In BG 4.11, Lord Krsna says: “All of them—as they surrender unto Me—I reward accordingly. Everyone follows My path in all respects, O son of Prtha.”
By complete surrender to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Raghunath dasa became the most fit candidate to receive the Lord’s mercy. Why wouldn’t he? After all he did everything that is expected from a sincere devotee of the Lord. He renounced his unlimited family wealth. Being the only heir to his rich parents, he could have lived an exclusive opulent life. But he left everything behind to take shelter of the Lord. After taking shelter, Raghunath stopped taking the prasadam prepared by the Lord’s personal servant Govinda. Rather he would go to the Simha-dvara gate to beg for alms to eat. After sometime he even stopped this practice and went to the charity booth to beg for his alms. Why? Because Lord Caitanya disapproved of anyone standing at Simha-dvara for food because the behavior resembled that of a prostitute. What kind of food did Raghunath dasa receive from the shopkeepers at the booth? He received the decomposed food – food that even the cows cannot it. He even gave up his good set of clothes for a set of small torn cloth and a patchwork wrapper.
While these are external forms of renunciation, we should not forget the internal renunciation he went through. He spent more than twenty-two hours out of every twenty-four chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra and remembering the lotus feet of the Lord. He ate and slept for less than an hour and a half, and on some days that also was impossible. He never allowed his tongue sense gratification.
Raghunath dasa displayed extreme example of renunciation. In essence, he became a fully surrendered soul unto the lotus feet of the Lord. Thus he became a perfect candidate to receive Lord’s mercy. What mercy did the Lord bestow upon him?
CC Antya 6.287-289 — Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu again bestowed His mercy upon Raghunātha dāsa by giving him a stone from Govardhana Hill and a garland of small conchshells. Previously, when Śaṅkarānanda Sarasvatī had returned from Vṛndāvana, he had brought the stone from Govardhana Hill and also the garland of conchshells. He presented Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu with these two items — the garland of conchshells and the stone from Govardhana Hill.
These items were very dear to the Lord, and He handed over these precious items to Raghunath dasa.
CC Antya 6.290-292 — Upon receiving these two uncommon items, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was extremely happy. While chanting, He would put the garland around His neck. The Lord would put the stone to His heart or sometimes to His eyes. Sometimes He would smell it with His nose and sometimes place it on His head. The stone from Govardhana was always moist with tears from His eyes. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu would say, “This stone is directly the body of Lord Kṛṣṇa.”
Raghunath dasa, in return, forever felt grateful to the Supreme Lord. He composed a very beautiful prayer to express his gratitude.
CC Antya 6.327 — “Although I am a fallen soul, the lowest of men, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu delivered me from the blazing forest fire of great material opulence by His mercy. He handed me over in great pleasure to Svarūpa Dāmodara, His personal associate. The Lord also gave me the garland of small conchshells that He wore on His chest and a stone from Govardhana Hill, although they were very dear to Him. That same Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu awakens within my heart and makes me mad after Him.” (Sri Gauraṅga-stava-kalpavṛkṣa (11)
While I meditated on Raghunath dasa’s good fortune and compared with mine, I felt utter dejection. I felt that I am neither renounced nor qualified for Lord Caitanya’s mercy. This would a common sentiment for most of the serious conditioned souls who are yearning for the Lord’s mercy. But then through the inspiration of the Paramatma residing within me, I realized that I shouldn’t beat myself up on this. If we observe closely, we will see that we all are recipients of Lord’s unconditional mercy. Lord Krsna came to bestow on us what was never bestowed before. In the form of Lord Caitanya, He came to distribute the transcendental love of Godhead freely through the sankirtana movement (congregational chanting of the Holy Name). Not just any love of Godhead, but the love of highest order. He appeared to give us the mellow of conjugal love.
CC Adi 7.18-19: The internal devotees or potencies are all eternal associates in the pastimes of the Lord. Only with them does the Lord advent to propound the saṅkīrtana movement, only with them does the Lord taste the mellow of conjugal love, and only with them does He distribute this love of God to people in general.
CC Ādi 7.20-21 — The characteristics of Kṛṣṇa are understood to be a storehouse of transcendental love. Although that storehouse of love certainly came with Kṛṣṇa when He was present, it was sealed. But when Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu came with His associates of the Pañca-tattva, they broke the seal and plundered the storehouse to taste transcendental love of Kṛṣṇa. The more they tasted it, the more their thirst for it grew.
CC Ādi 7.23 — In distributing love of Godhead, Caitanya Mahāprabhu and His associates did not consider who was a fit candidate and who was not, nor where such distribution should or should not take place. They made no conditions. Wherever they got the opportunity, the members of the Pañca-tattva distributed love of Godhead.
So we should consider ourselves extremely fortunate, and the Lord extremely merciful upon us. The Lord did not even prescribe strict conditions as He did to Ragunatha dasa. All we have to do is follow the four regulative principles strictly and chant the Holy Name as much as possible.
To end, I would like to take the unwelcome liberty of tweaking Raghunath dasa’s prayer for my own selfish need.
“Although I am a fallen soul, the lowest of men, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu delivered me from the blazing forest fire of great material opulence by His mercy. He handed me over in great pleasure to Srila Prabhupada, His eternal associate. The Lord also gave me the garland of Hare Krsna mahamanta that He wore on His chest and conjugal love of Godhead, although they were very dear to Him. That same Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu awakens within my heart and makes me mad after Him.”
It would be my misfortune not to take advantage of the Krsna consciousness movement. I pray to the Lord so that I may dedicate rest of my life fully to follow Lord Caitanya’s teachings and instructions.
All glories to Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai!
All glories to Srila Prabhupada!