05/10/17 0 Comment
INTRODUCTION Gopala Bhatta Goswami (1503–1578) is one of the foremost disciples of the Vaishnava saint, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and a leading historical figure in the Gaudiya…
Birth – 1493 (Christian calendar), 1415 (Sakabda)
Hoseholder life: 22 yrs. – Braja: 51 yrs
Disapearance: 1564 (Christian calendar), 1486 (Sakabda) 12th day of the bright fortnight of Sravan
Srila Rupa Gosvami is known as bhakti-rasacarya, the expert in the tastes of pure devotional service and was extremely dear to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He and his elder brother, Srila Sanatana Gosvami left high posts in the government of Nawab Hussein Shah to join Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and through them Mahaprabhu disseminated His own teachings, the essential conclusions of all the scriptures. Amongst the devotees of Mahaprabhu these two were known as His generals.
According to tradition, Kumardev and Revatidevi had one daughter and five sons. Of these children, Sanatan, Rupa (1489-1564), and Ballabha were known as pure devotees. Their prestigious Saraswati Brahman ancestry had originally hailed from Karnataka, in South India, but Kumardev moved to Bakla-chandradvip (modern Barisal), near Ramasharai, in the Jessore district of East Bengal. This is where the three pious boys were raised. Scholars assert that Rupa and Sanatan were known in those days as Amara and Santosh, respectively. The names “Rupa” and “Sanatan” were given to them much later by Shri Chaitanya.
When they first met the Master, Rupa and Sanatan were working for the Muslim occupational government of Bengal under Nawab Hussein Shah, the then Emperor of Gauda. At that time, they were given the Persian titles Dabir Khas (“private secretary”) and Sakara Malik (“revenue officer”), and they enjoyed great wealth and prestige as political leaders in a growing regime.
According to the Bhakti-ratnakara, they were conscripted into their governmental duties by Nawab Hussein Shah, who threatened them with physical expulsion as well as the murder of pious devotees. He had heard how much Rupa and Sanatan were loved by the common people and how they were known as raja-shishta (“the kings of learning”) due to their unprecedented proficiency in all scriptural knowledge. “If I could coerce them into my service,” the Nawab reasoned, “then I could more successfully win the support of the mass of people.” To this end, the Nawab threatened to wreak havoc in the brahminical community. Fully confident that the power-hungry Nawab would indeed carry out his nefarious plan, Dabir Khas and Sakara Malik were virtually blackmailed into working under his Muslim rule. It is specifically described that because they had “fear of the uncivilized ruler” (mleccha-bhoya), they complied with his wishes.
It should be understood, however, that their fear was not self-motivated. Bhakti-ratnakara clearly asserts that they were more concerned about the Nawab’s threat of causing harm to the society of Vaishnavas. If they disobeyed, the repercussions would be horrendous. Consequently, they were forced to accept service under Hussein Shah. The Nawab, delighted by this conquest, bestowed great riches upon the two brothers as they dutifully performed their service.
Kumardev, their father, prayed for them, but deep within he knew that they were great devotees and that Krishna must have some plan. Dabir Khas and Sakara Malik themselves were concerned about their newfound occupations, and they corresponded with Shri Chaitanya, hoping that He would one day give them His association and that He might, perhaps, be able to resolve their dilemma.
Temporarily resigning themselves to their fate, they settled in Ramakeli, a village some eighteen miles southeast of Malda (in the Rajashahi district of northern Bengal). There they used their vast wealth to construct a replica of Shri Krishna’s abode a “Hidden (gupta) Vrindavan” complete with elaborate bathing places and constant readings about the pastimes of the Lord. In this way, they sought to alleviate their “sentence” of governmental employment.
As they studied and conveyed the scriptures to their Muslim colleagues, the two brothers became proficient in Sanskrit, Arabic, Persian, as well as in other local dialects. It is said that they studied Sanskrit under the renowned Sarvananda Vidya-Vachaspati (Sarva-bhauma Bhattacharya’s brother) and that their knowledge of Arabic and Persian was acquired with the help of Syed Fakirud-Din, a reputed scholar and landowner in Saptagram. In this way, they spent their time in Ramakeli while externally (if also competently) carrying out state affairs.
Once, when Shri Chaitanya decided to go to Vrindavan (in 1514), He stopped at Ramakeli specifically to meet Dabir Khas and Sakara Malik. By this time, He was accompanied by thousands of followers, who were all chanting and dancing with Him. Hearing that He had arrived, the two brothers made plans to see Him. Being Muslim officials, they decided to go in the dead of night in order to remain unnoticed.
Passing through the throngs of dedicated devotees, they first met Nityananda Prabhu and Haridas Thakur, who immediately let Shri Chaitanya know of their arrival. The Master was overjoyed upon seeing His two eternal associates, and they, in turn, were overjoyed to see Him.
As a symbol of their humility, both brothers took bunches of straw and placed them between their teeth. Falling at Shri Chaitanya’s lotus feet, they cried with boundless joy. They were finally reunited with their Lord and savior, and they knew that He would now put an end to their predicament with Hussain Shah. Getting up from the ground, Dabir Khas and Sakara Malik (their younger brother Ballabha was there as well) offered sincere prayers to Shri Chaitanya: “All glories to Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu! You are the most merciful savior of fallen souls. All glories to Your supreme personality!
Rupa and Sanatana remained in Vrindavana for the remainder of their lives. Their mood of renunciation and devotion was exemplary. Rupa uncovered various holy places associated with the pastimes of Krishna and rediscovered the famous deity of Govindadeva, which was originally installed and worshipped by Krishna’s great-grandson, Maharaja Vajranabha. Rupa and Sanatana were intimately connected with other Vaishnava saints in Vrindavana such as Lokanatha Goswami, Bhugarbha Goswami, Gopala Bhatta Goswami, Raghunatha Bhatta Goswami and Raghunatha Dasa Goswami.
Shortly after, they were also joined by their nephew Jiva Goswami who was given initiation by Rupa and personally trained by him in the philosophy of Gaudiya Vaishnavism.
Rupa Goswami departed from this world in 1564 CE and his samadhi (tomb) is located in the courtyard of the Radha-Damodara temple in Vrindavana.
In Gaudiya Vaishnava theology, Rupa Goswami is considered to be the incarnation of Rupa Manjari, the foremost junior cowherd damsel who eternally serves Radha-Krishna under the guidance of Lalita.
Shrila Rupa Goswami has been attributed with the honor of being the person who realized the mano-‘bhistam, the innermost heart’s desire, of Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
Shrila Rupa Goswami has been attributed with the honor of being the person who realized the mano-‘bhistam, the innermost heart’s desire, of Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. (In the wallpaper: from left to right: Shri Gopinath, ISKCON Chowpatty, Deity of Rupa Goswami, Shri Vrindavan Dham, Shrimati Radharani and Shri Krishna Chaitanya).