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Spiritual Leaders - Gaudiya-Vaisnava Acaryas (gurus)
Rupa and Sanatana Goswamis  


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Chief Associates of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu

The trancendental position of Sanatana Goswami is glorified in Sri Kavi-Karnapura's Gaura-Ganodesha-Dipika (181):

sa rupa-manjari-prestha
purasid rati-manjari
socyate nama-bhedena
lavanga-manjari budhaih

"Rupa Manjari's closest friend, who is know by the names Rati-Manjari and Lavanga-Manjari, appeared in the pastimes of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu as Shri Sanatana Goswami, who is considered to be a personal extension of the body of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu."

Sanatana Goswami's literary contribution to Gaudiya Vaisnavism is paralleled only by Rupa and Raghunath Das Goswami. The most important of the scriptures he compiled are the Hari-bhakti-Vilasa, the Brihad-bhagavatamrita, his Dasama-tippani commentary on Shrimad-Bhagavatam (Brihad-Vaisnava-Toshani), and the Dashama-charita.

Jiva Goswami gives an account of the ancestorial line of his uncle, Sanatana Goswami, in the conclusion of his commentary on the Bhagavata, the Laghu-Vaisnava-Toshani. From this genealogy we learn that there was a king called Srisarvajana in Karnataka, who was known as Jagadguru due to his learning. His descendants were:



Sanatana Goswami Ancestors

Aniruddha divided his kingdom among his two sons but Harihara forcibly occupied Rupesvara's dominion and drove him away. Rupesvara then left Karnataka and found shelter with King Sikharesvara of Paurastya. Later, he retired to Navahatta (Naihati near Kalna) in Bengal where he became friendly with king Danujamardana (Raja Ganesa?). His grandson Kumaradeva shifted to Bakla Candradvipa (East Pakistan). Rupa, Sanatana, and Anupama were among the many sons born in this brahmana family.

Sanatan and Rupa became ministers of Sultan Husain Shah of Bengal, Sanatana was given the official title of Sakar Mallik. Rupa was given the title Dabir-Khas. Sakar may be the Bengali form of sughar, which means, 'intelligent', sagacious', 'elegant', 'accomplished', 'beautiful' and 'virtuous'; hence Sakar Mallik means 'the virtuous, wise, and noble.' Dabir-Khas means private or principal secretary or writer. The Chaitanya Charitamrita states that Rupa's handwriting was extremely beautiful.

The importance of Sanatana, Rupa, and Jiva gosvamins in the development of Gaudiya-Vaisnavism cannot be overestimated, and in this respect their position is next to that of Nityananda and Advaita. They excavated many of Vrndavana's holy places, and made it into the centre of Gaudiya-Vaisnavism. Until the end of the 16th century, the countryside around Mathura and Vrindavana was practically all woodland. 'The Vaishnava culture then first developed into its present form under the influence of the celebrated Bengali Gosains of Vrindavan...From them it was said that every lake and grove in the Braja received a distinctive name, in addition to some seven or eight places which alone are mentioned in the earlier Puranas.'

It was under the influence of Rupa and Sanatan that the great temples of Vrndavana were built. Under one of the niches at the west end of the nave of Govindaji's temple at Vrndavana is a tablet with a Sanskrit inscription recording the fact the temple was built in samvat 1647, i.e. A.D. 1590, under the direction of Rupa and Sanatana.' Their fame even attracted Akbar, who came to visit them.

But this was only part of their activity, though a very important part, for Sri Chaitanya ordered them to restore Vrndavana. The other part of their work was writing Gaudiya-Vaisnava literature. 'Gaudiya-vaisnavism as we know it today, is mainly the product of Sanatana, Rupa, Jiva, and their disciple Krsna-dasa Kaviraja goswami.