Jiva Goswami Short Biography:
Jiva Goswami (1513-1598) delineates his genealogy in Laghu-toshani, which is his commentary on Sanatan Goswami’s larger work, Vaishnava-toshani. The genealogy is important because it embodies the little information that exists about Rupa, Sanatan, and Jiva’s familial background. Jiva Goswami’s life and work are emblematic of the Vaishnava way of devotion. He dedicated every moment to his mission of codifying Shri Chaitanya’s philosophy for the benefit of mankind. To this end, he organized the movement begun by the five senior Goswamis.
Consequently, Jiva Goswami is known as the most systematic preacher among the Six Goswamis and has at times been called the greatest philosopher in all of Indian history. In fact, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has commented that “the Vaishnavas are by far the greatest philosophers in the world, and the greatest among them was Shrila Jiva Goswami Prabhu.”
Jiva was the youngest and most prolific writer among the Six Goswamis. In addition, he was the last among them to reach Vrindavan, and consequently he is not mentioned in any of the early biographies of Shri Chaitanya. Jiva is, however, glorified in several verses from Chaitanya-charitamrita, but even there it is usually in connection with the other five Goswamis. The little that is known about Shri Jiva comes primarily from Bhakti-ratnakara, which has been quoted throughout this work, and another, earlier book (although also from the seventeenth century), called Prema-vilas. This latter work was written by Nityananda Das, a student of Nityananda Prabhu’s wife, Jahnava-devi, and it is therefore accepted by many Chaitanyite Vaishnavas as an authoritative source.
Since biographical information concerning Jiva Goswami is scanty, much debate has arisen regarding details. For example, some scholars deny that 1513 was the year in which Shri Jiva was born, for Shri Chaitanya met Rupa, Sanatan, and Anupama (Jiva’s father and the younger brother of Rupa and Sanatan) later that same year in Ramakeli. This presents a problem because, according to Bhakti-ratnakara, Jiva, too, was in Ramakeli at this time. And although he was only a child, he was old enough to get there by himself and witness the loving interaction between his uncles, his father, and Shri Chaitanya. How, then, could Jiva have been born that same year? The only possible conclusion is that either the date of Jiva’s birth is merely an approximation, which has already been admitted by Bhaktivinode Thakur, or that Jiva was an infant of miraculous capabilities. (As with the other Goswamis, Jiva’s ontological position is special: He was considered an incarnation of the gopi known as Vilasmanjari. So supernatural occurrences are not beyond the realm of possibility.)
Whatever the answer, as Jiva Goswami grew in years, he gradually developed all of the bodily symptoms of a Mahapurush, or an empowered divinity. Scriptural descriptions of such souls include elongated lotus-like eyes, high nose and forehead, large shoulders and chest, hands reaching to his knees, an effulgence that appears like molten gold, and other specific features. Bhakti-ratnakara says that Jiva Goswami was not devoid of any of these bodily symptoms. In addition, he was a prodigy, mastering at a young age such subjects as grammar, poetry, logic, and scriptural hermeneutics.
As described in Chapter Three, Shri Chaitanya had first met Rupa and Anupama in Ramakeli and had had a second encounter that took place soon thereafter in Allahabad. This was to be the last time that Anupama would see the Master in this incarnation, for the very next year, in 1514, while traveling through Bengal on the way to Puri, Anupama passed away on the banks of the Ganges. This devastating event had a tremendous effect on Jiva Goswami who, although only a child at the time, resolved to renounce the world and its cruelties. Thus, with a burning passion for spiritual enlightenment, Shri Jiva studied the scriptures as he grew into his teens. At this time he began the worship of Krishna-Balaram, the Deity forms of Krishna and His elder brother. Shri Jiva saw Krishna and Balaram as nondifferent from Shri Chaitanya and Nityananda Prabhu.
This period in Jiva’s life and the scenario that followed are summarized by author and Sanskrit scholar Stuart Elkman:
With his father dead and his two uncles now settled in Vrindavan, Jiva reportedly lost all interest in worldly pursuits, hoping only to join his two uncles in Vrindavan one day. By the time he had reached the age of twenty, his mother was also dead, and he resolved to lead the life of a Vaishnava recluse in the company of Rupa and Sanatan. Before heading for Vrindavan, Jiva first visited the town of Navadvip [Shri Chaitanya’s birthplace], where he was met by Nityananda and taken to all of the places associated with Chaitanya’s youth. At the bidding of Nityananda, Jiva proceeded to Benares to complete his studies in Sanskrit learning.
Interesting details of Jiva Goswami’s trip to Navadvip are found in Bhaktivinode Thakur’s Nava-dvip Dham Mahatmya. From the earliest age, Jiva desired to visit Shri Chaitanya’s birthplace. Jiva’s mother did not want her only son to travel and lead the austere life of a renunciant. Nonetheless, Jiva conceived of a ruse by which he proposed that he would go on a short trip to his ancestral home of Fatehabad. His mother agreed and Jiva arranged for the boatman, who was supposed to take him to Fatehabad, to take him instead to Navadvip.
Once in Navadvip, Shri Jiva met Nityananda Prabhu, as noted by Stuart Elkman. Jiva immediately recognized Nityananda as nondifferent from his Balaram Deity. “You are the form of the universe,” Jiva told Nityananda, “You are Balaram. In fact, You are so infinite that I cannot properly describe Your qualities. One thing I know for certain is that You are my eternal master and I am Your servant. My only aspiration is the shade of Your lotus feet. That person to whom You give mercy easily gets the lotus feet of Shri Chaitanya and drowns in the water of love of God. Without Your mercy, no one can get Shri Chaitanya, even if he worships Him for one hundred lifetimes. I therefore pray for Your merciful glance.”
After glorifying Nityananda Prabhu in this way, Shri Jiva was taken by Nityananda Himself on a complete tour of Navadvip. First, they went to Shri Chaitanya’s birthplace; then they visited the famous house of Shrivas Thakur, where blissful nocturnal kirtans were once held; there, they actually met Shrivas, who took them to Sachi’s house; Sachidevi and Vishnupriya, Shri Chaitanya’s widow, then cooked prashadam (sacred vegetarian food) for them; next, Vamsivadana, Sachi’s servant, accompanied them to the temple of Jagannath Mishra, where Shri Chaitanya’s father had worshiped the family Deity of Lakshmi-Narayana. In this way, Jiva Goswami saw all nine islands of Navadvip.
After their tour of the holy dham, Nityananda Prabhu told Shri Jiva to go to Vrindavan by way of Benares. The reason for passing through Benares was to locate Madhusudana Vachaspati, an important disciple of Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya, and to take lessons from him. Vachaspati was to become Jiva Goswami’s mentor.
Arriving in Benares, Jiva Goswami quickly found Madhusudana Vachaspati and accepted his tutelage. In a relatively short time, Shri Jiva became particularly wellversed in all aspects of Vedanta philosophy and he developed a reputation as an eminent scholar. Having written Sarvasangvadini, wherein he refers to such divergent Vedanta Sutra commentators as Madhva, Ramanuja, Shankara, and Vachaspati, he became known as a thorough and wellrounded authority on all branches of learning.
To this day, Benares Hindi University honors Jiva by dedicating an entire department to the study of his works.
Once Shri Jiva had established himself in Benares, he recalled the instructions of Nityananda Prabhu. While in Navadvip, Nityananda Prabhu had told him: “Go soon to Vrindavan. That place has been awarded to your family, to your father and uncles, by Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and therefore you must go there immediately.” This recollection, coupled with a burning desire to assist Rupa and Sanatan, influenced him to leave Benares and start for Vrindavan. Krishnadas Kaviraj, author of Chaitanya-charitamrita, confirms that by the time Jiva Goswami was twenty years old, he had gone to Vrindavan and fulfilled the mandate given to him by Nityananda Prabhu.
Other than Jiva Goswami’s massive literary contribution (It is said that he compiled not less than 400,000 Sanskrit verses!), not much is really known about his stay in Vrindavan. According to Bhakti-ratnakara, the following devotees (among others) were there when Jiva first arrived and they greeted him with love and friendship: The other five Goswamis, Prabodhananda Saraswati, Kashishvar Pandit, and Krishnadas Kaviraj. Rupa and Sanatan were overjoyed to see their illustrious nephew associating with the Vrindavan devotees.
Soon after arriving in Krishna’s holy land, Shri Jiva approached Sanatan, his eldest uncle, for initiation into the Chaitanyite Vaishnava line. But out of humility Sanatan deferred the responsibility of initiating Jiva to Rupa Goswami. Before Rupa initiated Shri Jiva, however, he decided to test his mettle. To this end, Rupa gave Jiva menial service to perform. He had Jiva prepare articles for Deity worship; beg alms; prepare food; research texts; massage his feet; and prepare palm leaves for his writing. Highly pleased with Jiva Goswami’s sense of selfless service, Shri Rupa formally initiated him into Chaitanyite Vaishnavism.
Some months had passed since Jiva’s initiation, and a traveling scholar named Rupanarayana Saraswati came to Vrindavan. He was wellknown as one of the most learned men in the country and it was said that he could not be defeated in philosophical debate. In fact, he was called a Digvijayi, which meant that he was “a person who had conquered everyone in all directions.” His pride, however, was as vast as his learning. And as he went from village to village in order to wrangle with local scholars, he demanded a jayapatra, or a “certificate of victory,” from his opponents.
By this time, Rupa and Sanatan were known all over northern India as the greatest of all scholars. In Rupanarayana’s usual arrogance, he rudely challenged the two famous brothers to a debate. When Rupa and Sanatan declined, the proud Rupanarayana said, “You are obviously frauds! If you were as learned as people say you are, you would both accept my challenge.”
With great humility, Rupa and Sanatan said that their reputation was exaggerated by wellwishers and that they were in fact not fit to debate such a learned and undefeatable individual. Rupanarayana was greatly pleased to hear this. Immediately thinking of his reputation, he asked for his usual jayapatra so he could show others that he had defeated Rupa and Sanatan. Without any hesitation, the two humble brothers signed his certificate and sent him on his way.
Blinded by vanity, Rupanarayana felt that he was now the greatest scholar of all time. He completely neglected the fact that he had defeated Rupa and Sanatan only by default and that it was their sheer humility that allowed him easy victory. Moreover, Rupanarayana soon heard that Rupa and Sanatan had a young nephew who was quickly developing a reputation that was equal to theirs. Rupana-rayana knew that if he really wanted to establish himself as the greatest of all scholars, then he would have to defeat young Jiva as well. Approaching Jiva Goswami, Rupanarayana presented his letter stating that he had defeated Rupa and Sanatan. Jiva was incensed. How could his teachers, Rupa and Sanatan, who were intimate associates of the Lord, be defeated by an ordinary scholar — or even by the greatest of scholars?
Rupanarayana demanded that Jiva enter debate with him, for once he defeated Jiva, he said, his reputation would be unequaled. As Jiva listened to the distasteful boasting of Rupanarayana, he felt an intense urge to silence him once and for all. Jiva’s youth got the better of him. Although his uncles avoided wasting valuable time in some mundane debate, Jiva accepted the challenge.
Young Jiva spent seven days on the banks of the Yamuna trying to vindicate the reputation of his uncles. On the final day, the contest of scholarship was complete. Jiva had won the debate. After this, Rupanarayana went away in great shame and was never seen again in Vrindavan.
Jiva, on the other hand, was anxious to share his conquest with Rupa and Sanatan. He was especially excited to tell the good news to Rupa, his guru. When he approached Rupa, however, he was severely chastised: “You have prematurely taken to the renounced order of life,” Rupa told him, “and consequently you were not able to conquer your anger and sense of pride. No one who rejoices in humiliating others, or who asserts his own worth, is fit to live in Vrindavan. You are hereby banished, and you should leave immediately.”
Severely humbled, Jiva bowed to his master and quickly left Vrindavan for neighboring Mathura. He took Rupa Goswami’s harsh words to heart and practiced great austerities in an attempt to atone for his misconduct. It is said that he lived in the hollow of a tree, ate simple food (and only once a day), and took a vow of silence that was to last for one solid year.
This exile might have lasted even longer, but it was cut short by the mercy of Sanatan Goswami. When Sanatan discovered what had happened to Jiva, he immediately went to Rupa and told him that he was neglecting to follow one of Shri Chaitanya’s cardinal teachings. Rupa said, “What? Which teaching am I not following? Please tell me.” To this, Sanatan said, “You recite the teachings of our Master. When you get to the one in question, I will let you know.”
As Rupa patiently recited all of Shri Chaitanya’s precepts, he finally came to “Jiva Doya,” which means “Kindness to all living beings.” Doya means “kindness.” And Jiva means “living beings.” Jiva, however, is also the name of Jiva Goswami. Realizing the import of Sanatan’s curious pun, Rupa laughed heartily and decided to be “kind to Jiva.” In this way, Rupa rescinded his banishment.
Critics of Jiva Goswami foolishly point to this episode in Jiva’s life in their attempts to show that he had acted improperly. Chaitanyite Vaishnavas, however, understand that Jiva was merely playing a part in order to instruct others about the pitfalls of mundane scholarship. Critics say that Jiva should have been more humble, and that if he were, he would have never been banished by Rupa Goswami. Such critics neglect the fact that if Jiva had not debated with the arrogant scholar, then Vaishnavism would have fallen into illrepute, for the mass of people would have continued to believe that Rupa and Sanatan had been defeated by Rupanarayana.
His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada comments in this connection:
[Critics of Jiva Goswami] do not know. that both humility and meekness are appropriate when one’s own honor is insulted. But when Lord Vishnu or the acharyas [empowered teachers] are blasphemed, one should not be humble and meek but must act. One should follow the example given by Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Lord Chaitanya says in His prayer: ‘One can chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking himself lower than the straw in the street; one should be more tolerant than a tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige, and should be ready to offer all respect to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly.’ Nevertheless, when the Lord was informed that Nityananda Prabhu was injured by Jagai and Madhai, He immediately went to the spot, angry like fire, wanting to kill them. Thus Lord Chaitanya has explained His verse by the example of His own behavior. One should tolerate insults against oneself, but when there is blasphemy committed against superiors such as other Vaishnavas, one should be neither humble nor meek; one must take proper steps to counteract such blasphemy.
There are two other stories that have been fabricated to defame Jiva Goswami. The first story asserts that Krishnadas Kaviraj, after completing his great magnum opus known as Chaitanya-charitamrita, showed his work to Jiva, who then threw it in a well, thinking that the Kaviraj’s book was too much competition for Jiva’s own work. Krishnadas Kaviraj, the story goes, was so shocked by the Goswami’s action that he immediately died. The problem with this story, however, is that it does not enjoy any historical or textual substantiation, either by scholars or practitioners.
The second story that was contrived by Shri Jiva Goswami’s critics is perhaps more serious than the first. They accuse Jiva of denying the important philosophical doctrine of parakiya-rasa, which states that Krishna’s relationship with the married gopis is superior to His relationship with the unmarried gopis (even though from the conventional point of view it is immoral to cavort with married women).
Those who cannot conceive of Krishna’s transcendental position prefer to think of Radha and Krishna as married to each other (svakiya-rasa), and in this way they can accommodate Radharani’s relationship with Him. These critics can never realize that mundane ethical codes and moral principles lose all meaning when it comes to God and His eternal associates. While devotees in this world are obliged to follow the highest standards of ethics and morality, in the kingdom of God there is a completely different standard: everything is calculated by how much it brings pleasure to the Lord.
Unable to accept that Radharani is in fact married to someone else, neophytes on the spiritual path cannot understand that the relationship between Radha and Krishna becomes even more sweet due to the thrilling risk engendered by Their extra-marital affair. It should also be remembered that in the material world such a relationship is considered base. This is all the more reason that in the spiritual world — which is the exact opposite of the material world — it would be considered the zenith of transcendental loving relationships.
His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada comments on Shrila Jiva Goswami’s alleged rejection of parakiya-rasa:
Actually, when Jiva Goswami was alive, some of his followers disliked the parakiya-rasa of the gopis. Therefore, Shrila Jiva Goswami, for their spiritual benefit, supported svakiya-rasa, for he could understand that sahajiyas [“cheap imitators”] would otherwise exploit the parakiya-rasa, as they are actually doing at the present. Unfortunately, in Vrindavan and Navadvip it has become fashionable among sahajiyas, in their debauchery, to find an unmarried sexual partner to live with to execute devotional service in parakiya-rasa. Forseeing this, Shrila Jiva Goswami supported svakiya-rasa, and later all the Vaishnava acharyas also approved of it. Shrila Jiva Goswami was never opposed to the transcendental parakiya-rasa, nor has any other Vaishnava disapproved of it. Shrila Jiva Goswami strictly followed his predecessor gurus and Vaishnavas, Shrila Rupa and Sanatan Goswami, and Shrila Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami accepted him as one of his instructor gurus.
The unfounded criticisms leveled against Jiva Goswami have long been laid to rest by stalwart authorities and scholars of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, such as Bhaktivinode Thakur, Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, and His Divine Grace Shrila Prabhupada. In fact, historians now consider Shri Jiva to be one of the most important teachers of Chaitanyite theology, and they attribute to him the preservation of the tradition. Through his impassioned preaching spirit, he served the dual purpose of carrying on the Goswami mission of codifying Shri Chaitanya’s teachings and enlivening others to take up the banner of the sankirtan movement. This has been noted by Amarnath Chatterjee, professor of history at the University of Delhi:
Among the Six Goswamis, Jiva alone can be regarded as a systematic preacher. It was he who planned the work of propagation in Bengal and Orissa in the post-Chaitanya-Nityananda period (seventeenth century). Consequently, he trained Shrinivas, Narottam, and Shyamananda in the basic tenets of the Vaishnava faith, entrusted them with preaching work, and directed them finally to proceed to the eastern provinces with the Vaishnava literature.
Jiva Goswami’s fame spread all over India. As a result, Emperor Akbar, most tolerant of the Moghul rulers, travelled to Vrindavan in the year 1570, just to have an exclusive audience with the Goswami. It is said that Akbar was moved beyond words, and that he began to patronize the work of the Goswamis. While there are scholars who question the authenticity of this event, Akbar’s enthusiastic patronage of the Goswamis is explained by prominent historian F. S. Growse: “Akbar the Great, as he is known, was taken blindfolded into the garden called Nidhiban. There, such a marvelous vision was revealed to him that he was fain to acknowledge the place as indeed pious ground. Hence the cordial support which he gave the attendant Rajas [Goswamis], when they expressed their wish to erect a series of buildings worthy of the local Deity.”
It is therefore concluded that Akbar’s visit played a central role in the development of Vrindavan in those formative years. Having had a genuine spiritual experience by the grace of Jiva Goswami, the great emperor directed his men to commence construction of the four original temples of Vrindavan: Madan-Mohan, Govindadev, Gopinath, and Jugal-Kishor. It is said that at this time Jiva Goswami met many other notable personalities, such as the poetess Mirabai, but there is little reliable information concerning these meetings.
Nonetheless, much is known about Jiva Goswami’s construction of the Radha Damodar Temple, one of the most important developments to occur during his stay in Vrindavan. When land was purchased by a wealthy servant of Akbar named Alisha Chaudhari (for the express purpose of assisting Shri Jiva in the spreading of Vaishnavism), the Goswami naturally took this as an opportunity to properly worship a set of Radha-Krishna Deities that were given to him by Rupa Goswami. And so Jiva supervised the building of the Radha Damodar Mandir, one of the classic temples of Vrindavan.
In the courtyard of this temple, there are rooms that have traditionally been rented to holymen as they come to honor Jiva Goswami’s temple, a tribute to Radha Damodar. On the eastern side of the temple grounds, there is the room where His Divine Grace Shrila Prabhupada resided for six years before leaving India to sail to the United States in 1965. While in this room, Shrila Prabhupada produced the first three volumes of his translation and commentary on Shrimad Bhagavatam. With the inspiration of Jiva Goswami and Rupa Goswami (whose tomb is in this same courtyard), Shrila Prabhupada planned his strategy for forming his International Society for Krishna Consciousness, which he utilized to spread the teachings and practice of Chaitanyite Vaishnavism all over the world.
It is said that the Six Goswamis, too, used to meet at the Radha Damodar temple and plan the propagation of Krishna consciousness. To facilitate this planning, Jiva Goswami — with men given to him by Akbar — masterminded the construction of a Granth-bhandara, or a library, where he would store all handwritten copies of granths (scriptures) and the books of Rupa, Sanatan, and the other Goswamis. Jiva’s eagerness to preserve these valuable books can be seen in his Sankalpa-patra, or his last will and testament.
Preservation of the tradition by prolific literary achievement became Jiva’s most important contribution to Chaitanyite Vaishnavism. Scholars today marvel at Jiva Goswami’s massive output of theological literature. Jiva’s accomplishment in this regard has been noted by author and historian Sushil Kumar De:
Jiva Goswamin was a more prolific, versatile, and voluminous writer, and it is difficult to give a complete list of his works. The enumeration of Krishnadas Kaviraj (Madhya 1; Antya 7) is very brief, but the Bhakti-ratnakara cites some traditional Sanskrit verses which assign more than twenty different works to Jiva. Most of his works, however, are commentaries, abstracts, or supplements, elucidating the learned treatises of his uncles, who found in him a very apt and learned interpreter.
Jiva Goswami composed and edited at least twenty-five books. These are all considered important classics in the line of Shri Chaitanya, and they are listed as follows: (1) Hari-namamrita-vyakarana, (2) Sutra-malika, (3) Dhatu-sangraha, (4) Krishnarcha-dipika, (5) Gopal-virudavali, (6) Rasamrita-shesha, (7) Shri Madhava-mahotsav, (8) Shri Sankalpa-kalpabriksha, (9) Bhavartha-suchaka-champu, (10) Gopal-tapani-tika, (11) Brahma-sanghita-tika, also known as Dikdarshani [commentary on Brahma-sanghita], (12) Bhakti-rasamrita-sesha [commentary on the Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu], (13) Lochana-rochani [a commentary on Shri Rupa’s Ujjvala-nilamani], (14) Yogasara-stava-tika [a commentary on the Padma Purana], (15) Gayatri-bhashya [an explanation of the Gayatri mantra as referred to in Agni Purana], (16) An elaborate description of Krishna’s lotus feet, particularly as they are depicted in Padma Purana, (17) A description of Shrimati Radharani’s lotus feet, (18) Gopal-champu [in two parts], and (19-25) seven Sandarbhas: the Krama, Tattva, Bhagavat, Paramatma, Krishna, Bhakti, and Priti Sandarbhas.
Although all of these works are important, some are considered particularly noteworthy. For example, Jiva Goswami’s grammar, entitled Hari-namamrita-vyakarana, is considered to have an almost mystical effect on its readers. His Divine Grace Shrila Prabhupada has commented that if one studies this work he can learn rules of Sanskrit grammar and simultaneously he can become a great devotee of Krishna. Janardan Chakravarti has explained this grammar in some depth: “A very ingenious treatise utilizing God’s name by way of enunciating the rules of Sanskrit grammar. It is divided into eighteen prakaranas, such, for instance, as sarveshvara-sandhi, Vishnu-jana-sandhi, Vishnusarga-sandhi, Vish-nupad-prakaran…” The precedent for explaining grammar by the utilization of Lord Krishna’s many names, of course, was set by Shri Chaitanya Himself. Jiva Goswami thus sought to emulate his Master.
Even surpassing his grammar in importance, however, are Jiva’s more intensely theological works. His Radha-Krishnarchana-dipika, for example, is a masterful composition that gives details about worshiping Radha and Krishna together. This is a significant contribution to the Chaitanyite sampradaya. So, too, is Jiva Goswami’s Gopal Champu, which is divided into two parts. The first part, purva, consists of thirty-three chapters that elaborately describe Krishna’s activities in Vrindavan. The second part, uttara, consists of thirty-seven chapters and describes the Lord’s activities in Mathura and Dvaraka. In its entirety, Gopal Champu is a great epic, discussing the gamut of Krishna’s activities in His original manifestation. It is written in elaborate poetic style and with profound devotion.
Also significant is the famous Krama Sandarbha. Often described as the “seventh” of the six sandarbhas, it is Jiva’s elaborate commentry on all twelve cantos of Shrimad Bhagavatam. Most important, however are the Shat (“six”) sandarbhas themselves. A summary of their overwhelmingly thorough contents is given by His Divine Grace Shrila Prabhupada:
Bhagavat-sandarbha is also known as Shatsandarbha. In the first part, called Tattvasan-darbha, it is proved that Shrimad Bhagavatam is the most authoritative evidence directly pointing to the Absolute Truth. The second sandarbha, called Bhagavat-sandarbha, draws a distinction between impersonal Brahman and localized Paramatma and describes the spiritual world and the domination of the mode of goodness devoid of contamination by passion and ignorance, the other two material modes. There are also discussions of the eternality of Deity worship, the omnipotence of the Deity, His all-pervasiveness, His giving shelter to everyone, His subtle and gross potencies, His personal manifestations, His expressions of form, quality, and pastimes, His transcendental position and His complete form.
The third sandarbha is called Paramatma-sandarbha, and in this book there is a description of Paramatma (Supersoul) and an explanation of how the Supersoul exists in millions and millions of living entities. There are discussions of the differences between the qualitative incarnations, and discourses concerning the living entities, maya, the material world, and the theory of transformation. There is also a discussion of how the lila-avatar incarnations respond to the desires of the devotees and how the Supreme Personality of Godhead is characterized by the six opulences [strength, beauty, wealth, fame, knowledge, and renunciation].
The fourth sandarbha is called the Krishna-sandarbha, and in this book Krishna is proved to be the Supreme Personality of Godhead. There are discussions of Krishna’s pastimes and qualities, His superintendence of the purusha-avatars, and so forth. There are also descriptions of the Goloka planet, Vrindavan (the eternal place of Krishna), the identity of Goloka and Vrindavan, the Yadavas and the cowherd boys (both eternal associates of Krishna), the adjustment and equality of the manifest and unmanifest pastimes, Shri Krishna’s manifestation in Gokula, the queens of Dvaraka as expansions of the internal potency, and, superior to them, the superexcellent gopis. There is also a list of the gopis’ names and a discussion of the topmost position of Shrimati Radharani.
The fifth sandarbha is called Bhaktisan-darbha, and in this book there is a discussion of how devotional service can be directly executed. There is a discussion of how the self is manifest through bhakti. There is also a discussion of the self’s bliss, as well as how bhakti, even imperfectly executed, enables one to attain the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. There is a discussion of the differences between the maha-bhagavat and the ordinary devotee. There is also a discussion of raganuga-bhakti (spontaneous love of Godhead), of the specific purpose of becoming a devotee of Lord Krishna, and a comparative study of other perfectional stages.
The sixth sandarbha is called Pritisan-darbha, a thesis on love of Godhead. Here it is stated that through love of Godhead, one becomes perfectly liberated and attains the highest goal of life. A distinction is made between the liberated condition of a personalist and that of an impersonalist. Of all kinds of liberation, liberation in loving service to the Lord is described as the most exalted, and meeting the Supreme Personality of Godhead face to face is shown to be the highest perfection of life. Finally, there is a discussion of overlapping of different rasas, and there are discussions of shanta (neutrality), servitorship, taking shelter, parental love, conjugal love, direct transcendental enjoyment (sambhoga) and enjoyment in separation (vipralambha), previous attraction and the glories of Shrimati Radharani.
In these sandarbhas, then, Jiva Goswami succeeded in fulfilling the goals not only of his prestigious uncles and Shri Chaitanya, but of the entire world. This is so because, whether they know it or not, everyone is thirsting after spiritual knowledge, and this knowledge was delivered to its fullest degree in the Shat-sandarbha of Jiva Goswami. Western philosophers are now studying the sandarbhas and are marveling at its wisdom and profundity.
It is sometimes said that the six sandarbhas represent the perfection of sambandha-gyan, abhide-yagyan, and prayojana-gyan. Of these six, the first four sandarbhas are devoted to sambandha; the fifth is devoted to abhideya; and the sixth to prayojana. Consequently, the glorious Shat-sandarbha is considered the most important philosophical treatise in the history of Chaitanyite Vaishnavism.