he history of the Radha-Damodara Mandira begins when Sri Rupa Goswami (born 1493) and Sri Sanatana Goswami (born 1488), the gurus of Sri Jiva Goswami (born 1523), came to Vrindavana in 1516 (1439 Shakabda) under the order of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to uncover the pastime places (lila-sthanas) of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna. Jiva Goswami who was the younger nephew of Rupa and Sanatana arrived in Vrindavana a few years later after completing his studies at Varanasi.
Once while Jiva Goswami was still staying at his family residence in Bakla Candradvipa, East Bengal he had a dream in which he saw Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu dancing in the midst of sankirtana and loudly chanting the name of Krishna. This so much impressed Jiva that he soon set off from home towards Navadvipa. In Navadvipa, Jiva met Sri Nityananda Prabhu who showed him great mercy. This event is narrated by Narahari Chakravarti Thakura in Bhakti-ratnakara.
With fatherly affection, Nityananda touched Jiva’s head with his feet. He showed incomparable mercy toward Jiva, lifting him from the ground and embracing him tightly. Transported by divine ecstasy, Nityananda Prabhu said, “I rushed here from Khardaha for your sake alone.” He said other things like this to pacify Jiva and then made Srivasa Pandita and the other devotees give their blessings to Jiva. After keeping Jiva there for some time with him, Nityananda Prabhu sent him off to the West. He said, “Hurry off now to Vraja. That is the place the Lord has given over to your family. (Bhakti-ratnakara 1.765-9, 772)
By the grace of Nityananda Prabhu, Jiva first completed navadvipa-dhama-parikrama before setting out for Vrindavana. In route to Vrindavana, Jiva stayed for sometime in Varanasi where he studied all the Vedic scriptures under the renowned scholar Madhusudana Vachaspati, eventually reaching Vrindavana in 1535 (1457 Shakabda).
To properly understand Vrindavana and the importance of the Radha-Damodara Mandira one should clearly understand the ontological position of Sri Rupa, Sri Sanatana and Sri Jiva. In the nitya-lila of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna the madhurya-rasa is considered the topmost. In the madhurya-rasa, Sri Radha is the supreme reservoir of prema for Sri Krishna. The whole plane of the madhurya-rasa is the majesty of her sentiments of devotion and love for Sri Krishna. This highest expression of prema for Sri Krishna is called maha-bhava and it is exclusively the domain of Sri Radha.
Sri Radha has a multitude of confidential associate servitors imbued with aspects of her loving sentiments for Sri Krishna, chief of which are the ashta-sakhis; Lalita-devi, Vishakha-devi, Chitra-devi, Indulekha-devi, Ranga-devi, Tungavidya-devi, Champakalata-devi and Sudevi. Of these eight gopis, Lalita-devi and Vishakha-devi are the principle two and of these Lalita-devi is the constant advisor to Sri Radha.
Under the shelter and care of Lalita-devi are younger gopis known as manjaris. These manjaris are of a very tender age and are the choicest servants of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna during their various intimate loving pastimes in the forest of Vrindavana. Like Sri Sri Radha and Krishna the gopis and the manjaris all have especially pleasing spiritual bodies made of the supremely transcendental substance known as cinmaya-rasa. As such there is no material desire that can contaminate the prema-lila of Sri Sri Radha Krishna and their intimate associates. One should never think that the love of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna is on the same platform as the so-called love that exists in the material world. Sri Radha-Krishna prema is transcendental and above the contamination of the modes of material nature characterized by lust, anger and greed.
Chief among the manjaris who perform the most intimates service to Sri Sri Radha-Krishna are Rupa-manjari, Lavanga-manjari and Vilasa-manjari. These three manjaris have incarnated on earth as Rupa Goswami, Sanatana Goswami and Jiva Goswami respectively to reveal the lila-sthanas of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna, and to establish the truth of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna for the benefit of all human beings.
Rupa Goswami is known as the abhidheya-acharya, Sanatana Goswami is the sambandha- acharya and Jiva Goswami is known as the tattva-acharya. Abhidheya is the principle status in which one is able to serve Radha and Krishna. Sambandha is the knowledge of Radha-Krishna, the living entities and their intrinsic relationship of service. Tattva means the ultimate truth about Sri Sri Radha-Krishna and their energies, associates, supreme abode and pastimes.
Of all the places of lila in Vrindavana the area where the rasa-lila of Radha and Krishna was performed is most glorious. During those divine pastimes of rasa-lila Sri Krishna suddenly took Sri Radha to a secret place in Vrindavana and there in that magnificent grove Sri Krishna became bound by the ropes of Sri Radha’s affection. Thus Krishna became known as Damodara, bound by the love of Sri Radha. This place of magnificent beauty and charm in the rasa-lila of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna is none other than the site where the mandira of Sri Sri Radha-Damodara is located.
Similarly, Sri Krishna was bound by the ropes of mother Yashoda’s love (vatsalya-bhava) and for this he is also universally glorified as Damodara. One who desires the supreme perfection of life should know that one who achieves prema for Sri Krishna achieves all perfection. Krishna is easily bound by the ropes of his devotee’s love. This is the supreme secret of all secrets.
In 1542, seven years after his arrival in Vrindavana, Jiva Goswami received the murti of Damodara directly manifest from the hands of Rupa Goswami. The Sri Murti was installed in the presence of Rupa and Sanatana on shukla-dashami, in the month of Magha. This incident is mentioned in the book Sadhana-dipika, by Radha-Krishna Goswami as follows:
radha-damodaro devah sri-rupa-kara-nirmitah
jiva-gosvamine dattam sri-rupena kripabdhina
Out of compassion, Sri Rupa Goswami carved with his own hands the Deity of Damodara and gave Him to Jiva Goswami. (Sadhana-dipika, 8th Chapter)
During this time Jiva Goswami stayed under the shelter of his gurus and worshipped Damodara under the trees of Vrindavana. In 1558 Jiva purchased the site that was to become the Radha-Damodara Mandira for a sum of 30 rupees. The area purchased included Seva-kunja, Dana-gali, Imli-tala, Sringara-sthali and Rasa-sthali. The boundary of the land was marked by four trees; a kadamba, a pippal, a tamarind and a banyan. The plot ran from the Yamuna to Kunja-gali. This was in a time long before the streets and market places in Vrindavana were constructed. During that period the devotees in Vrindavana lived under trees or sometimes in thatched huts.
It was not until some time later that the Deity of Sri Radha and the Deity of Sri Lalita-devi came to be with Damodara in Vrindavana. No exact date for this event is known although the Sthala-purana of the Radha-Damodara Mandira says that this happened during the lifetime of Jiva. The short of the story surrounding the event is as follows:
In Bengal a certain fisherman is said to have caught something very heavy in his net and when he managed to draw it out he found two Deities. He brought the Deities to the king who put them in his palace overnight. That night the king had a dream and was told to send the two Deities to Jiva Goswami in Vrindavana.
The next day the king left for Vrindavana and personally delivered the Deities to Jiva Goswami. Jiva was overjoyed to see the Deities but was confused as to who was who. That night Sri Radha came to Jiva in a dream and told him which Deity was Herself (Radha) and which was Lalita. The next day Jiva installed the Deities in their appropriate places on either side of Damodara.
Sanatana Goswami departed from this world in 1558 and attained the eternal realm of Goloka-Vrindavana, at which time Rupa Goswami instructed Jiva to bring the stone of Govardhana worshipped by Sanatana at Chakra-tirtha (Govardhana Hill) to Vrindavana and to continue the pujas. The Govardhana-shila of Sanatana Goswami has a very interesting story recorded in Bhakti-ratnakara (5.728-741) by Sri Narahari Chakravarti Thakura as follows:
ahe srinivasa, gosvami sanatane
chakra-tirtha ajna kaila rahita ekhane
O Srinivasa, by the order of Chakra-tirtha, Sanatana Goswami stayed here.
etha vasa kaila ati-ullasa-antare
ei dekha ta’ra kuti vanera bhitare
Residing at this place, he felt great joy within. Just see his kutira within the forest.
prati-dina govardhana parikrama ta’ra
bhramaye dvadasha krosha – aiche shakti ka’ra
Every day he performed the circumambulation of Govardhana Hill. Who has the power to travel 12 kroshas?
vriddha-kale maha-shrama dekhi’ gopinatha
gopa-balakera chale haila sakshata
Seeing that in his old age this was becoming very difficult. Lord Gopinatha came in the form of a young cowherd boy.
sanatana-tanu-gharma nibari’ yatane
ashruyukta haiya kahe madhura vachane
As Sanatana perspired and held back his tears, He spoke the following sweet words.
“vriddha-kale eta shrama karite nariba
ahe svami, ye kahi ta’ avashya maniva”
“In your old age you cannot take such difficulties. O Swami, please listen to what I have to say.”
sanatana kahe – “kaha, maniva janiya”
shuni’ gopa govardhane chadilena giya
Sanatana said, “Please tell me, whatever You say I shall follow.” Hearing this, the cowherd boy climbed the top of Govardhana Hill.
nija-pada-chihna govardhana-shila ani’
sanatane kahe punah sumadhura vani
He brought back a Govardhana-shila with the mark of a footprint. He then spoke to Sanatana in a sweet voice.
‘ahe swami, laha ei krishna-pada-china
aji haite karibe ihara pradakshina
“Oh Swami, please take this footprint of Krishna. From today you can circumambulate this.
saba parikrama siddha haibe ihate
eta kahi’ shila ani’ dilena kutite
By circumambulating it all perfection will be achieved.” Saying this, he brought the shila to Sanatana’s kutira.
shila samarpiya krishna haila adarshane
balake na dekhi’ vyagra haila sanatana
After giving the shila to Sanatana, Krishna disappeared, and not being able to see that boy Sanatana became disturbed.
sanatane vyakula dekhiya adrishyete
nija parichaya dila vihula snehete
Seeing that Sanatana was aggrieved, out of His compassion the Lord revealed Himself.
sanatana nija-netrajala sikta haila
kari’ kata kheda chitte dhairya-valambila
Sanatana became drenched in his own tears feeling guilty that he could not recognize the Lord.
sanatana premadhina vrajendra-kumara
ei pushpa-vane kare vividha vihara
Thus, Sanatana was fully captivated by love for the son of Nanda Maharaja who performs various pastimes in this forest that is decorated with flowers.
This Govardhana-shila bearing the footprint of Sri Krishna, the mark of Krishna’s flute and his stick for tending cows as well as the hoof print of the Surabhi Cow received by Sanatana Goswami and handed over to Jiva Goswami remains to this day at the Radha-Damodara Mandira. One who circumambulates the Radha-Damodara Mandira (the Govardhana-shila within) achieves all perfection, saba parikrama siddha haibe ihate!
Sri Sri Radha-Damodara worshipped by Sri Jiva Goswami.
Sri Sri Radha-Vrindavana-chandra worshipped by Sri Krishna Dasa Kaviraja Goswami
Sri Sri Radha-Madhava worshipped by Sri Jayadeva Goswami.
Sri Sri Radha-Chailachikana worshipped by Sri Bhugarbha Goswami.
Sri Govardhana-shila worshipped by Sri Sanatana Goswami.
Having secured the land in Vrindavana, Jiva Goswami is known to have requested Raja Man Singh of Ajmer to construct the temple building and facilities for a library. However, no date for the laying of the cornerstone has been discovered.
Another important document of this period is a proclamation signed by Emperor Akbar in 1590 acknowledging Jiva Goswami as the custodian of the Madana-mohana Mandira and the Govindaji Mandira, both bequeathed to Jiva after the passing of Sanatana Goswami in 1558 and Rupa Goswami in 1564. Similarly, Raghunatha Dasa Goswami bequeathed his land at Radha-kunda to Jiva in 1571. The last will of Raghunatha Dasa Goswami reads as follows:
Dictating this document to Kaviraja on my deathbed, I, the humble blind Raghunatha Dasa, zealous for the service of Sri Radha-kunda, hereby place my whole property at the lotus feet of the Deity worshipped by Jiva (Sri Sri Radha-Damodara).
From these bits of historical information one can see that Jiva Goswami received the legacy of the Sri Rupanuga sampradaya, the sampradaya of the followers of Sri Rupa Goswami who worship Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the combined from of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna.
mahaprabhu sri chaitanya, radha-krishna nahe anya
rupanuga janera jivana
Mahaprabhu Sri Chaitanya is non-different from Sri Sri Radha-Krishna and is the very life of those Vaishnavas who follow Sri Rupa Goswami.
Following the disappearance of his gurus (Rupa and Sanatana), Jiva Goswami was intent to establish among the Vaishnavas an accurate understanding of Sri Chaitanya’s teachings. For this purpose he founded the Vishva Vaishnava Raja Sabha. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada has described this event as follows:
At the end of each of Srila Jiva Goswami Prabhupada’s Sat-sandarbhas the name of the Sri Vishva Vaishnava Raja Sabha is inscribed. Jiva Goswami wrote that the Vishva Vaishnava Raja Sabha refers to the society that is composed of those Vaishnavas who are the kings (the foremost) of all the Vaishnavas present in this world. These foremost Vaishnavas are the followers of the feet of Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Who is the savior of Kali-yuga (the bestower of knowledge about spiritual relationships), the bestower of His own method of worship (the bestower of the means) and Who is the incarnation of krishna-prema, even though he is Sri Krishna Himself, the Embodiment of krishna-prema.
The objects of respect for this Sri Vishva Vaishnava Raja Sabha are Srila Rupa Goswami and Srila Sanatana Goswami, who are the associates of Mahaprabhu. Their teachings are the bhagavata-dharma. These teachings constitute the Bhagavata-sandarbhas or the Sat-sandarbhas. Therefore, the members of the Sri Vishva Vaishnava Raja Sabha are those people whose hearts have been illuminated by the light of the Sat-sandarbhas.
On the recent birthday of Sri Vishnupriya many pure devotees joined together at the Calcutta Sri Bhaktivinoda Asana and re-established the Sri Vishva Vaishnava Raja Sabha. Even though this sabha (society) is eternally established, it has descended into the world three times. Eleven years after the disappearance of Sriman Mahaprabhu, when the world was beginning to darken, six wonderfully bright stars (Rupa, Sanatana, Jiva, Gopala Bhatta, Raghunatha Bhatta and Raghunatha Dasa) arose in Sri Vraja-mandala and were engaged in the service of Gaurachandra. Apart from these six brilliant stars, there were several other great souls who beautified Sri Gaurachandra’s Vishva Vaishnava Raja Sabha. They were headed by Srila Lokanatha Goswami, Srila Bhugarbha Goswami, and Srila Kashishvara Goswami. Sixty-four dear associates of Sri Gaurasundara increased the beauty of this Vishva Vaishnava Raja Sabha. The twelve friends of Srila Nityananda Prabhu’s Nama-Hatta was a main branch of this Sri Vishva Vaishnava Raja Sabha.
“Sri Sri Bhagavata Krishna Chaitanyadeva is the savior-incarnation for the age of Kali. He is the Instructor of his own bhajana and of the knowledge of relationship (sambandha-jnana). He is the delineator of devotion which is the means (abhidheya) and He is the Embodiment of krishna-prema which is the final goal (prayojana). Another name for the devotees of Sri Gaura is ‘Chaitanyadeva-charana-anuchara’. Sri Chaitanyadeva is Krishnachandra Himself – the King of all the Vaishnavas in the world (Vishva Vaishnava Raja). The gathering of his devotees is the Sri Vishva Vaishnava Raja Sabha, the foremost ministers amongst the members of the society are Sri Rupa Goswami and his honored Sri Sanatana Goswami. Those who consider themselves to be the followers of Sri Rupa are the members of this Sri Vishva Vaishnava Raja Sabha. The leaders amongst them are Sri Sri Prabhupada Srimad Raghunatha Dasa Goswami and Sri Sri Prabhupada Srimad Jiva Goswami.
During the period of misfortune for the world’s inhabitants, after Sri Gauracandra displayed the play of His disappearance, Srimad Jiva Prabhu preached the Sri Bhagavata-dharma by the command of Sri Sri Rupa-Sanatana. The people who were accepted as disciples by Sri Rupa-Sanatana, the leaders of the sabha, later became the directors of the sabha. Sri Jiva Prabhupada, upon becoming the director of the sabha, termed the teachings which Sri Rupa had propagated in the sabha as the ‘Bhagavata-sandarbhas’ or ‘Sat-sandarbhas’.
The members of the Sri Vishva Vaishnava Raja Sabha know these Sat-sandarbhas to be the teachings of Sri Rupa-Sanatana and thus engage themselves in hari-bhajana. The pure and transcendental method of worship that has been given by Srimad Raghunatha Dasa Goswami (one of the leaders of the Sri Vishva Vaishnava Raja Sabha) by bearing the commands of Sri Rupa on his head, is the only thing adorable by the devotees of Sri Gaura. By taking shelter at the pure feet of Sri Rupa and Sri Raghunatha, Sripada Krishna Dasa Kaviraja Goswami Prabhu, the king of the family of rasika devotees (those devotees who are able to comprehend the inner significance), became one of the directors of the Sri Vishva Vaishnava Raja Sabha. Again, Sri Narottama Thakura Mahodaya, the crest jewel of transcendental devotees, decorated the crown of this Vaishnava Raja Sabha in the post of its director. Later, such kings of devotees as Sri Sripada Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakura spread their moon-like rays upon the sabha. The darkness of night cannot always predominate over the three worlds which are covered by ignorance, therefore we sometimes behold shining stars in the spiritual firmament which is bathed in the moon like rays of Sri Gauracandra.
In 399 Gaura Era (1885 A.D.), a brilliant star of the universal Vaishnava firmament (Srimad Bhaktivinoda Thakura) re-illuminated the Sri Vishva Vaishnava Raja Sabha. During that period many people in the great city of Calcutta received light from this sabha. As a result of that light, the sight of the cooling rays of Sri Gauracandra reflected in loving eyes is nowadays visible in this world. Just as autumnal clouds suddenly spread in the sky and cover the moon’s rays, so materialistic, non-Vaishnavas in the dress of Vaishnavas cause hindrances to that transcendental light in society. Today, it is four years since the servant of the King of universal Vaishnavas and the leader of the followers of Sri Rupa departed from this world, and sometimes his light is becoming covered by mist; seeing this, the group of people sheltered at the feet of the followers of Sri Rupa have become firmly resolved to protect the light of discourses on Hari from the strong gale.
The transcendental flower of krishna-prema that was budded forth by the acharyas headed by Sri Rupa, Raghunatha and Jiva was shown to the world as a blossom by Srimad Bhaktivinoda Thakura and after his disappearance it has begun to fully bloom. The followers of Sri Rupa have protected that beautiful and fragrant flower from the attack of depraved people and have thus given aid to the olfactory function of the bees swarming at Sri Gaura’s feet. In this connection we request everybody to read the Adi-lila, ninth chapter of the Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita composed by the king of rasika devotees about the divine loving activities of the Gardener Sri Chaitanya.” (Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada, 1919)
To further our understanding that Jiva Goswami was the shelter for many great Vaishnavas who would later come to Vrindavana, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura comments in his Anubhashya to the Chaitanya-charitamrita as follows:
After the disappearance of Rupa and Sanatana, Jiva was established as the topmost teacher of doctrine in the sampradaya. He engaged everyone in the worship of Krishna through teaching the truths given by Mahaprabhu Himself. On occasion, he would sometimes do the Vraja-dhama parikrama with the other devotees and sometimes would go to visit Vitthaladeva in Mathura. Krishna Dasa Kaviraja Goswami wrote the Chaitanya-charitamrita while Jiva was still alive. Not long thereafter, when Srinivasa, Narottama and Dukhi Krishna Dasa came from Bengal, he taught them and gave them the titles Acharya, Thakura and Shyamananda. He then sent them back to Bengal with all the scriptures that had been written by the Goswamis, with instructions to preach the religion of the Holy Names and love of Krishna. He received the news of the loss of the scriptures and later of their retrieval. He gave the title Kaviraja to both Ramachandra Sena and his brother Govinda. During his lifetime, Jahnava-devi and other devotees came to Vrindavana. When Bengali devotees came to Vraja, he arranged for their food and lodgings during their stay. (Anubhashya 1.10.85)
From its very inception the Sri Vishva Vaishnava Raja Sabha with its headquarters at the Radha-Damodara temple was an institution dedicated fully to distribute and preserve the teachings of Sri Chaitanya.
There are twenty-five scholarly books delineating the science of Krishna consciousness attributed to Jiva Goswami as follows:
1-Hari-namamrita-vyakarana is a work on Sanskrit grammar wherein each and every word, syllable and grammatical rule is explained in relation to Krishna and his pastimes.
2-Sutra-malika is a grammatical work dealing with the derivation of Sanskrit words.
3-Dhatu-sangraha is a work on the verb roots of Sanskrit words
4-Radha-Krishna Arcana Chandrika is a work on the process of Deity worship.
5-Rasamrita-shesa deals with Sanskrit composition. Jiva has based this work on the Sahitya Darpana of Vishvanatha Kaviraja, but has used many examples of his own as well as examples from other Goswamis.
6-Madhava-mahotsava describes the coronation ceremony of Radha when she is given the position of Queen of Vrindavana.
7-Sankalpa-kalpadruma explains the eightfold daily pastimes of Radha and Krishna (ashta-kaliya-lila) in the form of a prayer.
8-Gopala-virudavali is a short poem extolling the glories of Gopala (Krishna) in 38 verses.
10-Gopala-tapani Upanishad with the Sukha-bodhini commentary.
11- Brahma-samhita with Dig-darshani commentary.
12- Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu with Durgama-sangamani commentary.
13- Ujjvala-nilamani with Lochana-rochani commentary.
14- Yogasara-stavaka with commentary.
15-Agni Puranastha gayatri-bhashya is a commentary of gayatri-mantra.
16-Padma Puranokta Krishna-pada-padma-chihna describes the insignia found on the feet of Krishna according to the text of the Padma Purana.
17-Sri Radhika-kara-pada-sthita-chihna describes the insignia found on the hands and feet of Radha.
18-Laghu Vaishnava Toshani is a commentary to the Srimad Bhagavatam.
19- Krama-sandarbha is a commentary on the 10th Canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam.
20-Gopala-champu is a poetic work divided into two parts. The first part is the Purva-champu, which has 33 chapters and describes Krishna’s life in Vrindavana. The second section, the Uttara-champu has 37 chapters and describes the pastimes of Krishna after he leaves Vrindavana and the separation the residents of Vrindavana feel in his absence.
(21 thru 26 – Sat Sandarbhas)
According to Jiva Goswami himself, Gopala Bhatta Goswami had already done the preliminary work on these books (Sat Sandarbhas) but could not complete them. Jiva took the work of Gopala Bhatta and expanded it into six books wherein he systematically presents the philosophy of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu with scriptural evidences. Jiva also wrote an extensive auto-commentary to the Sandarbhas called Sarva-samvadini. The Sat Sandarbhas are as follows:
21- Tattva-sandarbha is a treatise on the various types of evidences (pramanas) used in Vedic philosophy. Jiva’s conclusion is that shabda (divine sound in the form of the Vedic scriptures) is the highest, and of all the scriptures, the Bhagavata Purana is the highest.
22- Bhagavata-sandarbha makes the distinction between the impersonal aspect of Godhead (Brahman), the localized form of God within the heart of each living being (Paramatma) and the highest personal aspect of Godhead (Krishna or Bhagavan). He also describes the spiritual realm of Krishna, the modes of material nature, the mode of pure goodness (vishuddha-sattva), the importance of worshipping the deity of Krishna and the nature and qualities of the Deity.
23- Paramatma-sandarbha describes the Supersoul (Paramatma) and how the Supersoul resides in the hearts of all beings. The differences amongst incarnations is also discussed as well as the nature of the conditioned living entity, the illusory potency (Maya), the temporal world, the theory of transformation, the various avataras of Krishna and how they respond to the desires of the Vaishnava, and how God is characterized by six particular opulences.
24- Krishna-sandarbha gives a number of quotes from various scriptures to prove that Krishna is the supreme god. He also discusses the pastimes and qualities of Krishna as well as his avataras and functionary expansions. There is a description of Goloka, the planet of Krishna in relation to Vrindavana in the material sphere, the associates of Krishna and their expansions and there is also a description of the gopis and the topmost position of Radha amongst them.
25- Bhakti-sandarbha explains how devotion to Krishna is executed. It also discusses varnashrama-dharma (the socio-religious system established in scriptures), the superexcellent position of devotion to Krishna as compared to other conceptions such as yoga, and the worship of minor deities as being futile in comparison to the worship of Krishna’s devotees. The text also explains liberation of the soul, the position of Shiva as a devotee of Krishna, how unmotivated devotion to Krishna promotes a devotee to the highest spiritual position and numerous other points concerning the performance of Vaishnava devotion.
26- Priti-sandarbha is a treatise on divine love, the supreme object being Krishna. Love for God (prema) is considered by Jiva to be the highest form of liberation. Jiva goes on to make a comparative study of other types of liberation but finally concludes that prema-bhakti is topmost. There is also a discussion on how to attain prema, how to awaken it, and the symptoms of one who has attained it. Priti-sandarbha also discusses the distinctions between mundane lust and divine love, the various mellows found amongst the associates of Krishna, the super-excellence of madhurya-rasa (divine conjugal love), the overlapping of different rasas, and the glories of Radha.
Many fantastical narratives have been passed down thru the centuries about Jiva Goswami and other famous devotees of Vrindavana, but these narratives although illuminating the greatness of the saint by the miracles they performed, often negate the dutiful position of a bona fide disciple. One such narration however that truly demonstrates the position of a disciple is as follows:
Once upon a time a certain dig-vijayi scholar, eager to amass mundane prestige, came to Rupa and Sanatana to get their signature as an admission of defeat in debate. Jiva’s gurus conceded defeat without any argument and the arrogant scholar proclaimed them to be nothing but ignorant fools. He then asked Jiva to also sign such an admission of defeat. Jiva, however, decided to take on the puffed-up scholar in debate in order to silence his slanderous tongue. Jiva boldly debated the so-called scholar and soundly defeated him and sent him on his way. In this way, he preserved the integrity of his spiritual master’s reputation and demonstrated the ideal behavior of a disciple who is guru-devatatma, i.e., one who recognizes his spiritual master to be his worshipable deity and source of life. One who understands the true duty and relationship between the guru and disciple as shown by Jiva Goswami becomes eligible to purely chant the holy name of Krishna.
Before leaving this world in 1608 (Shakabda 1530), Sri Jiva made a will, bequeathing his Deities, library and properties to the head pujari of Radha-Damodara, Sri Vilasa Dasa. After Jiva’s disappearance Sri Vilasa remained as the custodian for a short time before passing on the responsibility to Sri Krishna Dasa as was indicated in Jiva’s will. Since Krishna Dasa was a brahmachari and had no issue he eventually requested two of his nephews to come from Bengal to take charge of the temple and perform the worship of Sri Sri Radha-Damodara.
For the interest of the devotees we have herein included a translation of Jiva Goswami’s last will and testament.
“Jayate Sri Sri Radha-Krishna, Who Yearn to Confer Happiness Upon One Another”
On the second day of the dark half of the month of Margashirsa in the Samvat year 1663 (1607 CE) this is the Will and Testament of Jiva, a resident of Sri Sri Vrindavana and a follower of the lotus feet of Sri Rupa and Sri Sanatana.
This entire undertaking is mine and is all for the sake of facilitating the service to Sri Krishna and Sri Radha who have manifested in Their wonderful Deity forms which I worship. And that service is conveyed in the first instance to Sri Vilasa Dasa, a sadhu who has totally dedicated his life to the Supreme Truth. Thus, all materials that have been gathered as a means of serving Them are to be bequeathed to belong to Sri Vilasa Dasa in direct succession to me.
However, if after my physical death, he should desire to give up these rights either as a result of renunciation or due to disability and if the most virtuous brahmana Sri Krishna Dasa, son of Sri Bharatacharya, at that time still also continues in the service of Sri Krishna and Sri Radha Who have presently been revealed, then the said Sri Vilasa Dasa shall freely convey to him by Will the service and materials instrumental in the service together with Sri Krishna and Sri Radha Who are the objects of that service, the premises including books, all my possessions.
No other person has any right in this matter. O surely no other could have any rights, given that I have conveyed my own property. Whosever might dispute it would indeed contravene the service of Sri Krishna and Sri Radha and would be liable for punishment by the Vaishnava community and temporal rulers.
If however, the brahmana Sri Krishna Dasa’s circumstances should alter, Sri Vilasa Dasa shall convey the property of his own accord to any other fit person. And if Sri Vilasa Dasa’s circumstances should alter during my lifetime, I shall after due consideration dispose of the property myself.
Furthermore, this is a document in my own hand, there are 1000 witnesses. For, as many as will see the said handwriting, each one may bear witness. If this matter has not now been made clear to all persons, then indeed there is a danger that some person in authority will infringe it selfishly. But if there should be concern about my death then I shall communicate this matter clearly to all persons.
That this may be authoritative. And further it is requested that all Whosoever are my most chosen colleagues will collaborate therein. Kalyanam astu, kalyanam astu (may there be auspiciousness, may there be auspiciousness).
In 1670, when the Moghul Emperor Aurangzeb invaded Sri Vrindavana with his armies, he planned to destroy many temples and deface the Deities. At this instant Sri Sri Radha-Damodara manifest their pastime of traveling to the city of Jaipur in Rajasthan at the auspicious invitation of the Rajput kings. Other Deities of Vrindavana such as Radha- Govinda, Radha-Gopinatha and Radha-Madana-mohana also manifest their pastimes of traveling to Rajasthan where they took up permanent residence. However, in 1739 Sri Sri Radha-Damodara manifested their lila of returning to Vrindavana and again taking up residence in their original temple, the Radha-Damodara Mandira.
There are four main samadhis in the Radha-Damodara Mandira and numerous puspa-samadhis of Vaishnavas of note. The four main samadhis are those of Sri Rupa Goswami, Sri Jiva Goswami, Sri Krishna Dasa Kaviraja Goswami and Sri Bhugarbha Goswami. Other samadhis include those of Sri Krishna Dasa and the forefathers of Nirmal Candra Goswami. Puspa-samadhis include those of Maharaja Vira Hamvira and Queen Sulakshana, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, Sri Sakhi-charana Bhakti-vijaya, Sri Bhakti Pramoda Puri Maharaja, Sri Bhakti Kusuma Shramana Maharaja, Sri Bhakti Vedanta Muni Maharaja, Sri Bhakti Kamala Madhusudana Maharaja and Sri Bhakti Shoudha Ashrama Maharaja.
There are also numerous other puspa-samadhis of nirupadhi-vaishnavas at Radha-Damodara that are not mentioned here.
The two principle bhajana-kutiras that are being maintained by the sevaite-acharyas of the Radha-Damodara Mandira are those of Sri Rupa Goswami and Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
From the period when Jiva Goswami entered the eternal realm of Goloka Vrindavana in 1608 and Krishna Dasa became heir to the service of Sri Sri Radha-Damodara and subsequently passed that service on to his nephews, the service at the temple has continued for the past four hundred years (1608 to 2013). The parampara of thirteen generations of the sevaite-acharyas of Sri Sri Radha-Damodara since the time of Jiva Goswami is listed as follows:
Sri Jiva Goswami
Sri Krishna Das Goswami
Sri Nanda-kumara Goswami
Sri Vraja Kumara Goswami
Sri Vrindavana Deva Goswami
Sri Gopi-ramana Goswami
Sri Vraja-lal Goswami
Sri Naval Lal Goswami
Sri Govinda Lal Goswami
Sri Keshavananda Goswami
Sri Vraja-mohana Deva Goswami
Sri Govinda Vallabhi Devya Goswami
Sri Gaurachanda Goswami
Sri Nirmal Chandra Goswami (present acharya)