Birth: 1493 (Christian calendar), 1415 (Sakabda)
Hoseholder life: 22 yrs. - Braja: 51 yrs
Disapearance: 1564 (Christian calendar), 1486 (Sakabda) 12th day of the bright fortnight of Sravan Age: 73
Srila Rupa Gosvami is known as bhakti-rasacarya, the expert in the tastes of pure devotional service and was extremely dear to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He and his elder brother, Srila Sanatana Gosvami left high posts in the government of Nawab Hussein Shah to join Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and through them Mahaprabhu disseminated His own teachings, the essential conclusions of all the scriptures. Amongst the devotees of Mahaprabhu these two were known as His generals.
There is an anecdote as to how they came to be the ministers of the king of Gaudadesa, Hussain Shah Badsa. Even at a very young age they had become quite learned in all of the scriptures. The guru (moulabi) of Hussain Shah was supposedly capable of seeing into the future. Hussain Shah inquired him about the prosperity of his kingdom.
The moulabi replied, "There are two extremely learned brahmana boys who are endowed with all good qualities. If you appoint them as your ministers then you will attain a very opulent kingdom."
Having heard of the glories of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Sri Rupa had written a letter to Him praying for His darsan. In His reply Mahaprabhu explained to him, "As a woman who is attached to another man makes a show of being devoted to her husband, so you should, while being internally attached to the lotus feet of Sri Krsna, externally make a show of being engaged in your worldly duties. Krsna will bestow His mercy on you very soon."
While residing at Ramakeli, Sri Rupa and Sri Sanatana were visited by many brahmanas and panditas from Navadwipa, Karnataka and various other parts of India . They were always careful to receive these guests and serve them in a befitting manner. They lived in a very opulent surroundings at Ramakeli. Their court, which rivalled that of Lord Indra, was always attended by brahmanas, pandits from many lands as well as poets, singers, musicians and dancers. At great expense they maintained these guests and were always very careful that no one was disrespected in any way. They were always engaged in studying the sastras and could establish and defeat the same philosophical arguments alternatively.
Near their house were solitary gardens of Kadamba and other trees in the middle of which were Radha-kunda and Syama-kunda. There they would meditate on the Vrndavana pastimes of Sri Sri Radha-Syama and thus, losing their patience, a constant stream of tears would flow from their eyes. They were always absorbed in the service of Sri Madana Mohana and constantly assuaged their grief by praying for His mercy. Hearing of the pastimes of Sri Gaurasundara at Nadia they were always meditating when they might get His darsan. [B.R. 1/585].
Rupa Gosvami's worshipable Deity in Vrndavana was Sri Govinda Deva. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu had instructed the Gosvamis to re-discover the holy places of Krsna's pastimes in Braja and to establish worship of His Sri vigraha. One day Sri Rupa was sitting on the banks of the Jamuna, lamenting that they hadn't been able to properly carry out His instructions.
It was known to them that Sri Krsna's grandson Vajranabha had installed a number of Deities in Braja, among them Hari Deva, Madana Mohana Deva, Gopinath Deva and Sri Govinda Deva. Sri Rupa had tried to locate these Deities, but to no avail. As he was sitting and thinking in this way a very beautiful cowherd boy came along and asked him, "He Swamin! Why do you look so sad?"
Hearing the boy's cheerful voice, Sri Rupa's melancholy reverie was broken and his heart felt gladdened. He replied that he was feeling sad because he hadn't been able to follow Mahaprabhu's instructions properly. The cowherd boy told him, "Swamin! Please come with me. I know where what you are looking for is."
Then the boy brought him to Gomatila and explained, "Everyday a cow comes on top of this hill and pours down her milk here. There is a good chance you will find what you are looking for inside. Now I have to go."
Sri Rupa turned to see the cowherd boy off, but found no one present. He began to reflect, "Who was that cowherd boy and where did he run off to so suddenly?" His body thrilled with ecstatic symptoms as he intently gazed at the Mahayoga Pith (Gomatila), and then went back to his kutir. The next morning he again came to Gomatila and quietly waited. After a little while an exquisitely beautiful Surabhi cow came there and poured milk down on top of the hill which immediately disappeared inside the earth. Then she sauntered on into the woods.
Now Sri Rupa was positive that Sri Govinda Deva must be within the earth here. He came very quickly to the village of cowherds nearby and excitedly told them everything that had happened. The cowherd men hurriedly gathered up some spades and hatchets and came running to Gomatila. Digging where Sri Rupa indicated they saw, after removing a small amount of earth, the all enchanting form of Sri Govinda. They all erupted in shouts of ecstasy, "Hari! Hari! Sri Govinda has again manifested Himself." Sri Rupa with tears flowing from his eyes fell down at the lotus feet of Sri Govinda deva to offer his obeisances, all the while reciting prayers and hymns.
Very quickly the news spread and the other Gosvamis, floating in an ocean of joy, came there also. Soon an incessant flow of people from all quarters began to arrive, carried by waves of joy. Lord Brahma and the other demigods, having assumed mortal appearances, mixed in with the other people and gazed upon the body of Sri Govinda. There was not a lull in the crowd for even a moment as people continued to pour in from places unknown.
Sri Rupa Gosvami immediately sent word to Mahaprabhu in Puri concerning this auspicious event. Sri Gaurasundara along with His associates couldn't contain their ecstasy on receiving this happy news. Meanwhile the brahmanas performed the abhiseka of the Deity and began to prepare offerings of bhoga from the milk, yogurt, rice, flour and vegetables which the villagers were bringing. Mahaprabhu sent Kasisvar Pandit from Puri to assist in worshiping the Deity. Sri Govinda Deva is presently being worshiped in Jaipur, Rajasthan.
Overjoyed that Sri Govindaji and Madan Mohan had re-appeared and thus the responsibilities which Mahaprabhu had given them were gradually being carried out, Sri Rupa and Sanatan began to compose the Bhakti-sastras, in compliance with Mahaprabhu's further instructions.
After completing Vidagdha-madhava, Lalita-madhava, and various other books, Sri Rupa began to work on Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu.
One day Sri Vallabhacarya (of the Visnuswami sampradaya) came to visit Rupa Gosvami. After offering him a seat the two of them began to discuss Krsna-katha. In the house of their conversation, Sri Rupa presented the opening verse of Bhakti-Rasamrta-Sindhu to Vallabhacarya to read. After studying this verse for some time Vallabha commented that there were a few mistakes. At this time Sri Jiva, who had arrived from Bengal a few days before, was fanning his uncle Sri Rupa. He was extremely learned in all the sastras and was unsatisfied with Vallabha's remark.
When Vallabhacarya went to the Jamuna to take his bath, Sri Jiva also came there on the pretext of fetching some water. He inquired from the acarya as to what actually were the mistakes in that verse. Vallabhacarya, after discussing some points with him, was amazed at the boy's scholarship.
After a few days Vallabha again came to Sri Rupa. After inquiring about the boy scholar, he greatly praised his learning. After Vallabha had gone to his residence, Sri Rupa called Jiva and spoke to him, "Those whom we respect as our Guru and to whom we offer our obeisances you are ready to debate with on an equal level. This is not at all polite. What he spoke was for my benefit but you couldn't tolerate that. You should return home and when you can control your mind then you can come back to Vrindavana." [B.R. 5.1643]
Hearing this decision of his uncle Sri Jiva left that place and decided to proceed eastwards. When he came to an old dilapidated temple at Nanda-ghat, he sat down and began to cry. Soon the villagers began to worry: "Such a handsome young man, but he sits there crying for so long without taking food."
After a while, Sri Sanatana Gosvami came by and the villagers informed Sanatana of the boy's presence at the old temple. Sanatana went there and saw his nephew, who looked very pale from not eating. Sanatana picked him up from the ground and affectionately asked him what was the matter. Sri Jiva explained everything that had happened. Sanatana Gosvami pacified him and, taking his nephew with him, went to see his brother.
At first Sanatana spoke with Rupa alone. When Sri Rupa happened to mention Jiva, Sanatana explained everything. Sri Rupa immediately called Jiva. Seeing his forlorn and pale appearance, he gradually nursed him back to health and a happy state of mind. Then he entrusted him with proof reading and various literatures which he had composed. Just as he was very strict with his young nephew, so also he was very affectionate and loving. Their relationship was an ideal example of how the guru and sisya behave together.
When Sri Rupa had finished writing Lalita-madhava, he gave it to Raghunatha dasa Gosvami to read. Lalita-madhava is a description of Krsna's pastimes after he left Vrindavana and is thus full with sentiments in the mood of separation. By reading this book Raghunatha dasa Gosvami began to cry day and night, having become completely absorbed in love in separation to the point of being ready to leave his body. [B.R.5.768]
He became as though deranged in mind from sadness, and he compeletely lost all patience. When Sri Rupa requested Raghunatha Dasa to return the manuscript so that he could correct it, Raghunatha dasa held on to it very tightly, not saying anything, refusing to part with it.
After considering what to do, Sri Rupa composed Dana-keli-kaumudi. He managed to exchange this manuscript with Lalita-madhava. By reading Dana-keli-kaumudi, full of narrations of Krsna's Vrindavana pastimes, Raghunatha dasa Goswami now became totally absorbed in the ecstasy of happiness.
On another occasion the Goswamis were having a discussion about the ecstatic feelings of separation of Radha-Krsna and Their associates. Some of the Vaisnavas were fainting to the ground, while Sri Rupa Goswami began to breathe very heavily. His heart felt as though it was burning. At one point as he sighed his breath happened to fall on the body of one devotee present there. Shortly thereafter a boil developed on that devotee's body where Sri Rupa's breath had touched it. [B.R. 5.1326]
After the re-appearance of Sri Govinda, Madana Mohana and the Yoga Pith, Sri Rupa began to contemplate where Vrindadevi might be. One night she came to him in a dream and said, "I am on the banks of Brahma-kunda. You can have my darsan there."
The next morning, after finishing his bath and puja, he came to Brahma-kunda and began to look everywhere. Suddenly he saw a heavenly damsel whose bodily effulgence defeated the lustre of gold. All the directions were illuminated by this glow and the atmosphere created by her presence was very sweet and cooling. Sri Rupa offered his dandavats and various prayers and hymns. In this way, Vrinda devi reappeared in Vrajabhumi.
Sri Rupa Goswami completed many literatures, some being:
- Sri Hamsaduta Kavya
- Sri Uddhava-sandesh
- Sri Krsna-janma-tithi-vidhi
- Brhat Radha-Krsna-ganoddesa-dipika
- Laghu Radha-Krsna-ganoddesa-dipika
- Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (Nectar of Devotion)
- Upadesamrta (The Nectar of Instruction)
(See also Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 10.84, Madhya-lila 1.36- 41, Madhya-lila chapter 19, and Antya-lila chapter 1.)