Even though there are so many great acaryas, Srila Rupa Gosvami has been attributed with the honor of being that person who has established the mano-‘bhistam, the innermost heart’s desire, of Sri Krsna in the form of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. When Sriman Mahaprabhu came to the village of Ramakeli-grama, He met with Srila Rupa Gosvami and Srila Sanatana Gosvami and told them, "You should leave your homes and be with Me."
After a short time they left their homes, and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu came from Vrndavana and met with Srila Rupa Gosvami at Prayag, the confluence of the rivers Yamuna and Ganga. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu told him:
parapara-sunya gabhira bhakti-rasa-sindhu tomaya cakhaite tara kahi eka bindu
["The ocean of the transcendental mellows of devotional service is so large that no one can estimate its length and breadth. However, just to help you taste it, I am describing one drop. (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya-lila 19.137)”]
Lord Caitanya gave one drop of the ocean of rasa to Srila Rupa Gosvami, and that one drop was sufficient to inundate millions upon millions of universes. Later, He met with Srila Sanatana Gosvami in Varanasi.
After some time Srila Rupa Gosvami and Srila Sanatana Gosvami came here to Vrndavana and began to perform their bhajana, their hearing, chanting, and remembering Krsna. Rupa Gosvami thought, "In order to fulfill the innermost heart’s desire of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu I will write a drama. In this drama I will explain the beauty of the meeting pastimes of Srimati Radhika and Sri Krsna in Vrndavana, and also the separation pastimes, when Lord Krsna leaves Vrndavana and goes to Mathura and Dvaraka. I will explain how, by their expansions, Srimati Radhika and all the sakhis somehow or other went to Dvaraka and became Lord Krsna’s 16,108 queens." He intended to write about this, but while he was traveling towards Jagannatha Puri he came to the village of Satyabhama-pura. There, Srimati Satyabhama-devi, Lord Krsna’s chief queen, appeared to him in a dream and told him, "Please don’t make this only one drama. Rather, divide it into two parts." Then, when Srila Rupa Gosvami finally arrived at Jagannatha Puri and met with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the Lord confirmed what he had heard from Srimati Satyabhama in his dream. Sriman Mahaprabhu told him, “Don’t take Lord Krsna out of Vrndavana.”
krsno 'nyo yadu-sambhuto yah purnah so 'sty atah parah vrndavanam parityajya sa kvacin naiva gacchati
["The Krsna known as Yadu-kumara is Vasudeva Krsna. He is different from the Krsna who is the son of Nanda Maharaja. Yadu-kumara Krsna manifests His pastimes in the cities of Mathura and Dvaraka, but Krsna the son of Nanda Maharaja never at any time leaves Vrndavana." (Caitanya-caritamrta Antya-lila 1.67)]
“Krsna never leaves Vrndavana. He never even sets one foot outside of Vrndavana.” Srila Rupa Gosvami then divided his drama into two parts. The first part is called Vidagdha-madhava, Sri Krsna’s pastimes in Vrndavana; and in the second part, called Lalita-madhava, He goes to Dvaraka and all the gopis of Vrndavna were reunited with Him in the form of the queens of Dvaraka. Why did Srila Rupa Gosvami do this? The reason is a very deep siddhanta (conclusive philosophical truth). Srila Kavi Karnapura is a very great devotee and he composed Sri Ananda Vrndavana Campu. In this book he has described the pastimes of Lord Krsna from His birth up to rasa-lila and the Divine Couple’s swing pastimes, and he stopped there. He didn't go any further than this. He didn't describe about Krsna going to Mathura or Dvaraka, because this separation mood is very difficult to tolerate for the pure devotees. He was thinking, "My Mistress Radhika cannot tolerate this separation, so I will not write about it." Srila Rupa Gosvami, however, has written about the moods of both meeting and separation – because this separation mood is a very deep transcendental ecstatic feeling. At the time of meeting, though Radharani and Krsna are together, something may be forgotten or lost in the heart. On the other hand, at the time of separation, there is complete meeting in new and fresh ways in the heart; and not only inside, but sometimes externally there are sphurtis, temporary visions in which the loved one is actually present. Knowing all these very deep transcendental established truths, and wanting to establish the desire of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu within the world, Srila Rupa Gosvami also glorified the mood of separation. Although this mood is very high and has many transcendental features that will not come at the time of meeting, still, it is not our goal of life. No Gaudiya Vaisnavas want Sri Sri Radha and Krsna to be eternally separated. What kind of person would want this? No Vrajavasi would want it. Rather, there is a place for this separation mood, and Srila Rupa Gosvami has explained this in his book, Ujjvala Nilamani: "Na vina vipralambha sambhoga pusti masnute. Without the mood of separation, the mood of meeting will not be nourished and come to increasingly higher stages. The pastimes of separation are very important because they play the role of nourishing the sweetness of meeting."
When Srila Rupa Gosvami was in Puri with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the Lord was dancing at the Ratha-yatra festival and uttering a verse from a book of mundane poetry called sahitya-darpana:
yah kaumara-harah sa eva hi varas ta eva caitra-ksapas te conmilita-malati-surabhayah praudhah kadambanilah sa caivasmi tathapi tatra surata-vyapara-lila-vidhau reva-rodhasi vetasi-taru-tale cetah samutkanthate
["That very personality who stole away my heart during my youth is now again my master. These are the same moonlit nights of the month of Caitra. The same fragrance of malati flowers is there, and the same sweet breezes are blowing from the kadamba forest. In our intimate relationship, I am also the same lover, yet my mind is not happy here. I am eager to go back to that place on the bank of the Reva under the Vetasi tree. That is my desire."]
No one could understand why Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was uttering this verse and in what mood He was absorbed. There was one young boy there, however, named Rupa, who later on became that very same Rupa Gosvami. There and then, upon hearing this verse from Mahaprabhu, another verse appeared in his own heart, and he wrote down that verse:
[This is a verse spoken by Srimati Radharani. "My dear friend, now I have met My very old and dear friend Krsna on this field of Kuruksetra. I am the same Radharani, and now We are meeting together. It is very pleasant, but still I would like to go to the bank of the Yamuna beneath the trees of the forest there. I wish to hear the vibration of His sweet flute playing the fifth note within that forest of Vrndavana." (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya-lila 1.76)]
In this verse Srila Rupa Gosvami has clarified Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's inner meaning and thus he revealed to the world the importance of parakiya-rasa, the mood of paramour love between Lord Krsna and the gopis. Srila Rupa Gosvami is that very person who established within this world the innermost heart’s desire of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. After Sriman Mahaprabhu disappeared from the vision of the world, the discussion of parakiya-rasa was not prominent. According to scripture, mundane rasa, this world’s love between those who are unmarried, is very immoral, illicit and sinful. However, in addition to manifesting the endless varieties and wonder of vipralambha and sambhoga, the meeting and separation pastimes of Radha and Krsna, Srila Rupa Gosvami also established the superiority of parakiya-rasa. By using evidence from many different sastras, he proved that Lord Sri Krsna is not an ordinary nayaka (lover) and Radhika is not an ordinary nayika (beloved). In other words, when there is meeting between a mundane lover and beloved in the parakiya mood it is very sinful, but Sri Krsna is a transcendental personality, god Himself, and everything is possible for Him. Therefore, if He is the object of the parakiya-bhava, there is no fault or defect in this. Rather this is the topmost supremely pure manifestation of madhurya-prema, the romantic mood.
Srila Rupa Gosvami established the fact that Lord Krsna Himself came into this world to taste these mellows, and, as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Krsna Himself experienced this parakiya-bhakti-rasa which is within the heart of Srimati Radhika:
anarpita-carim cirat karunayavatirnah kalau samarpayitum unnatojjvala-rasam sva-bhakti-sriyam harih purata-sundara-dyuti-kadamba-sandipitah sada hrdaya-kandare sphuratu vah saci-nandanah
[“May the Supreme Lord who is known as the son of Srimati Saci-devi be transcendentally situated in the innermost chambers of your heart. Resplendent with the radiance of molten gold, He has appeared in the Age of Kali by His causeless mercy to bestow what no incarnation has ever offered before: the most sublime and radiant mellow of devotional service, the mellow of conjugal love.” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Adi 1.4)]
["I was born in the darkest ignorance, and my spiritual master opened my eyes with the torchlight of knowledge. I offer my respectful obeisances unto him. When will Srila Rupa Gosvami Prabhupada, who has established within this material world the mission to fulfill the desire of Lord Caitanya, give me shelter under his lotus feet? (prayer by Srila Narottama dasa Thakura)]
These deliberations and philosophical conclusions are extremely deep, and very difficult to understand. It is therefore essential that one come under the guidance of a self-realized Guru and pure devotees, and give ones full time and energy, very hard labor, and enthusiastic work in the service of that Guru and in chanting harinama, the holy names of Krsna, and doing bhajana. One should also make a great effort to understand and realize the reason for which Srila Rupa Gosvami appeared in this world and why he wrote so many books like as Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, Sri Ujjvala-nilamani, Sri Vidagdha-madhava and Sri Lalita-madhava. Unless one comes to the lotus feet of Sri Guru and makes a very great endeavor to understand these topics, after some time he will be taken away by maya and engage in mundane activities. This is a very important point. [From a class given at the Rupa-Sanatana Gaudiya Matha in Vrndavana, India on August 8th, 2003 by Tridandisvami Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja]
The Divine Disappearance Day of Srila Rupa Gosvami(A lecture given at the Radha Damodara Mandira in Vrndavana) Today is very important for Gaudiya Vaisnavas. It is the disappearance day of Lord Caitanya’s supreme object of mercy, who understood His manobhista, His desire. Sri Rupa Gosvami came to this world only to fulfill the mission of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. I recall one verse written by Kavi Karnapura. He too received Mahaprabhu’s mercy. When he was a young boy and wouldn’t speak, Mahaprabhu put His own thumb in his mouth. As he began sucking it, he became decorated with various emotional oranaments. As bhava began to awaken in him, he became serious and began to recite a verse. The poetry that came from his mouth was like nectar for the ears, and thus Kavi Karnapura was able to write about Srila Rupa Gosvami’s relationship with Mahaprabhu.
What does priya-svarupe mean? Mahaprabhu’s priya, dear friend, is Sri Svarupa Damodara. Svarupa Damodara is Lalita Devi, and Svarupa Damodara’s dear friend is Rupa Gosvami. Rupa Gosvami is therfore anu-svarupa damodara, he who has all the qualities of Lalita. Priya-svarupa: Mahaprabhu’s own svarupa, form and nature, is that of Radha-Krsna. Actually His svarupa is that of Krsna and, as Krsna, Rupa Manjari is most dear to Him. Who is Krsna’s priya-svarupa? Radhikaji. And Radhikaji’s param priya, most dear one, is Rupa Manjari. Therefore from all perspectives -- Krsna’s, Radhika’s and everyone else’s in Vraja -- she is param-priya. Dayita-svarupa: In the form of Srila Rupa Gosvami, she is most dear to Mahaprabhu, Who is in the mood of Radhaji. Krsna’s dayita is Radhaji, and her param-priya, most dear one, is Rupa Manjari, who knows her bhava. Because Rupa Gosvami is thus able to broadcast her bhava in this world, he is most dear to Mahaprabhu. Dayita means dear one. Rupa Manjari is Srimati Radhika’s most dear one. Srila Bhaktisiddanta Sarasvati is sri varsabhanavi-devi dayita, the servant of one who is dear to Sri Varsabhanavi, Srimati Radhika -- namely Sri Rupa Manjari. In this way we worship Srila Bhaktisiddanta Saraswati Thakura. Attainment of the shelter of the lotus feet of Rupa Manjari is the highest perfection of life. We pray for nothing else. Priya-svarupe dayita-svarupe prema-svarupe sahajabhirupe: Rupa Gosvami is the embodiment of Mahaprabhu’s ecstactic love of Godhead. And how did he give that love? First of all, in the Upadesamrta he instructed the living entities how to become free from anarthas. By accepting even one instruction one can get priti. Vaco vegam manasah krodha-vegam; atyahara prayasas ca; and after that,utsah and so on. He gave all this and, step-by-step, he gave the definitions of all the stages of bhakti -- sraddha, anartha nivritti, ruci sadhana, bhava, prema, sneha, mana, pranaya, raga, anuraga, bhava, mahabhava, madana, modana, and mohana. He has defined all. Just as Srimad Bhagavatam defines Krsna as ‘ete camsa-kala pumsah krsnas tu bhagavan svayam’, so Rupa Gosvami has defined bhakti:
Previously no one had given such a beautiful and complete definition of bhakti. There are also definitions of bhakti in Srimad Bhagavatam, sarp rang paranurakti, and there is also sarvopadhi vinirmuktam. These were the only defintions known before anyabhilasita sunyam. Paranurakti is fine, but if independant of the injunctions of the sastra and not free from anarthas it is not paranurakti. Srila Rupa Gosvami’s definition, however, includes everything from anyabhilasita sunya to bhakti uttama. What is sadhana? Sadhana does not mean whimsically doing harinama or reading books or performing arcana. Sadhana means to practise with the goal in mind. The goal is priti. Bhakti is nitya-siddha bhava. When we do sadhana with our senses and adopt anyabhilasita-sunyam to awaken bhava, then it is sadhana-bhakti. Therefore it is nitya-siddha bhava. Continuous cultivation of uttama bhakti is nitya-siddha bhava. Practicing to awaken these things in our heart, chanting with the desire to attain bhava, is sadhana. In order to awaken bhava, sadhana should be anyabhilasita sunyam jnana karmadi anavrtam, executed with the body, mind and words and senses. With the ears we hear, with the tongue we chant, and with the mind we meditate – only to awaken bhava. We should follow in the footsteps of nitya-siddhas. After teaching about sadhana, Srila Rupa Gosvami taught about bhava. What did he teach? One should have the sentiments of the eternal associates. However, bhava is not a process of the mind. The stage of mental activities comes before bhava. Engagement of the mind in meditation alone is not bhava. In the stage of bhava the mind follows the atma, which follows the eternal associates. They are Mahaprabhu’s associates like Rupa Gosvami, and in Krsna’s pastimes, Radharani’s most dear maidservant Rupa Manjari. Who are recipients of Rupa Manjari’s suddha-sattva? To those in whom bhava has arisen, this suddha-sattva descends. This bhava is suddha-sattva; it is not a process of the mend. It is much, much higher. The activities of bhava go to Goloka Vrndavan, to the heart of dearmost Rupa Manjari. Thus performing bhajana under her guidance and protection, Rupa Gosvami’s anyabhilasita sunyam will become manifest in the heart. Then, doing such bhajana by Rupa Gosvami’s mercy:
“When devotional service is situated on the transcendental platform of pure goodness, It is like a ray of sunlight of love of Krsna. At such a time, devotional service causes the heart to be softened by various tastes, and it is called bhava [transcendental emotions].” After this, prema will appear in the heart, first in the form of stayi bhava, permanent ecstacy, and then in the form of vibhava, anubhava, sancari bhava, etc. They all mix and become rasa (transcendental mellow or relationship). This is what Rupa Gosvami has revealed. Who has experienced prema? A man once said that the previous night he had darshana of Radharani and Krsna, and They blessed him. We may think that he is advanced, but did he die or go mad? No such thing happened, and therefore this is not prema. When one has prema one becomes mad after Krsna. At the stage of bhava, anarthas are almost gone, but sometimes they may surface though they cause no disturbance. At the stage of prema, however, anarthas have completly disapppeared. When bhava becomes intensified it becomes prema. At the stage of prema the asta sattvika bhavas are fully manifest and the heart becomes completely melted. If we sometimes experience tears or jubilation now, in our present stage, it is an abhasa, a shadow or semblance. It is not purified. Because it may be devoured by anarthas, it is temporary. At the stage of bhava there is mamata rati, feelings of possessiveness. When these feelings become intensified and condensed, it is then called prema. At that time the devotee thinks, ”Krsna is mine and I am His”. Srila Rupa Gosvami has carefully examined the symptoms of the different stages and explained them. After prema he explains sneha, the condition in which the heart is constantly melting. After sneha comes pranaya and then mana, though sometimes these two streams merge. Then he has described the wonderful symptoms of raga and anuraga, the extreme stage of the visaya and asraya. When anuraga reaches its own extreme limit, it becomes mahabhava. Then there are rudha, adirudha, modana, madana, etc. Rupa Gosvami has explained all. Before Caitanya Mahaprabhu, nobody knew these stages. Although people had some idea, nobody had really explained prema, madana, modana, and so forth. The real explanation was given by Caitanya Mahaprabhu to Rupa Gosvami, and Rupa Gosvami was so powerful that his teachings influenced not only our sampradaya but other sampradayas as well. Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, Jiva Gosvami, Krsna dasa Kaviraj Gosvami, and all the acaryas in our sampradaya have written in the line of Rupa Gosvami. Raghunath das Gosvami is known as the greatest rupanuga. In his Vilapa Kusmanjali he begins by first offering pranama to Rupa Manjari:
And he offers so many other pranamas thereafter. Srila Jiva Gosvami studied all the writings of Rupa Gosvami and then wrote Gopala Campu, Sat-sandarbha and commentaries on Srimad Bhagavatam, Ujjvala-Nilamani and Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu. In his Prema Bhakti Candrika, Srila Narottama dasa Thakura has simply expressed Rupa Gosvami's teachings. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura is also known as rupanuga varayata te, the greatest among the followers of Rupa Gosvami, and his Jaiva Dharma follows exactly the line of Rupa Gosvami's teachings. Mahaprabhu met Rupa Gosvami at three places: First in Ramakeli, then in Prayaga and finally in Puri. Seeing Rupa Gosvami, Caitanya Mahaprabhu thought, “He is fit to broadcast My innermost feelings.” And He told everyone, like Sri Nityananda prabhu, Sri Adwaita Acarya, Sri Svarupa Damodara and Sri Ramananda Raya, to bless him. Why? So that by their mercy he could give all the rasas: santa, dasya, sakhya, vatsalya and madhurya. If someone comes to him for madurya, that is best; but he can give all the other rasas also. In this way Rupa Gosvami gave very beautiful and novel books revealing for the first time what Mahaprabhu had come to give. Today is the disappearance day of Rupa Gosvami. This is where he used to do bhajana, and this is his samadhi. Who gave him samadhi? Jiva Gosvami, Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, Raghunatha Bhatta Gosvami, and all the other gosvamis. Actually they did not give him samadhi. He took samadhi himself. Here he used to serve in so many ways. Here he wrote Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, Ujjvala-nilamani, Vidagdha-madhava, Lalita-madhava, Hansadutta, and many other books. Vidagdha-madhava was completed in Gokula around the same time Caitanya Mahaprabhu departed to Gokula Vrndavana. Five years later Lalita-madhava was completed. Every book began in his heart, and so they actually all began here. Sri Sanatana Gosvami and all the other gosvamis also used to come here. In the beginning of Brhad-Bhagavatamrta Sanatana Gosvami prays for the mercy of Rupa Gosvami. He prays to the Rupa of Caitanya Mahaprabhu and the Rupa of Srimati Radhika. The Rupa of Srimati Radhika -- Rupa Manjari -- is as beautiful as She is. Only Srimati Radhika, Visakha devi, and Rupa Manjari have the same form [rupa]. Radhika and Visakha were born on the same day and they have the same qualities and characteristics. But Rupa Manjari has the same form because she is most dear to Srimati Radhika. Therefore Sanatana Gosvami and others pray, "O Rupa, give us your mercy. You know the heart of Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Radha Krsna". There are many places where our acaryas have prayed like this. Thus Sri Rupa is most dear to Mahaprabhu. Today we have come here, and now we should offer pranama at his lotus feet and ask for his mercy. In this temple are the deities worshipped by Jiva Gosvami, the Giriraj-sila of Sanatana Gosvami, and a small deity worshipped by Rupa Gosvami. This is the best place in the whole world. This the most potent place in the whole of Vrndavana. Although Vamsivata is Krsna's lila-sthana and we can try to go there by sadhana, without Rupa Gosvami's mercy we cannot go there. So we should offer our prayers and then return.