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The Most Beloved, Incomparably Compassionate and Extremely Powerful Commanders of Śrī Caitanya Mahāp


In a discussion between Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and Śrī Rāmānanda Rāya about the excellence of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī’s poetry, Śrīman Mahāprabhu glorified Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī and his brother Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī in the following way:


prabhu kahe, — prayāge ihāra hôilô milana

ihāra guṇe ihāte āmāra tuṣṭa hôilô mana


ĩhāra ĵe jyeṣṭha-bhrātā, nāma — ‘sanātana’

pṛthivīte vijña-vara nāhi tā̃ra sama


tomāra ĵaiche viṣaya-tyāga, taiche tāra rīti

dainya-vairāgya-pāṇḍityera tā̃hātei sthiti

ei dui bhāiye āmi pāṭhāilũ vṛndāvane

śakti diyā bhakti-śāstra kôrite pravartane


Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya-līlā 1.197, 200-202)


“Rūpa met Me at Prayāga. Because of his virtues, My heart became pleased with him. His elder brother, whose name is Sanātana, is a wise and learned scholar unequaled on this planet. Sanātana’s renunciation of material connections is just like yours, Rāmānanda. He is the perfect embodiment of non-duplicitous humility, yukta-vairāgya (true renunciation) and excellence in learning—he is well-versed in and fully conversant with the siddhānta and rasa of prema-bhakti. I empowered both of these brothers to go to Vṛndāvana to expand the literature of bhakti.”


During their meeting in Jagannātha Purī, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu told Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī:


tomāra śarīra — mora pradhāna ‘sādhana’

e śarīre sādhimu āmi bahu prayojana


bhakta-bhakti-kṛṣṇa-prema-tattvera nirdhāra

vaiṣṇavera kṛtya, āra vaiṣṇava-ācāra


kṛṣṇa-bhakti, kṛṣṇa-prema-sevā-pravartana

lupta-tīrtha-uddhāra, āra vairāgya-śikṣaṇa


nija-priya-sthāna mora — mathurā-vṛndāvana

tāhā̃eta dharma cāhi kôrite pracāraṇa


Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya-līlā 4.78-81)

Your body is the means by which I will fulfill many objectives. You will ascertain the truths about the Vaiṣṇavas, bhakti and love for Śrī Kṛṣṇa; introduce the tenets of Vaiṣṇava rites and etiquette; establish the truths about kṛṣṇa-bhakti and love-laden service to Śrī Kṛṣṇa; uncover lost pastime places; and teach about true renunciation. Mathurā-Vṛndāvana is very dear to me, and it is from there that I want all these things to be preached [through you].”


Thus, Śrīla Kṛṣṇadasa Kaviraja Gosvāmī has written in his Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Ādī-līlā 7.164):


mathurāte pāṭhāilô rūpa-sanātana

dui senā-pati kôilô bhakti pracāraṇa


Śrīman Mahāprabhu sent the two commanders, Śrī Rūpa and Sanātana Gosvāmīs, to Vraja-maṇḍala to preach bhakti.


Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī and Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī manifest Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s vraja-līlā

Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī composed the following Sanskrit verse to describe how Śrīman Mahāprabhu empowered Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī and Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī:


kālena vṛndāvana-keli-vārtā

lupteti tāṁ khyāpayituṁ viśiṣya

kṛpāmṛtenābhiṣiṣeca devas

tatraiva rūpaṁ ca sanātanaṁ ca


Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya-līlā 19.119)


Due to the progression of time, discussions of the amorous pastimes of Vṛndāvana had practically disappeared. Śrī Gaurāṅga-deva empowered Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī and Śrī Sanātana Gosvāmī to clearly express those pastimes by sprinkling upon them the nectar of His mercy.


Śrīla Kavirāja Gosvāmī has also described the manner in which these two commanders very diligently followed the orders given by Śrīman Mahāprabhu:


dui bhāi mili’ vṛndāvane vāsa kôilā

prabhura ĵe ājñā, dũhe saba nirbāhilā


nānā-śāstra āni’lupta-tīrtha uddhārilā

vṛndāvane kṛṣṇa-sevā prakāśa kôrilā


sanātana grantha kôilā ‘bhāgavatāmṛte’

bhakta-bhakti-kṛṣṇa-tattva jāni ĵāhā hôite


āra ĵata grantha kôilā, tā̃hā ke kare gaṇana

‘madana-gopāla-govindera sevā’-prakāśana


rūpa-gosāi kôilā ‘rasāmṛta-sindhu’sāra

kṛṣṇa-bhakti-rasera ĵāhā̃pāiye vistāra

‘ujjvala-nīlamaṇi’-nāma grantha kôilô āra

rādhā-kṛṣṇa-līlā-rasa tāhā̃pāiye pāra


‘vidagdha-mādhava’, ‘lalita-mādhava, — nāṭaka-ĵugala

kṛṣṇa-līlā-rasa tāhā̃pāiye sakala


‘dāna-keli-kaumudī’ ādi lakṣa-grantha kôilô

sei saba granthe vrajera rasa vicārila


Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya-līlā 4.217-219, 222-226)


While residing in Vṛndāvana, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī and Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī together executed the will of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. They collected many revealed scriptures, and from the evidence in those scriptures excavated all the hidden pastime places of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. In Vṛndāvana, they manifested kṛṣṇa-sevā. Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī compiled Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmrta, a book from which one can understand the truths about devotees, the process of bhakti, and Śrī Kṛṣṇa. He also compiled many other books. Who can enumerate them?


Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī and Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī manifested the service of Madana-gopāla (Śrī Madana-mohana) and Śrī Govinda-deva, respectively. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī churned the ocean of nectarean transcendental mellows and presented its essence in the form of the book Bhakti-rasāmrta-sindhu. From that book, one can understand the detail of the mellows of kṛṣṇa-bhakti. Additionally, he composed Ujjvala-nīlamani, from which one can understand, to the fullest limits, the loving pastimes of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa; two important dramas named Vidagdha-mādhava and Lalita-mādhava, from which one can understand all the rasa present in kṛṣṇa-līlā; and Dāna-keli-kaumudī. All together, he complied one hundred thousand verses. In all these scriptures, he elaborately explained vraja-rasa, the transcendental mellows of Vraja.


Just as the national army executes every order given by the ruler of the nation, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī and Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī, on the command of Śrīman Mahāprabhu, manifested the pastime places of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa that had become hidden over the passage of time. They personally directed many devotees to the path of bhakti by providing guidance, and thereby ensured the continued service of Śrī Vraja-maṇḍala. In composing many spiritual literatures describing the various topics of bhakti, they established the teachings of Śrīman Mahāprabhu and conclusively defeated the heretical doctrines of their opponents—apadharma (improper religion), upadharma (false religion) and chala-dharma (cheating religion).


The wonderful feats of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī have been appropriately sung in a vaiṣṇava-bhajana written by Śrī Mādhava dāsa:


yaṅ kali rūpa śarīra na dharata

taṅ vraja-prema, mahānidhi kuṭharīka,

kon kapāṭa ughāḓata


Had Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī not appeared in this age of Kali, who would have opened the doors to the great treasure-house of vraja-prema?*


nīra-kṣīra-haṁsana, pāna-vidhāyana,

kon pṛthak kôri pāyata

ko saba tyaji’, bhaji’ vṛndāvana,

ko saba grantha viracita


Who but Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī could have extracted the essence of the scriptures in the same way that a swan separates water from milk? Who could have abandoned everything to perform bhajana in Vṛndāvana? Who could have written such scriptures?*


ĵab pitu vana-phula, phalata nānā-vidha,

manorāji aravinda

so madhukara binu, pāna kon jānata,

vidyamāna kari bandha


He was a honey bee amid varieties of blossoming yellow forest flowers and mind-enchanting lotuses. Without that honey bee, who could have known the art of drinking the nectar present yet confined within [those flowers]?*


ko jānata, mathurā vṛndāvana,

ko jānata vraja-nīta

ko jānata, rādhā-mādhava-rati,

ko jānata soi prīta


Who could have understood the glories of Mathurā and Vrṇdāvana? Who could have fathomed the intricacies of Vraja? Who could have understood the rati between Śrī Rādhā and Mādhava? Who could have known that love?*


Soldiers very peacefully tolerate all hardships for the protection of their country. They perform their duties even in the most hostile conditions, such as freezing cold regions covered in snow. Sometimes they lack adequate food supplies and feel separation from their loved ones. In the same manner, the army of Śrīman Mahāprabhu accepts all sorts of difficulties in order to fulfill His most cherished desires and guard the realm of bhakti from the attack of envious opponents.


Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya-līlā 19.127-131) mentions:


aniketa dũhe, vane ĵata vṛkṣa-gaṇa

eka eka vṛkṣera tale eka eka rātri śayana ‘


vipra-gṛhe’sthūla-bhikṣā, kāhā̃mādhukarī

śuṣka ruṭī-cānā cibāya bhoga parihari’


karõyā-mātra hāte, kā̃thā chĩḍā, bahirvāsa

kṛṣṇa-kathā, kṛṣṇa-nāma, nartana-ullāsa


aṣṭa-prahara kṛṣṇa-bhajana, cāri daṇḍa śayane

nāma-saṅkīrtane seha nahe kona dine


kabhu bhakti-rasa-śāstra karôye likhana

caitanya-kathā śune, kare caitanya-cintana


Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī and Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī have no fixed residence. They stay in the forests beneath trees—one night under one tree and the next night under another. Giving up all kinds of material enjoyment, they sometimes accept sthūla-bhikṣā (full meals) in the house of a brāhmaṇa, after which there is no need for them to beg from anyone else on that day. At other times, they survive with whatever they receive from performing mādhukarī (begging a little from many householders). Sometimes they receive only dry roṭīs to eat, while other times they are given roasted chickpeas to chew. Their only possessions are a water pot, a quilt made from torn clothes, and their torn lower cloth. They always discuss kṛṣṇa-kathā, chant kṛṣṇa-nāma and dance in ecstasy. They daily engage almost twenty-four hours in rendering service to the Lord. They usually sleep for only four daṇḍas (ninety-six minutes), and on some days, when they are fully immersed in performing nāma-saṅkīrtana, they neglect sleep altogether. Sometimes they write transcendental literatures about bhakti-rasa, and sometimes they hear about Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and spend their time remembering Him.


It is for these reasons that Śrīla Kavirāja Gosvāmī has written:


mahāprabhura ĵata baḓô baḓô bhakta mātra

rūpa-sanātana — sabāra kṛpā-gaurava-pātra


Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya-līlā 19.123)


Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī and Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī were the recipients of mercy and reverence from all the renowned devotees of Śrīman Mahāprabhu.


These two incomparable stalwart commanders of Śrīman Mahāprabhu’s army have been the object of many Vaiṣṇavas’ praises. Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī, for example, has glorified Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī in Śrī Vilāpa-kusumāñjali (6) as follows:


vairāgya-yug-bhakti-rasaṁ prayatnair

apāyayan mām anabhīpsum andham

kṛpāmbudhir yaḥ para-duḥkha-duḥkhī

sanātanaṁ taṁ prabhum āśrayāmi


I was unwilling to drink the nectar of bhakti-rasa laced with renunciation, but Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī, being an ocean of mercy who cannot tolerate the suffering of others, induced me to drink it. Therefore, I take shelter of Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī.*


In Śrī Caitanya-candrodaya (9.30), Śrīla Kavi Karṇapūra Gosvāmī has described how dear Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmīpāda is to Śrīman Mahāprabhu:


priya-svarūpe dayita-svarūpe

prema-svarūpe sahajābhirūpe

nijānurūpe prabhur eka-rūpe

tatāna rūpe svavilāsa-rūpe


Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī is very dear to and adored by Śrīman Mahāprabhu. He is the embodiment of His love, and he very naturally knows His heart. His form resembles that of Śrīman Mahāprabhu; indeed, it is as if their forms are one. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī is the very embodiment of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s pastimes, because it was through him that the Lord performed many works.


All the commanders of the army of Śrīman Mahāprabhu coming in the disciplic succession of Śrī Brahmā-Madhva-Gauḍīya Sampradāya have served with complete surrender and dedication to fulfill His most cherished desires. But the accomplishments of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī and Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī are beyond what even Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, the Supreme Lord Himself, could ever have conceived.

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