The following is an email exchange between Srila Giri Maharaja and Aradhana Priya Devi Dasi regarding the sannyasa guru of Srila Gopal Bhatta Goswami.
From: Srimati Aradhana Priya Devi Dasi
To: B.K. Giri Maharaja
Sri Sri Guru-Gaurangau Jayatah!
Maharaj, please accept my humble obeincances.
Maharaj, can I ask to you a question? I study now biography of Srila Gopal Bhatta Goswami. And I don’t know, who was sanyasa-guru of Srila Gopal Bhatta Goswami? When he has came in Vrindavan, Mahaprabhu has written the letter about it. Rupa and Sanatana Goswami have answered to Him, that Gopal Bhatta Goswami really has arrived in Vrindavan and at once has accepted sannyasa. But who was his sannyasa-guru? I thought, that Mahaprabhu has sent him kaupina and clothes of babaji and thus has given him sannyasa. But Rupa and Sanatana have written to Mahaprabhu, that Gopal Bhatta already has accepted sannyasa.Who was his sannyasa-guru? Srila Rupa Goswami or Srila Sanatana Goswami? Or someone another? Please, help me. Could you ask to me, please?
yours in service,
Aradhana Priya dasi
From: B.K. Giri Maharaja
To: Srimati Aradhana Priya Devi Dasi
Dear Aradhana Priya devi,
Please accept my dandavat pranams in remembrance of our Divine Master.
Your question regarding Srila Gopal Bhatta Goswami is difficult for me to answer as I do not know fully the chronological history of Srila Gopal Bhatta. I know that Gopala Bhatta was the son of Vyenkata Bhatta from Rangakshetra. Vyenkata Bhatta had two brothers, Trimalla Bhatta and Sripad Prabodhananda Saraswati who was at that time, I think, a grhasta. When Mahaprabhu visited Sri Rangam he stayed for four months in the home of Vyenkata Bhatta who’s two brothers were also living with him. Almost all of south India was under the influence of Sri Ramanuja and this was true of Vyenkata Bhatta and his two brothers.
Mahaprabhu had many talks with Vyenkata Bhatta and convinced him of the supremacy of Krishna in Vrndavan above Narayan of Vaikuntha. Mahaprabhu did this in a joking way by posing the question, if Narayan is all in all, then why is Laxmidevi intent on getting the association of Krishna in Vrndavan?
Sripad Prabodhananda Saraswati also became established in the line of Gaudiya Vaishnavism by the grace of Sriman Mahaprabhu. In one lecture Srila Bhakti Vedanta Swami says that “Prabodhananda Saraswati took sannyas after meeting Mahaprabhu”. Sripad Prabodhananda would have been unrivaled in his deep insight into the mysteries of Gaudiya Vaishnavism except that Mahaprabhu established Sri Rupa Goswami as the head of His sampradaya.
Gopala Bhatta was only a small boy at this time and when Mahaprabhu left he told Gopala Bhatta to stay and serve his parents and later go to Vrndavan where he could engage in nama bhajan. Mahaprabhu left, leaving Gopala Bhatta to study the bhakti shastras under the guidance of his uncle Prabodhananda Saraswati. It must have been around this time that Sri Prabodhananda took tridandi sannyas in the line of Sri Ramanuja.
In the Chaitanya Charitamrta of Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami it is mentioned in the purport of Madhya 3.6 that Srila Gopala Bhatta Goswami took tridanda sannyas from Sripad Prabodhananda Saraswati. I assume, therefore, that this was done sometime after Mahaprabhu left Sri Rangam and Gopala Bhatta was studying under Prabodhananda in Rangakshetra. This was before Gopala Bhatta went to Vrndavan.
It would make sense, then, when Gopal Bhatta arrived in Vrndavan, as Mahaprabhu had requested, Rupa and Sanatan would see that he had taken sannyas and mentioned this in their letter to Mahaprabhu.
After receiving the joyful news that Gopal Bhatta had arrived in Vrndavan and was now in the company of Rupa and Sanatan, Mahaprabhu sent the kaupin and outer dress of the babaji order to Gopala Bhatta indicating his acceptance of Gopala Bhatta into the fifth ashram as a babaji, or goswami.
I hope this is of some help to you.