Pastimes from the life of the greatest philosopher ever.
The six Goswamis of Vrndavana, Srila Rupa, Sanatana, Raghunath Dasa, Raghunath Bhatta, Gopal Bhana, and Jiva Goswami, are the principal followers of Lord Caitanya. Srila Jiva Goswami was the son of Sri Anupam, the brother of Rupa and Sanatana Goswami.
The story begins when Rupa and Sanatana were working as government officials under Nawab Hussein Shah in the capital of Bengal, Ramakeli. They were pure Vaisnavas from birth, but they were forced by social pressures to take service under a mleccha king. However, they could understand, by the pure intuition of their hearts, that Sri Sri Radha and Krsna, the eternal Lord and His consort, had appeared as Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu. So they were writing letters to Him asking "What should we do? We want to join You. We want to serve You. But we are under this most lamentable and degraded condit ion of life." Mahaprabhu, however did not answer.
Finally, Mahaprabhu answered their letters in a very mysterious way. He wrote, "A wife who is attached to another man, performs her l worldly duties to her husband very nicely, so that he doesn't suspect her. But in her mind she always thinks of the other man, waiting for a chance to meet him." Because of their sincere devotion, Rupa Goswami and Sanatana Goswami could understand what Lord Caitanya meant. They understood that very soon they would be receiving the mercy of Mahaprabhu and they would be liberated from the government service. But for now they had to just pretend to be ordinary civil officials.
MEETING WITH LORD CAITANYA
In 1511, Caitanya Mahaprabhu started for Vrndavana from Jagannatha Purl. Inconceivable to the minds of all others, Caitanya Mahaprabhu took a detour and reached Ramakeli. There at night ROpa, Sanatana and Anupam, very secretly went to the residence of Sriman Mahaprabhu. Jiva Goswami was a small child at that time. Since he had heard about the extraordinary characteristics of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, he secretl y followed his uncles and his father to that place. From some distance, he was watching the beautiful exchanges between Lord Caitanya and his father and uncles. He witnessed the extraordinary beauty of Lord Gaurasunder who had a beautiful complexion like molten gold. Lord Caitanya actually exhibited Radharal)i's very own bodily complexion. His beautiful lotus-like eyes and long arms which extended beyond His knees, and His supremely beautifully and delicately constructed body made Jiva Goswami intoxicated with ecstatic love for Him. Day and night he could not forget this beautiful darsana of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. In that darsana, he also saw the beauty of Nityananda Prabhu.
Sometime after this incident, his father Anupam was travelling with Srila Rupa Goswami to Jagannatha Puri to meet Gauranga Mahaprabhu. En route to Jagannatha Puri, Anupam departed from this world on the banks of the Ganges in Bengal and gained entrance to the spiritual world. When Jiva Goswami, who was a young child, heard this news it was utter devastation in his mind. He loved his father very dearly, not just as a father, but also as a great Vaisnava. Later, Rupa and Sanatana, on the order of Gauranga Mahaprabhu settled in Vrndavana. They were given these instructions – to establish by their example proper Vaisnava behaviour, to establish the properetiquette that the Vaisnavas should follow; to extract the essence of all the Vedic scriptures; to establish pure bhakti as the ultimate siddhanta , the goal of life; to excavate the holy places of pilgrimage where Lord Sri Krsna had performed His wonderful pastimes; to establish temples and demonstrate the proper form of Deity worship.
So while they were In Vrndavana, little Jiva was always thinking, "When will I go to Vrndavana to meet with Rupa and Sanatana? When will I go? When will I go? When will that day be mine ?" Because of his long deep burning desire to be amongst Rupa and Sanatana Goswami, he had absolutely no interest in any material things . Their family was very wealthy. He was given beautiful ornaments, wonderful clothes, all sorts of nice facilities. But he cared nothing for any of them. In fact, his friends would naturally study and play games, but he had no interest in any of that. He was only considering one thing in life from his earliest childhood, and that was bhakti to Krsna-Balarama . Since in his very childhood, he had darsana of Lord Gauranga and Lord Nityananda, it had awakened in his heart a spontaneous love for Krsna and Balarama. So he would spend his day making little Deities of Krsna and Balarama and then serving them. He would get nice sweetmeats and offer Them, he would constantly bow down, offering dandavats before Them, make garlands for Them, make jewellery for Them, clothe Them with beautiful nice garments, sing and dance for Their pleasure. He would always be praying, "0 Krsna and Balarama, when would that day be mine, when I would meet Rupa and Sanatana in Vrndavana?" Such was his intense separation. Even when he would go to sleep at night he would take Krsna Balarama, and very tightly embrace Them to his chest, and then he would sleep nicely .
LORD CAITANYA IN A DREAM
One day, he spent his entire time in this way, in the loving service of t he Lord and then the night fell. He was feeling so much separation from Lord Gaurati.ga Mahaprabhu and His associates, that he was trying to compose himself. In fact, peopl e a round we re very much impressed and concerned about him. They would say, "Look at this Jiva! Ever since his fath er has left, he just weeps and cries." With incessant tea rs of love in his eyes, he would be serving these little De ities of Kr~ D a and Balarama. Sometimes in ecstatic love, he couldn't control his emotions but he would try to conceal them. BlIt on this night he just broke down and began to pray from the core of his heart. "0 Lord S ri Gauracandra, o N ityananda Prabhu, 0 Advaita Prabhu, be kind upon me."
He was awake throughout the night, sleepless, just weeping and crying due to the separation from the Lord and towards the end of the night he fell asleep. Then Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu appeared to him in a beautiful dream. This was a dream which he had seen before. Mahaprabhu appeared with Nityananda, Advaita, Srivas, Haridasa, and all of His associates. They were having beautiful sankirtana of holy names. When he saw Mahaprabhu, His beautiful golden form dancing and trembling, it brought ecstasy to his heart. And as Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu was singing and dancing, there were hundreds and thousands of people, all around Him, tumultuously resounding the holy names.
Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
After some time his dream broke and he woke up. Since the vision of Mahaprabhu disappeared, it shattered his heart. He just fell to the ground in the ecstasy of separation. "My Lord, where are You? Where are You? Where have You gone?" Again he fell asleep by the grace of the Lord. This time Krsna and Balarama, his worshipable Deities, appeared in Their original forms to him. Syamasunder had a beautiful bluish complexion, beautiful golden crown, eyes blooming like lotus flowers, wonderful jewellery and garlands, head bedecked with peacock feathers. Balaramaji had a beautiful complexion like the spring cloud, and wore beautiful bright blue garments with fresh flowers and jewels. They looked upon the child Jiva with intense love. Jiva Goswami, upon seeing Them, just absorbed Their causeless mercy. Then, Lord Balarama transformed into the form of Sri Nityananda Prabhu and Lord Sri Krsna transformed into the beautiful form of Lord Gaurasunder. Jiva offered his prostrated obeisances and took Their beautiful lotus feet and placed them upon his head. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu said to Jiva Goswami, "I am entrusting you under the care of Sri Nityananda Prabhu. You are His property." Nityananda Prabhu said to Jiva, "Always worship Lord Gauranga as the Lord of your life."
After receiving this most blessed darsana, the dream came to an end and at that time, Srila Jiva Goswami had an inspiration to leave behind all of his attachments to family and simply run to Vrndavana. Soon after this, the Lord in His heart inspired him to go to Navadvipa, to see the beautiful place of Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu's birth and Adi-lila pastimes. He also knew that Lord Nityananda Prabhu was residing there at that time.
In Navadvipa, in order to fulfil Sri Jiva's intimate desire, Lord Nityananda Prabhu took him on a parikrama of Navadvipa. Bhaktivinoda Thakura with his divine vision has revealed many of the details of this Navadvipa parikrama in his book, Navadvipa Dhama Parikrama.
Nityananda Prabhu then ordered Jiva Goswami to go to Vrndavana and take shelter of Rupa and Sanatana Goswami. He said to Jiva, "Vrndavana has been given by Caitanya Mahaprabhu to your family. That is the place you should go to. Enroute to Vrndavana, you should go to Varanasi or Kasi. There you will find one very great disciple of Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya, whose name is Madhusudana Vacaspati, and you should learn the sastras from him."
Jiva went to Varanasi and became the student of Madhusudana Vacaspati. Within a very short time, he became famous not only in Varanasi, but also throughout India, as a profound philosopher and a deeply learned and realized scholar of Vedic literatures.
After his studies, he proceeded to that great goal which he was always longing to achieve – the holy land of Vrndavana. In Vrndavana, he met his beloved uncles. Since Sanarana was the eldest, Jiva Goswami surrendered to Sanatana, begging Sanatana to accept him as disciple and give initiation.
JIVA SERVES ROPA GOSWAMI
Sanatana Goswami, however advised him to take initiation from Srila Rupa Goswami. Jiva complied. Rupa Goswami agreed, but didn't initiate him immediately. Rupa wanted to properly train him on how to be an ideal disciple. AIthough Jiva Goswami was a pure devotee of the Lord, a brilliant scholar of all Vedas, and utterly renounced from any material attachment whatsoever, still Rapa Goswami wanted to train him in menial service . Sometimes , he would have him prepare the Deity paraphernalia of Radha Govindaji, make garlands, perform menial services like cleaning, massaging the lotus feet of Rupa Goswami, and prepare palm leaves and pencils for Rupa Goswami's writing.
How grateful Jiva Goswami was! If we want to follow in the footsteps of the six Gosvaml, we should understand this principle: however big we are, however great we are, however learned we are, we should never see ourselves as anything more than the most menial, humble servant of the servant of the servant. That is Vaisnava. And that is the consciousness that attracts the mercy of Sri Radha Damodar.
Pleased with his menial service, Rapa Goswami gave Jiva Goswami initiation into the Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya.
JIVA GOSWAMI WORSHIPS RADHA DAMODAR
Rupa Goswami loved Jiva Goswami so dearly. With his own hands, Rupa Goswami carved a Deity and named Him Radha Damodar. In the year 1542, Rapa Goswami personally installed that Deity and worshipped him. He then entrusted the care of Sri Radha Damodar to Jiva Goswami who worshipped Radha Damodar with deep love and attachment. The Bhakti Ratnakar, by Narahari Cakravarti Thakura explains a few incidences of the nature of Jiva Goswami's love.
Lord Damodar was so pleased with Jiva Goswami's devotion that He would speak to Jiva Goswami! He would say, "Please give Me bhoga, I am hungry." Jiva Goswami would personally prepare the bhoga, and offer it with love and devotion with his own hands. By Damodar's mercy, Jiva Goswami would see the Lord eating the bhoga with his own eyes.
One day, Jiva Goswami heard a flute playing,. Damodar called out: "Jiva! Come, I am playing the flute for you." Jiva Goswami rushed to the altar and saw Damodar dan cing! The Deity of Damoda r was dancing! His three-fold bendi ng form playing upon His flute, beautiful sweet music for t he pleasure of His devotee. Jiva Goswami saw the beaut iful form of Damoda r, whose eyes were like lotus flower s, His head was decorated with a peacock feather, a garland of beauti fu forest fl owers was around His neck, and lovely ornaments decorated His body. He was dancing and singing, playing sweet melodies on His flu te for His d evotee. Jiva Goswami fell uncon sc ious in ecstasy, and when he came bac k to con sciousness, he could only weep, c ry in ecstatic love.
It is believed that once, when Emperor Akbar came to Vrndavana, he had darsana of Jiva Goswami, and this transformed his heart. He was given such a vision of appreciation of Vrndavana that under Jiva Goswami's instruction, he, as well as many of his generals and ministers, became very active in develop ing Vrndavana as a great pilgrimage place. They helped in the construction of Radha Govindaji Mandir, Radha Damodar mandir, Jugalakisora Mandir, and Radha Gopinatha Mandir.
JIVA GOSWAMI'S LITERARY CONTRIBUTION
Jiva Goswami's major contributions were his own philosophical wr itings. He has written more than 400,000 Sanskrit slokas and over 25 beautiful books, like the Satsandarbha, Gopala Camp;; and others. Under the instruction of Rupa and Sanatana, Jiva Goswami took the principles of Caitanya Mahaprabhu's philosophy and like no-one else had ever done before, established those principles on the basis of undefeatable sound logic and strong evidence from authorized Vedic scriptures. Therefore, he is actually the one who really established the philosophical base for our movement.
He also built a library in the Radha Damodar temple where all the writings of Rupa, Sanatana, Raghunatha dasa, Krsnadasa Kaviraja, Gopal Bhatta were kept safely.
Our acaryas claim that Gaudiya Vaisnava philosophy is the greatest of all the philosophies of the world. And in the history of mankind, Jiva Goswami is first and foremost of all philosophers. After Srila Rupa Goswami and Srila Sanatana Goswami departed from their earthly lila to return to the eternal abode of Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu, Sri Sri Radha Krsna approved Jiva Goswami to be their successor. Although there were many gurus in Bengal, and many acaryas in Vrndavana, Jiva Goswami was accepted by all to be the most prominent. He was chosen as the leader of all Gaudiya Vaisnavas.