Question: Is Śrī Gopāla Bhaṭṭa or Śrī Jīva author of the Sandarbhas?
Answer: Anuchheda 4 and Anuccheda 5 of the Tattva Sandarbha make this matter clear. There, Śrī Jīva writes as follows (Śrī Babaji’s translation)
ko’pi tad-bāndhavo bhaṭṭo dakṣiṇa-dvija-vaṁśajaḥ | vivicya vyalikhad granthaṁ likhitād vṛddha-vaiṣṇavaiḥ ||4||
Śrī Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī, a friend of Śrī Rūpa and Śrī Sanātana, born in a South Indian brāhmaṇa family, compiled the original version of this book after extracting the essence from the works of ancient Vaiṣṇava masters.
Clearly Śrī Jīva gives the credit where it is due. In Anuccheda 5, he writes:
tasyādyaṁ granthanālekhaṁ krāntam utkrānta-khaṇḍitam | paryālocyātha paryāyaṁ kṛtvā likhati jīvakaḥ ||5||
Some parts of this first book by Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī were in order, some were out of order, while other parts were incomplete or missing. After thorough deliberation, Śrī Jīva now rewrites this book in the appropriate order.
Here we see that Śrī Jīva wrote the book.
Question: On social media, one person said that the word ‘likhati’ means refining or polishing, and not rewrite. He says that the word ‘khanditam’ does not mean incomplete or missing. It means that some pages were torn. Also, the word granthana-lekha means a book. The book already existed.
Answer: Meaning has to be given according to the context. The subject of the sentence is jīvakaḥ. The verb is likhati. jīvakaḥ likhati means ‘jīva(ka) writes’. But one version of the book already existed. So the translation ‘rewrites’ is appropriate. But if one does not like ‘rewrite’, the only option left is the word ‘write’. Likhati does not mean ‘refines’ or ‘polishes’. The word for that is pariṣkaroti or samskaroti, and many other words are also available. likhati is straightforward. It means ‘he writes’. The verbal root likh lekhane means ‘to write’. It does not mean ‘to refine’ or ‘to polish’. The word ‘likhati’ follows ‘paryāyaṁ kṛtvā’, which means ‘writes after arranging in appropriate order’. If only the order was off, he did not need to write anything. The meaning is plain – he first arranged the parts of the book from Śrī Gopāla Bhaṭṭa in appropriate order, and then wrote the Sandarbhas, using the original as a reference.
In fact, he uses words derived from ‘likh lekhane’ in Anuchheda 3 also:
jayatāṁ mathurā-bhūmau śrīla-rūpa-sanātanau |yau vilekhayatas tattvaṁ jñāpakau pustikām imām
All glories to Śrīla Rūpa and Sanātana Gosvāmīs who reside in the land of Mathurā. They have engaged me in writing this book to broadcast the essential truth ( tattva ) regarding Bhagavān.
Śrī Baladeva makes it clear: yāv imāṁ sandarbhākhyāṁ pustikāṁ vilekhayatas tasyā likhane māṁ pravartayataḥ – these two engaged me in the writing of this book named Sandarbha.
About the word ‘khaṇḍitaṁ’, Śrī Baladeva writes:
khaṇḍitaṁ chinnam iti sva-śramasya sārthakyam – khaṇḍitam means chinnam, which indicates the significance of his labor.
The word ‘chinnam’ qualifies the word ‘lekham’ which means book. It does not qualify ‘pages’ – there is no such word in the Sanskrit. So it literally means ‘a book which is broken’, that is, ‘a book with missing parts’. That is exactly how Sri Babaji has translated it above.
Question: The person writes, ” nowhere in the gauḍīya-vaiṣṇava literary corpus is there any explicit mention or implication that Jīva Gosvāmī’s mission was to rewrite or complete the supposedly unfinished or imperfect work of Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī.”
Answer: It appears that the opponent constructs a strawman, seeking to create the false impression that Śrī Babaji is being disrespectful to Śrī Gopāla Bhaṭṭa by considering his work ‘imperfect’. This person seems to be motivated by hatred for Śrī Babaji. The word ‘imperfect’ does not appear anywhere in his translation. If parts were missing or incomplete, that is not a criticism. It is an observation, which does not ascribe any fault to Śrī Gopāla Bhaṭṭa for it!
So there is no point in refuting the strawman above. But there is plenty of evidence in the ‘Gauḍīya-vaiṣṇava literary corpus’ that Śrī Jīva wrote the Sandarbhas. That evidence comes to us from authoritative books like CC Madhya 1.42-1.43:
tāṅra bhrātuṣ-putra nāma — śrī-jīva-gosāñi
yata bhakti-grantha kaila, tāra anta nāi
The name of the son of his (Śrī Rūpa’s) brother is Śrī Jīva Goswami. There is no end to the bhakti-books he wrote.
bhakti-siddhāntera tāte dekhāiyāchena pāra
In the elaborate book named Śrī Bhāgavata-sandarbha, Śrī Jīva Goswami has demonstrated the topmost Siddhanta of bhakti.
Note the language: dekhāiyāchena: has demonstrated. The subject of this verb is Śrī Jīva Goswami, mentioned in the previous verse. There is no mention of Śrī Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Goswami.
So the premise of the opponent is firmly opposed to our ācāryas’ teachings. I can offer many more such evidences, but consider just a few more verses from CC Antya –
‘bhāgavata-sandarbha’-nāma kaila grantha-sāra
bhāgavata-siddhāntera tāhāṅ pāiye pāra
Śrī Jīva Goswami wrote the book named Bhāgavata-sandarbha, which is the essence of all books. The topmost siddhānta of the Bhāgavata is found therein.
Again – no mention of Śrī Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Goswami. Note that the verb ‘kaila’ here literally means ‘did’. I translated it as ‘wrote’. This is because of the immediately following verse:
‘gopāla-campū’ nāma grantha sāra kaila
Here, he uses the verb ‘kaila’ again, but in the context of gopāla-campū. It is well known that Śrī Jīva Goswami wrote that book also- so the word ‘kaila’ means ‘wrote’ here, and not ‘polished’ or ‘refined’.
‘ṣaṭ sandarbhe’ kṛṣṇa-prema-tattva prakāśila
cāri-lakṣa grantha teṅho vistāra karila
In the Ṣaṭ-sandarbha, he revealed the truths about Kṛṣṇa-prema.
Again- no mention of Śrī Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Goswami. The meaning is plain- the author of CC considers Śrī Jīva Goswami as the writer of the Sandarbhas. What else needs to be said?
It may be noted that Śri Kṛśṇa Dāsa Kavirāja was a contemporary of Śrī Jīva. So his words are most authentic.
I can cite books written by secular historians as well, which state that Śrī Jīva Goswami wrote the Sandarbhas, which were based on kārikas (summary verses) composed by Śrī Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Goswami. On the other hand, the opponent has not cited a single reference to support his misconception.
Question: This person says that Śrī Jīva Goswami did not begin his formal training till age 20, at Varanasi. Śrī Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Goswami learned in Śrī Raṅgam from early childhood. Also, he says that Sri Jiva did not learn from his uncles, Śrīla Rūpa and Sanātana Gosvāmīs.
Answer: this person wants to deprecate Śrī Jīva Goswami’s greatness, by showing him to be inferior to Śrī Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Goswami, who is great in this person’s books, because Śrī Gopāla grew up in the Śrī Vaiṣṇava tradition. This is ultimately the agenda. There is an offensive group on the internet that wants to prove that the Sandarbhas are copy-pastes of Śrī Vaiṣṇava books. The fact, though, is that Śrī Gopāla Bhaṭṭa was a follower of Śrī Caitanya, and taught Śrī Caitanya’s teachings. Further, Śrī Jīva Goswami was already an intellectual great before he went to Varanasi, where he did not stay long. Bhakti ratnākara states this :
“Śrī Jīva was a talented boy. Even as a young boy, he had completed his studies of vyakarana and other subjects within a very short time. Śrī Sanātana and Śrī Rūpa were pleased with their nephew, Śrī Jīva, and treated him affectionately. Śrī Jīva constantly remembered the beauty of Śrī Caitanya Mahaprabhu and he satisfied everyone by his sincere endeavor to learn the scriptures. Some people considered him to be a partial incarnation of some deity because no ordinary person could grasp such vast spiritual knowledge in such a short time. People were enchanted to see Sri Jiva who was as beautiful and qualified as Śrī Rūpa, Śrī Sanātana and Śrī Vallabha. I wish I could die taking away with me any misfortune that might befall Śrī Jīva. “
If Śrī Jīva Goswami was so inferior, and if he merely rearranged Śrī Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Goswami’s writings, why did Śrī Gopāla Bhaṭṭa send his disciple, Srinivasa, to study the Sandarbhas from Śrī Jīva Goswami?
Question: he criticizes Babaji’s use of the word ‘kadaca’ for the book by Sri Gopala Bhatta. He says this is a Bengali term of Persian origin.
Answer: The word kadaca is not of Persian origin. It is formed from the Sanskrit word ‘kara’, and literally means ‘hand-notes’.
Question: He writes: if a modern jñanī or vaiyākaraṇa fails to recognize these distinctive nuances at the outset of this work, it would not be surprising if his inaccuracies persist throughout his reading of the extensive body of the composition.
Answer: this is obviously a direct attack on Śrī Babaji. He is neither a ‘modern jñanī’ nor a ‘vaiyākaraṇa’. He is a giant of the Caitanya tradition. He learned the Sandarbhas from his guru, who learned it from his guru. Unlike the offensive opponent here, Śrī Babaji is trained in and steeped in the Caitanya tradition. His translations are based on learning in the paramparā. An attack on him, is an attack on the Gadādhara parivāra and ultimately the Indian traditional system of learning itself.
The simple fact is that whether Śrī Gopāla Bhaṭṭa or Śrī Jīva wrote the Sandarbhas is of not much importance, at least, not to me. Because they are ultimately one of heart which is clear from the fact that Śrī Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Goswami sent his dearmost disciple to study the Sandarbhas from Śri Jīva Goswami.
What is important, is the message of the Sandarbhas, which was, is, and will remain unique. The Sandarbhas convey the teachings of Śrī Caitanya in a most systematic and cogent manner. The Sandarbhas are not anyone’s “copy-paste”. This most ridiculous claim betrays the ignorance of both the Sandarbhas and of Śrī Vaiśṇava siddhānta. Let those who claim so, prove it.