Sri Sanatana Gosvami, the author of the Sacred Treatise, 'Brihat Bhagavatamritam' is the eldest of the six Gosvamis or masters of Gaudiya Vaishnava Sampradaya of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. The other masters are Sri Jiva, Sri Gopal Bhatta, Sri Raghunath Bhatta and Sri Raghunath Das Goswami. They are the principal followers of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Sri Sanatana and Sri Rupa were two brothers and their nephew Sri Jiva Gosvami was the son of their younger brother Sri Anupama. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu charged Sri Sanatana and Rupa with the task of restoring the lost glory of the holy places o the Mathura circle by raising temples, writing systematic treatises on Bhakti, introducing Vaishnavite practices and preaching the doctrine throughout western and central parts of India. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu taught Sri Sanatana the doctrine of Bhakti and inspired him with His unreserved infinite blessings.
Sri Sanatana Gosvami belonged to the Karnataka Brahmana family. His forefather Jagadguru Sarvajna was born in the royal family of Karnataka belonging to the Bharadvaja Gotra. His son Aniruddha was succeeded by his two sons Rupesvara and Harihara. Harihara drove Rupesvara from the principality, who then settled in the kingdom of his friend Sikharesvara, in the East. His son Padmanabha settled at Navahatta or Naihati now in the district of 24-Parganas. Padmanabha was minister to Danua Mardhana Raja Ganesa who defeated Samsuddin about 1405 A.C. He had five sons - Purushottama, Jagannatha, Narayana, Murari and Mukunda. Mukunda left the home of his father and took up his abode at Fateyabad in the Pargana of Bakla Chandradvipa in the district of Jessore now in Bangladesh. Of his several sons, Sanatana, Rupa and Anupama were the exclusive devotees of Sri Chaitanya. They used to reside at Ramakeli near Gauda, the then capital of Bengal. Sanatana was the prime minister of Bengal under of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Sri Sanatana was known under a Mohammedan name as Sakara Mallik and his brother Sri Rupa, another minister, was known as Davira Khas.
Sri Sanatana Gosvami belonged to most distinguished family of Bengal in learning, culture, honours and position in the State. Sri Sanatana Gosvami Studied under distinguished Professors of that time viz., Sarvabhauma, his genius of the Gaudiya country, Paramananda Bhattacharya and Ramabhadra. Sanatana had a special predilection for the Bhagavata since his boyhood. His Brihat Bhagavatamrita is the fruit of his life-long study and devotion to Srimad Bhagavatam.
In or about 1514 Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu after His Sanyas paid a visit to Sri Sanatana in his village Ramakeli. Here Chaitanya Mahaprabhu conferred the name of Sanatana to Sakara Mallick and Sri Rupa to Davira Khas. Darshan of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu changed the lives of two brothers Sanatana and Rupa from the princely office to extreme asceticism. Sakara Mallik and Davira Khas met Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in disguise at mid-night at His camp to evade the detection of the Mohammedan king Hussain Shah. Two brothers bitterly regretted having spent their lives in the service of the cruel king who oppressed the Hindus. This meeting with Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu inspired them with infinite spiritual strength and a poignant desire to renounce the world. Sri Chaitanya seems to have advised them toe give up their Government service and devote their time and energy to His missionary work, for which they were well-qualified with their learning and culture. In a few months, Rupa and Anupama came home to Fateyabad with their vast wealth leaving only ten thousand rupees with a mudi, a merchant at Ramakeli for Sanatana's use in case of emergency. Sri Rupa gave half of his forture to the pious Brahmans, Vaishnavas and for other charitable purposes and made provision for their kinsmen with one quarter reserving the remaining quarter for emergency. Sanatana refrained himself from participating in affairs of the State leaving his ministerial duties to his subordinates and devoted all his time to his studies of the Bhagavata in he company of about thirty pandits. Rupa's long absence at home and Sanatana's neglect of his duties on the pretext of indifferent health excited suspicion as to their royalty in the mind of the king. Sanatana was the helmsman of the State. The king usually passed his days in hunting and warfare. The affairs of the State began to suffer greatly. The king sent his won physician to ascertain the condition of Sanatana's health.
The doctor reported to the king that Sakar Mallik was quite all right. At this the king himself made a surprise visit to Sakar Mallik at his residence and found him discussing the scriptures with twenty or thirty pandits in the hall. The king said, My doctor whom I sent to examine you reports that you are quite well. At home neglecting it. You have ruined my affairs. Tell me your intention." Sanatana humbly submitted that he was unable to devote himself any more to statecraft, and requested the king to company him on his expedition to Orissa. But Sanatana refused to obey his command saying that he was unable to join his as it was the king's intention to molest the Hindu gods and destroy their temples. It was perhaps the first time that the king had ever received a refusal or met with point blank disapproval of a projected campaign from his minister for reasons so repugnant to the king that nobody would might even escape and join the Hindu king, his enemy. So the king put him in prison before he started for Orissa. At that time Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu went to Vrindabana from Puri. Sri Rupa met Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu at Allahabad on his way to Vrindabana while Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was returning from Vrindabana to Puri. Sanatana received a letter from Sri Rupa. Sri Sanatana easily won over the Mohammedan Jailor by appealing to his weakness. Sanatana told him that he was good to him in his former capacity; now it was his turn to show him gratitude by releasing him. Sanatana offered ten thousand rupees, which was lying in deposit with a mudi. If he set him free, he would get money and salvation at the same time.
The jailor released him son the assurance that Sanatana would not live in this country and he would go to Mecca and become a Darvesa. Sanatana accompanied by a servant left Bengal for Vrindabana through a jungle route and not by trunk road to avoid detection. Sanatana sent back his servant from Patna and started on foot alone. Sanatana met his brother-in-law Srikanta at Hajipur at the confluence of the Ganges and Gandaki rivers, opposite Patna, who had been sent by the king of Bengal with three lakhs of Rupees to buy horses which were to be presented to the Emperor of Delhi. Journeying by the jungle route without food or bath Sanatana presented an unkept appearance which moved his relative to pity. Srikanta asked him to take rest ther5e for a couple of days. But Sanatana insisted on resuming his journey immediately and requested Srikanta to convey him across the Ganges. Srikanta complied with his wish, but gave him a blanket, which Sanatana accepted as a protection against the biting cold of hill-country. At last Sanatana reached Benares and approached the door of Chandra Sekhara Vaidya where Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu rushed to embrace Sanatana as soon as he caught sight of Him but Sanatana prostrated himself at a distance, entreating him not to tough his impure body. Sri Chaitanya took him by the hand and bade him take a seat beside Him, caressing him with great tenderness when Sanatana besought Him not to touch him, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu remarked that Krishan most graciously delivered him up from the ocean of the world Sri Sanatana promptly replied that he knew nothing about Krishna but he knew that he had been saved by Sri Chaitanya Himself; and told Him the whole story of his escape.
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu taught Sanatana the whole doctrine of Bhakti in relation to its three aspects: Sambhandha, Abhidheya and Prayojana for two months. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu left Benares for Puri and by His instruction Sanatana left for Vrindabana. On reaching Vrindabana, Sanatana, being a great ascetic, performed the circumambution of the twelve vanas, Sportive Lands of Sri Krishna in the Mathura circle - passing each associated with the pastimes of Sri Krishna which took about a year and at the end of which period he came to Puri. On his way to Puri in the jungle of Jharikhanda he was attacked by a virulent type of skin-disease all over his body which served to aggravate his sense of remorse thinking that he would not be able either to visit the Deity of Jannatha or to approach his Lord Sri Chaitanya whilst suffering from the loathsome disease lest his touch should offend. He accordingly determined to end his life by throwing himself under the wheels of the car of Jagannatha. With this idea in his mind he arrived at Puri.
Sanatana was humility incarnate. As soon as Sri Chaitanya saw him, He rushed to greet His devotee but Sanatana prostrating himself, entreated him not to touch him saying, "Don't touch, my Lord. I kneel at Your Feet. I am a vile wretch; the skin-disease has spread all over my body". Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu embraced him affectionately, as a result of which His body was besmeared with blood and pus from that of Sanatana. Sanatana's remorse became al the more intense. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu lodged him with Haridasa Thakura. Everyday Sri Chaitanya used to visit and teach him there. He still had in mind his idea of committing suicide. Sri Chaitanya came to know of it and one day said to his, 'if Krishan were attainable by means of death, we would have died a crore of times in a moment. It is only through Bhakti that he is attainable and by no other means. You have dedicated your body to me which is not yours but Mine. How do you dare to destroy another's property? I have to achieve many a deed through your body. I shall have to preach the doctrine of Bhakti, introduce Vaishnavite practices, restore all the holy places of Vraja, found temples and install Deities through you. I have to remain here at Puri and you have to carry out all these objects by staying at Vrindabana. Remove this idea of suicide from your mind'. Sanatana was soon cured of the disease by the touch of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Sanatana lived at Puri from March or April 1517 to March 1518. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu gave him sufficient instructions, teaching and advice to begin the work in right earnest.
In due course Sri Sanatana Returned to Vrindabana. Sanatana and Rupa began to work in right earnest with undivided attention. It will not be possible to describe in detail their strict asceticism and intense devotion to God. Their asceticism was wonderful and unprecedented. Sometimes they were without any shelter, sleeping every night under a different tree and at times in a cave. They were perfectly happy under the trees o Vraja than at their palace at Ramkeli or at Fateyabad which had not given them a vestige of the peace they experienced at the woods of Vrindabana. He lived on alms begging from door to door accepting coarse dry bread in contrast to his luxurious dishes to which he was accustomed beforehand. He chewed the dry bread and gram forsaking all earthly pleasures. He had only a cocoanut shell as waterpot and a tattered quilt to protect from cold. He practised asceticism to the extreme. Few people could have pursued unflinchingly martyrdom as he did. He used to take only 'ninety-sis minutes' sleep in twenty-four hours of a day and that also not invariably every day. He used to devote the rest of more than twenty two hours of a day and night-chanting the Name of Sri Krishna and culturing of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in writing works on Bhakti and at times to discourse on Krishna and Sri Chaitanya. Day and night he was vigorously active in carrying out the command of Sri Chaitanya. Their hearts were overflowing with sympathy and kindness. Sri Sanatana was the guardian of all the followers of Sri Chaitanya. Messengers frequently went from Vrindabana to Puri and vice versa; and Sri Chaitanya was keeping touch with the progress of the work of Rupa and Sanatana. Sri Sanatana used to live in different woods at different times, the places and caves such as at Chakratirtha in Govardhana, Vaithal in Kokilavana, on the western bank of Manasa-sanga lake in Govardhana, and so on.
Many pious stories have been associated with the memory of Sanatana which suggest his extraordinary devotion to God and utter disregard of personal comforts. When Sanatana used to live at Govardhana he made a point of circumambulating it every day. Sri Sanatana Gosvami installed the Deity Madanmohan in Vrindabana. The Madanmohan temple is one of the famous shrines in Vraja. The Rajput princes headed by Raja Bhagavandas, or more precisely his son Raja Mansimha, the best of the Emperor Akbar's generals accepted Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Mansimha was initiated by Sri Sanatana. Even the Emperor Akbar paid his visit to these Gaudiya Vaishnava masters. The princes of Rajasthan, and rich merchants of Multan and other places, approached their ascetic Gurus with munificent gifts to be employed at their direction. Raja Mansimha was the nest to enlarge the temple of Govindaji to its immense dimensions by adding the nava, choil and chapels. Mr. That the temple was built in Samvat 1647 (1590 A.C.) under the direction of the two Gurus, Rupa and Sanatana, Sanatana's disciple named Ramdas who was a very rich merchant of Multan in the Punjab pressed his Guru to accept his service, Sanatana asked him to make the best use of his wealth by erecting a temple. Ramdas built the Madanmohan temple and the landing Ghat on the Yamuna leading from the temple of red sand-stone. This temple the Yamuna leading from the temple of red sand-stone. This temple is the Sikhara type pure and simple, betraying a certain influence of the Orissan architecture.
Sri Sanatana Gosvami was pre-eminently the majestic philosopher; dignified and thoughtful law-giver to the Sampradaya, we known from the description of Laghutosani by Jiva Gosvami that Sanatana had a special predilection for Sri Bhagavatam since his early years. Sri Krishnadas Kaviraja, another admirer of Sanatana, seems to verify it by saying that he engaged deeply in the study of the Bhagavata in the company of pandits before he relinquished his services of the king who had surprised him whilst debating with its pandits. Sanatana has discussed with marvelous ability the philosophy and theology in his philosophical works in which he embodied for the first time the authoritative views of the Gaudiya sect on the Bhagavata.
Sri Jiva Gosvami has given us a list of Sanatana's works at the end of his Laghutosani, of his four works, the two volumes of 'Brihat Bhagavatamritam' with its commentary 'Digdarsani' were the first to be composed, the three others being 'Hari Bhakti Vilasa' with its commentary Digdarsani, 'Lilastava' also called 'Dasama Tipani' and 'Vaishnava Toshani.' Jiva seems to place the works chronologically in respect of their composition. The latest work 'Vaishnava Toshani' is dated as having been completed in Saka 1476 (1554 A.C.). Having finished it, Sanatana Asked Jiva to correct it. Accordingly Jiva wrote his Laghutoshani in Saka 1504 (1582 A.C.).
Sri Sanatana Gosvami's Brihat Vaishnava Toshani is an excellent commentary on the Tenth Canto of the Bhagavata. Sri Jiva's Laghutoshani is a mere abridgement of 'Brihat Vaishnava Toshani.' 'Hari Bhakti Bhagavatamrita' and 'Vaishnava Toshani. ' Sri Rupa made an abridgement called 'Laghu Bhagavatamritam' of Sanatana's 'Brihat Bhagavatamritam.'
'Sri Brihat Bhagavatamritam' deals with intricate questions and elaborations of the various Incarnations of Krishna-Vishnu and His entourage, Bhakti, Prema, devotees and so on in its two volumes each of which consists of seven chapters. 'Brihat Bhagavatamritam' were certainly completed before Saka 1463 (1541 A.C.) which the date of completion of Sri Rupa's 'Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu', because the latter contains reference to 'Hari Bhakti Vilasa.'
In the first Volume of Brihat Bhagavatamritam Sri Sanatana Gosvami Deals with Bhagavat Kripanirdharana-ascrtainment of gist of divine kindness and in the second volume deals with ascertainment of Glory of Sri Goloka, the a Kingdom of Krishna. The seven chapters of the first volume are named (1) Bhauma, (2) Divya, (3) Prapanchatita, (4) Bhakta, (5) Priya, (6) Priyatama and (7) Purna Kiripa Patra. The seven chapters of the second volume are named as follows: (1) Vairagya, (2) Jnana, (3) Bhajana, (4) Vaikuntha, (5) Priya, (6) Abhisthalabha and (7) Jagadananda.
In the second volume, Sri Sanatana Gosvami delineates the devotional process of a devotee starting from initiation by the Guru into Krishna Mantra as a first step in spiritual uplift passing through step by step ultimately attaining the highest step at the lotus Feet of Sri Krishna experiencing devotional Bliss intensified to superlative degree.
This is for the first time that the Sanskrit text of this sacred book is translated into English by Sriman Bhakti Prajnan Yati Maharaj for the benefit of English knowing readers. Sriman Yati Maharaj has done a great service to the Vaishnava World by bringing out this important book. He has retained the intrinsic spirit of the text. His English is simple and direct. The reader of this Book will certainly derive immense benefit and inspiration about the Divinity of Krishna and attainment of Prema through cultivation of Bhakti.
With the blessings of my Divine Master Sri Srimad Bhakti Vilas Tirtha Goswami Maharaj who conferred his blessings saying: “By the unreserved Blessings of Sri Madan Mohan, the Presiding Deity of Sri Sanatana Goswami everything will appear in time to you”-only, I ventured to undertake the task.
The author Sri Sanatana Goswami Prabhu wrote the book sitting at Vrindabana (vide sloka 5) enjoying fully the beauty of the Divine Land, before whom the whole Leela of the Lord was in purview. The whole description in the book is nothing but this very Revelation (sloka 11). Therefore while I proceed to translate it, the observation from my limited point of view will definitely be not able to carry out fully the transcendental spirit of the origi- nal work. Besides, we find that the author, while narrating, was on a transcendental plane, and so feeling that it would be hard for anyone to catch the spirit thereof, himself wrote a commentary known as 'Digdarshani’ which elaborates the meaning of the text. Yet with all humility and sincerity I am tempted to make this bold attempt, conscious all the while that I would not be doing any disservice and with craving to consecrate my head with the feet- dust of Sri Rupa-Sanatana.
This Vrindabana is the Sportive land (Leela Bhumi) of Sri Krishna and fully saturated with devotional thought wherein as it were even Krishna's showing Vishwarupa to Mother could create no change in her mind to convert her into a worshipper of Him. On the other hand she felt deeper Love for Sri Krishna to suck her breast; very many miracles and wonders since His Boyhood Krishna did but none of them could create in the Gopis' simple and spontaneous flow of Natural Love any reverential awe to think of Him as something Great. The Lord Himselfsays: 'The devotee who looks upon Me as the Lord and upon himself as an inferior being cannot enthral Me Who am enthralled by Love and Love alone. Mother (Yashoda) binds Me as she is always aware that I am her little darling, inspired by the sentiments of pure friendship My friends climb on to My shoulders and say, ‘surely you are not a great one; You and we are equals.' The maidens, who love Me most dearly, chide Me in their sulks. Their reproaches fascinate Me more than the hymns of the Vedas.’
The great Sanatana Goswami says:- ‘Glory, for ever glory to this Vrindabana where the crest jewel devotees leaving aside the Abode of Vaikuntha ever dwell, because, here eternally Sri Krishna tends cows in the pasture-land and above all here by playing on His mystical Flute He creates rapture in the transparent hearts of the Gopis who all join with Him at the Circular Dance (Rasa- dance) to the full manifestat on of the cognitive essence the liquid current of supreme paramour Love-transcendent which represents the flow of the Yamuna wherein at the close of the Rasa-Dance the Lord of Autumn (Krishna) sports associated with His spouse.’ Sri Prabodhananda Saraswati says:- "The divine land of Sri Radha- Govinda, Sri Vrindabana is my only shelter, which is ever over- flowing with Divine Love. With eyes over-flowing with tears of joy in remembrance of the Divine Couple Sri Radha-Krishna, in the Vrindabana, I crave always for Their sight." With minds rapt in meditation, if mystics see that unqualified actionless light, let them see, as for myself, my only yearning is that there may ap- pear before my gladdened eyes that Bluish, Some One Who keeps roming upon the banks of the Yamuna at Vrindabana.
The great poet-devotee Sri Jayadeva says:- 'Let my mind be ever fixed on Madanagopal Who is at His sports with His eternal spouses (Gopis) in His supreme Autocracy at the Dhirasamira bank of the Yamuna. ' This is that Sri Vrindabana, where at Keshighata of Yamuna Krishna stands in His tribhanga-posture putting His Lips on the Holes of the Flute thereby maddening the Damsels of Vraja and keeping His ad decorated with charmingly beautiful tails of the peacock-full-blossomed with all His effulgence. How won- derfully beautiful is His Face! Look: The makara-shaped dazzling ear-ring is swinging from His Ears and. kissing His Cheeks, and the curling coil of black hair decorating His Forehead. Ah, the maddening and self enjoying as also sportive smile on His Eyes and Lips! Such an ever-fresh and gladdening beauty all men and women would constantly and uninterruptedly drink with their wide open ears and unwinking eyes, and therefore sarcastically some Gopi remarks to her associates:-
"Lo, don" go to Kesbighat where stands that Supreme Paramour Athirst to steal the cupid Love of you all Once ye come into His sight forever will ye become His captive. "
Uddhava, the crest jewel devotee of Sri Krishna prays to Him, "If I have got any merit of my sadhana and You are so gracious upon me then let my only prayer be fulfilled that I may be favoured to be born as a creeper at Sri Vrindabana so that I shall feel myself extremely fortunate being consecrated by the feet-dust of the Gopis."
Sri Krishna Himself has spoken thus: "Even a footstep I do not go out of Sri Vrindabana." Such a Vrindabana is a matter of realisation and that comes to one's purview by following Gopis' foot-steps alone, and there is complete self-effacement of one's own pleasures in the unalloyed devotion to Sri Krishna. This Vrindabana was discovered by Lord Sri Chaitanya Who in His Dvapara Leela, (as Sri Krishna) projected His Transcendantal Goloka as a very Replica in the Vrajadham, and put Sri Rupa- Sanataria in-charge of making proper identifications of the respective places associated with His Vraja-Leela. Sri Govinda, Gopinath and Madan Mohan are the three all-in-all absorb- ing Deities of the Gaudiyas (Chaitanyites) and even now these Three are the principal presiding Deities in Vrindabana of which Sri Govinda and Madan Mohan are the Cynosure in the sky-touch- ing Temples testifying to the monumental work of Sri Rupa and Sanatana Goswamis respectively. Fie unto the tyrannical brutal invader emperor Aurangajeb who could not tolerate that the tower-flags of these temples could be visible from his capital, so he destroyed the upper stories of these temples. Due to malicious envy, Aurangajeb was completely blinded to see the Divine effulgence of the temples which were not built with brick and' mortar, as it were they were established on the con- crete stone of the creed to Transcendentalism like the eternally blossomed Parijata flowers which no doubt once were the objects of enjoyment to Indra, the king of the heaven but which Sri Krishna Himself took away from heaven and planted at Dwaraka for His sole enjoyment: likewise the creed that was established by Sri Rupa-Sanatana and their adherents not only brought to the earth the nectar of the Goloka ever to be tested to their heart's content by the Paramahamsa devotees of the Lord but also the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna Himself is infatu- ated by their Love and therefore He leaving Goloka eternally remains here, that is why, it is said, 'the Goswamis Rupa- Sanatana made Sri Radha-Krishna eternally manifest with Their Transcendental Leela in Vrindabana!’ Wonderful are their power to charm and to command. They are the embalmers of the world. Their deeds are myrrh and storax, and chlorine and rosemary. To-day how many thousands of the recluses fall in prostration daily any number of times with the name of Sri Rupa-Sanatana and anoint the holy dust of Vraja all over their body. The Gaudiya Vaishnavas humbly and sincerely crave for becoming the feet-dust of Rupa-Sanatana.
Srila Sanatana Goswami Prabhu what realises in his transcendental plane of Realisation that is vividly represented through his pen in this philosophical treatise. Here, a thirsting soul who hunts for serenity gets a chance to peep into the tran- scendental Love-philosophy of Sri Radha-Krishna at the spiri- tual plane of Vraja.
In translating this work I have not taken literal word for word meaning of the slokas but whenever it was needed, to make the expression more clear, I have made use of the commentary in the follow up of the sloka itself. Notwithstanding all this I humbly beg all true Vaishnavas to forgive this novice for the defects that may be found in this translation.
Taking into account the Blessings of my Divine Master only I ventured to undertake the task and to-day really in the heart of my hearts I sincerely feel that an illiterate as I am it is only the Grace that acted upon me. It is His abounding Mercy and guid- ance without any obstacle gave me the single chance to peep into this Transcendental Glorious Pastimes of Gopijana-Vallabha Sri Krishna, the Lord of Love- Transcendent. I once again crave for consecrating my head with the feet-dust of Sri Sanatana Prabhu and my Divine Master.
My god-brother Prof. B.R. Baliga, Retd. Prof. of English of Madras Presidency College happily gave his assistance in going through the manuscripts of the Ist Part of the Book and due to his sudden illness I had to approach Prof. R.N. Sampath of Govt. Oriental Manuscripts Library, who not only went through the manuscripts of the 2nd Part but also happily gave his labour to go through the final proof. Their labour is accordingly rewarded by the Blessings of God.
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