Sanatana Goswami

Sanatana Goswami (1488-1558 CE) was a principal disciple of the Vaishnava saint Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Sanatana wrote a number of important works in the bhakti tradition of Gaudiya Vaishnavism and was the seniormost of the influential Six Goswamis of Vrindavan, among whom was his brother Rupa Goswami.

Birth and early years

Sanatana, or Amara as he was named at birth, was born in Jessore in East Bengal (present-day Bangladesh) in 1488 as the son of Mukunda, the private secretary of the Sultan of Bengal, Jalaluddin Fateh Shah (ruled 1481-1487 CE). Sanatana was the eldest son of Mukunda, and his younger brothers were Santosha (Rupa Goswami) and Srivallabha (Anupama).

Sanatana and his brothers studied Nyaya (rhetortic) and Vedanta from the famous logician Vasudeva Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya. They also studied under Sarvabhauma's brother, Madhusudana Vidyavacaspati, from whom Sanatana took initiation in his childhood.

On the death of his father, Sanatana was forced to take up the post of Sakara Mallika (treasurer) to the new ruler of Bengal, Alauddin Hussein Shah (ruled 1493-1519 CE), while his brother Rupa was given the post of Dabir-i-khas (private secretary).

First meeting with Chaitanya Mahaprabhu

Sanatana and Rupa received land from the government for their personal use in Fatehbad, where they built a huge palace. They also built several beautiful mansions at Ramakeli. It was at Ramakeli in 1510 that Sanatana and his two brothers met Chaitanya Mahaprabhu for the first time. After meeting them, Chaitanya gave them the names Rupa, Sanatana and Anupama. Due to this meeting, the brothers decided to renounce the world and join Chaitanya and his entourage. Rupa resigned from his post, but Sanatana’s resignation was refused by the Sultan. Sanatana stopped coming to court and feigned sickness. But when the Sultan sent his personal physicians to treat Sanatana they returned and reported that Sanatana was in perfectly good health. The Sultan personally visited Sanatana and tried to convince him to continue to render his governmental duties and accompany him on a military campaign against the neighnoring state of Orissa. Upon Sanatana’s refusal, Hussein Shah had him thrown into prison.

While in prison, Sanatana received a letter from his brother Rupa telling him that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu had left Puri to go to Vrindavana and that Rupa and Anupama had decided to meet him there. Sanatana managed to bribe the jailer with money Rupa had sent him for emergencies. Sanatana then crossed the Ganges River and made his way towards Vrindavana.

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in Benares

As Sanatana made his way to Vrindavana he learned that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu had already left Vrindavana and was then residing in Benares. There Sanatana met Chaitanya, who imparted to him instructions pertaining to "sambandha-jnana" (knowledge of the self and one's relationship with God). Chaitanya taught that the constitutional identity of each soul is to be an eternal servant of God. Chaitanya explained his teachings to Sanatana by summarizing them in three categories: "sambandha" (one's relationship with Godhead), "abhidheya" (the method for reviving that relationship), and "prayojana" (the ultimate attainment of the supreme goal of life). After instructing Sanatana in the sambandha aspect of Gaudiya Vaishnava theology, Chaitanya instructed him to go to Vrindavana, where Sanatana visited the sites connected to Krishna’s pastimes.

When Sanatana later went to Puri and met Chaitanya once more, Chaitanya gave him four direct instructions:

1) To write books teaching Bhakti yoga, the process of devotion to Krishna

2) To discover and excavate the places in Vrindavana where Krishna had his pastimes

3) To establish the service of the deity (murthis) of Krishna in Vrindavana

4) To compile a book establishing the proper behavior for devotees of Krishna in order to create the foundations of a Vaishnava society.


Sanatana Goswami returned to Vrindavana, where he located various lost holy places. He also established the worship of the deity of Madana-mohana. Soon after Sanatana discovered the deity, a rich officer in the Moghul army named Krishna Dasa Kapura built a temple for Madana-mohan. This later became one of the seven principal temples of Vrindavana.

Sanatana Goswami passed away in the year 1558 CE. His samadhi (tomb) is located next to the Madana-mohana temple.

Literary Works

Sanatana Goswami wrote four important books in Sanskrit on Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy:

* "Brihat-bhagavtamrita" ("The Great Nectar of the Lord’s Devotees")This work of 2,500 verses is divided into two parts. The first section explains the ontological hierarchy of the devotees of Krishna. The second section deals with the soul's journey to the eternal realm of Krishna. Narrated as stories, both sections explain many aspects of Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy. Sanatana also wrote for this book his own commentary, called the "Dig-darshini."

* "Hari-bhakti-vilasa" ("Performance of Devotion to Hari")This book was a joint work between Sanatana Goswami and Gopala Bhatta Goswami. Compiled on the order of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the book deals with the rituals and conduct of Gaudiya Vaisnavas. Sanatana also wrote an auto-commentary on "Hari-bhakti Vilasa."

* "Krishna-lila-stava" ("Glorification of the Pastimes of Krishna")Krishna-lila-stava consists of 432 verses tracing Krishna’s pastimes as told in the Bhagavata Purana, from the beginning of the 10th Canto up through the vanquishing of Kamsa. Krishna-lila-stava is also sometimes referred to as the Dasama-charita.

* "Brihad Vaishnava Toshani" ("That which brings Great Joy to the Devotees of Krishna")The "Brihad Vaishnava Toshani" is Sanatana’s extensive commentary on the Tenth Canto of the Bhagavata Purana. This commentary is also known as the "Dasama-tipanni."


*Dasa, Gopiparanadhana. "IAST|Śrī Bṛhad-bhagavatāmrta of IAST|Śrīla Sanātana Goswāmī." Includes the Devangari text, a roman transliteration, word-for-word meanings, English translation, and a summary of the "IAST|Dig-darśinī" commentary. Los Angeles: The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 2002. 3 volumes: ISBN 0-89213-348-1.
*Dasa, Gopiparanadhana. "IAST|Śrī Kṛṣņa-līlā-stava of IAST|Śrīla Sanātana Goswāmī." Includes the Devangari text, a roman transliteration, word-for-word meanings, English translation, and commentary. Los Angeles: The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 2007. ISBN 978-184599-056-5.
*Tirtha, Swami B.B.," Sri Caitanya and His Associates," 2002, [ Mandala Publishing] , San Francisco. ISBN #1-886069-28-X
* Mahayogi, Swami B.V., "Lives of the Saints," translated from Gaura Parsada Citravali, unpublished work.
* "Bhakti-ratnakara" (Bengali), Narahari Chakravarti, Pub. By Gaudiya Mission, Kolkata, 1986.

ee also

*Govardhan hill
*Hare Krishna

External links

* [ Sanatana Goswami] (
* [ Books by Sanatana Goswami] Collection of his books in PDF Format - ISKCON Media Vedic Library
* [ Srila Sanatana Goswami] (
* [ The Govardhan Sila of Sanatana Goswami] (

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