Satsvarupa dasa Goswami

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Gaudiya Vaishnavism tradition of Hinduism
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Satsvarupa das Goswami (IAST satsvarūpa dāsa gosvāmī Devanagari: सत्स्वरूप दास गोस्वामी), is a senior disciple of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), better known in the west as the Hare Krishna movement. Serving as a writer, poet,and artist, Satsvarupa dasa Goswami is the author of Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada's authorized biography,Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta. After Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada's death, Satsvarupa dasa Goswami was one of eleven disciples selected to become an initiating guru in ISKCON.Satsvarupa dasa Goswami (Sanskrit name pronounced /ˈsaʈsʋɑˌɽʉ:pa̤ dɒ:s ɡɔˈsʋæ:miː/) is one of the first few westerners ordained by Prabhupada in September 1966. He has been since established as a most prolific Vaishnava writer and poet. While traveling, lecturing on Krishna consciousness, and instructing disciples worldwide,[13] he has published over 150 books including poems, memoirs, essays, novels, and studies based on the Vaishnava scriptures. In the recent years, he has created hundreds of paintings, drawings, and sculptures that attempt to capture and express his absorption in the culture of Krishna consciousness.

Early years
He was born the eldest of two children to Roman Catholic parents in New York, Staten Island and named Steven. He was educated initially in public high school nearby and then enrolled in Brooklyn College, where he underwent an intellectual revolution putting in question his Catholic values.

As soon as I went to college I underwent an intellectual revolution. Any religious sentiments I had gained from my mother were driven away by my college professors, who were dyed-in-the-wool Marxist intellectuals, Americans from the 1930s. They taught me their intellectual and atheistic views, and knocked aside my religious worship, saying it was sentimental. One of them said theology could never satisfactorily explain why evil was present in the world. I was attracted to their philosophy because my parents were not intellectual and had never aroused my intellectual capacity. But my professors opened up a whole new world for me. I became eager to study philosophy and literature. I came to see for myself that the church was hypocritical: in the foyer of our church the priests regularly raffled bottles of liquor (they called them “baskets of joy”). I became dissatisfied with the Catholic Church because it could not provide answers to my questions.

In January 1962 he joined the Navy, where he served for two years on board U.S.S. Saratoga, a super-carrier. In his introduction to With Śrīla Prabhupāda in the Early Days, 1966-1969 he writes: "A few months after the death of President Kennedy, I was honorably discharged, and without visiting my parents on Staten Island, I went directly to the Lower East Side. By then, the Lower East Side was, in my mind and in the minds of my friends, the most mystical place in the world. "I certainly didn’t think some guru was suddenly going to appear and save me. I was too cynical. Yet I was regularly reading versions of the Bhagavad-gita and the Upanishads. Ironically, one week before the gift shop at 26 Second Avenue changed into Srila Prabhupada’s temple, I was standing in that very doorway with a Bhagavad-gita in my back pocket, waiting to meet a friend. Somehow we had chosen 26 Second Avenue as a meeting place. At that time, I had no idea what was about to happen."

In July 1966 he met and accepted the spiritual instruction from A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami who registered [[International Society for Krishna Consciousness

After Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada's death he was one of eleven disciples selected to become an initiating guru in ISKCON. Prof. Larry Shinn in his overview of the contemporary state of the Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada's movement confirms this while relating his first meeting with Satsvarupa dasa Goswami:

Thing that caused me to correct my initial prejudices about the Krishnas was that those who joined the movement came through several modes of conversion and from many different backgrounds. Satsvarupa dasa Goswami, who later was appointed as one of Prabhupada's guru successors, was one of the earliest devotees I met. He was in his late twenties when I met him in New York City. He had discovered the Krishnas as a result of a spiritual quest which was satisfied within this Indian tradition.

Literary contribution

One of his key services is as a prolific writer. Some commentators have called his disciplic lineage, Chaitanya Vaisnava Sampradaya, the "Sampradaya of the Book".[18] The writing is done following a line of teachers. This quality of the tradition is also confirmed by Srivatsa Goswami who also underlines that genuine intellectuals are often suppressed, but should follow the path of the Six Goswamis: "Many other Vaisnava teachers, after them, wrote many hundreds of other treatises as well. It is not the work of fanatic sentimentalists". Satsvarupa dasa Goswami's writing represents a unique contemporary variety from commentaries on scriptures to a free flowing poetry and prose. His writings were translated in over forty languages by Bhaktivedanta Book Trust and Gita Nagari Press. He was also requested by Bhaktivedanta Book Trust to complete a number of works,started by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.


Probably most widely read and translated of all his books is Srila Prabhupada-Lilamrta.[25] It’s a biography of the founder of the Hare Krishna movement in the West, depicting him through different stages of his life. Written with a help of a large research team for over six years Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta is based on material given by interviewers and researchers and is based on a system of ascertaining whether a Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada story is authentic. By researching tape recordings of Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada author provided accurate quotes of his statements wherever possible., In this biographical work he would always look for several reliable witnesses, in addition to the one who is recalling a particular event. This is done by the interviewer bringing up the same incident in numerous interviews. In fact, the phenomenon of interviewing a devotee of Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada was itself a remarkable testimony in gauging the authenticity of remembrances of Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

In striking contrast to doldrums Edvard Dimock reported in 1966 the volumes remind us that religious tradition can harbor a deceptive vitality and have a remarkable capacity for renewal and regeneration. ..Srila Prabhupada lilamrita clearly follows Caitanya Caritamrita and concentrated on the "nectar of his life" (i.e. caritamrta). This is completely valid in the case of a saint who has conveyed his spiritual and theological message directly to his life.

Other biographical works are almost equally popular among Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada's followers, they include among others 'He Lives Forever', 'Life with the Perfect Master' and five volumes of 'Prabhupada Nectar'.

What springs from page after page is the willing devotion of young men and women to a man whom they admire for his deep faith and humility, not his autocratic or forceful demands.

Scriptural writings

Books included in this category include titles published by Bhaktivedanta Book Trust such as Narada Bhakti Sutraand Mukunda Mala Strotra, both unfinished works of his preceptor, as well as the multi volume A Poor Man Reads the Bhagavatam – elaboration on the Bhaktivedanta Purports of Bhagavata Purana.

Academic presentation

First book published in 1975 during A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada's lifetime was Readings in Vedic Literature: the Tradition Speaks for Itself. Prabhupada was greatly appreciative of the review of the book by the academic circles. In the years to follow Satsvarupa dasa Goswami was supportive of the foundation of Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies and some of his works were published in ISKCON Communications Journal (ICJ) and reviewed by the academia in ICJ academic journal.Despite initial anti-cult controversies, the Hare Krishna movement today is accepted by the academics as "the most genuinely Hindu of all the many Indian movements in the West".

Personal writings

A number of his books are considered pioneering or even avant-garde in the Vaishnava tradition often employing techniques of free-writing. Diaries and the letters collection from Prabhupada are spanning from the very beginning of the movement in 1966 in the West and provide a valuable subjective but an accurate detailed account of the ISKCON movement from the very first years to present days. Satsvarupa dasa Goswami honestly and transparently published his diary records of his own difficulties and struggles in his personal spiritual evolution. Entering the Life of Prayer deserves a special mention. Martin Palmer, Director of the International Consultancy on Religion, Education and Culture and Religious Advisor to World Wildlife Fund for Nature wrote:

I have read a lot of Hare Krishna material, but this is the first book which makes me as an outsider want to explore the faith more deeply, and which really reaches out to me as a fellow believer in the Divine.

The integrity of the book and its unswerving honesty make for refreshing and challenging reading. It deserves to be known well beyond the confines of the Hare Krishna movement or ISKCON, for it is about grappling with our place and our sense of both meaning and of the Godhead in a world which is often alien and hostile - even the religious world which some of us inhabit.

I recommend this book to any who are genuinely wrestling with the implications of faith and with the path of prayer. It deserves to become a spiritual classic.

Art and poetry

Number of poetical works were published in modern American idiom. He was also published in prominent Haiku magazines, the poetry dedicated to Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada glorification received positive reviews. His paintings and sculpture have also been reviewed by the Washington Times.

Other services within ISKCON
Satsvarupa dasa Goswami was a pioneer in the early days of the movement, and is the senior most member of the movement at present. He was appointed as a guru by his perceptor. Satvarupa was also one of the original members appointed as (GBC) Governing Body Commission created by Prabhupada in 1970 to gradually take on the responsibility of the spiritual management duties in ISKCON. Satsvarupa dasa Goswami was selected a trusty in the will of A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada for the management of ISKCON.

Brief history in ISKCON
Early days

Since ISKCON incorporation in July 1966 at 26 Second Avenue Satsvarupa dasa was engaged as A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada's personal typist and ISKCON secretary for the first year.[41] Later he was managing ISKCON Boston and ISKCON Press, that grew to be later registered as Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. Upon assuming duties of (GBC) Governing Body Commission in 1970, Satsvarupa was asked by Prabhupada to accept order of sannyasa in 1972, along with other GBC members, all of whom were originally married man, Tamal Krishna Goswami and Hridayananda dasa Goswami. At the time A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada awarded him and other followers the title Goswami with the single line instruction: Preach, preach, preach!

Preaching and traveling
Main preaching activities by means of traveling sankirtana parties were centered in United States. BBT (Bhaktivedanta Book Trust) Library Party headed by Satsvarupa dasa Goswami in mid 1970s was active in establishing distribution network mainly to the Universities of the United States, with some members of the team such as Bhakti Tirtha Swami and Suhotra Dasa traveling as far as Eastern Europe.

In 1974 Satsvarupa dasa Goswami was requested by Prabhupada to join him as traveling GBC servant, replacing previous servant Srutakirti Dasa.

Managing BTG

From the early days of ISKCON, the Back to Godhead was project required a lot of both contribution and supervision. Satsvarupa dasa Goswami was editor in chief and one of the main contributors to this magazine till 1991, when assisted editor Jayadvaita Swami took over as the editor in chief.

Dealing with early 'zonal acarya' days

In accordance with ISKCON GBC Governing Body Commission resolutions march 1978 Satsvarupa dasa Goswami along with other eleven Governing Body Commissioners assumed duties and services of initiating disciples in assigned zones after the departure of Prabhupada from the planet. Initial preaching areas in the United states and Caribbean's, were expanded with an addition of Ireland in 1982 where he became a zonal acharya. The assumption of equal status to Srila Prabhupada and the title of acharya are still surrounded in a controversy. While following the direction of Governing Body Commission, Satsvarupa dasa Goswami was one of the pioneers who attempted to reform the system, by assuming more humble and appropriate role of a guru as per recorded instructions of the founder-acharya.

Later years

Following seven years of controversial zonal acarya system, number of newly appointed GBC members with the support of Satsvarupa dasa Goswami reformed ISKCON guru system, lowering unprecedented level of worship. Satsvarupa dasa Goswami recorded this period in his book Guru Reform Notebook (1987). Throughout the years that followed, up until the end of the century, new ISKCON guru system was formulated based on the initial propositions.

In 1999 Governing Body Commission confirmed GBC Emeritus status of his membership of the Governing Body of ISKCON.

His extensive traveling in Europe in 1990s included areas of Scandinavia, Eastern, Central Europe and Italy, but mainly centered in preaching in Ireland and UK.In following years, his devotional life has included the creation of hundreds of paintings, drawings, and sculptures that capture and express the artist's vision of Krishna consciousness. His latest literary work is centered on his commentary on Bhagavata Purana known as A Poor Man Reads the Bhagavatam.

In 2002, a celibate monk and exemplary disciple since 1972, he suffered a physical and emotional collapse from chronic migraine headaches—a condition that required immediate medical intervention and treatment. Expressions of support and concern poured in from devotees everywhere. In consultation with the official governing body of the Krishna consciousness society, he agreed to cease initiating disciples.With the GBC consultation, he retained his Goswami title and continued in the sannyasa order and as an ISKCON guru.

Following the period of health recovery, at the age of 68, Satsvarupa dasa Goswami took residence in East Coast United States where he despite being now in advanced age is engaging in a number of preaching activities, such as regular lecturing and traveling to the holy dhamas. All of the associated preaching and traveling is complimenting his main service of commenting and answering disciple’s questions on the Bhaktivedanta Purports being published as the volumes of A Poor Man Reads the Bhagavatam.



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Pro Opinions

Saint the Krishna devotee


Hinduism is so vast comprising of various philosophies, theologies, cults, paths, religions, faiths and practices from the ancient times to till times.Satswarupa was the disciple of Prabhupada who the