The Six Goswamis
As published in The Harmonist (Sree Sajjanatoshani)
Edited by Paramahamsa Paribrajakacharyya Sri Srimad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Maharaj
THE original authorised exponents of the Teachings of Sree Chaitanya are known as the six Goswamis. They are Sree Rupa, Sanatana, Raghunath Bhatta, Jiva, Gopala Bhatta and Raghunathdas. Five of them left records of the Teachings of the Supreme Lord which they wrote in the Sanskrit language. These six Goswamis took up their residence in the Land of Braja for the purpose of preaching the super-excellence of the worship of Sree Krishna as practised by the spiritual milkmaids of Braja, the true meaning of which was made available to the present fortunate Age by the Career and Teachings of the Supreme Lord Sree Krishna-Chaitanya.
The works of the six Goswamis, at any rate a sufficient number of them, have come down to us intact. The study of these priceless volumes has been neglected too long partly on account of the indifference of the degenerate followers of Sree Rupa and partly by the deliberate policy of the pseudo-teachers of the Religion of loving devotion who did not want the public exposure of their own falsehoods which had been laboriously manufactured for securing a lucrative trade in the name of Religion.
The pseudo-followers of Sree Chaitanya, or, more correctly, of Sree Rupa who is the first Apostle, have gained an unenviable notoriety for immorality as well as stupidity. Sree Chaitanya's Teachings are ordinarily represented in the imagination of the average inhabitant of Bengal as characterised by the quality of emotion to the comparative disregard of the intellectual side of human nature to which the philosophy of the Vedanta represented by the interpretation of Sree Sankaracharyya, makes its appeal. As a matter of fact 'bhakti' (which is imperfectly rendered as devotion) is now-a-days ordinarily supposed even by professed Chaitanyites to be incompatible with the due exercise of our rational judgement. Such a state of opinion on the subject of bhakti as taught by Sree Chaitanya, could come to prevail only by the criminal neglect of the study of the valuable Gaudiya Vaishnava literature based on the expositions of the six Goswamis.
It was the task of the six Goswamis to establish to the satisfaction of all sincere enquirers that the Teaching of Sree Chaitanya are in more complete accord with the teachings of the entire body of the revealed Scriptures than that of any other teacher of the Religion. Nay, the Goswamis proved by unimpeachable Scriptural testimony that Sree Chaitanya is identical with Sree Krishna, the Ultimate Divine Person. The teachings of Sree Chaitanya gather up and carry forward to their final stage the revelations of all the Scriptures by proclaiming the super-excellence of the worship of Sree Krishna practised by the spiritual milk-maids of Braja.
The Vedanta is really explained not by Sree Sankaracharyya but by Srimad Bhagavatam. The interpretation of the Sree Sankaracharyya is essentially negative and polemical. It is a very powerful exposure of the inadequacy of all empiric syntheses about the subject of the Absolute. This is certainly one of the aspects of the teaching of the Vedanta; but it is not the primary aspect. Sree Sankaracharyya has avoided any treatment of the Positive Nature of the Absolute. This is bound to be altogether unsatisfactory to all persons who are in need of enlightenment about the nature of the Reality. Sree Sankaracharyya is the prince of sceptics who are very successful in demolishing the laboured structures of his empiric protagonists. He avoids the positive treatment of the subject of the Absolute with the plea that no activity is admissible in the Absolute. Sree Sankara makes one significant admission viz., that the Reality is not matter but Spirit. He is almost silent about the nature and function of the Spirit. His so-called followers, failing to properly understand the cause of the silence of Sankara, have sought to offer a most puerile empiric synthesis on the basis of the interpretations of Sankara. It is this which passes now-a-days in the name of the philosophy of the Vedanta among the different schools of the empiric savants of this country as well as the West.
The interpretation offered by the six Goswamis presents the positive teachings of the Scriptures in their only rationally intelligible form, so far as they are capable of being grasped by our present limited rational faculty. They take us beyond the scope of our present rational vision but not in opposition to the same. They lead our halting reason, as it were, by the hand, along paths which can be explored only under their absolute guidance. This is not an irrational procedure, in as much as they never let go our limping reason, but always helps it to find a real footing on paths that are otherwise inaccessible to it. From even the purely intellectual point of view this is a higher performance than the utmost level of achievement of Sree Sankaracharyya. As a matter of fact the only substantive interpretation of the Vedanta, that alone also really matters, is the one that is made available by the works of the six Goswamis. It is not mere boast of the rhetorician that Sree Krishna made manifest His Own Eternal Pastimes once again while the six Goswamis were residing in the Land of Braja.
The exigencies of the trade of religion made the pseudo-followers of Sree Rupa offer no encouragement to those who might have evinced the inclination for the serious study of the original sources. A very small part of the priceless teachings of the six Goswamis has been attempted to be presented to the indulgent reader in the pages of this journal in order to induce an effective public curiosity to know more about 'the Ocean of the Nectar of Mellow Devotion' that has been manifested by Sree Rupa, for allaying the thirst of the Ages of the famished soul during his sojourn in this land of blighted waste, by the Mercy of the Supreme Lord Sree Krishna-Chaitanya. That great work is still available to all students of spiritual lore of which the blessed Land of India still remains the veritable open-door Emporium.
"The nectarine Ocean of the elixir of devotion" (Bhaktirasamritasindhu)is the name of the great work of Sree Rupa that offers a through-going analysis of the positive function of all pure souls with a clear exposition of the fundamentals of spiritual faith. The transcendent nature of the service of Krishna is fully brought out and carefully differentiated from all mundane activities. The book introduces the reader to the real spiritual atmosphere and in this respect should be regarded as the most important volume of the whole series.
Sree Sanatana Goswami enables his readers to grasp the all-important fact that Krishna is the Divinity Proper to Whom alone all services are due. There is, however, a complete hierarchy of Divine Personalities of Whom Krishna is the Source. There are also gods exercising delegated Divine powers in regard to this world. There is an infinite gradation of worlds both in the mundane and the spiritual spheres. Vedic Personal Monotheism is expounded with Krishna, the Transcendent Absolute, as the Supreme Lord.
Sree Raghunathdas Goswami is the serving-maid of Sree Radhika, the Premier Milk-maid of Braja, and his lyrical compositions offer the highest level of the service of Krishna.
Sree Gopal Bhatta Goswami has codified the practices and rituals of Vedic Monotheism, culminating in the pure chant of the Name of Krishna.
Sree Jiva is the philosophical exponent of the system. He has refuted the arguments of other schools that are opposed to the conclusions of Srimad Bhagavatam which are accepted by Sree Chaitanya as furnishing the only genuine revealed exposition of the Vedanta.