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Encouraged by Lord Caitanya to proceed further, Rāmānanda Rāya said that the fraternal relationship with Lord Kṛṣṇa is a still higher transcendental position. The reason Rāmānanda Rāya said this is because when the relationship with Kṛṣṇa increases in affection, the mood of fear and the consciousness of the superiority of the Supreme Lord diminish. At this point the mood of faithfulness increases, and this faithfulness is called friendship. In this friendly relationship, there is a sense of equality between Lord Kṛṣṇa and His friends.
In this regard Rāmānanda Rāya quoted a nice verse from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.12.11), which Śukadeva Gosvāmī spoke while describing Lord Kṛṣṇa’s lunch with His friends in the forest. Lord Kṛṣṇa and His friends had gone to the forest with the cows to play, and it is said in this verse that the boys who accompanied Kṛṣṇa enjoyed transcendental friendship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is considered to be the impersonal Brahman by great sages, the Supreme Personality of Godhead by devotees in the mood of servitude, and an ordinary human being by common men.
Lord Caitanya appreciated this statement very much, yet still He said, “You can go even further.” Being so requested, Rāmānanda Rāya then stated that the parental relationship with Kṛṣṇa is a still higher transcendental position. When the friendly attitude toward Kṛṣṇa increases in affection, it develops into the relationship found between parents and their son. Regarding this, Rāmānanda Rāya quoted a verse from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.8.46) wherein Mahārāja Parīkṣit inquired from Śukadeva Gosvāmī about the magnitude of righteous activity performed by Yaśodā, the mother of Kṛṣṇa, enabling her to be called “Mother” by the Supreme Personality of Godhead and to have Him suck her breasts. Then Rāmānanda quoted another verse from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.9.20), in which it is stated that Yaśodā, the wife of the cowherd Nanda, received such mercy from the Supreme Personality of Godhead that it is beyond comparison even to the mercy received by Brahmā, the first created living being, or by Lord Śiva, or even by the goddess of fortune, Lakṣmī, who is always situated on the chest of Lord Viṣṇu.
Lord Caitanya then asked Rāmānanda Rāya to proceed further in order to come to the point of conjugal love. Understanding the mind of Lord Caitanya, Rāmānanda Rāya immediately answered that it is indeed conjugal love with Kṛṣṇa that constitutes the highest relationship. In other words, one’s intimate relationship with Kṛṣṇa develops from an ordinary conception of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, to the conception of master and servant, and, when this becomes confidential, it develops into a friendly relationship, and when this relationship further develops, it becomes parental, and when this develops to the highest point of complete love and affection, it is known as conjugal love with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Rāmānanda Rāya then quoted another verse from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.47.60), which states that the transcendental mode of ecstasy exhibited during the rāsa dance between the gopīs and Kṛṣṇa was never relished even by the goddess of fortune, who is always situated on the chest of the Lord in the spiritual kingdom. And what to speak of the experience of ordinary women?
Rāmānanda Rāya then explained the gradual process by which pure love for Kṛṣṇa is developed. He pointed out that the relationship a living entity has with the Supreme Personality of Godhead in any of the modes of affection is just suitable for him. Still, there are higher and lower relationships. A relationship with the Supreme Lord begins with the master-and-servant relationship and further develops into friendship, parental love and conjugal love. One who is situated in his particular relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead is in the best relationship for him. But when we study these different flavors of transcendental taste in relationship with the Supreme Lord, we can see that the neutral stage of realization (brahma-bhūta) is the first stage, that the stage of accepting the Lord as master and oneself as His servant is better, that the conception of oneself as the Lord’s friend is even more developed, that a parental relationship with the Lord is of a still superior quality, and that conjugal love is the supreme relationship with the Lord.
In other words, self-realization with a sense of servitude for the Lord is certainly transcendental, but when a sense of fraternity is added the relationship develops, and as affection increases, this relationship develops into parenthood and conjugal love. Rāmānanda Rāya then quoted a verse from the Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (2.5.38) stating that spiritual affection for the Supreme Lord is transcendental in all cases, but that the individual devotee has a specific aptitude for a particular relationship, and that relationship is more relishable for him than the others.
Such transcendental relationships with the Supreme Lord cannot be manufactured by the mental concoctions of pseudo-devotees. In this connection, Rūpa Gosvāmī has stated in his Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.2.101) that devotional service which makes no reference to the Vedic scriptures and which does not follow the principles set forth therein can never be approved. Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Mahārāja has also remarked that professional spiritual masters, professional Bhāgavatam reciters, professional kīrtana performers and those engaged in devotional service according to their own mental concoctions cannot be accepted. In India there are various professional communities known as āula, bāula, kartābhajā, neḍā, daraveśa, sāṅi, ativāḍī, cūḍādhārī and gaurāṅga-nāgarī. A member of the Ventor Gosvāmī Society, or the caste called gosvāmī, cannot be accepted as a descendant of the six original gosvāmīs. Nor can so-called devotees who manufacture songs about Lord Caitanya, nor those who are professional priests or paid reciters, be accepted. One who does not follow the principles of the Pañcarātra, or one who is an impersonalist or addicted to sex life, cannot be compared with those who have dedicated their lives to the service of Kṛṣṇa. A pure devotee who is always engaged in Kṛṣṇa consciousness can sacrifice everything for the service of the Lord. One who has dedicated his life to the service of Lord Caitanya, Kṛṣṇa and the spiritual master, or a person who is following the principles of householder life, as well as one following the principles of the renounced life in the line of Caitanya Mahāprabhu, is a devotee and cannot be compared with professional men.
When one is freed from all material contaminations, any one of the relationships with Kṛṣṇa is transcendentally relishable. Unfortunately, those who are inexperienced in the transcendental science cannot appreciate the different relationships with the Supreme Lord. They think that all such relationships arise from māyā. The author of the Caitanya-caritāmṛta has given a nice example concerning these relationships. He points out that earth, water, fire, air and ether (the five gross elements) develop from subtle forms to grosser forms. For example, sound is found in ether, but in air there is both sound and touch. In fire there is sound, touch and form as well, and in water there is sound, touch, form and taste. Finally, in earth there is sound, touch, form, taste and smell. Just as the various characteristics increase in the progression from ether to earth, so the five characteristics of devotion increase with each relationship, until all five are found in the relationship of conjugal love. Thus the relationship with Kṛṣṇa in conjugal love is accepted as the highest perfectional stage of love of God.
In this connection, Lord Kṛṣṇa says to the damsels of Vraja in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.82.44): “Devotional service to Me is the life of every living entity. Indeed, your love for Me is the only cause of achieving My association.” It is said that Lord Kṛṣṇa, in His relationship with His devotees, accepts all kinds of devotional service and then reciprocates according to the devotee’s attitude. If one wants a relationship with Kṛṣṇa as master and servant, Kṛṣṇa plays the part of the perfect master. For one who wants Kṛṣṇa as a son in the parental relationship, Kṛṣṇa plays the part of a perfect son. Similarly, if a devotee wants to worship Kṛṣṇa in conjugal love, Kṛṣṇa perfectly plays the part of a husband or paramour. However, Kṛṣṇa has admitted that His loving relationship with the damsels of Vraja in conjugal love is the highest perfectional stage. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.32.22) Kṛṣṇa told the gopīs:
- na pāraye ’haṁ niravadya-samyujāṁ
- sva-sādhu-kṛtyaṁ vibudhāyuṣāpi vaḥ
- yā mābhajan durjaya-geha-śṛṅkhalāḥ
- saṁvṛścya tad vaḥ pratiyātu sādhunā
“My dear gopīs, your relationship with Me is completely transcendental, and it is not possible for Me to offer anything in exchange for your love, even after many births. You have given up all attachment for material enjoyment, and you have searched after Me. Since I am unable to repay your love, kindly be pleased with your own activities.”
Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Mahārāja has remarked that there is a class of common men who claim that anyone and everyone can worship the Supreme Lord according to his own invented mode of worship and still attain the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They claim that one can approach the Supreme Lord either through fruitive activities, speculative knowledge, meditation or austerity and that any one of these methods will enable one to reach the perfectional stage. They generally give the example that just as a place may be reached by one of many different paths, so the Supreme Absolute Truth may be worshiped either as Goddess Kālī, or Goddess Durgā, or Lord Śiva, Gaṇeśa, Rāma, Hari, or Brahmā. In short, they maintain that it does not matter how the Absolute Truth is addressed, for all names are one and the same. They give the example of a man with many names: if he is called by any of those names, he will answer.
Such mentally concocted views may be very pleasing to an ordinary person, but they are full of misconceptions concerning transcendental life. One who worships the demigods out of material lust cannot attain the Supreme Personality of Godhead, although the external energy of the Lord may award such a worshiper some material results. Krsna discourages demigod worship in the Bhagavad-gītā (7.23):
- antavat tu phalaṁ teṣāṁ tad bhavaty alpa-medhasām
- devān deva-yajo yānti mad-bhaktā yānti mām api
“Men of small intelligence worship the demigods, and their fruits are limited and temporary. Those who worship the demigods go to the planets of the demigods, but My devotees ultimately reach My supreme planet.” Thus the Supreme Lord awards the benediction of His association only to those who worship Him, and not to those who worship the demigods. It is not a fact that everyone and anyone can reach the Supreme Personality of Godhead by worshiping material demigods. It is therefore surprising that a man can imagine that he will become perfect by worshiping the demigods. The results of devotional service rendered in full Kṛṣṇa consciousness cannot be compared to the results of demigod worship, fruitive activity or mental speculation. The result of fruitive activity is that one goes to either the heavenly planets or the hellish ones.