Sri Ramacandra Kaviraja and Srila Gopala Bhatta Gosvami

BY: SUN STAFF - 12.1 2022

The Disappearance day of Sri Ramacandra Kaviraja and the Appearance day of Srila Gopala Bhatta Gosvami are observed on January 11th.


Sri Ramacandra Kaviraja

sarajani-nagare gauda-bhupadi-patrad
brahmanyad visnu-bhaktad
api suparicitat sri-ciranjiva-senat
yah sri-ramendu-nama samajani paramah
so-yam sriman narakhye sa hi kavi-nrpatih
samyag asid abhinnah

Ramachandra, a king amongst poets, was born in the town of Sarajani on the banks of the Ganges as the son of Sunanda and Chiranjiva Sen, a well-known minister of the king of Gauda, a devotee of the Brahmins and Vishnu. Ramachandra was not in any way different from Narottam Das Thakur. (Sangita-madhava-nataka, quoted at Bhakti-ratnakara 1.270)

Chiranjiva Sen was a resident of Srikhanda, whose wife's name was Sunanda. They had two sons, the older was Ramachandra, the younger Govinda. Ramachandra was a disciple of Srinivas Acharya who took the title Kaviraj. His siddha name was Karuna Manjari.
(Verses quoted in Gaudiya Vaisnava Abhidhana)

After the death of his father, Ramachandra went to live in Kumar Nagar with his maternal grandfather, Damodar Kaviraj, who was a disciple of Narahari Sarkar. Later he went with his younger brother Govinda to live in the village of Telia Budhari in Murshidabad district. This place has the distinction of being his Sripat.


The Kaviraj Title

Srinivas Acharya was so overcome with affection for Ramachandra that he gave him the diksha mantra and engaged him as his personal servant. Though Bir Hambir became Srinivas Acharya's disciple, Ramachandra acted as his siksha guru. Ramachandra also visited Vrindavan where he associated with Jiva Goswami and the other Vaishnavas, receiving their blessings. They were very pleased to hear his poetry, so much so that Jiva Goswami gave him the Kaviraj title. He thus became one of the eight Kavirajs (asta-kaviraja). He was Narottama Thakur's favored companion for preaching activities and spiritual association.

Paramananda Bhattacharya, an ocean of love, Jiva Goswami and the other residents of Vraja, listened to Ramachandra recite his own poetic compositions and they joyfully awarded him the title of kaviraja. Ramachandra Kaviraj was full of all virtues and Narottam Das' second self.
(Bhakti-ratnakara 1.267-9)

Kamsari Sen, Rama Sen, Ramachandra Kaviraj, and the three Kavirajs, Govinda, Sriranga and Mukunda, are Nityananda's branches.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 1.11.51)

Ramachandra wrote several books, including Smarana-camatkara, Smarana-darpana, Siddhanta-candrika, and Srinivasa Acaryera Jivana-carita.


Ramachandra in Vrindavan

Narahari Chakravarti has written an extensive description of Ramachandra and his visit to Vrindavan in the ninth wave of Bhakti-ratnakara. All the residents of Vraja who saw him were attracted by his physical beauty. When Ramachandra visited the Radha-Damodar temple with Jiva Goswami and saw Rupa Goswami's samadhi, he experienced ecstatic transformations that were a source of amazement to all. Gopal Bhatta Goswami, Lokanatha Goswami and Bhugarbha Goswami gave him their blessings. He went to bathe in Radha Kund and Shyama Kund and met Raghunath Das Goswami there. When he paid obeisances to Raghunath, the venerable saint affectionately embraced him.

Ramachandra's friendship with Narottam Das Thakur has been immortalized by Narottam Das' prayer to Srinivas Acharya for his association:

daya kara sri-acarya prabhu srinivasa
ramachandra sanga mage narottama dasa

"Please be merciful, Prabhu Srinivas Acharya! Narottam Das begs for Ramachandra's association."

hau sasvad-bhagavat-parayana-parau-samsara-parayanau
samyak satvata-tantra-vada-paramau nihsesa-siddhantagau
sasvad-bhakti-rasa pradana-rasikau pusanda-hrn-mandalav
anyonya-priyatabharena yugali-bhutav imau tau numah

"I pay my obeisances to Narottam and Ramachandra, who are devoted to all those who have dedicated their lives to the Supreme Lord, who help people cross over the ocean of material life, who know all the scriptures completely and have understood all the transcendental doctrines, who most generously distributed bhakti-rasa and won the hearts of the atheists, who are deeply attached to each others' affectionate company."
(Sangita-madhava-nataka, quoted at Bhakti-ratnakara 1.277)

Ramachandra's disappearance day is the Krsna triya in the month of Magh. He passed away in Vrindavan after the disappearance of Srinivas Acharya.


Srila Gopal Bhatta Goswami

sadya gopala-bhattakah
bhatta-gosvaminam kecid
ahuh sri-guna-manjar

She who was formerly Ananga Manjari has appeared to enrich Mahaprabhu's pastimes as Srila Gopal Bhatta Goswami. Some say that Gopal Bhatta is actually Guna Manjari.
(Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika 184)

Srila Gopal Bhatta Goswami appeared in 1500 AD (though according to some authorities, he was born in 1503) as the son of Venkata Bhatta in the town of Srirangam in South India. Their residence was in a village not far from Srirangam called Belgundi.

According to Narahari in the Bhakti-ratnakara, Mahaprabhu gave Gopal Bhatta a dream vision through which he could witness all of His Nabadwip pastimes. Though Gopal was an eternal associate of Krishna, he appeared in a faraway place in order to make a special contribution to Lord Gauranga's pastimes. Thus even though he was living too far away to know anything about the Lord directly, he was still able to know long before he met the Lord in person that He had appeared and taken sannyas.

As a member of His Vrindavan entourage, Gopal Bhatta did not particularly like the Lord's appearance as a sannyasi. This austere form distressed Gopal, who was thus crying alone when the Lord appeared to him and gave him this vision of His form as a householder in Nabadwip. Gopal was overwhelmed with astonishment at seeing the Lord's beauty and he fell down at His feet. When he looked up, the Lord had transformed into His sannyasi form again. Calming Gopal, He gave him some instructions and then foretold that he would go to Vrindavan before long and there make disciples who would spread his teachings throughout the world.

The Lord then embraced Gopal and drenched him in His tears. He then told Gopal to keep all these revelations a secret. He then disappeared, leaving Gopal in a state of intense joy.
(Bhakti-ratnakara 1.123-4)


Gopal Bhatta Comes to Vrindavan

When Gopal arrived in Vrindavan, Rupa and Sanatan wrote to Mahaprabhu to tell him. The Lord was overjoyed and immediately wrote back telling them to affectionately take care of him as though he were their own younger brother. Srila Sanatan Goswami compiled the Hari-bhakti-vilasa and published it in Srila Gopal Bhatta Goswami's name. Rupa Goswami considered Gopal to be as dear to him as his own life and engaged him in the deity worship of Radha Raman.

Srila Gopal Bhatta Goswami became one of the six Goswamis, but he always kept an attitude of meekness and humility. Thus, when Krishna Das Kaviraj approached him for permission to write the Chaitanya Charitamrita he granted it, but under the condition that he not write about him. Krishna Das Kaviraj Goswami could not go against the order of Gopal Bhatta and thus did nothing more than mention his name. Sri Jiva Goswami writes in the introduction to the Sat-sandarbha that he wrote it on the basis of an earlier text by Gopal Bhatta. Srila Gopal Bhatta Goswami also wrote a book called the Sat-kriya-sara-dipika ("Light on the essential sacraments for the Vaishnavas"). Thus his contribution to Gaudiya Vaishnava literature was in editing the Hari-bhakti-vilasa, preparing the notes for Jiva's Sat-sandarbha and in compiling the Sat-kriya-sara-dipika. He also gave great joy to the community of devotees by writing a commentary on Bilvamangala's Krsna-karnamrta.

Amongst his disciples were Srinivas Acharya and Sri Gopinath Pujari. The following story is told about Gopinath Pujari becoming Gopal Bhatta's disciple. One day, Gopal Bhatta went to visit the town of Saharanpur, not far from Hardwar. On that occasion, a simple, devoted Brahmin engaged in his service in a most unpretentious manner. He had no children, but desired to have a son. Srila Gopal Bhatta Goswami knew the desire of the Brahmin and blessed him that he would have a devotionally-minded male child. The Brahmin promised Gopal Bhatta that he would give him his first son to be his servant and disciple. This son was Gopinath Pujari.

It is said that Mahaprabhu had such affection for Gopal Bhatta that he sent him his own belt and kaupin as well as a wooden seat he had used. These items are still worshipped in the Radha Raman temple by the current sevakas.


Sri Sri Radha Raman

When Srila Gopal Bhatta Goswami was visiting the pilgrimage centers of northern India, he found a Shalagram Sila on the banks of the Gandaki River. He took the worshipable stone form and carried it with him wherever he went, attending to it as a Vrajendranandan Krishna Himself. One day he thought that he would like to worship the Lord in a deity form, so that he could expand his service. On the very next day, he found that the Shalagram Sila had transformed itself into Radha Raman to fulfill the wish of his devotee. This deity stands alone without any form of Radha standing by His side. Instead, as a symbol of Radharani, a silver crown is placed on His left side.

The story is also told in the following way. It is said that Srila Gopal Bhatta Goswami used to daily worship twelve Shalagrams. He developed a desire to serve the Lord in the form of a deity, thinking that in this way he would be able to worship him in a much better way. The Lord within his heart knew his feelings. Through a rich merchant, he was provided with many beautiful items used in the worship of the deity, such as ornaments and clothes, sent to him. Gopal began to worry that all these beautiful objects would be wasted because there was no way that he could use them unless he had a deity in human form. That night, he put the Shalagrams to rest and in the morning he saw that one of them had been transformed into the Radha Raman deity.

When Rupa and Sanatan heard that Krishna had so mercifully appeared to Gopal Bhatta, they immediately came with the other devotees for darshan, and when they saw him, they were ecstatic with love. The annual festival commemorating Radha Raman's appearance, when He is bathed publicly, takes place on the full moon day of Vaishakh. The Radha Raman temple is considered one of the most important in Vrindavan.

Srila Gopal Bhatta Goswami ended his earthly pastimes on the Krsna pancami of Asharh of 1507 of the Saka Radha Raman temple. By reading Srinivas Acharya's hymn to the six Goswamis, Sad-gosvamy-astaka, we can understand their glories.


Excerpted from "Sri Chaitanya: His Life & Associates" by Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaj