Shri Radharaman, Bhatt Gopal – Shri Vrindavan Nitya Vihar
Vrindavan, 2017.03.02 (Vishakha Dasi for VT): Shri Purushottam Goswami of the Shri Radharaman Temple was a soul immersed in the seva of Shri Radharaman Lal. For the sake of that seva he came to this world, and for the sake of that seva he has departed from our midst.
On May 22, 1923, Shri Purushottam Goswami took birth in the dynasty of Shri Damodar Das Goswami, the disciple of one of the Gaudiya Sampradaya’s founding fathers, Shri Gopal Bhatt Goswami. This rare birth bestowed upon him the most precious right to touch the lotus feet of Shri Radharamanji – to serve Him. According to his son Shri Shrivatsa Goswami, Shri Purushottam Goswami Maharaj’s service for Shri Radharaman Lal had three main facets.
First and foremost, Maharajji loved the direct service of Shri Radharaman Lal, and he served Him with utmost excellence. Whenever it was his family’s turn to serve in the temple, the temple was transformed with exquisite decor, cleanliness and discipline.
The manner in which he dressed and adorned Shri Radharamanji was of the highest echelon of elegance. Maharajji possessed mastery over all the arts of bhog-raag seva. In the kitchen of Shri Radharamanji he cooked often, and prepared the most amazing dishes for Him.
On several occasions beginning in the 1960s, he offered a special, grand bhog called Nandalay bhog. The Nandalay Bhog is even more elaborate than chhappan bhog, and is prepared according to the descriptions in the holy book Govind Lilamrit, wherein Shri Radharani prepares hundreds of dishes for Shri Krishna’s pleasure. The very same dishes prepared by Shri Radharani are offered to Shri Radharamanji during Nandalay bhog, replicating the ancient recipes from the scripture.
Maharajji designed many amazing and innovative banglas (decorative environments) for Shri Radharamanji’s pleasure. On one occasion the entire altar was transformed into a divine garden, including a lake with real fish and turtles, in the midst of which Shri Radharamanji floated blissfully upon a real boat. And on another occasion Shri Radharamanji was enthroned upon a divine aeroplane. These are just some of the examples of the unique joys that Shri Radharaman got to savor during Maharajji’s seva. Maharajji also loved to sing for Shriji and continued to do so till the end of his life.
Maharajji’s second cherished seva was the service of the scriptures, especially the Shrimad Bhagwatam. His kathas raised the bar of Shrimad Bhagwatam scholarship. In his youth, Maharajji studied under Sarvabhaum Goswami Damodar Lal Shastri with utmost dedication and mastered the art of Bhagwatam recitation.
Although Shri Purushottam Goswami was a householder, he kept a strict schedule of personal worship and study. At times he would vow to read the entire Srimad Bhagwatam in a week for his own private bhajan, which he did amidst his already busy schedule of seva.
His kathas on this holy text were presented in simple language that was easy to understand, and decorated with song and dramatic flavor. His audiences felt all the more connected as he explained how the scriptural stories reflect upon everyday life.
In addition to his service for Shrimad Bhagwatam, almost seventy volumes of the Gaudiya Sampraday’s foundational texts were edited and published by him in the 1940s, in conjunction with Shri Puridasji. These were distributed to libraries and scholars free of cost.
Maharajji’s third beloved seva was Raas Lila. Raas Lila is a kind of sacred theatre where the stories of Shri Radha and Krishna are told through drama and song. Maharajji worked closely with many of the foremost Raas Lila artists to help them perfect their craft. He was the one who worked with Baba Premananda to create the first Chaitanya Lila or Gauranga Lila in Braj Bhasha in the 1940s. He brought the Raas Lila on tour to such diverse locations as Chennai and France, whilst retaining the original language of Braj Bhasha. Language was not a barrier, however; the excellence of the production was sufficient to connect the hearts of audiences with the heart of Braj.
Maharajji also produced ashtayam lila – a special Raas Lila play in which a twenty-four hour day in the life of Shri Radha-Krishna is presented in real-time over the course of about a week. For these presentations, Maharajji would write the script, choose the music and generally oversee the entire production. He also introduced the ashtayam lila of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in the same way.
On February 21st, 2017, Shri Purushottam Goswami left this world to continue his eternal offering of seva at Shri Radharamanji’s lotus feet. His sons Shri Shrivatsa Goswami and Shri Venu Gopal Goswami remain with us, upholding their father’s legacy of excellence in service to Shri Radharaman Lal.
Devotees are invited to offer their respects to Shri Purushottam Goswami Maharaj at Jaisingh Ghera on Sunday, the fifth of March at 11am.
This short biography of Shri Purushottam Goswami Maharaj draws from a recent conversation with Shri Shrivatsa Goswami Maharaj and the writings of Margaret Case.