Jiva Goswami – Biography

Jiva Goswami

Shrila Jiva Goswami.

   Shrila Jiva Gosvami made his appearance in 1455, Sakabdha (1533 A.D.), on the 12th day of the bright fortnight in the month of Bhadra. He disappeared from view at the age of 85 in 1540 A.D., (Sakabdha, 3rd day of bright fortnight, Pausa).
   As a child, Shri Jiva took up the worship of Shri-Shri Rama-Krishna Deities. Carefully decorating Them, and offering bhoga and arati, he served Them attentively. Even when playing, Jivas games were often connected with Lord Krishna's pastimes.
   Shri Jiva studied under the local pandits, becoming proficient in grammar, poetry and rhetoric. Watching the expression of his great intellect, his teachers predicted that he would be a very saintly person. Later in his life, he composed a grammar in Sanskrit for the pleasure of the Lord. This composition described the rules of grammar, which was explained with examples that used the Holy Names of the Lord. Known as Hari-namamrta-vyakarana, this grammar is still current and is prescribed in the syllabus of schools in Bengal.
   Once in a dream, Shri Jiva saw that Shri Rama-Krishna had taken the forms of Nitai-Gauranga, and they were dancing. Giving him the dust of Their lotus feet, the Two Lords then disappeared. This wonderful dream greatly consoled Shri Jiva, who was anxious to leave behind his family life and become absorbed full time in serving Nitai-Gauranga. But, being the only son of the family, and in the absence of his father, Jiva was responsible for the care of his mother. When he learned that his father had left his body on the banks of the Ganges, Shri Jiva became extremely saddened. Friends suggested that he go to Navadwipa to bathe himself in the coolness emanating from the lotus feet of Lord Nityananda Prabhu, so that burning grief in his mind and body might be refreshed. As Shri Jiva headed for Navadwipa with a group of pilgrims, Nityananda Prabhu also set out for Navadwipa, from Khardaha. Arriving in Navadwipa, at the home of Shrivasa Pandita, Shri Jiva met and fell down at the feet of Nityananada Prabhu.
   Shri Jiva enjoyed various pastimes with Nityananda Prabhu, touring the nine islands of Navadwipa and taking darshana of the holy places of the Lord's pastimes. Jiva then traveled to Kashi (Varanasi), where he studied Vedanta under the instruction of Shri Madhusudana Vachaspati, a disciple of Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya. The conclusions of Vedanta contained in Shrimad-Bhagavatam, as they were given by Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya in Puri, had in turn been taught by the Bhattacharya to Madhusudana Vachaspati. Shri Jiva mastered these same conclusions from him.
   Shri Jiva later traveled to Vrindavana, where he joined the company of his two uncles, Shri Rupa and Shri Sanatana. Jiva stayed with Shri Rupa, who taught him Shrimad Bhagavatam and gave him mantra initiation. Shri Jiva quickly become conversant with the conclusion of Shrimad Bhagavatam, so Shri Rupa engaged him in proof-reading his Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu. Shri Jiva compiled a commentary on Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu called Durgama sangamani. Later, in 1476 (Sakabda), Shri Sanatana Gosvami compiled Shri Vaishnava tosani, a commentary on the tenth canto of Shrimad-Bhagavatam, which Jiva also proofread. Following Sanatana's instruction, in 1500 (Sakabda) Shri Jiva compiled a commentary on the Bhagavatam called Laghu Vaishnava tosani.
   While in Vrindavana, Shri Rupa took up the service of Shri Shri Radha-Damodara. According to the Sadhana dipika, this Deity of Damodara was fashioned by Rupa Gosvami's own hand for his dear disciple, Shri Jiva. Today, Shri Shri Radha-Damodara are being worshipped in Jaipur, Rajasthan.
   Shrila Jiva Gosvami composed many literatures during his lifetime, including:
  • Hari-namamrta-vyakarana
  • Sutra-malika
  • Rasamrta-sesa
  • Gopala-virudavali
  • Sri-Madhava-mahotsava
  • Sri-Sankalpa-kalpavrksa
  • Brahma-Samhita-tika
  • Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu-tika (Durgama-sangamani)
  • Ujjvala-nilamani-tika (Locana-rocani)
  • Gopala-campu
  • Sat-sandharbha (Tattva-sandarbha, Bhagavata-sandarbha, Paramatma sandarbha, Krsna-sandarbha, Bhakti-sandharbha, Priti-sandarbha)
  • Srimad-Bhagavata-tika (Krama-sandarbha)
  • Laghu-vaisnava-tosani (Tenth Canto Bhagavatam commentary)
  • Sarva-sambadina (commentary on Sat-sandarbha)
  • Gopala-tapani-tika (Sri-Suhkha-bodhini)
  • Padma-puranastha-yogasara-stotra-tika
  • Gayatri-vyakhya-vivrti (A commentary on the Gayatri mantra as described in the Agni Purana, chapters 216-217)
  • Radha-Krsnarcana-candrika
  • Dhatu-sangraha
  • Bhavartha-sucaka-campu
    [Excerpted from “Sri Chaitanya: His Life & Associates” by Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaj] 
Jiva Goswami

Shri Jiva enjoyed various pastimes with Nityananda Prabhu, touring the nine islands of Navadwipa and taking darshana of the holy places of the Lord's pastimes. (In the image: From right to left Nityananda Prabhu and Jiva Goswami).