On the order of Śrīman Mahāprabhu, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī traveled to Vṛndāvana. In Vṛndāvana, Rūpa Gosvāmī saw that there were many people distributing philosophical kichari. Those who do not know the glories of basmati rice and high quality dāl will mix everything together into a kichari without discrimination, not understanding the special qualities of the individual ingredients. The māyāvādīs, jñānīs, and yogīs distribute philosophical kichari to foolish people. Pure bhakti is not like that; it is very refined and intricate, but the hodgepodge preachers propound that everything is one, and that you only need to worship and show devotion to a God so that your material desires will be fulfilled. So many philosophical misconceptions bewilder the conditioned souls, and thus the minds of most are unable to understand the nature of the Absolute Truth. If bhakti is mixed with karma, hatha-yoga, or jñāna, then it is not pure bhakti. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī manifested all the subtle truths of bhakti.
After Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhu met Mahāprabhu and came to Vṛndāvana, he wrote a letter to Sanātana Gosvāmī, who was in the prison of Nawab Hussain Shah, for refusing to perform the duties of his prime minister. The letter stated:
yadu-pateḥ kva gatā mathurā-purī
raghu-pateḥ kva gatottara-kośalā
iti vicintya kurusva manaḥ sthiraṁ
na sad idaṁ jagad ity avadhāraya
“Where has Yadupati’s Mathurā-purī gone? Where has the Northern Kośalā of Raghupati gone? By reflection, make the mind steady, thinking, ‘Everything is fleeting in this world.’ ”
Reading this, Sanātana Gosvāmī requested the jailer to release him, offering him five thousand gold coins for the help, but the warden replied, “I will be killed if I do so.”
“There is no need to worry. The king has gone to the south on a military campaign. When he returns, tell him that I jumped in the Gaṅgā and drowned when I was led out to pass. I will travel to Mecca and become a mendicant.
Sanātana Gosvāmī then offered the jailer seven thousand gold coins, to which he agreed. Sanātana Gosvāmī thus escaped prison and made his way to Varanāsī, where he met with Mahāprabhu and received instruction from Him.
In Vṛndāvana, Rūpa Gosvāmī started composing a drama relating to Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes in Vraja and Dvārakā. Later, during his travel to Mahāprabhu in Purī, Satyabhāmā visited Rūpa Gosvāmī in a dream and told him to write a separate drama for Dvārakā-līlā; not to mix Dvārakā-līlā with Vraja-līlā. Rūpa Gosvāmī then arrived in Purī and stayed there for ten months with Mahāprabhu. Mahāprabhu also told Rūpa Gosvāmī to separate Vraja and Dvārakā-līlā in his dramas.
In Purī, Rūpa Gosvāmī stayed with Haridāsa Ṭhākura at Siddha-bakula. Upon meeting with Rūpa Gosvāmī, Mahāprabhu requested Rūpa to read his introductory verse of the Vidagdha-mādhava-nāṭakam which described kṛṣṇa-līlā in Vraja. Rūpa Gosvāmī put his head down in embarrassment, not wanting to read the verse, but Svarūpa Dāmodara read the verse aloud:
anarpita-carīṁ cirāt karuṇayāvatīrṇaḥ kalau samarpayitum unnatojjvala-rasāṁ sva-bhakti śriyam
hariḥ puraṭa-sundara-dyuti-kadamba sandīpitaḥ sadā hṛdaya-kandare sphuratu vaḥ śacī-nandanaḥ
May that Lord, who is known as the son of Śrīmatī Śacīdevī, be transcendentally situated in the innermost chambers of your heart. Resplendent with the radiance of molten gold, He has appeared in the age of Kali by His causeless mercy to bestow what has not been given in a very long time—mañjarī-bhāva, the service of Śrīmatī Rādhikā as Her confidential maidservant.
Hearing this verse, all the devotees clapped and shouted, “Haribol!” in exultation. However, Mahāprabhu said, “Why have you mixed this cow urine into such an ocean of nectar?”
Mahāprabhu did not like hearing His own glorification, but all the devotees were overjoyed. Later, Mahāprabhu requested His associates to bestow their mercy on Rūpa Gosvāmī so that he would be able to distribute vraja-rasa to everyone. He told Rūpa Gosvāmī to offer obeisances to Nityānanda Prabhu, Advaita Prabhu, Gadādhara Pandita, and all the bhaktas.
When Mahāprabhu was dancing that year during Ratha-yatrā He repeatedly recited a verse of romantic poetry describing the moods of a lover when meeting with her beloved:
yaḥ kaumāra-haraḥ sa eva hi varas tā eva caitra-kṣapās te conmīlita-mālatī-surabhayaḥ prauḍhāḥ kadambānilāḥ sā caivāsmi tathāpi tatra surata-vyāpāra-līlā-vidhau revā-rodhasi vetasī-taru-tale cetaḥ samutkaṇṭhate
O friend, that beautiful one who stole my heart in my youth is now here. These are also the same pleasant nights of the month of Caitra, with the same fragrance of blossoming mālatī flowers and the same cool, gentle, fragrant breeze from the kadamba trees. I am also the same beloved. Nonetheless, my mind is eager for amorous play like the days of our youth at the foot of the vetasī tree on the bank of the river Revā.
Only Svarūpa Dāmodara and Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhu could understand the inner mood of Mahāprabhu while the Lord sang this verse, while others thought, “Why is Mahāprabhu singing this worldly love song? He is a sannyāsī, having renounced all worldly relationships.”
Not everyone can enter the confidential moods of Mahāprabhu. The qualification to enter vraja-rasa cannot be received from any mundane personality; rather, it must be received by hearing from pure devotees, from the Vrajavāsīs. Furthermore, not Vrajavāsīs in just any rasa; they must be maidservants of Śrīmatī Rādhikā in madhura–rasa; only then can they properly describe and give this vraja-rasa, madhura–rasa, to others.
Understanding Mahāprabhu’s mood, Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhu composed a wonderful verse describing the feeling of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī when She met with Kṛṣṇa in Kurukṣetra:
priyaḥ so ’yaṁ kṛṣṇaḥ sahacari kuru-kṣetra-militas tathāhaṁ sā rādhā tad idam ubhayoḥ saṅgama-sukham tathāpy antaḥ-khelan-madhura-muralī-pañcama-juṣe mano me kālindī-pulina-vipināya spṛhayati
After meeting Śrī Kṛṣṇa at Kurukṣetra, Śrī Rādhā said to Her friend: O sakhī, today at Kurukṣetra, I met My same prāṇa-priya, Kṛṣṇa. I am that same Rādhā and there is also happiness in Our meeting. But nonetheless, I deeply yearn for Vṛndāvana, for the kuñja on the bank of the Kālindī that is inundated by bliss as a result of Kṛṣṇa vibrating the fifth note on His muralī.
Mahāprabhu was filled with ecstasy reading this verse written by Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhu. It is not easy to express the most sublime heartfelt sentiments in speech or writing, but Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhu had the special mercy of Mahāprabhu. He was empowered to reveal Mahāprabhu’s heart, the moods of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī, and the process to attain Her service.
“I desire you to manifest vaiṣṇava-granthas in this world,” Mahāprabhu told Rūpa Gosvāmī. “Include all the conceptions of vraja-bhakti and the glories of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī. Show the world why vraja-bhakti is the greatest; this is My heart’s desire. This has never been expressed by anyone. I have chosen you to do this.”
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī’s service in Vṛndāvana extremely pleased Mahāprabhu and all His associates. While residing in Purī, the Lord would inquire from various Vaiṣṇavas who came from Vṛndāvana, “How are Rūpa and Sanātana? How do they perform bhajana? How are they serving the holy dhāma?” Mahāprabhu’s heart melted hearing of their intense renunciation and constant absorption in kṛṣṇa-bhajana.
The Gosvāmīs fulfilled the heart’s desire of Mahāprabhu, manifesting the pastime places of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa in Vraja, which had become covered by the influence of time. We therefore pray to them:
ei chāyā gosāi jabe vraje koilā vāsa rādhā-kṛṣṇa-nitya-līlā korilā prakāśa
The transcendental literature composed by the Gosvāmīs fulfilled the desire of Mahāprabhu to glorify the love of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī and the Vraja-devīs. The Six Gosvāmīs did not want to give up the association of Mahāprabhu, but He nevertheless sent them to Vṛndāvana, telling them, “Vraja has disappeared. Go there; manifest the pastime places of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, establish temples and Vaisnava-granthas, and initiate celebrations of all the prominent festivals. When everyone sees these temples, and when they attend these festivals, they will become very happy. When I started doing these things Myself, no one understood Me, and they only made problems. So please fulfill My heart’s desire in this way.”
Expressing this desire, the Lord sent the Gosvāmīs to Vṛndāvana. Even though Mahāprabhu stayed in Purī, His heart remained with Rūpa, Sanātana, Raghunātha, and the other Gosvāmīs; He was not separate from them. There is a very intimate connection between Bhagavān, Guru, and Vaiṣṇavas, but people in general cannot understand this. Not even for one minute were the Gosvāmīs separated from Mahāprabhu, and Mahāprabhu was not separated from them.
Mahāprabhu empowered and instructed Rūpa Gosvāmī at Kṣetra-dhāma to comprose bhakti-granthas. In due course, he thus wrote Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi, Laghu-Bhāgavatāmṛta, Vidagdha-Mādhava, Lalitā-Mādhava, Nikuñja-rahasya-stava, Stavamala, Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa Ganoddesa-dipika, Mathurā-mahatmya, Padyāvalī, Uddhava-sandeśa, Hamsaduta, Dāna-keli-kaumudi, Kṛṣṇa-janma-tithi-vidhi, Prayuktakyata Mañjarī, Nātaka-candrika, and other books. His books like Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu and Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi especially embody Kṛṣṇa’s unnata–ujjvala-rasa.
The specialties of the gopīs, which are premarasa-māyā, act as stimulants (uddīpana) for Govinda’s bhajana. Therefore, the guidance of the vraja-ramaṇīs is essential. The gopīs’ guidance that embodies unnata–ujjvala-rasa, and prema–mādhurya, cannot be manifested in the mundane heart. Yet, Caitanya Mahāprabhu opened this treasure house and offered it to Rūpa Gosvāmī, who distributed its contents to everyone. By tasting this nectar even a little, Kṛṣṇa can definitely be pleased.
Unnata–ujjvala-rasa, the instructions on prema-bhakti, were compiled by Rūpa Gosvāmī in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu and Ujjvala–nīlamaṇi. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī manifested and fulfilled Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s mano–bhīṣṭa in this world by writing bhāgavad–bhakti-rasa–śāstras. He manifested, established, and preached Mahāprabhu’s deep desire to inundate this world with kṛṣṇa-prema. Rūpa Gosvāmī was the first personality to reveal the process how unnata–ujjvala-rasa can be attained by serving under the guidance of the vraja-ramaṇīs. Brahmā, Śiva, and Nārada cannot fully fathom the esoteric aspect of Vraja’s unnata–ujjvala-rasa. By Mahāprabhu’s mercy, the mantra–datta–ṛṣi of vraja-rasa, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhu, distributed vraja-rasa everywhere through his scriptures and dramas. This would have been impossible for anyone else.
Bhagavān is svayaṁ–rasa–svarūpa (the personification of liquified transcendental mellows). Caitanya Mahāprabhu appeared in this world and wanted to give this aprākṛta–vraja-rasa to everyone. Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhu, upon the inspiration of Mahāprabhu, preached this rasa–tattva.
At the start of Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, it is stated:
hṛdi yasya preraṇayā pravartito ‘haṁ varāka-rūpo ‘pi
tasya hareḥ pada-kamalaṁ vande caitanya-devasya
I offer my respects unto the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Although I am a wicked person by nature, I have undertaken this work within my heart by His inspiration.
Śrīla Rāmānanda Rāya, who is none other than Viśākhā-devī in Vraja, glorified the writing of Rūpa Gosvāmī.
kavitva nā haya ei amṛtera dhāra
nāṭaka-lakṣaṇa saba siddhāntera sāra
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya 1.193
This is not just a poetic presentation; it is a incessant shower of nectar. Indeed, it is the essence of all the highest realizations, appearing in the form of dramas.
prema-paripāṭī ei adbhuta varṇana
śuni’ citta-karṇera haya ānanda-ghūrṇana
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya 1.194
The amazing descriptions of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī perfectly express loving affairs. Hearing them will immerse the heart and ears of everyone in a whirlpool of divine ecstasy.
kiṁ kāvyena kaves tasya
kiṁ kāṇḍena dhanuṣ-mataḥ
parasya hṛdaye lagnaṁ
na ghūrṇayati yac chiraḥ
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya 1.195
What is the use of an archer’s arrow or a poet’s verse if they penetrate the heart but do not cause the head to spin?
tomāra śakti vinā jīvera nahe ei vāṇī
tumi śakti diyā kahāo, hena anumāni
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya 1.196
Without Your mercy such poetic descriptions would be impossible for a living being to write. My guess is that You have empowered him to be able to write like this.
prabhu kahe, prayāge ihāra ha-ila milana
ihāra guṇe ihāte āmāra tuṣṭa haila māna
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya 1.197
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu replied, “I met Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī at Prayāga. He attracted and satisfied My heart because of his good qualities.”
madhura prasanna ihāra kāvya sālaṅkāra
aiche kavitva vinu nahe rasera pracāra
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya 1.198
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu praised the metaphors and other literary ornaments of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī’s divine poetry. Without such poetic attributes, He said, there is no possibility of preaching the transcendental mellows.
sabe kṛpā kari’ iṅhāre deha’ ei vara
vraja-līlā-prema-rasa yena varṇe nirantara
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya 1.199
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu requested all His associates to bless Rūpa Gosvāmī so that he might incessantly describe the pastimes of Vṛndāvana, which are full of the topmost love.
By relishing Rūpa Gosvāmī’s prema-rasa poetry, material affairs become contemptible and the transcendental rasa awakens in the heart.
Śrīman Mahāprabhu instructed Rūpa Gosvāmī:
vaiṣṇavera kṛtya, āra Vaiṣṇava-ācāra
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya 4.79
Ascertain the basic principles of a devotee, devotional service, love of God, Vaiṣṇava duties, and Vaiṣṇava characteristics.
lupta-tīrtha-uddhāra, āra vairāgya-śikṣaṇa
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya 4.80
Explain and teach devotional service of Kṛṣṇa, establish centers for the cultivation of love of Kṛṣṇa, recover the lost places of pilgrimage, and teach people how to practice renunciation.
Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhu manifested the rasa–śāstras, and by his practices he preached and established kṛṣṇa-bhakti, prema–tattva, bhakta–tattva, vaiṣṇava-acarana, Deity worship, and dhāma-sevā. He discovered the lost pastime places of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa in Vraja. And being a perfect example of renunciation, he would only eat dry chickpeas and drink butter milk. Sometimes, he would fast for days at a time, being completely detached from his material body and mind. He would collect mādhukarī from the Vrajavasis and every night, he rested underneath the shade of a different tree. He would tirelessly glorify Bhagavān’s līlā-bhūmi. Sometimes he did bhajana on the banks of Rādhā-kuṇḍa and Śyāma-kuṇḍa. And sometimes he practiced bhajana in Vṛndāvana, Kāmyavana, Kadamba-tera, and Mathurā.
Srila Rupa Gosvami ki Jaya! (Excerpted from the Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Srila Rupa Gosvami”. Available from email@example.com )