One who is famous as a Kṛṣṇa conscious man enjoys 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 that are connected with the body. 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 can only be had if one attains Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
According to Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, 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 to be more rare to be a famous devotee of the Supreme Lord in the age of Kali than to be a demigod such 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 Bhagavad-gītā (BG 7.19) Kṛṣṇa tells Arjuna:
- bahūnāṁ janmanām ante
- jñānavān māṁ prapadyate
- vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti
- sa mahātmā sudurlabhaḥ
"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 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, one may be expert in performing sacrifices, and out of thousands of such expert brāhmaṇas, one brāhmaṇa may be expert in the knowledge of the Vedānta-sūtra, and out of many, many thousands of such Vedāntists, there may be one person who is famous as a devotee of Lord Viṣṇu. There are many devotees of Viṣṇu, and out of them, he who is unfiinching in his devotion is eligible to enter into the kingdom of God. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (SB 3.13.4) it is also stated that there are many students of the Vedas, but 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 even 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, "What is 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 considered to be 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 when he finally saw Kṛṣṇa, he said, "I am so pleased, I don't want anything." In Bhagavad-gītā it is also stated that if one takes shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead or 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 considered to be the most painful existence, Rāmānanda Rāya replied that separation from a pure devotee constitutes the most painful existence. 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 (SB 3.30.7) 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 Fifth Canto of Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta (5.44) it is stated that the association of a pure devotee is more desirable than life itself and that in separation from him one cannot even pass a second happily.
Lord Caitanya then asked Rāmānanda Rāya, "Out of many so-called liberated souls, who is actually liberated?" Rāmānanda replied that he who is actually completely saturated with the devotional love for Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa is to be considered to be the best of all liberated persons. It is stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (SB 6.14.4) that a devotee of Nārāyaṇa is so rare that one can only find him out of millions and millions of people.
"And out of all songs, what song do you think is the best of all?" Caitanya Mahāprabhu asked. And Rāmānanda replied that any song which describes the pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa is the best song. In conditional life, the soul is captivated by sex. All fictions—dramas and novels—and material songs 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 transactions 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 (SB 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 to 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 (SB 2.2.36) Śukadeva Gosvāmī confirms that one should always think of the Supreme Personality of Godhead—not only think of Him, but one should 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 also confirmed in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (SB 1.2.14): "It is the Supreme Personality of Godhead alone 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 pleasures?" Lord Caitanya next inquired. Rāmānanda replied that one should give up all other pleasures and should live in Vṛndāvana where Lord Kṛṣṇa had so many pastimes. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (SB 10.47.61) Uddhava says that it is best to live in Vṛndāvana even if one has to live as a plant or creeper. It was in Vṛndāvana that the Supreme Lord lived and it was there that the gopīs worshiped the Supreme Lord, 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 it sometimes happens that people do not hear of these pastimes from a person who is a realized soul. Thus people are sometimes misguided. It is stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (SB 10.33.39) that one who hears of the pastimes of Kṛṣṇa with the gopīs will attain the highest platform of devotional service and will be freed from the material lust which overwhelms everyone's heart in the material world. In other words, by hearing the pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, one can get rid of all material lust. If one does not become freed from material lust in this way, then he should not indulge in hearing of the pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. Unless one hears from the right source, he will misinterpret the pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, considering them to be ordinary affairs between a man and woman. In this way one may be misguided.
"And 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—the impersonalists worship the brahmajyoti, for instance—but by worshiping objects other than Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, one becomes bereft of life's symptoms and becomes just like a tree or other nonmoving 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 liberation from material bondage. "Where do they ultimately go?" He asked. Rāmānanda Rāya replied that ultimately some turn into trees and 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 seeds of the mango. The unfortunate transcendentalists simply speculate on dry philosophy, whereas the transcendentalists who are in love with Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa enjoy fruit just like the cuckoo. 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 only fit for crowlike philosophers. Mango seeds, 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. Sometimes they danced, sometimes sang and sometimes cried. After passing 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 told me about the science of Kṛṣṇa and Rādhārāṇī and Their loving affairs, the affairs of the rāsa dance and Their pastimes. I never thought that I should be able to speak on this subject matter. 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 Bhagavad-gītā—the Lord dictates from within one 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 (SB 2.4.22) Śukadeva Gosvāmī confirms that the gāyatrī mantra was first imparted within the heart of Brahmā by the Supreme. Śukadeva Gosvāmī prayed to the Lord to 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. 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 scholar becomes bewildered in trying to understand the supreme truth because the entire perceivable cosmic manifestation is situated within Him. Although this material manifestation is a by-product of fire, water, air and earth, it nonetheless appears to be factual. However, it is in Him only 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. I see before You a golden doll, and due to its presence Your complexion has become golden. Yet I see that Your complexion is dark, like a cowherd boy's. Will You please 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 (SB 11.2.45):
- sarva-bhūteṣu yaḥ paśyed
- bhagavad-bhāvam ātmanaḥ
- bhūtāni bhagavaty ātmany
- eṣa bhāgavatottamaḥ
"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 (SB 10.35.9) where it is stated that all creepers, plants and trees, laden with flowers and fruits, were bent in the ecstasy of love for Kṛṣṇa, for Kṛṣṇa was the Soul of their soul. After Kṛṣṇa left them, those trees and plants became thorny.
"You have the highest conception of the pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa," Lord Caitanya continued. "Therefore you are seeing Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa everywhere."
Rāmānanda Rāya replied: "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 the viewpoint of Rādhārāṇī. You have actually advented Yourself to take this point of view. Although You incarnate 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. Please don't try to deceive me, I beg You. It is not good for You."
Being very satisfied, Lord Caitanya smiled and showed Rāmānanda His real form as the combination of Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. 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 Vṛndāvana pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa can be able, by the mercy of Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī, to know about the real identity of Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
Upon seeing this unique feature of Lord Caitanya, Rāmānanda Rāya fainted and fell on the floor. Lord Caitanya then touched him, and he came to his senses. Rāmānanda Rāya was then surprised to see Lord Caitanya again in His mendicant dress. Lord Caitanya embraced and pacified him and informed him that he 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 known as Gaurapuruṣa. 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. No one should try to eliminate 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 but for Śrī Kṛṣṇa, no one can enjoy the supreme form of devotion, Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. But for Śrī Kṛṣṇa, all Viṣṇu forms are lacking this ability. This is explained in the description of Govinda in Caitanya-caritāmṛta. There it is said that Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī is the only personality who can infuse Śrī Kṛṣṇa with transcendental pleasure. Thus Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī is the chief damsel of Vraja in love with 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 from you, you are such an advanced devotee that you can understand all My secrets. I request that you please keep this a secret and do not disclose it to anyone. If it were revealed, everyone would consider Me a madman. The facts which I have disclosed to you cannot be understood by materialistic people. When they hear of this, they will simply laugh at Me. You can understand this yourself and keep it to yourself. From a materialistic point of view, a devotee becomes mad in his ecstasy of love for Kṛṣṇa. Both you and I are just like madmen. So please don't disclose these facts to ordinary men. If you do, they will surely laugh at Me."
Lord Caitanya then passed ten nights with Rāmānanda Rāya, enjoyed his company and discussed 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 Caitanya-caritāmṛta this has been compared to metallurgic examination. The metals compared are discussed in the following sequence: first copper, then bronze, then silver, 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 dimension of their discussions, however, is considered to be like touchstone. If one is eager to attain the highest understanding, he must begin with an inquiry into the differences between copper and bronze, then silver and gold and so on.
The next day Lord Caitanya asked Rāmānanda Rāya to allow Him to return to Jagannātha Purī. "We can remain together the rest of our lives 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 started on His journey. He met Rāmānanda Rāya at a temple of Hanumān on the river bank. After visiting the temple of Hanumān, He left. As long as Caitanya Mahāprabhu remained at Karpūra, 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 and 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. If one is actually fortunate enough to have faith in these discussions, he can enter into the transcendental association of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa.