The Lord then proceeded towards South India for some time and converted all He met on the way to become devotees of Lord Sri Krsna. Such devotees also converted many others to the cult of devotional service, or to the Bhagavata-dharma of the Lord, and thus He reached the bank of the Godavari, where He met Srila Ramananda Raya, the governor of Madras on behalf of Maharaja Prataparudra, the King of Orissa. His talks with Ramananda Raya are very important for higher realization of transcendental knowledge, and the conversation itself forms a small booklet. We shall, however, give herewith a summary of the conversation.
Sri Ramananda Raya was a self-realized soul, although outwardly he belonged to a caste lower than the brahmana in social status. He was not in the renounced order of life, and besides that he was a high government servant in the state. Still, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu accepted him as a liberated soul on the strength of the high order of his realization of transcendental knowledge. Similarly, the Lord accepted Srila Haridasa Thakura, a veteran devotee of the Lord coming from a Mohammedan family.
And there are many other great devotees of the Lord who came from different communities, sects and castes. The Lord's only criterion was the standard of devotional service of the particular person. He was not concerned with the outward dress of a man; He was concerned only with the inner soul and its activities. Therefore all the missionary activities of the Lord are to be understood to be on the spiritual plane, and as such the cult of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, or the cult of Bhagavata-dharma, has nothing to do with mundane affairs, sociology, politics, economic development or any such sphere of life. Srimad-Bhagavatam is the purely transcendental urge of the soul.
When He met Sri Ramananda Raya on the bank of the Godavari, the varnasrama-dharma followed by the Hindus was mentioned by the Lord. Srila Ramananda Raya said that by following the principles of varnasramadharma, the system of four castes and four orders of human life, everyone could realize Transcendence. In the opinion of the Lord, the system of varnasrama-dharma is superficial only, and it has very little to do with the highest realization of spiritual values. The highest perfection of life is to get detached from the material attachment and proportionately realize the transcendental loving service of the Lord. The Personality of Godhead recognizes a living being who is progressing in that line.
Devotional service, therefore, is the culmination of the culture of all knowledge. When Sri Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, appeared for the deliverance of all fallen souls, He advised the deliverance of all living entities as follows. The Supreme Absolute Personality of Godhead, from whom all living entities have emanated, must be worshiped by all their respective engagements, because everything that we see is also the expansion of His energy. That is the way of real perfection, and it is approved by all bona fide acaryas past and present. The system of varnasrama is more or less based on moral and ethical principles. There is very little realization of the Transcendence as such, and Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu rejected it as superficial and asked Ramananda Raya to go further into the matter.
Sri Ramananda Raya then suggested renunciation of fruitive actions unto the Lord. The Bhagavad-gita (9.27) advises in this connection: "Whatever you do, whatever you eat and whatever you give, as well as whatever you perform in penance, offer to Me alone." This dedication on the part of the worker suggests that the Personality of Godhead is a step higher than the impersonal conception of the varnasrama system, but still the relation of the living being and the Lord is not distinct in that way. The Lord therefore rejected this proposition and asked Ramananda Raya to go further.
Raya then suggested renunciation of the varnasrama-dharma and acceptance of devotional service. The Lord did not approve of this suggestion also for the reason that all of a sudden one should not renounce his position, for that may not bring in the desired result.
It was further suggested by Raya that attainment of spiritual realization freed from the material conception of life is the topmost achievement for a living being. The Lord rejected this suggestion also because on the plea of such spiritual realization much havoc has been wrought by unscrupulous persons; therefore all of a sudden this is not possible. The Raya then suggested sincere association of self-realized souls and hearing submissively the transcendental message of the pastimes of the Personality of Godhead. This suggestion was welcomed by the Lord.
This suggestion was made following in the footsteps of Brahmaji, who said that the Personality of Godhead is known as ajita, or the one who cannot be conquered or approached by anyone. But such ajita also becomes jita (conquered) by one method, which is very simple and easy. The simple method is that one has to give up the arrogant attitude of declaring oneself to be God Himself. One must be very meek and submissive and try to live peacefully by lending the ear to the speeches of the transcendentally self-realized soul who speaks on the message of Bhagavata-dharma, or the religion of glorifying the Supreme Lord and His devotees. To glorify a great man is a natural instinct for living beings, but they have not learned to glorify the Lord. Perfection of life is attained simply by glorifying the Lord in association with a selfrealized devotee of the Lord. * The self-realized devotee is he who surrenders unto the Lord fully and who does not have attachment for material prosperity. Material prosperity and sense enjoyment and their advancement are all activities of ignorance in human society. Peace and friendship are impossible for a society detached from the association of God and His devotees. It is imperative, therefore, that one sincerely seek the association of pure devotees and hear them patiently and submissively from any position of life. The position of a person in the higher or lower status of life does not hamper one in the path of selfrealization.
The only thing one has to do is to hear from a self-realized soul with a routine program. The teacher may also deliver lectures from the Vedic literatures, following in the footsteps of the bygone acaryas who realized the Absolute Truth. Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu recommended this simple method of self-realization generally known as Bhagavatadharma.
Srimad-Bhagavatam is the perfect guide for this purpose.
Above these topics discussed by the Lord and Sri Ramananda Raya, there were still more elevated spiritual talks between the two great personalities, and we purposely withhold those topics for the present because one has to come to the spiritual plane before further talks with Ramananda Raya can be heard. We have presented further talks of Srila Ramananda Raya with the Lord in another book (Teachings of Lord Caitanya).
At the conclusion of this meeting, Sri Ramananda Raya was advised by the Lord to retire from service and come to Puriso that they could live together and relish a transcendental relationship. Some time later, Sri Ramananda Raya retired from the government service and took a pension from the King. He returned to his residence in Puri, where he was one of the most confidential devotees of the Lord. There was another gentleman at Puri of the name Sikhi Mahiti, who was also a confidant like Ramananda Raya. The Lord used to hold confidential talks on spiritual values with three or four companions at Puri, and He passed eighteen years in that way in spiritual trance. His talks were recorded by His private secretary Sri Damodara Gosvami, one of the four most intimate devotees.
The Lord extensively traveled all over the southern part of India. The great saint of Maharastra known as Saint Tukarama was also initiated by the Lord. Saint Tukarama, after initiation by the Lord, overflooded the whole of the Maharastra Province with the sankirtana movement, and the transcendental flow is still rolling on in the southwestern part of the great Indian peninsula.
The Lord excavated from South India two very important old literatures, namely the Brahma-samhita and Krsna-karnamrta, and these two valuable books are authorized studies for the person in the devotional line.
The Lord then returned to Puri after His South Indian tour.
On His return to Puri, all the anxious devotees of the Lord got back their life, and the Lord remained there with continued pastimes of His transcendental realizations. The most important incident during that time was His granting audience to King Prataparudra. King Prataparudra was a great devotee of the Lord, and he considered himself to be one of the servants of the Lord entrusted with sweeping the temple. This submissive attitude of the King was very much appreciated by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. The King requested both Bhattacarya and Raya to arrange his meeting with the Lord. When, however, the Lord was petitioned by His two stalwart devotees, He flatly refused to grant the request, even though it was put forward by personal associates like Ramananda Raya and Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya. The Lord maintained that it is dangerous for a sannyasi to be in intimate touch with worldly money-conscious men and with women. The Lord was an ideal sannyasi. No woman could approach the Lord even to offer respects. Women's seats were accommodated far away from the Lord. As an ideal teacher and acarya, He was very strict in the routine work of a sannyasi. Apart from being a divine incarnation, the Lord was an ideal character as a human being. His behavior with other persons was also above suspicion. In His dealing as acarya, He was harder than the thunderbolt and softer than the rose. One of His associates, Junior Haridasa, committed a great mistake by lustfully glancing at a young woman. The Lord as Supersoul could detect this lust in the mind of Junior Haridasa, who was at once banished from the Lord's association and was never accepted again, even though the Lord was implored to excuse Haridasa for the mistake. Junior Haridasa afterwards committed suicide due to being disassociated from the company of the Lord, and the news of suicide was duly related to the Lord. Even at that time the Lord was not forgetful of the offense, and He said that Haridasa had rightly met with the proper punishment.
On the principles of the renounced order of life and discipline, the Lord knew no compromise, and therefore even though He knew that the King was a great devotee, He refused to see the King, only because the King was a dollar-and-cent man. By this example the Lord wanted to emphasize the proper behavior for a transcendentalist. A transcendentalist has nothing to do with women and money. He must always refrain from such intimate relations. The King was, however, favored by the Lord by the expert arrangement of the devotees. This means that the beloved devotee of the Lord can favor a neophyte more liberally than the Lord. Pure devotees, therefore, never commit an offense at the feet of another pure devotee. An offense at the lotus feet of the Lord is sometimes excused by the merciful Lord, but an offense at the feet of a devotee is very dangerous for one who actually wants to make progress in devotional service.
As long as the Lord remained at Puri, thousands of His devotees used to come to see Him during the Ratha-yatra car festival of Lord Jagannatha. And during the car festival, the washing of the Gundica temple under the direct supervision of the Lord was an important function. The Lord's congregational sankirtana movement at Puri was a unique exhibition for the mass of people. That is the way to turn the mass mind towards spiritual realization. The Lord inaugurated this system of mass sankirtana, and leaders of all countries can take advantage of this spiritual movement in order to keep the mass of people in a pure state of peace and friendship with one another. This is now the demand of the present human society all over the world.
After some time the Lord again started on His tour towards northern India, and He decided to visit Vrndavana and its neighboring places. He passed through the jungles of Jharikhanda(Madhya Bharata), and all the wild animals also joined His sankirtana movement. The wild tigers, elephants, bears and deer all together accompanied the Lord, and the Lord accompanied them in sankirtana. By this He proved that by the propagation of the sankirtana movement (congregational chanting and glorifying of the name of the Lord) even the wild animals can live in peace and friendship, and what to speak of men who are supposed to be civilized. No man in the world will refuse to join the sankirtana movement. Nor is the Lord's sankirtana movement restricted to any caste, creed, color or species.
Here is direct evidence of His great mission: He allowed even the wild animals to partake in His great movement.
On His way back from Vrndavana He first came to Prayaga, where He met Rupa Gosvami along with his younger brother, Anupama. Then He came down to Benares. For two months, He instructed Sri Sanatana Gosvami in the transcendental science. The instruction to Sanatana Gosvami is in itself a long narration, and full presentation of the instruction will not be possible here. The main ideas are given as follows.
Sanatana Gosvami (formerly known as Sakara Mallika) was in the cabinet service of the Bengal government under the regime of Nawab Hussain Shah.
He decided to join with the Lord and thus retired from the service. On His way back from Vrndavana, when He reached Varanasi, the Lord became the guest of Sri Tapana Misra and Candrasekhara, assisted by a Maharastra brahmana. At that time Varanasi was headed by a great sannyasi of the Mayavada school named Sripada Prakasananda Sarasvati. When the Lord was at Varanasi, the people in general became more attracted to Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu on account of His mass sankirtana movement. Wherever He visited, especially the Visvanatha temple, thousands of pilgrims would follow Him. Some were attracted by His bodily features, and others were attracted by His melodious songs glorifying the Lord.
The Mayavadi sannyasis designate themselves as Narayana. Varanasi is still overflooded with many Mayavadi sannyasis. Some people who saw the Lord in His sankirtana party considered Him to be actually Narayana, and this report reached the camp of the great sannyasi Prakasananda.
In India there is always a kind of spiritual rivalry between the Mayavada and Bhagavata schools, and thus when the news of the Lord reached Prakasananda he knew that the Lord was a Vaisnava sannyasi, and therefore he minimized the value of the Lord before those who brought him the news. He deprecated the activities of the Lord because of His preaching the sankirtana movement, which was in his opinion nothing but religious sentiment. Prakasananda was a profound student of the Vedanta, and he advised his followers to give attention to the Vedanta and not to indulge in sankirtana.
One devotee brahmana, who became a devotee of the Lord, did not like the criticism of Prakasananda, and he went to the Lord to express his regrets. He told the Lord that when he uttered the Lord's name before the sannyasi Prakasananda, the latter strongly criticized the Lord, although the brahmana heard Prakasananda uttering several times the name Caitanya.
The brahmana was astonished to see that the sannyasi Prakasananda could not vibrate the sound Krsna even once, although he uttered the name Caitanya several times.
The Lord smilingly explained to the devotee brahmana why the Mayavadi cannot utter the holy name of Krsna. "The Mayavadis are offenders at the lotus feet of Krsna, although they utter always brahma, atma, or caitanya, etc. And because they are offenders at the lotus feet of Krsna, they are actually unable to utter the holy name of Krsna. The name Krsna and the Personality of Godhead Krsna are identical. There is no difference in the absolute realm between the name, form or person of the Absolute Truth because in the absolute realm everything is transcendental bliss. There is no difference between the body and the soul for the Personality of Godhead, Krsna. Thus He is different from the living entity who is always different from his outward body. Because of Krsna's transcendental position, it is very difficult for a layman to actually know the Personality of Godhead, Krsna, His holy name and fame, etc. His name, fame, form and pastimes all are one and the same transcendental identity, and they are not knowable by the exercise of the material senses.
"The transcendental relationship of the pastimes of the Lord is the source of still more bliss than one can experience by realization of Brahman or by becoming one with the Supreme. Had it not been so, then those who are already situated in the transcendental bliss of Brahman would not have been attracted by the transcendental bliss of the pastimes of the Lord." After this, a great meeting was arranged by the devotees of the Lord in which all the sannyasis were invited, including the Lord and Prakasananda Sarasvati. In this meeting both the scholars (the Lord and Prakasananda) had a long discourse on the spiritual values of the sankirtana movement, and a summary is given below.
The great Mayavadi sannyasi Prakasananda inquired from the Lord as to the reason for His preferring the sankirtana movement to the study of the Vedanta-sutra. Prakasananda said that it is the duty of a sannyasi to read the Vedanta-sutra. What caused the Lord to indulge in sankirtana? After this inquiry, the Lord submissively replied: "I have taken to the sankirtana movement instead of the study of Vedanta because I am a great fool." The Lord thus represented Himself as one of the numberless fools of this age who are absolutely incapable of studying the Vedanta philosophy. The fools' indulgence in the study of Vedanta has caused so much havoc in society. The Lord thus continued: "And because I am a great fool, My spiritual master forbade Me to play with Vedanta philosophy. He said that it is better that I chant the holy name of the Lord, for that would deliver Me from material bondage.
"In this age of Kali there is no other religion but the glorification of the Lord by utterance of His holy name, and that is the injunction of all the revealed scriptures. And My spiritual master has taught Me one sloka [from the Brhan-naradiya Purana]: harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha "So on the order of My spiritual master, I chant the holy name of Hari, and I am now mad after this holy name. Whenever I utter the holy name I forget Myself completely, and sometimes I laugh, cry and dance like a madman. I thought that I had actually gone mad by this process of chanting, and therefore I asked My spiritual master about it. He informed Me that this was the real effect of chanting the holy name, which produces a transcendental emotion that is a rare manifestation. It is the sign of love of God, which is the ultimate end of life. Love of God is transcendental to liberation [mukti], and thus it is called the fifth stage of spiritual realization, above the stage of liberation. By chanting the holy name of Krsna one attains the stage of love of God, and it was good that fortunately I was favored with the blessing." On hearing this statement from the Lord, the Mayavadi sannyasi asked the Lord what was the harm in studying the Vedanta along with chanting the holy name. Prakasananda Sarasvati knew well that the Lord was formerly known as Nimai Pandita, a very learned scholar of Navadvipa, and His posing as a great fool was certainly to some purpose. Hearing this inquiry by the sannyasi, the Lord smiled and said, "My dear sir, if you do not mind, I will answer your inquiry." All the sannyasis there were very much pleased with the Lord for His honest dealings, and they unanimously replied that they would not be offended by whatever He replied. The Lord then spoke as follows: "Vedanta-sutra consists of transcendental words or sounds uttered by the transcendental Personality of Godhead. As such, in the Vedanta there cannot be any human deficiencies like mistake, illusion, cheating or inefficiency. The message of the Upanisads is expressed in the Vedantasutra, and what is said there directly is certainly glorified. Whatever interpretations have been given by Sankaracarya have no direct bearing on the sutra, and therefore such commentation spoils everything.
"The word Brahman indicates the greatest of all, which is full with transcendental opulences, superior to all. Brahman is ultimately the Personality of Godhead, and He is covered by indirect interpretations and established as impersonal. Everything that is in the spiritual world is full of transcendental bliss, including the form, body, place and paraphernalia of the Lord. All are eternally cognizant and blissful. It is not the fault of the Acarya Sankara that he has so interpreted Vedanta, but if someone accepts it, then certainly he is doomed. Anyone who accepts the transcendental body of the Personality of Godhead as something mundane certainly commits the greatest blasphemy." The Lord thus spoke to the sannyasi almost in the same way that He spoke to the Bhattacarya of Puri, and by forceful arguments He nullified the Mayavada interpretations of the Vedanta-sutra. All the sannyasis there claimed that the Lord was the personified Vedas and the Personality of Godhead. All the sannyasis were converted to the cult of bhakti, all of them accepted the holy name of the Lord Sri Krsna, and they dined together with the Lord in the midst of them. After this conversion of the sannyasis, the popularity of the Lord increased at Varanasi, and thousands of people assembled to see the Lord in person. The Lord thus established the primary importance of Srimad-Bhagavata-dharma, and He defeated all other systems of spiritual realization. After that everyone at Varanasi was overwhelmed with the transcendental sankirtana movement.
While the Lord was camping at Varanasi, Sanatana Gosvami also arrived after retiring from office. He was formerly one of the state ministers in the government of Bengal, then under the regime of Nawab Hussain Shah. He had some difficulty in getting relief from the state service, for the Nawab was reluctant to let him leave. Nonetheless he came to Varanasi, and the Lord taught him the principles of devotional service. He taught him about the constitutional position of the living being, the cause of his bondage under material conditions, his eternal relation with the Personality of Godhead, the transcendental position of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, His expansions in different plenary portions of incarnations, His control of different parts of the universe, the nature of His transcendental abode, devotional activities, their different stages of development, the rules and regulations for achieving the gradual stages of spiritual perfection, the symptoms of different incarnations in different ages, and how to detect them with reference to the context of revealed scriptures.
The Lord's teachings to Sanatana Gosvami form a big chapter in the text of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, and to explain the whole teachings in minute details will require a volume in itself. These are treated in detail in our book Teachings of Lord Caitanya.
At Mathura, the Lord visited all the important places; then He reached Vrndavana. Lord Caitanya appeared in the family of a high-caste brahmana, and over and above that as sannyasi He was the preceptor for all the varnas and asramas. But He used to accept meals from all classes of Vaisnavas. At Mathura the Sanodiya brahmanas are considered to be in the lower status of society, but the Lord accepted meals in the family of such a brahmana also because His host happened to be a disciple of the Madhavendra Puri family.
At Vrndavana the Lord took bath in twenty-four important bathing places and ghatas. He traveled to all the twelve important vanas (forests). In these forests all the cows and birds welcomed Him, as if He were their very old friend. The Lord also began to embrace all the trees of those forests, and by doing so He felt the symptoms of transcendental ecstasy. Sometimes He fell unconscious, but He was made to regain consciousness by the chanting of the holy name of Krsna. The transcendental symptoms that were visible on the body of the Lord during His travel within the forest of Vrndavana were all unique and inexplicable, and we have just given a synopsis only.
Some of the important places that were visited by the Lord in Vrndavana were Kamyavana, Adisvara, Pavana-sarovara, Khadiravana, Sesasayi, Khela-tirtha, Bhandiravana, Bhadravana, Srivana, Lauhavana, Mahavana, Gokula, Kaliya-hrada, Dvadasaditya, Kesi-tirtha, etc. When He saw the place where the rasa dance took place, He at once fell down in trance. As long as He remained at Vrndavana, He made His headquarters at Akrura-ghata.