Gaura-purnima is a Vaisnava festival that celebrates the birth of the saint Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who founded Gaudiya Vaishnavism. It occurs on the Purnima in the Hindu month Phalguna, usually falling in March or April. Gaura Purnima means “Golden Full Moon”, a reference to Chaitanya
The saintly king Yudhishthira Maharaj said, “Oh Keshava, what is the name of that Ekadasii that occurs during the light fortnight of the month of Ashadha (June – July)?
Who is the worshipable Deity for the auspicious day, and what is the process for observing this event?
Lord Sri Krishna replied, “Oh caretaker of this Earthly planet, I shall gladly tell you a wonderful historical event that the deva lord Brahma once narrated to his son Narad Muni.
“One day Narad Muni asked his father, ‘What is the name of the Ekadasii that comes during the light part of the month of Ashadha’, much as you did?
Kindly tell me how I should observe this Ekadasi and thus please the Supreme Lord, Sri Vishnu.’
“Lord Brahma replied, ‘Oh great saintly orator, O best of all sages, Oh purest devotee of Lord Vishnu, your question is as usual excellent for all mankind.
There is nothing better than Ekadasi, the day of Lord Sri Hari, in this or any other world.
It nullifies even the worst sins if observed properly.
For this reason I shall tell you about this Ashadha-shukla Ekadasi.
‘Fasting on this Ekadasi purifies one of all sins and fulfills all ones desires.
Therefore, whoever neglects to observe this sacred fast day is a good candidate for entering into hell. Ashadha-shukla Ekadasi is also famous as Padma Ekadasi.
Just to please the Supreme Lord Hrishikesha, the master of the senses, one should fast on this day.
Listen carefully, Oh Narad, as I relate to you a wonderful historical event that was recorded in the scriptures regarding this Ekadasi.
Just hearing this account destroys all kinds of sins, along with all obstacles on the path to spiritual perfection.
‘Oh son, there was once a saintly king in the Surya Vamsha (Sun dynasty) whose name was Mandhata.
Because he always stood up for the truth, he was appointed emperor.
He took care of his subjects as though they were his very own family members and children.
On account of his piety and great religiosity, there was no pestilence, drought, or disease of any kind in his entire kingdom.
All his subjects were not only free of all kinds of disturbances but also were very wealthy.
The king’s own treasury was free of any ill-gotten moneys, and thus he ruled happily for many years.
‘Once, however, because of some sin in his kingdom, there was a drought for three years.
The subjects found themselves beset by famine also.
The lack of food grains made it impossible for them to perform the prescribed Vedic sacrifices, offer oblations of grita (ghee) to their forefathers and to the devas, engage in any ritualistic worship, or even study the Vedic literatures.
Finally, they all came before their beloved king in a great assembly and addressed him thus, ‘Oh king, you always see to our welfare, so we humbly beg your assistance now.
Everyone and everything in this world needs water.
Without water, almost everything is rendered useless or dead.
The Vedas call water nara, and because the Supreme Personality of Godhead sleeps upon water, His another name is Narayana.
God makes His own abode on water and takes His rest there.
It is said that three things cannot exist without water; pearls, human beings, and flour.
The essential quality of a pearl is its luster, and that is due to water.
The essence of a man is his semen, whose main constituent is water.
And without water, flour cannot be made into dough and then be cooked into various forms of bread, offered and eaten.
Sometimes water is called jala-narayaaa, the Supreme Lord in the form of this life sustaining substance – water.
In His form as the clouds, the Supreme Lord is present throughout the sky and pours forth rains, from which grow the grains that maintain every living entity.
‘ “Oh king, the severe drought has caused a great lack of valuable grains; thus we are all miserable, and the population is decreasing as people die off or leave your kingdom.
Oh best ruler on Earth, please find some solutions to this problem and bring us to peace and prosperity once again.
‘The king replied, “You speak the truth, for grains are like Brahman, the Absolute Truth, who lives within grains and thereby sustains all beings.
Indeed, it is because of grains that the entire world lives.
Now, why is there a terrible drought in our kingdom?
The Holy Scriptures discuss this subject very thoroughly.
If a king (or head of the country) is irreligious, both he and his subjects suffer.
I have meditated upon the cause of our problem for a long time, but after searching my past and present character I can honestly say that I find no sin.
Still, for the good of all you subjects, I shall try to remedy the situation.
Thinking in this way, King Mandhata assembled his army and entourage.
Paid his obeisances to me, and then entered the forest.
He wandered here and there, seeking great sages in their Ashrams and inquiring about how to resolve the crisis in his kingdom.
At last he came upon the ashram of one of my other sons, Angira Muni, whose effulgence lit up all directions.
Seated in his hermitage, Angira looked like a second Brahma.
King Mandhata was very pleased to see that exalted sages, whose senses were completely under control. The king immediately dismounted his horse and offered his respectful obeisances at the lotus feet of Angira Muni.
Then the king joined his palms and prayed for the Muni’s blessings.
That saintly person reciprocated by blessing the king with sacred mantras; then he asked him about the welfare of the seven limbs of his kingdom.
The seven limbs of a king’s domain are
1. the king himself;
2. the ministers;
3. his treasury;
4. his military forces;
5. his allies;
6. the brahmins;
7. the sacrificial performances performed in the kingdom and the needs of the subjects under his care.
‘After telling the sage how the seven limbs of his kingdom were situated, King Mandhata asked the sage about his own situation, and if he was happy.
Then Angira Muni asked the king why he had undertaken such a difficult journey into the forest, and the king told him of the affliction his kingdom was suffering.
The king said, “Oh great sage, I am ruling and maintaining my kingdom while following the Vedic injunctions, and thus I do not know the reason for the drought.
To solve this mystery, I have approached you for help.
Please help me relieve the suffering of my subjects.
‘Angira Rishi said to the king, ‘The present age, Satya yuga, is the best of all ages, for in this age Dharma stands on all four legs (Truthfulness, Austerity, Mercy, and Cleanliness).
In this age everyone respects Brahmins as the topmost members of society.
Also, everyone fulfills his occupational duties, and only twice-born Brahmins are allowed to perform Vedic austerities and penances.
Although this is a standard, Oh lion among kings, there is one shudra (uninitiated, untrained person) who is unlawfully performing the rites of austerity and penance in your kingdom.
This is why there is no rain in your land.
You should therefore punish this laborer with death, for by so doing you will remove the contamination inflicted by his actions and restore peace to your subjects.
‘The king then replied, “How can I kill an offense-less performer of austerity and sacrifice?
Please give me some spiritual solution.
‘The great sage Angira Muni then said, “Oh king, you should observe a fast on the Ekadasi that occurs during the light fortnight of the month of Ashadha.
This auspicious day is named Padma Ekadasi, and by its influence plentiful rains and thus grains and other foodstuffs will surely return to your kingdom.
This Ekadasi bestows perfection upon its faithful observers, removes all kinds of bad elements, and destroys all obstacles on the path to perfection.
Oh king, you, your relatives, and your subjects should all observe this sacred Ekadasi fast.
Then everything in your kingdom will undoubtedly return to normal.
Upon hearing these words, the king offered his obeisances and then returned to his palace.
When the Padma Ekadasi arrived, King Mandhata assembled all the Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and shudras in his kingdom and instructed them to strictly observe this important fast day.
After they had observed it, the rains fell, just as the sage had predicted, and in due course of time there were abundant crops and a rich harvest of grain.
By the mercy of the Supreme Lord Hrishikesha, the master of the senses, all the subjects of King Mandhata became extremely happy and prosperous.
Therefore, Oh Narada, everyone should observe this Ekadasi fast very strictly, for it bestows all kinds of happiness, as well as ultimate liberation, upon the faithful devotee.’
Lord Sri Krishna concluded, “My dear Yudhishthira, Padma Ekadasi is so powerful that one who simply reads or hears its glories becomes completely sinless.
Oh Pandava, one who wishes to please Me should strictly observe this Ekadasi, which is also known as Deva-sayani Ekadasi.
Deva-sayani, or Vishnu-sayani, indicates the day when Lord Vishnu goes to sleep with all the devas (demigods).
It is said that after this day one should not perform any new auspicious ceremonies until Devotthani Ekadasi (Haribodhini (Probodhini) Devotthaani (Utthana) Ekadasi), which occurs during the month of Kartika (October – November), because the devas (demigods), being asleep, cannot be invited to the sacrificial arena and because the Sun is traveling along its Southern course (Dakshinayanam).
“Lord Sri Krishna continued, “Oh lion among kings, Yudhishthira Maharaj, whoever wants liberation should regularly observe a fast on this Ekadasi which is also the day when the Chaturmasya fast begins.
Thus ends the narration of the glories of the Ashadha-shukla Ekadasi – also known as PadmA Ekadasi or Deva-sayani Ekadasi – from the Bhavishya-uttara Purana.
Srimati Lalita devi, the most intimate and dear sakhi of Shrimati Radhika, who instructs and guides Shrimati Radhika in her dealings with Shyamsundar and who engages Rupa manjari and others in the service of the divine couple, appeared in this age of Kali as the very dear and intimate associate of Mahaprabhu, Shri Swaroop Damodar. Growing up in Nawadwip with Nimai Pandit,who was his very life and soul, he was known by the name Sri Purushottam acharya, but when Mahaprabhu performed the pastime of taking Sanyas, Purushottam acharya became like a madman and went to Varanasi, where he took sanyas from a Sanyasi named Chaitanyananda. Due to his not accepting the outwardly dress of a sanyasi, except for giving up his brahman thread and shikha, he was called Swaroop, which is a brahmachari name. Thereafter, following the order of his Guru he went to Shrikshetra Puri dham, where he met Mahaprabhu again and falling at his Lotus feet he begged for forgiveness for having gone away. Thereafter, he stayed in Puri with Mahaprabhu, assisting him in relishing the inner moods of Shrimati Radhika, along with Ray Ramananda, by reciting verses from the Gita Govinda, and verses composed by Chandi das and Vidyapati, in accordance with the mood of Mahaprabhu to highten his transcendental ecstacies. While residing there, any work written by any devotee would first be presented for approval to Sri Swaroop Damodar, who would check the consistency of the writings with the shastras, before it could be presented in front of Mahaprabhu. Being extremely dear to Mahaprabhu, Mahaprabhu placed Raghunath das Goswami, when he was present in puri, under the guidance of Sri Swaroop Damodar. After having served Mahaprabhu in this way and after Mahaprabhu brought to an end his manifest pastimes, Sri Swaroop Damodar Goswami left this world on the auspicious dwitiya tithi of the bright fortnight in the month of Asadh.
This day is also celebrated in Shridham Puri and throughout the entire World as Jagannath Rathayatra. On this day, Lord Jagannath, the master of the entire Universe, along with his elder brother Baladev and Subhadra, are seated on Beautiful Chariots constructed of wood, covered with beautiful canopies and decorated with traditional paintings. The Lords are carried from the temple to the Rath by placing them on numerous pillows as they sway back and forth in their majestic beauty on their way as millions of people from all over the world, gathered to take part and take darshan of the Lords on this day, watch on in utter amazement.Thereafter, the king of Odissa comes and taking the role of the servant of the Lord sweeps the path, and all the devotees join in tugging at the ropes of the Chariot to pull it forward. In this way the Lord starts his procession from the Jagannath temple to Gundica temple, where he will stay for a few days. This festival is symbolic of the pastime of taking Shri Krishna from Dwarka to Vrindavan. After having left Vrindavan and plunging all its inhabitants in an ocean of distress, Sri Krishna first sent Uddhav to pacify them and then later onwards Lord Balaram also went to Vrindavan, and seeing the distressed condition of the Vrajavasis he promised to bring Krishna to Vrindavan. However, for a long time after that also Krishna did not return to Vrindavan to desipate the burning fire of Separation of the Vrajavasis. This festival commamorates the pastime when Krishna finally goes to Vrindavan to meet all his beloved Vrajavasis, and remembering these pastimes Shri Chaitanya MAhaprabhu along with all his associated would sing and dance in ecstacy, and Mahaprabhu would display various transcendental sentiments. May the Lord of the Unniverse, Shri Jagannath dev, bestow his causeless mercy upon us all on this auspicious day.
All glories, All glories to the saptam goswami, the seventh gowami, Shrila Bhaktivinod Thakur, who reinstated the powerful surge of Pure devotional service which had slackened after the disappearance of Viswanath Chakravarti Thakur and his followers. Although materially highly educated and holding respectable government posts, he would always engage all his time, when he was not serving in his Post, in chanting the holy names of the Lord, studying the shastras and Writing books which are invaluable jems for all gaudiya vaishnavas. Bhaktivinod Thakur,who in his spiritual form is a maid servant of Shrimati Radharani named Kamala Manjari,authored about a hundred books in various languages, being a master in numerous languages such as Bengali, Hindi, Sanskrit, English, Urdu and others, which are full of Rasa tattva and explain, elaborate, complement, simplify and propogte the teachings of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and his followers, the six goswamis and others. His unparalleled pure genius works such as Shri Harinaam Chintamani, Krishna samhita, Jaiva Dharma, Shri Chaitanya Shikshamrita, Bhajan Rahasya, Shridham Navadwip Mahatmaya and Prema Pradip are but a few titles written by this most merciful personality, the appearance of whom and whose causeless mercy upon all the fallen conditioned souls is the sole reason for our good fortune of being in this Krishna Conciousness Movement. It was he, who,through his prayers, brought Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati PRabhupad to this world, who inturn instructed and inspired Shrila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami PRabhupad to preach in the western world and bring innumerable illusioned living entities to the shelter of the lotus feet of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Not only this, rather he also made a prediction of the appearance of a specail personality who would preach Krishna Conciousness in the western world and he also predicted that in the near future, foreign nationals from all over the world would join the Bengali vaishnavas in Shridham Mayapur and sing the glories of Mahaprabhu together, and sure enough, with his mercy, these predictions were fulfilled by Shrila Prabhupad. His mercy upon Prabhupad and the entire preaching of Krishna conciousness is such that in the year 1896, the very year that Abhay Charan De took birth, Shrila Thakur Bhaktivinod sent small booklets to some libraries in the west with a lengthy english introduction named, “Caitanya Manaprabhu, His life and “precepts” and thus planted the seed of preaching in the west, which was later on nourished and brought to success by Shrila Prabhupad. Besides having writter volumes upon volumes of treasure chests of Krishna bhakti in the from of his books, he also composed an estaunding number of Bhajans glorifying the vaishnavas and the Lord. In this age of Kali, prayers are considered to be the most powerful, but alas, we lack even the ability to pray properly and therefore Thakur Bhaktivinod has given us gitavali, sharanagati, kalyan kalpataru and gitamala, which are a storehouse of prayerful bhajans describing every aspect of bhakti, from prayers to the lotus feet of the vaishnavas,glorification of Mahaprabhu, Gaura Gadadhar, Nityananda PRabhu, Radha Krishna, to bhajans based on the Shikshashtakam and explaining
various other shlokas and tattvas described in the shastras. His contribution to the Vaishnava community, although unfathommable, includes another great benediction in the form of the excavation of the holy appearance place of Mahaprabhu, which was confirmed by Shrila Jagannath das Babaji maharaj, who was a renowned and respected vaishnava of the time and the shiksha guru of Bhaktivinod thakur, who although having taken intiation from Vipin Behari Goswami, was very close to Jaggannath das Babaji Maharaj. This great personality, whose mercy is of utmost importance for advancement in spiritual life, graced this amavasya tithi in the month of by chosing it as his disappearance day. And on this day we pray to his lotus feet to be blessed with Krihsna bhakti.
This day is also the holy disappearance day of Gadadhar Pandit, who is none other than Shrimati Radharani, appearing in this material world to bless the household of Madhava Mishra and Ratnavati devi and to assist Shri Chaitanya in fulfilling his innermost heart’s desire, to taste the mood of Shrimati Radharani and her love for Shyamsundar. In their childhood, both Gadadhar pandit and Nimai pandit were very close and intimate friends, going to each other’s houses to play and studying in the same school. However, unlike Mahaprabhu, who was a very naughty and proud young scholar, always eager to debate and defeat others in grammar, Gadadhar pandit was from the very beginning very sober and renounced, due to which he would
try and keep some distance from Nimai so as to not be challenged by him with various questions on grammar and nyayashastra. Growing up in Nawadwip, Gadadhar pandit, always being absorbed in devotion to the lotus feet of Krishna and being very dear to Mukunda datta, would often go with him to hear from any exalted vaishnava who would be visiting Nawadwip. Once the great devotee Pundarik Vidyanidhi came thereand both of them went to visit him. When Gadadhar pandit saw Pundarik Vidhyanidhi, his heart filled with doubt about Pundarik Vidyanidhi’s exalted position because of the external appearance that he had of being a person fully engrossed in the senses, as he was seated on a kingly couch chewing pan while being fanned by his servants. Understanding Gadadhar’s heart, Mukunda datta, with the intention to bring forth the true identity of Pundarik Vidyanidhi, recited a shloka from the Bhagwatam that described Krishna’s causeless mercy that he showed on Putana by giving her the position of a mother even though she had come with the intention to kill him. Despite the fact that she had smeared her breasts with poison, just due to her having performed the service of feeding him her milk, being extremely merciful, Krishna blessed her with the position of a mother. As soon as Pundarik Vidyanidhi heard this sholka, he immediately lost all composure and wept torrents of tears in love for Krishna and displayed various ecstatic symptoms such as hair standing on ending and rolling on the ground. Seeing this and realizing his mistake in having doubted the excellence of Pundarik Vidyanidhi’s devotion, Gadadhar pandit felt remorseful and in order to rectify himself he took shelter of the lotus feet of Pundarik Vidyanidhi and accepted him as his spiritual master. After some time, when Mahaprabhu had returned from Gaya and had started exhibiting his love for Madhav, he was once crying pitifully while calling out for his Prananath, Vrajendranandan Vanamali. Seeing Gadadhar coming near him, he asked,’’Where is Krishna?’’, to which, Gadadhar, after deliberating upon how to best answer his question, said that Krishna was in his heart. Hearing this Mahaprabhu without a moments delay started tearing at his chest and crying and saying that he wanted to open his heart so that he could see his Lord. Seeing Mahaprabhu like this Gadadhar pacified him and consoled him by saying that Krishna would be coming really soon. Sachimata, who had witnessed the entire incident, requested Gadadhar to henceforth always stay with Nimai and take care of him, as even she herself was afraid of going near him when he was in such a state because she did not know how to pacify him. Following Mother Sachi’s instruction Gadadhar would always stay with Mahaprabhu and therefore after Mahaprabhu accepted the Sanyas order of life and took up his residence in Shri Kshetra, Gadadhar pandit also moved to Puri dham and took Kshetra sanyas, in which he would never leave Jagannath puri. While residing there he would recite the Shrimad Bhagwatam for Shriman Mahaprabhu, and the various esoteric topics mentioned therein, such as the moods of the Gopis, which no one could explain better than him, as he was Shrimati Radhika herself, explaining her moods so that Mahaprabhu could imbibe them to the fullest and fulfill his desire to experience the love of Shrimati Radhika for Shyamsundar. However, due to Gadadhar pandit
being Shrimati Radharani herself, he would never be with Mahaprabhu in Gambhira, when he would be tasting the highest mellows of love, as in his presence he would not be able to give up his mood of being Krishna and would therefore not be able to taste the feelings of separation from Krishna as Shrimati Radhika feels. Once while sitting with Gadadhar on top of the Chatak parvat, which reminded Mahaprabhu of Govardhan hill, he dug up the deities of Gopinath, Shrimati Radharani and Lalite, which are still currently being worshiped in the Tota Gopinath temple nearby Yameshvar tota, and entrusted their worship to Gadadhar pandit, who very expertly carried out the service of Gopinath with great love and devotion. However, due to his service to Gopinath and his vow to never leave Shri Kshetra, he was unable to accompany Mahaprabhu to Vrindavan, which gave him immense grief, so much so that he was even willing to break all his vows to go with Mahaprabhu, but upon the insistence of Mahaprabhu he stayed back and carried on with his service instead of going with him. In this way he resided in Puri, always serving the deities of Tota Gopinath. The disappearance of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu nonetheless put Gadadhar pandit in such a state of excruciating pain of separation that he became old very fast, even though he was only 47 at that time and due to this, performing service to Gopinath was getting difficult for him. Seeing this Gopinath mercifully sat down and accepted his service in a sitting position. Yet, the pain of separation continued to be unbearable for him and therefore he also left his body just one year after Mahaprabhu, by entering into the deity of Tota Gopinath. Gadadhar pandit is truly a very special personality, as he is Shrimati Radharani herself, who came to help Krishna in understanding her mood. However, contrary to her general vaam(left wing) nature, in Gaur lila, in the form of Gadadhar, she is very submissive and acts as a servant trying to facilitate the mood of Mahaprabhu in whatever way possible. It is her mood that Mahaprabhu is trying to understand and without Gadadhar pandit his attempt would be incomplete and therefore he plays a very crucial role in Gaur lila and hence the worship of Gaur Gadadhar is considered to be the highest and many of our acharyas such as Bhaktivinod thakur and others have worshiped Gaur Gadadhar and therefore we pray to Gadadhar pandit to please bestow his mercy upon us so that we may be able to serve Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
This holy day marks yet another important festival which is Shri Gundica Marjana, the day when the temple of Gundica is cleansed in preparation of the arrival of Jagannath Dev, who will come to the temple the next day, riding on his chariot and accompanied by his sister Subhadra and elder brother Baladev. At the time when Mahaprabhu was performing his pastimes with his devotees in Jagannath puri, he would go with all his associates and clean the temple of Gundica. There would be transcendental competition in seeing who would accumulate the most amount of dust by vigorously cleaning the temple, and iín his ecstacy Mahaprabhu would always collect the biggest pile of dust. Taking this opportunity, the most fortunate devotee Kala Krishna das poured water on the lotus feet of Mahaprabhu and drinking that nectar he was submerged in an ocean of unprecedented spiritual ecstacy. Although outwardly feigning anger Mahaprabhu rebuked him for doing so, but internally he was pleased by his devotion. Along with cleaning the Gundica temple, the devotees would also clean the Nrasimha dev Temple near by and thereafter take a bath in the Narendra Sarovar, where they would enjoy various water sports, splashing each other with the refreshing waters and thus experiencing great joy. The great clean up would be followed by sumptuous prasad. Taking this day as a special occasion, let us all thoroughly cleanse our hearts with the nectar of the glories of the Lord and his devotees, so that we may become qualified for Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to come and take up residence in our hearts, for he is the sole propreitor of all the devotees hearts.