Kṛṣṇa appeared as Mahāprabhu along with all of His associates from Vraja, and yet, although the Lord appeared in Māyāpura, many of His beloved associates appeared elsewhere in India, thus the Lord was very eager to meet with them. When Mahāprabhu took sannyāsa He decided that He would go to Vṛndāvana, but, even for the Lord Himself, entering Vṛndāvana is not such a simple thing. One cannot enter Vraja without being accepted by the Vraja-devīs and receiving their mercy. Without the association of Rūpa and Sanātana Gosvāmī, Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī experienced residence in Vraja to be more painful than death:
śūnyāyate mahā-goṣṭhaṁ girīndro ’jagarāyate
vyāghra-tuṇḍāyate kuṇḍaṁ jīvatu rahitasya me
Śrī Prārthanāśraya-caturdaśaka 11
Now that I no longer have association with the sustainers of my life, my guardians, the land of Vraja has become empty and desolate. Govardhana Hill appears like a great python, and Rādhā-kuṇḍa seems like the gaping mouth of a ferocious tigress.
So Mahāprabhu did not want to go to Vṛndāvana without first meeting with Rūpa and Sanātana and sending them there, because wherever the Vrajavāsīs are, that place is Vraja. If we want to go to Vraja then we must first meet with the Vrajavāsīs. Without knowing who the Vrajavāsīs are, and without first taking their association, no one can enter Vṛndāvana. A person who goes independently to Vraja will see only stones and dust. So out of eagerness to see His beloved associates, and to teach us the proper process to enter Vraja, Mahāprabhu went to Rāma- keli and there met with Rūpa Gosvāmī and Sanātana Gosvāmī, in whose hearts Vṛndāvana, in all of its glory, is fully manifest.
Śrīman Mahāprabhu, after telling everyone He intended to go on pilgrimage to Vṛndāvana, set out from Purī followed by tens of thousands. Unable to go with him, Nṛśiṁhānanda Brahmacārī sat and thought, “I will serve Mahāprabhu as He goes,” and in bhāva-sevā he made a beautiful path to Vṛndāvana-dhāma for Mahāprabhu to tread. Along this path he made pleasing gardens, streams of sweet water, places to rest, and trees giving ripe fruit and cooling shade. Through the power of His bhakta’s loving service, Mahāprabhu felt no discomfort on the way to Vṛndāvana. One day, Nṛśiṁhānanda Brahmacārī came out of his meditation and then announced to the devotees in his community, “Mahāprabhu will not go all the way to Vṛndāvana. He will meet with the Vrajavāsīs and then return to Purī.” Mahāprabhu had gone to Rāma-keli, near the border of present day Bangladesh.
Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī, Sanātana Gosvāmī, and their brother Anupama were born in Bāklācandradvīpa, near Rāma-keli, in a family of Mahārāṣṭriya-brāhmaṇas in the dynasty of Bharadrāja. Their forefathers had been ministers to the Hindu king before the Muslim rule. Previous kings had brought qualified brāhmaṇas from Maharastra and gave them a place in this area. Sva-deśe pūjyate rājā, vidvān sarvatra pūjyate—a king is respected in his own kingdom, but a learned person is respected everywhere.
A king may lose his kingdom if he has no learned men to offer him counsel. Learned men must advise the king and help maintain the kingdom with their intelligence, otherwise a king risks destruction. Therefore, the kings of yore would surround themselves with honest and wise advisors. Those who know the highest truth and perform worship of the Lord can bestow supreme welfare to those who take shelter of them; they give others pure intelligence.
Rūpa Gosvāmī and Sanātana Gosvāmī’s childhood names were Amara and Santośa. They were very intelligent, learned, and qualified. When people met with them, these brothers would bring them closer to God, by instructing them and inspiring them to make relation with Him. From childhood, everyone would follow the advice of Amara and Santośa. The young, old, children, ladies, and gentlemen—everyone was attracted to Amara and Santośa and would listen to them intently. When Amara and Santośa grew to sixteen, they opened a school where they taught how to serve God, and how to be liberated from this world and make a permanent relation with God. Ordinary schools only teach economics, business, and how to enjoy in this world. Mahāprabhu also opened a transcendental school. But these schools were different. Mahāprabhu opened a grammar school, and would forcibly teach and defeat others in logical arguments. But there was no need for Amara and Santośa to call anyone to their school or debate with them, naturally everyone was eager to be with them and hear them.
At that time, most of India was under Muslim rule. Nawab Hussain Shah ruled Bengal and Bangladesh. The Muslims rulers mostly had strong desires for two things—kanaka and kāmiṇī—gold and attractive women. They would forcibly take away beautiful women from families, even if they were already married. And if you tried to resist, they would kill you. Everyone was fearful of the Muslim rulers. Once, Nawab Hussain Shah decided that he wanted a minār so tall that he would be able to see all of India and even the ocean from the top of it. So he called his architects and they began to build a huge tower.
When the work was almost complete, the king went to the top of the tower and was very pleased. He praised the chief architect, who then foolishly boasted, “Yes, this is a very good tower, but I could build one even better and taller than this.” The architect did not stop to think of the repercussions before he spoke. Enraged, the king roared, “Then why didn’t you!” and he summarily pushed the architect off the tower. The architect’s terrified yells were silenced by the crunch of his body meeting stone 1,000 feet below. Turning to his general, Emperor Hussain Shah snapped, “Go! Bāklācandradvīpa! Quickly!” Afraid of being similarly dispatched, the general descended the tower posthaste. Below, he immediately summoned a retinue of cavalry, and they trotted in column from the capital.
But now the general had a problem: what did the king want? What was he to bring? The king had not said, and the general dared not question him, for he knew the rash Muslim ruler spoke most naturally with the edge of his sword. So the general marched with his troops from village to village. The villagers were filled with dread, for the Muslim armies were known to go from village to village plundering and setting fire to houses. They considered all wealth and women as their rightful property. If there were any strong men then they would make them slaves, killing the rest, and taking the women as concubines.
When the general and his troops came to the village of Bāklācandradvīpa, the villagers pleaded to Amara and Santośa for help. The two young men went and stood in the street. The soldiers were galloping on their horses, but Amara and Santośa fearlessly stood in their path. The Muslims halted in amazement. Amara and Santośa boldly but politely addressed the general and his men, “Friends, please come. You look exhausted, come and take some refreshments at our home.”
The Muslims were happy and said to each other, “Hindus are always afraid of us and neglect or ignore us, but these boys are very cordial. Let us go and get some refreshment.”
Although this was a dangerous group of men, Amara and Santośa were not afraid at all. They arranged a sitting place for the soldiers and brought them refreshments. There is a famous saying in Hindi: dayā dharma kā mūla pāpa mūla abhimāna— mercy is the root of dharma; arrogance is the root of sin. One should give up arrogance and show compassion to all entities. Thus, Amara and Santośa gave water and food to the general and his soldiers, and when the men were quite comfortable they asked, “Please explain why you are so agitated.”
After hesitating for a few moments, the general explained his predicament. “The king has been making the tallest minār in Bengal. He went on top to oversee the construction when it was almost complete and said to the architect, ‘This is very good. You have made it very nicely.’ But the foolish architect said, ‘I could make one much better.’ So the king then pushed him from the tower to his death and then turned to me and said, ‘Go! Bāklācandradvīpa! Quickly!’ If I had asked the king exactly what to do, he would have killed me, and if we go back empty-handed he will surely kill us. Therefore, we are moving around considering what to do.”
“Just rest here a while,” Amara and Santośa said, “we will arrange everything.” Then they called several very qualified architects along with laborers and, after reassuring them that all would be well if they worked with care and precision, they told them to go with the general to the capital and complete the work on the tower. To the general they said, “Bring these architects to your king. They will finish the construction work and everything will be alright.”
When the king saw the general return with qualified architects and laborers, he was pleasantly surprised. Arrangements were made for the construction to continue and afterwards the king asked the general, “How did you know what I wanted? In my anger I did not tell you where to go or what to bring.”
“I thought that today would be my last day,” the general replied, “but I met two brāhmaṇa youths who were so intelligent. They served us respectfully without enmity or fear. Then they gave me such helpful advice. I have never seen such intelligent and good-natured people.”
Enchanted by the general’s description, the king ordered that the two brāhmaṇa youths be summoned and the general sent his soldiers to bring them. When the Muslims returned to the village and ordered that Amara and Santośa come along to the capital in the name of the king, the villagers began to shake with fear. “Please do not go,” the villagers said, “only because of you have we been safe for so long. If you leave now, we will have no protection from the Muslims.” “Don’t worry,” Amara and Santośa assured them, “we are not going to become the king’s servants. We are going in order to purify the king and make him a servant of the Supreme Lord.”
When they arrived at the capital, the king was captivated by their beautiful natures and embraced them warmly. He said, “I accept you as my brothers,” and he gave them the names Sākara Mallika and Dabira Khāsa. The king spoke sweetly when welcoming them, but you should know that the nature of wicked people is fickle—kṣaṇe ruṣṭe kṣaṇe tuṣṭe ruṣṭe tuṣṭe kṣaṇe kṣaṇe—at any moment, they may change their mood from being pleased with you to being ready to kill you. Many people have very sweet tongues, but are their hearts sweet or not? And some people are straightforward and even harsh, but have no bitterness inside. Most politicians speak sweetly and show respect outwardly, but have many hidden motives. They know that without sweet speech they cannot control you and make you their follower.
After interviewing the brothers and being impressed by their intelligence, the king employed them as his ministers and bade them to adopt the dress of Muslims. In time, he made Sākara Mallika (Sanātana Gosvāmī) his prime minister, and Dabira Khāsa (Rūpa Gosvāmī) his personal secretary.
Rūpa and Sanātana requested the king for permission to open a temple and center of the Hindu-dharma and for a monthly stipend from the treasury for brāhmaṇas to come and do Veda-stuti and practice the limbs of bhakti. Happy with the brothers and seeing them as a great help to the successful management of his state, the king agreed. With them in his kingdom to look after everything he was free to focus on conquering neighboring states. So he told the brothers, “You have my permission to do as you wish here; if you desire to make a temple here in the capital and invite brāhmaṇas to do japa and tapa then you may. But you must protect my post as king and satisfactorily administer the kingdom.”
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī and Sanātana Gosvāmī manifested temples of Govinda, Gopinātha, and Madana-mohan in Rāma-keli, and also Rādhā-kuṇḍa, Śyāma-kuṇḍa, and Rūpa-Sāgara. Every day in the capital kīrtana, hari-kathā, and the limbs of bhakti were going on. Simultaneously Rūpa and Sanātana carried out the management of the state with great expertise. They thus greatly improved the area by their influence over the king, and the king became happy because the people respected him, duly gave taxes, and obeyed the laws of his country. In this way, Rūpa and Sanātana worked for Nawab Hussain Shah for close to twenty years.
Mahāprabhu, however, could not tolerate this situation any longer. After He took sannyāsa, He thought, “I am alone. Where is Rūpa, where is Lavaṅga?” After going to Jagannatha-purī, Mahāprabhu walked towards Rāma-keli with what appeared to be an army of followers to meet Rūpa and Sanātana. Without Rūpa and Sanātana, Mahāprabhu knew that bhakti-pracāra would not be possible. He had tried before with Nityānanda Prabhu and Haridāsa Ṭhākura, but people were abusing them, and ready to beat even Mahāprabhu. Mahāprabhu came to help everyone and He chanted “Gopī gopī” and the people said, “Oh! You want to enjoy with young girls!” And Jagāi and Mādhāi attacked and beat Nityānanda Prabhu. Haridāsa Ṭhākura began chanting harināma and was beaten in 22 marketplaces in Ambika-kalna until he was only skin and bone. How is the nature of Kali-yuga! They did no wrong, but still, see the nature of Kali Mahārāja! If you do wrong, you will be rewarded by Kali, and if you do good, you will be punished. So Mahāprabhu thought, “What can I do to help the jīvas? Without Rūpa and Sanātana, bhakti-pracāra will not be successful.”
Thus, instead of going to Vṛndāvana, Mahāprabhu went to Rāma-keli. Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura says—tīrtha-yātrā pariśrama kevala-manera-bhrama. There is no utility in going to the holy places if one does not meet with the sādhus there.
In the fourth song of Kalyāṇa-kalpataru, Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura sings:
jathā sādhu tathā tīrtha, sthira kori’ nija citta sādhu-saṅga koro nirantara
yathāya vaiṣṇava-gaṇa, sei sthāna vṛndāvana sei sthāne ānanda aśeṣa
Wherever the devotees reside is a holy place. Therefore, pacify your mind and associate constantly with the devotees. Where the Vaiṣṇavas reside, that very place is Vṛndāvana. One experiences unlimited happiness at that place.
In Jagannatha-purī, Mahāprabhu said, “I wish to go to Vṛndāvana. But where is the real Vṛndāvana? Wherever the Vrajavāsīs are present, that is the real Vṛndāvana. If there is no association of Vrajavāsīs then what will one do in Vṛndāvana? One will receive no benefit.”
A huge crowd accompanied Mahāprabhu. Had Mahāprabhu cheated them, telling them that they were going to Vṛndāvana? Mahāprabhu did not come to this world to cheat anyone; if one wants to have darśana of Vṛndāvana, then he must come under the guidance of Rūpa Mañjarī, Rūpa Gosvāmī. Without the mercy of the Vaiṣṇavas, one cannot have darśana of Bhagavān or the dhāma.
Who can understand the extent of the glories of Rūpa and Sanātana? Mahāprabhu went with a big missile—what looked like a huge army, tens of thousands of followers—and instead of going towards Vṛndāvana, he went towards Bangladesh, to the capital of the Muslim king.
When, from his tower, Nawab Hussain Shah saw the huge group approaching, chanting and dancing in ecstasy, he became afraid. He called for his ministers and told them, “Go quickly. I have many soldiers, but certainly not enough to match this group. I cannot accumulate so many soldiers even by paying! Go find out who the leader of this group is, and what his intentions are.”
Thus, the king’s messengers went to investigate, yet when they came back to make their report their eyes were filled with tears; they had lost their hearts. And when the king asked them what they had discovered, they could only cry out, “Haribol! Hare Kṛṣṇa!”
“What happened?” the king asked.
“Haribol! Hare Kṛṣṇa! Nothing else is important,” came their reply. The king tried to get an answer so many times, but they gave no answer other than this.
“What kind of magic spell has been cast on them?” the king thought.
Nawab Hussain Shah then called for Dabira Khāsa (Rūpa Gosvāmī) and asked him in private. “Is this prophet coming to besiege my kingdom?”
“He is not coming to attack you,” Rūpa Gosvāmi said. “He is your Lord, the same as Allah.”
“Well, go and meet with this prophet and then report back to me.”
Rūpa and Sanātana came to Mahāprabhu that night wearing simple white dress. They thought, “When we first meet with Mahāprabhu, we should take a gift.”
Mahāprabhu does not need chapatti, rice, water, or anything else. So what to bring? The two brothers brought the newborn son of their brother Anupama. Although they had not married, Anupama had already entered household life had become the father of Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī.
When Rūpa and Sanātana came to see the Lord, they first met with Nityānanda Prabhu and Haridāsa Ṭhākura, who informed the Lord of their arrival, and led the brothers into His presence. Rūpa and Sanātana prostrated before Mahāprabhu with straw held in their teeth and cloth around their necks as a symbol of humility, and offered the infant to Mahāprabhu’s feet. Rūpa and Sanātana became overwhelmed with bliss and began weeping. Lifting them up into an embrace, Mahāprabhu said, “I came here only to meet with you.”
With folded hands, Rūpa and Sanātana prayed to Mahāprabhu, “We are the lowest of men and are engaged in the lowest employment. We are very ashamed to stand before You. You are the savior of the sinners Jagāi and Mādhāi, but we are much more degraded. No one is more sinful than us, nor is there any greater offender. You appeared to deliver the fallen souls, so You should know that there is no one so fallen as us, thus by granting us Your grace, Your mercy is most successful.”
Hearing the prayer of His dear devotees, Mahāprabhu said, “You are My eternal associates; it breaks My heart to witness the depth of your humility—I beg you to abandon it. From today your names will be changed to Rūpa and Sanātana. You wrote several letters, and by those I could understand your heart. I then sent you one verse:
para-vyasaninī nārī vyagrāpi gṛha-karmasu
tad evāsvādayaty antar nava-saṅga-rasāyanam
A wife attached to a paramour will carefully perform her household duties while internally relishing feelings of association with her beloved.
Mahāprabhu then said, “What did you bring Me?”
“We brought You a small jīva.”
“Oh!” Mahāprabhu said, lifting the swaddled newborn into His
arms, “I am very happy with this gift. I accept this Jīva as My own.”
“And what of us?”
“You are also Mine. You should no longer work for this king. I need your help for My preaching to be successful. I cannot change the jīvas without your help. Come quickly. You have helped the people enough by working for the king, now leave everything and come to Vṛndāvana.”
The Lord then blessed Rūpa and Sanātana with His two hands on their heads, and they prostrated on the ground and placed the Lord’s lotus feet on their heads. Mahāprabhu lifted them up and again embraced them; He then requested His associates present to bless the brothers that they may be freed of their present entanglements in the service of the Muslim ruler.
Rūpa and Sanātana went to all the Vaiṣṇavas and touched their feet. The devotees joyfully praised the brothers’ good fortune at having received the Lord’s mercy.
Before leaving, the brothers submitted a request to the Lord. “Although the King respects You, he is still a yāvana and may change his attitude at any moment. So please do not tarry here.”
“Oh Prabhu,” Sanātana Gosvāmī further said, “You are going to Vṛndāvana followed by tens of thousands of people, this could cause You disturbance on Your pilgrimage; it is not fitting.”
Mahāprabhu smiled. “I have already come to Vṛndāvana and met with the Vrajavāsīs. What is left for Me to do?” The Lord then repeated His instruction. “Do not remain here any longer, go to Vṛndāvana. I will come once you are there. Without you I will not go. I came here to take you out of these government posts.”
The Lord gave the infant Jīva back to Rūpa and Sanātana and told them to make sure everything was arranged for his childhood and education before leaving and said that in the future, the boy would also come to be with them in Vraja.
When Rūpa and Sanātana returned to the king, they reassured him, “There is nothing to fear. The Lord has mercifully appeared in your state. You should go and take shelter of Him.” But the king feared losing his own faith and position. Thus, he would not go meet with Mahāprabhu. He nevertheless allowed Mahāprabhu and His party to pass through his kingdom without obstruction.
Some time later, the king informed Rūpa and Sanātana that they were to look after the kingdom while he personally set up an aggressive military assault on the state of Odisha. He boasted, “I will conquer the Jagannātha temple and bring the entire state under my rule.”
When Sanātana Gosvāmī heard this he said, “I cannot work for you any longer. You can give my post to anyone you please.” But the king would not accept Sanātana Gosvāmī’s resignation. Consequently, Sanātana Gosvāmī simply stayed in his own residence practicing bhajana, sending news to the king that he was ill. After sending his chief physician and hearing him report that Sākāra Mallika was in fine health, the king went himself and interviewed Sanātana Gosvāmī. Seeing his firm intention to become a fakir, the king imprisoned Sanātana, hoping his attitude would change in time. After engaging other ministers to administer the state in his absence, Nawab Hussain Shah departed with his army to attack Odisha.
In the meantime, Rūpa Gosvāmī managed to depart in secret for Vṛndāvana, after giving some of his wealth to brāhmaṇas and reserving a large amount of gold coins with a trusted merchant, intended for Sanātana Gosvāmī’s escape from captivity.
The Summit of Separation
Once, Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhu was sitting in an assembly where Raghunātha-bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī spoke on the separation pastimes in the Bhāgavatam. Everyone present was weeping, and the ground became muddy from their tears, but Rūpa Gosvāmī only sat motionless with open eyes. Some devotees asked, “Everyone here is weeping uncontrollably, but why is Rūpa motionless like a statue?” They took a cotton swap and put it to his nose to see if he was breathing, but the cotton did not move. Then, after a very long time, one breath came out and the hand holding the cotton became burnt by the heat. That heat of separation first melts the heart, which then flows out in a constant stream of tears, but an even deeper state of separation, an extreme separation, is when the heart is completely dried out. In this rare state, the blazing fire of separation remains locked in the heart, causing one to appear like a statue externally. One’s separation is hidden outwardly, while there is a blazing fire raging within.
It is impossible to meet with Kṛṣṇa unless one feels the mood of separation. We have been separated from Kṛṣṇa since time without beginning, and we are completely absorbed in māyā. Day and night pass aimlessly, but we feel no suffering; we have no scent of separation from Kṛṣṇa. Without viraha, one’s sādhana has no power, but we do not feel restless, nor even think about this. The jīva cannot perform real bhajana until he feels this viraha and laments, “Alas! I am separated from my prāṇa- priyatama!”
Rūpa Gosvāmī described the highest states of separation, and at the same time Mahāprabhu was with Svarūpa Dāmodara and Rāmānanda Rāya in the Gambhīrā, tasting all these moods. When Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhu composed verses in Ter-kadamba about viraha, then the leaves and creepers would wither up, and the ground would dry and crack. On the other hand, when he wrote about the meeting of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, the trees and creepers became green, vibrant, and full of flowers and fruits.
Sanātana Gosvāmī sometimes met at Ṭera-kadamba with Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhu. He once asked, “I came the other day and everything was dry and withered, and today I see that everything is vibrant and full of fruits and flowers. How is this?”
“Yesterday I remembered the viraha of the Vraja-devīs when Kṛṣṇa left,” Rūpa Gosvāmī replied, “and everything withered; and today I saw the scene of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa meeting, and everything became lush again.”
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī resided in Vṛndāvana and composed books describing the supreme position of the Vrajavāsīs. Whatever Rūpa Gosvāmī would write, Jīva Gosvāmī would then edit and copy to manuscript, and Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī would read it.
When Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī read the scenes of separation in Lalita-mādhava-nāṭakam describing the state of Vraja after Kṛṣṇa left, he wept and his tears soaked the pages. He felt desolate when reading the descriptions of the Vrajavāsīs’ desperate moods and their desperate state when Kṛṣṇa left Vraja. Rūpa Gosvāmī explained how the different Vrajavāsīs left their bodies, unable to bear the viraha: some by entering the Yamunā, and some in other ways. Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī would not eat or sleep, instead he would only read the books of Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhu and weep bitterly. If it were not for these scriptures, then no one would be able to understand the glorious moods of the Vraja-devīs or the Vrajavāsīs; no one would realize how the love of the Vrajavāsīs and Vraja-devīs is the topmost example of love anywhere in existence.
Kṛṣṇa was in Mathurā with so many associates like Devakī, Vasudeva, Sātyaki, Akrūra, and Ugrasena, but He never spoke confidentially with any of them, nor ate or spent time with them. Uddhava once saw that water was falling from the roof of the palace, even though there were no clouds in the sky. Searching for the cause, he went and saw Kṛṣṇa weeping, His tears flowing down the side of the palace.
Rūpa Mañjarī was with Śrīmatī Rādhārānī in Uddhava-kyārī when Kṛṣṇa left Vraja, and she witnessed Rādhikā’s piteous state. She was there to witness how Rādhārānī sat down in a kuñja to write Kṛṣṇa a letter; yet, although She tried the entire night to write the syllables ‘kṛ-ṣṇa,’ by morning the paper was only a smudge of ink, and Rādhārānī was sitting senseless. Lalitā then took this letter and gave it to a swan to deliver to Kṛṣṇa in Mathurā, warning the swan, “Don’t breathe the air of Mathurā. It is very poisonous. Take one breath here before you leave, and only breath again after you have returned. Look for Kṛṣṇa atop the king’s palace, where He will be weeping and gazing out in the direction of Vraja. Don’t be fooled by His charm; He will try to catch you and keep you with Him. Don’t even land on the palace roof—just drop the letter to Kṛṣṇa and quickly fly back, without breathing or touching anything of Mathurā. It is a very evil and dangerous place.”
In Vraja, Rūpa Mañjarī witnessed all of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa’s intimate meeting pastimes, and she was there with Rādhārānī after Kṛṣṇa left, serving Śrīmatī in Her states of extreme separation. Rūpa Mañjarī described all these confidential secrets when she appeared as Rūpa Gosvāmī. When the Vrajavāsīs are glorified, and the conditioned jīvas develop greed to serve in Vraja, then Kṛṣṇa feels somewhat relieved of His debt to the Vrajavāsīs. Kṛṣṇa therefore desired for these things to be written down, so that when one reads or hears about the exalted moods of the Vrajavāsīs he will become greedy to render service eternally to Śrīmatī Rādhārānī in Vraja, and will easily cross beyond the primary stages of bhakti, which is never possible by any ordinary sādhana.
kṛti-sādhyā bhavet sādhya- bhāvā sā sādhanābhidhā
nitya-siddhasya bhāvasya prākaṭyaṁ hṛdi sādhyatā
Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, Pūrva-vibhāga 2.2
Sādhana-bhakti is the performance by the present senses of that śuddha-bhakti by which bhāva is achieved. The final goal of sādhya-bhāva is nitya-siddha. That is to say, it is an eternally established phenomenon, but sādhana is the means by which it is manifested within the heart.
nitya-siddha kṛṣṇa-prema sādhya kabhu naya
śravaṇādi śuddha-citte karaye udaya
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 22.107
Kṛṣṇa-prema is an eternally established reality; it is not brought about by sādhana. It automatically manifests itself in the heart purified by the performance of the various limbs of bhakti such as śravaṇa, kīrtana, and so forth.
Until one hears of the moods of the Vrajavāsīs, and of how they lamented in separation from Kṛṣṇa when He left, vraja- bhāva and anurāga will never awaken in one’s heart. Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhu manifested all these moods of separation, and the Gosvāmīs of Vraja would read Rūpa Gosvāmī’s compositions and become completely absorbed in the moods of Vraja, forgetting all else. Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī would clasp the books of Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhu to his chest and forget eating, sleeping, and all other activities. He would read only one syllable, and then become maddened in separation and lamentation.
Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhu then wrote Dāna-keli-kaumudī, describing the humorous pastime of Kṛṣṇa demanding a toll tax from Śrīmatī Rādhikā and the gopīs, and Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī enjoyed days of laughter as he read this pleasing account.
This is only a fraction of the glories of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī. His glories are unlimited. Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhu and the Six Gosvāmīs appeared and re-manifested Vraja, which had become covered. Therefore we pray to them:
ei chāyā gosāi jabe vraje koilā vāsa
rādhā-kṛṣṇa-nitya-līlā korilā prakāśa
The six Gosvāmīs manifested Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa’s eternal pastimes. If not for them, no one would understand the glories of Vraja, no one would know about vraja-bhakti. Some would glorify Sītā-Rāma and some Rukmiṇī-Kṛṣṇa, but no one would fully realize the topmost position of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa.
Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhu manifested all of this in the world, but it remained mostly hidden in a treasure chest. Śrīla Gurudeva opened this chest and distributed that supreme treasure all over the world. We must therefore always remember Śrīla Gurudeva and beg for his mercy. If anyone stays within this paramparā, and invites Gurudeva into his heart, then he will certainly become anointed with this vraja-rasa, and without doubt will attain Vraja.
Śrīla Gurudeva taught us to pray to achieve the service of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī under the guidance of Śrī Rūpa Mañjarī:
hā modataḥ kanaka-gauri-padāravinda-
samvāhanāni śanakais tava kiṁ kariṣye
O Devī as fair as gold, Your lotus feet are worshiped by Śrī Rūpa Mañjarī’s hands as You rest Your head against Kṛṣṇa’s arm. When will I receive the remnants of Rūpa Mañjarī’s service and happily and gently massage Your lotus feet?
vṛndāraṇya-maheśvarīṁ priyatayā yās toṣayanti priyāḥ
prāṇa-preṣṭha-sakhī-kulād api kilāsaṅkocitā bhūmikāḥ
kelī-bhūmiṣu rūpa-mañjarī-mukhās tā dāsikāḥ saṁśraye
Stavāvalī (Vraja-vilāsa-stava 38)
I take shelter of the maidservants of Śrīmatī Rādhikā headed by Rūpa Mañjarī. They act as Her attendants and affectionately satisfy Śrīmatī Rādhikā by their various services, such as offering tāmbūla, massaging Her feet, bringing Her water, and taking Her to Her rendezvous with Kṛṣṇa. Unlike the prāṇa-preṣṭha-sakhīs, they can without hesitation perform any service within the pleasure groves.
On the occasion of Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī’s appearance, Śrīla Gurudeva would make grand arrangements for his worship through glorification in Vṛndāvana. He wanted to attract all the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas and help them realize that, as long as they do not offer themselves to the lotus feet of to Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī, they will never understand Mahāprabhu’s glories. He said, “This festival should be observed throughout the world. Then one can enter the realm of bhakti; there is no other means.”
Anyone who remembers Rūpa Gosvāmī and prays to him on his appearance or disappearance day will realize his glories and receive his mercy. Śrīmatī Rādhārānī and Kṛṣṇa will be happy with that person. By remembering Rūpa Gosvāmī’s pastimes and his transcendental service we can quickly progress on the path of pure bhakti. Rūpa Gosvāmī brought the nectar of vraja-rasa from the spiritual world and reserved it for us. If you take but a drop, you can cross beyond this world, and you will no longer have to carry this gross physical body. You will attain your spiritual body and go with Śrīla Guru-pāda-padma to eternal Vraja.
Srila Gurudeva ki Jaya! (Excerpted from the Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Srila Rupa Gosvami”. Available from firstname.lastname@example.org )