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Shri Sanatan Goswami;
In his Laghu Baisnab Tosani, Shri Jiva Goswami has mentioned their family lineage beginning with Shri Sarva, who was a yajur vedi brahmana, Bharadvaj gotriya, from Karnatak. His son was Shri Aniruddha deb who had two sons, Shri Rupesvar and Shri Harihardeb.
There was apparently some altercation between the two brothers, who had different mothers (Aniruddhadeb had two wives) as a result of which Shri Rupesvar, along with his wife and eight horses, came to Paulastyadesh, where he was befriended by the ruler of that land, Shri Sekharesvar.
Shri Padmanabhdeb, the son of Shri Rupesvar was extremely learned in all the Bedas. He came with his family to live at Naihati, on the banks of the Ganga. He had eight daughters and five sons. His five sons, following in the footsteps of their predecessors, were very expert in the study of the Bedas. Their names were Purusottam, Jagannath, Narayan, Murari and Mukundadeb.
Mukundadeb's son, Shri Kumar deb, being oppressed by some of the other family members, came to live at Bakla Candradwip. Shri Kumardeb had many sons, amongst whom, Shri Amar (Sanatan), Shri Santosh (Rupa) and Shri Ballabha (Anupam) were great devotees.
Shri Sanatan was born in the Christian year 1488 (Sakabda 1410). He, along with his brothers, began his studies from their maternal uncle's house, in a small village, Sakurma, near the capital of Gaurdesh.
The Badsa Hussain Shah, having heard of their profound scholarship and intelligence, decided to engage the two brothers as his ministers. Though they were unwilling, the order of the Badsa could not be entirely neglected. Thus they came to live at Ramkeli, the capital of Gaurdesh at that time, and were presented much wealth by the Badsa. Many brahmanas and pandits from distant lands would stay with Rupa and Sanatan whenever they came to Ramkeli, especially those from Karnatak and Nabadwip. There is still a house near the Ganga in Ramkeli, called Bhattabati, which is said to have been their residence.
They had many instructors and professors. In rhetoric their teacher was Shri Biddabhusanpad. They were trained in philosophy by the brother of Sarbabhauma Bhattacarja, Shri Biddabacaspati, as well as Shri Paramananda Bhattacarja and Shri Rampad Bhadrapad. Their names have been mentioned in Sanatan's commentary of the Tenth Canto on Shrimad Bhagavatam.
These three brothers were from childhood endowed with great devotion to the Lord. In memory of Shri Brindaban, they planted near their residence many auspicious trees such as Tamal, Kadamba, Juthika and Tulasi. In the midst of these gardens they constructed Shyamkund and Radhakund. In these auspicious surroundings they always remained absorbed in service to Shri MadanMohan. Having heard something about the famous Nimai Pandit they became very anxious to have His darshan and always meditated on when they might get such a chance.
One morning, Sanatan Goswami, saw a dream in which one brahmana was presenting the Shrimad Bhagavatam to him. Suddenly he woke up, but seeing that no one was there, he felt sad. Later on, in the morning after he had finished his bath and performance of puja, one brahman came to his house and presented him with the Bhagavat (Shrimad Bhagavatam), instructing him to study it very thoroughly. Having received it in this way, he was beside himself with bliss. From that day he considered the Bhagavat to be the essence of all scriptures and began it's thorough study.
"My only constant companion, my only friend, guru, wealth, that which has delivered me, my great fortune and the source of my good luck and the form through which I taste pleasure, my obeisances to you, Shrimad Bhagavatam."
[Shri Krishnalila stava]
When the brothers learned that Nimai Pandit, the life and soul of Nadiya, had accepted sannyas and gone to stay at Puri, they fainted dead away, having lost all hope of getting His darshan. They were a little pacified only after a celestial voice informed them that they would be able to see the Lord, here in Ramakeli itself.
After five years had passed, Mahaprabhu decided to come to Bengal to have darshan of his Mother and Mother Ganga. All of the devotees were in ecstasy and Sacimata was so overjoyed that she was not even aware of her own body. After spending a few days with Adwaita Acarja in Santipur, He came to Ramakeli. [C.C.Madhya 1.166]
Sakara Mallik (Sanatan) and Dabir Khas (Rupa), along with their brother Shri Ballabha (Anupama), whose son was just a small child (Shri Jiva), finally got to offer their salutations at the lotus feet of Mahaprabhu.
After Mahaprabhu had left Ramkeli to return to Puri, the brothers began to observe some vows and rituals (purascaran) in order to obtain shelter at His lotus feet. After sending the family members to their residences at Candradwip and Fateyabad, Shri Rupa and Anupam loaded a boat with their accumulated wealth and left Ramkeli. Sanatan remained there alone.
Rupa and Anupam received news of Mahaprabhu's journey to Brindaban and so set out to meet Him there. Arriving at Prayag, their desire was fulfilled. At that time they informed Mahaprabhu that their brother had been incarcerated at Ramkeli. Mahaprabhu simply smiled and replied that he would get his freedom very soon.
Meanwhile, after the successful departure of Rupa and Anupam, Sanatan was planning how he also could make his getaway. The Badsa had entrusted Dabir Khas and Sakar Mallik with the main responsibility of managing the affairs of his kingdom. When Sanatan stopped attending his durbar on the plea of being ill, he sent his personal doctor to examine him. The doctor informed him that there was nothing wrong with Sakara Mallik, and so the Badsa personally came there to find out what was the matter.
The Badsa addressed Sanatan Gosvami, "My doctor says that you are perfectly healthy. All my affairs depend on you, but you are simply sitting in your house, in the company of these pandits. Your brother has also left. In this way my kingdom will topple. I don't know what you are trying to do to me."
Sanatan Gosvami replied, "We will no longer be able to assist you in the affairs of your government. You had better find someone else to do it."
The Badsa got up in great anger and declared, "You brothers have ruined all my plans."
Sanatan replied, "You are the independent ruler of Gaur. If you feel anyone has committed any misdeed, then you can punish him as you see fit."
The Badsa had Sanatan imprisoned. During this time the Badsa was preparing to go to Orissa to engage in warfare with the king of that country so he requested Sanatan to accompany him.
Sanatan refused, telling him, "As you will naturally try to give pain to the Deities in the temples and the sadhus, I will not be able to accompany you." Therefore the Badsa set out for Orissa leaving Sanatan imprisoned.
At this time Sanatan received a letter from Shri Rupa, stating that he had deposited eight hundred gold coins with one grocer. With the help of this money, Sanatan should immediately arrange his release. The account of his escape and journey to meet Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in Baranasi is found in Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhyalila Ch. 20. After that he went to Brindaban.
In a kutir (cottage) made from leaves, Sanatan Gosvami lived for some time at Mahabon, the birth place of Shri Krishna.
One day, he was walking along the banks of the Jamuna, going to beg some foodstuffs in a nearby village. Madan Gopaldeb was playing with some cowherd boys there, and when he saw Sanatan Gosvami he came running towards him, "Baba! Baba!".
Catching hold of Sanatan's hand he told him, "I want to go with you!"
"Lala!", replied Sanatan, "Why do you want to go with me?"
"I want to stay where you live."
"If you stay with me, what will you eat?"
"Whatever you eat Baba!"
"But I only eat some dry capatis and chick peas."
"Then that is what I will eat."
"No, that won't be enough for you. You should stay with your mother and father."
"Na. Baba. Na. I want to stay with you."
Sanatan Goswami patiently explained that the boy might feel difficulty if he stayed with him, and sent him home.
Then he went to beg some capatis in the village. That night, in a dream, he saw that boy again come to him. Smiling very sweetly, he caught hold of Sanatan's hand and said, "Baba! I am coming tomorrow to stay with you. My name is Madan Gopal".
His dream ended and he woke up. Losing himself in great ecstasy, he said to himself, "What did I see? Such a beautiful boy!"
Thinking of Lord Krishna he opened the door to his hut and saw standing outside a beautiful Deity of Gopal. His effulgence shone in all directions. For a few seconds Sanatan was completely stunned as he gazed upon Gopal's radiant smile. He expected that the Deity might say something or come towards him.
Tears of love gliding down his cheeks, Sanatan fell to the ground, offering his dandabats. Gradually, he performed Gopal's abhishek (bathing the Deity) and offered worship to Him.
Sanatan's brother Rupa happened to come there in the morning. When he saw the Deity he was deeply moved in ecstatic love. Sanatan kept the Deity with him in his leaf hut and began to worship Him in great happiness. Shrila Rupa Gosvami immediately sent word of this auspicious event to Mahaprabhu, at Puri.
[According to the different perspectives of vision of various devotees, Krishna's pastimes might sometimes be described in different ways, putting more or less emphasis on the external events that surround the internal moods and sentiments felt by Krishna and His devotees.
In light of this, it has been described in the Premavilas of Nityananda das, that MadanMohan previously resided at the home of one Mathura brahman, Damodar Caube by name, subsequent to the period of time during which He was worshipped by Shri Adwaita Acarja. Damodar Caube, his wife Ballabha and their son, Madan Mohan, used to worship the Deity in the mood of parental affection and friendship. Damodar Caube's son used to play together with Lord Madan Gopal. Sometimes, like naughty brothers, they would slight one another and then complain to the parents. Their parents would feed them together at the same time and lay them down to rest together.
Sanatan Gosvami used to sometimes beg chapatis from the Caube's house. When he saw how the Deity was being worshipped he instructed Damodar's wife Ballabhadebi in the rules and regulations of proper Deity worship. However, she found all of these rules very difficult to follow.
One day when Sanatan saw the Deity Madan Gopal and the boy Madan Mohan eating their lunch together, he became moved by the transcendental mood there and the symptoms of ecstatic love appeared in his body. Then he told Ballabhadebi that she should worship Madan Gopal according to the dictates of her heart.
One night Sanatan Gosvami and Damodar Caube's wife both simultaneously had a dream in which Madan Gopal requested to be able to come and live with Sanatan Gosvami. In great happiness Sanatan received Madan Gopal from the family and brought Him to a small hillock near Surja ghat, where he constructed a small hut made of branches and leaves. Then he began to serve Madan Gopal, preparing offerings for Him from whatever he obtained by begging.
One day Madan Gopal refused to eat, complaining that there wasn't even any salt on the chapatis. Sanatan replied, "Today it's salt and tomorrow it will be ghee. But I am sorry. I don't have the time or the inclination to chase around after rich men requesting special items from them".
Having silently listened to this reply Madan Mohan didn't say anything further, but instead arranged that Krishna das Kapoor would come that way, as will subsequently be described.
Sanatan Gosvami used to beg some flour from the village and then with that prepare capatis for Madan Gopal. Sometimes he would collect some forest vegetables, roots or spinach and also prepare some vegetables. If sometimes there was no ghee or oil, or salt, then he would just cook dry capatis. But he felt very bad about this. On the other hand, he could not see any alternative. Mahaprabhu had ordered him to compile Bhakti sastras (devotional scriptures) and the major portion of his time was devoted to that. Sometimes it simply wasn't possible to find time to beg some money with which to purchase salt and oil.
"Madana Mohana is the son of a Maharaj." Seeing that He is simply eating dry capatis Sanatan felt very sad. Madan Mohan, Who is within the heart of everyone could understand, "Sanatan wants to render greater service to Me." Then Madan Mohan Himself desired that His service might be increased.
Within a few days a wealthy Ksatriya named Shri Krishna das Kapoor came to Mathura to engage in trade and business. By chance however, his boat became stuck on a sand bar in the Jamuna and by no means could he manage to free it. By the by he came to learn that a sadhu of the name Shri Sanatan Gosvami was living nearby. In order to seek the blessings of the sadhu, Krishna das Kapoor came to his hermitage and found Sanatan Gosvami engaged in writing. Sanatan Gosvami's body was very lean and thin from the practice of great austerities and he was wearing only a kaupin. Krishna das offered his dandabats and Sanatan Gosvami in turn offered him a grass mat to sit on. Krishna das touched the mat with his hand and sat on the ground. He appealed to the Gosvami, "Baba! Please bestow your mercy on me."
Sanatan replied, "I am a beggar. What mercy can I bestow upon you?"
"I simply want your blessings. My boat is stuck on a sand bar in the Jamuna, and we can't free it by any means."
"I am completely ignorant about all these matters. You can speak to Madana Gopal about it."
Krishna das offered his dandabats to Madan Mohanji and spoke to Him, "O Madan Gopal Deb! If, by Your mercy my boat is freed, then whatever profit is realized from the sale of its cargo, I will give to this Gosvami to be engaged in Your service." Praying in this way, Kapoor Seth took leave from Sanatan Gosvami.
That afternoon there was such a downpour of rain that the boat very easily floated off the sand bar and on to Mathura. Krishna das could understand that this was the mercy of Lord Madan Gopal Deb. His goods were sold at a very handsome profit and with this money he constructed a temple and kitchen and made all the necessary arrangements for the royal execution of Shri Madan Gopal's worship. Seeing this arrangement, Sanatan Gosvami was very happy and after some period he initiated Krishna das Kapoor as his disciple.
Shri Madan Mohan Deb is presently worshipped at Karauli, Rajasthan. When the daughter of the king of Jaipur was offered in marriage to the king of Karauli, she very insistently requested that her father send Lord Madan Mohan with her as a dowry, as she was very attached to Him. Her father was very reluctant and agreed only after stipulating one condition, "Madan Mohan will be placed in a room with many other Deities. Whoever you choose while blindfolded can go with you to Karauli."
Madan Mohan reassured her by telling her that she would be able to recognize Him by the soft touch of His arm. By this stratagem, she easily recognized Madan Mohan who still resides in Karauli till this day.
There is a direct bus to Karauli from Jaipur. Otherwise, one can go by train from Mathura to Hindaun and then from there to Karauli by bus.
One day Sanatan Gosvami came to Radhakund to meet Shri Rupa and Shri Raghunath das Gosvami. Upon his arrival they both got up to greet him and after respectfully seating him, they immersed themselves in discussion of the nectarean pastimes of Shri Shri RadhaKrishna. At that time Shrila Rupa Gosvami was composing some hymns in praise of Shrimati Radharani, collectively known as Catu Puspanjali. Sanatan Gosvami, while reading these hymns came across one verse: nava gorocana gauri praba rendi barambaram mani stavak vidyoti veni byalangana fanam.
Here byalangana fanam means that the braids of Radharani's hair appeared very beautiful like the hoods of a snake. Sanatan Gosvami reflected, "Is that a proper comparison-, like the hood of a (poisonous) snake?"
At noon Sanatan came to the banks of Radhakund, and after offering prayers there, he began to take his bath. Then, on the opposite bank of the kund, he noticed some cowherd girls playing under the shade of a large tree. As he watched them from the distance, it appeared that a black snake, hanging from the tree, was about to wrap itself around the neck and shoulders of one of those cowherd girls. Sensing some danger he called out to her, "Ohe Lali! Look out! There is a snake just behind you!"
But the girls were absorbed in their play and didn't take notice of him. So he immediately took off running to save them from the impending danger. Seeing him approaching them, Shrimati Radharani and Her friends began to laugh. Then they disappeared.
Sanatan was completely stunned but then gradually the understanding dawned on him that Shri Rupa's comparison was appropriate.
Coming to the banks of Paban Sarobar, Sanatan Gosvami entered into some woods there. Giving up food and water, he became absorbed in intense meditation on the lotus feet of Shri Shri RadhaGobinda. Shri Krishna, Who is within the heart of everyone, could understand that His devotee was going without food, so He came there in the dress of a cowherd boy, with a pot of milk in His hand, and stood smiling before Sanatan Gosvami.
"Baba! I brought some milk for you."
"Oh Lala! Why have you gone to such trouble for me?"
"I saw you are sitting here for so long without any food."
"How do you know that I am not eating anything?"
"I come here to pasture my cows and I watch you to see what you are doing. But you never take any food."
"You should have sent someone else, you are just a small boy. You have suffered some difficulty in bringing this milk here for me."
"Na, na, Baba. It was no trouble. At home everyone else was busy, so I was happy to be able to come myself."
Sanatan Gosvami requested the boy to sit down while he transferred the milk into another container.
"Na Baba! I can't sit down now. It is almost sunset. I have to milk my cows now. I will come to get the pot tomorrow."
When Sanatan looked up there was no one there. He could understand Shri Krishna Himself had brought him this milk. With tears of love streaming down his cheek, he drank the milk. From that day he gave up fasting and would go to beg some foodstuffs from the Brijabasis. The Brijabasis also built him a small hut.
One day Rupa Gosvami had a desire to cook some sweet rice for his elder brother, Sanatan, but he had none of the necessary ingredients. But Shri Radha Thakurani, Who fulfils the desires of Her devotees, could understand everything. Dressing Herself as a cowherd girl, she came there carrying a basket containing rice and sugar, with a pot of milk in her other hand.
"Svamin! Svamin! Please accept this offering that I have brought".
Hearing someone calling in such a sweet voice, he opened the door of the kutir and saw an extremely beautiful cowherd girl standing there with a present of rice, sugar and milk in her hands.
"Lali! What brings you here so early this morning?"
"Svamin, I came to bring you this present."
"Oh! But you have gone to so much trouble."
"What trouble? I have come to serve the sadhus."
Shri Rupa requested her to sit down, but she replied that there was much work at home, so she couldn't sit down just now. Then she was gone.
Shri Rupa looked up and saw that there was no one there and was a little startled. "Now where did she run off to so quickly?"
He prepared the sweet rice and after offering to Shri Giridhari, he gave the prasadam to Shri Sanatan. Sanatan was in total ecstasy while accepting this prasadam and inquired, "From where did you get the rice and milk?"
Shri Rupa replied, "One cowherd girl brought everything."
Sanatan asked, "Just like that? Suddenly she brought everything?"
"Yes. This morning I was thinking to make some sweet rice for you. Just after that I saw one cowherd girl standing before our kutir with all the ingredients in her hands."
As Sanatan heard this, tears began to glide down his cheeks. "The taste of this sweet rice is from another world. Who else could have brought such ingredients but Shrimati Radha Thakurani Herself. Don't desire like this again." [Bhakti Ratna 5]
Everyday Shri Sanatan Gosvami would circumambulate the fourteen mile circumference of Govardhan hill. As he became advanced in years this became somewhat difficult, but he was not inclined to give up his vow. Krishna, however could understand that it was difficult for him, so He came to him one day dressed as a cowherd boy.
"Baba! You have become old now, so I think it isn't necessary for you to circumambulate Govardhan hill any more."
"No. Lala! This is my regular vow, my worship."
"You can renounce this vow in your old age."
"No Lala. One should never renounce his vows."
"Baba. I have a very good idea, if you will accept it."
"If it is acceptable surely I will accept it."
Then Shri Krishna presented him a stone from Govardhan hill with the imprint of His foot, a calf's hoof print and the impressions of a stick and flute in it.
"Baba! This is a Govardhan sila."
"What will I do with this?"
"You can circumambulate this sila, and that will be the same as circumambulating Shri GiriGovardhan."
Saying this much the cowherd boy disappeared. Then Sanatan could understand that Giriraj Himself had presented His worshippable form to him and from that day he would circumambulate this sila.
Sometimes Shri Sanatan used to stay at Mahaban. One day he saw some cowherd boys playing on the banks of the Jamuna, and amongst them was one boy whom he thought was Madan Gopal. "Is that my Madan Gopal playing there? No it must be one of the local village boys."
Then on another day as he was passing by the Jamuna, there again he saw that same boy and thought, "This time let me wait and see where he goes."
Finally, as the evening approached the boys finished playing and set out for their respective homes. Following behind that particular boy, sure enough, Sanatan saw him enter the temple. Then he could understand that Madan Gopal goes every day to the banks of the Jamuna to play with the other boys.
Wherever Shri Sanatan and Shri Rupa would go throughout Braja, in all the various villages the two brothers were much adored by the Brijabasis, who would feed them milk and yogurt. They in turn would see the Brajabasis as Krishna's own family members and respect them in that way.
Though it was not their business to engage in ordinary gossip, with the Brijabasis they would inquire about their well being, i.e. how many sons and daughters they had and who had been married where, what everyone's various names were, how their cows were giving milk, how the bulls were working in the fields, how the harvest was going on, who had fallen ill and if they were getting better or not? In this way Rupa and Sanatan became the life of the villagers and the Brijabasis also became the life of Rupa and Sanatan.
Shri Sanatan would sometimes stay at Cakleswar, near Govardhan. At that place there were many mosquitos, which caused a great disturbance. One day when he was being utterly harassed by these insects, Sanatan remarked, "I won't stay here any more. It is impossible to concentrate on anything. Neither can I write, nor chant."
That night, Lord Siva came to Sanatan and told him, "Sanatan! Please continue your service here in a happy frame of mind. From tomorrow there will be no more disturbance from mosquitos." After that there were no more mosquitos and Sanatan continued his bhajan free from disturbance.
Shri Sanatan Gosvami compiled many scriptures. These include: Shri Brhatbhagavatamrta, Shri Haribhaktivilas and its Digdarsanitika, Shri Krishnalilastava (dasam carit), Shri Bhagavatatipani, (commentary on Shrimad Bhagavatam) and BrihatBaisnabtosani.
Shri Sanatan Gosvami was born, 1488 (Christian) 1410 (Sakabda). At the age of 27 he came to live at Braja where he remained for 43 years. He thus lived to be 70 years old. His disappearance is on the full moon day of Asar in the year 1558 (Christian calendar).
His name in Braja lila is Rati manjari.