Srila Jiva Goswami

Goswami was Vilasa Manjari

According to the Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika (195), Srila Jiva Goswami was Vilasa Manjari in his previous identity in Vraja. In verse 203 of the same book, it is stated that he was the son of Vallabha and a scholar of exemplary character (susilah panditah sriman jivah sri-vallabhatmajah). According to the Gaudiya Vaisnava Abhidhana, Jiva was present in this world from 1511 to 1596(1433-1518 Saka), but some other sources propose that Jiva’s lived from 1533 to 1618.


Srila Jiva Goswami appeared in the village of Ramakeli in the district of Maldah as the son of Anupam Mallik (Vallabha) who had made his residence there in order to serve in the government. The name of Jiva’s mother is unknown. Narahari Chakravarti has given Jiva’s genealogy going back seven generations. This list, as explained by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur has been given here in this volume in the chapter on Srila Rupa Goswami. Jiva Goswami’s father’s original name was Vallabha, but Mahaprabhu gave him the name Anupam. Mahaprabhu met Anupam and his brothers Rupa and Sanatan for the first time when he came to Ramakeli in 1513. By his will, a spirit of renunciation took root in Rupa and Sanatan upon meeting the Lord, which led to their abandonment of all worldly duties and possessions not long thereafter. They then set off in an effort to be reunited with Mahaprabhu in Vrindavan. The same spirit of renunciation took hold in Jiva Goswami’s heart at this time also, as has been vividly described by Narahari in

Bhakti-ratnakara as follows:

Jiva’s mind became distracted from the time that his two uncles went to Vrindavan. He abandoned his jewels and fine dress, his comfortable bed and his various amusements. It was as though nothing interested him any more. He could not bear hearing news of political and other mundane affairs. Narahari summarizes Jiva’s early life as follows: In a dream, Jiva had a vision of Mahaprabhu dancing in the midst of sankirtan. He was overwhelmed by feelings of divine love and soon thereafter left his home in Bakla Chandradwip. He had some companions who went with him as far as Fateyabad, but from there he continued alone to Nabadwip. There he met Nityananda Prabhu in the home of Srivasa Pandit and received his blessings. Nityananda Prabhu told him at that time that he should go to Vrindavan: 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 Pandit and the other devotees give their blessings to Jiva. After keeping Jiva with him there for some time, 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.” It is not clear whether Jiva ever met Mahaprabhu directly even though there is a hint in the Bhakti-ratnakara that Jiva was a baby when the Lord came to Ramakeli. Thus, Jiva demonstrated an interest in devotion to the Supreme Lord from his early childhood. Even when playing with his friends, he was only interested in games that were connected to the worship of Krishna. When Jiva was a little boy, he refused to play games that had no relation to Krishna with the other boys. He made images of Krishna and Balaram and would worship them with flowers and sandalwood paste and dress and decorate them. He would gaze upon them with unblinking eyes, looking for all the world like a golden doll himself, sitting motionless on the floor. When he paid obeisance to the deities, his eyes filled with tears. He would offer their Lordships sweets and then take the prasad and distribute it to his friends.


By Nityananda’s grace, Jiva was able to visit all the sacred sites in Nabadwip Dham. After completing his tour of the dham, he travelled to Benares where he studied all the scriptures with Madhusudan Vachaspati. Then he went on to Vrindavan where he remained under the tutelage of Rupa and Sanatan Goswamis. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur has given the following summary of Jiva Goswami‘s life in his Anubhasya to the Chaitanya Charitamrita: “After the disappearance of Rupa and Sanatan, Jiva became 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. He would occasionally perform Vraja Dham parikrama with the other devotees and sometimes would go to visit Vitthalnath in Mathura. Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami wrote the Chaitanya Charitamrita while Jiva was still alive. Not long thereafter, when Srinivas, Narottam and Dukhi Krishna Das came from Bengal, he taught them and gave them the titles Acharya, Thakur and Shyamananda, respectively. 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 later gave the title Kaviraj to both Ramachandra Sen and his brother Govinda. Jahnava Devi and other devotees came to Vrindavan during his lifetime. Whenever Bengali devotees came to Vraja, Jiva arranged for Prasad and lodgings during their stay.” The loss of the scriptures refered to in the above paragraph took place when agents of the King Bir Hambir of Vana Vishnupur stole them. Later, when the king heard Srinivas Acharya speak on the Bhagavatam, he was converted to Vaishnavism and took initiation from him. Srinivas thus recovered the books. All this is described in full in this volume in the chapter of Srinivas Acharya .


In the Bhakti-ratnakara, a list of twenty-five works ascribed to Jiva has been given:

(1) Harinamamrta-vyakarana

(2) Sutra-malika

(3) Dhatu-sangraha

(4) Radha-Krsnarcana-dipika

(5) Gopal-virudavali

(6) Rasamrta-sesa

(7) Madhava-mahotsava

(8) Sankalpa-kalpa-vrksa

(9) Bhavartha-sucaka-campu

(10) A commentary on Gopal-tapani-Upanisad

(11) A commentary on Brahma-samhita

(12) A commentary on Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu

(13) A commentary on Ujjvala-nilamani

(14) A commentary on Yogasara-stavaka

(15) Agnipurana-stha-gayatri-bhasya

(16) Padma-puranokta Krsna-padapadma-cihna

(17) Sri Radhika-kara-pada-sthita-cihna

(18) Gopal-campu, Purva and Uttara divisions

(19) Krama-sandarbha

(20) Tattva-sandarbha

(21) Bhagavata-sandarbha

(22) Paramatma-sandarbha

(23) Krsna-sandarbha

(24) Bhakti-sandarbha

(25) Priti-sandarbha

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur has given the following warning in his Anubhasya to those inexperienced persons who might be deprived of Krishna prema through the influence of ignorant and offensive sahajiya teachings: “Three slanderous ideas about Jiva Goswami are current amongst the ignorant Prakrita Sahajiyas. Anyone influenced by these calumnies, which are fundamentally inimical to Krishna, the guru and the Vaishnavas will become increasingly offensive and end up losing his taste for service to the Supreme Lord.

“(1) It is said that a certain dig-vijayi scholar, on a mission to amass mundane prestige, came to Rupa and Sanatan to get their signature as an admission of defeat in debate. Jiva’s gurus conceded defeat without any argument and the arrogant scholar  began to slander them as nothing more than ignorant fools. He then asked Jiva to also sign such an admission of defeat. Jiva, however, decided to take on the puffed-up Brahmin in debate in order to silence his scurrilous tongue. In this way, he preserved the integrity of his spiritual master’s reputation and demonstrated the ideal behavior of one who is guru-devatatma, (one who recognizes his spiritual master to be his worshipable deity and source of life). Some ignorant Sahajiyas, however, say that Sri Jiva’s behavior goes contrary to Mahaprabhu’s teaching of being humbler than a blade of grass and of giving respect to others while demanding none for one’s self. Indeed, they say that Rupa Goswami chastised Jiva for this very reason and ostracized him for some time, and only when Sanatan later interceded on Jiva’s behalf did he accept him again into his association. “Only when these enemies of the spiritual master and the Vaishnavas receive Krishna’s mercy and begin to see themselves as their eternal servant, will they also receive Jiva’s blessings and be able to understand what it really means to be ‘humbler than a blade of grass’ and ‘a giver of respect to all’. Only then will they be eligible to chant the holy names in the proper way.

(2) Some other foolish Sahajiyäs say that when Jiva first read the Chaitanya Charitamrita, with its clear and brilliant explanation of the divine devotional sentiments of Vraja, he was afraid that it would hamper his own scholarly reputation. He therefore threw the manuscript down a well in a spirit of mean-mindedness. Upon hearing of Jiva’s action, Krishna Das Kaviraj Goswami was greatly shocked and immediately gave up his body. Fortunately Krishna Das’s disciple Mukunda had made a copy of the original manuscript and thus it was preserved and later published far and wide. Had Mukunda not done so, the Chaitanya Charitamrita would have been lost forever. This is another contemptible bit of invention based on an inimical attitude to the guru and Vaishnava. It has no basis in reality and there is no possibility of its being true.

(3) According to other sense-obsessed fornicators, Srila Jiva Goswami should not be accepted as an authority because, in his treatises, he opposed the idea that the gopis of Vrindavan were married to other men (the parakiya-vada), but rather supported the svakiya-vada. They say that he cannot be accepted as a rasika-bhakta, or a devotee who is knowledgeable in the divine sentiments. “The fact is that during Jiva’s lifetime, some of his followers demonstrated a preference for the sviya-vada. Jiva recognized their limitations and so, for their benefit and for the benefit of those in the future who would be unable to comprehend the transcendental nature of the parakiya-vada and would themselves take up adulterous relationships in imitation of Krishna, he  gave credence to the svakiya doctrine. This is a sign of his acting  appropriately as an acharya. One should not take this as evidence of his being opposed to the transcendental parakiya-vada, however, for he is the topmost of Rupa Goswami’s followers and one of Krishna Das Kaviraj Goswami’s spiritual teachers.


Narahari has shown how Rupa Goswami instructed Jiva, punished him and then blessed him, in a story told in the fifth way of Bhakti-ratnakara: One hot summer’s day, while Rupa was writing Bhakti-rasamrta- sindhu and Jiva was fanning his perspiring body, Vallabha Bhatta came by to see Rupa Goswami. After reading some of Rupa’s introductory verses, he offered to make a few corrections. When Vallabha went to the Yamuna to take a bath, Jiva followed him on the pretext of going to fetch water. In fact, he was angry because he considered Vallabha’s proposal to be arrogant. He asked him what fault he had found in Rupa’s verse. Vallabha told him and Jiva immediately showed him the flaws in his argument. A debate ensued in which Jiva countered every one of Vallabha’s objections. When he came back to Rupa’s hut, Vallabha told him how impressed he was with Jiva’s scholarship, recounting the entire episode. Rupa gently rebuked Jiva, telling him to return to Bengal and to come back to Vrindavan only when he had calm down. Thus banished from his presence, Jiva left Rupa Goswami’s dwelling, but rather than going back to the family home as he had been told, he went to Nanda Ghat, a nearby village. Hoping to regain his guru’s favor, he began to practice rigorous austerities, worshiping Krishna intensely while fasting or eating only a bare minimum. As a result of such severe practices, his body became weak and sickly. One day, Sanatan Goswami  happened to come to Nanda Ghat and discovered him in this condition. He was moved and took Jiva back with him to Rupa and appealed to his brother to forgive him. Rupa and Jiva were thus reconciled and Jiva once again began to receive Rupa’s affectionate blessings. Jiva Goswami’s appearance day is on Bhadra sukla dvadasi, his disappearance day is Paush sukla trtiya. His deity, Radha-Damodar, is still being worshiped in the Radha Damodar temple in Vrindavan. His samadhi tomb is on the grounds of the Radha-Damodar temple and his bhajan kutir is preserved in Radha Kund, near Lalita Kund.