The Lord has said that the varṇāśrama-dharma is not properly executed in this Age of Kali; therefore He ordered Rāmānanda Rāya to go further into the matter. Rāmānanda replied with this verse from the Bhagavad-gītā (BG 9.27), which instructs that while remaining in the system of varṇāśrama-dharma one may offer the results of his activities to Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa in loving service. Naturally Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was asking Rāmānanda Rāya about the execution of devotional service. Rāmānanda Rāya first enunciated the principle of varṇāśrama-dharma in consideration of materialistic people. However, this conception is not transcendental. As long as one is in the material world, he must follow the principles of varṇāśrama-dharma, but devotional service is transcendental. The system of varṇāśrama-dharma refers to the three modes of material nature, but transcendental devotional service is on the absolute platform.
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu belongs to the spiritual world, and His methods for propagating the saṅkīrtana movement are also imported from the spiritual world. Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura has sung: golokera prema-dhana, hari-nāma-saṅkīrtana, rati na janmila kene tāya. This states that the saṅkīrtana movement has nothing to do with this material world. It is imported from the spiritual world, Goloka Vṛndāvana. Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura laments that mundane people do not take this saṅkīrtana movement seriously. Considering the position of devotional service and the saṅkīrtana movement, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu deemed the system of varṇāśrama-dharma to be material, although it aims at elevation to the spiritual platform. However, the saṅkīrtana movement can raise one immediately to the spiritual platform. Consequently it is said that varṇāśrama-dharma is external, and Caitanya Mahāprabhu requested Rāmānanda Rāya to proceed deeper into the matter and uncover the spiritual platform.
Sometimes materialists consider Lord Viṣṇu a material conception. Impersonalists think that above Lord Viṣṇu is the impersonal Brahman. The impersonalists misunderstand the worship of Lord Viṣṇu. They worship Lord Viṣṇu to merge into His body. In order that viṣṇu-ārādhana not be misunderstood, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu requested that Śrī Rāmānanda Rāya proceed further and clear up the issue. Rāmānanda Rāya quoted the verse from the Bhagavad-gītā stating that the results of one’s occupational duty may be offered to Lord Viṣṇu or Kṛṣṇa. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (SB 1.2.8) it is also said:
- dharmaḥ sv-anuṣṭhitaḥ puṁsāṁ viṣvaksena-kathāsu yaḥ
- notpādayed yadi ratiṁ śrama eva hi kevalam
“If one executes the occupational duties of varṇāśrama-dharma but does not cultivate his dormant Kṛṣṇa consciousness, his activities are futile. His occupation simply becomes unnecessary labor.”