“Even the great author Srila Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami considers himself unable and practically speechless to explain the glories of Srila Raghunath Das Goswami.” – Radhanath Swami
Radhanath Swami describes the childhood and marriage of Raghunath Das Goswami
Srila Raghunath Das Goswami was born in a village of the name Sri Krishnapur. His father’s name was Govardhana Majumadara who was the younger brother of Hiranya Majumadara. They were land holders and tax collectors and had such fabulous wealth; it was comparable to that of Indra, the king of heaven. Srila Prabhupada describes the family of Raghunath Das: “Compared to today’s standards they would be multi-multimillionaires, practically billionaires.”
Of the two brothers Hiranya and Govardhana there was only one son to whom everything belonged, and that was Raghunath Das. His father and uncle were Vaishnavas. They were very sincere devotees of the Lord. They were disciples of the great Yadunandan Thakur. Yadunandan Thakur was initiated by Srila Advaitya Acharya, and was an intimate student of the great and most compassionate soul Srila Vasudev Dutt.
A dear friend of Yadunandan Acharya who also lived in that area was Balaram Acharya. These were two very, very pure and devoted servants of Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Yadunandan Acharya and Balaram Acharya had great affection for Raghunath Das, who was an ocean of transcendental qualities. Anyone who met Raghunath Das, their hearts became completely satisfied. He had so much natural Bhakti.
When you love someone you naturally want to give the best possible thing that you can. So Balaram Acharya took Raghunath Das to meet Srila Haridas Thakur; he was at that time living not so far away. Along with Balaram and Yadunandan, Raghunath Das would regularly meet with Srila Haridas Thakur, who was so simple. Sometimes Haridas would live in a cave, sometimes under a tree, but he was always immersed in very strict observance of renunciation, constantly chanting the holy names of Krishna. In fact Haridas Thakur would not eat or sleep or take even water before he would complete chanting of three hundred thousand names of Krishna every day, over hundred and ninety rounds of the chanting of Hare Krishna Mahamantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna krishna Krishna Hare Hare/ Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. He would preach by his words and by his living example how to perfects one’s life by constantly chanting the holy names in the spirit of Lord Chaitanya’s most important teaching:
tṛṇād api sunīcena
taror api sahiṣṇunā
kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ
Because Haridas Thakur was genuinely more humble than a blade of grass, more tolerant than a tree, he offered all respects to others but never expected any respect for himself. Therefore he could chant Hare Krishna Mahamantra constantly day and night.
“Raghunath Das, although a small child, was so much influenced by the example of Haridas Thakur and so much affected by teachings of his gurus.” – Radhanath Swami
He had no attachment or affection for any of the materialistic things of this world, and this was turning out to be a big problem for his parents, because they wanted him to take over everything. So they married Raghunath Das to a beautiful, beautiful chaste young woman who was endowed with all good qualities. They were gradually arranging to train him to take over everything. They gave such beautiful home, so much wealth, so much prestige, but Raghunath Das was not concerned.
Radhanath Swami narrates the first meeting of Raghunath Das Goswami with Lord Chaitanya
When Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu took sannyaas in Khatwa, afterwards he decided go to Vrindavana. He was in ecstasy dancing and chanting through the forest and the towns and the villages in great expectation to reach Brajbhumi. Nityananda prabhu, knowing how much pain the separation was within the hearts of the devotees he had left behind in Navadwip and Shantipur, meditating on the condition of Saci Devi and others like Advaitya and Srivasa, Nityananda prabhu tricked Lord Chaitanya by giving him different information by which he came to Shantipur by the way of the Ganga. There in Shantipur, Lord Chaitanya met his mother who saw him for the first time with shaved head and robes of a sannyasi.
Raghunath Das came to meet Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu for the first time on that occasion.
“Of the six Goswamis, Raghunath Das Goswami was the first to meet with the Supreme personality of Godhead Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu personally. He stayed there for ten days with Lord Chaitanya.” – Radhanath Swami
Then Lord Chaitanya, on his mother’s instructions, decided to go to Puri instead of Vrindavana to worship Lord Jagannath. When Raghunath Das went home, he no longer had any interest in any of the things of the world; he simply wanted to go to Jagannath puri to meet with Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. That was his constant meditation. So it became a daily affair that Raghunath Das would run away from home, and his parents would find him in a distance place through many guards and servants. They would forcibly bring him back home, and as soon as the opportunity came again, he would somehow escape. But again he was caught. Raghunath Das Goswami, he would not even enter into the interior compound of his house, but he would sleep and stay in the courtyard called Durgamandapa.
Radhanath Swami explains the wonderful instruction of Lord Chaitanya to Raghunath Das Goswami
One day Lord Chaitanya, on his next trip to Vrindavana, he came to Shantipur again. Raghunath Das, he was given permission by his father to see him, but surrounded by many guards. There Raghunath Das prostrated his body and offered his life at the lotus feet of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. He told Lord Chaitanya his very deep desire to be relieved of the entanglement and bondage of his household entanglements and serve him cent percent.
Lord Caitanya instructed Raghunath in a very wonderful way. He said, ‘You should not be a Markata-vairagi; you should not be a monkey renunciant.’ Monkeys appear to be much renounced. They live in trees, and they do not wear clothes; they only eat what grows in the trees. However, they always have so many thoughts about how to enjoy female monkeys whenever the opportunity comes. He said, ‘You should pretend, in an external way, to be completely attached to pounds, shillings and pens (Prabhupada translates). You should perform your duties as a first class business manager, but in your heart you should always be meditating on Krishna and very soon Krishna will show his mercy to you.’” – Radhanath Swami
So Raghunath Das went home and he appeared to his parents to be completely settled in his materialistic life.
Once his parents almost got in big, big trouble because they were collecting taxes from people and they were collecting two million gold coins per month. Now, they were supposed to give one million five hundred thousand to the government, and they were supposed to keep five hundred thousand for themselves. But what happened is that, there was a Turkish Chowdhari. He was an assistant tax collector, and he checked the records. He found that they were only giving one million two hundred thousand gold coins; that means there was three hundred thousand gold coins balance, which was unaccounted. He was very much envious of them anyway. So this tax collector, along with some soldiers, they came to arrest Hiranya and Govaradhan Majumadar. But by their good intelligence, they were not home. Only Raghunath Das was home. They arrested Raghunath Das and put him in prison. The Turkish Choudhari, every day he would try to torture Raghunath Das. He wanted to get information – ‘where is your father and uncle? Tell me where are they.’ But every time he would go to beat, just by seeing his beauty and his gentleness and his compassionate nature, his heart was melting. And he could not beat him.
So Raghunath Das decided to make a good trick. One day he told Chowdhari, “Actually my uncle and my father and you are just like brothers. You have such intimate relationship. Sometimes brothers will naturally argue and fight, but then tomorrow the brothers will sit together very peacefully with great love for each other. Because you are in that relationship, you are like my father. This is how I respect you, and have affection for you. You should not hurt your own son; you should be kind and compassionate to your own son. After all, you are a Muslim and you are a great saint. You know the scriptures, and you are compassionate merciful being.” He spoke with such sincerity and love that the Turkish Chowdhari started to cry and tears began to glide through his beard. He embraced Raghunath Das. He said, “Yes, yes. What you are saying is true. You are my own son.” How much love he developed for Raghunath Das! “How can I hurt you! You should go, you should be free. As far as your father and uncle, when you happen to see them, you can give them this message that whatever extra profits they are making, they should divide with me. Ultimately they can do whatever they want, but give this message and arrange for me to meet with them peacefully.”
Raghunath Das, he arranged for a meeting. Govardhan, Hiranya and the Turkish Chowdhari, they met together and they settled, and they were all very happy. In this way Raghunath Das, following Lord Chaitanya’s instruction, appeared to be completely attached to his worldly environment.
Radhanath Swami describes Lord Nityananda Prabhu’s mercy upon Raghunath Das Goswami
He heard that Lord Nityananda Prabhu, along with his most confidential associates, were at the house of Raghava Pandit in Panihati. So he begged permission of his father. And his father knew that he could not keep him away from Lord Nityananda Prabhu’s mercy; so he sent him with some servants and guards.
At that time, on the bank of the holy river Ganges, Lord Nityananda Prabhu was sitting under a sacred banyan tree. He was effulgent like thousands and thousands of suns. Raghunath Das offered his obeisance from a distant place, feeling himself too much contaminated and materialistic to go close to such a great personality. One of Lord Nityananda Prabhu’s servants said, “There is Raghunath Das.”
“Nityananda prabhu said, ‘Raghunath! Why are you offering obeisance from such a distant place? You are a thief; thieves keep their distances.’ Then Lord Nityananda prabhu personally came and got Raghunath Das, and placed his feet on Raghunath Das’s head. ‘Because you have been captured by me as a thief, you must be punished. You are a wealthy man’s son. The punishment is you should feed a big feast of Chira and Dahi to all my associates.’” – Radhanath Swami
Raghunath Das was very happy; he immediately went to the town and the village made nice arrangements. He got big clay pots and then bigger clay pots, and small clay pots – all varieties of clay pots. Five to seven pots were really very, very big and they put hot milk and soaked all the rice. Then they took half the rice that was soaked in the hot milk, and they soaked yogurt, sugar and bananas. The other half they soaked in big pots with condensed milk, camphor, ghee and special variety of bananas and sugar. Lord Nityananda prabhu was very happily sitting with so many of his very, very close associates such as Goridas Pandit, Gadhadar Das, Sundrananda, Murari, Caitanya, Udarana Thakur – many such great personalities, Paramananda. Each of the devotees got two clay pots with each preparation. Soon the word spread and so many of the people of various towns and village wanted to come to participate in this wonderful feast conducted by Lord Nityananda prabhu himself. And soon there were so many people. The whole raised platform was full, and then the bank of the Ganges was completely crowded and full with people. So much so that some people were standing in the Ganges and each one had two clay pots, one with yogurt with sugar and banana soaking the Chira and the other one was Chira soaked in condensed milk, camphor, ghee and special bananas and sugar.
Lord Nityananda prabhu was so happy with this feast that in this mind he called for Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu immediately appeared in his transcendental form, but no one could see him except Lord Nityananda prabhu and a few other very, very special confidential devotees. Lord Nityananda prabhu and Lord Chaitanya were so happy they went to each and every one of the clay pots. By this time so many people were sitting on the ground with their clay pots. Lord Nityananda prabhu would take one morsel from each and every pot of chipped rice, and put it directly in the mouth of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. In great happiness Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu took one morsel from each and every clay pot and placed in the mouth of Lord Nityananda prabhu. Such a loving reciprocation they had.
Then Lord Nityananda prabhu was sitting and Raghava Pandit arrived. Raghava Pandit had a beautiful house, just living close to this tree in Panihati. When he would cook, along with his sister Damayanti, every preparation was ecstatically sweet like nectar. It was a known fact that whenever anything was cooked in the house of Raghava Pandit, Srimati Radharani would personally appear to perform the cooking through the hands of her devotees; and she had received a benediction from Durvasa muni that anything she prepared, Srimati Radharani, would be more sweet than nectar. In the house of Raghava Pandit whenever they would cook Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu would personally appear to eat that food.
So Raghava Pandit came with all kinds of nice preparations cooked in ghee and said to Nityananda prabhu, “You are supposed to come to my house for Prasad today.” Nityananda prabhu replied, “I am a cowherd boy and I like taking Prasad with my cowherd boy associates on the bank of the sandy river. So I will come to your house tonight.”
Meanwhile, it was a wonderful, wonderful feast. And after everyone was served and everyone enjoyed to their full satisfaction Raghunath Das Goswami’s offering, then Lord Nityananda prabhu personally offered all of the devotees a garland, sandalwood with his loving hands. Then he went to take rest. Nityananda prabhu personally gave Raghunath Das Goswami the plates or the clay pots that was directly eaten by him and by Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, as remnants. That evening in the house of Raghava Pandit, Nityananda prabhu induced everyone to start dancing and chanting in Kirtan. Such a beautiful Kirtan! As Sri Nityananda prabhu would dance, Lord Chaitanya, wherever he was in the world, he would always appear to watch the dancing of Sri Nityananda prabhu. The two brothers danced in ecstatic love together, and everyone was dancing and chanting for many hours. After the kirtan, Raghava Pandit served delicious and ambrosial Prasad to Lord Chaitanya and Lord Nityananda and all the devotees. Then Raghava Pandit worshiped each devotee by offering garlands, sandalwood and other gifts. Then they took rest and Raghava Pandit gave Raghunath Das the plates directly and personally eaten by Gaur Nitai, Maha Maha Prasad.
“The next morning Sri Nityananda Prabhu was sitting under that same sacred banyan tree and Raghunath Das approached him. He clasped his feet and placed it on his head. He began to pray, ‘I am the most sinful; I am the lowest, most condemned of all living entity; who am I to approach you? I am not fit. However, you are all-merciful. Like a dwarf who desires to catch the moon, I am seeking your great mercy. I am entangled in the great bondage of materialistic life. Please, no one can approach Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu without your mercy. Give me the benediction that I may renounce completely all the entanglements of the materialistic life and family encumbrances. Let me seek shelter – whole heartedly – in the service of Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Let this one desire of my heart be fulfilled by your causeless mercy.’” – Radhanath Swami
Lord Nityananda prabhu was so pleased to see the determination and the humility of Sri Raghunath Das. He began to speak to the other devotees. “Raghunath Das is living in opulence equal to that of Indra, the king of heaven. He has so much wealth, so much aristocracy, but yet he is not the slightest bit attached to any of it. He simply wants to serve Gauranga Mahaprabhu in the renounced order of life. Please give your blessing to Raghunath Das.”
All the Vaishnavas began to shower their blessing on Raghunath Das. And then Lord Nityananda prabhu continued, “Very soon you will be released from all the bondage of your household life. You will go to Jagannath puri and you will be one of the most intimate, confidential personal associates of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. In fact, he will put you under the care of his own personal secretary Swaroop Damodar Goswami, and you will be famous as one of the greatest renunciates in the service of the Lord.”
When Raghunath Das heard this, he became filled with happiness. Raghunath Das went to each and every devotee and worshiped their lotus feet and he worshiped the lotus feet of Nityananda prabhu. Then he gave a large sum of wealth to Raghava Pandit and told, “Please give this to Nityananda prabhu after I leave.” Then he made whole account of giving particular sums of donation to each and every one of the devotees according to their requirements.
Radhanath Swami narrates the escape of Raghunath Das Goswami from home, and his stay at Jagannath Puri
His mother and father were so worried. So many times he was trying to escape that one time the mother said to the father, “This Raghunath has gone crazy. He won’t stay home. You should tie him with ropes.” Govardhan Majumadar replied, “He is already bound by wealth of Indra – so much opulence, so much fine clothes, such beautiful living condition, his wife is more beautiful than an angel. If these things cannot keep him home, how can we expect to keep him with ropes? Our son has received the mercy of Lord Gaurchandra, and who can keep such a mad man from the service of the Lord?” Raghunath Das Goswami was pretending very nicely, but still there were guards all around him day and night. Raghunath Das was immersed in meditation – ‘How to escape? How to achieve the lotus feet of Gauranga?’
One day… it was night, it was just towards the end of night. There were only four dandas left. At that time the guru of the family, Yadunandan Acharya, he was having some problem. One of his disciples, who was a brahman priest, who worshiped his deities, had left his service. Yadunandana Acharya knew that Raghunath Das was very, very expert in all dealings on all levels. So he came to the Durga Mandapa, and he approached Raghunath Das and said, “Can you go to the house of this pujari and convince him to continue his service to the deity? I will go with you.” Raghunath Das said, “Yes, of course. I will.” Because it was so late at night, all of the guards were fast asleep.
Raghunath Das left, and as he was walking down the road with Yadunandana Acharya, he said, “Actually I can do it myself. You can go home, and I will go to the home of your disciple pujari and convince him.” Yadunandana Acharya said, “Yes” and he went home. Raghunath Das understood that this was the time. Perhaps he preached to the Pujari first. He immediately fled into the forest. He understood that his parents would immediately send so many guards and investigators to find him.
So he did not go in the direction of Puri. First he went east and he just travelled due east all day long the whole next day. And when night came, there was the shade of the milk man, and he slept in that place where cows sleep. And in the morning, the milk man understood that he had not eaten, so he gave him a little bit of milk. Then Raghunath Das went in the southern direction, but not on the main road; rather he went in the road through the jungles which no one would take.
Meanwhile, Shivananda Sena, every year was taking a whole group of Bengali Vaishnavas to Jagannath puri to meet Lord Chaitanya. Govardhan sent some messengers and guards, “You go to Shivananda Sena, because Raghunath must be going to puri with them; we know he must be going. Tell them give me my son.” So the messengers went to Shivananda Sena, and he said, “Your son is not here. I do not know where he may be.”
“Meanwhile, Raghunath Das was travelling through the jungles and forests. It took him twelve days to arrive in Jagannath puri, and in those twelve days, only three times did he get anything to eat. Sometimes he got little milk; sometimes he cooked something; and sometimes he chewed on some fried grains. Although often it was cold, often it was hot, so many inconveniences, he was completely immersed in the thought that soon he would serve the lotus feet of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. He was full of joy. After twelve days, he arrived in Jagannath Puri.” – Radhanath Swami
In Kashi Mishra Bhavan, there is a room called Gambhira. That was the personal residence of Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Raghunath Das went to that place. When Lord Chaitanya saw Raghunath Das, he became filled with happiness. He said to Raghunath Das, “You have received the mercy of Lord Krishna. To become disentangled from the attachments of this material world is very difficult. In fact, it is impossible. It is only by the mercy of Lord Krishna that one can achieve such liberation.”
Raghunath Das, in great humility, with such a grateful heart he replied, “I do not know who Krishna is; I only know that your causeless mercy has saved me.” In great humility Raghunath Das offered prayers to Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
Lord Caitanya replied, “Material life is like a deep ditch where people go to pass stool. Because your father and your uncle are friends of my grandfather and father, therefore we are related. I can say some joking words about them. Your father and uncle are like worms living in the stool of that ditch; although they are Vaishnavas, they are not pure Vaishnavas. They have many material attachments; they give so much charity and donations to other devotees, but still they have too much material attachment. But Krishna has rescued you and brought you here.”
“Then Lord Chaitanya, he turned to Swaroop Damodar Goswami, his most personal associate. He said, ‘I want you to take care of Raghunath das. I am personally placing him in your loving care.’ Then Lord Chaitanya took the hand of Raghunath Das and the hand of Swaroop Damodar Goswami, and put them together.” – Radhanath Swami
“Now,” he said, “There are three Raghus: Vaidya Raghunath, there is Bhatta Raghunath, and this is Raghunath, who will be known as the Raghunath of Swaroop Damodar Goswami.” Swaroop Damodar Goswami very happily accepted the charge of Raghunath Das as his personal service to the Lord.
Lord Caitanya’s instruction on renunciation to Raghunath Das
One day Raghunath Das spoke through Swaroop Damodar Goswami to Lord Chaitanya. Raghunath Das was so humble that generally he would not speak directly to Lord Chaitanya. If he had anything to say or any question to ask, he would make it through either Swaroop Damodar Goswami or Govinda, the servant of the Lord.
So on one day Swaroop Damodar Goswami and Raghunath Das came before Lord Chaitanya. And Swaroop Damodar Goswami said, “Raghunath Das has a question. He says that he has given up all wonderful luxuries of his family life and worldly existence, but he does not know why. He does not know what his duties are. What are the services of one in the renounced order of life?”
Lord Chaitanya turned to Raghunath Das Goswami. He said, “Actually you should ask this question to Swaroop Damodar Goswami. He can answer all of your questions, but since you are asking me, I will give you the reply. Do not speak mundane topics like the people in general of this world – gramya-katha. And do not hear what they say. Do not eat luxurious foods, and do not dress very nicely. You should always offer all respects to others, and you should expect no respect for yourself. In this way you should constantly chant the holy names of Krishna, and in your mind you should always meditate on serving Radha and Krishna in the forest of Vrindavana. These are the duties of one in the renounced order of life. Now for all further instructions, you can get them all from Swaroop Damodar Goswami. But one more instruction I must give:
tṛṇād api sunīcena taror api sahiṣṇunā
amāninā mānadena kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ
To be more humble than a blade of grass, more tolerant than a tree, ready to offer all respects to others and to expect none in return in this way one can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly.”
“For those who are pursuing the true path of renunciation, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has given these three verses – grämya-kathä nä çunibe, amanina manadena, and Trinad api sunicena. These are the very basis of real renunciation. Raghunath Das was so renounced, he was so simple in his life style, and he became so dear to all of his devotees.” – Radhanath Swami