Medieval – Modern Period of Vrindavan (16-18th century)
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu asked, “Where should the living entity live, abandoning all other places?”
Ramananda Raya replied, “The holy place known as Vrindavana or Vrajabhumi, where the Lord performed His rasa dance.”
(Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 8.254, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu talks with Sri Ramananda Raya)
This era was marked by a presence of several important personalities.
After making an extensive pilgrimage of Bharata-bhumi (India) Sripada Madhavendra Puri began the restoration work of Vrindavana. Wandering from grove to grove, remembering Radha-Krishna’s sweet Vrindavana pastimes, Madhavendra Puri would faint in ecstasy.
Sri Lokanath Gosvami was first of the Gosvamis who came to Vrindavana. He went there after the Lord took sannyas. His friend was Bhugarbha Gosvami.
Speaking in the mood of Srimati Radharani, Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, “For most people, the mind and heart are one, but because My mind is never separated from Vrindavana, I consider My mind and Vrindavana to be one. My mind is already Vrindavana, and since You like Vrindavana, will You please place Your lotus feet there? I would deem that Your full mercy. (Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 13.137)
Sri Caitanya went to Sri Vrindavana several times and revealed many holy places there. (Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 1,2,17,18) When Lord Chaitanya first arrived in Vraja, He stayed at brahmana’s house in Mathura. He would walk around Vrindavana every day visiting the sacred places connected with Lord Krishna’s pastimes. Later, Lord Chaitanya moved His residence to Akrura Ghata and would daily visit Imlitala, where He sat looking at the river Yamuna while chanting Hare Krishna and constantly shedding tears in an ecstatic mood of divine love. After a few months (in 1516), Lord Chaitanya left for Jagannatha Puri and directed two of His dearmost followers, Rupa and Sanatana Gosvamis to proceed immediately to Vrindavana, not only to excavate the places of Lord Krishna’s pastimes and build temples but also to write books on the science of bhakti yoga, in order to establish the teachings of Lord Chaitanya for the benefit of all future generations. (CC Adi 7, Madhya 1, 19, Antya 4). Other of the Six Gosvamis later joined them.
Even though both Rupa and Sanatana were very important ministers in the government of Bengal, by the divine inspiration of Lord Chaitanya, they completely renounced mundane family life in order to fully serve the mission of Lord Chaitanya. When they first came to Vrindavana, it was just a large forest, and at night they would sleep under the trees. They dressed only in simple kaupins (loincloths), and subsisted on forest roots and dry chapatis obtained by begging alms (madhukari). The Six Gosvamis hardly slept more than two hours a day and spent most of their time in meditation and writing books on the science of bhakti-yoga. Some of their original works, written on parchment leaves, have been preserved and can be seen at the Vrindavana Research Institute.
The fame of the six Gosvamis spread so far and wide that even Emperor Akbar decided to pay a visit to Vrindavana in the year 1570. Jiva Gosvami led him blindfolded into the sacred kunja of Nidhuvana. So great was the Emperor’s spiritual experience there, that to commemorate the event, he granted permission to construct four grand temples dedicated to Lord Krishna. The temples were Govindaji, Gopinatha, Madana-mohana and Jugal-kisore. The Emperor also donated funds to set up a library for the preservation of the Gosvamis’s books at Radha-Damodara temple. This library used to be in the room to the left of the altar and is still known as grantha ghar (book house). Akbar even provided first class sandstone, normally reserved for the Emperor’s palaces and forts; so much he appreciated the Six Gosvamis.
Other devotees gradually came but later Vrindavana was raided by Muslims, especially Aurangzeb in 1670. Many temples and Deities were destroyed while some were moved to safer places like Nathdwar,Jaipur and Karoli in neighboring state of Rajasthan.
Famous female saint Mirabai lived in Vrindavana during the time of Six Gosvamis.
1489 Rupa Goswami appearance
1511 Jiva Goswami appearance
1515 Sri Chaitanya visits Vrindavan
1516 Rupa and Sanatana come to Vrindavan
1531 Raghunatha Bhatta Goswami comes to Vrindavan
1533 Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu disappearance
1535 Jiva Goswami comes to Vrindavan
1542 Damodara Deity, first seva puja
1542 Radha-Raman Deity, first seva puja
1545 Jiva Goswami buys land at Radha Kund
1552 Rupa Goswami writes Nectar of Devotion (Bhakti-rasamrta Sindhu)
1558 Jiva Goswami buys land at Seva Kunj/ Sanatana Goswami disappearance
1564 Rupa Goswami disappearance
1570 Emperor Akbar meets Jiva Goswami in Vrindavan
1580 Radha-Madanmohan temple opens
1581 Chaitanya Caritamrta, completed by Krishna das Kaviraj at Shyama Kund
1582 Krishna das Kaviraj disappearance
1582 Jiva Goswami orders Narottama, Srinivas, and Shyamananda go preach
1583 Raghunatha das Goswami disappearance
1585 Gopal Bhatta Goswami disappearance
1590 Radha-Govinda temple opens
1592 Jiva Goswami writes Gopal Champu
1608 Jiva Goswami disappearance
1670 Aurangzeb destroys Vrindavan temples
1739 Radha-Damodara Deity returns to Vrindavan from Jaipur
1764 Radha-Damodara Deity moves back to Jaipur and stays
(from: Mahanidhi Swami: Prabhupada in Radha-Damodara, BBT 2003)