By remembering Hari, Guru, and Vaiṣṇavas, all of one’s obstacles on the path of bhakti are destroyed. Entrance into the realm of bhakti is guaranteed by being under the guidance of Guru and Vaiṣṇavas.
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s dear associate, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhu, is Śrī Rūpa Mañjarī in vraja-līlā. His ancestors were from Karnataka. With the passage of time, they left Karnakata and came to reside in Bakla Candradvipa in Bengal. They resided in a place called Mora-Grāma (Madhaipura-Grāma). Rūpa Gosvāmī appeared in this village. His father’s name was Kumaradeva. His elder brother was Sanātana Gosvāmī, and his younger brother was known as Anupama or Vallabha. Rūpa Gosvāmī was born in the Bharadvāja-Gotriya-Yajurvedi-brāhmaṇa line.
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.
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī’s childhood name was Amara, and Sanātana Gosvāmī’s name was Santośa. In their childhood, they studied the bhāgavata–śāstras, Veda, Vedānta, and the other corollary scriptures delineating Sanātana-dharma. They were thus attached to this eternal dharma. Being greatly learned in Sanskrit, they were absorbed in the esoteric conclusions of all the śāstras. All the residents of the village would discuss scripture with the brothers, and engage in bhāgavata–nāma–kīrtana. Rūpa Gosvāmī attracted everyone’s hearts by his hari-kathā.
Amara and Santośa 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 hundreds of 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 Gosvāmī 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.
Srila Rupa and Sanatana Gosvami’s ki Jaya! (Excerpted for the Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Srila Rupa Gosvami”. Available from: firstname.lastname@example.org )