Six Goswami’s of Vrindavan

“I offer my respectful obeisances unto the six Gosvamis–Sri Rupa Gosvami, Sri Sanatana Gosvami, Sri Raghunatha Bhatta Gosvami, Sri Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, Sri Jiva Gosvami, and Sri Gopala Bhatta Gosvami–who cast off all aristocratic association as insignificant. To deliver poor, conditioned souls, they accepted loincloths and became mendicants, but they were always merged in the ecstatic ocean of the gopis’ love for Krsna, and they were always bathing repeatedly in the waves of that ocean.”

“The six Gosvamis, namely, Sri Sanatana Gosvami, Sri Rupa Gosvami, Sri Raghunatha Bhatta Gosvami, Sri Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, Sri Jiva Gosvami, and Sri Gopala Bhatta Gosvami, are very expert in scrutinizingly studying the revealed scriptures with the aim of establishing eternal religious principles for the benefit of all human beings. They are always absorbed in the mood of the gopis and are engaged in the transcendental loving service of Radha and Krsna.” (Sad-gosvamy-astaka 2)

Srila Sanatana Goswami

Srila Sanatana Goswami was born in 1488 in West Bengal . He was the elder brother of Sri Rupa Goswami. They were educated in Sakurma, a village near the capital of Gauda (Bengal ). The brothers were forced to work as government ministers for Nawab Hussein Shah (the ruler of Bengal) in Ramekeli. Sanatana was known as Sakara Mallik and appointed private secretary.

In 1514, Sanatana Goswami met Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in Ramekeli and was initiated by him. He eventually managed to shake off his government duties and escape from imprisonment by the Nawab, to make his way to Benares where he met Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu enlightened Sanatana into the truths of bhakti and devotion and further instructed him to (1) write books on devotional service (2) establish proper devotee etiquette, (3) install Deities and proper Deity worship and (4) to excavate the lost holy places of pilgrimage in Vrindavana.

Srila Rupa Goswami

Srila Rupa Goswami appeared in 1489 in Karnataka, South India. He was the younger brother of Srila Sanatana Goswami. Forced by various circumstances, Srila Rupa Goswami and Sanatana Goswami had to work for the Muslim government of Bengal under Nawab Hussein Shah. Rupa Goswami was then known by the Muslim name Dabir Khas (‘private secretary’). Although he enjoyed great wealth and prestige, he never forgot Lord Sri Krishna. Even before meeting Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Rupa Goswami had already written several books on Vedic philosophy and was renowned for his learning and devotion.
In 1514, Rupa and Sanatana met Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu for the first time and were initiated by Him. Rupa left government service and spent ten days hearing from Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu the philosophy of Krishna consciousness. Sri Chaitanya then ordered Rupa Goswami to go Vrindavana with a fourfold mission: (1) to uncover the lost sites of Lord Krishna’s pastimes, (2) to install Deities of the Lord and arrange for Their worship, (3) to write books on Krishna consciousness, and (4) to teach the rules of devotional life.

At first Rupa Goswami felt great difficulty carrying out the desire of Lord Chaitanya. But one day, while Rupa was sitting on the bank of the Yamuna River contemplating his mission, a beautiful boy came to him and asked the cause of his despondency. Rupa Goswami explained. The boy then led him to a small hill. “Inside this hill,” said the boy, “is the beautiful Deity Govinda deva.” He said that the Deity had been buried to protect Him during a Muslim invasion.
The next day Rupa Goswami led a group of villagers to the site and had them excavate the hill. The Deity Govinda was unearthed. Rupa Goswami then had a magnificent temple constructed under the patronage of Emperor Akbar and Maharaja Man Singh of Amber, Rajasthan. Sri Govinda Deva is presently being worshipped at Jaipur, Rajasthan.

Rupa Goswami fulfilled all four parts of the mission given to him by Lord Chaitanya, including writing many books on Krishna consciousness. He passed away in 1564. Devotees pay respects to him by visiting his samadhi (tomb), in the courtyard of the Radha-Damodara temple in Vrindavana.

Srila Gopala Bhatta Goswami

In the year 1510, while Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was on tour of South India , the family of Venkata Bhatta had the great fortune of hosting the Lord during the four months of the rainy season. Gopala, Venkata Bhatta’s seven-year-old son, served Lord Chaitanya continuously and developed an intense love for Him. When Lord Chaitanya was about to leave, Venkata Bhatta fainted and Gopala Bhatta’s eyes filled with tears of love. For Gopala Bhatta’s sake, Lord Chaitanya agreed to stay for a few more days.

During this time, Srila Gopala Bhatta Goswami had a spiritual vision in which Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu revealed Himself as Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and said that Gopala would someday meet in Vrindavana two jewel-like    devotees — Rupa Goswami and Sanatana Goswami, leaders in Lord Chaitanya’s movement. When Srila Gopala Bhatta Goswamia woke from this trance, he wanted to leave for Vrindavana at once. Lord Chaitanya told him to stay back and serve his parents.

Srila Gopala Bhatta Goswami went on to study rhetoric, poetry, Vedanta, and Sanskrit grammar from his uncle Prabodhananda Sarasvati, a great devotee of Lord Chaitanya. After the passing away of his parents, Srila Gopala Bhatta Goswamitravelled to Vrindavana, where he was lovingly met by Rupa Goswami and Sanatana Goswami.

When Lord Chaitanya heard that Srila Gopala Bhatta Goswami was in Vrindavana, He was extremely pleased. The Lord sent some of His personal belongings to Gopala Bhatta, who worshiped them. The Lord also sent a letter instructing Srila Gopala Bhatta Goswamito help Rupa and Sanatana compile transcendental literature. Srila Gopala Bhatta Goswamiaccepted this instruction from the Lord as his life and soul, and he later engaged his disciple Srinivasa Acharya in carrying the writings to Bengal.

Once, on a trip to the Gandaki River, in Nepal, Srila Gopala Bhatta Goswami obtained twelve salagrama-silas. (A sila is a special Deity of the Lord in the form of a stone.) The silas entered his water pot as he filled it with water from the river. When he tried to return them to the river and refill his pot, they again entered the pot. Accepting this as the Lord’s mercy, Srila Gopala Bhatta Goswami decided to bring the silas back to Vrindavana.
One day, Srila Gopala Bhatta Goswamifelt the need to worship a Deity of Krishna. The next morning he saw that his silas had transformed into a beautiful Deity of Lord Krishna. Srila Gopala Bhatta Goswaminamed the Deity Radha-Ramana, ‘Krishna, who brings pleasure to Radharani.’ He established the worship of Radha-Ramana, and the Radha-Ramana temple is still one of the main places of pilgrimage in Vrindavana.

Srila Raghunatha Dasa Goswami

Srila Raghunatha Dasa Goswami is an eternally liberated associate of Lord Krishna who appeared to join the Lord when He appeared five hundred years ago as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

Although the son of a very rich landlord, Raghunatha Dasa had no interest in the things of this world. His sole desire was to gain the association of Lord Chaitanya and dedicate himself to the Lord’s service. Seeing Raghunatha’s spirit of renunciation even as a young man, his family tried to keep him at home by all means, including guards. Somehow Raghunatha was able to escape their vigilance, and he made his way to Jagannatha Puri to serve Lord Chaitanya.
Raghunatha’s life in Puri showed him to be absorbed in transcendental consciousness. In the Chaitanya Charitamrita, Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami writes: ‘Who could list the unlimited transcendental attributes of Raghunatha Dasa? His strict regulative principles were exactly like the lines on a stone. Raghunatha Dasa spent more than twenty-two hours out of every twenty-four chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra and remembering the lotus feet of the Lord. He ate and slept for less than an hour and a half, and on some days that also was impossible.’

Topics concerning his renunciation are wonderful. Throughout his life he never allowed his tongue sense gratification. He never touched anything to wear except a small torn cloth and a patchwork wrapper. Whatever he ate was only to keep his body and soul together, and when he ate he would reproach himself thus:

“If one’s heart has been cleansed by perfect knowledge and one has understood Krishna , the Supreme Brahman, he then gains everything. Why should such a person act like a debauchee by trying very carefully to maintain his material body?”‘
Raghunatha Dasa Goswami served Lord Chaitanya for sixteen years at Jagannatha Puri. After the Lord departed this world, Raghunatha went to Vrindavana, where he lived for many years at the sacred lake Radha Kunda. His bhajana kutir, or place of worship, still exists there.

Srila Raghunatha Dasa Goswami

Srila Raghunatha Dasa Goswami is an eternally liberated associate of Lord Krishna who appeared to join the Lord when He appeared five hundred years ago as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

Although the son of a very rich landlord, Raghunatha Dasa had no interest in the things of this world. His sole desire was to gain the association of Lord Chaitanya and dedicate himself to the Lord’s service. Seeing Raghunatha’s spirit of renunciation even as a young man, his family tried to keep him at home by all means, including guards. Somehow Raghunatha was able to escape their vigilance, and he made his way to Jagannatha Puri to serve Lord Chaitanya.
Raghunatha’s life in Puri showed him to be absorbed in transcendental consciousness. In the Chaitanya Charitamrita, Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami writes: ‘Who could list the unlimited transcendental attributes of Raghunatha Dasa? His strict regulative principles were exactly like the lines on a stone. Raghunatha Dasa spent more than twenty-two hours out of every twenty-four chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra and remembering the lotus feet of the Lord. He ate and slept for less than an hour and a half, and on some days that also was impossible.’

Topics concerning his renunciation are wonderful. Throughout his life he never allowed his tongue sense gratification. He never touched anything to wear except a small torn cloth and a patchwork wrapper. Whatever he ate was only to keep his body and soul together, and when he ate he would reproach himself thus:

“If one’s heart has been cleansed by perfect knowledge and one has understood Krishna , the Supreme Brahman, he then gains everything. Why should such a person act like a debauchee by trying very carefully to maintain his material body?”‘

Raghunatha Dasa Goswami served Lord Chaitanya for sixteen years at Jagannatha Puri. After the Lord departed this world, Raghunatha went to Vrindavana, where he lived for many years at the sacred lake Radha Kunda. His bhajana kutir, or place of worship, still exists there.

Srila Jiva Goswami

Srila Jiva Goswami was the son of Sri Vallabha and nephew of Sri Sanatana, Sri Rupa, all of whom were employed in the service of the Badsha Hussein Shah. Having been rewarded richly by the Badsha for their devices, their household life was very opulent.

When Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came to Ramakeli, Sri Jiva was blessed by having darshana of his worshipable Lord, though he was just a baby at that time. Mahaprabhu indicated him to be a great future scholar in the Gaudiya sampradaya. Though he was only a child, Sri Jiva would meditate on Sri Chaitanya constantly.

Later on, when his father and uncles renounced their family life in order to be with Mahaprabhu, the only child, Sri Jiva, was left with his mother in the family palace at Fateyabad. Jiva missed them greatly and whenever he would remember his father and uncles, or Sri Chaitanya he would lose consciousness.

As he grew up, Sri Jiva took up the worship of the Deities of Sri-Sri Rama-Krishna. He would carefully decorate Them and offer bhoga and arati, serving Them with his full attention. Even in his play, whatever games he played were connected with Sri Krishna’s pastimes.

While studying under the local pandits he became proficient in grammar, poetry and rhetoric. His teachers noted his great intellect.

When Sri Jiva learned that his father had passed away on the banks of the Ganga, he was completely unsettled. Family members and friends tried to console him but to little avail. Family life had become the source of his utter sadness. Someone suggested that he go to Navadvipa and see Lord Nityananda, so he set out for Navadvipa with a group of pilgrims. Everyone at Navadvipa was very happy to meet the nephew of Sri Rupa and Sanatana.
Sri Jiva spent some days with Nityananda Prabhu, touring the nine islands of Navadvipa, in order to visit the holy places of the Lord’s pastimes there. Then, as ordered by Nityananda Prabhu, he set out for Kashi (Varanasi). At Kashi he studied Vedanta under Sri Madhusudana Vachaspati, a disciple of Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya. The conclusions of Vedanta contained in Srimad-Bhagavatam that were expounded by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya in Puri had been in turn taught by the Bhattacharya to Madhusudana Vachaspati, who established a school at Kashi.
From here Sri Jiva set out for Vrindavana where he received shelter at the lotus feet of his two uncles, Sri Rupa and Sanatana. Jiva stayed with Sri Rupa, who began to teach him Srimad-Bhagavatam. After initiating him with the divine mantra, Rupa engaged him in the service of Sri Sri Radha-Damodara.
Seeing that Jiva had quickly become conversant with the conclusion of Srimad-Bhagavatam, Sri Rupa engaged him in proof-reading his Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu. At this time Sri Jiva compiled a commentary on Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu called Durgama-sangamani. Sri Sanatana Goswami compiled Sri Vaishnava-tosani, a commentary on the tenth canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, which he gave to Sri Jiva for proof-reading. Under the order of Sri Sanatana, Sri Jiva compiled a commentary on that named Laghu Vaishnava-tosani. His writings, along with those of Sri Rupa and Sri Sanatana, Sri Gopala Bhatta, Sri Raghunatha Bhatta, Sri Raghunatha Dasa, Sri Krishna Dasa, Sri Kashishvar Pandita, and Sri Madhu Pandita, completely captivated the learned men of that time.

It was the beginning of a golden age at Vrindavana. Sri Jiva regularly brought water for Sri Rupa and Sanatana’s bath. He massaged their heads with oil, cleaned their ashrama, worshiped the Deity, cooked and corrected manuscripts.

After the passing away of Sri Rupa and Sanatana, Sri Jiva continued the tradition that they had inaugurated. Once Sri Jiva travelled to Agra to debate with the Rajputs concerning the glories of Yamuna and Ganga rivers. He established that the Yamuna is more glorious than the Ganga as the Ganga emanates from Krishna ‘s lotus feet whereas the Yamuna is His own consort. At this the Mogul emperor was very much satisfied and wanted to present him something. Sri Jiva replied that he would accept some blank papers. So the emperor presented Jiva some stained paper. (At that time paper was very rare and most manuscripts were usually composed on leaves.) There is also a legend that once, when a Mogul emperor (possibly Akbar) wanted to confer something on the Goswamis of Vrindavana, they requested a farman (emperor’s order) that no living beings would be killed within Vraja. As a result of this no king would come to hunt there anymore.

The disciple of Lokanatha Goswami, Narottama Dasa Thakura Mahashaya, Sri Gopala Bhatta Goswami’s disciple Srinivasa Acharya Prabhu, and the disciple of Chaitanya Prabhu, Sri Shyamananda Prabhu, were greatly favoured by Srila Jiva Goswami. Under his tutelage they studied all the literatures of the Goswamis. Later he sent them to preach this knowledge in Bengal. Srila Jiva Goswami composed many literatures. He passed away in 1618 in Vrindavana.

Pasted from http://www.iskconbangalore.org

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Shilpa Gupta
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 20:35:21

    Hare Krishna,

    Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge- it was very useful for me when trying to understand more about the 6 Goswamis of Vrindavana. I was however, a little confused when initially on the page I saw their names listed as follows: Sri Jiva Goswami, Sri Raghunatha Batta Goswami, Sri Raghunatha Bhatta Goswami, Sri Raghunatha dasa Goswami, Sri Rupa Goswami, Sri Sanatana Goswami

    It appears that Shri Raghunatha Bhatta Goswami appears twice and Shri Gopala Bhatta Goswami’s name has been omitted in error.

    I wanted to point this out so that it can be corrected for the future to ensure that others are not also left confused.

    Your servant,

    Shilpa

    Reply

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