Goswami means the master of senses, and Godas means servant of the senses. Let’s know all about Srila Gopala Bhatta Goswami.
The six prominent Goswami’s of Vrindavan- Srila Rupa Goswami, Srila Santana Goswami, Srila Jiva Goswami, Srila Gopal Bhatta Raghunatha Dasa, Srila Raghunatha Bhatta Goswami are teachers of Bhakti. Hence, they are called acharyas, who teach us how to carry out Bhakti by their example.
Whichever field we are in, music, science, etc., to have a teacher is important for the student’s growth.
The Goswamis are the best teachers as they teach us Bhakti, not just by their words but also by their actions. To speak is easy, but to follow is very difficult.
There’s a very instructive story in the matter-
Once, a mother took her child to her Guru, complaining that she ate too much jaggery. Her Guru asked her to return the next week. When they returned, he asked her what the matter was, which she relayed the same. The Guru told the child that the child doesn’t eat jaggery in reply. The mother, puzzled, thought to herself, if he had to say only this much, he could have said so before. The Guru, after hearing her doubt, smiled, saying, until last week I used to eat jaggery in excess myself, then how could I have reprimanded someone else not to eat the same?
However, today we observe that this quality is has dried up in teachers.
Hence, the Goswamis are said to be the prime teachers of Bhakti because they have followed and practiced what they preached.
yad yad ācarati śreṣṭhas tat tad evetaro janaḥ sa yat pramāṇaṁ kurute lokas tad anuvartate
Whatever action a great man performs, commoners follow. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues.
The most prominent and relished literature of the Gaudiya Vaisnavas is Caitanya Caritamrita, written by Krishna Das Kaviraj Goswami and named by Srila Prabhupada as a postgraduate study.
When Krishna Das kaviraj Goswami was about to start writing on the request of Vaishnavs in Vrindavan, he was taking blessings from senior Vaishnavas. Their blessings any work can be successful. Upon seeking blessings from Srila Gopala Bhatta Goswami, he was met with one request. Gopal Bhatta instanced that his name is not mentioned in this literature. That’s why not much is known about the life of Srila Gopala Bhatta Goswami.
After giving darshans to Raghunatha Dasa Goswami in 1510, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu descended for his South India yatra. Eventually reaching upon Sri Rangam Chetram, upon the shore of the river of Kaviri, Tanjore district, which is the center for the worship of Laxmi Narayan temple.
He met with the three brahman brothers of great learning- Venkat Bhatt, Tirumal Bhatt, Prabhonanda Sarasvati. They lived according to shastra, and upon meeting a sannyasi, they requested the Lord to allow them to serve Him. The main work of grishthas is to invite Vaishnavas at home and serve them with great reverence and enthusiasm, especially sannyasis.
Mahaprabhu reached Sri Rangham during Chautuar Maas, and hence, sannyasi and mendicants could not travel during this time. Generally, sannyasi do not stay at a place for more than three days, but during these four months, because it’s raining outside, they prefer to stay at one place as they cannot travel.
The son of Venkat Bhatt, Gopal Bhatt, was 7 when he first met Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. The 3 Brothers were dedicated servants of Laxmi Narayan in the Sri Sampradaya in the Sri Rangam temple. Seeing this, Mahaprabhu’s heart was deeply satisfied.
Although Mahaprabhu was a follower of Radha Krishna, i.e., worshipping the Lord in the mood of sweetness vs. the mood of awe and reverence of the Sri Sampradaya, he was moved by the service attitude of the brothers.
In truth, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is none other than Radha Krishna in the most generous form. Hence, we can see from this if we want to attract the Lord towards ourselves, we need to serve the Lord with sincerity and all humility, and hence it attracts the Lord to seek out the devotee. In this regard, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur has said, “Don’t try to see Krishna, work in such a way, the Lord himself comes to see you.”
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu had come to spread the worship of Radha Krishna, and hence one day, he jokingly spoke with Venkata Bhatt.
The Lord told Bhattacarya, “Your worshipable goddess of fortune, laksmi, always remains on the chest of Narayana, and she is certainly the chastest woman in the creation. However, my Lord is Lord Shri Krishna, a cowherd boy who is engaged in tending cows. Why is it that Laksmi, being such a chaste wife, wants to associate with My Lord? To associate with My Lord, she renounced all opulences of Vaikuntha and for a long time accepted vows of austerity.”
Venkata Bhatta said, “Lord Krishna and Lord Narayana are the same. Krishna is simply Narayana in another dress. It’s still, in essence, the same person. However, Krishna represented a superior manifestation. Although in one sense, there is no difference between the forms Krishna and Narayana, in Krishna, there is a special metaphysical attraction due to the conjugal rasa, and consequently, he surpasses Narayana.
We need to note that when we see that some superior is trying to teach us something, we shouldn’t present illogical arguments against them and humbly learn from them. To be defeated by the Lord and Guru is a glorious position for all of us and our real win. Moreover, Mahaprabhu himself, in his pastimes, taught us this lesson. When his spiritual master defeated him as a scholar, he pridefully declared it.
Mahaprabhu smilingly replied, “Lord Krishna has a specific characteristic. He attracts everyone’s heart through sweet interpersonal relationship of conjugal love. In Vrindavan, his godhood becomes unimportant and an incomparably sweet exchange ensues. There He is known as the son of Maharaja Nanada. He’s conquered by the spontaneous love of his most intimate servitors. The highest of them are the gopis. Their love is unconditional and unmotivated. They are ready to do anything for them. Just see their pastime of giving their foot dust to the Lord. Consequently, all the luxury and power of the world couldn’t gain her entrance. “
To follow in the footsteps of the gopis is to seriously follow in the vaidhi sadhana bhakti given by Srila Rupa Goswami. We can descend into Raghunaga bhakti, bhava bhakti, and Prema bhakti.
In this manner, the Lord spent the remainder of 4 months discussing Hari Katha with the three brothers, and little Gopal Bhatta used to listen attentively. Gopal Bhatt was allowed to serve the Lord in these four months intimately.
After these four months, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu decided to continue his journey. Venkata Bhatta immediately fell unconscious upon hearing this, while Gopal Bhatta bitterly cried tears of grief, fearing the separation. To pacify Gopal Bhatt, Mahaprabhu agreed to stay a little longer.
The Blessings Of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
Gopal Bhatta was blessed with a dream showcasing the pastimes before the sanaysa of Mahaprabhu. He could experience what the residents of Navadvipa witnessed. He revealed to him his two-handed Shyamasundar form, playing the flute. In the same dream, Mahaprabhu told him, “Very soon you will meet two precious jewels, namely Rupa Goswami and Santana Goswami. I have given them the mentality to preach my teachings. You shall help them, and your disciples will spread them.
Upon waking, Gopal Bhatta went to see the Lord. Upon receiving him, Mahaprabhu affectionately instructed him, “For now, you must stay here and serve your mother and father. After they have departed this world, you must go to Vrindavan and serve Rupa and Sanatana. Constantly hear and glorify the holy name and pastimes of Lord Krishna.”
In this way, after instructing the whole family, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu left for his journey.
In time, keeping the instructions and the dream of the Lord close to his heart, Sri Gopal Bhatta learned Sanskrit grammar, poetry, rhetoric and became an expert in all the scriptures, beginning with the Vedanta sutra from his uncle, Srila Prabodhananda Saraswati, to how to give lectures.
The main driving force to maintain his life and go forward in his spiritual life was his memories with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
When he reached Vrindavan, he was affectionately taken under the shelter of Rupa and Santana Goswami. Meanwhile, Lord Chaitanya was absorbed in the thoughts of Srila Gopala Bhatta Goswami while at Nilachal, wondering if he had reached Vrindavan. Hence he sent a letter to Vrindavan asking for Srila Gopal Bhatta’s whereabouts.
Rupa Goswami and Santana Goswami replied to Mahaprabhu’s letter, happily stating about the auspicious arrival of Gopal Bhatta. When Mahaprabhu read this, he fell into a deep ecstasy. Rupa Goswami further wrote all the other residents of Vrindavan, such as Loknatha Goswami, Krishna Das Kaviraj Goswami, Kasheshwar Pandit, Parmanada Ji, Bhugar Goswami are very satisfied with his arrival and had arranged for his stay. They all had started listening to Katha from Srila Gopala Bhatta Goswami.
Hence for some time, Gopal Bhatta was engaged in the service of Govind Dev Ji until his deity had manifested.
Mahaprabhu became exceedingly pleased to hear this and ran to tell about the letter’s contents to everyone he met including, Nityananda Prabhu, Gadadhara Pandit, and Haridas Thakur, and glorified the qualities of Gopal Bhatta.
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu sent the messenger from Vrindavan back to Rupa Goswami with a letter and his very own kaupin and his stool to be given to Srila Gopala Bhatta Goswami. Shri Rupa received these things with great happiness. Sri Gopal Bhatta Goswami accepted the loincloth and dress of a Babaji with joy and deep gratitude, considering it to the Lord’s mercy.
It’s said the items used by the Lord are as worshipable as the Lord himself.
Mahaprabhu, in his letter, instructed- don’t become dependent upon security or adopt a permanent resident. Hence all the Goswamis of Vrindavan used to sleep under different trees every day not to become attached. Srila Prabhupada, in this regard, has said if we even have the attachment towards eating chocolate left in us, we will have to come back.
Further, he said, please spend most of your time helping Rupa and Sanatana Goswami compile literature and thoroughly study them as well.
Taking the instructions of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu as his very own life and soul, he immediately went on to write a book called Sat Kriya Sardipika, the light of spiritual rituals for the rituals for Gaudiya Vaisnava gristhas. Sanskar dipika is for sanyasa asharam. He further went on to edit Hari Bhakti Vilasa, written by Sanatana Goswami, which is detailed on Vaishnava achar. He also wrote the introduction to Jiva Goswami’s Sat Sandarbha. Bilvamangal Thakur’s Krishna kathamrita’s commentary was also written by him.
He was an embodiment of the scriptures, speaking from the shastras, and also, his behavior was according to that. He soon became famous as the younger brother of Rupa and Sanatana Goswami. They always used to serve closer together. People from all around India used to solve their queries and doubts from the shastras and learn how Bhakti should be done.
In this way, he went on.
Appearance of Sri Radha Ramana
The fame of Gopal Bhatta Goswami spread even further when he traveled to Nepal near a river where Shaligram Shilas are found. When he dove under the water, he found 12 shilas had collected in his kamandulu. When he put them back, he again found 12 shilas in his kamandulu. Taking it as a sign that the Lord wanted service from him, he took those 12 shilas back to Vrindavan with him. It Vrindavan, this news spread far wide like wildfire. He used to keep them in a cloth bag hung around his neck. Still, he wanted to desperately worship the Shri vigraha of the Lord in his deity form. At this time, a rich man came to see Sri Gopal Bhatta Goswami. Eager to serve him, the rich man offered fine clothing and jewelry for the service of the Lord. Shri Gopal Bhatta placed these things before his shaligrams.
Later at night, Gopal Bhatta Goswami offered arati and bhoga and put his shaligrams to rest, covering them carefully in a basket. The next morning he bathed in the Yamuna, and when he went to wake his Lord upon opening the basket, he saw, amid the shaligrams, something divine. One of the shaligram shilas had manifested into a beautiful deity of Lord Krishna with a three-fold bending form. Gopal Bhatta fell into a trance of utter happiness, seeing this unparalleled beauty. Offering his dandavats to the deity, he began to sing the holy name and prayers to the Lord. Hearing of this miracle, Shri Rupa Goswami, Shri Sanatana Goswami, and the other Vaishnavas and Goswamis quickly went there and saw the mind bewildering beauty of the deity as tears of divine love flowed from their eyes. In 1599, on the full moon day of Vaishakha, this divine form of Krishna became manifest. The Goswamis named this deity “Shri Radha-Ramana-deva.”
Radharamana is the only deity never taken outside Vrindavan when attacked by Arungazeba. When Arungazeba saw that the temples of the Hindu were even larger than his Taj Mahal, he decided to destroy them. The magnificent temple of Govind dev was first attacked. Hence the devotees decided to transfer the prominent deities of Vrindavan such as Govind Dev Ji, Gopinath Ji, Radha Damodar, Radha Vinod, and Radha Madhav to Jaipur. Hence Jaipur is also known as ‘Gupta Vrindavan.’
Radharamana was so small that he was sometimes put into the hollow of the tree, and sometimes he was put in a boat in the middle of the river and devotees who were very talented with bows and arrows used to protect him at night.
It’s also noted that along with Radharaman Ji, there is no Radharani; however, a silver crown has been kept with him, on his left-hand side, each representing Srimati Radharani.
The Golden Lord Fulfill His Devotees Desire
Once when Gopal Bhatta Goswami was serving Radharaman, he felt deep pangs of separation from Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. The fire of separation to meet with Mahaprabhu and serve him again began to eat him from the inside. Feeling this, he remembered the promise he had made to his father always to serve the lotus feet of Mahaprabhu. He felt it was a lack of virtue that he was here, serving Radharaman instead of Mahaprabhu. As he cried tears for the golden Lord, the dark deity of Radharaman manifested himself into the golden form of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. The signs of Prema Bhakti manifested in the body as the beheld his most munificent Lord fulfill his desire. Gopal Bhatta Goswami, upon beholding this sight, was astonished.
After satisfying his devotee, the Lord once again manifested into the beautiful form of Radharamana.
Descendants of Gopala Bhatta
In the Sampradaya of Gaudiya Vaisnava, Gopal Bhatta Goswami is greatly important. His disciple Srinivas Acharya spread the teachings of Gopal Bhatta Goswami all around. Moreover, Gopinath Pujari, another disciple who was the head priest at Radharaman, had a great wish that his family lineage would take care of Radharaman. Still, it wasn’t possible as he was a lifelong sanyasi. Thus, the younger brother of Gopinath Acharya, Sri Damodar Das, was ordered by Gopal Bhatta Goswami to marry, and his family will take care of the Radharaman temple. Srila Gopal Bhatta Goswami and his teachings are still revered and followed by Vrindavan.
Take away from his life:
The six Goswami’s are the best teachers of Bhakti. Suppose we want to understand the teachings of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in truth. In that case, we will have to follow in the footsteps of these 6 Goswamis, living according to the principles underlined by them.
Srila Gopala Bhatta Goswami was the incarnation of Ananga Manjari, the younger sister of Srimati Radharani. In some other places, it’s mentioned that he is Guna Manjari. His position is one of glory. The greed for pride is compared with stool. When lust takes upon a subtle form, it’s said to make people run after fame. This destroys the service mindset towards Radha Shyamasundar, Guru, and Vaishnavas. Those going through this are advised to pray to Srila Gopala Bhatta Goswami. Even after knowing that Chaitanya Charitamrita would be the biggest literature, he refused to write his name. Hence we need to pray unto the lotus feet of Gopal Bhatta Goswami to help us remove this disease.
Srila Gopal Bhatt Goswami Ki Jai Sri Sri Rukmani Dwarkadhish Ki Jai