Today (May 05, 2018) is the Disappearance Day of Sri Ramananda Raya
Sri Ramananda Raya was the viceroy in the empire of Raja Sri Prataparudra. When Mahaprabhu went on a tour of South India, Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya requested him to meet Ramananda Raya. "'Please do not neglect him, thinking he belongs to a shudra family engaged in material activities. It is my request that You meet him without fail. Ramananda Raya is a fit person to associate with You; no other devotee can compare with him in knowledge of the transcendental mellows.”
– C.c. Madhya 7.63, 64
"After performing His usual chanting and dancing for some time in this forest, the Lord crossed the river and took His bath on the other bank. At that time, Ramananda Raya came there mounted on a palanquin to take his bath. According to Vedic rituals, Ramananda Raya took his bath and offered oblations to his forefathers.”
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu could understand that the person who had come to bathe in the river was Ramananda Raya. When Ramananda Raya saw the wonderful sannyasi, he went to Him and offered his obeisances. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu then embraced Sri Ramananda Raya very firmly.
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu then said: 'Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya has spoken of your good qualities, and I have come here just to meet you.'
Ramananda Raya replied, 'Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya thinks of me as his servant. You have come here specifically to deliver me. You are so merciful that You alone can deliver all fallen souls.’ The Lord replied to Ramananda Raya: 'Sir, you are the best of topmost devotees; therefore upon seeing you everyone's heart has melted. Although I am a Mayavadi sannyasi, a nondevotee, I am floating in the ocean of love of Krishna simply by touching you. And what to speak of others? Knowing this, in order to rectify My heart, which is very hard, Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya asked Me to meet you.' In this way each of them praised the qualities of the other, and both of them were pleased to see one another."
C.c. Madhya 8.41-47
Sri Ramananda Raya was the son of Sri Bhavananda Raya, who was previously Maharaja Pandu, the father of the five Pandavas. Bhavananda Raya dedicated all of his five sons, Ramananda, Gopinatha, Kalanidhi, Sudhanidhi and Baninatha to the service of Sriman Mahaprabhu. His wife was formerly Sri Kuntidevi.
In the afternoon, after Mahaprabhu had finished His bath in the Godavari, He sat down and waited. Ramananda Raya, accompanied by one servant, arrived there. He fell down to offer his obeisances at the Lord's lotus feet. Mahaprabhu pulled him up, and after embracing him very firmly, seated Ramananda next to Himself in a secluded place. Then the two of them, began to converse together on the topics of Sri Krishna. Mahaprabhu asked questions to which Ramananda was to supply the answers. On the subject of the supreme goal of life, Ramananda first proposed observance of the four orders of social and spiritual life and executing one's duties in accordance with these. Next, one after another, he mentioned renouncing the fruits of one's activities, rendering formal service to the Lord, serving the Lord in devotion mixed with knowledge, and finally pure devotional service.
Ramananda Raya continued, "Those who are devoid of all mellows are like the crows that suck the juice from the bitter fruits of the nimba tree of knowledge, whereas those who enjoy mellows are like the cuckoos who eat the buds of the mango tree of love of Godhead." Ramananda Raya concluded, "the unfortunate empiric philosophers taste the dry process of philosophical knowledge, whereas the devotees regularly drink the nectar of love of Krishna. Therefore they are the most fortunate of all."
Thereafter Mahaprabhu revealed His form of Radha-Krishna, seeing which Ramananda fell unconscious. Regaining his senses he began to offer hymns and praises in glorification of the Lord. Mahaprabhu requested him not to reveal any of these esoteric truths to anyone.
When Mahaprabhu was about to take leave of Ramananda Raya, He gave him the following instruction: "Give up all material engagements and come to Jagannatha Puri. I will return there very soon after finishing My tour and pilgrimage. The two of us shall remain together at Jagannatha Puri and happily pass our time discussing Krishna."
When He returned to Puri He found that Ramananda had gotten the permission of Maharaja Prataparudra to leave his post and reside in Jagannatha Puri. He had become a close friend of Sri Svarupa Damodara.
There are three altars in the Jagannatha Vallabha temple. On one altar there are large Deities of Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra. On the middle altar there are Deities of Lord Chaitanya (in saffron) and Ramananda Raya (in white). Radha-Krishna Deities are on the third altar.
Ramananda Raya and Svarupa Damodara were the constant companions of Mahaprabhu during His final pastimes.
Ramananda Raya's house still exists at Jagannath-Ballabha Udyan, on Grand Road, Puri, Odisha.