The full moon night of March 26 marked the 500th anniversary [Quincentennial] of Gaura-purnima, the appearance day of Sri Krsna a Caitanya Mahaprabhu [Lord Krsna Himself appearing as His own devotee to teach love of God through the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra]. The following is a diary kept on that day in the place where Lord Caitanya appeared, Mayapur, West Bengal.

I awake at 3:00 A.M. and sit up "Who am I on Gaura-purnima day?" I can recite that I'm a spirit soul, an eternal servant of Krsna. But that is a realization I'm still approaching.

The day begins in relative quietness. I can hear crickets. The overhead fan whirs. I hear the rustle of a devotee's sleeping bag in the next room. No kirtanas or car honks yet. A gasoline engine's constant drone drifts in over the rice fields maybe anirrigation pump. There are the shocking-bright flourescent green lights of a nearby temple. It's time for me to get up.

chanting japa on the roof. 
Full moon.

The crowds are so great that 1 feet content to stay busy within my room. Now the moon has faded, and the sky lightens. The sun is a bright, fresh orange rising in front of cloud banks. Sparrows congregate on the rug outside my door.

Now the sky is filled with blazing light. Breezes blow through the room. Prabhupada said these were "Vaikuntha breezes" from the spiritual world.

We're scheduled to hold a fire sacrifice now, and as usual, there's a delay in its starting.

While waiting, I very much like worshiping my small, personal deity of Srila Prabhupada. The fine silk of his clothing is pleasing to see and touch and place on his body. This place Mayapur is his place, and it is nice to think of him and serve him.

I reflect on how, after Srila Prabhupada's passing away, we are struggling, trying to worship him in separation. We are gradually becoming aware of his greatness, and we are developing the devotional techniques' of lila-smaranam (a technique by which a devotee can overcome the feelings of separation from Krsna and His intimate associates by remembering their pastimes).

The altar here is a table covered with yellow silk cloth, and today's offering of flowers is fresh and bright. Even simple elements: clear water bathing Prabhupada's body, filtered sunlight gently entering the room, soft breezes all these take on a quality of great opulence and pleasure. To be involved in such worship is sublime.

I like the auspiciousness of this occasion. I like that I can perceive that suspiciousness to some degree. Our own ISKCON Mayapur activities combine with the sounds of kirtana and activity at the nearby temples to produce a vibration that seems to transform all heaven and earth. The blue of the sky, the green of the land, the silent silver sheet of Ganges water Lord Caitanya's Bengal.

By 12:30 it's very hot. The sun blazes. I Just returned from the sacrificial arena, where I initiated Niranjana Swami into the renounced order. Now I'm back up in my room sitting, somewhat dazed, in thoughts about what a rich field for preaching Niranjana Swami has in New England. I hope to assist him there.

I'm aware of my limits. I'm ill and sometimes in pain. Mostly I relax between exertions, planning to make a greater effort when the G.B.C. meetings start despite the pain. I will try to spend a good part of each day at the meetings.

The Quincentennial celebrations have spawned meetings with top government leaders in India. Today, Acaryapada goes to Calcutta to join in a commemorative ceremony with the president of India. Gopala Krsna Goswami attended a program in New Delhi, in which Prime Minister Gandhi took part. The moon should rise in an hour, beginning the 501st year since Lord Caitanya's appearance.

Holiest day
One side of their hats turned up,
policemen move the crowds.

Gaura-purnima moon
Waiting for the cooling rays
of the night.

Walking on the road,
pilgrims in white
in the sunlight.

With drums and cymbals,
hour by hour,
sun moves westward.

Devotees are waiting for moonrise when they may break their fast and relish the taste of krsna-prasadam. "Today," Acaryadeva joked, "everyone is a devotee of the moon."

Although moonrise was at four P.M., it's now six-thirty and still the moon is not perceivable in the sky. Now (at 6:35 P.M.) I see it from the roof a perfectly-round, but hazy-yellow moon. The astronauts didn't go there. It's the planet of Candraloka, a heavenly (though material) abode. The familiar-but-mysterious moon planet: controller of tides; giver of taste to vegetables; appearing sometimes pock-marked but always beautiful; sending cool rays to end the day's heat.

Tonight the moon is more than on other nights. It's a wonderful way the Lord signals His advent. When Lord Caitanya appeared the moon was eclipsed, yet everyone chanted the holy name. Now we look to the moon, which is golden like Gauranga, (a name of Lord Caitanya meaning "one whose limbs are golden"), and it helps us understand the blessings of Lord Caitanya and His sankirtana (the congregational chanting of God's divine names).

It feels good to be here in Mayapur. It's hard to imagine that any other place on earth affords such an intimate touch with Gaura-purnima.

The pavement is still warm to bare feet. The air smells sweet. We're out in the West Bengal farmland, in the heartbeat of Lord Caitanya's advent celebration. When, one day, celebrations like this unite the whole world, even then Mayapur will be the capital for celebrating Gaura-purnima.

Whoever is here at this time is very fortunate. Something wonderful is happening, and even we who cannot fully appreciate it accept the benefit.

Full moon,
the avatara appears
in a golden form.

It's a blessed land where almost everyone knows "Gauranga," "Mahaprabhu," "Nitai-Gaura." Thousands of devotees of Lord Caitanya break their fasts, clapping hands and reciting prayers, chanting God's names, honoring Bengali-style prasadam. SDG