Rupa and Sanatana Goswamis were from a Sarasvata brahmana family in Karnataka. Due to certain circumstances their forefathers had to settle in Bengal and for some time they lived in Orissa. Their father was Kumaradeva and they had a brother named Sri Vallabha. Sanatana Goswami once had a dream where he saw a brahmana offering him the Srimad Bhagavatam. SanatanaGoswami was longing and yearning for Srimad Bhagavatam. In those days it was not easy to get Srimad Bhagavatam. There were no printing presses and if you wanted Srimad Bhagavatam you had to find a scribe who could find an original copy and hand copy that for you. It was very rare and difficult.
The next morning the same brahmana who had appeared in his dream came to Sanatana Goswami and gave him the Srimad Bhagavatam. It became his life, his soul, his every thing.
Rupa and Sanatana Goswamis were such loving, gentle and kind vaishnavas, so deeply learned, that everybody loved them. The King of Bengal, Nawab Hussain Shah, wanted the support of the vast Hindu community and therefore he some how or the other induced Rupa Goswami and Sanatana Goswami to become his ministers. He gave royal facilities to the two brothers but they were not attached to any of those opulences. Instead they created replicas of Vrindavan in their palaces and they would meditate on Krishna’s pastimes there.
Rupa and Sanatana Goswamis wanted to escape the government service and join Lord Caitanya. Their father Kumaradeva was performing pujas to somehow liberate their sons from the massive power and wealth they had, so that they could worship Krishna exclusively as their life and soul. They wrote many letters to Lord Caitanya but for a long time they didn’t get any reply. Finally Lord Caitanya sent them a letter with a cryptic answer. He wrote, “If a wife has a lover other than her husband, the wife serves her husband very nicely, but always meditates on the lover.”They understood that they have to perform their duties nicely and at the same time keep meditating on Krishna. Lord Caitanya said, “Just wait for Krishna’s mercy that shall deliver you.”
Visit to Ramakeli
On His first attempt to go to Vrindavan Lord Caitanya passed through Ramakeli where Rupa and Santana Goswamis were living. Lord Caitanya was accompanied by hundreds and thousands of people performing sankirtana. This was very controversial since the Nawab had banned any public display of religion except that of his own, and here was the Lord dancing and chanting with millions of people.
One police officer went to the Nawab and gave a description of Lord Caitanya and His ecstatic bodily transformations. The Nawab called for Keshava Khan, who was a devotee, and asked him about the Lord. Keshava Khan was concerned that if he would tell the truth, the Nawab would become envious and would harm the Lord. So Keshava Khan told the Nawab that all he had heard about Lord Caitanya was simply exaggeration and that He was just a common sannyasi begging from door to door. Hearing this, the Nawab said, “Why are you talking like this? You are asking me not to take Him seriously. I pay people huge amounts of money to do what I say and still they do not do it. This sannyasi does not pay anything to anyone and He has millions of people surrendering their lives to Him.” The Nawab further declared that this sannyasi is the same Lord who is addressed as Allah in Koran, Rama or Krishna in the Vedas and now He has come to Ramakeli to distribute love of God. He made a law that anyone who tried to disturb the preaching of this sannyasi would be punished.
Nawab Hussain Shah then called for Rupa and SanatanaGoswamis who were then called as Dabir Khas and Sakar Malik and asked for their opinion about Lord Caitanya. They explained that Lord Caitanya is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and whatever the king had, was simply because of His mercy.
Although the Nawab was favoring the Lord’s activities, he was known to be very cruel, powerful and his mind was unsteady. Rupa and Sanatana Goswamis were concerned about the Lord’s safety and they sent a message for the Lord to leave Ramakeli. When the messenger approached, the Lord was absorbed in sankirtana and nothing could distract His attention. They waited for hours and even the personal associates of the Lord could not interrupt Him. Finally Lord Caitanya could sense that His devotees were in anxiety. So He stopped the kirtan and called out with great compassion and emotion, “I have descended in this world to flood peoples’ hearts with the love of Krishna. Why should anyone be afraid? If I do not give the king the power to speak, he can’t say a word. If I do not give them the power to walk, they can’t approach Me. So why should anyone be afraid?” Then the Lord proclaimed, “In every town and village, My names will be chanted.”
That night Rupa, Sanatana and Sri Vallabha approached the Lord incognito. They approached Lord Nityananda and Thakur Haridas, who brought them into the presence of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. In a spirit of humility they took straw in their mouth and offered their prostrated obeisances. Out of humility they were unwilling to get up,and thus Lord Caitanya had to lift them up,. With folded palms they offered their heartfelt prayers unto the Lord. The Lord embraced them and said, “Please know that you are My old friends. Stop talking like this because your humility is breaking My heart.” Then Lord Caitanya gave them the names Rupa Goswami and Sanatana Goswami.
They requested Lord Caitanya that it is not safe to remain in Ramakeli and also advised Him not to go to Vrindavan with so many people. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu indicated that they must give up their government services and go to Vrindavan. The Lord then went to Kanai Natashala and taking the advice of Rupa and Sanatana, discontinued His journey to Vridavan and went back to Puri.
Breaking the bond
Rupa Goswami distributed half of his wealth to the devotees, one quarter to his family and he kept the rest for personal emergencies. Rupa Goswami then left his services to the Nawab. SanatanaGoswami could not leave immediately because of his high position in the state. Under the pretext of being sick, he stopped going to the Nawab. The Nawab found out that Sanatana was not sick and was spending his time studying the Srimad Bhagavatam. One day he stormed into Sanatana’s home and asked him the reason of his absence. Sanatana Goswami expressed that the Nawab could do anything he liked but Sanatana could no longer be a part of his government. The Nawab was furious and ordered that Sanatana be punished and put in jail. While in jail, Sanatana Goswami bribed the guard and escaped.
After an arduous journey through forests and hills, Sanatana Goswami finally reached Varanasi where he met Lord Caitanya at the house of Chandrasekhar. In Varanasi, the Lord instructed Sanatana Goswami for two months on the science of devotional service and then sent him to Vrindavan.
• To rediscover the lost holy places of Lord Krishna’s pastimes.
• To establish temples and discover the ancient deities.
• To show people how to live in the spirit of true renunciation and devotion by their personal examples
• To take the essence of all Vedic literatures and establish the supreme glory of pure Bhakti.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu wrote only eight verses of Siksastakam but He empowered His devotees and especially the six Goswamis to broadcast His teachings throughout the world.
When Sri Advaita Acharya was in Vrindavan he lived under a holy banyan tree called Advaita Vat. It was here that the ancient deity of Madan Mohan, in those days known as Madan Gopal, was revealed to him. Later he entrusted the deity to a brahmana in Mathura named Purushottam Chaube.
Once as Sanatana Goswami was doing madhukari, he came across this brahmana’s home and saw something peculiar. While making offerings to the Deity, the brahmana was chastising the Deity and asking Him to accept the offering. Sanatana told him the proper way of worshiping the Deity and the brahmana apologized for his behavior. Later the Lord revealed to Sanatana Goswami that Purushottam Chaube was a pure devotee and how He was extremely pleased with his service. The Lord also revealed how He now wanted Sanatana to worship Him. Lord Madana Gopal appeared in the dream of that brahmana and instructed him to give the deity to Sanatana Goswami.
Sanatana Goswami established the deity at Dvadasa Aditya Tila. He would collect some wheat flour, mix it with Yamuna water, bake it over coal and offer it to Madan Gopal. One day Krishna asked him if he could atleast provide some salt with it and SanatanaGoswami explained that what he had offered was all he had. Krishna tells in Gita that even if one offers a leaf, a flower, a fruit or even some water with devotion, the Lord accepts it. Not only does Krishna accept it but Krishna is conquered by a single leaf that is offered with love.
Once a merchant carrying large quantities of riches and salt on a boat, got stuck in the muds of the Yamuna. It is said that Madan Gopal came as a little boy and told Krishnadas Kapoor to approach Sanatana Goswami for help. Sanatana Goswami instructed him in the science of devotional service and asked him to take shelter of Madan Gopal. The merchant did so and also accepted SanatanaGoswami as his guru. When he did that, suddenly his boat was free. The merchant sold all the goods and offered all the huge profits he made to SanatanaGoswami. Not wanting anything for himself, Sanatana Goswami asked Krishnadas Kapoor to construct a beautiful temple for Madan Gopal, which became a landmark in Vrindavan.