Shyam Lal hakim took birth in 1921 at Dera ghazi Khan (now in Pakistan) in the home of a wealthy Vaishnava family from Punjab, in India. His father, Ray Sahab Sri Ragunath des Hakim, was a great devotes of Krishna and a lover of Braj. His family was strongly connected with Vrindaven and used to visit it regularly. In this way, from early childhood, System Lal had a keen desire to go and live in Viridian.
Whenever he got the chance, he used to come to verindavan. When residing there, he relishes the Pastimes of Radha and Krishna and hearing from senior vaishnavas, housed to perform bhajan.
In due course of time, he took initiation from Goawami Shri Devakinandan Maharaja Prabhupada, a direct descendant in the lineage of Lord Nityananda and Sevaite of the Sringaravat Temple of viridian, situated on the Yamuna River right on the back of the Radha Damodar Temple. Srinngaravat is a very important place of the back of the Radha Damodar Temple. Sringaravat is a very important place of the Chaitanya Sampradaya, for it is here that lord nityananda came to stay while searching for Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in Viridian. From this spiritually place, he received from his spiritual master all the necessary instructions for his bhajan.
Just after taking dikshas, due to the mercy of his guru. Shyam Lal Hakim now known as Sri Shyam Das, he got the inspiration for writing poetry and on all kinds of sublets related to Radha and Krishna. Soon he became also proficient in the Sanskrit language and due to his close contact with Viridian, he become a lover of the ancient Brajbhasha language that is still peculiar with some modern modification to the inhabitants of the Braj area. Being by profession an Ayurvedic doctor, he knew already other languages such as English, Hindi, Urdu and Parsi.
In 1947, when India becomes independent and partitioned, Sri Shyam Das come with his family to viridian. At that time his father was very old and the responsibility of the family fell upon him, a heavy task which he fulfilled in spite of many difficulties.
In Vrindavan he began to study the Goswamisaiready being published in Sanskrit and Bengali. All the works of the Chaitanya Sampradaya were available only in these two languages.
Therefore, the inspiration came in his mind to translate into Hindi as a service to the Hindi speaking Vaishnva community.
This work of transiting and compiling and compiling books is still going on. Till now Sri Shyam Das has to his credit more then 150 titles. Besides, he has also given elaborate commentaries on many books and edited hundreds of articles. Sri harinam Sanskrit Mandala and Vraja Gaurav Prakashan of which he is the founder president of which he the founder president have published his works. Works Since the last 32 years his monthly magazine “Sri Harinam” regularly reaches the educated circles of the Indian subcontinent.
The steady devotional service of Sri Shyam Das, his uncommon erudition, love for Vrindavan, happy writing style and his integrity of character, have recently attracted the notice learned Westem Vaishnavas who are now eager to see his numerous works translated into the major languages of the world.
The author of this book. Sri Shyamdas (Shyam Lal Hakim) has to his credit more than 150 titles. Besides he has also give elaborate commentaries on many books and edited hundreds of articles in Hindi. Sri Marinam Sankiritan Mandal and Vraja Gaurav Prakashan of which he is the founder president have published his works.
Since the last 32 years his monthly magazine ‘Sri Hiram’ regularly reaches the educated circles of the Indian subcontinent. The steady devotion service of Sri Sambas, his uncommon erudition, love for Vrindavan, happy editing style and his integrity of character, have recently attracted the notice of learned Western Vaishnavas who are now eager to see his numerous works translated onto the major languages of the world.
On the occasion of the fifth-hundredth anniversary of the advent on earth of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Who is the most merciful, loving descent of God the deliverance of the fallen souls, we are glad to offer the translation in English of the third edition (in for Hindi) of Six goswamis of Vrindavan.”
In the Vaishnava tradition the term “Goswami” is customary. The meaning of “Goswami” is master of the sense. Goswami indicates someone who has subdued his sense. His subdued his senses. In fact, the word “Goswami” is generally same as the word “Acharya”.
According to the science of devotion, acharya is he who teaches by example. He imparts instructions and gives initiation into the bhakti process. He knows the factual meaning and hidden truths of the scriptures for the benefit of all and by this he spreads the Bhakti cult all over the would. All these qualification pertain to the acharya and goswami. The most worshiipable Rupa. Santana, Raghunath Bhatta, Jiva, gopal Bhatta and Gopal Bhatta Raghunath Das-whose life of devotion, knowledge and renunciation and uncommon character we are going to study briefly though this small presentation, they were all masters of life. They all offered the most brilliant ideal and example.
The six Goswamis of viridian received the direct grace of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu that is the Lord Himself, who had made His advent in Navadvip, West Bengal, for the deliverance of mankind. Having received his energy, instruction and divine inspiration, the gossamers gave up their former lifestyle in Gaude desh-Bengal and moved to the braj area. That is the reason why they are called gaudiya Goswamis. Being the direct followers of Lord Chaitanya and having established through Him the conclusions of devotional service, they became regarded as the original pillars of the” Chaitanya Vaishnava Sampradaya”. Due to the connection with the land of Gauda (Bengal), the Chaitanya Vaishnava Sampradaya is also famous all over the would as ‘Gaudiya Sampradays.”
Sri Radha and her friends (sakhis) are the etemal associates of Sri Krishna in conjugal spontaneous love. Sri Krishna is the son of Nanda maharaj. At the same time, He is the Supreme Lord himself and very personification and fountainhead of rase.
Among the etenalassociates, or ragatmikas, and suborning to them are the manjaris is that they have access without any impediment to all kinds of service to Sri Radha Krishna when They are sporting in the most secluded places in nikunja where even Sri Lolita Devi and other sakhis are not allowed to enter. Sri Radha and Sri Krishna cannot hide anything from the manjaris. That is why when Sri Krishna wanted to taste the glories of the Sri Radha, Her wonderful Sweetness and the bliss that she derived from tasting His sweetness, in order to understand to take Radha bhava dyuti suvalitum; He made his advent in navadvip as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Then, with the aim to understand that unatojjvala rase, his etemal associates, the manjaris, appeared as Rupa, Santana and the other celebrated goswamis.
Stemming from the land of gaude and coming to braj, they began to uncover all the different secret pastime places of Radha and Krishna and Krishna and made manifest their complete and unique explanations on this subject. They analyzed most carefully the most obscure points of Braj bhakti (devotion to Radha and Krishna in the mood of Braj, Vrindavan and by that infused a new consciousness in the Vaishnava school. They also introduction the Srimad bhagavatam to the Vaishnavas and proved that this crest jewel among the Purans is the essence of all the Vedas and Upanishads. The personification of Lord Krishna. It is enriched with his most beautiful pastimes and with all the devotional conclusions.
For a very long time the descriptions of hero and heroin in the rasa shastras had fallen into a muddy pit and assumed very despicable and offensive ways overall a mundane presentation giving up the worldly conception of rasa srila rupa goswami reestablished "rasa vai seb". He proved the transcendental nature of rasa according to the revealed scriptures. He put a boundary around the elements of rasa leading to the development of devotion to the Lord. Due to this extraordinary achievement, Srila Rupa Goswami has been adorned with the title of founder-acharya of the bhakti rasa. He did not leave out any important subject matter. He scrutinized very carefully the philosophy of Vedanta, the Sanskrit grammar and poetry, rhetoric, logic and so forth. His specialty has been that by imposing a devotional flavour to all literatures, he has been able to attract all kinds of men to the worship of Radha and Krishna in Vrindavan.
It will not be exaggeration to say that by their offering a panoramic view of Braj and by showing the importance of developing transcendental emotions towards Braj and the greatness of residing in the Holy Land of Braj, the Goswamis contributed with a great meritorious work. Before them the sacred land of Braj was not identifiable. With the arrival in Braj of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and the six Goswamis, the true form and importance of Braj became manifest to innumerable teachers of the Vaishnava school. Gradually their interest for the Holy Land of Braj increased and after some time the followers of these teachers began to come to Braj and reside there with the aim to worship the Lord.
I believe that with this compilation of the lives of the above-mentioned great personalities the six Goswamis, their unparalleled example, way of worship and perfect instructions, the aspirants of the Vaishnava community will derive great benefit. Besides the eminence of such narration for all those who worship the Lord and together with an incomparable taste for the pastimes of the devotees of the Lord, the reader and sadhaka will experience an uncommon joy.
I pray that Sri Sri Radha Govinda and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu may bless my humble attempt to glorify the six Goswamis and that the Vaishnavas will cut keep those blessings upon myself.
The visit of Sri Chaitanya in Vrindavan was rather short. In the role of universal teacher, or archerya, he had to show everybody the importance to come to Vrindavan and bow down to all the places connected with Krishna’s pastimes.
After leaving vrindavan, Mahaprabhu moved in the direction of Jagannath, Puri where he would exhibit his vipralambha Lila to its highest extent. Just before that to happen, he instructed his immediate followers to go and live in Vrindavan and make vrindavan the main center for all his followers.
The six Goswamis, namely Rupa, Santana, Raghunath Das were disciples of Sri Chaitanya. Their Mahaprabhu. Their achievements in the direction of Viridian’s spiritual rebirth were many and glorious.
We are not speaking here of ordinary men. The modern Vrindavan with temples, ponds, groves and bathing places on the Yamuna is actually the fruit of their intense work of devotion. Their living example and extensive writing, aimed to systematize the doctrine of bhakti came to inspire entire generations of devotees. Pillars of faith their name the became synonymous with unalloyed devotion.
The world swami means master, and goes refer to the senses. It is said that the six Goswamis conquered steep, eating and the tendency for senens enjoyment. They used to sleep only two or there hours daily. This was not, however, the fruit of a conscious austerity. Their renunciation was merely a by-product of their love intoxicated state. In other words, they forget to eat and sleep as a result of their absorption in divine love. The Goswamis were by nature very humble and constantly engaged in the meditation process of the Lord and in the worship of Radha and Krishna. Everyone loved them because they were friendly and non-envious. If a man in Vrindavan had a quarrel with his wife, he would go to Sanatana Goswami, who would give him directions by which to settle his Problems. When Sanatans Goswami gave his judgment, people would simply Accept it. Such was his popularity.
Each of the six goswamis lived about forty years in the land of Braj adopting a life of simplicity and loving devotion. They resolutely gave up power, riches and position to live as beggars.
The Bhakti ratnakar that Rupa and Sanatana were already well versed in the scriptures and predisposed towards Vaishnavism when Sri Chanteys met them. Entwisted noted that, “In their commentaries and treatises, they refer to a wide range of texts and Rupa in particular was toughly schooled in classical aesthetic theory which he use of in his dramas and in his elaborate classification which he made use of in dramas and in his elaborate classification of all the moods of devotion.” This must have been one of the reasons why Sri Chaitanya selected them for the special task of systematizing the theology of the sampradaya.
In spite of holding high posts as ministers in the court of the court of the Muslim king Hussein Shah, Rupa and Sanatana never embraced the Muslim faith in their private life. Finally, the meeting with Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu saved them from their anomalous position. Spellbound by Mahaprabhu’s deep faith and ecstatic symptoms, they surrendered themselves to His divine will. Their conversion was a memorable ev3ent revival of Krishna bhakti.
As far as Raghunath bhatta Goswami, he becomes very popular among the people of Vrindaven by lecturing daily from the Srimad- Bhagavatam before the deity of Govindaji. His discourses were so much infused with bhakti rase that tars used to spill out of his eyes with much intensity sometimes. It would even become difficult for him to continue to speak. The late Dr. O.B.L. Kapoor remarked that, “Raghunath Bhatta Goswami was practiced not only in swimming on the surface of the ocean that was Srimad Bhagavatam, but also in diving deep into bridging out the jewels that lay at the bottom.”
Jiva Goswami assisted his uncles Rupa and Santayana in the in the work of writing literature, establishing the worship of Radha and Krishna’s pastimes. He was the most brilliant and scholarly Vaishnava of the time. With the disappearance. Jiva Goswami becomes the undisputed leader of the sampradaya and the highest authority in doctrine matters. With his procure waiting Jiva Goswamui Provided a monumental structure to the lineage of Sri Chaitanya.
In his treatises he refuted or understood all the existing doctrines in light of the achintya-bheda-abheda takttva. Up to date we have not heard of anyone who has ever tried to confront with his accurate and undefeatable presentation.
Gopal Bhatta Goswami had received the blessings of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu at the tender age of ten or twelve. Later on, more blessings came in the from of some gifts that Mahaprabhu sent to him with a letter to Rupa and Santana. Among the gifts there was the asana; Sri Chaitanya formally installed Gopal Bhatta as guru. Finally, the manifestation of Sri Radhraman represented the culmination of those perfect blessings and the proof of the eternal link of the Lord with His fully surrendered devotee.
Lastly, the life and character of Raghunath das Goswami cannot but transmit a sense of urgency and a dramatic impetus towards the spiritual. Raghunath was the son of a wealthy Bengali landowner, but at the age of fifteen he became completely indifferent to the world. Sri Chaitanya first advised him to perform his worldly duties but the intense mood of renunciation of Raghunath ultimately prevailed. There is much pathos in the life of Raghunath. His is an odyssey from the beginning of his life when he tries repeatedly to escape from home, to his days as an ascetic beggar in Puri and finally on the banks of Radha kund, where he laments in separation from Mahaprabhu and Radha-Krishna.
The holiness of the life of the six Goswamis made Vrindavan more sacred than ever in popular estimation. Not only pious pilgrims, but also princes and potentates thronged to Vrindavan from all parts of India. Although the place was reputed as holy since ancient times, it was only with the contribution of the six Goswamis, their immense labor of love that the development of the shrine really started and, since then, never stopped.
The lives of the saints have indeed an infinite power and charm. They are a soothing balm for our mental worries and can attract us toward higher sentiments. Indeed the life of a person is not just theory, but a paradigmatic model and a practical direction we can accept and follow. This is certainly sure for the six Goswamis of Vrindavan and so we are very thankful to Sri Shyam Das (Shyam Lal Hakim) and Dr. Nityananda for their attempt to catch hold of that infinite power and charm that emanates from the lives of these spiritual giants.
The name of Sri Shyam Das is not at all new among the veterans of Braj bhakti and the modem followers of Sri Chaitanya. Founder President of Sri Harinam Sankirtan Mandala, he established in 1969 the best printing press of Vrindavan to spread the message of Lord Chaitanya in the Hindi language in a systematic way. In the last 35 years his pen never tired. Even now, in spite of his old age, he carries on what he feels is his duty towards his revered spiritual master Prabhupada Goswami Devakinandan Maharaj, a siddha mahapurusha who lived in Vrindavan at the holy Sringaravat, the same spot that was blessed by the lotus feet of Lord Nityananda. In this way it is really a great honor for me to introduce this small volume of Sri Shyam Das to the Western spiritual seekers.
As I have been requested to translate the original work from Hindi into English, I found myself several times at a loss in understanding many elaborate phrases and structures. By the mercy of Sri Sri Radha Damodar, I have received a substantial help and support from my dear friend Krishna Balaram Goswami, the son of Ninnal Chandra Goswami, who is the present Sevaite of the Radha Damodar Temple. The translation would not probably come to light without his kind support and valuable suggestions.
A technical difficulty I had to face was which pronouns to use in relation with Sri Chaitanya. In Hindi the problem does not arise because there are no capital letters in the Devanagari alphabet. Due to the dual nature of his divine personality, Sri Chaitanya is sometimes regarded as a devotee and at other times as Goe Himself. As such I have used capital letters only when the autho clearly refers to Sri Chaitanya as God and I have used my persona discretion in all others cases. Besides, to facilitate the readers who are unfamiliar with diacritics, I chose to omit them altogether.
I like to express here my heartfelt thanks to Dr. Bhagava Krishna Nangia and Dr. Giriraj Nangia, the directors of Citralekha Sri Harinam Press for encouraging me in translating these hagiographies of the six Goswamis.
I would also like to give my heartfelt- thanks to my dear friend! Jagadish Sharma and Nitai Dey, both natives of Vrindaban. The, assisted me in many ways and I feel greatly indebted to them.
Indeed I am not at all qualified even to take the name of these saints, who were heroes among men, what to speak of introducing them to other Vaishnavas! For this audacity and for m; lack of spiritual qualifications I sincerely apologize from the generous readers. I truly hope that one day, hopefully in this life, the life and character of the six Goswamis will be able to attract my heart and impress upon it that change which is necessary to understand who are Radha and Krishna and what really means to serve Them with devotion. In the meantime, I remain an object of Their mercy, the mercy of the six Goswamis and of all the sincere Vaishnavas.
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