Sanatana Goswami took his birth in 1488 A.D. (1410, Sakabda). Sanatana wrote a number of important works in the bhakti tradition of Gaudiya Vaishnavism and was the seniormost of the influential Six Goswamis of Vrindavan, among whom was his brother Rupa Goswami. As a child, he began his studies along with his brothers, from their maternal uncle's house in a small village called Sakurma near the capital of Gaura-desa. At the age of 27 he came to live at Braja, and remained there for 43 years. At the age of 70, Shrila Sanatana disappeared on the full moon day of Asar in the year 1558 A.D.
Sanatana Goswami was born in Jessore in 1488 as the son of Mukunda, the private secretary of the Sultan of Bengal, Jalaluddin Fateh Shah (ruled 1481-1487). Sanatana was the eldest son of Mukunda, and his younger brothers were Rupa Goswami and Vallabha (Anupama). Sanatana and his brothers studied Nyaya (rhetortic) and Vedanta from the famous logician Vasudeva Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya. They also studied under Sarvabhauma's brother, Madhusudana Vidyavacaspati, from whom Sanatana took initiation in his childhood. On the death of his father, Sanatana was forced to take up the post of Sakara Mallik (treasurer) to the new ruler of Bengal, Alauddin Hussein Shah (ruled 1493–1519), while his brother Rupa was given the post of Dabir-i-khas.
Move to Vrindavana
Forced to submit to the ruling Muslim government, Shri Rupa and Shri Sanatana became ministers and lived at Ramakeli. But their real engagement was teaching sastras which they learned from Vidyavacaspati, brother of Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya. Pandits and brahmanas from all over India came to study under the two brothers. Shri Rupa and Sanatana were acclaimed as the "crest jewels of the Gaudiya Vaisnava scholars." After the Lord visited Ramakeli and freed them, they renounced everything for Lord Gauranga's service. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu ordered Shri Rupa Goswami and Sanatana Goswami to move to Vrindavana and perform four services-
- Uncover Shri Krishna's pastime places.
- Install Deities, arrange for Their puja.
- Compile bhakti scriptures.
- Propagate the rules of devotional life.
They traveled extensively through Vraja mandala discovering many lila sthanas of Radha-Madhava. Having no fixed residence, they would catch a few winks of sleep under a tree or bush. Shri Rupa and Shri Sanatana Goswamis spent all their time writing, discussing Krishna's pastimes, and chanting Krishna's Holy Names. To maintain himself Sanatana would beg some wheat flour, roll it into a ball by adding a touch of Yamuna water, and drop it in smoldering coals to cook. He would offer this bati to his Deity of Madana Mohana. Giving up all kinds of material enjoyment, the Goswamis accepted the poorest way of life as mendicants. They ate just enough to maintain their bodies.