Part Three: Sri Sanatana Goswami

Radharani appears to Sri Sanatana

In Bhakti-Ratnakara, it is written that one day Sanatana Goswami went to Radha-Kunda to see Sri Rupa and Sri Raghunatha Dasa Goswami. When they saw Sanatana approaching, they rose to offer him respect, and then offered him a seat. With this, the three of them began an ishta-gosthi, a discussion about Krishna. Sri Rupa Goswami had written a Stotram to Radharani called "Chatu-Pushpanjali" - an offering of four flowers. Sri Sanatana Goswami read the verses, and was struck by one in particular:

navagorochana gauri, pravarendi varamvaram,

"O Vrindabaneshvari! I offer my respects unto you. Because your complexion is like newly molten gold, you are known as Gaurangi. Your dress is beautiful like that of a blue lotus. Your long braid of hair resembles a black serpent decorated with jewels."

When Sanatana saw the line, "Your braided hair resembles a black serpent..." he thought about this comparison and said, "Is this a logical or reasonable metaphor? To compare Radharani's hair to a serpent?"

That afternoon Sri Sanatana went to Radha Kunda to take his bath. After offering different reverential prayers to the Radha Kunda, he took his bath there. At that time, a little distance from the Kunda, he could see some gopi boys and girls playing, at the foot of some trees. As he glanced in their direction, he could just make out that right behind the head of one of the girls was what might have been a long, black, dangling braid, but looked to Sanatana Goswami much more like a deadly snake, swaying back and forth as if ready to strike.
At that time he called out, "O young girl! Be careful: there is a snake creeping up on your back!" The young girl, caught up in the joy of her playing, took no notice. Apparently she couldn't hear him. Thereupon he went running up to her and saw that the girl was none other than Sri Radha Thakurani. When the gopas and gopis saw him, they burst out laughing. They laughed and laughed for some time without stopping. Sri Sanatana Goswami was struck dumb. After this, he could understand the logic of Sri Rupa Goswami's metaphor.

Krishna brings milk

The Bhakti Ratnakara records how once Sri Sanatana Goswami was alone in the forest on the banks of the Pavana Sarovara performing his bhajan in a secluded place. He had been fasting from food and drink. As he is the supersoul in all living beings, the Lord could understand everything. He thought, "My devotee is starving. I cannot tolerate this."
In the dress of a gopa, Krishna entered the forest where Sanatana was staying, carrying a pot of milk. He came before Sanatana and said, "Baba! I have brought you some milk."
Sanatana said, "Why have you brought me milk?"
"You are not eating properly, that's why."
"How did you know that I am not eating anything?"
"Many gopas have come and gone by here. They told me you have not been eating."
"Why didn't they come?"
"They have much work at home, so they sent me."
"You are such a little boy, why have you taken so much trouble for me?"
"No, no, father. It is no trouble at all."
Taking the pot of milk, Sanatana said, "Sit down, little boy. I will finish the milk and give you back your pot."
"No baba. I cannot sit with you. I have to milk the cows. I will come and fetch the pot tomorrow."
Saying this, the boy vanished, and Sri Sanatana became speechless. He could understand that all this was the work of Krishna. He began to drown in the tears that poured from his eyes as he drank the milk. From that day on he ate by practicing madhukari, or only accepting a tiny bit from many different residents of Vrindavana. Gradually the residents of Vrindavana built him a kutir so that he could stay there.

Accepting Service from Sri Radha

One day Sri Rupa Goswami wanted to prepare some sweet rice for Sanatana Goswami, but didn't have the necessary provisions for making sweet rice in his kutir. At that time, she who brings about the fulfillment of the inner aspiration of devotees, Srimati Radha Thakurani, could understand everything. And so, in the dress of a young gopi girl she brought milk, rice, and sugar to Rupa Goswami, saying, "Swamiji! Swamiji! I have brought you a gift of uncooked rice. Please accept it."
Hearing the words of the young girl, Sri Rupa Goswami opened the door to his hut and looked out. There he saw a beautiful young gopi maiden with some offerings of food. Rupa Goswami said, "Little girl! Whay have you come here?"
"Swamiji! I have only brought you some simple uncooked food."
"Why have you taken such trouble for me?"
"Baba! What trouble? I have only come to render a humble service to a saintly person."
Accepting the offering of milk, sugar and uncooked rice, Rupa Goswami said, "Young girl please take your seat, while I put these things away." The girl said, "I'm sorry, but I have some work to do."
Saying this, the girl disappeared. When Rupa Goswami turned around and saw that she had gone, he was very bewildered by all this. At length, he prepared the sweet rice and offered the bhoga to his deity, Govindadeva. After some time, he gave the prasada to Sanatana Goswami, who had just arrived. While honoring prasada, Sanatana Goswami experienced an unusual and enchanting kind of joy.
He asked Sri Rupa, "Where did you get this milk and rice from?"
Rupa Goswami said, "A young gopi girl came by and gave it to me."
Sanatana said, "A young girl just came by all of a sudden and gave you this milk and rice?"
Rupa Goswami replied, "Yes, she just came by all of a sudden. The strange thing is, I was just thinking, ³How can I make some sweet rice for Sanatana² and she just appeared, as if by magic, with this milk and rice and some sugar."
Hearing this, tears of prema began falling from the eyes of Sanatana Goswami. He said, "Can't you recognize something when it is right before your eyes? It was Sri Radha Thakurani Herself who has brought you milk and rice. By accepting service from Her we are ruined. Now we shall never attain our desired goal." And in this way, Sanatana Goswami continually condemned himself again and again for having accepted service from that person whom he most aspired to serve: Sri Radha Thakurani. This pastime of Sri Sanatana Goswami is recorded in the Bhakti Ratnakara.

The Bhakti-Ratnakara also records how, every day, Sri Sanatana Goswami would make the four mile pilgrimage around Govardhan hill, but because of his old age this was very troublesome. Still, he did not want to break his religious principles by not circumambulating Govardhan hill. And so he would suffer great physical hardship while circumambulating Govardhan.
The Lord knows everything and thus could understand the pain his devotee Sanatana was experiencing. He decided to do something about this. One day, a little gopa boy came to Sanatana and said, "Baba! You are old. Don't go to such trouble to walk around Govardhan hill."
Sanatana said, "This is one of the regular principles of my bhajan - I must maintain it."
The boy said, "Since you are old, you may give now up this rule."
Sanatana said, "I will never give up my religious principles."
Krishna then told him, "Baba! Won't you honor my words?"
Sanatana said, "If it is honorable, then I shall honor it."
At that time Krishna presented Sanatana Goswami with a shila, a stone, bearing the meark of his own lotus feet, and said: "This is Govardhan-shila, a piece of stone from Govardhan itself."
Sanatana said, "What shall I do with it?"
Sri Krishna said, "If you circumambulate this Govardhan-shila, your vow of walking all the way around Govardhan hill every day will remain intact, for by circumambuting this, you cirucmumbulate Govardhan Hill. You will thereby get the same result, keep your vow intact, and not compromise your religious principles."
Sri Sanatana Goswami was silenced. He could understand that Giriraja himself had given him this shila. From that day forward, he used to circumambulate the Govardhan-shila marked with the divine marks of the lotus feet of Sri Krishna.

Following the orders of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Sri Rupa and Sri Sanatana Goswami did not climb Govardhana hill because they considered it nondifferent from Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. On some pretext, the Gopal deity granted Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu an audience beneath the hill, and Gopala similarly favored Srila Rupa and Sanatana Goswami. During his ripe old age, when Rupa Goswami could not go to Govardhan Hill because of invalidity, Gopala kindly went to Mathura and remained at the temple of Vithaleshavara for one month. It was then that Srila Rupa Goswami could see Gopala's beauty to his heart's content.

The activities of Srila Rupa and Sanatana Goswami while they resided in Vrindavana are described by Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami in the Caitanya Caritamrita (CC ML 19.128 - 132) as follows: "The brothers actually have no fixed residence. They reside beneath trees - one night under one tree and the next night under another. Srila Rupa and Sanatana Goswami beg a little food from the houses of brahmanas. Giving up all kinds o material enjoyment, they only take some dry bread and fried chick-peas. They carry only waterpots, and they wear torn quilts. They always chant the holy names of Krishna and discuss his pastimes. In great jubliation, they also dance. They engage almost twenty-four hours daily in rendering service to the Lord. They usually sleep only an hour and ahalf, and some days, when they continuously chant the Lord's holy name, they do not sleep at all. Sometimes they write transcendental literatures about devotional service, and sometimes they hear about Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and spend their time thinking about the Lord. When the personal associates of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu would hear of the activities of Rupa and Santana Goswami, they would say, ³What is wonderful for a person who has been granted the Lord's mercy?²"

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