The six goswami are paramahamsas, pure devotees of the Lord and they are the greatest philosophers in the world.
The six goswamis are as follows:
- Sri Rupa Goswami
- Sri Sanatana Goswami
- Sri Bhatta Raghunath Goswami
- Sri Jiva Goswami
- Sri Gopal Bhatta Goswami
- Sri Raghunath Das Goswami
The following was compiled by Yasoda nandana prabhu
Sri Caitanya spent the first 24 years of his life in Navadvipa, West Bengal. Most of Caitanya’s followers knew him since his early years. For example Advaita (1454-1550 CE), a leading figure among the Vaishnavas of Navadvipa from before Caitanya’s birth, and Nityananda (1473-1545 CE), a charismatic and eccentric saint, arose to key roles in creating the future of Caitanya’s tradition. Gadadhara Pandit and Vakresvara Pandit, Caitanya’s companions since his childhood, Narahari Cakravartin of Sri Khanda, Nityananda’s wife Jahnava, along with many others, contributed their share in initiating the tradition.
1489 Rupa Goswami appearance
1511 Jiva Goswami appearance
1515 Sri Caitanya visits Vrindavan
1516 Rupa and Sanatana come to Vrindavan
1531 Raghunatha Bhatta Goswami comes to Vrindavan
1533 Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu disappearance
1535 Jiva Goswami comes to Vrindavan
1542 Damodara Deity, first seva puja
1542 Radha-Raman Deity, first seva puja
1545 Jiva Goswami buys land at Radha Kund
1552 Rupa Goswami writes Nectar of Devotion (Bhakti-rasamrta Sindhu)
1558 Jiva Goswami buys land at Seva Kunj/ Sanatana Goswami disappearance
1564 Rupa Goswami disappearance
1570 Emperor Akbar meets Jiva Goswami in Vrindavan
1580 Radha-Madanmohan temple opens
1581 Caitanya Caritamrta, completed by Krishna das Kaviraj at Shyama Kund
1582 Krishna das Kaviraj disappearance
1582 Jiva Goswami orders Narottama, Srinivas, and Shyamananda go preach
1583 Raghunatha das Goswami disappearance
1585 Gopal Bhatta Goswami disappearance
1590 Radha-Govinda temple opens
1592 Jiva Goswami writes Gopal Champu
1608 Jiva Goswami disappearance
1670 Aurangzeb destroys Vrindavan temples
1739 Radha-Damodara Deity returns to Vrindavan from Jaipur
1764 Radha-Damodara Deity moves back to Jaipur and stays
Sri Caitanya went to Sri Vrindavana several times and revealed many holy places there. (Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 1,2,17,18) When Lord Caitanya first arrived in Vraja, He stayed at brahmana’s house in Mathura. He would walk around Vrindavana every day visiting the sacred places connected with Lord Krishna’s pastimes. Later, Lord Caitanya moved His residence to Akrura Ghata and would daily visit Imlitala, where He sat looking at the river Yamuna while chanting Hare Krishna and constantly shedding tears in an ecstatic mood of divine love. After a few months (in 1516), Lord Caitanya left for Jagannatha Puri and directed two of His dearmost followers, Rupa and Sanatana Gosvamis to proceed immediately to Vrindavana, not only to excavate the places of Lord Krishna’s pastimes and build temples but also to write books on the science of bhakti yoga, in order to establish the teachings of Lord Caitanya for the benefit of all future generations. (CC Adi 7, Madhya 1, 19, Antya 4). Other of the Six Gosvamis later joined them.
Even though both Rupa and Sanatana were very important ministers in the government of Bengal, by the divine inspiration of Lord Caitanya, they completely renounced mundane family life in order to fully serve the mission of Lord Caitanya. 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 Gosvamis 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
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 Caitanya Mahaprabhu (1486–1534 CE) and they decided to join his ranks as mendicants. Jiva’s father, Anupama, also met with Caitanya at this time and followed in the footsteps of his elder brothers and proceeded to travel with Rupa to Vrindavana.
Jiva went on to Benares where he studied for some time under the tutelage of Madhusudana Vidyavachaspati, the brother 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.
Jiva Gosvami made his appearance in 1455, Sakabdha (1533 A.D.), on the 12th day of the bright fortnight in the month of Bhadra. He disappeared from view at the age of 85 in 1540 A.D., (Sakabdha, 3rd day of bright fortnight, Pausa).
Sri Jiva later traveled to Vrindavana, where he joined the company of his two uncles, Sri Rupa and Sri Sanatana. Jiva stayed with Sri Rupa, who taught him Srimad Bhagavatam and gave him mantra initiation. Sri Jvia quickly become conversant with the conclusion of Srimad Bhagavatam, so Sri Rupa engaged him in proof-reading his Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu. Sri Jiva compiled a commentary on Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu called Durgama sangamani. Later, in 1476 (Sakabda), Sri Sanatana Gosvami compiled Sri Vaisnava tosani, a commentary on the tenth canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, which Jiva also proofread. Following Sanatana’s instruction, in 1500 (Sakabda) Sri Jiva compiled a commentary on the Bhagavatam called Laghu Vaisnava tosani.
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 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.
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
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).
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 Caitanya Mahaprabhu for the first time
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 samadhi (tomb) is located next to the Madana-mohana temple
Gopala Bhatta Goswami (born 1503) is one of the foremost disciples of the Vaishnava saint, Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and a leading historical figure in the Gaudiya Vaishnava school of Hinduism. He was part of a group of Vaishnava devotees known collectively as the Six Goswamis of Vrindavan, who were influential in establishing the philosophical basis of the Gaudiya tradition in formalised writings.
According to biographies such as the Bhakti Ratnakara Gopal Bhatta’s first meeting with Caitanya Mhaprabhu was in 1510 during Mahaprabhu’s tour of South India. Although of a young age he was given the opportunity to meet with Caitanya and serve him over a number of months. Such was his love for the saint, that when Caitanya Mahaprabhu was about to leave, Gopala Bhatta became upset, and for Gopala Bhatta’s sake, Caitanya then agreed to stay a few more days.
Gopal Bhatta Gosvami, one of the six Gosvamis of Vrndavana, as a young boy received the mercy of Lord Caitanya. While touring south India, Lord Caitanya stayed four months at Gopal Bhatta’s house. Gopal Bhatta Gosvami later joined Lord Caitanya’s sankirtana movement. He proved himself an expert in Vaisnava scriptural regulations, wrote Vaisnava books, and established the temple of Sri Sri Radha-Ramana in Vrndavana.
(Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 10.105.)
When Caitanya traveled through South India in 1509-10, he stayed at the house of Venkata Bhatta, the father of Gopala Bhatta, priest of Srirangam. Venkata and his two brothers, Gopala’s uncles Trimalla and Prabodhananda Sarasvati “were converted from their Sri Vaishnava faith in Lakshmi–Narayana as supreme to one in Radha Krishna” as Svayam bhagavan
Sri Gopala Bhatta Gosvami, the forty-seventh branch, was one of the great and exalted branches of the tree. He always engaged in discourses about love of Godhead in the company of Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami.”
“Sri Gopala Bhatta Gosvami was the son of Venkata Bhatta, a resident of Srirangam. Gopala Bhatta formerly belonged to the disciplic succession of the Ramanuja-sampradaya but later became part of the Gaudiya-sampradaya. In the year 1433 sakabda (A.D. 1512), when Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu was touring South India, He stayed for four months during the period of Caturmasya at the house of Venkata Bhatta, who then got the opportunity to serve the Lord to his heart’s content. Gopala Bhatta also got the opportunity to serve the Lord at this time. Sri Gopala Bhatta Gosvami was later initiated by his uncle, the great sannyasi Prabodhananda Sarasvati. Both the father and mother of Gopala Bhatta Gosvami were extremely fortunate, for they dedicated their entire lives to the service of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. They allowed Gopala Bhatta Gosvami to go to Vrndavana, and they gave up their lives thinking of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. When Lord Caitanya was later informed that Gopala Bhatta Gosvami had gone to Vrndavana and met Sri Rupa and Sanatana Gosvami, He was very pleased, and He advised Sri Rupa and Sanatana to accept Gopala Bhatta Gosvami as their younger brother and take care of him. Sri Sanatana Gosvami, out of his great affection for Gopala Bhatta Gosvami, compiled the Vaisnava smrti named Hari-bhakti-vilasa and published it under his name. Under the instruction of Srila Rupa and Sanatana, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami installed one of the seven principal Deities of Vrndavana, the Radharamana Deity. The sevaits (priests) of the Radharamana temple belong to the Gaudiya-sampradaya. Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi lila 10:105
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.
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.
Gopal Bhatta (1503-1578) was born in an orthodox Brahman family in South India. His father Vyenkata Bhatta was a priest of the famous Narayana temple of Sri Rangam. Vyenkata Bhatta and his brothers, Prabhodhananda Saraswati and Tirumalla Bhatta were famous for their vast learning and piety. When Caitanya Mahaprabhu had undertaken His walking trip to South India in 1511, He spent the four rainy months of Caturmasa with them and engaged in deep discussion about philosophy and bhakti.
In the intervening decades between the Caitanya Bhagavata and the Caitanya Charitamrita, a number of other less well-circulated hagiographical works were composed, among the most prominent, Kavikarnapura’s Sanskrit poem Krishna- Caitanyacharitamritam Mahakavyam (c 1542) and the much later dramatic work Caitanyachandrodaya Natakam (c 1572-79), Lochana Dasa’s Bangla Caitanya Mangala (c 1570-80), and the popular but controversial Bangla tale by Jayananda also titled Caitanya Mangala (c 1550-60).
Raghunatha Dasa Goswami served Caitanya for sixteen years at Jagannatha Puri. After which he went to Vrindavan, 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.
Srila Rupa Gosvami took his birth in 1493 A.D. (1415, Sakabda), and disappeared at the age of 73 in 1564 A.D. (1486, Sakabda). He spent 22 years in householder life, followed by 51 years in Vrndavana. Rupa Gosvami is known as bhakti-rasacarya, an expert in the tastes of pure devotional service. He and his older brother, Srila Sanatana Gosvami, left high posts in the government of Nawab Hussein Shah to join Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Empowered by Lord Caitanya, Srila Rupa Gosvami wrote many books about the science of Krsna Consciousness. A summary study of his Bhakti-rasasmrta-sindhu can be found in “The Nectar of Devotion,” and his Upadesamrta is found in “The Nectar of Instruction”.
Sanatana Gosvami took his birth in 1488 A.D. (1410, Sakabda). As a child, he began his studies along with his brothers, from their maternal uncle’s house in a small village called Sakurma near the capital of Gaura-desa. At the age of 27 he came to live at Braja, and remained there for 43 years. At the age of 70, Srila Sanatana disappeared on the full moon day of Asar in the year 1558 A.D.
In the conclusion of his commentary on the Bhagavata, the Laghu-Vaisnava-Toshani, Jiva Goswami describes the ancestral line of his uncle, Sanatana Goswami. This genealogy states that there was a king in Karnataka called Srisarvajana, who was known as Jagadguru due to his learning. Srisarvajana’s descendant, Aniruddha, gave his kingdom equally to his two sons, Harihara and Rupesvara, but Harihara forcibly occupied Rupesvara’s dominion and drove him away. Rupesvara then left Karnataka, taking shelter with King Sikharesvara of Paurastya. He later retired to Navahatta (Naihati near Kalna) in Bengal, where he associated with king Danujamardana. His grandson, Kumaradeva, moved to Bakla Candradvipa (East Pakistan). Rupa, Sanatana, and Anupama were among the many sons born in this brahmana family.
As the elder brother of Srila Rupa Gosvami, Sanatana was the topmost among the six Gosvamis of Vrndavana. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu instructed him at Varanasi, teaching him the detailed science of devotional service. Lord Caitanya sent Srila Sanatana Gosvami to Vrndavana and gave him a fourfold mission: to uncover the lost sites of Krsna’s pastimes, to install deities of the Lord and arrange for Their worship, to write books on Krsna consciousness, and to teach the rules of devotional life. Srila Sanatana Gosvami, with the help of Srila Rupa Gosvami, fulfilled all parts of this mission.
Sri Sanatana Gosvami compiled many scriptures, including: Sri Brhad-bhagavatmrta, Sri Hari-bhakti-vilas and its Dig-darsani-tika, Sri Krsna-lilastava (dasam carit), Sri Bhagavata-tipani (Dasama-tippani) (commentary on Srimad Bhagavatam), Brihat-vaisnava-tosani (Laghu-tosani), and Dasama-carita.
Sanatana Goswami’s trancendental position is glorified in Sri Kavi-Karnapura’s Gaura-Ganodesha-Dipika (181):
“Rupa Manjari’s closest friend, who is know by the names Rati-Manjari and Lavanga-Manjari, appeared in the pastimes of Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu as Shri Sanatana Goswami, who is considered to be a personal extension of the body of Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.”
“In the First Wave of the book known as Bhakti-ratnakara, it is said that Sanatana Gosvami understood Srimad-Bhagavatam by thorough study and explained it in his commentary known as Vaisnava-tosani. All the knowledge that Sri Sanatana Gosvami and Rupa Gosvami directly acquired from Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was broadcast all over the world by their expert service. Sanatana Gosvami gave his Vaisnava-tosani commentary to Srila Jiva Gosvami for editing, and Srila Jiva Gosvami edited this under the name of Laghu-tosani. Whatever he immediately put down in writing was finished in the year 1476 Saka (A.D. 1555). Srila Jiva Gosvami completed Laghu-tosani in the year Sakabda 1504 (A.D. 1583).”
Caitanya-caritamrta, Madyam lila 1:35
Raghunatha Bhatta Gosvami, one of the six Gosvamis, was the son of Tapana Misra. Born in approximately 1425 Sakabda (A.D. 1504), he was expert in reciting Srimad-Bhagavatam, and in the Antya-lila, Chapter Thirteen, it is stated that he was also expert in cooking; whatever he cooked would be nectarean. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was greatly pleased to accept the food that he cooked, and Raghunatha Bhatta used to take the remnants of food left by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Raghunatha Bhattacarya lived for eight months in Jagannatha Puri, after which Lord Caitanya ordered him to go to Vrndavana to join Sri Rupa Gosvami. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu asked Raghunatha Bhattacarya not to marry but to remain a brahmacari, and He also ordered him to read Srimad-Bhagavatam constantly. Thus he went to Vrndavana, where he engaged in reciting Srimad-Bhagavatam to Srila Rupa Gosvami. He was so expert in reciting Srimad-Bhagavatam that he would recite each and every verse in three melodious tunes. While Raghunatha Bhatta Gosvami was living with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the Lord blessed him by offering him betel nuts offered to the Jagannatha Deity and a garland of tulasi said to be as long as fourteen cubits. Under Raghunatha Bhatta Gosvami’s order, one of his disciples constructed the Govinda temple. Raghunatha Bhatta Gosvami supplied all the ornaments of the Govinda Deity. He never talked of nonsense or worldly matters but always engaged in hearing about Krsna twenty-four hours a day. He never cared to hear blasphemy of a Vaisnava. Even when there were points to be criticized, he used to say that since all the Vaisnavas were engaged in the service of the Lord, he did not mind their faults. Later Raghunatha Bhatta Gosvami lived by Radha-kunda in a small cottage. In the Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika, verse 185, it is said that Raghunatha Bhatta Gosvami was formerly the gopi named Raga-manjari.”
Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi lila 10:158
The Radha Madana-Mohana temple was built in 1580 A.D.. The temple is 60 ft. high, and sits on a 50 ft. high hill next to the Yamuna. One day, a ship loaded with cargo went aground in the Yamuna. Sanatana Gosvami advised the ship’s owner to pray to Madana Mohan for help. The ship came free, and the owner, Ram Das Kapoor, dedicated his profits to build the temple.
The Radha-Ramana Temple was established by Gopal Bhatta Goswami. The seva puja of Radha-Ramana was established after the Deity self-manifested from one of Gopal Bhatta Goswami’s shalagram-shilas on the full moon day of Vaisakha (April/May) in 1542 A.D. This event is celebrated every year in May, when an abisheka (bathing) ceremony is performed for the Deity. Radha-ramana means “one who gives pleasure to Radha”. There is no Deity of Radharani in this temple, but a crown is kept next to Krsna signifying Her presence
The original Govindaji Deity was found about 450 years ago by Sri Rupa Goswami. In 1590 A.D., the Govindaji temple was built by Maharaja Man Singh from Jaipur, taking several thousand men five years to build.
The Govindaji Deity was removed from this temple when the Muslim emperor Aurangzeb had his army attack Vrindavan, destroying part of the temple. The original Deity is now residing in Jaipur, in a temple right outside the King of Jaipur’s palace. Since the Govindaji temple was partially destroyed by Muslims, it is considered that worship cannot be done in the temple. Consequently, another temple was established behind the original temple, where worship is performed to the Deities that were installed after the original Govindaji was removed to Jaipur.
Under one of the niches at the west end of the nave of Govindaji temple is a tablet with a Sanskrit inscription recording the fact the temple was built in Samvat 1647 (1590 A.D.), under the direction of Rupa and Sanatana Gosvamis.
Rupa Goswami first met Lord Caitanya at Ramakeli in 1514, and along with his brothers Sanatana and Anupama, completely surrendered to the lotus feet of the Lord. At that time all three brothers were employed as important ministers in the Mohammedan government of Bengal under Hussain Shah. Lord Caitanya assured them that now they had surrendered to Krishna, they would soon be delivered and would be able to join the sankirtana movement. After some months both Rupa and Anupama were freed from service, unfortunately Sanatana was not so lucky and was thrown in jail, but by the grace of Lord Krishna, he also got free from the clutches of Hussain Shah.
It was Rupa Goswami who more than anyone else, firmly established the sankirtana movement of Lord Caitanya. He wrote a large number of important books on the science of bhakti-yoga and after the disappearance of Lord Caitanya in 1534, Rupa became the undisputed leader of all the Gaudiya Vaisnavas in the world. Even today all Gaudiya Vaisnavas are known as Rupanugas, or followers of Srila Rupa Goswami most famous book is Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (The Ocean of the Nectar of Devotion) which must be read by all aspiring Vaisnvas and forms the solid foundation of the bhakti movement of Lord Caitanya. The essence of this book was explained directly to Rupa by Lord Caitanya during their historic meeting at Prayag (Allahabad) in 1516. After teaching Rupa all the important aspects of devotional service, the Lord sent him to Vrindavana to compile books on these very teachings.