Srila Gurudeva: Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates like Srila Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami left this world and entered their unmanifest pastimes. Shortly after their departure, Srila Raghunatha das Gosvami also left this world. Mahaprabhu’s disciples were not like you. For you to become a disciple a fire sacrifice needs to be arranged and mantras have to be spoken into the ear. These disciples do not require the external formalities of initiation to be considered as disciples. So, who is a disciple? What is the criterion for a devotee to become a disciple? Srila Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami were the disciples of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. And Rupa Gosvami was the disciple of Srila Sanatana Gosvami. There was no fire sacrifice conducted, and no mantras given. So how is Rupa Gosvami considered a disciple? Those who follow their Gurudeva’s actions and services to Krsna by all their hearts—are certainly the real disciples of Gurudeva. The disciple who follows Gurudeva by all his heart is a vidvad-rudhi disciple. His acceptance and service to Gurudeva is factual. Rupa Gosvami is vidvan (learned). All the Acharyas of our disciplic order are vidvad, they practically know all the services and perform them with all their hearts. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura is not a diksa sisya (initiated disciple) of Srila Jagannatha das Babaji Maharaja. But he is the only disciple of Srila Jagannatha das Babaji Maharaja because he actually followed all his instructions and the process of loving service to Krsna.
If you genuinely follow a personality’s conduct and line of thought, then you are truly his disciple. If you have taken initiation from someone, but you are not following him, then you are not worthy of being called that personality’s disciple. Formally or externally, you will be called his disciple. Those who are foolish, ignorant, or kanistha, will tell, “Bhaktivinoda Thakura is not a disciple of Jagannatha das Babaji Maharaja. Neither were Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami the disciples of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.”
Preceptor of the holy name). Who was the Gurudeva of Sri Svarupa Damodara Gosvami? The foolish cannot tell. But, those who know the fact, they can tell. Caitanya Mahaprabhu is really the guru of Sri Svarupa Damodara Gosvami. And in another sense, Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the disciple of Visaka who is Sri Raya Ramananda Prabhu in Caitanya lila. Actually, Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the guru of Raya Ramananda Prabhu. Sri Svarupa Damodara took vesh (sannyasa cloth) from a mayavadi sannyasi. Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Madhvacharya took sannyasa from mayavadi sannyasis. But these personalities were not mayavadis (impersonalists). They only took the sannyasa dress from mayavadis. Svarupa Damodara Gosvami took all the instructions and personal conduct of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in his heart. So, he is indeed a disciple of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Accordingly, Rupa-Sanatana took initiation from Caitanya Mahaprabhu, not outwardly, as seen by the eyes of the foolish. But actually, Uttama-bhagavatas can realize all these truths. We should try to understand all these considerations.
I told my Gurudeva once, “If I want to be the disciple of Srila Rupa Gosvami, then is there any harm?”
Srila Gurudeva replied, “Very good! Very good! Madhvacharya appeared five thousand years after Sri Vyasadeva. But despite this gap of five thousand years between them, Madhvacharya became the disciple of Vyasadeva. So, why can’t we be the disciple of Srila Rupa Gosvami? Rupa Gosvami has never died. We can follow his instructions and behavior—external and internal. By following him in both ways, we can be the disciple of Srila Rupa Gosvami.”
So, we should pray to realize all these devotional truths. We should understand them fully, from the core of our hearts.
Srila Raghunatha Gosvami was initiated by Yadunandana Acharya. But he has many gurus. He is the disciple of Sri Haridasa Thakura. Do you know why? Sri Haridasa Thakura gave his association to Srila Raghunatha das Gosvami, since Raghunatha das Gosvami was a small boy. Haridasa Thakura inspired Raghunatha das Gosvami to chant harinama like him. Later, Raghunatha das Gosvami went to Svarupa Damodara. Caitanya Mahaprabhu took the hands of Raghunatha das Gosvami and placed it in the hands of Svarupa Damodara and told Raghunatha das Gosvami, “Now you are of Svarupa Damodara.” Srila Raghunatha das Gosvami imbibed all devotional moods from Svarupa Damodara and he became a disciple of Svarupa Damodara. But he did not leave his original gurus—Yadunandana Acharya and Haridasa Thakura. He added their moods, conceptions, and personal conduct to his own bhajan and this is not wrong. When he came to Vrindavana, he followed Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s instruction where Mahaprabhu stated, “After I enter My unmanifest pastimes, you should go to Vrindavana and stay under the guidance of Rupa-Sanatana. Especially go to Rupa, he is your Gurudeva.” Srila Raghunatha das Gosvami always treated Srila Rupa Gosvami as his Gurudeva. Srila Raghunatha das Gosvami has glorified Rupa Gosvami as his guru in Vilapa Kusumanjali and many other books. He could forget everyone, but he would never forget Srila Rupa Gosvami.
In one of his prayers of Vilapa Kusumanjali, Srila Raghunatha das Gosvami has prayed, “Sri Rupa manjari prathita kurusmen…”
The meaning of this prayer is very deep, mysterious, and confidential. It is not to be told openly. Because if the leaders of Iskcon listen to the meaning, they will say, “Oh, he has committed an offense because in this world, there is no one qualified to hear.”
“Then why have these confidential pastimes been manifested. These pastimes have been mentioned in Sri Caitanya Caritamrita and other scriptures, so why did they write these pastimes in their books? They have committed an offense, and not us.”
“Rupa Gosvami has committed an offense; Srila Krsna dasa Kaviraja Gosvami has committed an offense, so have Vyasadeva and Sukadeva Gosvami. You can ask them and not us!”
Everyone is qualified to listen to these pastimes, if they have some greed. How will a devotee progress in his devotional life, if none of these pastimes are spoken?
There is a very sweet, succulent mango hanging from the branch of a tree. It is matured and rasa (juice) is coming out. A parrot can taste and relish this mango; not camels and crows. They will instead go to a neem tree and chew the bitter neem leaves instead of the juicy, succulent mangoes. They are bound to go there. So, it has been said in Caitanya Caritamrita that devotees like these mangoes of sweet devotion. They should be told and by aural reception, a taste will arise to listen to these pastimes. Otherwise, unqualified camel and crow like people will certainly not come to listen to these pastimes. They will be far away, in the forest of neem and babul trees. Do you know what a babul tree is? It is a thorny tree.
tvam rupa-manjari sakhi prathita pure’smin pumsah parasya vadanam na hi pasyasiti bimbadhare ksatam anagata-bhartrkaya yat te vayadhayi kim u tac chuka-pungavena
–Sri Vilapa-kusumanjali 1
[“My dear friend Rupa-manjari! You are well known in Vraja for your chastity; you don’t even look at the faces of other men. It is therefore surprising that although your husband is not at home, your lips, which are as beautiful as red bimba fruits, have been bitten. Has this perhaps been done by the best of parrots?”]
Srila Raghunatha das Gosvami prays, “I bow down to Srila Rupa Gosvami. He is my Gurudeva. Actually, he is not Rupa Gosvami, he is Rupa-manjari. She is famous in the entire land of Vraja, for her chastity. Her chastity is never broken. Except for her husband, she doesn’t see anyone’s face. She duly engages in service to her husband. But presently, her husband has gone to buy some cows and he has been out of the village for many days. But I see a bite mark on her lips, how did this come to be? Perhaps, a parrot has falsely understood Rupa-manjari’s lips to be a bimba fruit.”
This fruit is very reddish. It resembles the lips of a beautiful lady. So, he must have come and bit her lips.
On listening to this prayer, Rupa Gosvami became astonished and overjoyed. A smile decorated his moon like face. This is the best pranama mantra to Srila Rupa Gosvami.