In Vraja-bhūmi, the abode of transcendental love, the gopīs are the very forms of vraja-rasa. By the mercy of Śrī Guru, one can enter Vṛndāvana, be connected to līlā-śakti, and come under the guidance of the gopīs. The gopīs can grant darśana of transcendental Vṛndāvana, the effulgent realm of spiritual bliss. Śrīla Gurudeva is the expansion of līlā-śakti, therefore he gives qualification to enter Vraja-bhūmi.
śabda-brahma-mayaṁ guru-vāṇī-kathaṁ nava-vṛndāvanaṁ gaura-rasa-mayam
rasa-śrauta-mulam nāma-saṇkīrtanaṁ āvirbhūta hṛdayāṁ cid-ātma-svarūpam
Guru-vāṇī is transcendental sound that leads one to Navadvīpa-dhāma, the realm of gaura-rasa. Upon going there, the nature to perform nāma-saṅkīrtana arises. By engaging in nāma one is caught up in the flow of rasa and the spiritual form of the soul is revealed. Therefore, one should have complete faith in guru-vāṇī. Guru-vāṇī is the one and only support of spiritual life.
vraja-bhakti-śrīyaḥ parakīyā-rasaḥ gaurānugata ṣaḍ-gosvāmī-vṛṇdaḥ
Vraja-bhakti is parakīyā-rasa; there is no chance of vraja-bhakti without parakīya-rasa. The Six Gosvāmīs, under the guidance of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, established this conception. This parakīyā-rasa is present in every particle of Vraja and every pore of the Vrajavāsīs. By staying with a maha-bhāgavata Vrajavāsī one can achieve this anurāga, transcendental love and attraction for Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa.
That person who accepts parakīyā-bhāva as supreme becomes dear to Śrī Rūpa Mañjari. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī is always engaged in fulfilling the innermost heart’s desire of Śrī Gaurahari. Himself being always absorbed in the exclusive service of Vraja, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī grants entrance into vraja-sevā to those who are greedy to serve in parakīya-rasa. By coming under the guidance of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī it is possible to realize that mādhurya, sweetness, of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī, to relish which Kṛṣṇa Himself followed the footsteps of the gopīs by assuming the form of a sannyāsī.
Jaḍa-rasa, material love and affection, is contrary to cid-rasa, spiritual love and affection, and is the cause of the jīva’s perpetuation in material existence. After creation, the living entities forgot their souls and the Supreme Soul because of attachment to jaḍa-rasa and thus began their sufferings in this material world. People perform many kinds of sādhana but the result of everything is insignificant, for all their actions are for the betterment of their bodies, minds, and social relations. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu came and began a spiritual revolution.
However, the majority of conditioned souls have no taste for transcendence, so how can they accept or follow what Mahāprabhu came to give? Mahāprabhu brought unnata–ujjvala-rasa–sva–bhakti–śriyam. How to distribute that? How to teach the conditioned souls the process to gain this rasa? How can the jīvas accept it? Therefore, from the spiritual world, Mahāprabhu called Śrī Rūpa Mañjarī, who entered Mahāprabhu’s pastimes in this world as Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī. Rūpa Gosvāmī manifested bhakti-rasa–śāstra, unprecedented spiritual books describing the divinely sweet affairs of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa and the method of entrance into them. He was especially qualified for this task owing to his stature in transcendental Vraja as the most intimate maidservant of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. Through his instructions, Rūpa Gosvāmī helped the jīvas attain their spiritual bodies, service, and relation, and in this way, he arranged a means for them to enter the spiritual world. When the jīvas taste a drop of bhakti-rasa or vraja-rasa, then they forget the mundane jaḍa-rasa, having experienced a higher taste.
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī fulfilled the heart’s desire of Mahāprabhu by preparing the jīvas to achieve svarūpa-siddhi, the perfection of their inherent but dormant spiritual forms, therefore he is glorified by Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura as follows:
śrī-caitanya-mano-‘bhīṣṭaṁ sthāpitaṁ yena bhū-tale
svayaṁ rūpaḥ kadā mahyaṁ dadāti sva-padāntikam
When will Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī give me the shelter of his lotus feet? He understood the innermost desire of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and was therefore able to establish His mission in this world. Because he fulfilled the Lord’s desire, he is extremely dear to the Lord.
Śrī Kavi Karṇapūra glorifies Rūpa Gosvāmī:
priya-svarūpe dayita-svarūpe prema-svarūpe sahajābhirūpe
nijānurūpe prabhur eka-rūpe tatāna-rūpe sva-vilāsa-rūpe
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī is priya and dayitā, extremely dear and beloved to Śrīman Mahāprabhu. Because he is beloved to Śrīmatī Rādhikā, he is also beloved to Mahāprabhu. Priya-svarūpa refers to Kṛṣṇa’s svarūpa and dayita-svarūpa refers to Rādhārānī’s svarūpa. Prema-svarūpe sahajābhirūpe—Śrī Rūpa-mañjarī is the prema-mayī-mūrti of Rādhārānī, the embodiment of Her love. She arranges everything for the service of Rādhārānī, so one who receives the mercy of Rūpa naturally receives the mercy of Śrīmatījī. Prabhur eka-rūpe—Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī is so close to Mahāprabhu that he is like the second form of the Lord. Sva-vilāsa-rupe—one who takes shelter of Rūpa Gosvāmī can achieve vraja-rasa and vraja-sevā. He is also vilāsa–rūpa in the sense that he manifests rasa–sāstra, the storehouse of transcendental nectar. All of Mahāprabhu’s love and mercy, moreover, the love of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī, Lalitā, Viśākhā, and the sakhīs and mañjarīs is preserved in the books of Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī.
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī appeared in this world from Vraja-dhāma to fulfill the desire of Mahāprabhu by distributing vraja-prema and the mood of the mañjarīs. He taught that the highest form of spiritual practice is anurāgamayī–bhakti: devotion towards Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa imbued with spontaneous and powerful loving attachment, and attraction towards Them with the desire to pleasurably serve Them. He described the sweet pastimes of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa in such a wonderful way that hearing or reading evokes greed to gain acceptance into the Divine Couple’s inner circle of loving servitors. Upon the awakening of spiritual greed, people naturally lose taste for earthly infatuations.
One who remembers and follows the instructions of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, taking shelter of his lotus feet, will certainly achieve spiritual perfection, or anurāgamayī–sevā in eternal Vraja. He can thus be a Rupānuga-Vaiṣṇava. Fortunate souls can perceive the specialty of Rūpa Gosvāmī and the pricelessness of his teachings. One who approaches Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī through prayer and by adopting his method of spiritual practice will understand and be empowered by Mahāprabhu’s karuṇā–śakti, mercy potency.
Our Guru-varga is in the line of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī. We cannot understand Mahāprabhu’s true movement without coming under the guidance of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī. Therefore, we pray:
ādadānas tṛṇaṁ dantair idaṁ yāce punaḥ punaḥ
śrīmad rūpa-padāmbhoja dhūliḥ syāṁ janma-janmani
Taking a straw between my teeth, I pray again and again, ‘When will I become the dust of the lotus feet of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmīpāda so that I may serve him birth after birth.’
Guru-Vaiṣṇava kṛpā-leṣa prārthi, Rasik Mohan dāsa, Giridhari dāsa,Kṛṣṇa-karunyā dāsa
Srila Rupa Gosvami ki Jaya! (Excerpted from the introduction of the Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Srila Rupa Gosvami”. Available from [email protected] )