prabhu kahe,--"eho bāhya, āge kaha āra"
rāya kahe,--"jñāna-miśrā bhakti--sādhya-sāra"
prabhu kahe—the Lord said; eho—this; bāhya—external; āge—ahead; kaha—say; āra—more; rāya kahe—Rāya replied; jñāna-miśrā bhakti—devotional service mixed with empiric knowledge; sādhya-sāra—is the essence of perfection.
After hearing Rāmānanda Rāya speak in this way, Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu again rejected his statement and said, "Go ahead and say something more." Rāmānanda Rāya 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 Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī in his Anubhāṣya 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 Virajā, 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 Vaikuṇṭhaloka, "the place where there is no anxiety." The material world, known as brahmāṇḍa is the creation of the external energy. Between the two creations-the material creation and the spiritual creation-is a river known as Virajā as well as a place known as Brahmaloka. Virajā-nadī 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 Vaikuṇṭḥalokas, or the spiritual world, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu proclaims them to be external. In the Brahmaloka and Virajā-nadī, one cannot conceive of the Vaikuṇṭhalokas. Brahmaloka and Virajā-nadī 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 Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu rejected this proposal, Rāmānanda Rāya suggested that devotional service based on philosophy and logic is a more advanced position. He therefore quoted the following verse from the Bhagavad-gītā (18.54).
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