It was the six Goswamis who not only founded this holy city of Vrindavana but also firmly established the teachings of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu through their various writings. They explained the doctrine and philosophy of Sri Chaitanya for the benefit of the whole world. The two brothers Rupa and Sanatana Goswamis were ordered by Lord Chaitanya in the year 1516 to go and live in Vrindavana and search out all the lost holy places connected with Lord Sri Krishna’s transcendental pastimes.
He also ordered them to compile books on the great science of bhakti-yoga, the process of devotional service to God. In their sacred mission, Rupa and Sanatana Goswamis were ably assisted by Raghunatha dasa, Raghunatha Bhatta, Gopala Bhatta and Jiva who altogether formed the famous transcendental group, the six Goswamis of Vrindavana.
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 Goswamis 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 Goswamis spread so far and wide that even Emperor Akbar decided to pay a visit to Vrindavana in the year 1570. Jiva Goswami 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 Goswami’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; such was his appreciation for the six Goswamis. Unfortunately, one hundred years later, these same temples were desecrated by the soldiers of Emperor Aurangzeb, the Muslim zealot, in the year 1670.
Srila Rupa Goswami’s lineage can be traced back to Karnataka in South India where his Saraswata Brahmana ancestors held influential positions. Rupa Gosvami’s nephew, Jiva Goswami has explained in his Laghu Tosani that Rupa’s ancestors were of the Bharadvaja gotra and were learned in the Yajur Veda. A brahmana called Sarvajna was seventh in the ascending genealogical line of Rupa Goswami and was known by the title ‘jagad-guru’ (Universal teacher) being both a learned scholar and king. His son, Aniruddha was also an acclaimed scholar and had two sons, named Harihara and Rupesvara. While Rupesvara was knowledgeable in the Vedic literatures, his brother became expert in weaponry and politics. When their father died, the kingdom was divided between the two sons. However, Harihara took Rupesvara’s land by force and forced the family to migrate to Paurastyadesa. Padmanabha relocated his family to Nabahatta (Naihati) on the banks of the Ganges River. Padmanabha had eighteen daughters and five sons, the youngest son being named Mukunda.
When there was religious upheaval, Mukunda’s son, Kumaradeva, moved to Jessore. His sons were Santosha (Rupa), Amara (Sanatana) and Srivallabha (Anupama). On the demise of Kumaradeva, the three sons moved to Sakurma, near to the capital of Gaudadesa (Bengal) where they continued their studies.
The three brothers studied the Nyaya-sastras (treatise on justice) from the famous logician Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya and his brother Madhusudana Vidyavacaspati. They also studied Sanskrit, Arabic and Persian.
Due to their noble characters and academic proficiency, Rupa and his elder brother Sanatana were later forced into government service by the sultan of Bengal, Alauddin Hussein Shah (1493-1519 CE) which led to their excommunication from Hindu society by the orthodox caste brahmanas of Gauda. Rupa became the Sultan’s chief secretary (dabir khas), while Sanatana became the state revenue minister (sakara mallika).
FIRST MEETING WITH CHAITANYA MAHAPRABHU
Rupa and his brothers made their residence at the state capital of Ramakeli and it was here, in 1514 CE, that they met Chaitanya Mahaprabhu for the first time. The meeting changed their lives and they decided to leave the service of the Sultan and take up a life of renunciation in the association of Chaitanya and his followers. Rupa loaded all his wealth onto two boats and left with his brother Anupama for their ancestral home at Fatiabad in Jessore, where they distributed it. They then sent two messengers to Puri in Orissa to get news of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s plans. The messengers returned with the news that Chaitanya had already left Puri for Vrindavana. Rupa and Anupama immediately decided to go and they wrote a letter to Sanatana telling him of their plans and asking him to meet them in Vrindavana. They also told him that they had left 10,000 gold coins in case he was in need of financial help. Later, when Sanatana was thrown into prison by the Sultan for disobedience, he used this money to bribe the jailer and escaped to Varanasi to meet with Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
SECOND MEETING WITH CHAITANYA MAHAPRABHU
After visiting Vrindavana, Chaitanya stopped at the holy city of Prayaga (modern day Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh). It was here that Rupa and Anupama met him for the second time. At the Dasasvamedha Ghat (a famous bathing area on the banks of the River Ganges), Chaitanya imparted instructions to Rupa Goswami and explained all the intricacies of the doctrine of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Rupa Gosvami was specifically commanded by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to carry out two tasks: to re-locate and preserve the lost holy places of Vrindavana, and to write and preach Gaudiya Vaisnava theology. He then sent Rupa Goswami to Vrindavana to carry out these orders.
Later, on the order of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Rupa Goswami came to Puri and resided there for ten months. During the time of the annual Rath Yatra festival in Puri, Rupa Goswami composed one mystical verse that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu requested him to read to his most intimate associates. Upon hearing this verse, all the assembled Vaishnavas praised Rupa Goswami for his outstanding composition that was filled with deep devotion to Krishna. Due to this, it was proclaimed that Rupa Goswami was the very embodiment of Chaitanya’ Mahaprabhu’s esoteric teachings of rasa (divine mellows). Because of this, Rupa Goswami is considered by Vaishnavas to be the foremost follower of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and those that strictly follow in his preceptoral line are known as Rupanugas (followers of Rupa).
Rupa and Sanatana remained in Vrindavana for the remainder of their lives. Their mood of renunciation and devotion was exemplary. Rupa uncovered various holy places associated with the pastimes of Krishna and rediscovered the famous deity of Govindadeva, which was originally installed and worshipped by Krishna’s great-grandson, Maharaja Vajranabha. Rupa and Sanatana were intimately connected with other Vaishnava saints in Vrindavana such as Lokanatha Goswami, Bhugarbha Goswami, Gopala Bhatta Goswami, Raghunatha Bhatta Goswami and Raghunatha Dasa Goswami.
Shortly after, they were also joined by their nephew Jiva Goswami who was given initiation by Rupa and personally trained by him in the philosophy of Gaudiya Vaishnavism.
Rupa Goswami departed from this world in 1564 CE and his samadhi (tomb) is located in the courtyard of the Radha-Damodara temple in Vrindavana. In Gaudiya Vaishnava theology, Rupa Goswami is considered to be the incarnation of Rupa Manjari, the foremost junior cowherd damsel who eternally serves Radha-Krishna under the guidance of Lalita (gopi).
Rupa Goswami wrote a number of texts in Sanskrit on philosophy, poetics, drama and dramaturgy. The following is a list of some of the most well-known works of Rupa Goswami:
Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu: (Skt. The Ocean of Nectar of Divine Love) Bhakti-rasamarta-sindhu can be considered to be one of the most important books in Gaudiya Vaishnavism. In this work, Rupa Goswami elaborately describes the tradations of bhakti from its lowest stage of sraddha (faith) up to its highest stage of maha-bhava (ultimate ecstasy in love of Godhead).
Ujjvala-nilamani: (skt. The Sapphire of Divine Love) This work exclusively explains the conception of madhurya-rasa (divine conjugal love). Ujjvala-nilamani is considered to be a sequel to the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu.
Laghu-bhagavatamrta: (Skt. A Summary of Nectar about Godhead) The Laghu-bhagavatamrta is a summary of Sanatana Goswami’s book Brhat-bhagavatamrta. The book begins by explaining the intrinsic nature of Krishna and his incarnations and continues to deal entirely with the devotees of Krishna.
Vidagdhamadhava (1524) & Lalitamadhava (1529) : Rupa originally planned to write these two dramas as a single one and he started writing accordingly in 1516. But finally, he completed them as two separate plays in Vikram Samvat 1581 (1524) and Saka era 1451 (1529) respectively. It is said that Rupa had a vision of Satyabhama, one of Krishna’s queens in Dvaraka, who told him to divide the book into two separate dramas. Thus, Lalitamadhava deals with Krishna’s pastimes in Dvaraka and Vidagdhamadhava narrates Krishna’s pastimes in Vrindavana.
Stavamala: (Skt. The Flower Garland of Prayers) This is a compilation of short works by Rupa Goswami, some of which are often published as separate books. Sri Radha-krsna-ganoddesa-dipika: (Skt. A Lamp to see the Associates of Radha-Krsna) In this book, Rupa Goswami lists the associates of Radha and krishna and describes their characteristics. This work was written in 1550 CE.
Danakelikaumudi (The Lotus-like Tax-collecting Pastimes) (1549): This Bh??ik? (one-act play) was written by Rupa Goswami in Saka era 1471 (1549) and narrates the danakeli (tax-collecting pastime) between Krishna and the Gopis of Vrindavana.
Mathura-mahatmya: (Skt. The Glories of Mathura) The Mathura Mahatmya tells the glories of Mathura, in the form of a conversation between Varaha (the boar incarnation of Vishnu) and the Earth Goddess. Rupa Goswami explains various processes of devotional service by quoting statements from various Hindu scriptures and establishes that Mathura vanquishes all one’s sinful reactions and awards piety and liberation.
Uddhava-sandesa: (Skt. News of Uddhava) In this work, Rupa Goswami narrates the story from the Bhagavata Purana of Krishna requesting his friend Uddhava to go to Vrindavana and pacify his friends and relations by reminding them of their pastimes with him.
Hamsa-dutam: (Skt. The Swan messenger) The Hamsaduta tells the story how Lalita, the confident of Radha, sends a messenger in the form of a swan to Krishna in Dwaraka.
Sri Krsna-janma-tithi-vidhi: This short work of Rupa Goswami’s is a paddhati (manual on ritual worship) explaining the process of worshiping the deity of Krishna during the festival of Janmastami, the birthday of Krishna celebrated by Vaishnavas in August/September.
Nataka-candrika: (Skt. The Illuminating Moon of Dramatics) This book explains the rules of Gaudiya Vaisnava dramaturgy.
Upadesamrta: (The Nectar of Instruction) This is a short work containing eleven verses that gives instructions to aspirants on the path of devotion to Krishna. The Upadesamrta was originally a part of the Stavamala.
Sanatana, or Amara as he was named at birth, was born in Jessore in East Bengal (present-day Bangladesh) in 1488 as the son of Mukunda, the private secretary of the Sultan of Bengal, Jalaluddin Fateh Shah (ruled 1481-1487 CE). Sanatana was the eldest son of Mukunda, and his younger brothers were Santosha (Rupa Goswami) and Srivallabha (Anupama).
Sanatana and his brothers studied Nyaya (rhetortic) and Vedanta from the famous logician Vasudeva Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya. They also studied under Sarvabhauma’s brother, Madhusudana Vidyavacaspati, from whom Sanatana took initiation in his childhood.
On the death of his father, Sanatana was forced to take up the post of Sakara Mallika (treasurer) to the new ruler of Bengal, Alauddin Hussein Shah (ruled 1493-1519 CE), while his brother Rupa was given the post of Dabir-i-khas (private secretary).
FIRST MEETING WITH CHAITANYA MAHAPRABHU
Sanatana and Rupa received land from the government for their personal use in Fatehbad, where they built a huge palace. They also built several beautiful mansions at Ramakeli. It was at Ramakeli in 1510 that Sanatana and his two brothers met Chaitanya Mahaprabhu for the first time. After meeting them, Chaitanya gave them the names Rupa, Sanatana and Anupama. Due to this meeting, the brothers decided to renounce the world and join Chaitanya and his entourage. Rupa resigned from his post, but Sanatana’s resignation was refused by the Sultan. Sanatana stopped coming to court and feigned sickness. But when the Sultan sent his personal physicians to treat Sanatana they returned and reported that Sanatana was in perfectly good health. The Sultan personally visited Sanatana and tried to convince him to continue to render his governmental duties and accompany him on a military campaign against the neighboring state of Orissa. Upon Sanatana’s refusal, Hussein Shah had him thrown into prison.
While in prison, Sanatana received a letter from his brother Rupa telling him that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu had left Puri to go to Vrindavana and that Rupa and Anupama had decided to meet him there. Sanatana managed to bribe the jailer with money Rupa had sent him for emergencies. Sanatana then crossed the Ganges River and made his way towards Vrindavana.
CHAITANYA MAHAPRABHU IN BENARES
As Sanatana made his way to Vrindavana he learned that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu had already left Vrindavana and was then residing in Benares. There Sanatana met Chaitanya, who imparted to him instructions pertaining to sambandha-jnana (knowledge of the self and one’s relationship with God). Chaitanya taught that the constitutional identity of each soul is to be an eternal servant of God. Chaitanya explained his teachings to Sanatana by summarizing them in three categories: sambandha (one’s relationship with Godhead), abhidheya (the method for reviving that relationship), and prayojana (the ultimate attainment of the supreme goal of life). After instructing Sanatana in the sambandha aspect of Gaudiya Vaishnava theology, Chaitanya instructed him to go to Vrindavana, where Sanatana visited the sites connected to Krishna’s pastimes.
When Sanatana later went to Puri and met Chaitanya once more, Chaitanya gave him four direct instructions:
- To write books teaching Bhakti yoga, the process of devotion to Krishna
- To discover and excavate the places in Vrindavana where Krishna had his pastimes
- To establish the service of the deity (murthis) of Krishna in Vrindavana
- To compile a book establishing the proper behavior for devotees of Krishna in order to create the foundations of a Vaishnava society.
Sanatana Goswami returned to Vrindavana, where he located various lost holy places. He also established the worship of the deity of Madana-mohana. Soon after Sanatana discovered the deity, a rich officer in the Moghul army named Krishna Dasa Kapura built a temple for Madana-mohan. This later became one of the seven principal temples of Vrindavana.
Sanatana Goswami passed away in the year 1558 CE. His sam?dhi (tomb) is located next to the Madana-mohana temple.
Sanatana Goswami wrote four important books in Sanskrit on Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy:
Brihat-bhagavtamrita (“The Great Nectar of the Lord’s Devotees”)
This work of 2,500 verses is divided into two parts. The first section explains the ontological hierarchy of the devotees of Krishna. The second section deals with the soul’s journey to the eternal realm of Krishna. Narrated as stories, both sections explain many aspects of Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy. Sanatana also wrote for this book his own commentary, called the Dig-darshini.
Hari-bhakti-vilasa (“Performance of Devotion to Hari”)
This book was a joint work between Sanatana Goswami and Gopala Bhatta Goswami. Compiled on the order of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the book deals with the rituals and conduct of Gaudiya Vaisnavas. Sanatana also wrote an auto-commentary on Hari-bhakti Vilasa.
Krishna-lila-stava (“Glorification of the Pastimes of Krishna”)
Krishna-lila-stava consists of 432 verses tracing Krishna’s pastimes as told in the Bhagavata Purana, from the beginning of the 10th Canto up through the vanquishing of Kamsa. Krishna-lila-stava is also sometimes referred to as the Dasama-charita.
Brihad Vaishnava Toshani (“That which brings Great Joy to the Devotees of Krishna”)
The Brihad Vaishnava Toshani is Sanatana’s extensive commentary on the Tenth Canto of the Bhagavata Purana. This commentary is also known as the Dasama-tipanni.
Raghunatha Bhatta Goswami was born in a devotional family in Eastern Bengal. His father, Tapana Mishra was a devout Vaishnava and would sometimes invite Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to dine at his house. When Chaitanya Mahaprabhu visited Sri Tapana Misra’s home, Raghunatha Bhatta would often massage his feet.
In his early years Raghunatha spent much time in study, becoming adept in Sanskrit grammar and rhetoric and well versed in the scriptures. When his formal studies were complete his father sent him to Puri, where he again met Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, spending eight months in his service and cooking for him on a regular basis. Pleased by his service Chaitanya Mahaprabhu offered Raghunatha a tulsi garland from around his own neck.
After Raghunatha Bhatta’s parents had died, he returned to Jagannath Puri where he spent a further eight months in Mahaprabhu’s service. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu then sent Raghunatha to Vrindavana, to study the Bhagavata Purana and other Vedic and Puranic scriptures under the guidance of his disciples Rupa Goswami and Sanatana Goswami. It is here that he officially became part of the Six Goswamis group.
Some time after Raghunatha’s passing, his disciples built a temple for Sri Gaura Govinda in Vrindavana. He is offered respects as a guru by all of the current lineages of the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition.
There seems to be some controversy amongst biographers about Jiva Goswami’s birth. Some opine that he lived from 1511-1596 CE, while others claim that he lived from 1533 to 1618 CE. Not much is known about Jiva Goswami’s childhood. He was born in Ramakeli in the district of Maldah, West Bengal as the son of Srivallabha Mallika (also known as Anupama), the younger brother of Rupa and Sanatana, his mothers name is unknown. He had a strong affinity to the worship of Krishna even from his childhood and excelled in his education completing his studies in Sanskrit Vyakarana (grammar) and Kavya (poetics) within a very short period.
When Jiva was three or four years old, his uncles resigned from their ministerial posts at the court of Alauddin Hussein Shah (ruled 1493-1519 CE) after their initial meeting with Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486-1534 CE) and they decided to join his ranks as mendicants. Jiva’s father, Anupama, also met with Chaitanya at this time and followed in the footsteps of his elder brothers and proceeded to travel with Rupa to Vrindavana.
JIVA LEAVES HOME
Hearing that his father and uncles had made their decision to work in the service of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the young Jiva desired to join them also. According to the biographical work Bhakti Ratnakara of Narahari Chakravarti, Jiva had a dream of Chaitanya at this time. This gave him the impetus to leave home and join Rupa and Sanatana. It is unclear from his biographies whether or not Jiva actually ever met Chaitanya personally.
Jiva travelled to Navadvipa in West Bengal and met with Nityananda Rama, one of the foremost followers of Chaitanya. Nityananda took Jiva to all the holy places in Navadvipa and they circumabulated the entire area together. This marked the beginning of the Gaudiya tradition of Navadvipa parikrama (circumabulation of the nine sections of Navadvipa). After the pilgrimage, Nityananda gave his blessings for the young Jiva to proceed towards Vrindavana.
Jiva went on to Benares where he studied for some time under the tutelage of Madhusudana Vidyavachaspati, the disciple of the famous logician and Vedantist, Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya. Under Vidyavachaspati, Jiva mastered the six systems of Indian philosophy known as Sad Darsana.
In 1535 Jiva arrived in Vrindavana where he remained under the tutelage of his uncles, Rupa and Sanatana (by this time his father Anupama had died). He accepted initiation from Rupa Goswami and was taught the esoteric principles of devotion to Krishna. Jiva helped to edit the writings of Rupa and Sanatana and assisted them in their work in propagating Gaudiya Vaishnavism and excavating the lost holy places of Vrindavana.
After the passing of Rupa and Sanatana, Jiva Goswami became the foremost authority in the Gaudiya Vaishnava line. In 1542 Jiva established one of the prominent and important temples in the Vrindavana area, the Radha Damodara mandir, installing deities of Radha and Krishna that had been personally carved by Rupa Goswami. At that time he also established the Vishva Vaishnava Raja Sabha (World Vaishnava Association) and the Rupanuga Vidyapitha, an educational facility for Gaudiya Vaishnavas to study the works of Rupa and Sanatana. His erudition and spirituality were so famous that the Moghul emperor Akbar became his ardent admirer and donated paper for his writing.
In 1558, Jiva instructed his students, Narottama Dasa, Srinivasa Acarya and Shyamananda, to go to Bengal and propagate the Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy and to take with them the original manuscripts that had been written by Rupa and Sanatana.
It was in his Sarva-samvadini commentary to the Six Sandarbhas of Hindu philosophy that Jiva Goswami first wrote of Achintya Bheda Abheda, the philosophy of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. In essence, the philosophy of Achintya bheda abheda, or “inconcieveble oneness and difference”, avoids the extremes of Shankara’s monistic Advaita vedanta and Madhva’s pure dualism (Dvaita) by interpreting the material and spiritual potencies of the Supreme Person (Bhagavan) as being simultaneously one and different with Him.
Srila Gopal Bhatta Goswami appeared in 1500 AD (though, according to some authorities, he was born in 1503) as the son of Venkata Bhatta in the town of Srirangam in South India. Their residence was in a village not far from Srirangam called Belagundi.
Sri Narahari Thakura states in the Bhakti-ratnakara, Srila Gopal Bhatta Goswami was given a vision in a dream by Mahaprabhu in which he was fortunate enough to witness all the Lord’s Navadvip pastimes. An eternal associate of Krishna, he appeared in a faraway place in order to participate in Lord Gauranga’s pastimes. Even so, he was able to know long before he even saw him that the Lord had appeared and taken Sannyasa. Gopal Bhatta did not particularly like the Lord’s appearance as a sannyasi. He was distressed and crying alone when the Lord appeared to him and gave him the dream vision of his Nabadwip lila. In this vision, the Lord was overwhelmed by ecstatic love, embraced him and drenched him in his tears.
Having said this to Gopal, the Lord embraced him and drenched him in his tears. He then told him to keep all these experiences secret, and Gopal felt great joy in his mind. (Bhakti-ratnakara 1.123-4)
Through the power of Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s merciful association, Venkata Bhatta, his brother Prabodhananda Saraswati, his son Gopal Bhatta Goswami, and all the other members of his family, were inspired to give up the worship of Lakshmi-Narayan and became engaged in the exclusive devotional service of Radha and Krishna. Srila Gopal Bhatta Goswami took initiation from his uncle, Tridandi Yati Srimat Prabodhananda Saraswati.
Gopal’s parents were very fortunate, for they surrendered themselves, life and soul, to the feet of Lord Chaitanya. They ordered their son to go to Vrindavan before they left this world, absorbed in meditating on the Lord. Gopal travelled directly to Vrindavan where he met with Rupa and Sanatan. (Bhakti-ratnakara 1.163-5)
GOPAL BHATTA COMES TO VRINDAVAN
When Gopal arrived in Vrindavan, Rupa and Sanatan wrote to Mahaprabhu to tell him. The Lord was overjoyed and immediately wrote back telling them to affectionately take care of him as though he were their own younger brother. Srila Sanatan Goswami compiled the Hari-bhakti-vilasa and published it in Srila Gopal Bhatta Goswami’s name. Rupa Goswami considered Gopal to be as dear to him as his own life and engaged him in the deity worship of Radha Ramana.
Srila Gopal Bhatta Goswami became one of the Six Goswamis, but he always kept an attitude of meekness and humility. Thus, when Krishnadas Kaviraj approached him for permission to write the Chaitanya Charitamrita, he granted it, but under the condition that he not write about him. Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami could not go against the order of Gopal Bhatta and thus did nothing more than mention his name. Sri Jiva Goswami writes in the introduction to the Sat-sandarbha that he wrote it on the basis of an earlier text by Gopal Bhatta. Srila Gopal Bhatta Goswami also wrote a book called the Sat-kriya-sara-dipika (“Light on the essential sacraments for the Vaishnavas”). Thus his contribution to Gaudiya Vaishnava literature was in editing the Hari-bhakti-vilasa, preparing the notes for Jiva’s Sat-sandarbha and in compiling the Sat-kriya-sara-dipika. He also gave great joy to the community of devotees by writing a commentary on Bilvamangala’s Krishna-karnamrta.
Amongst his disciples were Srinivas Acharya and Sri Gopinath Pujari. The following story is told about Gopinath Pujari becoming Gopal Bhatta’s disciple. One day, Gopal Bhatta went to visit the town of Saharanapura, not far from Haridvara. On that occasion, a simple, devoted Brahmin engaged in his service in a most unpretentious manner. He had no children, but desired to have a son. Srila Gopal Bhatta Goswami knew the desire of the Brahmin and blessed him that he would have a devotionally minded male child. The Brahmin promised Gopal Bhatta that he would give him his first son to be his servant and disciple. This son was Gopinath Pujari. It is said that Mahaprabhu had such affection for Gopal Bhatta that he sent him his own belt and kaupina as well as a wooden seat which he had used. These items are still worshiped in the Radha Ramana temple by the current sevaits.
SRI SRI RADHA RAMANA
When Srila Gopal Bhatta Goswami was visiting the pilgrimage centres of northern India, he found a Salagrama Sila on the banks of the Gandaki River. He took the worshipable stone and carried it with him wherever he went, treating it as Vrajendranandana Krishna himself. One day he thought that he would like to worship the Lord in a deity form so that he could expand his service. On the very next day, he found that the Salagrama Sila had transformed itself into Radha Ramana to fulfill the wish of his devotee. This deity stands alone without any form of Radha standing by his side. Instead, as a symbol of Radharani, a silver crown is placed on his left side.
The story is also told in the following way. It is said that Srila Gopal Bhatta Goswami used to daily worship twelve Salagramas. He developed a desire to serve the Lord in the form of a deity, thinking that in this way he would be able to worship him in a much better way. The Lord within his heart knew his feelings and through a rich merchant had many beautiful items used in the worship of the deity, such as ornaments and clothes, sent to him. Gopal began to worry that all these beautiful objects would be wasted because there was no way that he could use them unless he had a deity in human form. That night, he put the Salagramas to rest and in the morning he saw that one of them had been transformed into the Radha Ramana deity. When Rupa and Sanatan heard that Krishna had so mercifully appeared to Gopal Bhatta, they immediately came with the other devotees for darshan, and when they saw him, they were ecstatic with love. The annual festival commemorating Radha Ramana’s appearance, when he is bathed publicly, takes place on the full moon day of Vaishakh. The Radha Ramana temple is considered one of the most important in Vrindavan. Srila Gopal Bhatta Goswami ended his earthly pastimes on the Krsna Pancami of Asarh of 1507 of the Saka era (1585 AD). His samadhi temple is behind the current Radha Ramana temple. By reading Srinivas Acharya’s hymn to the Six Goswamis, Sad-gosvamy-astaka, we can understand their glories.
Born as the son of a wealthy landowner Govardhana Dasa from Saptagram, Raghunatha dasa is said to have showed a particular disinterest in everyday pleasures and an interest in more religious pursuits from a relatively young age. This was much to the displeasure of his parents, who eventually took to hiring guards in order to prevent Raghunatha dasa from leaving the family home with the aim of having a simpler life elsewhere. Eventually Raghunatha dasa escaped their home and made a journey to Jagannath Puri where he met his guru, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
According to accounts in the Chaitanya Charitamrta, written by Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami, Raghunatha dasa led a life of extreme devotional practice, spending more than twenty-two hours out of every twenty-four chanting the Hare Krishna mantra, and eating and sleeping for less than an hour and a half per day, and on some days that also was reduced. His clothes included a simple torn cloth and a patchwork scarf.
In this connection Raghunatha dasa is quoted to have said:
“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 Chaitanya for sixteen years at Jagannatha Puri. After which he went to Vrindavan in c.1543-44, where he lived for many years at a sacred lake known as Radha-kunda. His bhajana-kutir, or place of worship, still exists there and is visited by many pilgrims to this day.