Ramananda’s Character

Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣak Śrīdhar Dev-Goswāmī Mahārāj explains how devotees appreciate Rāmānanda Rāy’s qualities.

Student: We hear that Rāmānanda Rāy is an incarnation of Viśākhā and also Arjuna.

Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāj: The cause of this remark is that there is some similarity in the symptoms of these persons. Rāmānanda’s nature, his permanent nature, is found in Viśākhā. Rāmānanda Rāy is viewed by madhura-rasa disciples as Viśākhā in the Lord‘s internal affairs, and externally in sakhya-rasa some may have some conception of him as Arjuna: he is very sober, very skilful, very submissive, and mild. These are qualities of Arjuna, and they are found in Rāmānanda externally in sakhya-rasa. Internally, his qualities resemble Viśākhā’s: he is sober and impartial, almost neutral, tending a little towards Rādhikā, but with proper consideration and sympathy for Kṛṣṇa. That sort of madhura-rasa dāsya, service, is found in Rāmānanda. Those who are more connected and concerned with madhura-rasa like to see him as Viśākhā. Those who do not have such appreciation for madhura-rasa outwardly see the characteristics of Arjuna in him.

It has been mentioned in many places that in one main person the qualities of a less important person may be combined. When a governor comes to visit a district,  the magistrate‘s function is temporarily absorbed in him. Yuga-avatār Kṛṣṇa is present within Svayam Bhagavān Kṛṣṇa. Mahāprabhu is also Svayam Bhagavān: Rādhā-Govinda and the Yuga-avatār were absorbed in Him.

Sometimes we see that Yaśodā absorbed a particular dhārā [function], or that Nanda absorbed someone‘s function in a formal way. This is seen in Vasudev, Nanda, Sutapā, and others. This fashion, this sort of conception, we find in many places, such as the gopīs. It is possible. One function, a minor function, may be taken by a greater person for the time being. A function of less importance may merge into a more important function for the time being. We find this custom in many places.  It is possible. A man may say, “Oh, you are going there? It is necessary to send a servant there for this purpose. Now that you yourself are going there, please do this service. Then it will not be necessary to send the servant. You are going, so please do this small though important function. You are going, so you can do this smaller, less important service also.” In this way.