Ramananda Raya


Before Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu met Ramananda Raya, Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya told the Lord that no other devotee's knowledge of Radha-Krishna's madhurya rasa [devotion in the mood of love] compares with Ramananda Raya's. Although Lord Caitanya 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 Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Gaudiya Vaisnava acaryas have given lengthy discourses on, "Talks between the Lord and Ramananda Raya." (Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya Ch.8) These talks are called Ramananda Samvagh.

    Ramananda Raya gave a series of answers to Lord Caitanya'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-tat-tva, and finally prema-vilasa vivarta. Confirming that this was the highest goal of life, Lord Caitanya 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 Vrndavana.

    The gopis don't have any desires for their personal sense enjoy­ment. 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 Sri Krishna on the path of raganuga-bhakti will attain Vrajendra-nandana in Vrndavana. However one cannot attain the blissful association of Krishna-candra in Vrndavana 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." (Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 8.201-233)

    After finishing his talk, Ramananda Raya saw something never seen before. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu revealed Himself as both Srimati Radharani and Sri Krishna. Seeing this, Ramananda fell unconscious in transcendental bliss.

    In Jagannatha Puri, Srila Svarupa Damodara Gosvami, another topmost rasika Vaisnava, joined Ramananda Raya to intimately serve Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu. Together they helped Mahaprabhu taste the loving ecstacies of madhurya rasa. In His Gambhira lila Sri Caitanya would stay up all night enraptured in Srimati Radharani's mood of separation from Syamasundara. Singing his own songs and the poems of Vidyapati and Candidasa, Ramananda Raya would delight Lord Gauranga with his enchant­ing melodies. Krishna Dasa Kaviraja says that when Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu felt intense pains of separation from Sri 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 Caitanya privately savored within Himself. He saw Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu as the combined form of Rasaraja-Mahabhava. Rasaraja Sri Krishna and Mahabhava svarupini-Sri Radha now appeared in one beautiful dazzling form.

Lord Caitanya 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 Sri Ramananda Raya. He was teaching young girls, the devi-dasis, to portray his 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."

    Although sometimes called "Arjuna," Ramananda Raya eter­nally serves Radha-Gopinatha as LaVita-sakhi. Some Gaudiyas say he is Visakha- sakhi.

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