Śrī Jīva did not want to leave the Lord’s company, and thus fell senseless in the pain of expected separation. When Jīva woke, Nityānanda Prabhu said, “Your uncles Rūpa and Sanātana are in Vṛndāvana. They require your help. They have begun the task of manifesting many books. Your service is to assist them.”
“If you don’t go, Jīva,” Nityānanda Prabhu said, “to whom will they pass on these books and the knowledge contained within them? When they leave, the books will also be lost. Therefore, go and protect these granthas. You must copy them and distribute them. Many people will be inspired to help and follow you.
“Do not worry. Everything will be favorable. Just go to Vṛndāvana. These granthas will spread all over the world. You must go and protect them. Without these granthas everything will be lost.”
Nityānanda Prabhu then said, “You will also write books yourself. The first book you will manifest yourself is a Sanskrit grammar book based on Bhagavān’s names. By studying this presentation of grammar, people will understand what is akṣara and paramākṣara and they will thus become connected
to Śrī Hari.”
Saying this, Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu placed His lotus feet on Śrī Jīva’s head and empowered him with transcendental potency. Overwhelmed by prema, Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī lost consciousness.
Upon regaining external awareness, Śrī Jīva prayed to the Vaiṣṇavas and offered them his obeisances. He approached Śacī Mātā and asked for her blessings, before departing to Vraja. She let Śrī Jīva take the dust of her lotus feet on his head. Blessing him, she bade him farewell.
Weeping and calling out, “O Gaurāṅga! O Gaurāṅga!” Śrī Jīva crossed the Gaṅgā and left Navadvīpa-dhāma.
Offering his daṇḍavat-praṇāmas to Navadvīpa-dhāma, Jīva set out toward Śrī Vṛndāvana. At that time, Vraja-dhāma, Yamunā, and Śrī Rūpa-Sanātana manifested in Śrī Jīva’s heart.
Along the way, Caitanya Mahāprabhu came to him in a dream, and said, “Go to Vraja. Rūpa, Sanātana, and you are very dear to Me. All of you work together to manifest devotional scriptures. May sevā to Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa be your life and soul, and may you continuously witness the pastimes of Vraja.”
Seeing the dream, Śrī Jīva became overjoyed and swiftly traveled toward Vraja-dhāma.
In due course, Jīva Gosvāmī arrived at the holy city of Vārāṇasī, which was blessed by Mahāprabhu’s lotus feet. Madhusūdana Vacaspati, the disciple of Śrī Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya, lived there.
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu heard Vedānta for seven days from Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya, and thereafter Mahāprabhu spoke the real essence of Vedānta. Madhusūdana Vacaspati was present at that time. Mahāprabhu ordered Vacaspati to go to Kaśi and teach there. He studied all the commentaries of Vedānta, such as Śaṅkarācārya’s Śārīraka-bhāṣya, and Rāmānuja’s Śrī-Bhāṣya under Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya. He especially focused on learning Vedānta as Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu taught. After Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya disappeared, Madhusūdana Vacaspati went to Vārāṇasī, and instructed the Māyāvādīs there about the real meaning of Vedānta. Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī and the thousands of sannyāsīs and disciples in the Śaṅkarācārya sampradāya had met with Mahāprabhu in Vārāṇasī and received transcendental knowledge from Him.
Madhusūdana Vacaspati further spread the teachings of Mahāprabhu there. Jīva Gosvāmī performed the pastime of studying bhaktivedānta and all scriptures from him. He studied the commentaries of Rāmānuja, Madhvācārya, Viṣṇusvāmī, and Nimbādityācārya. He also studied the Śārīraka-bhāṣya of Śaṅkarācārya, so that he could be able to refute it later.
After completing his studies with Madhusūdana Vacaspati, Jīva Gosvāmī continued on his way to Vṛndāvana.
Śrī Jīva Arrives in Vṛndāvana
Śrī Jīva walked for many days, until he finally reached Vṛndāvana. He met with Rūpa and Sanātana Gosvāmī, Lokanātha Gosvāmī, Bhugarba Gosvāmī, Raghunātha Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī, Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī, and Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī. They all blessed Jīva and said, “He will be the protector of our Gauḍīya sampradāya.”
Sanātana Gosvāmī placed Jīva under the care of Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī. He told Rūpa Gosvāmī, “You should initiate this boy,” thus Rūpa Gosvāmī gave Jīva the dīkṣa-mantras. Jīva Gosvāmī was the only one to receive dīkṣa-mantras from Rūpa Gosvāmī.
Jīva Gosvāmī stayed near Rūpa Gosvāmī at the Rādhā-Damodara temple and served and assisted Rūpa Gosvāmī in his grantha-sevā. Rūpa Gosvāmī taught Jīva Gosvāmī everything he knew and had written, like Śrī Upadeśāmṛta, Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi, Vidagdha-Mādhava, Lalitā-Mādhava, and so on.
Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī became a learned scholar in all of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī’s books, especially his rasa-śāstras. Upon fully mastering all topics, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī engaged him in proofreading his works.
The Gosvāmīs were manifesting the essence of the Vedic scriptures through samādhi-bhāṣya, meditation directly connected to God. At that time, there were no paper or pens in Vṛndāvana. Everything was very austere. Rūpa and Sanātana lived without possessions and would sleep under a different tree every night.
How were the books written? They wrote on palm leaves that were boiled and then dried, with peacock feathers and ink made from the juice of leaves or minerals from stones. They would write their books and carefully preserve them. This is how they manifested so many granthas.
Śrī Jīva would help prepare everything for Rūpa Gosvāmī’s writing. He would bring water from the Yamunā as well as fan Rūpa Gosvāmī with a tāla leaf in the hot season. He would also massage Rūpa’s feet after he went on parikramā. In this way, Śrī Jīva served Rūpa Gosvāmī and showed the ideal example of a guru-sevaka.
Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī Chastises Jīva
One day an elderly ācārya came to see Rūpa Gosvāmī. They were well acquainted from their time in Prayāga with Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Rūpa Gosvāmī was writing and reading his work to Jīva. He would read everything he wrote to Jīva.
The ācārya inquired, “O Rūpa, what are you writing now?”
“I am writing a book called Śrī Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu.”
“Oh, may I see it?”
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī agreed and the ācārya picked up the book. Glancing at a few pages, he said, “Good. I will proofread it and correct any mistakes.”
By the will of the Lord, Śrī Jīva happened to be there fanning Rūpa Gosvāmī. When he heard the ācārya speak in this way, he felt Rūpa Gosvāmī was being slighted and his mind became disturbed. Later, he went to fetch water from the Yamunā and saw the ācārya there. He questioned him, “O Prabhu, in your reading, did you find any errors?”
“What will you understand if I explain?” the ācārya replied. “Do you know Sanskrit?”
“Then what is the use?”
“Please just show me any mistakes you have found.”
The ācārya then showed Jīva the following verse:
piśācī hṛdi vartate
katham abhyudayo bhavet
As long as the witches of desire for sense enjoyment and liberation linger in the heart of the sādhakas, how can the happiness of pure bhakti arise there?
“It is improper to compare mukti to a witch. Mukti is sought after by great sages who perform austerities for thousands of births and is glorified throughout the scriptures. I can understand why bhukti, material sense enjoyment, would be so, but certainly not mukti.”
Jīva Gosvāmī replied, “O sir, it is not bhukti and mukti that
is being compared to a witch, rather it is the desire for bhukti and mukti that is being thus compared.”
ākrāntaṁ yasya mānasam
kathaṁ tatra mukundasya
How can Mukunda manifest in the heart of a person who is filled with emotions like grief and anger?
“As long as we have ulterior desires in our heart, how can one develop one-pointed devotion for Kṛṣṇa? Liberation may come as a side-effect of pure devotional service. But the pure devotee does not desire or pray to the Lord for liberation, he only prays for the Lord’s eternal service, in any condition. Therefore, this analogy is certainly appropriate and correct in all respects.”
Hearing Jīva Gosvāmī’s convincing arguments, the ācārya could not think of any objection.
He returned to Rūpa Gosvāmī and said, “Your disciple is such a learned boy. He is very intelligent.”
Folding his hands, Rūpa Gosvāmī humbly replied, “He has yet to learn proper behavior.”
“No, he is good-hearted and intelligent. In the future he will be a great scholar.” Thus saying, the ācārya departed.
When Jīva arrived with the water, Rūpa Gosvāmī could understand he had defended him by challenging the ācārya. He told him, “You have no tolerance. The ācārya is a learned brāhmaṇa and belongs to a Vaiṣṇava-sampradāya. He was visiting me and I consider him my guest. You cannot tolerate that he had some suggestions? Your behavior towards other Vaiṣṇavas is unacceptable, so you should leave at once.”
Obeying Rūpa Gosvāmī, Jīva Gosvāmī left Vṛndāvana and went to the village of Bhaigaon near Nanda-ghāṭa. He found an abandoned crocodile hole and began doing bhajana there in a mood of great separation. He stopped eating and drinking and would only weep and chant the names of Rūpa and Sanātana. Days passed in this way and he became ill, lean, and weak.
When Sanātana Gosvāmī heard what had happened, he became very worried for Jīva and thought, “Jīva would never leave. He must be in one of the villages of Vraja.” Thus thinking, he began searching for him in Vraja. When he came to Bhaigaon, the local villagers approached him and said, “Bābā, we always considered you as Boḍo-Bābā (the greatest Bābā), but a new Bābā has come who is even more austere and dedicated than you. He is very young and he is always weeping and crying out, ‘Ha Rūpa, Ha Sanātana.’ He never eats or sleeps and rejects anything we give him.”
Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī immediately had the local boys take him there. When he saw Jīva in the crocodile cave, thin, weak, and apparently on the brink of death, Sanātana wept bitterly and, embracing Jīva, lifted him up and brought him to Vṛndāvana to the aśrama of Rūpa Gosvāmī.
Sanātana first went alone and asked Rūpa Gosvāmī, “What is our duty to all jīvas according to Mahāprabhu’s instructions?”
“We should have compassion for the jīvas and help them achieve the lotus feet of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa.”
“Then, why were you so hard-hearted to this Jīva?”
He then brought Jīva before Rūpa Gosvāmī and they both began to weep in separation. Rūpa embraced Jīva and accepted him back into his service.
The ācārya who had met with Jīva and Rūpa in Vṛndāvana heard about the occurrence and, understanding that Jīva’s health was in a dire condition, he arranged for Jīva to get the best medical treatment in Mathurā. Gradually, Jīva became well again. From that time on, Jīva Gosvāmī always remained close to Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, serving him.
Jīva Gosvāmī was correct to defend his Gurudeva’s writings. As a disciple it would not have been proper for Jīva Gosvāmī to silently tolerate the ācārya attempting to correct his Gurudeva. Rūpa Gosvāmī is not an ordinary Vaiṣṇava. He is an eternal associate of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa in Vraja. He cannot make any mistake. On the other hand, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī was also correct to chastise Jīva. How is it that both are correct? Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī wanted to show how one should properly
respect a vaiṣṇava-ācārya and not challenge him. By externally rejecting his disciple, Rūpa Gosvāmī showed the ācārya that his respect for him was genuine. Rūpa Gosvāmī was not angry
at Jīva by heart.
If anyone tries to correct the writing or teachings of our Gurudeva, we should also have guru-niṣṭhā like Jīva Gosvāmī. But if a Vaiṣṇava is personally challenged, he should respect the other person, thinking, “I am so fallen. He is kind to correct me.” This is the proper mentality of a Vaiṣṇava.
Defending the Siddhānta
Once, a digvijayī-paṇḍita, a scholar who claimed he had defeated his contemporaries in all four directions, and who was desirous of mundane fame and adoration, came to challenge Rūpa and Sanātana Gosvāmī in debate. Not wanting to waste their time with the mundane scholar, Rūpa and Sanātana Gosvāmī assented to his demands, which is that if they wouldn’t debate him, they both sign certificates signifying his victory over them.
The digvijayī-paṇḍita was critical toward vaiṣṇava-dharma, and he disparaged Mahāprabhu’s teachings.
When he came near Jīva Gosvāmī, he said, “Give me a victory certificate as well.”
Jīva Gosvāmī had heard that the paṇḍita previously obtained victory certificates from Rūpa and Sanātana Gosvāmī. He also knew that the paṇḍita had spoken against Mahāprabhu, and claimed that He was not a member of the Brahmā-Madhva-sampradāya. When he approached Jīva Gosvāmī, the scholar was surprised to see that Jīva Gosvāmī did not submit to him without debate, and was further stunned by Jīva Gosvāmī’s unparalleled scholarship. He was overwhelmed in defeat and stood motionless in shock. Jīva Gosvāmī corrected him for disrespecting the Gauḍīya Guru-varga and slighting the sampradāya.
The detractors of Guru and Vaiṣṇavas cause great harm to the world by their actions. They must be corrected. But one must be qualified, or he can cause more harm than good. Jīva Gosvāmī not only defeated the mundane views of antagonistic scholars, but he also changed their hearts and turned them into devotees.
As Madhvācārya, Ramānujācārya, Viṣṇusvāmī, and Nimbāditya Ācārya and so forth, made their critics understand the true conception of their respective philosophies, Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī established everyone in the firm foundation of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava siddhānta.
Jīva Gosvāmī was an unparalleled scholar of the Vedānta. Once, an ācārya from the Viṣṇusvāmī sampradāya showed a composition he had made called Tattva-dīpa to Jīva Gosvāmī. Looking at it, Jīva Gosvāmī raised many points on the true purport of the Vedānta, and revealed the flaws in the book. On the advice of Jīva Gosvāmī, that ācārya made many corrections in the book.
Śrīman Mahāprabhu relieved Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya from his affiliations to Māyāvāda, and turned him into a dedicated follower of pure bhakti. Thus, Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya became established in the eternal servitude of Bhagavān. A proud, unqualified person, who is devoid of paramārtha (spiritual wealth), will work to destroy the world and himself by his exhibition of mundane learning and logic. Changing such a person’s nature is an act of true kindness. But one must be highly qualified to do so.
After the disappearance of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī and Sanātana Gosvāmī, Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī became the foremost authority of the Vaiṣṇavas in the three dhāmas: Kṣetra-maṇḍala, Gauḍa-maṇḍala, and Vraja-maṇḍala. He founded the Viśva-vaiṣṇava-rāja-sabhā, or worldwide assembly of Vaiṣṇavas. Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī had many qualities befitting an ācārya. He engaged everyone properly in hari-bhajana. He was dedicated in preaching the bhakti-śāstras and maintained an exemplary life of renunciation. He served Hari and the hari-jana at all times and possessed unshakable faith in Śrī Guru.
He completely dedicated himself to the service of the Gosvāmīs and Gauḍīya sampradāya, and established a devotional society for helping awaken the jīvas’ inclination to perform hari-bhajana.
In his life, Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī displayed great opulence and extraordinary qualities. He was the proprietor of great wealth, possessed unprecedented scholarship, was born in a high-caste, and was beautiful. However, in order to teach the general populace, being an incarnation of mercy, he renounced everything and taught the jīvas of this world the highest ideal by using his life solely in search for Śrī Kṛṣṇa.
Jīva Gosvāmī gave up everything out of love for Kṛṣṇa—his position as the heir to the royal post of Rūpa and Sanātana, his home, and all varieties of enjoyment. Renouncing everything, he distributed his great wealth to the brāhmaṇas and Vaiṣṇavas.
He was a naiṣṭhika-brahmacārī, a perfect celibate from birth, and spent his whole life engaged in serving the pastimes of Śrī Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa.
Srila Jiva Gosvami ki Jaya! (Excerpted from the Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Srila Jiva Gosvami”. Available from firstname.lastname@example.org )