After hearing Rāmānanda Rāya expound upon the proper execution of a regulated life, Lord Caitanya said that such a life is simply external. Indirectly He asked Rāmānanda to describe something superior to such an external exhibition. Formal execution of rituals and religion is useless unless aimed at attaining the perfection of devotional service. Lord Viṣṇu is not satisfied simply by a ritualistic adherence to Vedic instructions; He is actually pleased when one attains the stage of devotional service.
According to the verse cited by Rāmānanda Rāya, one can rise to the point of devotional service by ritualistic performance. In the Bhagavad-gītā (18.45–46), Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who appeared in order to deliver all classes of people, states:
- sve sve karmaṇy abhirataḥ saṁsiddhiṁ labhate naraḥ
- sva-karma-nirataḥ siddhiṁ yathā vindati tac chṛṇu
- yataḥ pravṛttir bhūtānāṁ yena sarvam idaṁ tatam
- sva-karmaṇā tam abhyarcya siddhiṁ vindati mānavaḥ
"A human being can attain the highest perfectional stage of life by worshiping the Supreme Lord, from whom everything has emanated, through his occupational duties." This perfectional process was followed by great devotees like Bodhāyana, Ṭaṅka, Dramiḍa, Guhadeva, Kapardi and Bhāruci. All these great personalities followed this particular path of perfection. The Vedic injunctions also aim in this direction. Rāmānanda Rāya wanted to present these facts before the Lord, but apparently mere discharge of ritualistic duties is not perfection. Therefore Lord Caitanya said that it was external, indicating that if a man has a material conception of life he cannot attain the highest perfection, even if he follows all the ritualistic regulations.