The next day Śrīmān Rāmānanda Rāya again came to see the Lord in the evening, and there were further discourses on transcendental subject matter.
“What is the highest standard of education?” Lord Caitanya began His inquiry, and Rāmānanda Rāya immediately replied that the highest standard of education is knowledge of the science of Kṛṣṇa. The standard of material education is sense gratification, but the highest standard of spiritual education is knowledge of the science of Kṛṣṇa. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (4.29.49) states: “That work which pleases the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the highest work, and that science or knowledge which places one in full Kṛṣṇa consciousness is the highest knowledge.” Similarly, Prahlāda Mahārāja, while instructing his childhood friends at school, stated that hearing of the Lord, chanting about Him, remembering Him, worshiping Him, praying to Him, serving Him, making friends with Him and offering everything to Him constitute the highest spiritual knowledge.
Then Lord Caitanya asked Rāmānanda Rāya, “What is the greatest reputation one can have?” Rāmānanda immediately replied that a person reputed to be Kṛṣṇa conscious should be considered the most famous man in the world. One who is famous as a Kṛṣṇa conscious man has eternal fame. In the material world, everyone is striving for three things: he wants his name to be perpetuated, he wants his fame to be broadcast all over the world, and he wants some profit from his material activities. But no one knows that all this material name, fame and profit belong to the temporary material body and that as soon as the body is finished, all name, fame and profit are finished also. It is only due to ignorance that everyone is striving after the name, fame and profit connected with the body. But actually it is deplorable to become famous on the basis of the body or to become known as a man of spiritually developed consciousness without knowing the supreme spirit, Viṣṇu. Real fame belongs to one who attains Kṛṣṇa consciousness in this very life.
According to Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (6.3.20–21), there are twelve authorities, and they are all famous because they were all great devotees of the Lord. These authorities are Brahmā, Nārada, Lord Śiva, Manu, Kapila, Prahlāda, Janaka, Bhīṣma, Śukadeva Gosvāmī, Bali, Yamarāja and the Kumāras. These personalities are still remembered because they were all great stalwart devotees of the Lord. In the Garuḍa Purāṇa it is said that in the Age of Kali it is very rare to find a famous devotee of the Supreme Lord, a position better than that of such demigods as Brahmā or Lord Śiva. Concerning talks between Nārada and Puṇḍarīka, Yudhiṣṭhira said, “He is most famous and can deliver all others who, after many, many births, comes to understand that he is the servant of Vāsudeva.” Similarly, in the Bhagavad-gītā (7.19) Kṛṣṇa tells Arjuna:
bahūnāṁ janmanām ante
jñānavān māṁ prapadyate
vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti
sa mahātmā su-durlabhaḥ
“After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare.” In the Ādi Purāṇa it is said that liberation and transcendental life follow all the devotees of God. In the Bṛhan-nāradīya Purāṇa it is stated that even personalities like Brahmā and the other demigods do not know the value of a devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Garuḍa Purāṇa points out that out of many thousands of brāhmaṇas the one who is expert in performing sacrifices is famous, out of thousands of such expert brāhmaṇas the one who is expert in the knowledge of the Vedānta-sūtra is more famous, and out of many, many thousands of such Vedāntists the one who is a devotee of Lord Viṣṇu is most famous. There are many devotees of Viṣṇu, and out of them, he who is unflinching in his devotion is most famous and is eligible to enter into the kingdom of God. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (3.13.4) it is also stated that there are many famous students of the Vedas, but that one who is always thinking of the Supreme Personality of Godhead within his heart is the best student of all. In the Nārāyaṇa-vyūha-stava prayers it is said that if the great Brahmā is not a devotee of the Lord he is most insignificant, whereas if a microbe is a devotee of the Lord he is most famous.
Lord Caitanya next asked Rāmānanda Rāya, “Who possesses the most valuable thing in the world?” Rāmānanda Rāya replied that he who has love for Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa possesses the most valuable jewel and the greatest riches. One who is addicted to material sense gratification or material wealth is not really wealthy. When one comes to the spiritual platform of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, he can understand that there are no riches more valuable than love of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. It is recorded in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam that Mahārāja Dhruva sought out the Supreme Lord because he wanted to get some land, but that when he finally saw Kṛṣṇa he said, “I am so pleased, I don’t want anything.” In the Bhagavad-gītā it is also stated that if one takes shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, or in other words is elevated to the supreme state of love of Godhead, he has nothing more to aspire to. Although such devotees can attain whatever they desire from the Lord, they do not ask anything from Him.
When Lord Caitanya asked Rāmānanda Rāya what is the most painful experience in human society, Rāmānanda Rāya replied that separation from a pure devotee is the most painful experience. In other words, when there is no devotee of the Lord present, there is great suffering in society, and association with other people becomes painful. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (3.30.6–7) it is stated that if one who is bereft of the association of a pure devotee tries to become happy through society, friendship and love devoid of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, he is to be considered in the most distressed condition. In the Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta (1.5.54) it is stated that the association of a pure devotee is more desirable than life itself and that in separation from him one cannot pass even a second happily.
Lord Caitanya then asked Rāmānanda Rāya, “Out of many so-called liberated souls, who is actually liberated?” Rāmānanda replied that one who is completely saturated with devotional love for Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa is to be considered the best of all liberated persons. Similarly, it is stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (6.14.5) that a devotee of Nārāyaṇa is so rare that only one can be found among millions and millions of liberated people.
“And out of all songs, what song do you think is the best?” Caitanya Mahāprabhu asked. Rāmānanda replied that any song which describes the pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa is the best song. The conditioned soul is captivated by sex. All literary works of fiction – dramas, novels and so on – describe love between men and women. Since people are so attracted to this kind of literature, Kṛṣṇa appeared in this material world and displayed His transcendental loving affairs with the gopīs. There is an immense literature dealing with the loving exchanges between the gopīs and Kṛṣṇa, and anyone who takes shelter of this literature, or of the stories about Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, can enjoy actual happiness. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.33.36) it is said that the Lord displayed His pastimes in Vṛndāvana in order to reveal His actual life. Any intelligent person who tries to understand the pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa is most fortunate. The songs that tell of those pastimes are the greatest songs in the world.
Lord Caitanya then inquired, “What is the most profitable thing in the world, the essence of all auspicious events?” Rāmānanda Rāya replied that there is nothing as profitable as the association of pure devotees.
“And what do you recommend a person should think of?” Lord Caitanya asked. Rāmānanda replied that one should always think of the pastimes of Kṛṣṇa. This is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Kṛṣṇa has multiple activities, and they are described in many Vedic scriptures. One should always think of those pastimes; that is the best meditation and the highest ecstasy. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (2.2.36) Śukadeva Gosvāmī confirms that one should always think of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Indeed, one should not only think of Him but also hear and chant His name, fame and glories.
“And what is the best type of meditation?” Lord Caitanya inquired.
“He who always meditates on the lotus feet of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa is the best meditator,” Rāmānanda Rāya answered. This is confirmed in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.2.14): “It is the Supreme Personality of Godhead alone – He who is the master of all devotees – whose name one should always chant and who should always be meditated upon and worshiped regularly.”
“Where should a person live, giving up all other places?” Lord Caitanya next inquired. Rāmānanda replied that one should give up all other places and live in Vṛndāvana, where Lord Kṛṣṇa had so many pastimes. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.47.61) Uddhava says that it is best to live in Vṛndāvana, even as a plant or creeper. It was in Vṛndāvana that the Supreme Lord lived, and it was there that the gopīs worshiped Him, the ultimate goal of all Vedic knowledge.
“And what is the best subject to hear of?” Caitanya Mahāprabhu next asked.
“The pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa,” Rāmānanda replied. Actually, when the pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa are heard from the right source, one at once attains liberation. Unfortunately, sometimes people are misguided because they do not hear these pastimes from a realized soul. It is stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.33.39) that one who hears the pastimes of Kṛṣṇa with the gopīs will attain the highest platform of devotional service and be freed from material lust, which overwhelms everyone’s heart in the material world. In other words, the actual result of hearing the pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa is to get rid of all material lust. One who does not become freed from material lust in this way should not indulge in hearing of the pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. Unless we hear from the right source, we will misinterpret the pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa and think they are ordinary affairs between a man and a woman. In this way we shall be misguided.
“Who is the most worshipable Deity?” Caitanya Mahāprabhu next inquired. Rāmānanda Rāya immediately replied that the transcendental couple, Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, is the ultimate object of worship. There are many worshipable objects. For example, the impersonalists worship the brahmajyoti, but by such worship one becomes bereft of life’s symptoms and becomes just like a tree or other nonmoving living entity. Those who worship the so-called void also attain such results. Those who are after material enjoyment (bhukti) worship the demigods and achieve their planets and thus enjoy material happiness. Lord Caitanya next inquired about those who are after material happiness and those who are after liberation from material bondage. “Where do they ultimately go?” He asked. Rāmānanda Rāya replied that those who aspire for liberation ultimately turn into trees, and that the others attain the heavenly planets, where they enjoy material happiness.
Rāmānanda Rāya went on to say that those who have no taste for Kṛṣṇa consciousness or spiritual life are just like crows who take pleasure in eating the bitter nimba fruit. It is the poetic cuckoo that eats the buds of the mango tree. The unfortunate transcendentalists simply speculate on dry philosophy, whereas the transcendentalists who are in love with Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa are just like cuckoos enjoying the buds of the mango tree of love of Godhead. Thus those who are devotees of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa are most fortunate. The bitter nimba fruit is not at all eatable; it is simply full of dry speculation and is fit only for crowlike philosophers. Mango buds, however, are very relishable, and those in the devotional service of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa enjoy them.
Thus Rāmānanda Rāya and Caitanya Mahāprabhu talked for the entire night. They sometimes danced, sometimes sang and sometimes cried. After they had passed the night in this way, at dawn Rāmānanda Rāya returned to his place. The next evening he returned to see Caitanya Mahāprabhu. After discussing Kṛṣṇa for some time, Rāmānanda Rāya fell at the feet of the Lord and said, “My dear Lord, You are so kind to me that You have taught me about the science of Kṛṣṇa, the science of Rādhārāṇī, the science of Their loving affairs, the science of Their rāsa dance and the science of Their pastimes. I never thought that I should be able to speak on these subject matters. You have taught me as You formerly taught the Vedas to Brahmā.”
This is the system of receiving instructions from the Supersoul. Externally He is not to be seen, but internally He speaks to the devotee. That is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā (10.10): the Lord dictates from within to anyone who is sincerely engaged in His service, and the Lord acts in such a way that such a person can ultimately attain the supreme goal of life. When Brahmā was born, there was no one to instruct him; therefore the Supreme Lord Himself instructed Brahmā in Vedic knowledge through Brahmā’s heart. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (2.4.22) Śukadeva Gosvāmī confirms that the Gāyatrī mantra was first imparted within the heart of Brahmā by the Supreme Lord. Śukadeva Gosvāmī then prays to the Lord to similarly help him speak Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam before Mahārāja Parīkṣit.
The first verse of the First Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam describes the Supreme Absolute Truth as He who instructed Brahmā through the heart. In that verse Śrīla Vyāsadeva, the author of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, states: “Let me offer my respectful obeisances to Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is the cause of the cosmic manifestation and its maintenance and dissolution as well. If we scrutinizingly try to understand the Supreme Truth, we can understand that He knows everything directly and indirectly. He is the only Supreme Personality, and it is He only who is fully independent. He alone instructed Brahmā as the Supersoul within. Even the greatest scholars become bewildered in trying to understand the Supreme Truth because the entire perceivable cosmic manifestation is situated within Him. This material manifestation, a by-product of fire, water, air and earth, only appears to be factual. It is in Him alone that the spiritual and material manifestations, as well as the living entities, rest. Therefore He is the Supreme Truth.”
Rāmānanda Rāya continued speaking to Lord Caitanya: “First I saw You as a sannyāsī, and then I saw You as a cowherd boy. Now I see before You a golden doll, and due to its presence Your complexion has become golden. Yet I also see You as a dark-complexioned cowherd boy. Will You kindly explain why I am seeing You in this way? Please tell me without reservation.”
“It is the nature of highly elevated devotees to see Kṛṣṇa in everything,” Lord Caitanya replied. “Whenever they see anything, they do not see the form of that particular thing. They see Kṛṣṇa. This is confirmed in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam [11.2.45]:
sarva-bhūteṣu yaḥ paśyed
bhūtāni bhagavaty ātmany
“‘One who is highly elevated in devotional service sees the Supersoul, Kṛṣṇa, who is the Soul of all individual souls.’ A similar passage is found in the Tenth Canto [10.35.9], where it is stated that when Kṛṣṇa came before the creepers, plants and trees of Vṛndāvana, which were laden with flowers and fruits, because He was the Soul of their soul they all bent down in the ecstasy of love for Him and became thorny.
“Because You have the highest conception of the pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa,” Lord Caitanya concluded, “you are seeing Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa everywhere.”
Rāmānanda Rāya replied, “Sir, I request that You not try to hide Yourself. I understand that You have accepted the complexion and mode of thinking of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī and that You are trying to understand Yourself from Her viewpoint. You have advented Yourself to take this point of view. Although You have incarnated mainly to understand Your own Self, You are at the same time distributing love of Kṛṣṇa to the world. Now You have personally come here to deliver me. I request You not to try to deceive me. It is not good for You.”
Being very satisfied, Lord Caitanya smiled and showed Rāmānanda Rāya His real form as the combination of Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa – a form He had never before shown anyone else. Thus Lord Caitanya was Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself with the external features of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. His transcendental ability to become two and then to become one again was revealed to Rāmānanda Rāya. Those who are fortunate enough to understand Lord Caitanya as well as the pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa in Vṛndāvana are able, by the mercy of Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī, to know the real identity of Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
Upon seeing this unique feature of Lord Caitanya, Rāmānanda Rāya fainted and fell to the floor. Lord Caitanya then touched him, and he came to his senses. Rāmānanda Rāya was surprised to see Lord Caitanya in His mendicant dress again. Lord Caitanya embraced him and pacified him and said that Rāmānanda was the only one to have seen this form. “Because you have understood the purpose of My incarnation, you are privileged to have seen this particular feature of My personality,” the Lord said. “My dear Rāmānanda, I am not a different person with a fair complexion, a gaura-puruṣa. I am the selfsame Kṛṣṇa, the son of Mahārāja Nanda, and due to contact with the body of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī I have now assumed this form. Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī does not touch anyone but Kṛṣṇa; therefore She has influenced Me with Her complexion, mind and words. In this way I am just trying to understand the transcendental flavor of Her relationship with Kṛṣṇa.”
The fact is that both Kṛṣṇa and Lord Caitanya are the original Personality of Godhead. Therefore no one should try to separate Lord Caitanya from Śrī Kṛṣṇa. In His form of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, He is the supreme enjoyer, and in His form of Lord Caitanya, He is the supreme enjoyed. No one can be more superexcellently attractive than Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and no one but Śrī Kṛṣṇa can enjoy the supreme form of devotion, Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. All Viṣṇu forms but Śrī Kṛṣṇa lack this ability. In Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Ādi-līlā 4.82) it is said that Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī is the only personality who can infuse Govinda with transcendental pleasure. Thus Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī is the chief of all the damsels of Vraja who love Govinda, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa.
“Please rest assured that I have nothing to hide from you,” Lord Caitanya told Rāmānanda. “Even if I do try to hide something from you, you are such an advanced devotee that you can understand all My secrets. I request that you please keep them secret and do not disclose them to anyone. If they were revealed, everyone would consider Me a madman. The facts I have disclosed to you cannot be understood by materialistic people. Were they to hear of them, they would simply laugh at Me. But you can understand these secrets; please keep them to yourself. From a materialistic point of view, a devotee in the ecstasy of love for Kṛṣṇa is mad. Both you and I are thus just like madmen. So please don’t disclose these facts to ordinary men. If you do, they will surely laugh at Me.”
Lord Caitanya passed ten nights with Rāmānanda Rāya, enjoying his company by discussing the pastimes of Kṛṣṇa and Rādhā. The discussions between them were on the highest level of love for Kṛṣṇa. Some of these talks are described, but most of them could not be described. In the Caitanya-caritāmṛta their talks have been compared to a metallurgic examination. The metals are studied in the following sequence: first copper, then bronze, then silver, then gold and at last touchstone. The preliminary discussions between Lord Caitanya and Rāmānanda Rāya are considered to be like copper, and the higher discussions are considered to be like gold. The fifth and highest dimension of their discussions, however, is considered to be like touchstone. If one is very eager to progress higher and higher to the position of the highest metallurgist, one must begin with an inquiry into the qualities of copper, then progress to bronze, then to silver, to gold, and so on.
The next day Lord Caitanya asked Rāmānanda Rāya to allow Him to return to Jagannātha Purī. “For the rest of our lives we can remain together at Jagannātha Purī and pass our time in discussing Kṛṣṇa.” Lord Caitanya then embraced Rāmānanda Rāya and sent him to his own place. In the morning the Lord prepared to start on His journey south. He had met Rāmānanda Rāya on the riverbank, near a temple of Hanumān. After visiting that temple, He left. As long as Caitanya Mahāprabhu remained at Vidyānagara, all kinds of people met Him, and by His grace everyone became a devotee of the Supreme Lord.
After Lord Caitanya’s departure, Rāmānanda Rāya became overwhelmed due to his separation from the Lord, and he immediately decided to retire from service so he could meet the Lord again at Jagannātha Purī.
The discussions between Rāmānanda Rāya and Lord Caitanya deal with the most concentrated form of devotional service. By hearing these discussions one can understand the pastimes of Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, as well as the confidential role played by Lord Caitanya. One who is fortunate enough to have faith in these discussions can enter into the transcendental association of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa.