to state still higher functions." Rai replied, "The highest form of devotion os conjugal Love for the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna," and cited the following slokas, "What to speak of other women, not even Lakshmi Herself, Who is held in close embrace to His bosom, nor the celestial nymphs, though blooming and odorous like the lotus, were graced with the favour which the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna showed to the Gopis of Vrindavana when in the Rasa-dance He clasped their necks with His Arms.' 'In the Rasa-dance, Madana-Mohan Himself, clad in yellow robes, wearing garlands of wild flowers and a perpetual sweet smile, appeared, all on a sudden, in the midst of the Gopis who were bewailing His separation'.
"Many are the means of attaining to Shri Krishna, and there are degrees of such attainment," said Rai. He further added and described that the five 'Rasas' appear in an ascending order of excellence. The chief characteristic and quality of each 'Rasa' attain maturity and are incorporated in the next. Thus Santa Rasa attains perfection in Dasya, Dasya in Sakhya, Sakhya in Vatsalya and all four in Madhura; just as the properties of the four elements viz. ether, air, fire ad water, increasing in an ascending order, are finally found all in the fifth element, the earth. The attainment of Shri Krishna results from Prema, and Shrimad Bhagavatam says that Shri Krishna submits to the Transcendental Prema.'O Gopis!' says Shri Krishna, 'devotion to Me is the very Nectar to a Jiva. The Love ye have in Me is the only cause that ye have attained unto Me'. 'Shri Krishna's promise remains firm for all time. He always gives a return of our worship exactly in the form in which it is offered'. But He cannot repay the offer of Prema of the damsels of Vraja to the full, and so He remains a debtor to their Love. True, Shri Krishna is the highest type of Beauty and Grace, yet the company of the fair milkmaids of Vraja still further enhances His splendour and charm. Thou Shri Krishna is the essence of all beauty, yet He shines more beautiful in the midst of the beaming girls of Vraja, even as the emerald set amidst golden-coloured gems.' After listening to these with rapture, the Lord remarked, "This, indeed is the extreme point of devotion, but please tell Me if there be anything beyond it." Rai was filled with great astonishment. He said that he did not know it before if there was anybody on the face of the earth who could enquire beyond this. He answered, "Of all kinds of Prema, Shri Radha's Love for Shri Krishna is reputed as the highest and ever increasing - so say the Sastras." The Lord was pleased to hear the praise of Shri Radha from Rai and said, "Go on singing. I am delighted to hear your words. A wonderful stream of nectar is flowing from your lips." The Lord, accepting Madhura Rasa as the highest form of devotion, asked Rai to describe the Transcendental Love of Shri Radha.
Rai then described the real Forms of Sti Krishna and Shri Radha, and the chief features of Rasa and Prema. He recited a son of his own composition dilating on the Love of Shri Radha for Shri Krishna. At last he said that the Leela of Shri Radha-Krishna can only be realised by submitting completely to the Sakhis, the dearest female attendants of Shri Radha-Krishna in Their secret bower. In practising each of the five 'Rasas' of Santa, Dasya, Sakhya, Vatsalya and Madhura, the devotee is to do so by surrendering himself completely to the prime votaries of each Rasa. Thus, for example, one who is a natural votary of Santa Rasa is to practise his devotion to Shri Krishna as a follower of Gou (Cow), Vetra (Cane), Vishana (Horn), Venu (Flute) of Vraja, who are the prime votaries of that Rasa. So, in Dasya Rasa one has to follow Raktaka, Patraka, Chitraka; in Sakhya Rasa, Shridama-sudama-Vasudama; in Vatsalya Rasa, Nanda-Yasoda and others; and in Madhura Rasa, Shri Radha and Her youthful milkmaids of Vraja. If, on the other hand, one considers himself or herself to be Nanda-Yasoda, or Shridama-Sudama, or Vraja-Sakhi, or Shri Radha Herself, he is done for, and, instead of getting the eternal service of Shri Krishna, goes to eternal perdition. These natural serving propensities appear spontaneously in the heart of those who submit themselves to the eternal guidance of the respective votaries in Vraja.
Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu appeared in the role of a World-Teacher. He delivered His message of Divine Love through the lips of His favorite, Rai Ramananda; for 'whoever is well-versed in the inner principles of the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna, is the Guru (World-Teacher), be he a Sannyasi, or a Grihastha in Asram or a Brahmin or a Sudra by birth'. The Lord gave to the world a number of valuable instructions in the form of a dialogue between Himself and Rai Ramananda. They contain in essence the teachings of Shri Gaurasundara. In this famous dialogue, reproduced below, Shri Gaurasundara who is the Ocean of all Rasas acts the part of an enquirer to receive them from the lips of Fai Ramananda, even as the ocean receives again the shower from the clouds which it sends to the sky through evaporation.
Q. 1. Which is the highest of all knowledge?
Ans. Loving devotion to Shri Krishna is the highest knowledge.
Q.2. What is the highest glory of a Jiva?
Ans. To be reputed as the true devotee of Shri Krishna.
Q.3. What is counted as the greatest wealth among human possessions?
Ans. He is the wealthiest who has Love for Shri Radha-Krishna.
Q.4. What is the heaviest of all sorrows?
Ans. There is no greater sorrow than separation from a devotee of Shri Krishna.
Q.5. Who should be considered as truly liberated?
Ans. He is the foremost of the liberated who love Shri Krishna whole-heartedly.
Q.6. Which is the most natural song of a Jiva?
Ans. That which speaks of the Transcendental Amorous Sports of Shri Radha-Krishna is the eternal
natural song of the jiva.
Q.7. What is the highest good for the Jivas?
Ans. There is no higher good than the association of a devotee of Shri Krishna.
Q.8. What is it that all should constantly remember?
Ans. The only things to be remembered are the Names, Forms, Attributes, Associates and
Amorous Sports of Shri Radha-Krishna.
Q.9. What is the highest object of meditation for a Jiva?
Ans. The Supreme Object of meditation is the Lotus Feet of Shri Radha-Krishna.
Q.10 Where should one live, leaving all behind?
Ans. It is in the Glorious Land of Vrindavana where the Transcendental 'Rasa-Leela' is eternally
Q.11 Which is the sweetest for the ears to hear?
Ans. The Love-Sports of Shri Radha-Krishna are the sweetest and the most relishing to the ears
of a Jiva.
Q.12 What is the highest object of worship?
Ans. The highest Object of worship is the Holy Name of the most adorable Divine Couple,
Q.13 What are the respective destinations of the Salvationists and the Elevationists?
Ans. The Salvationists attain the bodies of inert beings such as stones etc. and the Elevationists, celestial bodies in heaven. Just as the foolish crow which has no taste of relish sucks the bitter Nimba-fruit, while the cockoo which is appreciative of flavours feeds on the mango-blossoms, so the unfortunate follower of the path of gnosticism chews dry wisdom while the fortunate devotee quaffs the nectar of Love for Shri Krishna.
The Lord spent ten days happily with Rai Ramananda in sweet discourse about Shri Krishna. One day, the Rai said, "O Lord! be pleased to remove my doubt as to why I saw You first as a Sannyasi and now You appear as 'Syama-Gopa' (Krishna, the Cowherd) enveloped by the lustre of a Golden Figure before You with a Flute in Hand and Eyes ever fickle?" The Lord said, "O Rai, deep is your Love for Shri Krishna. Such is the effect of real Love,that, when the true devotee casts his glance upon any object that appears animate or inanimate to a conditioned soul, he sees Shri Krishna manifesting in and through every such object. The object gazed at may be animate or inanimate to a conditioned Jiva, but a true devotee does not see its natural or outward form subject to our experiment tending to the gratification of our gross and subtle senses, but sees his adored Deity in everything and every such object in his Deity. 'He is the highest of devcotees who beholds the Lord of his adoration in every object and every such object in his adored Lord'". But the Rai said, "Lord, leave Thou Thy tricks. Conceal not Thy True Form from me. Having taken on Thyself the Love and Beauty of Shri Radha, Thou hast descended in this world as Shri Krishna Chaitanya in order to taste Her Love for Thee; but incidentally, Thou hast filled the whole universe with that Love." Then the Lord showed him His real Form in which were blended into One the 'Rasa-Raj' (Krishna, the Prince of Rasa) and 'Maha-Bhava' (the Supreme Emotion).