Rupa-Goswami (1489–1564) was a devotional teacher (guru), poet, and philosopher of the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition. With his brother Sanatana Goswami, he is considered the most senior of the six Goswamis of Vrindavan associated with Caitanya Mahaprabhu, a hidden avatar (incarnation) of Krishna in Kali Yuga.
Rupa Goswami spent his childhood in Jessore and later he sought a job with the Sultan Alauddin Hossain Shah at Gaur. He became a caretaker of the finance side of the Sultan. Sanatan joined his brother in the Sultans forces. At the advent of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu on the scene both of them fled from Hussain Shah's patronage and joined Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
Mukun son, Kumaradeva, moved to Jessore. His sons were Rupa, Sanatana, and Vallabha (Anupama). The former names of Rupa and Sanatana are not known. They were Telugu speaking Brahmins from Telang Desh from the Bhatt clan. Some say that their original names were Santosha Bhatta and Amara Bhatta respectively. On the demise of Kumaradeva, the three sons moved to Sakurma, near to the capital of Gaudadesa (Bengal) where they continued their studies.They lived for the rest of their lives with their new monastic names and forsake their birth names.
The three brothers studied the Nyaya-sastras (treatise on justice) from the famous logician Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya and his brother Madhusudana Vidyavacaspati. They also studied Sanskrit, Arabic and Persian.
Due to their noble characters and academic proficiency, Rupa and his elder brother Sanatana were later forced into government service by the sultan of Bengal, Alauddin Husain Shah(1493–1519 CE) which led to their excommunication from Hindu society by the orthodox caste brahmanas of Gauda. Rupa became the Sultan's chief secretary (Dabir Khas), while Sanatana became the state revenue minister (Sakara Mallik).
Rupa and his brothers made their residence at the state capital of Ramakeli ( Rahanpur, Nababganj ) and it was here, in 1514 CE, that they met Chaitanya Mahaprabhu for the first time. The meeting changed their lives and they decided to leave the service of the Sultan and take up a life of renunciation in the association of Chaitanya and his followers. Rupa (Amara's initiated name) loaded all his wealth onto two boats and left with his brother Anupama (Srivallabha's initiated name) for their ancestral home at Fatiabad in Jessore, where they distributed it.
They then sent two messengers to Jagannath Temple (Misra's house) at the then Gaur, Sylhet to get news of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's plans. The messengers returned with the news that Chaitanya had already left Sylhet for Barogharia, Nababganj. Rupa and Anupama immediately decided to go and they wrote a letter to Sanatana telling him of their plans and asking him to meet them in Nababgonj. They also told him that they had left 10,000 gold coins in case he was in need of financial help. Later, when Sanatana was thrown into prison by the Sultan for disobedience, he used this money to bribe the jailer and escaped to Varanasi to meet with Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
After visiting Vrindavana, Chaitanya stopped at the holy city of Prayaga (modern day Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh). It was here that Rupa and Anupama met him for the second time. At the Dasasvamedha Ghat (a famous bathing area on the banks of the River Ganges), Chaitanya imparted instructions to Rupa Goswami and explained all the intricacies of the doctrine of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Rupa Goswami was specifically commanded by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to carry out two tasks: to re-locate and preserve the lost holy places of Vrindavana, and to write and preach Gaudiya Vaisnava theology. He then sent Rupa Goswami to Vrindavana to carry out these orders.
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.
Category: Hindu holidays
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