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The opening salvo of the preface for The Nectar of Instruction begins thus: “The Krsna consciousness movement is conducted under the supervision of Srila Rupa Goswami.” What does it mean to have this role? How actively involved is Srila Rupa Goswami in our everyday lives? Is he literally supervising all of us?
Before understanding this supervisory function, we need to know who Srila Rupa Goswami is in relation to ourselves, our spiritual masters, and the previous acaryas going back to the time of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Each of the acaryas were unlimitedly powerful, being pure nitya-siddhas, capable of delivering the entire world, but preached in tune with Lord Chaitanya’s wishes to lesser or greater degrees.
The special significance of Srila Rupa Goswami was that not only was he a direct disciple of Lord Chaitanya, and the leader of the six Goswamis of Vrndavana, but the leader of all the acaryas and followers of Srila Prabhupada – present and future. In (Krsna Book ch.86) Srila Prabhupada writes, “The actions of the Krsna consciousness movement are directed by the previous acaryas, headed by Srila Rupa Goswami….”
How Srila Rupa Goswami is spearheading Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s campaign can be put into perspective with his relationship to Sri Sri Radha- Govinda. Sri Govindadeva is the Lord of – abhidheya. We must bear this in mind when we consider Srila Prabhupada’s contribution and his intimate kinship with Srila Rupa Goswami both in deed and empathy.
Srila Rupa Goswami and Srila Prabhupada mirrored Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s desire to spread Krsna consciousness everywhere. “The desire of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is that all over the world everyone, in every village and town, know Him and His sankirtana movement. These are the inner feelings of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Srila Rupa Goswami committed to writing all these feelings of the Lord. Now again, by the mercy of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the same feelings are being spread all over the world by the servants of the Goswamis, and devotees who are pure and simple will appreciate this attempt.”(CC. Antya 1.118)
Srila Rupa Goswami’s eminent position was summed up by Srila Ramananda Raya the doyen of rasa esotericism. He told Lord Chaitanya, “I see that the truths regarding transcendental mellows that You expounded through my mouth are all explained in the writings of Srila Rupa Goswami.”(CC. Antya 1.204)
After these glowing words of praise spoken by Srila Ramananda Raya, Srila Haridasa Thakura embraced Sri Rupa who humbly said,” I do not know anything. The only transcendental words I can utter are those which Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu makes me speak.”(Cc. Antya 1.211) Such good qualities as this endeared him to the Lord who said, “I met Srila Rupa Goswami at Prayaga. He attracted and satisfied Me because of his qualities.”(CC. Antya 1.197)
Srila Narottama dasa Thakura sings: “Sei mor vedera dharana….” That Srila Rupa Goswami’s lotus feet are the law of Vedic scriptures (Sri Rupa Manjari Pada from Prarthana) In fact; his lotus feet are everything for all of us.
Srila Prabhupada equally shares his reverence, he states, “Of all the gopis, Srimate Radharani is topmost. Rupa Goswami and Sanatana Goswami are the most exalted servitors of Srimate Radharani and Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Those who adhere to their service are known as Rupanuga devotees.”(CC. Madhya 8.246)
In Bhagavad Gita as it is, Srila Prabhupada in his mangalacarana first seeks benediction from his beloved Guru Maharaja Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura with,”Om ajnana timirandhasya….” Who does he go to next? Straight to Srila Rupa Goswami, the supervisor, with the prayer “Sri Chaitanya mano bhistam….”
In what way can we experience such supervision? One example can be found in Krsna Book, in the chapter titled – Songs by the gopis. “For vaisnavas, Your words give transcendental pleasure, and saintly persons who are engaged in distributing Your transcendental message all over the world are first class charitable persons (This was confirmed by Srila Rupa Goswami also, when he addressed Lord Chaitanya as the most munificent incarnation because Lord Chaitanya distributed the words of Krishna and love of Krishna free of charge all over the world)”
This corresponds with the Srimad Bhagavatam verse. 10.31.9; “The nectar of Your words and the descriptions of Your activities are the life and soul of those suffering in this material world. These narrations, transmitted by learned sages, eradicate one’s sinful reactions and bestow good fortune upon whoever hears them. These narrations are broadcast all over the world and are filled with spiritual power. Certainly those who spread the message of Godhead are most munificent.”
If we nurture the – bhuri-da-janah – frame of mind in assisting Srila Prabhupada, and please Srila Rupa Goswami, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu will be thrilled to embrace us. Just as this activity is pleasing to Him, the verse itself is also dear to Him. A nervous King Prataparudra began massaging Lord Chaitanya’s lotus feet and recited this verse, which earned him a merciful and ecstatic embrace from the Lord (CC. Madhya 14.4-18)
Another example of experiencing Srila Rupa Goswami’s supervision is in our eating – our offering of food to the Lord. After Lord Chaitanya placed His lotus feet upon the head of Sri Rupa Goswami, he was moved to offer the – Namo maha vadanyaya…. prayers. It is no accident Srila Prabhupada chose this prayer for us.
What of the next prayer? Out of millions of Vedic verses comprising the scriptures, Srila Prabhupada chose – Namo brahmanya devaya…. Why? Does not – Govindaya namo namah – indicate the same Sri Govindadeva, the Lord of abhidheya? Who is Srila Rupa Goswami’s ishta-deva? This too is no arbitrary arrangement. We can be assured our eating process is guided in the most authorized manner. Such is Srila Prabhupada’s kindness.
Before setting foot on American soil in 1965, Srila Prabhupada noted in his diary, “Today the ship is plying very smoothly; I feel today better. But I am feeling separation from Sri Vrndaban, and my Lords Sri Govinda, Gopinatha, Radha Damodar.” The same consistent or eternal bond to Sri Govinda is expressed.
Onboard Jaladuta, Srila Prabhupada took solace in the Chaitanya Charitamrta, in which the author Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja prays unto the lotus feet of Sri Rupa and Raghunatha – Sri Rupa and Rati Manjaris, at the end of each chapter. Srila Prabhupada was embarking on a bhuri-da-janah mission in the mood of the gopis.
If we want to understand Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, we have to broaden the scope of our prayers to include Srila Rupa Goswami who has an ever present supervisory role in our spiritual lives. “Those who are fortunate enough to understand Lord Chaitanya as well as the Vrndavana pastimes of Radha and Krishna can be able, by the mercy of Sri Rupa Goswami, know the real identity of Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.”(TLC ch32)
Your servant Kesava Krsna dasa – GRS.