prabhu kahe,--"eho bahya, age kaha ara"
raya kahe,--"jnana-misra bhakti--sadhya-sara"
prabhu kahe—the Lord said; eho—this; bahya—external; age—ahead; kaha—say; ara—more; raya kahe—Raya replied; jnana-misra bhakti—devotional service mixed with empiric knowledge; sadhya-sara—is the essence of perfection.
After hearing Ramananda Raya speak in this way, Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu again rejected his statement and said, "Go ahead and say something more." Ramananda Raya then replied, "Devotional service mixed with empiric knowledge is the essence of perfection."
Devotional service mixed with non-Vedic speculative knowledge is certainly not pure devotional service. Therefore Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati in his Anubhasya preached that self-realization following the execution of ritualistic ceremonies is in the neutral stage between liberation and conditioned life. It is the place beyond this material world in the river Viraja, where the three modes of material nature are subdued or neutralized in the unmanifest stage. However, the spiritual world is a manifestation of spiritual energy and is known as Vaikunthaloka, "the place where there is no anxiety." The material world, known as brahmanda is the creation of the external energy. Between the two creations-the material creation and the spiritual creation-is a river known as Viraja as well as a place known as Brahmaloka. Viraja-nadi and Brahmaloka are shelters for living entities disgusted with material life and inclined to impersonal existence by way of denying material variegatedness. Since these places are not situated in the Vaikunthalokas, or the spiritual world, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu proclaims them to be external. In the Brahmaloka and Viraja-nadi, one cannot conceive of the Vaikunthalokas. Brahmaloka and Viraja-nadi are also attained after difficult austerities, but in these realms there is no understanding of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and His transcendental loving service. Without such spiritual knowledge, simple detachment from material conditions is but another side of material existence. From the spiritual point of view, it is all external. When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu rejected this proposal, Ramananda Raya suggested that devotional service based on philosophy and logic is a more advanced position. He therefore quoted the following verse from the Bhagavad-gita (18.54).
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