Madhya 8: Talks Between Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and Rāmānanda Rāya
The summary of the eighth chapter is given by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura in his Amṛta-pravāha-bhāṣya. After visiting the temple of Jiyaḍa-nṛsiṁha, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu went to the banks of the river Godāvarī, to a place known as Vidyānagara. When Śrīla Rāmānanda Rāya went there to take his bath, they met. After introducing himself, Śrī Rāmānanda Rāya requested Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu to remain in the village for some days. Honoring his request, Caitanya Mahāprabhu stayed there in the home of some Vedic brāhmaṇas. In the evening, Śrīla Rāmānanda Rāya used to come to see Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Rāmānanda Rāya, who was clothed in ordinary dress, offered the Lord respectful obeisances. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu questioned him on the object and process of worship and also asked him to recite verses from the Vedic literature.
First of all, Śrīla Rāmānanda Rāya enunciated the system of the varṇāśrama institution. He recited various verses about karmārpaṇa, stating that everything should be dedicated to the Lord. He then spoke of detached action, knowledge mixed with devotional service, and finally the spontaneous loving service of the Lord. After hearing Śrīla Rāmānanda Rāya recite some verses, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu accepted the principle of pure devotional service devoid of all kinds of speculation. After this, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu asked Rāmānanda Rāya to explain the higher platform of devotional service. Then Śrīla Rāmānanda Rāya explained unalloyed devotional service, love of Godhead, and serving the Lord in the moods of pure servitude, fraternity and parental love. Finally he spoke of serving the Lord in conjugal love. He then spoke of how conjugal love can be developed in various ways. This conjugal love attains its highest perfection in Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī’s love for Kṛṣṇa. He next described the position of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī and the transcendental mellows of love of God. Śrīla Rāmānanda Rāya then recited a verse of his own concerning the platform of ecstatic vision, technically called prema-vilāsa-vivarta. Śrīla Rāmānanda Rāya also explained that all stages of conjugal love can be attained through the mercy of the residents of Vṛndāvana, especially by the mercy of the gopīs. All these subject matters were thus vividly described. Gradually Rāmānanda Rāya could understand the position of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, and when Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu exhibited His real form, Rāmānanda Rāya fell unconscious. After some days, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu asked Rāmānanda Rāya to retire from government service and come to Jagannātha Purī. These descriptions of the meetings between Rāmānanda Rāya and Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu are taken from the notebook of Svarūpa Dāmodara Gosvāmī.
Rāmānanda Rāya replied, “To give up one’s occupational duties in the varṇāśrama system is the essence of perfection.”
Śrī Rāmānanda Rāya replied, “Apart from separation from the devotee of Kṛṣṇa, I know of no unbearable unhappiness.”