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The Jagannatha-vallabha-nataka by Raya Ramananda occupies an important place in the history of Sanskrit literature in general and in the devotional literature of Gaudiya Vaisnavism in particular. Consisting of five acts, this drama deals with the amorous pastimes of Sri-Radha and Sri-Krsna. The verses of Jagannatha-vallabha-nataka are frequently found in Caitanya-caritamrta by Krsnadasa Kaviraja.
Drama & Singing For Lord Jagannatha: Srila Ramananda Raya composed the drama named Jagannatha-vallabha-nataka and he engaged two young girls, who were professional dancers and singers, to demonstrate the ideology of the drama. Such girls (called deva-dasis) are still employed in the temple of Jagannatha, where they are called Maharis.
These songs and dramas are all performed for the pleasure of Lord Jagannatha. Frequently, Jayadeva Gosvami’s famous poem, Gita-Govinda, is sung before the deity. (CC, Antya 5/14, 20; Antya 13/179)
Caitanya Caritamrta explains that Ramananda taught them these things in the mood of a manjari assisting elder gopis (sakhis) in the art of loving Krsna. At no time did his practice involve thinking of himself as Krsna or the women as Radha. His sadhana is the very sadhana that Sri Caitanya came to distribute. The somewhat unconventional form that Ramananda’s sadhana took, serves to illustrate his spiritual advancement in which his bhava manifested in his external practices and guided them.
Kavikarnapura has described Ramananda through the mouth of Sarvabhauma in his drama ‘Caitanya-candrodaya-nataka’ as a sahajya-vaisnava. However, when Krsnadasa Kaviraja Goswami relates this same historical instance in his Caitanya Caritamrta, he has Sarvabhauma call Ramananda a rasika-bhakta. Generically and in terms of the consistent use of the term throughout the Goswami literature, sahajiya means spontaneous, accomplished, natural, innate. Thus in the Goswami granthas, sahajiya-vaisnava and rasika-bhakta are synonymous. Furthermore, during the time of Mahaprabhu the Sahajiya cult was not referred to by that name. That was a later development.
Ramananda Raya was a most confidential devotee of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, “Although I am a sannyasi, My mind is sometimes perturbed when I see a woman. But Ramananda Raya is greater than Me, for he is always undisturbed, even when he touches a women.”
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