Rupa Gosvami


In 1517, Sri Rupa Gosvami and Sri Sanatana Gosvami, his elder brother, came to Vrndavana to fulfill four orders of Lord Caitanya's: (1) Uncover Sri Krishna's lost pastime places. (2) In­stall Deities, start puja. (3) Write bhakti-sastras. (4) Propagate the rules of bhakti-yoga.

Wearing only kaupina (loincloth) and kantha (patchwork quilt), Sri Rupa Gosvami lived a mendicant's life absorbed in hearing, chanting, writing about Radha-Govinda's sweet loving pastimes in Sri Vrndavana-dhama. More details of his conduct and character are mentioned in Sanatana Gosvami's biography.

    Sri Rupa Gosvami wrote practical yet profound transcendental books. He established Sri-Sri Radha-Govindaji, the beloved Deities of the entire Gaudiya sampradaya. Through extensive Vedic research Sri Rupa Gosvami proved that Sri Caitanya's teachings present the highest philosophy and the perfection of religion.

    Gaudiya Vaisnavas are known as rupanugas, followers of Sri Rupa Gosvami. Every raganuga devotee aspires to become a ser­vant of the servant of the lotus feet of Sri Rupa Gosvami. Sri Narottama Dasa Thakura sings, sri-rupa-manjari-pada, se more sampada, sei mor bhajana pujana: "The feet of Sri Rupa-manjari (Rupa Gosvami's eternal form as Sri Radha's maidservant in Vraja) are my only wealth. They are the only object of my service and worship."

    Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu commissioned Sri Rupa Gosvami to write on the science of rasa-tattva. In Caitanya-candrodaya, Sri Kavi Karnapura says that Sri Rupa Gosvami is the form of true love and devotion. Sri Caitanya empowered him to explain His own love and devotion, and to propagate it to the world. Lord Caitanya manifested His own pastimes through Sri Rupa Gosvami. He received the title bhakti-rasacarya (guru of devotional mellows) for his devotional classics, Bhakti-rasamrta sindhu, Ujjvala Nilamani, Lalita Madhava and others. Bhakti-rasamrta sindhu gives the es­sence of all Vedic scriptures regarding the kingdom of bhakti. In great detail it explains how to advance in Krishna consciousness and attain prema-bhakti, pure unalloyed love for Radha-Govinda in Sri Vrndavana.

    To understand the loving affairs of Radha and Krishna, says Narottama Dasa Thakura, you must serve the lotus feet of Sri Rupa Gosvami with intense eagerness. Serving means hearing (studying), chanting and strictly following the teachings of Sri Rupa Gosvami. Serving also means praying to, crying out to, meditating upon, and dedicating your entire life to the lotus feet of Sri Rupa Gosvami (Sri Rupa-manjari). Sadhana Dipika states that those on the path of devotional service must always associate with Sri Rupa Gosvami's doctrines on prema-bhakti. By the grace of Sri Jiva Gosvami one can understand the transcendental truths of Rupa Gosvami's teachings.

    The following quote shows the incredible potency of Sri Rupa Gosvami's transcendental writing:

    "When Sri Rupa Gosvami would sit in his bhajana kutir at Ter Kadamba (Nandagram, Vrndavana), and write about the pangs of separation that Sri Radha and Sri Krishna felt for one another the leaves of the Kadamba tree would fall off just like tears running down the face of someone in pain. And when Sri Rupa wrote about Radha and Krishna's ecstatic loving reunion, that overjoyed Kadamba tree immediately sprouted new leaves and blossoming flowers. By the mercy of a pure Vaisnava like Srila Rupa Gosvami this Kadamba tree could understand and appreciate the intimate and confidential subject matters which remain beyond our com­prehension." (Sripad B.V. Narayana Maharaja)

    Sri Rupa Gosvami established the Deities of Radha-Govinda in Vrndavana. Bhakti-ratnakar quotes one song from Srinivasa Acarya to describe the beauty of Rupa Gosvami's beloved Govindaji Deity: "Having seen the incomparable beauty of Sri Govinda, Sri Radhika begins describing it to Her sakhis: 'Who has sculp­tured that moon-like face and who has sculptured those two lotus eyes? Only My heart knows how I feel when I see Him. Who has shaped His earrings, cut carefully in gems? My mind is fixed on them. His nose pearl surrounded by a golden ring looks like a moon-like white flower surrounded by lightning, smiling from behind some blue clouds.

    'His forehead is decorated with sandal tilaka and beautiful mind-enchanting designs. He shines within My heart. Yet My heart aches being incapable of beholding His beautiful face to My full satisfaction. If God had given Me the power I could continual­ly enjoy His sweet voice. His arms are stronger than the trunks of elephants. My youthful body longs for the touch of His fingers. His graceful movements rival the gait of a maddened elephant. He is an ocean of beauty.'"

    Today in Jaipur, Rajasthan Sri Rupa Gosvami's original Deities of Radha-Govindaji are forever expanding their un­limited beauty. Everyday ten-thousand devotees run to attend Their mangala arotika. A prati-bhu Deity of Govindaji resides in the "new" Govindaji temple behind the historic masterpiece of ar­chitecture that once served Radha-Govinda in Vrndavana.

    Sri Krishna Dasa Kaviraja says the Deity of Radha-Govindaji shows us how to worship Radha and Krishna. Radha-Govindaji accepts our service and give inspiration to increase our surrender on the path of bhakti. Acting exactly like the siksa-guru, Govindaji directs us and gives us opportunities to serve Him.

    Some authorities claim that in 1564 Sri Rupa Gosvami entered Radha-Govindaji's nitya-lila, just twenty-seven days after the dis­appearance of Sri Sanatana Gosvami. Sri Rupa Gosvami's samadhi and bhajana kutir are in Seva Kunja within the courtyard of the Radha-Damodara temple. Sri Rupa Gosvami's samadhi is on the front cover.

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