By Swami Harshananda
Gosvāmi literally means ‘master of the senses’.
This word can be used as an honorific for anyone who has mastered his senses. However, it is normally used as a title indicating the religious status of a person. It is much more common among the Vaiṣṇavas.
A Vaiṣṇava gosvāmī may be a monk or a householder. He may be the head of a religious institution or just an ordinary devotee. The luminaries among the gosvāmīs are the following spiritual leaders of the Caitanya cult. Rupa Gosvāmī (A. D. 1493-1568), Sanātana Gosvāmī (A. D. 1481- 1558) and Jīva Gosvāmī (16th cent. A. D.) are the famous personalities of this cult.
Tulasidās, a gosvāmī, was the famous author of the monumental work. He was the author of Rāmcaritmānas.
Gosvāmī word is also used as a surname for the descendants of the gosvāmīs.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore