After thus speaking with Sanātana Gosvāmī, Mahāprabhu asked him to continue to Vṛndāvana and there to begin writing granthas and revealing the holy places.
Upon arriving in Mathurā, Sanātana Gosvāmī bathed at Visranti-tīrtha. He there met Subuddhi Rāya, before proceeding to Vṛndāvana; where he met with Lokanātha dāsa Gosvāmī, Bhugarbha Gosvāmī, and his brother Rūpa Gosvāmī.
Sanātana Gosvāmī would walk to Mathurā everyday from Vṛndāvana. He would then go to Govardhana from Mathurā, and do the entire parikramā there. He would then return to Mathurā, before arriving in Vṛndāvana, where he would spend the night. He would especially have darśana of all the ancient temples of Mathurā. He visited the Madana-Gopāla temple daily, and he also met with all the Vrajavāsīs.
One morning in Mathurā, Sanātana Gosvāmī came across a brāhmaṇa lady, who was cooking in a most unusual manner. While she brushed her teeth with a neem stick, she used the other end to stir the porridge.
After cooking, she would say, “Madana and Sadana, come and eat.”
Sanātana Gosvāmī witnessed Madana descend from the altar and eat with great relish, as a young boy, along with the son of the brāhmaṇi. Sanātana Gosvāmī witnessed these exchanges everyday.
One day, he said, “Mother, you cook everyday for your children. Why do you bathe after cooking and cleaning the pots? And why do you use the same twig to brush your teeth that you use to stir the khicari. This is not proper.”
“What can I do? The children are very hungry. I don’t have time to bathe before I cook.”
Sanātana Gosvāmī then went on his way to do Govardhana parikramā. When he came again the next day, he saw that the boys were crying while their mother was just preparing to cook. The boys said, “Bābā! You are old and cannot digest what you eat. You don’t suffer from hunger. But we are children.
Why did you disturb our mother? Now she is cooking very late. Why don’t you arrange something for us to eat!”
The boys caught hold of Sanātana Gosvāmī’s hands and began crying. Sanātana Gosvāmī requested the brāhmaṇi, “Please continue what you were doing before. I have committed a fault. I will not say anything. The Vrajavāsīs have natural love. Bhagavān is happy by your service. Kṛṣṇa cannot be attained without such love.”
Kṛṣṇa is only controlled by love. The brāhmaṇi would always do kīrtana and thus bring great joy to Madana-mohana.
She would weep and sing. When Madana and Sadana would play gilli-daṇḍa, they would make a wager that the loser would have to carry the winner on his shoulders. Although Sadana would carry Madana when he lost, Madana would not do the same. When He lost, He would run onto the altar and assume His deity form.
Sadana would angrily say, “I carried You when I lost.
But why are You not carrying me? You are a great cheater!”
The pūjārī would chastise Sadana and say, “Where are you going? Why are you shouting at Ṭhākuraji?” He didn’t have the eyes to see. Madana would gleefully laugh while their mother would cook and do kīrtana. Sanātana Gosvāmī saw how these two boys were playing with each other.
One day, Madana told Sanātana Gosvāmī, “I will go with you.”
“Where will You go? I reside under a different tree every night.”
“Still, I will stay wherever you stay.”
“I have nothing nice to eat.”
“I will eat your mādhukarī.”
“The people of Mathurā will be very angry with me.”
“I am present here as a Deity. So carry Me on your shoulders.”
“I am a Deity, how can I walk?”
“If You can talk, then You can walk as well.”
Thus Madana-mohana came with Sanātana Gosvāmī to Vṛndāvana. They stopped near Dvādaśa-Ṭīlā. Sanātana Gosvāmī bathed the Lord with Yamunā water and begged for some flour.
With this, he would make dough balls, cook them in coals, and offer it to Madana.
After a few days of such bhoga, Madana began to plead with Sanātana, “There is no salt, sabjī, butter, or sweets. How can I eat just this dough ball?”
“Even Yaśodā Māiyā could not satisfy You,” Sanātana Gosvāmī replied. “Neither could the gopīs, although they would prepare more then 56 items daily for You. You still ran away from Vraja. So how will I ever satisfy You?”
“Can I make My on arrangements then?” Madana asked.
“Certainly,” Sanātana replied with a smile.
In the meantime, a ship was traveling from Āgrā to Delhi along the Yamunā. The merchant was startled when the ship became stuck on the riverbed. He came and pleaded to Sanātana Gosvāmī, “Bābā! Do something! My ship is stuck. I will donate as much wealth as I can if the ship is let loose.”
“I will ask Madana.”
By the desire of Madana, the ship broke free, and the merchant was able to make a large profit selling his goods. He soon returned, wanting to render some service. Over time, he sponsored the construction of a large temple for Madana-mohana, with full time priests to serve the Lord.
Madana-mohana, offering him delicious items, said to Sanātana, “Bābā, take this prasāda.”
“No, I am leaving,” Sanātana Gosvāmī replied. “Staying only under the guidance of Rādhikā, I will live in Vraja. I only want to serve with the Vraja-devīs under Her guidance.”
Sanātana Gosvāmī traveled on darśana of Vraja, while calling out the names of Śrīmatī Rādhikā and the gopīs.
He would come regularly for darśana of Madana-mohana and there would read Madana-mohan his writings.
Parikramā and Mahādeva
Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī would offer daṇḍavat-praṇāmas to all the pastime places of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, and would faithfully offer his śraddhā-puṣpāñjali.
It was the desire of Cakleśvara Mahādeva in Govardhana that Sanātana Gosvāmī stay with him. When he was in Vṛndāvana, he would go for Gopeśvara Mahādeva’s darśana, and serve him while offering many prayers, similar to:
vṛndāvanāvani-pate jaya soma-soma-
prema prayaccha nitarāṁ nirupadhikāṁ me
O gatekeeper of Vṛndāvana! O Soma, O you whose forehead is decorated with the moon, and who is worshipful for the sages headed by Sanaka, Sanātana, Sanandana, and Nārada, all glories to you! O Gopīśvara! Desiring that you bestow upon me pure love for the lotus feet of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Mādhava who perform joyous pastimes in Vraja-dhāma, I offer obeisances unto you time and time again.
Sanātana Gosvāmī would offer prasāda and the water of the Yamunā to his dear associate, Cakleśvara Mahādeva. Mahādeva desired that Sanātana Gosvāmī stay with him. Sanātana Gosvāmī decided to fulfill his wish. But after some time, Sanātana said, “I can no longer stay with you because many people offer you butter and milk and thus many mosquitoes and flies swarm here. Those who offer you worship don’t clean the area. I cannot do bhajana here.”
Mahādeva said, “Please don’t leave me. Now, no one will offer milk, butter, or yogurt after noon. By that time, everything will be cleaned and I will be properly dressed. Kīrtana will go on, and no mosquitoes will stay here. Please stay with me. I am very happy being in your association.”
Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī agreed. He would go on parikramā daily and in the evenings speak hari-kathā with Mahādeva.
In the daytime, he met with Rūpa Gosvāmī and Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī and they would speak hari-kathā continuously with each other. With Rūpa Gosvāmī, he had darśana of the swing pastimes of Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa.
One day, while he was doing parikramā despite his advanced age, Sanātana Gosvāmī fell unconscious because of the heat of separation. He then saw that Madana-mohana had Himself come, along with His sakhās and covered him with His upper garment.
Madana-mohana wiped Sanātana’s head gently with a wet cloth, and said, “Bābā, please desist from daily doing parikramā like this. I will give My Girirāja-śilā that has the foot prints of the cows, My sakhās, and the imprint of My flute. This is My non-different form. Keep it with you and do parikramā.
By doing parikramā of this śilā four times, you will get the fruit of doing parikramā of all Girirāja-Govardhana.”
Sanātana Gosvāmī brought the Girirāja-śilā to Vṛndāvana and there established Him in the Rādhā-Dāmodara temple.
In this way, his parikramā continued unhindered.
In Jagannātha Purī with Mahāprabhu
After staying in Vraja for some time, Sanātana Gosvāmī traveled to Jagannātha Purī, for Mahāprabhu had invited him there. He reached Purī by traveling through the forest pathways. Because he drank impure water out of necessity, many sores and boils appeared all over his body. This caused him great irritation.
Upon arriving in Purī, he stayed with Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura at Siddha-bakula. When Mahāprabhu would meet Haridāsa Ṭhākura after maṅgala-āratī everyday, Sanātana Gosvāmī would offer daṇḍavat-pranāma to the Lord from afar. But when he did so, Mahāprabhu would daily run to embrace him.
Sanātana Gosvāmī would say, “Prabhu! Don’t touch me. I am impure and of a low caste. And my body is riddled with boils which ooze pus and blood. Please don’t touch this impure body.”
But Mahāprabhu would forcibly embrace him and His body would also be smeared with the blood and pus from these sores. Everyone would cry out, “Alas!”
Although Sanātana Gosvāmī was unrelenting in his requests, Mahāprabhu would embrace him everyday.
Sanātana Gosvāmī asked Jagadānanda Paṇḍita, “What should I do?”
“After Ratha-yātrā, you should return quickly to Vraja,” Jagadānanda Paṇḍita replied.
But Sanātana Gosvāmī thought, “During Ratha-yātrā, I will give up my life by falling under a wheel of the advancing chariot. There is no use for this body as it is not engaged in service.”
Mahāprabhu understood Sanātana’s sentiment, being the indwelling Supersoul. He came to him and said, “Sanātana, your body is Mine. You have offered it to Me. I would give up My life a thousand times if prema could be achieved in this way. But this is not the method. This body is My property, I will not allow you to destroy it.”
Sanātana Gosvāmī became very shy after hearing Mahāprabhu’s words.
Mahāprabhu chastised Jagadānanda Paṇḍita in front of Sanātana Gosvāmī:
kālikāra baṭuyā jagā aiche garvī haila
tomā-sabāreha upadeśa karite lāgila
vyavahāre-paramārthe tumi-tāra guru-tulya
tomāre upadeśe, nā jāne āpana-mūlya
āmāra upadeṣṭā tumi-prāmāṇika ārya
tomāreha upadeśe-bālakā kare aiche kārya
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya 3.4.158–60
Jagā is only a new boy, but he has become so proud that he thinks himself competent to advise a person like you. In spiritual topics and even in ordinary dealings, you are on the level of his guru. Yet not knowing his own value, he dares to advise you. My dear Sanātana, you are on the level of My adviser. You are an authorized person. But Jagā wants to advise you. This is but the impudence of a naughty boy.
Sanātana Gosvāmī replied, “Now I understand how dear Jagadānanda is to You. You are giving him the nectar of chastisement while you give me the bitter neem juice of respect.”
Mahāprabhu said, “I cannot tolerate etiquette being transgressed. Where are you, an experienced authority in the śāstras, and where is Jagā, who is just a young boy?”
Mahāprabhu then embraced Sanātana Gosvāmī. Astonished, Sanātana Gosvāmī saw that his body had become beautiful and golden like Mahāprabhu’s. Svarūpa Dāmodara Prabhu and Haridāsa Ṭhākura exclaimed, “Jaya! Haribol!”
Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī asked, “O Prabhu, why have you bestowed upon me this glowing transcendental form?”
Mahāprabhu replied, “The body of a devotee is never material. It is always transcendental and full of spiritual bliss.”
prabhu kahe, vaiṣṇava-deha ‘prākṛta’ kabhu naya
‘aprākṛta’ deha bhaktera ‘cid-ānanda-māyā’
Śrīla Vṛndāvana dāsa Ṭhākura has said:
yata dekha vaiṣṇavera vyavahāra duḥkha
niścaya jānio sei parānanda sukha
Caitanya-bhāgavata, Madhya 9.240
If one perceives that a devotee is in distress, know with certainty that he is actually experiencing the utmost ecstatic bliss.
A Vaiṣṇava’s body is never material. Therefore, he should never be criticized. He is always immersed in the Lord’s service. Any disease that is seen in him is only by the mercy of Bhagavān, because the Lord desires to make him meek, and to be far away from the association of materialistic people. Bhagavān only wants him to be engaged in nitya-sevā. Thus, he has separated him and rescued him from everyone. Although some symptoms of disease
or illness are seen externally, they should always be seen in the light of Bhagavān’s mercy. This is not the result of his karma.
One day, Mahāprabhu invited Sanātana Gosvāmī to honor mahā-prasāda at the Ṭoṭā Gopinātha temple. All the devotees came in the afternoon, and after a tumultuous kīrtana, mahā-prasāda was distributed.
When Sanātana Gosvāmī arrived, Mahāprabhu asked him, “Which way did you come by?”
“I walked on the shore of the ocean.”
“The sand is so hot, your feet must have many blisters.
Why didn’t you come by the main road?”
“Prabhu, I am of a low caste,” Sanātana replied. “I am unqualified. By my touch, all the priests and sevakas will become impure and will have to fast for three days as a means of atonement. Why should I disturb them? Therefore, I walked on the sandy bank of the ocean.”
Although Mahāprabhu was upset to see His devotee pained, He was also joyful to see how renounced His dear Sanātana Gosvāmī was. By Mahāprabhu’s mercy, Sanātana became well again in a few days.
When Mahāprabhu met Sanātana Gosvāmī in Vārāṇasī, He explained all the subtleties and intricacies of bhakti to him in detail. In Jagannātha Purī, Mahāprabhu explained rasa-tattva to Sanātana. He taught him the process of bhakti and how to observe flawless sādhana.
The Priceless Treasure of Vraja
When Sanātana Gosvāmī returned to Vṛndāvana and was doing bhajana near Madana-mohana, one day the Muslim king of Delhi came to meet him. He became very happy to meet Sanātana Gosvāmī and to have all spiritual inquiries answered.
The king asked, “Who is Paramātmā?”
“He is the same God who is spoken of as Allah in the Koran.”
“What is the specialty of worshiping Bhāgavan? How can Bhagavān have both a form and qualities, while being described as formless and without qualities?”
“Bhagavān has no material form or qualities. He has a transcendental form and is the repository of all transcendental qualities. He resides in eternal Vṛndāvana, where He is eternally served by His devotees. The conditioned soul is covered by five elements. He can also engage in Bhagavān’s sevā when he is liberated from the material energy of the Lord.”
The king said, “I came to Vṛndāvana because I wanted to hear from you, and I desired to perform some service. Please tell me what I can do.”
Sanātana Gosvāmī said, “One step of the Yamunā-ghāṭa is broken. You can repair it.”
The Badshah became very unhappy. He thought, “I am the king. Yet, I have to repair a broken step? Such a small work is demeaning to me.”
Sanātana Gosvāmī understood his mind and said, “Just go and see.”
By Sanātana Gosvāmī’s mercy, the king saw that all the steps of the ghata were made of priceless jewels. He thought,
“I will not be able to repair one step even if I sell all the wealth of India. I cannot serve aprākṛta Vṛndāvana. I have nothing that I can engage in Vṛndāvana-dhāma’s sevā.”
He came back to Sanātana and said, “You have opened my eyes. Please help me attain the darśana of Madana-mohana as well.”
The king received the mercy of Sanātana Gosvāmī and returned to his palace.
One day, while Sanātana Gosvāmī was absorbed in bhajana, a poor brāhmaṇa approached him and said, “Please give me some wealth because I am poor and I need to get my daughter married.”
“I only have a broken kaupīna, dor, and kamaṇḍalu.”
“Śiva Ṭhākura sent me here from Vārāṇasī,” the brāhmaṇa said. “He never lies. When I prayed to him, he told me, ‘Go to Vṛndāvana and meet Sanātana Gosvāmī. He is my dear friend. He will give you as much wealth as you need.’ ”
Sanātana Gosvāmī smiled and thought, “Śiva Ṭhākura never lies.”
He then told the brāhmaṇa, “Previously, I found a touchstone, but I threw it away into a pile of rubbish. You can search for it over there.”
The brāhmaṇa searched the pile immediately and found the touchstone. He touched it to iron, and it instantly turned into gold.
“Why did Sanātana throw the touchstone away?” the brāhmaṇa thought. “By possessing this touchstone, I will become very happy. But, the touchstone will not go unnoticed. Many demons will try to kill me for it. They will not let me live in peace. I must ask Sanātana Gosvāmī why he threw this priceless stone away.”
He approached Sanātana Gosvāmī and said, “You consider this touchstone to be worthless. Please give me a share of the real wealth that you possess. The wealth that embodies this touchstone bears no significance for you. Please don’t cheat me.”
Sanātana Gosvāmī replied, “First throw the touchstone into the Yamunā.”
After the brāhmaṇa did so, he was told, “Now bathe in the Yamunā and return.”
Sanātana Gosvāmī then said, “Always chant the holy names. These names are more priceless than innumerable touchstones. Chant, serve, and have a relation with Madana-mohana.
You will then soon have darśana of His transcendental form and enter His eternal abode.”
sevā sādhaka rūpeṇa siddha rūpeṇa catra hi
tad bhāva lipsuna kārya vraja-lokanusaratah
On this rāgānuga path, being charmed by the intense love of Kṛṣṇa’s beloved Vrajavāsīs, the sādhaka should live in Vraja under the guidance of those devotees who have taken shelter of the Vrajavāsīs, always eager to serve them in his present physical body. And, in the perfected stage of the internally conceived spiritual body suitable for performing prema-sevā, he should engage in the loving service of Śrī Kṛṣṇa according to his spiritual mood, following in the footsteps of the eternal residents of Vraja.
The brāhmaṇa became absorbed in nitya-līlā and reached the transcendental realm by being in Sanātana Gosvāmī’s association. He forgot his body, mind, home, and even his daughter’s marriage.
Therefore, Śiva Ṭhākura thought, “I will not cheat the brāhmaṇa with material wealth. I will send him to Sanātana Gosvāmī and make him attain anurāga. He will not need material wealth anymore because he will have transcendental wealth.”
Humbly pray to the Guru-varga: “How can I go to the transcendental realm and understand the transcendental reality?”
By Śiva Ṭhākura’s mercy, the brāhmaṇa received the mercy of Sanātana Gosvāmī, and by Sanātana Gosvāmī’s mercy, he achieved divine love. By tasting the transcendental mellow, we will leave mundane mellows behind. Leaving this material world forever, we will enter the spiritual world.
Mercy for Jīva
Sanātana Gosvāmī embodied humility. He offered respect to everyone. Scholars who had conquered all the other scholars in the four directions would approach him for debate, but Sanātana Gosvāmī would politely refuse their offer and give them the victory certificate. He would not engage in dry logical
One day when he went to meet Rūpa Gosvāmī, Sanātana noticed that Jīva Gosvāmī was absent.
Concerned, he asked, “Where is Jīva?”
“I told him to return to his previous home,” replied Rūpa Gosvāmī.
“What did he do?”
“He didn’t properly respect a Vaiṣṇava-ācārya. If a sādhaka wants to stay in Vṛndāvana, then he must respect everyone properly. By not respecting the Vaiṣṇavas, Bhagavān’s mercy will not be achieved. So, I told him, ‘You did not respect a Vaiṣṇava. So you should leave.’ ”
Sanātana Gosvāmī became very sad to hear this. While wandering in Vraja, he came to Bhaigaon, which is near Nanda-ghāṭa. The Vrajavāsīs told him, “An even bigger Bābā than you has come. He doesn’t chant, ‘Rādhe Rādhe, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa. He only cries out, ‘Ha Rūpa! Ha Sanātana! He doesn’t eat, sleep, or speak
with anyone, and he does bhajana inside a crocodile cave.”
Sanātana Gosvāmī immediately understood who this personality was. He went to Jīva Gosvāmī and found that his body had become emaciated from fasting. Sanātana Gosvāmī tearfully lifted him up and brought him to Rūpa Gosvāmī, who embraced him. Having experienced intense pangs of separation, Rūpa Gosvāmī wept bitterly.
Sanātana Gosvāmī said, “It was Mahāprabhu’s order that you show kindness to all jīvas; why not this Jīva? Everyone can commit a mistake, but the Vaiṣṇava’s quality is to forgive and help one advance.”
An Ayurvedic doctor was called from Mathurā, and Jīva Gosvāmī’s health was restored.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami ki Jaya! (Excerpted from the Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Srila Sanatana Gosvami-His Life and Teachings”. Available from: [email protected] )