The One Who Understood Mahaprabhu’s Desire
The memory of his meeting with Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, so vivid and clear, kept playing again and again in his head. He couldn’t focus on anything at hand. His mind would race back to that fateful night when Chaitanya Mahaprabhu blessed him and his brothers and christened him with the name ‘Rupa’. Mahaprabhu’s instructions were so explicit. He had to leave for Vrindavan. He couldn’t believe his fortune.
The Lord had said:
gauḍa-nikaṭa asite nahi mora prayojana
toma-dunha dekhite mora ihan agamana
My intention of coming to Bengal was to meet you two brothers.
janme janme tumi dui - kinkara amara
achirate kṛiṣhṇa tomaya karibe uddhara
You have been in my service for several births. I am sure that Sri Krishna will deliver you very soon.
Rupa Goswami, who was serving Hussain Shah, the Nawab of Bengal, made a plan to quit his service. The Nawab would never, in a million years, agree to it and so, he had to gather his courage and took the decision to flee. His elder brother, Sanatan promised that he would soon follow him as soon as the affairs of the state had been settled. So, Rupa set out following the instructions of Mahaprabhu.
Rupa left Bengal and went to Prayag. By God’s grace, Mahaprabhu was also stationed there and they met for the second time at Triveni, the confluence of the rivers Ganga and Yamuna. Prayag was crowded and so Mahaprabhu journeyed on to Dasaswamedha Ghat where he instructed, explained all the doctrines of Gaudiya Vaishnavism and empowered Rupa Goswami.
vrindavaniyam rasa-keli-vartam kalena luptam nija-shaktim utkah
sancharya rupe vyatanot punah sa prabhur vidhau prag iva loka-srishtim
Mahaprabhu, in his eagerness to revive the leelas of Sri Krishna in Vrindavan, infused in Rupa Goswami the spiritual power that would help him rediscover Sri Krishna’s Leela Sthali almost lost to memory, in the same way Lord Vishnu had enlightened the heart of Brahma with the details of creation.
The instructions to Rupa Goswami were crystal clear:
1) To relocate and preserve the lost holy places of Vrindavan
2) To write and preach the doctrines of Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy.
Rupa Goswami arrived in Vrindavan and was later joined by Sanatana. Both the brothers, in the mood of renunciation and devotion, lived on madhukari, begging alms and slept under trees, chanting, travelling extensively through the Vraja Mandala, writing, and discussing Krishna Leela.
One day Rupa Goswami was reading out a shloka he had wriiten in his work ‘Chatu Pushpanjali’, an offering of four flowers. One verse struck Sanatana Goswami, where Rupa Goswami wrote: navagorochana gauri, pravarendi varamvaram, manistavaka-vidyoti-veni-vyalangana-phanam
- O Vrindavaneshwari! You are gaurangi, with a complexion of molten gold. Your dress is beautiful like a blue lotus and your braid resembles a dark serpent studded with jewels. Sanatana was hurt by this comparison and felt that it was improper to compare Radharani’s hair to a venomous snake. Rupa Goswami then requested him to replace it with an appropriate analogy. That afternoon, as Sanatana was coming out after taking bath in Radha Kund, he saw some gopa boys and girls playing at the foot of some trees. As he glanced at them, he saw a girl swinging and behind her what should have been a long, dark dangling braid, he saw instead, a deadly snake swaying back and forth. He called out loud, “O Kishori! Be careful! A snake is about to bite you.” But when he came closer, she had disappeared. He understood that he had a vision of Shrimati Radharani’s swing pastimes and was in awe of Rupa Goswami’s metaphor.
Once Rupa Goswami, desiring to be in the company of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, travelled to Puri and stayed with Haridas Thakur, another disciple of Mahaprabhu, who used to visit them every day to discuss about Sri Krishna’s Leelas and brought them Prasad. Rupa was fortunate enough to attend the Ratha Yatra and see Mahaprabhu dance in pure ecstasy in front of the chariot. Mahaprabhu began singing a verse:
yaḥ kaumara-haraḥ sa eva hi varas ta eva caitra-kṣapas
te conmilita-malati-surabhayaḥ prauḍhaḥ kadambanilaḥ
sa caivasmi tathapi tatra surata-vyapara-lila-vidhau
reva-rodhasi vetasi-taru-tale cetaḥ samutkaṇṭhate
- Chaitanya Charitamrita
- The One who stole my heart during my youth is now my husband, my master. Here is the same moonlit night of the month of Chaitra, the same fragrance of Malati flowers, the same sweet breeze flowing from the Kadamba forest. I am the same lover but I am not happy here. I yearn to go back to that place under the Vetasi tree on the banks of Reva.
This seemed like a verse describing the recounting of meetings of a young girl with her lover. It was difficult for everyone to understand why Mahaprabhu would be singing this. But Rupa Goswami grasped the essence and wrote down a verse in a palm leaf:
priyaḥ so 'yam kṛṣṇaḥ saha-cari kuru-kṣetra-militas
tathahaṁ sa radha tad idam ubhayoḥ saṅgama-sukham
mano me kalindī-pulina-vipinaya spṛhayati
- Chaitanya Charitamrita
- Radharani on meeting Sri Krishna exclaims, “I have met my very dear Sri Krishna on this field of Kurukshetra. I am the same Radha, meeting the same Krishna. But I desire to go back to the banks of Yamuna, beneath the trees, listen to His flute playing the fifth note in that forest of Vrindavan.
Rupa stuffed the palm leaf in the roof of Haridas Thakur’s hut and went to take a bath in the sea. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, while visiting, noticed the writing and was amazed at how Rupa could understand the most secret, most confidential feelings of his heart. He then showed the verse to Swarup Damodara, another associate, who understood that Mahaprabhu must have bestowed his full mercy on Rupa.
Back in Vrindavan, Rupa Goswami spent his days chanting and writing near Seva Kunj. Once during his parikrama, he sat down near Yamuna thinking about the darshan of Govind Dev Ji. Govind Dev was also carved by Vajranabha, the great grandson of Sri Krishna. Rupa Goswami had been given the task of unravelling the deity which had been lost for ages, but he had not been successful. While Rupa Goswami was deep in contemplation, a small attractive Brijvasi boy walked up to him and asked the reason of his distress. After listening to Rupa’s dilemma the boy took him to a small hill, Goma Tila, and said, “A Surabhi cow comes here every day and willingly lets her milk flow on this hill. I think you will find Govind Dev under the ground, in this holy spot.” Saying this, the boy disappeared. Rupa Goswami was ecstatic with joy and understood that the boy was none other than Govind Dev, Himself. He called a few Brijvasis and started digging the place with great care. After sometime, they discovered the transcendental form of Govind Dev, more attractive than a million cupids. Rupa was exhilarated seeing the form of Govind Dev. Enraptured in ecstatic love, he fell down on the ground, unconscious.
A deity of Radharani was worshipped as Maa Lakshmi in a place near Puri. Radharani instructed the father of Maharaj Prataprudra Dev, the king of Odisha, in a dream, “I am Radha, the beloved of Vrajendra Nandan Sri Krishna. Take me to Vrindavan.” This deity of Radharani was sent to Vrindavan with Janhaba Thakurani, the wife of Nityananda Mahaprabhu, and was placed to the left of Govind Dev in a grand seven storied sandstone structure that came to be known as Sri Radha Govind Dev Temple.
Architecturally one of the finest in North India, the Radha Govind Dev Temple was built in 1590 AD by Raja Man Singh of Jaipur, a general in Akbar’s army. The Mughal emperor Akbar had donated the sandstone for the temple and later in 1670 AD, Aurangzeb plundered and destroyed it. Only three stories still remain intact. The deities were secretly shifted to Rajasthan and enshrined in the Radha Govind Dev Temple in Jaipur, Rajasthan, where devotees lucky enough can receive their darshan.
Sri Sri Radha Govind Dev at Jaipur, taken from My Travel Diaries.