Book excerpts Sri Raya Ramananda Samvad Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu Meets Rāmānanda Rāya (Part 2)

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu Meets Rāmānanda Rāya (Part 2)

sārvabhauma bhaṭṭācārya kahila tomāra guṇe
tomāre milite more karila yatane

“O Rāya, before I came here, Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya greatly extolled your good qualities, and insisted on My meeting you.

tomā milibāre mora ethā āgamana
bhāla haila, anāyāse pāiluṅ daraśana

“Indeed, I have come here only to meet you. It is very good that with great ease I have gotten your audience.”

rāya kahe,—“sārvabhauma kare bhṛtya-jñāna
parokṣeha mora hite haya sāvadhāna

Śrī Rāya Rāmānanda replied, “Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya directly accepts me as his servant, and indirectly always acts for my welfare.

tāṅra kṛpāya pāinu tomāra daraśana
āji saphala haila mora manuṣya-janama

“Only by his mercy, I have received darśana of Your lotus feet today. By virtue of this, I now consider that my human birth has become successful.”

Human birth is extremely rare. Only by the special mercy of Bhagavān can one attain the human form of life. It is impossible to perform bhajana (devotional service) of Bhagavān in any other species; it is not even possible as a demigod. The human body is itself the very root of bhajana.

Only by this human body is it possible to hear topics of Lord Hari in the association of saintly persons (sādhusaga), take shelter at the feet of a bona fide spiritual master, perform the limbs of devotional service, become free from unwanted habits, and develop through the stages of niṣṭhā (constant engagement), ruci (taste), āsakti (attachment), etc. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.20.17) states:

nṛ-deham ādyaṁ sulabhaṁ sudurlabhaṁ
plavaṁ sukalpaṁ guru-karṇadhāram
mayānukūlena nabhasvateritaṁ
pumān bhavābdhiṁ na taret sa ātma-hā

“It is said that the human form of life is the basis of all auspiciousness. It is a good boat by which one can cross the ocean of birth and death. In the human form of life, one may obtain the guidance of a good navigator, the spiritual master. One also gets the assistance of a favorable wind – the instructions and the mercy of Kṛṣṇa as given in the scriptures. If, however, one does not take advantage of this opportunity and wastes the human form of life, then he is a killer of his own self.”

It is according to this reasoning that Śrī Rāmānanda Rāya now considered his human form of life successful, having obtained the darśana of the lotus feet of Śrīman Mahāprabhu.

sārvabhaume tomāra kṛpā,—tāra ei cihna
aspṛśya sparśile hañā tāṅra premādhīna

Śrī Rāmānanda Rāya continued, “I can see that You have bestowed great mercy upon Śrī Sārvabhauma. The proof of this is that, being controlled by his love, You have touched me, although I am an untouchable.

kāṅhā tumi—sākṣāt īśvara nārāyaṇa
kāṅhā muñi—rāja-sevaka viṣayī śūdrādhama

“Who are You? You are the Supreme Controller Nārāyaṇa Himself. And who am I? I am a materialist enjoying royal opulences, a most fallen śūdra engaged in enjoying the objects of the senses.

mora sparśe nā karile ghṛṇā, veda-bhaya
mora darśana tomā vede niṣedhaya

“The Vedic injunctions have forbidden You to even look at me, however You have not considered these prohibitions and You did not feel contemptuous of my touch. Indeed, it is forbidden for sannyāsīs like You to even see persons such as myself.

Śrīla Prabhupāda Sarasvatī Ṭhākura says that in this verse, Śrīla Rāmānanda Rāya sees himself as a most fallen materialistic śūdra. It is true that he did not take birth in a family of brāhmaas; rather, he was a transcendental brāhmaa initiated according to the ekāyana[1] branch of the Vedic tree.

Thus, he was a pure mahābhāgavata, a liberated devotee of the highest order, devoid of any material desires. The high-born Vedic brāhmaas had been initiated into the performance of all varieties of yajñas after studying thousands of branches of the Vedas. Considering Śrī Rāmānanda Rāya to be a śūdra, they thus guaranteed themselves entry to the hellish regions, as is confirmed in the Padma Purāa: “vīkate jāti-sāmānyāt sa yāti naraka-dhruvam – a person rushes to hell when he considers a devotee of the Lord to belong to a particular caste in terms of birth.”

Whosoever is desirous of factual spiritual attainment and genuine auspiciousness should become the servant of the servant of Śrī Rāmānanda Rāya.

tomāra kṛpāya tomāya karāya nindya-karma
sākṣāt īśvara tumi, ke jāne tomāra marma

“Your mercy alone makes You perform this condemnable act. You are directly the Supreme Controller Himself, however You are controlled by bhakti. Who can understand Your true purpose?

Śrīla Prabhupāda says that it is improper for sannyāsīs to see materialistic persons or to associate with śūdras, but being controlled by His own mercy, Mahāprabhu did not consider Śrī Rāmānanda’s position as a śūdra. Thus He performed the ‘despicable’ act of touching him. Being controlled by prema, Bhagavān has indeed performed dishonorable acts in repeatedly, such as becoming the chariot driver of Arjuna, eating the remnant fruits of the lowborn woman Śabarī, and associating with the hunchback woman Kubjā.

āmā nistārite tomāra iṅhā āgamana
parama-dayālu tumi patita-pāvana

“You have come here only to deliver me. You are the ultimate storehouse of mercy and You purify the fallen souls.

mahānta-svabhāva ei tārite pāmara
nija kārya nāhi tabu yāna tāra ghara

“By Your own magnanimous nature, You always deliver the fallen and sinful souls. You have no personal business of Your own, nor do You seek self-profit. Still for the benefit of the living entities, You travel from house to house. The purpose of Your life is only to deliver the fallen souls.

mahad-vicalanaṁ nṛṇāṁ
gṛhiṇāṁ dīna-cetasām
niḥśreyasāya bhagavan
nānyathā kalpate kvacit              

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.8.4)

“ ‘My dear Lord, sometimes great souls go to the homes of householders, who are generally fallen and deprived of the association of saintly persons. They do this simply for the eternal good fortune of such family persons, because often those family persons are so immersed in material affairs that they are unable even to visit the āśramas, or retreats of the sādhus. Therefore, can there be any reason that You have visited me other than for my auspiciousness?’ ”

Śrī Nanda Mahārāja spoke this verse on the occasion of Śrī Gargācārya’s visit to his house in Nandagāoṅ, at the behest of Śrī Vasudeva. In this verse, the two words ghiām (attached householders) and dīna-cetasām (who are very lowly, being engaged in family maintenance and nothing more) indicate Śrī Nanda Mahārāja’s humility. By the influence of bhakti, Śrī Nanda Mahārāja considered himself to be less significant than a straw in the street. “Such saints do not even bestow their mercy upon the demigods, but upon householders like us they rain a profusion of mercy. Offering us protection, they are our factual maintainers.”

Commenting on the word mahat in this verse, Śrī Sanātana Gosvāmī says “mahatā śrī bhagavat-sevaikaniṣṭhānā – this term is used to refer only to one who is absorbed in the service of Bhagavān.” Does this indicate that Śrīman Mahāprabhu is also a great devotee engaged in the service of Bhagavān? No, He is directly the source of all incarnations (avatārī). He is directly Nārāyaṇa Himself.

āmāra saṅge brāhmaṇādi sahasreka jana
tomāra darśane sabāra dravī-bhūta mana

Śrī Rāmānanda Rāya continued, “There are uncountable brāhmaas and other persons here with me. Behold how all of their hearts have melted simply by seeing You.

‘kṛṣṇa’ ‘hari’ nāma śuni sabāra vadane
sabāra aṅga—pulakita, aśru—nayane

“Just see! I am hearing the holy name ‘Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa’ coming very sweetly from everybody’s mouth. Everyone’s bodily hairs are standing erect with ecstasy, and tears are flowing from their eyes.

ākṛtye-prakṛtye tomāra īśvara-lakṣaṇa
jīve nā sambhave ei aprākṛta guṇa

“One can see the symptoms of the Supreme Lord in Your bodily appearance and nature. How is it possible for the ordinary living beings (jīvas) to possess such transcendental qualities that are found in Śrī Kṛṣṇa alone?”

prabhu kahe,—“tumi mahā-bhāgavatottama
tomāra darśane sabāra drava haila mana

Hearing this Śrīman Mahāprabhu replied, “O Rāmānanda, you are the best even amongst the topmost devotees; therefore only by your audience, not by Mine, has everyone’s heart melted.

Quoting from the Padma Purāa Śrīla Prabhupāda Sarasvatī Ṭhākura reveals for us the qualities of a mahā-bhāgavata devotee:

tāpādi pañca-saṁskārī
artha-pañcaka-vid vipraḥ
mahā-bhāgavataḥ smṛtaḥ

“According to the path of ritualistic worship the uttama or mahābhāgavata is characterized as being a brāhmaa who has undergone the five kinds of saskāras, or purificatory processes, such as austerities; who has executed the Vaiṣṇava rituals of worship such as deity worship through recital of mantra, and through yoga, yajña sacrifice, offering prayers, chanting the Lord’s holy names, and marking the body with auspicious signs; who has worshiped the Vaiṣṇavas; and who has understood the arthapañcaka (five subjects of knowledge[2]).”

In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.2.45) Svayam Bhagavān Himself describes the symptoms of the mahābhāgavata:

sarva-bhūteṣu yaḥ paśyed
bhagavad-bhāvam ātmanaḥ
bhūtāni bhagavaty ātmany
eṣa bhāgavatottamaḥ

“My devotees see Me as the soul of all souls within all living entities, and they see all living entities within Me. Since they see Me in all life forms, they give mercy to all beings.”

anyera ki kathā, āmi—‘māyāvādī sannyāsī’
āmiha tomāra sparśe kṛṣṇa-preme bhāsi

“What to speak of others, although I am a Māyāvādī sannyāsī, I also am drowning in the ocean of kṛṣṇa-prema simply by touching you.

Śrīman Mahāprabhu is calling Himself a Māyāvādī sannyāsī in order to reveal Himself as insignificant and worthy of rejection. It is well known that He received initiation into the ten-syllable gopāla-mantra from Śrī Īśvara Purīpāda. Before taking sannyāsa, Śrīman Mahāprabhu very cleverly chanted a Vaiṣṇava mantra into the ear of Śrīla Keśava Bhāratī, thus giving him initiation.

In this way, He transformed him into a great devotee. Upon, receiving those mantras back again from Śrīla Keśava Bhāratī, Śrīman Mahāprabhu maintained the proper etiquette in regard to accepting a spiritual master, during His manifest pastimes. A Māyāvādī sannyāsī is a follower of advaita-vāda (monism), the school of thought that is opposed to bhakti. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu however, was never a Māyāvādī sannyāsī in His manifest pastimes.

ei jāni’ kaṭhina mora hṛdaya śodhite
sārvabhauma kahilena tomāre milite

“Indeed, in order to purify My very hard heart (which is dry and devoid of rasa), Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya had asked Me to come and meet you.”

ei-mata duṅhe stuti kare duṅhāra guṇe
duṅhe duṅhāra daraśane ānandita mane

In this way Bhagavān and the devotee praised each other’s qualities and both fell into tremendous bliss to see each other.

hena-kāle vaidika eka vaiṣṇava brāhmaṇa
daṇḍavat kari’ kaila prabhure nimantraṇa

At this time, a brāhmaa Vaiṣṇava following the Vedic principles came there. He offered daṇḍavat praāma[3] before Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and invited Him for prasāda.

nimantraṇa mānila tāṅre vaiṣṇava jāniyā
rāmānande kahe prabhu īṣat hāsiyā

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu knew that brāhmaa to be a Vaiṣṇava and accepted his invitation. Smiling, He spoke to Śrī Rāmānanda.

“tomāra mukhe kṛṣṇa-kathā śunite haya mana
punarapi pāi yena tomāra daraśana”

“Śrī Rāmānanda Rāya, I am exceedingly eager to hear from your mouth topics about Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Therefore I wish to have your darśana again.”

rāya kahe,—“āilā yadi pāmara śodhite
darśana-mātre śuddha nahe mora duṣṭa citte

Upon hearing these words from Śrīman Mahāprabhu, Śrī Rāmānanda Rāya replied, “Although You have come to cleanse the heart of this fallen soul, simply seeing You is not enough to purify my distorted and polluted heart.

dina pāṅca-sāta rahi’ karaha mārjana
tabe śuddha haya mora ei duṣṭa mana”

“O Lord, please stay for at least five-seven days and kindly cleanse my contaminated heart. Only if You stay here will the consciousness of this fool become pure.”

yadyapi viccheda doṅhāra sahana nā yāya
tathāpi daṇḍavat kari’ calilā rāma-rāya

Although separation from one another was unbearable for both, Śrī Rāmānanda Rāya offered his obeisances to Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and, on His order, departed for his royal palace.

prabhu yāi’ sei vipra-ghare bhikṣā kaila
dui janāra utkaṇṭḥāya āsi’ sandhyā haila

Śrīman Mahāprabhu then went to the house of the brāhmaa and accepted alms, meaning took prasāda there. Both the devotee and Bhagavān were eager within their hearts to meet each other again. Then evening came.

prabhu snāna-kṛtya kari’ āchena vasiyā
eka-bhṛtya-saṅge rāya mililā āsiyā

After finishing His bath and performing His sandhyā (evening gāyatrī mantra meditation), Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu sat and chanted hari-nāma, waiting for Śrī Rāmānanda Rāya. Then Rāmānanda Rāya, dressed as a common person and accompanied by one servant, came to meet Him.

Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura says that a sannyāsī bathes and chants the appropriate mantras three times per day – morning, midday and evening. Hence at dusk, according to the injunctions of Śruti, Śrī Śacīnandana sat down and chanted hari-nāma after taking bath and chanting the sandhyā mantras, otherwise known as āhnika.

namaskāra kaila rāya, prabhu kaila āliṅgane
dui jane kṛṣṇa-kathā kaya sei-sthāne

Śrī Rāmānanda Rāya approached and respectfully prostrated before Mahāprabhu. The Lord arose and embraced him with great prema. They then began to discuss topics of Kṛṣṇa in a secluded place.

[1]     Ekāyana means “one path” or “exclusive devotion.” On December 30, 1928  the great scholar Pramathanātha Tarkabhūṣaṇa came to the Gauḍīya Maṭha and heard an extensive explanation of the daiva-varāśrama system from Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. In January of 1929, Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura established the Ekāyana Gauḍīya Maṭḥa in Kṛṣṇanagara.

At the opening ceremony, he gave a lecture with an original explanation on the single path of exclusive devotion (ekāyana), showing that it is the trunk of the Vedic tree and the various other paths (bahvāyana) are its branches. [Taken from Associates of Śrī Caitanya, Volume 2, by Śrīpada Bhakti-vallabha Tīrtha Mahārāja]

[2]     Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī explains the five subjects as the worshipable Supreme Lord; His supreme abode of Vaikuṇṭha; His assets, or tadīya (the pure devotees); His mantras; and the living entities.

[3]     Sāṣṭānga-daṇḍavat-pranāma. A respectful obeisance executed by prostrating eight limbs of the body, namely the thighs, feet, hands, chest, mind, head, voice, and closed eyes, by falling flat like a stick on the ground.

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This process of chanting harināma is very easy. Just chant harināma. Don’t divide your energy to others. Many cheaters will come to steal your energy, but simply utilize all your time in service to Hari, Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, and chanting harināma. In this way, any obstacle that arises will not disturb you. All knowledge and strength will come to your aid. The desire to follow is the most important thing. This desire is called sevonmukha-vṛtti, the tendency to serve Kṛṣṇa. Merely following the rules and regulations of bhakti is not enough to attain perfection. Our determination will not last for so long. The body, mind, and senses naturally want to enjoy other bodies, minds, and senses, and they want some relation, some sweet talking, touching, looking, smelling, tasting—this desire will never cease. When will divine love blossom in our hearts? Divine love is our soul’s waiting inheritance. We must follow the process to mature into spiritual life, so that we can receive that love for which we all aspire. How long can you mechanically control your senses? Perhaps for one or two days, or some years, but when your self-control wanes, the senses will again dive into the well of material enjoyment. A brahmacārī cannot remain celibate without tasting the sweetness of divine love. He may not be able to control himself for even one day. But if he tastes love beyond this material world, he will cease to think of himself as a brahmacārī or a vyabhicārī. There are many examples of those previously enraptured in promiscuity, who forgot their lust completely when their love was transferred to God. Our eternal benefit, eternal connection, and eternal loving relation awaits us. We simply must awaken greed for the blissful reality beyond this world. Any strength that comes from suppressing our senses by adhering to rules and regulations ultimately leads to downfall and sin if we do not establish our lost relation and love for God. Love is the eternal property of the soul. But having willingly turned away from God, our love has been perverted into lust for mundane objects. If we fall from our vows, we may feel remorse, but this remorse is not enough. Therefore, Śrīla Gurudeva instructs us to offer our love to Kṛṣṇa. This process is called rāgānuga-bhakti. We are advised to take shelter of the rāgātmika Vrajavāsīs, eternal associates of Kṛṣṇa, who have unlimited love. If their hearts melt towards us, and a ray of their love shines upon us, then our hearts will also melt, and our inherent love and longing for Kṛṣṇa will awaken, and will lead us home to Vraja. Kṛṣṇa only desires this love. He desires no other offering from the living entities, who are His separated parts and parcels. The love He yearns for cannot be found in Vaikuṇṭha, Ayodhyā, or in the abodes of any of His other incarnations. Love inhibited by opulence and reverence does not satisfy Kṛṣṇa. Where one reveres God as the Almighty, unparalleled natural love for Him is hampered. A mother has natural love for her baby son, and while he is an infant, the mother and son’s relation is intimate and inseparable. When the son grows to a boy and then a teen, he is shy to be naked before his mother, and his mother is shy before her son. As he grows, the son transfers his love for his mother to others. Similarly, a father has love for his child, and the child for the father, but in time this love also transforms. The love of the conditioned souls is always transferring from one to another. The soul, however, is not young or old. She is primeval and ever youthful. When the soul achieves perfection, she is born into a spiritual form, in which she serves the Divine Couple, Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, and relishes the bliss of a loving relation with Them. The Vrajavāsīs have eternal, fathomless love. Their love spreads throughout Vraja-maṇḍala. The Vrajavāsīs all have pure love for Kṛṣṇa. All the mothers in Vraja think, “Kṛṣṇa is my son. I will take Kṛṣṇa in my lap and feed Him my breast milk. I will stroke and massage Him, and I will bathe, dress, decorate, and cook for Him.” All the Vrajavāsīs have ever-increasing love for Kṛṣṇa.

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