Vasudeva Ghosh, Govinda Ghosh, and Madhava Ghosh


     Krsna dasa Kaviraja Goswami writes (CC Adi 10.115): “The three brothers, Govinda, Madhava, and Vasudeva were the eighty-second, eighty-third, and eighty-fourth branches of the Caitanya tree. Lord Caitanya and Nityananda used to dance in their kirtana performances. In his Caitanya-Caritamrta commentary, Sripad Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja writes: ”The three brothers, Govinda, Madhava and Vasudeva Ghosh all belonged to a kayastha family. govinda established the Goinatha temple in Agradvipa, where he resided. Madhava Ghosh was expert in performing kirtana. No one within this world could compete with him. He was known as the singer of Vrndavana and was very dear to Nityananda Prabhu. It is said that when the three borthers performed sankirtana immediately Lord Caitanya and Nityananda Prabhu would dance in ecstasy. According to the gaura-ganoddessa-dipika (188), the three brothers were formely Kalavati, Rasollasa and Gunatunga, who recited the songs composed by Sri Visakha-gopi. The three brothers were among one of the seven parties that performed kirtana when Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu attended the Rathayatra festival at Jagannatha Puri. Vakresvara Pandita was the chief dancer in their party. This is vividly described in the Madhya-lila,Chapter Thirteen, verses 42 and 43 [of Caitanya-Caritamrta]”

     Kaviraja Goswami further records (CC adi 10.117—118): “By the order of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, three devotees accompanied Lord Nityananda Prabhu when He returned to Bengal to preach. These three were Ramadasa, Madhava, and Vasudeva Ghosh. Govinda Ghosh, however, remained with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and thus felt great satisfaction.”

     The sankirtana party comprising these three brothers and their performance of kirtana at the Ratha-yatra festival in Jagannatha Puri is is described as follows (CC adi 13.24—63): “Everyone was astonished to see the decorations on the Ratha car. The car appeared to be newly made of gold, and it was as high as Mount Sumeru. the decorations included bright mirrors, and hundreds and hundreds of camaras [white whisks made of yak tails]. On top of the car were a neat and clean canopy and very beautiful flag. The car was also decorated with silken cloth and various pictures. Many brass bells, gongs, and ankle bells rang. For the pastimes of the Ratha-yatra ceremony, Lord Jagannatha got aboard one car, and His sister, Subhadra, and elder brother Balarama, got aboard two other cars. For fifteen days Lord Jagannatha had remained in a secluded place with the supreme goddess of fortune and had performed his pastimes with her. Having taken permission from the goddess of fortune, the Lord came out to ride on the Ratha car and perform His pastiems for the pleasure of the devotees....As the car stood still, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu gathered all his devotees and with His own hand, decorated them with flower garlands and sandalwood pulp. Paramananda Prui and Brahmananda Bharati were both personally given garlands and sandalwood pulp from the very hands od Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. This increased their transcendental pleasure. Similarly, when Advaita acarya and Nityananda Prabhu felt the touch of the transcendental hand of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu,  they were both very pleased. The Lord also gave garlands and sandalwood pulp to the performers of sankirtana. The chief performers were Svarupa Damodra and Srivasa Thakura. There were altogether four parties of kirtana performers, comprising twenty-four chanters. In each party there were also two mrdanga players, making an additional eight person. When the four parties were formed, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, after some consideration, divided the chanters. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu ordered Nityananda Prabhu, Advaita acarya, Haridasa Thakura and Vakresvara Pandita to dance in each of the four respective parties. [Aside from the other three...] The Lord formed another group, appointing Govinda Ghosh as the lead singer.  In this group Chota Haridasa, Visnudasa, and Raghava Pandita sang in response to Govinda Ghosh. The two brothers of Govinda Ghosh,  Madhava Ghosh and Vasudeva Ghosh also joined the group as responsive singers. In that kirtana group, Vakresvara Pandita was the dancer...Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu performed his pastimes for some time in this way. He personally sang and induced his personal associates to dance.”

     According to the Gaura-Parsada-caritavali the three brothers, Vasudeva Ghosh, Madhava Ghosh and Govinda Ghosh were especially sweet-throated singers. When these three would sing, Nityananda Prabhu Himself would dance in great ecstasy.

     It is said that their home village was within Sri Hatta in a place called either Baduna or Burangi grama. In any case it is known that Vasudeva Ghosh Thakura's father resided in Kumara hatta.  After the passing away of their father, Vasudeva, Govinda, and Madhava Ghosh went to live in Nabadwipa dhama. They came from the kayastha caste that has its origin in the Northern part of the Rada-desa, where the Ganges does not flow. All three of them are eternal associates of Sri Caitanya and Nityananda. According to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Prabhupada these three are situated in the madhurya-rasa and are in the section of those who have accepted Sri Radhika as their ultimate asraya-vigraha.

     Vasughosh Thakura has written many songs about Sri Gauranga.  One of his most famous songs contains the line yadi gaura na ha'te tabe ke haita kemane dharitam de. Sripada Bhakti Raksaka Sridhar deva Goswami has commented on this song as follows: “Vasudev Ghosh says, yadi gaura na ha'te tabe ke haita kemane dharitam de: ‘If Gauranga had not appeared in this Kali-yuga, then how could we tolerate living? How could we sustain our lives? What he has given—the very gist, the very charm of life—without that, we think it is impossible for anyone to live in this world. Such a thing has been invented, discovered by Gauranga. If He had not come, then how could we live. It is impossible to live devoid of such a holy and gracious thing as divine love. Without Caitanya Mahaprabhu, how could we know that Radharani stands supreme in the world of divine love? We have received all these things from Him, and now we think that life is worth living. Otherwise, to live would be suicidal.”

     Vasudeva Ghosh has written many other songs about Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. In another song, he describes the childhood play of the Lord in a song beginning with the line “sacira anginaya nace visvambhara raya:

 In Sacidevi's courtyard dances Visvambhara Roy—

The master of the universe—a little golden boy.

Round and round he runs and plays, at last he runs and hides.

“You can't find me,” he laughs, “O Ma! You can't find me,” he chides.

“O Visvambhara,” his mother cries, “I can't see you, my boy.”

He runs to her, he holds her sari's hem, and leaps with joy.

His merry dance of glee would put the wag-tail bird to shame;

Thus sings the poet Vasudev of Sri Caitanya's fame:

The beauty of his childish form is radiant and fair enrapturing the minds and hearts of all souls everywhere.”

     Vasudeva Ghosh has written another song where he asserts that Sri Caitanya is one and the same with Rama and Krsna and Lord Jagannatha: “jaya jaya jagannatha sacira nandana...”

“All glories to the Lord of the Universe, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is one and the same with Lord Jagannatha.  All glories to Lord Jagannatha. The three worlds fall before his feet. On the altar in the temple at Jagannatha Puri Lord Krsna holds the conch, cakra, mace, and lotus; but when he comes from  Nabadwipa-dhama that same Lord carries the danda and kamandalu, the staff and waterpot of a sannyasi, a renounced mendicant. It is said that the same Rama who previously chastised the demon king Ravana is a vaibhava expansion of His, who descended in order to manifest different pastimes. The Gaura-avatara descends from Goloka with the mood of Srimati Radharani.  In this avatara the Lord preaches the glories of the holy name of Krsna in the form of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra. Vasudeva Ghosh, with folded hands, chants the glories of that Supreme Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is Krsna Himself, Lord Jagannatha, the master of the universe. Vasudeva Ghosh thus glorifies all three of those Lords. What do I need to speak of all of your hundreds and hundreds of avataras, when O Lord Gauranga, you alone are the topmost.  All the Visnu avataras as well as Lord Siva, Sukadeva Goswami, Narada Muni, the four Kumaras, and all the masters of the universe are begging for the divine love which you alone can distribute. You were famous in your former lila as Lord Rama for constructing a floating bridge of stones across the Indian Ocean to Sri Lanka. Now in this Kali-yuga, you have given us the bridge of kirtana, by which even the lame and blind can cross over the ocean of material existence and attain supreme spiritual happiness. Without any qualification for receiving this mercy all men and women can dance in ecstasy and attain perfection by the mercy of Sri Gauranga.  As a result of his divine qualities, the ten directions become mad with ecstasy. Therefore, Vasudeva Ghosh says, ‘Give up all your interest in japa, austerity, and Vedic understanding and just accept my Sri Gauranga as your life and soul.’”

     According to the Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika, Govinda Ghosh, Madhava Ghosh, and Vasudeva Ghosh Thakura were formerly the gopis in Vrndavana named Kalavati, Rasolasa and Gunatunga Sakhi. When Mahaprabhu was staying in Jagannatha Puri, these three brothers would come every year for the Ratha-yatra and perform their famous kirtana. After the passing of Mahaprabhu from this world into the spiritual world, these three brothers went their separate ways. Govinda Ghosh Thakura went to live in Agradwipa, Sri Madhava Ghosh Thakura went to live in Danihatta, and Sri  Vasudeva Ghosh went to live in the village of Tamala.

     It is said that Govinda Ghosh Thakura had no children. As he grew old, he was in some anxiety, worrying about who would perform his funeral ceremony and offer a sacrifice in his honor after his passing away.  One night in a dream Gopinatha, his Krsna Deity, came to him and said, “Do not worry, I shall perform the sacrificial offerings myself. Have no fear.” Even to this day, every year on the anniversary of the passing away of Sri Govinda Ghosh Thakura, the Gopinatha Deity performs the sacrificial ceremonies in his honor. Sri Vasudeva Ghosh Thakura passed away on the second day of the full moon in the month of Kartika.

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