Category: Hindu holidays
Jiva Goswami (Sanskrit: जीव गोस्वामी, Jīva Gosvāmī; c. 1513 – 1598) is one of the most prolific and important philosopher and saint from the Gaudiya Vaishnava school of Vedanta tradition, producing a great number of philosophical works on the theology and practice of Bhakti yoga, Vaishnava Vedanta and associated disciplines. He was a member of Six Goswamis of Vrindavan, being the nephew of the two leading figures, Rupa Goswami and Sanatana Goswami.
There seems to be some controversy amongst biographers about Jiva Goswami's birth. Some opine that he lived from 1511–1596 CE, while others claim that he lived from 1533 to 1618 CE.
Not much is known about Jiva Goswami's childhood. He was born in Ramakeli in the district of Maldah, West Bengal as the son of Srivallabha Mallika (also known as Anupama), the younger brother of Rupa and Sanatana; his mother's name is unknown. He had a strong affinity to the worship of Krishna even from his childhood and excelled in his education completing his studies in Sanskrit Vyakarana (grammar) and Kavya (poetics) within a very short period.
When Jiva was three or four years old, his uncles resigned from their ministerial posts at the court of Alauddin Hussein Shah (ruled 1493–1519 CE) after their initial meeting with Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486–1534 CE) and they decided to join his ranks as mendicants. Jiva's father, Anupama, also met with Chaitanya at this time and followed in the footsteps of his elder brothers and proceeded to travel with Rupa to Vrindavana.
Hearing that his father and uncles had made their decision to work in the service of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the young Jiva desired to join them also. According to the biographical work Bhakti Ratnakara of Narahari Chakravarti, Jiva had a dream of Chaitanya at this time. This gave him the impetus to leave home and join Rupa and Sanatana. It is unclear from his biographies whether or not Jiva actually ever met Chaitanya personally.
Jiva travelled to Navadvipa in West Bengal and met with Nityananda Rama, one of the foremost followers of Chaitanya mahaprabhu. Nityananda took Jiva to all the holy places in Navadvipa and they circumambulated the entire area together. This marked the beginning of the Gaudiya tradition of Navadvipa parikrama (circumambulation of the nine sections of Navadvipa). After the pilgrimage, Nityananda gave his blessings for the young Jiva to proceed towards Vrindavana.
Jiva went on to Benares where he studied for some time under the tutelage of Madhusudana Vachaspati, the disciple of the famous logician and Vedantist, Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya. Under Vachaspati, Jiva mastered the six systems of Indian philosophy known as Sad Darsana.
In 1535 Jiva arrived in Vrindavana where he remained under the tutelage of his uncles, Rupa and Sanatana (by this time his father Anupama had died). He accepted initiation from Rupa Goswami and was taught the esoteric principles of devotion to Krishna. Jiva helped to edit the writings of Rupa and Sanatana and assisted them in their work in propagating Gaudiya Vaishnavism and excavating the lost holy places of Vrindavana.
After the passing of Rupa and Sanatana, Jiva Goswami became the foremost authority in the Gaudiya Vaishnava line. In 1542 Jiva established one of the prominent and important temples in the Vrindavana area, the Radha Damodara mandir, installing deities of Radha and Krishna that had been personally carved by Rupa Goswami. At that time he also established the Vishva Vaishnava Raja Sabha (World Vaishnava Association) and the Rupanuga Vidyapitha, an educational facility for Gaudiya Vaishnavas to study the works of Rupa and Sanatana. His erudition and spirituality were so famous that the Moghul emperor Akbar became his ardent admirer and donated paper for his writing.
In 1558, Jiva instructed his students, Narottama Dasa, Srinivasa Acarya and Shyamananda, to go to Bengal and propagate the Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy and to take with them the original manuscripts that had been written by Rupa and Sanatana.
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