Śrīla Rūpa Goswāmī appeared in 1489. He was one of the renowned six goswamis of Vṛndāvan. He was a government minister serving as a senior official to the muslim government under Hussein Shah. Along with his brother Sanātan, he was instrumental in managing all the financial affairs of the government.
On the pretext of visiting Vṛndāvan, Śrī Chaitanya Mahāprabhu made the journey to Ramakeli, where the brothers were staying, to meet with them and attract them to his movement. As eternal associates of the Lord, their loving relationships immediately reawakened and they decided to retire and follow Mahāprabhu exclusively.
Soon afterwards Mahāprabhu visited Vṛndāvan and upon his return he met Rūpa for the second time in Prayag. Here he gave Rūpa instructions to go to Vṛndāvan, uncover the lost holy sites there and to compose scriptures explaining the devotional path.
They met for a third time in Purī, where Rūpa made the pilgrimage to see Mahāprabhu and stayed with the great personality Śrīla Haridās Ṭhākur. It was at this time that Mahāprabhu indicated his selection of Rūpa as the head of his sampradāya. A very special gathering was held where all the senior and intimate associates of Chaitanya Mahāprabhu were present. They questioned Rūpa on the various aspects of the devotional conception and they were startled to hear his realisations and conclusions. They expressed that only by Mahāprabhu's own mercy was it possible that someone of junior standing could deeply appreciate so many things. Mahāprabhu then admitted that he had given his mercy to Rūpa but that everyone there should also give him their mercy.
Rūpa re-established the worship of the famed Govindaji deity that had originally been installed by Kṛṣṇa's grandson Vajranābha. The Govindaji temple was originally 7 levels high, but the muslims due to envy reduced it to the 3 levels seen today. The original deity was also moved to Jaipur for safety and today the non-different form is worshiped there.
Rūpa's seminal work is the Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, literally nectarean ocean of devotion, where he describes all aspects of the practice of devotion to Lord Kṛṣṇa.
It is revealed in the Gaura-gaṇoddeśa-dīpikā of Śrīla Kavi Karṇapūra that Rūpa Goswāmī is Rūpa Mañjarī in Kṛṣṇa-līlā. This gives further meaning to the famed composition of Śrīla Narottam Dās Ṭhākur, Śrī Rūpa Mañjarī pada, which is known as the anthem of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava. In this most exalted song Narottam declares his devotion to Mahāprabhu's selected leader, Śrīla Rūpa Goswāmī.
Rūpa Goswāmī departed from this world for the divine abode in 1564 leaving behind his nephew Jīva Goswāmī and other associates to continue his work.