The Gift of Srila Sanatana Goswami

Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj summarises the contribution of Srila Sanatana Goswami.

Srila Sanatana Goswami has given us what he received from Mahaprabhu directly. Mahaprabhu infused his wealth into Sanatana for two months in Benares, and thereafter Sanatana gave that wealth to us. Who is Sanatana? Who is Mahaprabhu? What is Vrndavan? Who are Radha and Krishna? We can understand all of these things through Sanatana Goswami.

Sanatana lived with Mahaprabhu in Benares for two months, and Mahaprabhu taught him sambandha-jnana. Thereafter, Mahaprabhu gave Sanatana four directions as to how he should serve the purpose of Sri Krishna-sankirtan: (1) “You must discover the old places of Krishna’s Pastimes in Vrndavan, (2) install Deities to be worshipped there, (3–4) compile scriptures to establish bhakti-siddhanta [the principles of pure devotion] and Vaisanva-achar, the regular practices of a pure Vaisnava. I request you to make these four things ready for the coming sampradaya. Also, look after and protect the persons who accept this creed.” In this way Mahaprabhu sent Sanatana, and Sanatana wandered throughout the length and breadth of the Vraja Mandal performing his service.

Raghunath Das Goswami has written a pranam to Sanatana Goswami.

vairagya-yug-bhakti-rasam prayatnair
apayayan mam anabhipsum andham
krpambudhir yah para-duhkha-duhkhi
sanatanas tam prabhum asrayami

“With great care, Sanatana made me drink me—forced me to drink—vairagya-yug-bhakti-rasam: the juice of divine love and affection mixed with a tinge of indifference [to the world]. I was blind and also unwilling to drink it. I was not qualified, I did not know what was what, and my propensity was to avoid it. Yet he managed to force me to drink the sweetness of the Lord’s loving service mixed with a tinge of indifference. So I offer my obeisance to Sanatana Prabhu, the great well-wisher of mankind.”

Baladeva Vidyabhusan also wrote:

govindabhidham indirasrita-padam hastastha-ratnadivat
tattvam tattvavid-uttamau ksiti-tale yau darsayan chakratu

“I offer my obeisance to Sri Rupa and Sri Sanatana. Who are they? They have shown Govinda, whom Laksmi Devi carefully serves, to this world as though He is a jewel within their hands. They have shown this side, that side, above, and below—everything about him. As though he is a jewel within their palms, they have shown the public he whom all resources and majesty seek to serve, he who is unavailable, unknown, and unknowable. So clearly they have described he who is indescribable. They have made everyone understand He who is unknowable. They have dealt that the highest principle as though he is an ordinary thing. That is the position of Rupa and Sanatana. Virachitascharyau: what they have done is simply wonderful, and thus I bow down to them.”

The six goswamis, lead by Sri Rupa and Sri Sanatana, did so much for the propagation of Sri Chaitanyadev’s divine cult of love. They revealed true love. And they did not do so for any mundane purpose. They did so for the highest gain and the Absolute Master. They revealed the Krishna conception in full and all five rasasmadhurya, vatsalya, sakhya, dasya, and santa—in a new color. They elaborately depicted the highest Lord in a new color, in a new land, and in a new hue.

Once, a gentleman said that twenty-four-hour engagement with the Supreme Lord cannot be imagined within any of the existing conceptions of religion in the world. Nowhere can the possibility of twenty-four-hour engagement in service to divinity be imagined. The most comprehensive divine service, in which every atom of one’s existence is utilized in the service of every corresponding atom within the Lord, such wholesale, inconceivable service has been given by Rupa, Sanatana, and their group. So we pray for their mercy.

aradhananam sarvesam visnor aradhanam param
tasmat parataram devi tadiyanam samarchanam

Of all sorts of worship, the worship of Visnu is the highest. Yet more important than Visnu’s worship is the worship of his servants. So, if we can show our sincere, heartfelt appreciation for Sanatana Goswami, Rupa Goswami, and the direct associates of Mahaprabhu, Mahaprabhu will be more pleased than if we try to offer our obeisance to him.

We are needy in every respect, but our hope, our prospect in life, is this: that our masters are so gracious, so magnanimous, and so high. Somehow we have fortunately come in connection with such great masters. This is our wealth. This is our fortune. This is our everything.


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7 Responses to The Gift of Srila Sanatana Goswami

  1. Gaura Gopal das anudas

    Hare Krishna! What is exactly a tattva jnani and its relationship to tattva siddhanta and the life of transcendental knowledge?

    • A tattva jnani in the context of Gaudiya Vedanta is one who knows the Gaudiya siddhanta.Such a devotees has sambandha jnana, the knowledge underlying bhakti.

      • Is there another implied nuance that some may miss while others take it for granted? Don’t we usually use “tattva-jñani” to describe someone who has realization — firsthand experiential acquaintance — of tattva, rather than the mere mental constructions that in the English language may be called “knowledge”? A scholar may “know” Vaishnava Vedanta, but a tattva-jñani lives an experiential understanding of that knowledge.

  2. The presence of Sanatana Goswami (and others such as Haridas Thakur) in Mahaprabhu’s Navadvipa lila raises a question. If there is an eternal Navadvipa, and if it resembles the Navadvipa of Mahaprabhu’s time, then it seems that Islam is present in the highest reaches of the eternal spiritual realm, and that even Christianity, a faith foundational to Islam and known in its scripture, is also present there. Yet, how can this be? This might be a shockingly ecumenical point to share with Christians and Muslims — your faith is practiced by some in our Heaven — or it might call into question the entire notion of Mahaprabhu’s Navadvipa as anything comparable to the Krishna-centric world of Gokula and Goloka. What do the good souls here at the Harmonist say about this?

    • First of all there is good reason to acknowledge a Christian-like ultimate reality. Bhaktivinode Thakura acknowledged this by stating in his commentary to Gita 4.8 that the decent of God is not limited to India. He appears a saktyavesa in other cultures and teaches dharma therein relative to the culture. And of course the Bhagavata states that the avataras are asankhya, unlimited in number.

      Secondly, it is plausible to imagine Haridas differently in the aprakrta Nadiya-lila, just as Rupa and Santana are not Hindu outcastes therein as they are in the prakata lila. In the aprakata lila they are brahmana boys.

      • Thank you, Maharaja! Indeed, when one reads medieval Christian mystics’ description of the brilliant light of the beatific vision, it is easy to envision a realm akin to an only slightly differentiated brahmajyoti, wherein the atma in something close to santa-rasa exists in relationship to the divine in a mood of peace and awe. The “bridal mysticism” of Catholic saints hints at some tinge of madhurya-rasa becoming available to saintly Christians, or at the very least that their practice is a waystation toward madhurya-rasa. Indeed, one wonders about the gopis and their followers; I’m not aware of any significant following of Candravali in any earthly lineage, but it is easy to conceive of some other manifestation in which the bhava of Candravali is found most prominent, and Radharani fades into the background for these Candravali-bhaktas. How wonderful that Sanatana Goswami has given us entrance into the particulars of his bhakti, within a framework that need not disparage others’ aspirations and attainments!

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