nityananda namastubhyam premananda-pradayine
kalau kalmasa-nasaya jahnava-pataye namah
I offer pranama unto Sri Nityananda Prabhu who bestows the bliss of divine love, who eliminates the filth of the age of Kali, and who is the master of Jahnava-devi.
On Trayodashi tithi of the auspicious Magha maas(feb-march), just after Vasant Panchami, when the earth is covered in beautiful and fragrant flowers blooming everywhere, the moon of Nityananda ray arose from the womb of Devi Padmavati in the most sanctified village of Ekachakra, giving unlimited bliss to Hadai Pandit, lord Nityananda’s father and all the other Vaishnavas. Lord Nityananda performed his inconceivably enchanting and amazing pastimes first in Ekachakra, after which he travelled to various places of pilgrimage and then joined shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in Shridham Mayapur and together the two brothers drowned the entire universe in the loud and ecstatic chanting of the Hare Krishna Mahamantra.
Lord Nityananda is even more merciful than the munificent Lord Gaurahari and the two lotus feet of his, which are as cooling as million of moons(nitai-pada-kamala, koti-candra-susitala) are the only shelter for the aspiring devotees of Lord Gaurahari in this age of Kali, which is full of miseries. Lord Nityananda very mercifully enundated the entire universe with Krishna Prem and distributed love of good head without considering whether one is qualified or not. Jahnavapati Nityananda ram is Lord Balaram himself(balarāma hoilo nitāi) and is akhanda guru tattva, he is the one who shows the devotee the path to spiritual advancement, without his mercy one cannot even hope to attain the lotus feet of Gaurangadev.
On the divine appearance day of Lord Nityananda all the devotees assemble in the Krishna Balaram mandir in Shri Vrindavan dham for the morning program. At 7:30, when the altars open, lord Nitai, exquisitely dressed in a new outfit and bedecked with beautiful ornaments and flowers, steals away the hearts of all the devotees gathered there to receive a drop of mercy from the most merciful Nitai. The ocean of the endless glories of Nitai is then discussed till it is time for the Abhishek of their Lordships Gaur Nitai. The Lords shower the Vaishnavas with unlimited transcendental bliss during this bathing ceremony which is accompanied by Kirtan enthused with Krishna prem. This beautiful bathing ceremony is followed by a lavish bhoga offering to the Lords prepared by devotees with the desire to please Nitai. Following the aratik that is offered to the deities after the bhoga offering, is a feast for all the devotees, who had been fasting till noon to celebrate the occasion. In this way Nityananda Trayodashi is beautifully observed in ISKCON Vrindavan.
Vasant Panchami, the Fifth day of the waxing moon in Magha maas, marks the beginning of spring in India, and the beginning of the festivities of Holi in Vraja. On this day the Lords in Shri Krishna Balaram Mandir, Iskcon Vrindavan, and all the other temples in Vraja, are dressed and decorated in yellow garments, jewels and flowers. Following in the same mood of the festival, many of the devotees also dress in yellow garments. The Lords are offered various dishes with kesar and other yellow ingredients that make the foodstuffs also match the overall color code of the festival. From this day forth, the colorful festival of Holi, in which Brajendrananadan Krishna and the gopis headed by Shrimati Radhika engage in throwing flower petals, colored powders and colored water on each other in a transcendental love battle, is celebrated for 40 days in different parts of Vrindavan. The transcendental pastime of Vasant raas also took place on this auspicious night in Govardhan at Chandra sarovar, in which the moon stood still to take darshan of this divine dance for the duration of one night of Lord Brahma, which is equals to trillions of years on this earthly planet.
This day also marks the appearance day of Shrimati Vishnupriya devi, the consort of Mahaprabhu, who is an embodiment of divine love. At the very tender age of 16, her husband Prem Purushottam Mahaprabhu took sannyas, leaving her in a state of great distress and separation. After Mahaprabhu’s sannyas, for the rest of her life she spent her time chanting and singing the glories of Krishna and the Lord of her life, Gauranga. She would put aside a grain of rice after every mantra of Hare Krishna that she would chant and after chanting whole morning, she would cook the rice that she had put aside and offer it to her deity of Mahaprabhu, whom she used to worship day and night with tears of love and devotion streaming forth from her beautiful eyes. Thereafter she would offer the rice to her dear mother in law, Sachi mata, and only eat whatever was remaining after Sachi mata had eaten. In this way she spent her life in the remembrance of her husband, who is none other than Brajendranandan Shyamsundar.
Radhunath das goswami also blessed this world by appearing on this very day. After having received the mercy of Lord Nityananda in Panihatti and organizing the great festival of Panihatti chidadahi in accordance with his instructions, he submitted himself in the lotus feet of Mahaprubhi in Shri Ksherta Puri dham , where Mahaprabhu put him under the care of Swarup damodar, under whose guidance Raghunath das goswami received all spiritual knowledge. Mahaprabhu also blessed Raghunath with his own personal Giriraj shila, whom he used to worship and a Gunja bead necklace, that Mahaprabhu used to worship as Shrimati Radharani. After the disappearance of Lord Chaitanya and his associates, Raghunath das goswami was grief stricken, and with the intention to give up his body by jumping in the Jamuna or jumping from Govardhan, he came to Shri Vrindavan dham, where Srila Rupa and Sanatan goswami consoled him. Thereafter Raghunath das goswami started residing at Radhakund, regularly associating with the other goswamis in Vrindavan, writing bhakti shastras and always immersed in transcendental mellows of Krishna prem. Raghunath das goswami is the prayojan acharya and has blessed the entire devotee community with great literatures as Manah shiksha, Vilap kusumanjali and others.
This auspicious day of Vasant panchami is also the disappearance day of Shrila Vishwanath chakravarty thakur, who is a manifestation of Srila Rupa goswami. Srila Vishwanath chakravarty thakur re-established the flow of pure devotion which had slackened after the disappearance of Narottama das thakur, Shrinivas and Shyamananda prabhu. While residing in Vraja, he made a great contribution to the treasure of gaudiya literatue in the form of many commentaries and books of his own, such as Raga vartama chandrika, Camatkar chandrika, Prem samputa, Vraja riti chintamani, Bhakti rasamrita sindhu bindhu, Ujjvala nilmani kiran and many others. His mercy is of utmost importance for anyone aspiring to make advancement in Krishna bhakti.
In this way the auspicious day of Vasant panchami is celebrated in Iskcon vrindavan by discussing about the various sweet pastimes performed by the Lord on this day and glorifying the various devotees of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
The pleasant evening atmosphere on the auspicious Purnima day in the month of Phalgun, filled with the sweet scent of the spring season, is surcharged in the Krishna Balaram Mandir, by tumultuous Kirtan being performed to celebrate the holy appearance day of the most munificent Lord, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who is an ocean of mercy. It was on this day, 500 years ago, that the spotless moon of Gaurahari, arose from the ocean of mother Sachi’s womb, giving pleasure to the hearts of all the vaishnavas, during a lunar eclipse, when the entire atmosphere was filled with the chanting of the holy names of the Lord. During the uproarious Kirtan of the Mahamantra in the temple hall of Iskcon Vrindavan, the Abhishek ceremony is performed of the beautiful deities of Gaur Nitai, the sweet smiles on whose brilliant faces, which defeat the luster of millions of moons, drip with nectar and are the resting place of the minds of the Vaishnavas. After having heard the glories of the father of the Sankirtan yajna, the yuga dharma for this age of kali, Shri Gaurasundar, in the class, which followed the morning program, all the devotees engaged themselves in various services for the pleasure of lord, such as cooking, preparing flower garlands, performing harinaam sankirtan, preparing for the abhishek and so forth. When all arrangements are completed, the devotees assemble for the Abhishek and submerge in the ocean of transcendental esctacy. After the Abhishek, the lords are dressed and decorated in one of the two new outfits that are made for the pleasure of the lord to celebrate the appearance of Sachinandana. The Lords are then offered a sumptuous offering comprising of many varieties of rice, dals, subjis, savouris, sweets and many other palatable dishes, cooked by devotees with love and affection. After the bhoga offering, the most ecstatic Gaura arati is performed, which transports the assembled vaishnavas to the bank of the jahnavi river in the transcendental abode of Swetadwip Navadwip, where they drown in the ocean of prem, while Lord Brahma performes arati of Lord Gaurachandra seated on a golden asana surrounded by his eternal associates as Lord Nityanada, Gadadhar, Advaita, Shrivas and many more, and Shiv, Shuka, Narada and others experience transcendental bliss. After the Gaura arati, all the devotees, who had been observing a fast till dusk for the pleasure of the Lord, honour Ekadashi Prasad. In this way, Gaur purnima, one of the most important festivals for the gaudiya vaishnavas, is celebrated in Iskcon temple in Shridham Vrindavan with great jubilation by all the Vaishnavas.
This day is indeed of great import for all the devotees in the Gaudiya vaishnava sampradaya, who are aspiring to attain the rare gem of raganuga bhakti following in the footsteps of Srila Rupa goswami, one of the chief associates of Mahaprabhu. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is none other than Shyamsundar himself, who descended on this earthly planet with the complexion and mood of Shrimati Radhika. The previous Acharyas have explained the various internal and external purposes for the lords descent in the form of this hidden avatar in this age of kali. Our Guruvarga has explained that the Supreme Personality of Godhead Shri Krishna was eager to understand the greatness of the love that Shrimati radharani has for him, to taste the sweetness of his own form and to experience the happiness that Shrimati Radhika feels when she relishes his sweetness, and to fulfill his these desires he appeared as Gauranga. Along with these highly esoteric and confidential reasons for his descent, the Lord also appeared on this earth on the request of Shrila Advaita acharya, who was feeling greatly aggrieved seeing the deteriorating morality and spiritual inclination of the general populace due to the advancement of the age of kali and therefore, for the welfare of the living entities, implored the Lord with his prayers to come and save the conditioned souls from the hellish condition of material life. Being thus requested by Advaita acharya, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came to deliver the most fallen souls from the clutches of Maya, by spreading the yugadharma, the chanting of the holy names of the lord. He travelled throughout the country, singing and chanting the holy names of the lord, transforming the hearts of all those who heard him and infused within their hearts shudha Krishna bhakti. The most magnanimous Lord Gauranga, resplendent with the radiance of molten gold, came to freely distribute that highest and most confidential aspect of devotional service, namely the conjugal love of Radha and Krishna, which was never before bestowed by any other incarnation.
anarpita-carīṁ cirāt karuṇayāvatīrṇaḥ kalau
samarpayitum unnatojjvala-rasāṁ sva-bhakti-śriyam
sadā hṛdaya-kandare sphuratu vaḥ śacī-nandanaḥ
Therefore, all the Gaudiya vaishnavas, knowing Shri Gauranga to be Shri Krishna himself, appearing to bestow upon one and all the most nectarian devotional service to his own two lotus feet, consider him to be their life and soul, begging to be the recipient of a particle of his mercy. May that Sachinandan Gaurahari be pleased with all of us and kindly grant us the service to his lotus feet.