Śrīla Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswāmī Mahārāj explains why Śrīman Mahāprabhu rejected the conclusion of Śrī Gītā.
I was very surprised when I first read the Rāmānanda-saṁvād in Śrī Chaitanya-charitāmṛta. When Śrīman Mahāprabhu asked Rāmānanda Rāy, “What is the goal of life?”, Rāmānanda Rāy started to answer by first mentioning karma-miśra-bhakti. Mahāprabhu summarily rejected this answer: “Eho bāhya, āge kaha āra.” Bāhya [‘external’] means, “Here, there is no real potency of devotion.” Then Rāmānanda Rāy said:
sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja
ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śuchaḥ
(Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā: 18.66)
Mahāprabhu summarily dismissed this verse also, saying, “Eho bāhya, āge kaha āra.” At that time, I was surprised. The verse sarva-dharmān parityajya means that someone will leave everything—religion and non-religion—and take shelter exclusively at the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, but Mahāprabhu replies, “Eho bāhya [“That is external”].” How is it possible? We generally consider sarva-dharmān parityajya to be the highest verse in the Gītā, but Mahāprabhu says, “Eho bāhya, āge kaha āra.” Everyone must be surprised to hear this.
I asked Śrīla Guru Mahārāj, Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣak Śrīdhar Dev-Goswāmī Mahārāj, “What is this? Why did Mahāprabhu say, ‘Eho bāhya’?” Śrīla Guru Mahārāj answered, “There the mood of surrender is present, but what someone should do after taking shelter at the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa is not mentioned in this verse. Everyone should leave everything—all mundane activities and all other spiritual activities—and take shelter of Kṛṣṇa. This is correct. But after that, what should they do? That not mentioned here. So, Mahāprabhu rejected the verse.”
Mahāprabhu only gave His consent later when Rāmānanda Rāy quoted this verse from Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (10.14.3):
jñāne prayāsam udapāsya namanta eva
jīvanti san-mukharitāṁ bhavadīya-vārtām
Jñāne prayāsam udapāsya means “Leave everything, even your perfect knowledge.” Udapāsya means throw your knowledge away; forget everything you know and start a new life, a life of devotion. How do you do that? With sādhu-saṅga: the association of the devotees. Namanta eva jīvanti: surrender fully to Kṛṣṇa and maintain your life with the association of the devotees. What are their activities? Śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ Viṣṇoḥ smaraṇaṁ pāda-sevanam [hearing, chanting, remembering the Lord, serving His feet, and so on].
San-mukharitām means ‘from the sādhu’: hear from the sādhus and practise devotional activities under the guidance of the sādhus.
In another verse in Śrīmad Bhāgavat (10.33.39) after the description of the Rāsa-līlā, it is explained:
śraddhānvita anuśṛṇūyād atha varṇayed yaḥ
Anuśṛṇuyād means anuśravaṇ, humbly listen closely to the sādhus, and after hearing from them, practise under their guidance. So, jīvanti san-mukharitāṁ bhavadīya-vārtām means to live and engage in devotional activities under the guidance of the sādhus. When Mahāprabhu heard this verse from Rāmānanda Rāy, He said, “Eho haya, āge kaha āra: yes, I can give recognition to this line of devotion.”
When you hear from a Vaiṣṇava, accept their guidance, and practise Kṛṣṇa consciousness under their guardianship, then you will get a good result in devotional life. But is it necessary to live with the Vaiṣṇavas in an ashram? No. Sthāne sthitāḥ śruti-gatāṁ tanu-vāṅ-manobhir: you can practise from wherever you are, but you must practise bodily, mentally, and verbally. You must glorify Kṛṣṇa, and you must serve Kṛṣṇa with all your mental and physical activity under the guidance of the sādhu. Then you not will go off track. If you run within your own track, you not will be disqualified, but if you go out of your track, you must be disqualified. You may be a good runner, but if you run out of your track, you will be disqualified.
Ye prāyaśo ’jita jito ‘py asi tais tri-lokyām: Kṛṣṇa is ajita—no one can defeat Him—but through devotion, a devotee can defeat Him. Kṛṣṇa said in Śrīmad Bhāgavat (9.4.68):
sādhavo hṛdayaṁ mahyaṁ sādhūnāṁ hṛdayaṁ tv aham
mad-anyat te na jānanti nāhaṁ tebhyo manāg api
“The sādhus are My heart, and I am their hearts. They do not know anything without Me, and I do not know anything without them.”
Spoken 23 January 1993.