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    Shrila Ramananda Ray

    Shrila Ramananda RayShrila Ramananda Ray was the viceroy of the Rajamahendri (present day Rajahmundry of Andhra Pradesh at the bank of river Godavari), Godavari Province of Kalinga-Utkala Empire (Medieval Orissa) under the Emperor Gajapati Shri Prataparudra Dev. He was born in early 14th century at Cuttack in a noted Oriya Kayastha/Karana family. When Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was setting out on his tour of South India, Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya especially requested him to meet Ramananda Raya. Ramananda Raya was one of the most intimate associates of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu would discuss with him the most confidential topics of Krsna consciousness, and in his company Lord Caitanya would relish the deepest feelings of devotional service.

    'Srila Ramananda Raya was an incarnation of the gopi Visakha. Since Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was Lord Krsna Himself, there was naturally an awakening of love between Visakha and Krsna. Shri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the combination of Srimati Radharani and Krsna, and the gopi Visakha is a principal gopi assisting Srimati Radharani. Thus the natural love between Ramananda Raya and Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu awakened and they embraced.'

    In Śrī Chaitanya-charitāmṛta, Śrīman Mahāprabhu personally glorifies Śrīla Rāmānanda Rāy during a conversation He has with Pradyumna Miśra. Śrīman Mahāprabhu explains that Śrīla Rāmānanda Rāy is so spiritually advanced that his consciousness is unaffected by any and all temptations of this material world. He says,

    eka rāmānandera haya ei adhikāra
    tāte jāni aprākṛta-deha tā̐hāra
    tā̐hāra manera bhāva te̐ha jāne mātra
    tāhā jānibāre āra dvitīya nāhi pātra
    kintu śāstra-dṛṣṭye eka kari anumāna
    śrī-bhāgavata-śāstra - tāhāte pramāṇa

    (Śrī Chaitanya-charitāmṛta: Antya-līlā, 5.42-4)

    "The qualification of Rāmānanda Rāy is super-excellent (unequalled by anyone). I know that his body is (entirely) supramundane (beyond the touch of the modes of material nature, pure, spiritual, and ecstatic). He alone knows the condition (bhāva) of his heart and mind. No one else is able to understand it. (The heart of a devotee (so exalted as he) that is devoted to the self-revealed, materially imperceptible Lord (Adhokṣaja) is beyond the understanding of those who know only the world of the senses). Yet from a scriptural angle of vision I have a guess (as to how his heart has become supramundane). There is evidence for the spiritual position of Rāmānanda Rāy in the Scripture Śrīmad Bhāgavatam."

    vikrīḍitaṁ vraja-vadhūbhir idaṁ cha viṣṇoḥ
    śraddhānvito ’nuśṛṇuyād atha varṇayed yaḥ
    bhaktiṁ parāṁ bhagavati pratilabhya kāmaṁ
    hṛd-rogam āśv apahinoty achireṇa dhīraḥ

    (Śrī Chaitanya-charitāmṛta: Antya-līlā, 5.48)

    "A sober soul, one who faithfully hears about and then describes Viṣṇu’s play with the Vraja-gopīs, quickly attains perfect devotion to the Lord and simultaneously leaves behind the heart disease of material desire."

    rāgānuga-mārge jāni rāyera bhajana
    siddha-deha-tulya, tāte ‘prākṛta’ nahe mana

    (Śrī Chaitanya-charitāmṛta: Antya-līlā, 5.51)

    "I know the devotional service of Rāmānanda Rāy is on the level of the eternal residents of Vraja. The body of Rāmānanda Rāy (who is by nature a rāgātmika devotee - a devotee of Vṛndāvan that possesses extreme loving desire and attachment to serve Kṛṣṇa (rāga) and is perpetually absorbed in service and consciousness of Kṛṣṇa as a result of such rāga) is just like an eternal spiritual form (of a liberated soul in the spiritual world). His heart and mind are not at all mundane."

    In this way Śrīman Mahāprabhu cites Rāmānanda Rāy as the preeminent example of the verse from the Temple of Love and Affection vikrīḍitaṁ Vraja-vadhūbhir idaṁ cha Viṣṇoḥ.

    On the disappearance day of a Vaiṣṇava we sing the following line:

    ye ānila prema-dhana karuṇā prachura
    hena prabhu kothā gelā āchārya-ṭhākura

    (Prārthanā: 40.1)

    "Where has that worshippable Vaiṣṇava gone, who most mercifully brought the wealth of divine love (to this world)?"

    In this way devotees reflect on the gift a Vaiṣṇava bestows upon this world through their Pastimes here. So naturally we are reminded today as we continue our presentation of the verses of the Temple of Love and Affection of the glories of Śrīla Rāmānanda Rāy and the supreme spiritual wealth he has left for the world.

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