“My dear Ramananda, both you and I are madmen and therefore we meet intimately on an equal level.” Outwardly he acted as the Governor of Madras, but he was a poet, Sanskrit scholar, a dramatist well-versed in rasa literature, music, singing, dancing…(In the image: from left to right Ramananda Raya and Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu).
Before, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu met Ramananda Raya, Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya told the Lord that no other Devotee’s knowledge of Radha-Krishna’s madhurya rasa compares with Ramananda Raya’s. Although Lord Chaitanya was half the age of forty year old Ramananda when they met, the Lord said, “My dear Ramananda, both you and I are madmen and therefore we meet intimately on an equal level.” Outwardly he acted as the Governor of Madras, but he was a poet, Sanskrit scholar, a dramatist well-versed in rasa literature, music, singing, dancing…
During their ten day meeting in Vidyanagara, Lord Gauranga and Ramananda Raya discussed all points of Krishna consciousness. Empowered by the Lord, Ramananda answered all questions posed by Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Gaudiya Vaishnava acharyas have given lengthy discourses on, “Talks between the Lord and Ramananda Raya.” (Chaitanya-charitamrta Madhya Ch.8) These talks are called Ramananda Samvagh.
Ramananda Raya gave a series of answers to Lord Chaitanya’s first question, “How to attain the ultimate goal of life?’ He began with varnashrama-dharma, and progressed to karmarpana, karmatyaga, jnana-mishra-bhakti, Radha-bhakti, prema bhakti, (dasya, sakhya, vatsalya, madhurya prema), and Radha-prema. He also described Krishna-tattva, Radha-tattva, Radha-Krishna prema-tattva, and finally prema-vilasa vivarta. Confirming that this was the highest goal of life, Lord Chaitanya asked Ramananda how to attain it.
Ramananda Raya said, “Without adopting the mood of the gopis and following in their footsteps, one cannot enter the confidential pastimes of Radha-Krishna. There is no other way to achieve the service of Radha and Krishna within the pleasure groves of Vrindavana.
The gopis don’t have any desires for their personal sense enjoy-ment. Their minds and bodies exist only for Krishna’s enjoyment. If one is greedy to taste the nectar of gopi-bhava (spontaneous loving mood of the gopis), he will give up the world and the rituals of Vedic dharma to perform Krishna bhajana. One who worships Shri Krishna on the path of raganuga-bhakti will attain Vrajendra-Nandana in Vrindavana. However one cannot attain the blissful association of Krishna-chandra in Vrindavana by merely following vidhi-marga (path of serving Krishna by regulative principles). Therefore, one should accept gopi bhava and always remember Radha-Krishna all day and night.” (Chaitanya-charitamrta Madhya 8.201-233).
After finishing his talk, Ramananda Raya saw something never seen before. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu revealed Himself as both Shrimati Radharani and Shri Krishna. Seeing this, Ramananda fell unconscious in transcendental bliss.
In Jagannatha Puri, Shrila Svarupa Damodara Goswami, another topmost rasika Vaishnava, joined Ramananda Raya to intimately serve Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu. Together they helped Mahaprabhu taste the loving ecstacies of madhurya rasa. In His Gambhira lila Shri Chaitanya would stay up all night enraptured in Shrimati Radharani’s mood of separation from Shyamasundara. Singing his own songs and the poems of Vidyapati and Chandidasa, Ramananda Raya would delight Lord Gauranga with his enchanting melodies. Krishna Dasa Kaviraja says that when Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu felt intense pains of separation from Shri Krishna, only Ramananda’s talks about Krishna and Svarupa Damodara’s sweet songs kept Him alive.
Ramananda Raya was the first person to reveal the deep varieties of rasa which Lord Chaitanya privately savored within Himself. He saw Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu as the combined form of Rasaraja-Mahabhava. Rasaraja Shri Krishna and Mahabhava svarupini-Shri Radha now appeared in one beautiful dazzling form.
Lord Chaitanya once said, “Although I am in the renounced order of life, still My mind is sometimes disturbed even upon seeing a wooden form of a woman. But Ramananda Raya is greater than Me. For he always remains undisturbed even when he touches a young woman.” Of course, even in dreams, no one should attempt to imitate the extraordinary behavior of Shri Ramananda Raya. He was teaching young girls, the devi-dasis, to portray his rasa-laden dramas by dancing in the Temple for Lord Jagannatha’s pleasure. He would also bathe, massage, and dress the bodies of the beautiful girls. In all of creation, only Ramananda Raya possesses this quality of total self-control and absolute detachment.
Upon meeting Bhavananda Raya, the father of Ramananda, Lord Gauranga said, “Indeed, you are “Pandu” and your five sons–Ramananda, Gopinatha, Vaninatha, Kalanidhi, Sudhanidhi–are the five Pandavas.”
Ramananda Raya was the first person to reveal the deep varieties of rasa which Lord Chaitanya privately savored within Himself. He saw Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu as the combined form of Rasaraja-Mahabhava. Rasaraja Shri Krishna and Mahabhava svarupini-Shri Radha now appeared in one beautiful dazzling form. (In the wallpaper: Shri Shri Radha Krishna in two sides and Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu, ISKCON Chennai).
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