In the holy land of Vṛndāvana, where the Divine Couple Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Govinda are performing their eternal pastimes, resided a great devotee named Śrīla Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī, one of the six Gosvāmīs of Vṛndāvana. But where did he come from? Why did he reside in Vṛndāvana? To know that we have to go to a holy place called Śrī Raṅgam.
In 1510, Mahāprabhu went to Śrī Raṅgam. Located in South-India, it is a major pilgrimage destination for Śrī Vaiṣṇavites. There, with His hands raised, He began chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa Mahā Mantra. The chant was so sweet that it attracted the local devotees. One of the local devotees was Shri Vyeṅkaṭa Bhatta, who detected the symptoms of a Mahāpuruś, a great personage in Mahāprabhu. After the kīrtan, Vyeṅkaṭa went to Mahāprabhu and asked for His mercy. Mahāprabhu embraced him heartily. Vyeṅkaṭa then asked Mahāprabhu if He could stay at his residence as Cāturmāsya was around the corner. Mahāprabhu agreed and resided at his residence for four months.
Vyeṅkaṭa ‘s son was Gopāla Bhaṭṭa and at the time of Mahāprabhu’s visit he was only a child. When the little boy offered his respects at the feet of Mahāprabhu, the Lord picked him up and held him on his lap, affectionately embracing the boy. Mahāprabhu used to call the boy and give him the remnants of his prasāda. By giving him his prasāda, he was blessing Gopāla Bhaṭṭa to become a great acharya in the future.
After spending four months in the house of Vyeṅkaṭa Bhatta it was time for Mahāprabhu to bid farewell to their family. Gopāla Bhaṭṭa fainted at the feet of Mahāprabhu. He then instructed Gopāla Bhaṭṭa to stay with his parents and serve them and later on come to Vṛndāvana where he would constantly hear and glorify the holy name of the Lord. After giving this instruction Mahāprabhu left their house.
In due course of time, Gopāla learnt Sanskrit and excelled in learning the bhakti-śāstras from his uncle Śrīlā Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī. After the passing away of his parents, he then left for Vṛndāvana.
When he came to Vṛndāvana, Śrīlā Rūpa and Sanātana Gosvāmī greeted him and treated him like a brother. At that time Śrīlā Rūpa Gosvāmī was preparing to send messages with some devotees from Vrindavan to Mahāprabhu in Purī. When Mahāprabhu heard about Gopāla’s arrival in Vṛndāvana He sent with the messenger kaupin and outer garments of the bābājī order, to be given to Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī as symbols of his renunciation. Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī accepted this with great happiness, considering it to the Lord’s mercy and prasāda.
Lord Caitanya ordered Gopāla Bhaṭṭa to write a book to check the spread of pseudo-loving rasas and negligence to Vaidhī-bhakti. In corroboration with Sanātana Gosvāmī he compiled the Hari-bhakti-vilāsa, the authorized book explaining the ritual and devotional practices of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava sampradaya. Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī was responsible for originating the six thesis of Ṣaṭ-sandarbha later elaborately developed by Jīva Gosvāmī. He also wrote Sat-kriyā-sāra-dīpikā, a guide to Vaiṣṇava saṁskārāsand rituals for birth ceremonies, sacred thread initiations, marriage ceremonies, sannyasa, and funerals etc.
Śrīlā Prabhupāda wonderfully summarizes the works, role in Kṛṣṇa Lila and disciples of Śrīla Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī in the purport of CC Adi 10.105. He writes “Śrīla Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī compiled a book called Sat-kriyā-sāra-dīpikā, edited the Hari-bhakti-vilāsa, wrote a foreword to the Ṣaṭ-sandarbha and a commentary on the Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta, and installed the Rādhāramaṇa Deity in Vṛndāvana. In the Gaura-gaṇoddeśa-dīpikā (184) it is mentioned that his previous name in the pastimes of Lord Kṛṣṇa was Anaṅga-mañjarī. Sometimes he is also said to have been an incarnation of Guṇa-mañjarī. Śrīnivāsa Ācārya and Gopīnātha Pūjārī were two of his disciples.”
Śrīla Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī was born in the year 1503 AD on the 13th day of the dark moon in the month of Pauśa. He lived within this world for 75 years. In the 1578 AD, on the sixth day of the dark moon, he left this world behind and entered into the eternal pastimes of the Lord.