Lord Caitanya admitted the superiority of vatsalya-prema over sakhya-prema, but He asked Ramananda to go still further in the realm of transcendental mellowness. Lord Caitanya said:
prabhu kahe-eho uttama, age kaha ara
raya kahe, kanta-prema sarva-sadhya-sara
So far, you have certainly explained the gradual development of transcendental, eternal relationships with the Personality of Godhead very well. But above this conception of vatsalya-prema there is a supreme transcendental rasa, which is the topmost transcendental service.” Upon hearing this suggestion of Lord Caitanya, Ramananda declared that a transcendental conjugal relationship with Godhead is the highest form of loving service rendered to the Personality of Godhead.
The process of developing a transcendental relationship with Godhead is understood gradually. By simply accepting the glories of the Personality of Godhead and establishing service to Him in the transcendental rasa of calmness, santa-prema, the sentiment of love for Godhead as one’s personal master is not developed. Santa-prema is a stage of peaceful appreciation of the glories of the Personality of Godhead.
In dasya-prema or transcendental servitude to Godhead, a sense of intimacy with Godhead is not developed. In both sakhya-prema, transcendental friendship with Godhead, and vatsalya-prema, parental affection, the sense of unrestricted approach for loving service is not developed. As such, the complete perfection of transcendental relationships is not found. The fullness of service, unchecked by all conventional restrictions, is only developed in madhurya-prema, transcendental loving service in conjugal love.
Thus, on the order of Lord Caitanya, Ramananda began to explain the nature of madhurya-prema. Ramananda quoted a verse from the Srimad-Bhagavatam wherein Uddhava spoke of the fortune of Krsna’s cowherd girlfriends, who melted away in ecstasy when they heard Uddhava describe the activities of Sri Krsna. Uddhava said,
nayam sriyo ‘nga u nitanta-rateh prasadah
svar-yositam nalina-gandha-rucam kuto ‘nyah
rasotsave ‘sya bhuja-danda-grhita-kantha
labdhasisam ya udagad-vraja-sundarinam
“The transcendental happiness that was bestowed upon the beautiful damsels of Vraja, who got the opportunity to be embraced by the strong hands of Sri Krsna on the occasion of performing the rasa-lila, was never experienced even by Laksmi, who resides on the chest of the Personality of Godhead Narayana. Neither was such pleasure ever felt by the angels of heaven whose bodies emanate the smell of lotus flowers. What to speak then of ordinary beauties?” (Bhag. 10.47.60)
Quoting another passage from Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.82.2), Ramananda said,
tasam avirabhuc chaurih
“Sri Krsna, who is the enchanter of Cupid, dressed in yellow, wore a garland of flowers, and all of a sudden appeared in His eternal smiling form in the midst of the cowherd girls, who were mourning in separation from Him after the pastime of the rasa-lila.”
Thus Ramananda Raya summarized all of the different transcendental relationships with Godhead. He said that all of these are means of gaining the favor of Sri Krsna. A devotee in a particular relationship with Godhead will consider that relationship the highest of all, but when all the transcendental relationships are scrutinized and compared from a neutral angle of vision, the difference of intensity can be estimated.
[Excerpted from the Bhaktivedanta VedaBase 2011.1]