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While feeling intense separation from the Lord, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu would have his intimate associates recite to augment His feeling. This is described in the Caitanya-caritamrta: “In this way Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu always expressed bewilderment and lamented in separation from Krsna. At such times He used to recite the slokas from Ramananda Raya’s drama, known as Jagannatha-vallabha-nataka.”
“He passed His time reading the books and singing the songs of Candidasa and Vidyapati, and listening to quotations from the Jagannatha-vallabha-nataka, Krsna-karnamrta and Gita-govinda. Thus in the association of Svarupa Damodara and Raya Ramananda, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu passed His days and nights chanting and hearing with great pleasure.”
The verses of the Jagannatha-vallabha-nataka of Sri Ramananda Raya are frequently found in the text of Caitanya-caritamrta by Krsnadasa Kaviraja. In a purport to Caitanya-caritamrta, Srila Prabhupada wrote.
“Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu taught His principles through four chief followers. Among them, Ramananda Raya is exceptional, for through him the Lord taught how a devotee can completely vanquish the power of Cupid. By Cupid’s power, as soon as one sees a beautiful woman he is conquered by her beauty. Sri Ramananda Raya, however, vanquished Cupids pride. Indeed, while rehearsing the Jagannatha-vallabha-nataka he personally directed extremely beautiful young girls in dancing, but he was never affected by their youthful beauty. Sri Ramananda Raya personally bathed these girls, touching them and washing them with his own hands, yet he remained calm and passionless, as a great devotee should be. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu certified that this was possible only for Ramananda Raya.”
While feeling intense separation from the Lord, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu would have his intimate associates recite to augment His feelings. This is described in the Caitanya-caritamrta: “In this way Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu always expressed bewilderment and lamented in separation from Krsna. At such times he used to recite the slokas from Ramananda Raya’s drama, known as Jagannatha-vallabha-nataka.”
Also in the Caitanya-caritamrta, there is a very nice story that vividly illustrates the exalted and unique position of Sri Ramananda Raya: One day, Pradyumna Misra came to see Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, offering his respects and inquiring from Him with great submission. “My Lord,” he said, “kindly hear me. I am a cripple-minded householder, the most fallen of men, but somehow, by my good fortune, I have received the shelter of your lotus feet, while are rarely to be seen. I wish to hear topics concerning Lord Krsna constantly. Be merciful unto me and kindly tell me something about Krsna.”
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu replied, “I do not know about topics concerning Lord Krsna. I think that only Ramananda Raya knows, for I her these topics from him. It is your good fortune that you are inclined to hear topics regarding Krsna. The best course for you would be to go to Ramananda Raya and hear these topics from him. I see that you have acquired a taste for hearing talks regarding Krsna. Therefore you are extremely fortunate. Not only you but anyone who has awakened such a taste is considered most fortunate. A person who properly performs his regulative duties according to varna and asrama but does not develop his dormant attachment for Krsna or awaken his taste for hearing and chanting about Krsna is certainly laboring fruitlessly.”
Pradyumna Misra, being thus advised by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, went to the home of Ramananda Raya. There the servant of Ramananda Raya gave him a proper place to sit down. Unable to see Ramananda Raya immediately, Pradyumna Misra inquired from the servant, who them described what Sri Ramananda Raya was doing. “There are two dancing girls who are extremely beautiful. They are very youthful, and they are expert in dancing and singing. Srila Ramananda Raya has taken these two girls to a solitary place in his garden, where he is teaching and directing them to dance according to the songs he has composed for his drama.”
In his purport, Srila Prabhhupada wrote: The drama being rehearsed by Ramananda Raya and the two young girls was the well-known Jagannatha-vallabhanataka. The Songs and dances were meant for the pleasure of Lord Jagannatha; therefore Ramananda Raya was personally giving instructions on how to sing and dance for the drama.
Ramananda Raya’s servant said, “Please sit here and wait for a few moments. As soon as he comes, he will execute whatever order you give him.”
While Pradyumna Misra remained seated there, Ramananda Raya took the two girls to a solitary place. With his own hand, Sri Ramananda Raya massaged their bodies with oil and bathed them with water, Indeed, Ramananda Raya cleansed their entire bodies with his own hand. Although he dressed the two young girls and decorated their bodies with his own hand, he remained unchanged. Such is the mind of Srila Ramananda Raya.
While touching the young girls, he was like a person touching wood or stone, for his body and mind were unaffected. Srila Ramananda Raya used to act in that way because he thought of himself in his original position as a maidservant of the gopis. Thus although externally he appeared to be a man, internally, in his original spiritual position, he considered himself a maid-servant and considered the two girls gopis.
In his purport, Srila Prabhupada wrote: Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura writes in his Amrta-pravahabhasya: “Srila Ramananda Raya composed a drama named Jagannatha-vallabha-nataka, and he engaged two young girls who were professional dancers and singers to demonstrate the ideology of the drama. Such girls, who are called deva-dasis, are still employed in the temple of Jagannatha, were they are called maharis. Sri Ramananda Raya engaged two such girls, and because they were meant to play the parts of gopis, he taught them how to awaken thoughts like those of the gopis. Because the gopis are worshipable personalities, Ramananda Raya, who considered the two girls gopis and himself their maidservant, engaged inn their service by massaging their bodies with oil to cleanse them completely. Because Ramananda Raya always placed himself in the position of a maidservant of the gopis, his rehearsal with the girls was actually on the spiritual platform.”
Because there was no question of personal sense gratification when Sri Ramananda Raya was serving the girls, his mind was steady and his body untransformed. This is not to be imitated, nor is such a mentality possible for anyone but Sri Ramananda Raya, as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu will explain. The example of Sri Ramananda Raya is certainly unique. The author of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta has given this description because in perfect devotional service one can attain such a position. Nevertheless, one must understand this subject very seriously and never attempt to imitate such activities.
(The Caitanya-caritamrta continues) The greatness of the devotees of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is exceedingly difficult to understand. Sri Ramananda Raya is unique among them all, for he showed how one can extend his ecstatic love to the extreme limit. Ramananda Raya directed the two girls how to dance and express the deep meaning of the his song through dramatic performances. He taught them how to express the symptoms of continuous, natural and transitional ecstasies with the movements of their faces, their eyes and the other parts of their bodies. Through the feminine poses and dances they were taught by Ramananda Raya, the two girls precisely exhibited all these expressions of ecstasy before Lord Jagannatha. Then Ramananda Raya fed the two girls sumptuous prasadam and sent them to their homes unexposed.
Every day he trained the two deva-dasis how to dance. Who among the small living entities, their minds always absorbed in material sense gratification, could understand the mentality of Sri Ramananda Raya? When the servant informed Ramananda Raya of Pradyumna Misra’s arrival, Ramananda Raya immediately went to the assembly room.
He offered his obeisances to Pradyumna Misra with all respect and them, with great humility, spoke as follows: “Sir, you came here long ago, but no one informed me. Therefore I have certainly become an offender at you lotus feet.
My entire home has been purified by your arrival. Kindly order me. What can I do for you? I am your servant.”
Pradyumna Misra replied, “I cam simply to see you. Now I have purified myself by seeing Your Honor.”
Because Pradyumna Misra saw that it was late, he did not say anything else to Ramananda Raya. Instead, he took leave of him and returned to his own home.
Lord inquired, “Have you heard talks about Krsna from Sri Ramananda Raya?”
Pradyumna Misra thereupon described the activities of Sri Ramananda Raya. After hearing about these activities, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu began to speak.
“I am a sannyasi,” He said, “and I certainly consider Myself renouned. But what to speak to seeing a woman, if I even hear the name of a woman, I feel changes in My mind and body. Therefore who could remain unmoved by the sight of a woman? It is very difficult.”
“Everyone please hear these topics about Ramananda Raya, although they are so wonderful and uncommon that they should not be spoken. The two professional dancing girls are beautiful and youthful, yet Sri Ramananda Raya personally massages their entire bodies with oil. He personally bathes and dresses them and decorates them with ornaments. In this way, he naturally sees and touches the private parts of their bodies. Nevertheless, the mind of Sri Ramananda Raya never changes, although he teaches the girls how to physically express all the transformations of ecstasy. His mind is as steady as wood or stone. Indeed, it is wonderful that even when he touches such young girls, his mind never changes.”
“The authority for such acts is the prerogative of Ramananda Raya alone, for I can understand that his body is not material but has been completely transformed into a spiritual entity. He alone, and no one else, can understand the position of his mind.”
After appreciating the exalted position of Ramananda Raya and this drama, let us correctly ascertain our very small position and then open the pages of this book and begin reading.
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