kalavati rasollasa gunatunga vraje sthitah
shri-vishakha-kritam gitam gayanti smadya ta matah
Govinda, Madhava and Vasudeva were three gopis in Vraja, namely Kalavati, Rasollasa and Gunatunga, who used to sing the songs composed by Vishakha.
All three brothers were singers famed for the sweetness of their voices.
The meritorious Madhava Ghosh devoted himself to kirtan. There was no singer on earth who was his equal. It was said of him that he was a singer from Vrindavan. He was most dear to Nityananda Prabhu. The three brothers, Govinda, Madhava and Vasudeva began to sing while Lord Nityananda danced.
(Chaitanya Bhagavat 3.5.257-9)
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu danced to the kirtan of the three brothers, Govinda, Madhava and Vasudeva.
(Chaitanya Bhagavat 1.15.115)
Shrila Govinda Ghosh Thakura is known for his most sweet kirtans at the annual Ratha-Yatra festival celebrated by Lord Chaitanya at Jagannatha Puri.
Govinda Ghosh participated in Mahaprabhu’s lilas in Shrivasa Angan, in the nagara-sankirtan to the Kazi’s house, and in the house of Raghava Pandit. During the Rathayatra festival, he was the lead singer in the fourth kirtan group, accompanied by his two brothers, Junior Hari Das, Vishnu Das and Raghava Pandit. Vakreshvara Pandit joined this group as the principal dancer.
He was born in a Kayastha family in the north Radhi clan. His Shripata was at Agradwipa. Also known as Ghosa Thakura, Govinda was the brother of the well-known Vaishnava poet Vasudeva Ghosh. Govinda belonged to the lineage of Lord Chaitanya and was instrumental in installing the Deity Shri Gopinatha at Agradwipa.
govinda, madhava, vasudeva—tina bhai
yan-sabara kirtane nace caitanya-nitai
The three brothers Govinda, Madhava and Vasudeva were the eighty-second, eighty-third and eighty-fourth branches of the tree. Lord Chaitanya and Nityananda used to dance in their kirtana performances.
The three brothers Govinda, Madhava and Vasudeva Ghosa all belonged to a kayasthafamily. Govinda established the Gopinatha Temple in Agradwipa, where he resided.
prabhura ajñaya nityananda gaude calila
tanra sange tina-jana prabhu-ajñaya aila
By the order of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, three Devotees accompanied Lord Nityananda Prabhu when He returned to Bengal to preach.
ramadasa, madhava, ara vasudeva ghosa
prabhu-sange rahe govinda paiya santosa
These three were Ramadasa, Madhava Ghosha and Vasudeva Ghosha. Govinda Ghosha, however, remained with Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu at Jagannatha Puri and thus felt great satisfaction.
Among the three brothers, each had his Shripata as follows: Vasudeva at Tamluk, Madhava Ghosh at Dainhat, and Govinda at Agradwipa. According to Vishvakosha, Ghoshathakura (Govinda) lived at Kashipur Vishnutala near Agradwipa. Some believe that he was born at Vasinavatala where to this day a number of Kayastha families holding the surname Ghosh, continue to live.
Govinda accompanied Lord Chaitanya and His Devotees when they left Nilachala for Vrindavana. In this context Achyutacharana Chaudhuri writes in Shrihattera Itivrtta: "One day after finishing His lunch, Lord Chaitanya looked for some mouth-freshener (a fruit called Haritaki). Govinda rushed to the village, collected some fruits,and offered one to the Lord. Upon receiving the fruit so promptly, Lord Chaitanya glanced inquisitively after Govinda. Understanding that Govinda had stored Haritaki, Lord Chaitanya admonished him saying, "Govinda, since you have not been able to give up the habit of saving things, perhaps you had better stay back and take charge of installing the Deity Gopinatha." Following the command of the Lord, Govinda continued to stay at Agradwipa. However, despite the Lord's reassuring words, he felt miserable to have been left behind by Lord Chaitanya.
Shrila Prabhupada writes (C.C. 2.24.280): It is not necessary for a Vaishnava to keep a stock of food for the next day. He should receive only sufficient grain to last one day. The next day, he must again depend on the Lord's mercy. This is the instruction of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. When His personal servant Govinda sometimes kept a stock of haritaki (myrobalan), Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu chastised him, saying, "Why did you keep a stock for the next day?" Shrila Rupa Goswami and others were begging daily from door to door for their sustenance, and they never attempted to stock their ashrama with food for the next day. We should not materially calculate, thinking, "It is better to stock food for a week. Why give the Lord trouble by having Him bring food daily?" One should be convinced that the Lord will provide daily. There is no need to stock food for the next day.
A few days later, when Ghosha Thakura was taking a dip in the Ganges, some floating object touched his back. It appeared to be some sort of wood, although considerably heavy. That night he received divine directions in a dream to preserve that piece of wood with care and to hand it over to Lord Chaitanya when he arrived there. During the night when Govinda went to fetch the wood, he realized that it was a Krishnashila. The next morning Lord Chaitanya turned up in Govinda's house and said, "Look here Govinda! You have nothing to worry about anymore. Tomorrow one sculptor will come here to chisel a Deity from this shila and you should install that Deity. The Deity of Shri Gopinatha was thus installed.
Later, at the command of the Lord, Govinda married and continued to serve the Deity jointly with his wife. Govinda was blessed with a son, however, both his wife and son passed away one after another. Govinda was so deeply grieved by the loss of his family that he stopped serving Gopinatha. Lord Krishna appeared to Govinda in a dream and asked him, "Govinda! Do you think it is proper that when a person loses one son he should starve his other son to death also?"
To this Govinda replied, "It was my hope that I had my son survived he would have performed the necessary rituals in remembrance of my deceased soul and those of my forefathers. Tell me, what do I gain by serving You?"
Lord Krishna explained, "I hereby promise to celebrate your death anniversary in a fitting manner forever. Now please can I have some food to eat?" Govinda was delighted to hear this and immediately returning to serving Gopinatha.
In due course of time, when Govinda breathed his last, Gopinathaji held kusagrass in His fingers to perform the shradha ceremony, a practice continued even today. Govinda left word during the last moments of his life that his body should not be cremated, but should be buried under the ground near Dolaprangana.
Two Songs Written by Govinda Ghosh
pranera mukunda he
ki aji shunilu acambite?
kahite parana jaya mukhe nahi bahiraya
shri gauranga chariibe navadvipa
ihato na jani mo rasakale milinun gora
avanata mathe ache basi
nijhare nayana jhare buka bahi dhara parie
malina haiyache mukha shashi
dekhite takhana prana sada kare ana cana
sudhaite nahi avasara
kshaneka sambita haila tabe mui nivedila
shuniya dilena e uttara
ami ta vivasha haiya tare kichu na kahiya
dhaiya ailun tuwa pasha
ei ta kahilun amije karite para tumi
mora nahi jivanera asha
shuniya mukunda kande hiya thira nahi bandhe
gadadharera vadana heriya
e govinda ghosha kaya iha jena nahi haya
tabe muïi jainu mariya
O Mukunda! My life! What did I suddenly hear today? If I say it I will die… the words do not want to come out of my mouth. Gauranga is really going to leave Navadwip. We didn’t know this, but we saw Gora this morning; He was sitting with His head bowed in thought. Streams of tears flowed from His eyes and washed over His chest, and His moon-like face had lost its luster.
When we saw Him like that, our own hearts fluttered and we could not ask Him anything. For a moment I regained consciousness and humbly asked Him the question and that is what He told me.
Becoming disturbed, I ran here to you right away without saying anything further to Him. I have told you this and now do what you can. As far as we are concerned, I don’t think that we have any hope of continuing to live.
When he heard this, Mukunda started to cry. He could no longer keep his calm as he looked at Gadadhara. Govinda Ghosh says, let it not be, for if He leaves, I will die.
hede re nadiya vasi kara mukha cao
bahu pasariya goracande phirao
to sabare ke ara karibe nija kore
ke jaciya dibe prema dekhiya katare
ki shela hiyaya haya ki shel hiyaya
parana putali nabadvipa charii jaya
ara na jaiba mora gaurangera pasha
ara na kariba mora kirtana vilasa
kandaye bhakata-gana buka vidariya
pashana govinda ghosha na jaya miliya
Oh people of Navadwip, at whom are you staring?
Spread your arms to stop Gora, make Him come back!
Who is there now who will clasp you to His chest?
Who will come and beg you to take love of Krishna?
A shaft has pierced my heart! A shaft has pierced my heart!
The image of my life has abandoned Navadwip and gone.
No longer will we be able to go and sit with Gauranga;
no longer will we be able to enjoy kirtan the way we did.
All the Devotees are crying; their hearts are bursting
and, like a stone, Govinda Ghosh does not go to join them.
Agradwipa is a town about six miles south of Katoya (Katwa). It is situated on the west side of the Ganga, about 26 miles northwest of Mayapura, in the Barddhaman district. Shri Govinda, Shri Madhava, and Shri Vasudeva Ghosha lived here. The samadhi of Shri Govinda Ghosha is located in Agradwipa. Govinda Ghosha Thakura established the Deity of Shri Gopinatha on the east bank of the Ganga near Agradwipa.