Rupa Gosvami (1494-1564), one of the Six Gosvamis of Vrindavana, a direct disciple
of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who was ordered by the Lord to write many books
illumintating the path of devotion.
He was born of Kumardev and Revatidevi, who came from an exalted Saraswati Brahman lineage of Karnataka, a southern state of present day India. At some point they migrated and settled in what is known as East Bengal today. Of the five sons of Revatidevi, three were famous for their spirituality. These were to become Rupa Goswami, his elder brother Sanatana Goswami. The third brother Anupam, left his body shortly after receiving the mercy of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and his son Jiva Goswami, a disciple of Rupa Goswami, would become the most prolific writers of the six Goswamis.
Even before the meeting with Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Rupa and Sanatana Goswami were famous for their intellect and renunciation. The Moslem emperor of Gauda desh, Nawab Hussein Shah, keen to spread his influence on the local people, conscripted the two brothers into his service, by threatening tribulations on the local people if they did not agree to work for him. Much against their desire, the brothers worked in prominent positions in the Shah's court. However as pure devotees, they used their wealth and energies in the service of Krishna, by constructing an opulent "hidden Vrindavana" in Ramakeli, immersed themselves in the reading of the Bhagvatam and perfecting their own realizations.
When Caitanya Mahaprabhu first met the brothers in Ramakeli, He greeted them as His eternal associates. He also gave then their spiritual names (Rupa, Sanatana and Anupam) With superlative humility Rupa Goswami offered the now famous pramama mantra (greeting) to Caitanya Mahaprabhu:
Namo maha-vadanya, Krishna prema pradaya te
Krishnaya Krishna Caitanya Namne gaur-tvishe namaha
[O most munificent incarnation of the Lord, You are Krishna Himself appearing as Sri Caitanya. You have assumed the golden color of Radharani, and you are freely distributing what no other incarnation has ever distributed pure love of God.]
Pleased by the prayers of His devotees, Caitanya Mahaprabhu spend 10 days in Prayag (Allahabad), instructing Rupa Goswami about the science of Krishna consciousness. While spending an additional ten months in Puri with Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Rupa Goswami developed and refined the outline of his two famous plays Vidagadha Madhava (featuring Krishna's intimate pastimes as the cowherd boy of Vrindavana) and Lalita Madhava (featuring Krishna's majestic pastimes as the king of Dwaraka). These plays were later completed and are regarded by Gaudiya Vaishnavas as the most important dramatic literature in Sanskrit.
When Rupa Goswami finally did go to Vrindavana, at that time it was mostly forgotten and neglected with the passage of time. Shortly after arriving, Rupa Goswami established the deity of Vrindadevi, an incarnate aspect of Sri Krishna, as the proprietor of Vrindavana. The deity was later moved and can be today found in Kamyava (West Vraja). Rupa Goswami however was not able to make much progress earlier and would frequently lament his inability to carry out the wishes of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. All this however changed after he was spiritually guided to a hidden deity of Sri Govindadev, that was established almost five thousand years ago by Vajra, the great-grandson of Sri Krishna.
The Radha-Govindadev temple, established by Rupa Goswami, is the most opulent and majestic temple of Vrindavan and built under the patronage of the Mughal Emperor Akbar and the Hindu Raja Mann Singh of Jaipur. Unfortunately most of it was later demolished by the Mughal tyrant Aurangazeb, and the original deities moved to Jaipur, where they are worshipped to this day. If the magnificent temple is a testimony to dedication and devotion of Srila Rupa Goswami, his literary works are even more so. He compiled huge volumes of Vaishanava literature, writing more than 100,000 verses in all. Of the more famous works are his two plays, the Sri Upadeshamrita (Nectar of Instruction), Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (Nectar of Devotion), Ujjvala-nilamani and Laghu Bhagvatamrita, to name a few.
These works represent the highest realizations of Rupa Goswami, and can guide a serious student through the various stages of self realization namely, sambandha gyan (acknowledging a relationship with Krishna), abhideya gyan (establishing that relationship) and finally prayojana gyan (relishing the relationship). The realizations of Rupa Goswami were so perfect, that Swarupa Damodar, a close associate of Caitanya Mahaprabhu concluded that he could only have done by receiving the mercy of Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
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