Raghunatha Bhatta Goswami


danda pranama kari bhatta padila carane

prabhu raghunatha bali kaila alingane

     "Raghunatha Bhatta fell straight as a rod at the lotus feet of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Then the Lord embraced him, knowing full well who he was." (Caitanya Caritamrta Antya 13.101)

      From Kasidhama, Raghunatha Bhatta traveled on foot to Puri-dhama. When he arrived in Puri, he went straight to the place of Sriman Mahaprabhu and offered his respects at the Lord's lotus feet. At that time, the Lord embraced him, saying "Raghunatha!" Having been embraced by the Lord, Raghunatha Bhatta found that all his troubles went far away. Raghunatha Bhatta thought to himself, "I am coming to see the Lord after such a long time; He didn't know that I was coming. How is it that he is showing me so much affection? He has many devotees who are very dear to Him. Why should he show such affection for one such as myself, the lowest of devotees?"  And yet, although he considered himself very low and mean,  when Caitanya Mahaprabhu  with a laughing, smiling, face said "Raghunatha!" and embraced him, Raghunatha began crying tears of ecstasy.  With tears in his eyes, he fell at the Lord's feet and, holding them, said, "O most merciful Lord. In truth, tell me, why are you giving such great consideration to this humble one?" The Lord said, "Raghunaha! I cannot forget your parent's affectionate consideration for me around the time of your birth. Every day, with great affection, they used to feed me."

     After this, Caitanya Mahaprabhu introduced Raghunatha Bhatta to all the devotees. All the devotees were very happy to meet him. On behalf of his parents, Raghunatha gave regards and affectionate obeisances to all the devotees. He also gave them news of Candrasekhara and all the other devotees of East Bengal. Finally the affectionate mother of Raghunatha Bhatta had sent some nice things  for the Lord to eat, Bengali delicacies neatly packed in special bags. When the Lord saw them, he was very happy and ordered his servant Govinda to carefully put them away.

     Sri Raghunaha Bhatta's father's name was Sri Tapana Misra.  In his grhastha-lila,  the Lord once went to East Bengal, to the Padma river, where he was a visiting professor of grammar. There he met with Tapana Misra and made his acquaintance.  Tapana Misra was an Eastern Bengali and was a pandit in the sastra. Still, although He had given great consideration to  both the practice of perfection and the perfection of life, he was unable to ascertain their inner meaning. One night he had a dream, and in his dream a god came before him and said, "Misra!  Don't worry.  Sri Nimai Pandita has just arrived near hear. He will teach you both the practice of perfection and the goal of life. He is not a man (nara)—he is the Supreme Lord, Nara-Narayana. Although He is the creator of the universe, he has accepted the form of a man in order to deliver the world." Saying this, the god disappeared.

     The following morning, after finishing his morning duties, Tapana Misra set out to find Sriman Mahaprabhu.  Just then he saw Sri Nimai Pandita sitting on the bench before his home, His brilliant effulgence illuminating his courtyard as if the sun had descended before him. His eyes were just like fresh lotuses, and his fine black hair was beautifully curled and flowing. His strong chest was decorated with a fine sacred thread and he wore a garment of brilliant yellow. Just as a shining moon in the midst of  many stars illuminating all four directions, his effulgent form was surrounded by his disciples.

     Tapana Misra offered his obeisances to the Lord, falling at his holy feet, and said, "O most merciful one! I am most fallen. Please be merciful to me." The Lord smiled affectionately, and offering him a seat, asked Tapana Misra to introduce himself. Having introduced himself, Tapana Misra inquired from the Lord about all  the truths regarding the practice of perfection and the goal of life.

     Mahaprabhu said, "In every  millenium the Lord advents himself in order to deliver the fallen souls and instruct them in the appropriate form of  worship for each age.   In Satya-yuga, meditation, in Treta-yuga, sacrifice, in Dvapara-yuga, deity worship and in Kali-yuga, sankirtana is the process for attaining the ultimate salvation.  In each of the four ages there is a particular process for deliverance. In the age of Kali, this form of dharma is nama-sankirtana.

     In this way, the Lord in his form as a spiritual teacher informed Tapana Misra about the real welfare for the soul as well as the true position of dharma in the age of Kali—that is, nama-sankirtana. He explained that apart from the holy name, nothing else will be fruitful.

     He said,  "In the age of Kali the sacrifice of the holy name is the essential principle. Nothing else will be effective in the age of Kali, and therefore there is no religious principle superior to this. Without the holy name there is no way to attain perfection in this age. One should completely renounce any tendency to follow any other path and always take to the chanting of the holy name of Krsna as follows: 'Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.'  By the influence of this mantra you will be able to understand everything about the means towards perfection and the goal of life, since there is no difference between the  holy name of Krsna and Krsna Himself."

     Tapana Misra, upon hearing the the instructions of the Lord offered his obeisances at the Lord's feet with all his limbs prostrated upon the ground. When the Lord was about to leave for Nabadwipa, he wanted to accompany the Lord on His return journey to Nabadwipa.  The Lord, however, ordered him, "Soon you will go to Kasi. There we shall again meet.  At that time I shall instruct you further in all these truths."  Saying this, the Lord set out for Nabadwipa."  Soon thereafter, Tapana Misra and his wife left for Kasidhama, which is also called Baranasi or Benares.

     Some years later, out of his mercy for the fallen souls, Mahaprabhu took sannyasa and went to reside in Jagannatha Puri on the order of his mother.  After staying there for some months, he went through the Jharikhanda forest (presently known as Choda Nagapura) on his way to Vrndavana and passed through Kasidhama.  At the bathing ghata called Manikarnika he began chanting the holy name of Hari and exhorted everyone else to do so, saying, "Haribol! Haribol!"

     Just at that time, Tapana Misra was taking bath at that very ghata. Hearing the holy name of Hari being chanted so loudly, he was astonished. It was like finding an ocean in the middle of a desert to hear the glories of Hari being chanted in the midst of the capitol of the Mayavadis, Kasidhama.  He looked across the ghata and saw that on the banks of the bathing ghata stood a sannyasi of unprecedented beauty and stature.  His supernatural effulgence illuminated all four directions. In complete amazement, Tapana Misra thought to himself, "Who is this great personality? Could it possibly be Nimai Pandit of Nabadwipa? I have heard that he has taken sannyasa.  Could it be him? He got out of the water and looked more closely. At that time, as he looked across the water, he was certain that it was indeed Nimai Pandita. He hurried to the place where the Lord stood and offered his obeisances at the lotus feet of the Lord as joy arose within his heart. As he picked himself up from the ground, he found himself being embraced by Caitanya Maharabhu. After so many days he had finally met the Lord again.

      With great affection, Tapana Misra brought the Lord to his home. There he washed the Lord's lotus feet and then drank that holy water along with his family.  His ecstasy knew no bounds. He placed his little son Raghunatha at the lotus feet of the Lord and made him offer obeisances.  The Lord took the boy upon his lap and cradled him there with great affection.  Meanwhile, Tapana Misra quickly made arrangements for cooking, and Balabhadra Bhattacarya cooked.  He made arrangements for the Lord's bath, and when the Lord had finished bathing and performing his noon duties, the Lord ate.  Tapana Misra's little son Raghunatha massaged the Lord's feet, and the Lord took rest. 

     Hearing news of the Lord's arrival, Candrasekhara and the Maharasthrian brahmana, as well as the other devotees came to offer  their respects to the Lord's holy feet. The Lord embraced Candraskhara and then spoke some krsna-katha with all the devotees present.  While he was in Benares, the Lord visited the temples of Visvesvara and Bindhu-madhava to take darshan. He also visited the Dasasvamedha-ghata. The Lord stayed at the house of Candrasekhara and dined at the house of Tapana Misra. Candrasekhara worked as a scribe, copying scriptures for the panditas of Kasi with his own hand, in a beautiful style of calligraphy. He was from a family of highly learned brahmanas.

     In Benares, the slogans of the impersonalits like "tat tvam asi," and "aham brahmasmi" as well as  the favorite words of the impersonalists—words like "Brahma," "atma," and "caitanya"—were constantly heard everywhere. No devotional words could be heard in Benares, and so wherever the Lord went, he performed sankirtana. One day, the Maharasthrian brahmana submitted a request at the Lotus feet of the Lord.  "O Lord," he said, O Lord! Please deliver this city of Kasi. I met with the guru of the sannyasis, Prakasananda Saraswati, and three times I mentioned your name, "Krsna Caitanya."  He also said the word "caitanya" three times, but he was unable to say the word "krsna"  at all.  The Lord replied, "Because they are offenders at the lotus feet of Krsna, the holy name of Krsna never issues forth from their lips. The holy name and form of Krsna are no different from his very Self.  They are one transcendental truth, full in ecstasy and divine reality." Having thus instructed the devotees in various ways,  the Lord set out once again to continue his long journey to Vrndavana. He would deliver Kasi with the mercy of Krsna later, on his return journey to Jagannatha Puri.  And so the Lord went to Vrndavana.

     After spending some time in Vrndavana wandering about in the ecstasy of krsna-prema, by and by the Lord returned to Kasi-dhama. One day, he met with Prakasananda Saraswati himself. Seeing the Lord's uncommon beauty, childlike humility, his generosity and magnanimity, Prakasananda was astonished. At length he fell at the Lord's lotus feet. After the conversion of Prakasananda Saraswati, all the sannyasis there also fell at the Lord's feet and sang his greatness, as the Lord delivered everyone there with the holy name of Krsna.  The flood of nectar flowing from the holy name soon inundated Kasi, and washed away the false doctrine of impersonalism along with its followers.

     This time the Lord spent ten days in Kasi, and the joy of his devotees and followers knew no bounds. Tapana Misra, Candrasekhara, and the Maharasthrian brahmana, as well as the other devotees there felt as if their life had returned, as again they had the opportunity to render personal service to Sriman Mahaprabhu. Tapana Misra's son, Raghunatha felt himself  supremely fortunate to be able to serve his Lord and master, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu for ten days.

     At last, the time came for the Lord to bid farewell to the devotees so that he might once again set out for Jagannatha Puri.  All the devotees were heartbroken in agony at the prospect of separation from the Lord.  Raghunatha Bhatta, the son of Tapana Misra, fell before the Lord, begging him not to go and held his lotus feet, weeping again and again. The Lord took the boy upon his lap and gave him many reassurances, trying to console him. He said, "You must serve your father and mother here, and by and by, you may come to Puri-dhama and see me again." Then, after first embracing Tapana Misra and Candrasekhara and instructing the devotees there in certain truths of Krsna consciousness, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu bade farewell to Kasi forever, and began his long journey by foot to Jagannatha Puri.

     Within a short time, Sri Raghunaha became expert in Sanskrit grammar, rhetoric, and poetry. Gradually, he became highly learned in the revealed scriptures. He continued to serve his mother and father into their old age, as the years passed. When he came of age, Raghunatha was ordered by his father to go to Puri-dhama to see Sri Caitanya Maharabhu. Raghunatha's ecstasy had no boundaries. In service to the Lord, Raghunatha's mother had prepared various kinds of delicacies to be offered to Him by Raghunatha on behalf of the Misra's. All these fine delicacies had been carefully packed together in a big sack.

      After receiving the orders and blessings of his parents, Raghunatha left with a servant for Puri.  On the road, he met a Rama-bhakta, a devotee of Rama, who joined him in traveling to Puri. His name was Sri Rama dasa. By birth he was a Kayastha, that is he took birth in caste of those who work in the service of the King. He was a highly learned scholar in the interpretation of that great epic, the Ramayana. Rama dasa bowed down before Raghunatha and took the dust of his lotus feet.  He then snatched the sack of delicacies from Raghunatha's servant and began to carry it on his head.

     Raghunatha said, "You are a learned scholar, and what are doing?" Rama dasa said, "Bhattaji! I am the lowest of sudras. It will do me some good to serve a brahmana." Raghunatha replied, "Panditji! Please. I beg of you, let my servant carry that heavy sack."  At this, Rama dasa surrendered the work of carrying the sack to Raghunatha's servant.  On the way to Jagannatha Puri, Raghunatha dasa discussed many scriptural conclusions with Rama dasa.

     Sri Raghunatha Bhatta arrived in Jagannatha Puri and offered his obeisances at the lotus feet of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.  At that time the Lord, greeted him saying, "Raghunatha!" He picked him up from the ground and embraced him. The Lord inquired about the welfare of Tapana Misra and his wife, and asked about Candrasekhara as well as all the other devotees in Benares.  Raghunatha dasa related all this to him and told him everything. Sri Rama dasa was brought to the place of Mahaprabhu. Sri Rama dasa offered his obeisances to the lotus feet of Sriman Mahaprabhu, but the Lord, who is the Supersoul within all living beings, detected that Rama dasa was maintaining desires for liberation within his heart. As a result, the Lord was not affectionate towards him.

       The Lord ordered Raghunatha Bhatta to go see the deity of  Lord Jagannatha after bathing in the ocean.  Raghunatha went with the other devotees to the beach, where they all took bath in the ocean and then went to see Lord Jagannatha. Afterwards, he returned to the Lord's place, and Mahaprabhu ordered his servant Govinda to give prasada to Raghunatha Bhatta. The Lord took care to see to Raghunatha's food and lodgings, and there Raghunatha stayed.  Raghunatha would cook for the Lord on a regular basis.  He stayed in Jagannatha Puri for eight months in the service of the Lord and thus experienced great happiness. He witnessed for himself the ecstatic singing and dancing of the Lord in various moods of divine ecstasy before the ratha-yatra car of Lord Jagannatha.  After some time, Mahaprabhu ordered him to return to Kasi.  He told Raghunatha to see to the service of his aging father and mother, and explained to him that, as they were Vaisnavas, they were not to be neglected.  Raghunatha Bhatta took this order of the Lord very seriously, and the Lord began to instruct him on many other points.  He ordered Raghunatha not to marry, and told him to study the sastra. He told him that after some time he should again return to Jagannatha Puri  to see the deity of Jagannatha.

       With this, Mahaprabhu gave him a tulasi garland from his own neck. The Lord also gave Raghunatha Bhatta some mahaprasada to be distributed among all the devotees associated with Tapana Misa and Candrasekhara in Kasi.  When it came time to say goodbye, Raghunatha Bhatta's heart ached. He fell at the lotus feet of Mahaprabhu, offering his prostated obeisances.  The Lord helped Raghunatha to his feet and gave him a hearty embrace, just as before. Bidding farewell to Mahaprabhu and Jagannatha Puri, Raghunatha Bhatta started on his way back to Kasi.

     Upon his return to Kasi, Raghunatha Bhatta served his parents carefully, and began studying the Srimad-Bhagavatam in earnest.  After some time his mother and father passed away. Raghunatha, adhering strictly to the orders of Sri Caitanya, had never married.  Without any family responsibilities to burden him any longer, he went to Jagannatha Puri to the lotus feet of the Lord. When the Lord again saw Raghunatha after such a long time, he was very happy. Hearing of the passing away of Tapana Misra and his devoted wife, Caitanya Mahaprabhu spoke of their great devotion at length, and glorified them. Raghunatha Bhatta was very happy to once again have the association of the Lord.  He remained in Puri and served Mahaprabhu faithfully for another eight months.  One day the Lord told him, "You must go to Vrndavana. You have much work to do there in Vrndavana. I must stay here in Puri, for I have been ordered by my mother to do so.  As a result I cannot finish the work I have to do in Vrndavana. It is up to you to help me finish my work there."

      Upon hearing  these words from the Lord, Raghunatha Bhatta was sorrowful at the prospect of having to leave Him again.  The Lord explained to him that in Vrndavana he would meet Rupa and Sanatana Goswami. He was to study the Srimad-Bhagavatam and related revealed scriptures under their guidance.  On the Lord's order, Raghunatha Bhatta prepared to leave for Vrndavana. He bid adieu to the Vaisnavas and fell before the lotus feet of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu for the last time.  As Mahaprabhu was saying goodbye to Raghunatha Bhatta, he gave him a long prasada garland and some tambula mahaprasada and embraced him.

      Having bid goodbye, Raghunatha Bhatta set out on the same path to Vrndavana that once was traversed by the lotus feet of Caitanya Mahaprabhu.  In this way, as he walked along the long road to Vrndavana, Raghunatha Bhatta would hear again and again of how the Lord passed on the same road. He would hear of the Lord's glories, and how he visited the different holy places and performed various wonderful activities.

     When he finally arrived in Vrndavana, Rupa and Sanatana Goswami were very happy to see him and affectionately embraced him. All the Goswamis who stayed in Vrndavana with them were overjoyed to see him.  They all accepted him as their affectionate godbrother.  Raghunatha Bhatta was exceptionally blessed with humility and meekness. It is recorded in Caitanya-Caritamrta that Raghunatha Bhatta would recite Srimad-Bhagavatam before Rupa and Sanatana Goswami, and when doing so, he would be overwhelmed with ecstatic love for Krsna. By the Lord's mercy he would be overcome by all the symptoms of ecstatic love of Godhead: tears, choking of the voice, and trembling. Overwhelmed in this way, he would not be able to continue the reading.  It is said that his voice was as sweet as a cuckoo's, and when reading the Bhagavata, he would sing the verses in many different tunes, or ragas. In this way, his readings were especially sweet to hear.

     Raghunatha Bhatta was fully surrendered to the lotus feet of Gaura-govinda.  Those lotus feet were his life and soul. After some time in Vrndavana, Raghunatha Bhatta arranged for his disciples to construct a temple for Govinda. He prepared various ornaments for Govinda, including a flute and shark-shaped earrings. Raghunatha Bhatta would neither hear nor speak about anything material. He would simply discuss Krsna and worship the Lord day and night. He would not listen to blasphemy of a Vaisnava, nor would he listen to talk of a Vaisnava's misbehavior. He knew only that everyone was engaged in Krsna's service; he did not understand anything else. When Raghunatha was absorbed in remembering the Lord, he would take the tulasi garland and the prasada of Jagannatha given him by Mahaprabhu, bind them together and wear them on his neck.

     Regarding the spiritual position of Raghunatha Bhatta, the Gaura-ganodesa-dipika states, "In the Vrndavana lila of Krsna Raghunatha Bhatta was Sri Raga Manjari." Raghunatha Bhatta Goswami was born in 1505 A.D. He passed away from this earth and entered into the transcendental world in 1579 A.D.

[This article and more information at  www.stephen-knapp.com]

horizontal rule

[Home page] [Back to Biographies of Saints and Sages list]