by Srila B.R Sridhara Goswami
The rupanuga-sampradaya, the followers of the line of Sri Rupa, are those who have the unique taste of service in the camp of Radharani. In that plane, there is no entrance of any mundane exploitation or renunciation, and not even legalized sastric devotion. The highest kind of devotion is not controlled by any law. It is spontaneous and automatic. Sacrifice to the highest degree is only possible in that camp. The highest kind of divine sentiment is distributed from the camp of Srimati Radharani, and that can never be compared with any attainment hitherto known even in the eternal factor of time and space.
Then, there is another stage for which we should be prepared. Why should we try to enter into the camp of Radharani? Should we think that there, in that better atmosphere, we shall have Krishna’s presence more confidentially? Should we think, “I will have contact with Krishna very intimately,” should we want to enter into that camp? No-we want to avoid the connection of Krishna, but concentrate on the service of Radharani. Why? What more benefit is possible there in the service of Radharari? If we approach Krishna directly to give service to him, we shall be losers. Radharani’s service to Krishna is of the highest order in every way. If we devote our energy to help Radharani, our energy will be utilized in Her service. In this way, she will serve Krishna with her service more enhanced. Then the reciprocation will pass to us through her as our reward. That will be devotion of the highest type (mahabhava).
So, the general inclination of the sakhis, the confidential maidservants of Radharani, is not to come in direct connection with Krishna. They avoid that. But still, it is the benevolent and generous nature of Radharani to connect them with Krishna on some plea at some time or other. But their innate nature is always to avoid Krishna and concentrate on the service of Radharani. This is confirmed in the Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya 8.209):
radhara svarupa-krsna-prema kaIpalata
sakhi–gana haya tara pallava-puspa-pata
By nature, Srimati Radharani is just like a creeper of love of Godhead, and the gopis are the twigs, flowers and leaves of that creeper.” Eternally the twigs, flowers and leaves sprout from the creeper of Srimati Radharani. She is the trunk, and they are branches. This is their relationship.
Yet still, there is another, higher thing. We are known as rupanuga, the followers of Sri Rupa. Why? The service of Srimati Radharani eliminates everything, even Narayana, to go to Krishna. There is the Krishna of Dvaraka, the Krishna of Mathura, and the Krishna of Vrindavana. Then again in Vrindavana, where there is free mixing without hesitation in other camps, Radharani’s camp is the highest. Eliminating all other camps, direct service to Radharani is considered to be the highest. Still, there is another point.
Who is Rupa? Rupa Manjari. Generally the hierarchy in the spiritual world is eternal. New recruits can occupy a particular rank of manjari, assistant, in madhurya rasa. And the leader of the manjaris is Sri Rupa Manjari. What is the special feature in the manjari camp which is not found among the sakhis, girlfriends of Krishna? First there is Radharani, then the camp of her right-hand personal attendant, Lalita. Then, under Lalita, there is Sri Rupa Manjari. What is the unique position of the followers of Sri Rupa? The new recruits can attain to that status. Now, the privilege of this manjari class we are to conceive most respectfully and attentively.
When Radha and Govinda are in secrecy, in a private place, the sakhis, who are well-versed in the art of that kind of play, because they are a little grown-up, do not like to approach there to disturb their confidential mixing. If the more grown-up sakhis, enter there, both Radha and Govinda will feel shy. So, their presence may create some disturbance. But the younger girls can enter there, and then Radha and Govinda have no hesitation in free mixing. So, in that highest stage of the mixing of Radha Govinda, the free play of Radha-Govinda, these manjaris, the younger girls, can have admission. But the grown-up sakhis cannot have admission there. New recruits may come up to the manjari class. And the manjaris have that sort of special advantage under the leadership of Sri Rupa Manjari. So, they get the best advantage there, the most sacred type of pure service, which is not open even to the sakhis, is open to the manjaris. That is found in Radharani’s camp. So, the position of the rupanugas, the followers of Sri Rupa, is the most profitable position. That has been given out by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. That has been shown by him, and that is fixed as the highest limit of our fortune in Krishna’s concern. This is unexpectable, undesignable and beyond hope, but our prospect lies there in that subtle camp of Sri Rupa Manjari, Rupa Goswami.
So, the camp, the sampradaya of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is known as the rupanuga sampradaya. There our fate and our fortune is located. Now we have to conduct ourself in such a way that naturally we can connect with that highest, purest spiritual conception, from here. We must not allow ourselves to be satisfied with anything less than this highest ideal. That should be the highest goal of our life. And we must adjust our approach from our present position.
This article originally appeared in Sri Guru and His Grace, The Line of Rupa Goswami.