Who is a Rupanuga?
The word Rupanuga
The common Gaudiya Vaisnava understanding is that the word rupanuga was first used by Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami in the last verse of his Sri Manah–Siksa:
manah-siksa-daikadasaka-varam etam madhuraya
gira gayaty uccaih samadhi-gata-sarvartha-tati yah
sa-yuthah sri-rupanuga iha bhavan gokula-vane
jano radha-krsnatula-bhajana-ratnam sa labhate
These eleven excellent instructions to the mind grant all spiritual benedictions. A person who stays with the devotees, follows Srila Rupa Gosvami, and with a sweet voice loudly sings these eleven verses, understanding all their meanings, will attain the matchless jewel of direct service to Sri Sri Radha-Krsna in the forest of Gokula. (12)
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura wrote a commentary on this work entitled Bhajana-Darpana-Bhasa and so he was obviously very aware of its subtleties and depth. Later he wrote Sri Sri Rupanuga-bhajana darpana (A Mirror Reflecting Worship which Follows in the Footsteps of Srila Rupa Gosvami). In this work, which is the fourth chapter of Gita-Mala, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura uses the word rupanuga numerous times.
Many years later, Sripada Ananta Vasudeva Paravidyabhusana Prabhu, a brilliant disciple of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, composed pranama-mantras for Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Srila Gaura Kisora dasa Babaji and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura.
He used the word rupanuga in his glorification of both Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura:
namo bhaktivinodaya sac-cid-ananda-namine
gaura-sakti-svarupaya rupanuga-varaya te
I offer my respectful obeisances unto Saccidananda Bhaktivinoda, who is a transcendental energy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He is a strict follower of the Gosvamis, headed by Srila Rupa Gosvami.
nama om visnu-padaya krsna-presthaya bhu-tale
srimate bhaktisiddhanta-sarasvatiti namine
I offer my respectful obeisances unto His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, who is very dear to Lord Krsna having taken shelter at His lotus feet.
sri-gaura-karuna-sakti-vigrahaya namo ’stu te
I offer my respectful obeisances unto you, the personified energy of Sri Caitanya’s mercy, who delivers devotional service which is enriched with conjugal love of Radha and Krsna, coming exactly in the line of revelation of Srila Rupa Gosvami.
Until today, these pranama-mantras have remained the standard within both the Gaudiya Matha and ISKCON.
Some Thoughts from Srila Prabhupada
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is none other than the combined form of Sri Radha and Krsna. He is the life of those devotees who strictly follow in the footsteps of Srila Rupa Gosvami.
— CC Adi introduction
Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami are the most exalted servitors of Srimati Radharani and Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Those who adhere to their service are known as rupanuga devotees.
— CC Madhya 8.246 p
The present Krsna consciousness movement is based on the authority of Srila Rupa Gosvami Prabhupada. We are therefore generally known as rupanugas, or followers in the footsteps of Srila Rupa Gosvami Prabhupada.
— NOD Preface
In Vrndavana there are prakrta-sahajiyas who say that writing books or even touching books is taboo. For them, devotional service means being relieved from these activities. Whenever they are asked to hear a recitation of Vedic literature, they refuse, saying, “What business do we have reading or hearing transcendental literatures? They are meant for neophytes.” They pose themselves as too elevated to exert energy for reading, writing and hearing. However, pure devotees under the guidance of Srila Rupa Gosvami reject this sahajiya philosophy. It is certainly not good to write literature for money or reputation, but to write books and publish them for the enlightenment of the general populace is real service to the Lord. That was Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati’s opinion, and he specifically told his disciples to write books. He actually preferred to publish books rather than establish temples. Temple construction is meant for the general populace and neophyte devotees, but the business of advanced and empowered devotees is to write books, publish them and distribute them widely. According to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, distributing literature is like playing on a great mrdanga. Consequently we always request members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness to publish as many books as possible and distribute them widely throughout the world. By thus following in the footsteps of Srila Rupa Gosvami, one can become a rupanuga devotee.
— CC Madhya 19.132 p
The author of Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, Srila Rupa Gosvami, very humbly submits that he is just trying to spread Krsna consciousness all over the world, although he humbly thinks himself unfit for this work. That should be the attitude of all preachers of the Krsna consciousness movement, following in the footsteps of Srila Rupa Gosvami. We should never think of ourselves as great preachers, but should always consider that we are simply instrumental to the previous acaryas, and simply by following in their footsteps we may be able to do something for the benefit of suffering humanity.
— NOD Introduction
We have to follow the footsteps of Rupa Gosvami, rupanuga. Then we can understand Lord Caitanya. And if we get favor of Lord Caitanya, we can very easily understand Krsna. This is the process.
— Lecture on SB 1.2.20, August 23, 1972, Los Angeles
To Be a Follower of a Rupanuga
Srila Rupa Gosvami, after retiring from his minister’s seat in the government, went to Vrndavana and lived beneath a tree, like Maharaja Prthu. Since then, many people have gone to Vrndavana to imitate Rupa Gosvami’s behavior. Instead of advancing in spiritual life, many have fallen into material habits and even in Vrndavana have become victims of illicit sex, gambling and intoxication. The Krsna consciousness movement has been introduced in the Western countries, but it is not possible for Westerners to go to the forest and practice the severe austerities which were ideally practiced by Prthu Maharaja or Rupa Gosvami. However, Westerners or anyone else can follow in the footsteps of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura by living in a temple, which is transcendental to residence in a forest, and to vow to accept krsna-prasada and nothing else, follow the regulative principles and chant sixteen rounds daily of the Hare Krsna mantra. In this way, one’s spiritual life will never be disturbed.
— SB 4.23.5 p
If you simply do as I am doing, not avoiding anything which may have to be done for pushing on Krsna’s movement, remaining always stuck up very tightly to the footsteps of Rupa Gosvami, then without any doubt you will remain always fresh and enthusiastic for working very energetically on Krsna’s behalf, without any falldown.
— Letter to: Pusta Krsna, Bombay, 29 December, 1972
Last Will and Testament of A Rupanuga
by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura
Spoken on 23rd December, 1936 and translated from the Bengali by Srila Prabhupada.
I have most probably given many people troubles in the mind. Some of them might have thought about me that I am their enemy because I was obliged to speak the plain truth for service and devotion towards the Absolute Godhead. I have given them all those troubles only for the reason that they may turn their face towards the Personality of Godhead without any desire for gain and with unalloyed devotion. I hope one day or other they may understand me rightly.
I advise all to preach the teachings of Rupa-Raghunatha (disciples of Lord Caitanya) with all energy and resources. Our ultimate goal shall be to become the dust of the lotus feet of Sri Sri Rupa Raghunatha Goswamins. You should all work conjointly under the guidance of your spiritual master with a view to serve the Absolute Knowledge, the Personality of Godhead. You should live somehow or other without any quarrel in this mortal world only for the service of Godhead. Do not please give up the service of Godhead in spite of all dangers, all criticisms and all discomforts. Do not be disappointed, for most people in the world do not serve the Personality of Godhead; do not give up your own service which is your everything and all, neither reject the process of chanting and hearing of the transcendental Holy Name of Godhead. You should always chant the transcendental Name of Godhead with patience and forbearance like a tree and humbleness like a straw.
We wish that this mass of our body of flesh and blood may be sacrificed at the altar of preaching the Sankirtana movement (congregational chanting of the Holy Name of Godhead) propagated by Lord Caitanya. We are not desirous of becoming a hero of work or a reformer of religion, but our reality may be identified with the dust of the Lotus Feet of Sri Rupa and Raghunatha for that is our everything. The flow of the transcendental tide of the attraction of devotion will never be blocked, and you with all your energy shall devote yourself for fulfilling the desire of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. There are many amongst you who are well qualified and able workers. We have no other desire whatsoever.
There are certainly many difficulties while we are in this mortal world but it is not our business simply to be overwhelmed with those difficulties or to try to overcome them only. We must know even during the duration of our present life, as to what we shall gain after overcoming all those difficulties of life and what shall be the mode of our permanent existence. We must make an adjustment of all things that evoke our love and hatred and for those things that we want and do not want. Attachment and detachment of this mortal world will engage us more and more as we become farther and farthest from the Lotus Feet of Sri Krsna. When we are able to transcend the position of attachments and detachments of this mortal world and be attracted with Holy Name of Godhead, it is then only we can understand the import of the transcendental service of Sri Krsna, the Personality of Godhead. At the first instance the subject Krsna is startling and perplexing to us. Every one who is called by the name “man” is more or less struggling knowingly or unknowingly to eliminate those invading elements which are baffling our conception of eternal need. It is our only duty to enter into the kingdom of eternal need.
We have no love or hatred for any one in this world. All arrangements made in this world are but temporary. There is, therefore, unavoidable necessity for that ultimate need for every one in this world. You should attain the transcendental loving service of the objective, being situated in concerted action for that one aim. Let there be a constant flow of the ideas and thoughts as conceived by Rupa Goswami and his followers. We shall not at any time show our slightest dejection for the seven tongued Sankirtana movement.* If we have undaunted faith in it we shall then only achieve all perfections.
You should all therefore preach with fearlessness and with utmost energy the message of Rupa and Raghunatha under the guidance of the followers of Sri Rupa.
Note : The above content is copied from An Ocean of Gaura’s premamrta-krpa – An elaboration on Srila Rupa Goswami’s Sri Upadesamrta.
This wonderful book has been compiled by H.G. Srimati Mataji (Vrindavana) and her team. I strongly recommend all the devotees to kindly to click the below link and download this amazing book. It is a careful study guide for all the aspiring Rupanugas and for every one who is interested in studying Sri Upadesamrta, Nector Of Instructions, seriously.
An Ocean of Gaura’s premamrta-krpa
All glories to all the Rupanugas.
All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.