Which day on the Vaishnava calendar has special significance for you, and why?
For me, it is Pandava-nirjala Ekadashi, as I like to spend all day focusing on chanting and reading. The long hours of continuous fasting help me get my mind off the day-to-day pressures of work-life and focus all my attention and energy on the holy name and Prabhupada’s books. I try to chant as many rounds as possible, beginning from the morning itself, so that other things which enter and keep pestering the mind on a routine day will not do so. The continuous absorption in the holy name rejuvenates me spiritually for the rest of the year. I feel that it is necessary to have a day of intense spiritual activity once in a while to help us to increase our absorption in the holy name. Pandava-nirjala Ekadashi is that day for me. (Nikhil,Mumbai)
The appearance day of Lord Nityananda Prabhu is very special. Srila Narottama Dasa Thakura writes, nitai pada-kamala, koti-candra susitala: “The lotus feet of Lord Nityananda are as cooling as millions of moons.” He also writes, balarama hoilo nitai: “Lord Balarama appeared as Lord Nityananda.”
Lord Nityananda Prabhu represents spiritual strength and infinite mercy, both of which I sorely need to successfully complete my journey back to Godhead.
Sri Nityananda Prabhu is the original spiritual master, and He shows special mercy to even the most fallen souls, such as Jagai and Madhai, who attacked Him. When Lord Caitanya wanted to kill these sinful brothers for their offensive attack, Lord Nityananda stopped Him by reminding Him that saving such sinful souls was Their mission in this world.
I have always been very fond of Lord Balarama, and in fact my namesake is Dasarha, Lord Balarama’s forefather. I pray for the causeless mercy of Sri Nityananda Prabhu. (Dasarha Dasa Marble, North Carolina, USA)
All the days are special, but the appearance day and disappearance day of Srila Prabhupada are the most special. I can’t imagine the material world without His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada. He has saved us. Even though we are in this material world, there’s nothing better than Krishna consciousness. I pray that in my next life I can be a fulltime devotee of the Lord.
Without Srila Prabhupada we in the West would not have known this wonderful ISKCON. My husband and I live in Port Elizabeth, and by Srila Prabhupada’s mercy we are able to assist with the building of the temple. We are determined to build it, and we know that Srila Prabhupada will give us the necessary knowledge and guidance. (Vrindadevi Mothan Port Elizabeth, South Africa)
Jayananda Prabhu’s disappearance day is very important. With topmost humility he guides us and allows us to help him serve Srila Prabhupada. I use the word allows because Jayananda Prabhu takes the bums, drunkards, and otherwise useless conditioned souls and gives them the taste of devotional service. After he gives us this taste, we are rescued by the bhakti he exemplified. (A.D. Hill Blue Ridge, Georgia, USA)
Srila Prabhupada’s appearance day a special day to remember him, because without his temples, books, and devotees, I wonder if my spiritual life would have ever reawakened. (Sathiya RamaKrishnan Brisbane, Australia)
“Tun tun tun tun…boom…boom… boom…pani…pani…pani…Jai
Jagannatha, Jai Jagannatha, Jai Jagannatha…” – this is how the whole ether echoes as the sun peeps through the clouds to take darshana of his master on the auspicious day of Jagannatha Ratha-yatra. The road turns into an ocean of devotees; and crossing across is almost an impossibility. As lakhs of people from various cults, nations and beliefs single pointedly gaze at Simhadvara, majestically arrives Jagannatha being carried by His dear associates. The peacock feather crown over His head sways to and fro, as the Lord dances as if intoxicated. Increasing the eagerness for His darshana, the Lord moves ahead towards the chariot surrounded by pujaris. The moment when the pujaris mount the Lord on the chariot, the devotees’ excitement peaks and tumultuous “Jai Jagannath” springs out from their hearts. Transcending the limitations of the body, the devotees enjoy the whole day glorifying the Lord, pulling the cart, running and dancing along the way to Gundica. (Sudhira)
Perhaps Janmashtami is that day. Only the Supreme Lord can shower real mercy on us.
But without the mercy of Srimati Radharani we cannot access the mercy of Krishna. So Radhastami. . . But without Lord Gauranga how I would have ever learnt about the glory of Sri Radha? So Gaura-purnima holds the most significance for me. . . Mahaprahu delivered many like Sarvabauma Bhattacharya, Prakasanada Sarasvati and Keshava-Kashmiri. But I am not a scholar, high-class brahmana or sannyasi unto likes of whom Mahaprabhu showered His mercy. My only shelter is Nityananda Prabhu who displays inconceivable mercy & pays no attention to one’s caste, wealth, knowledge or physical ability. So Nityananda Trayodasi. . .
But who brought me to Sri Nityananda Prabhu who appeared about 500 years ago? Who but His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada? Hence, his appearance day holds the most significance to me. Srila Prabhupada not only added His own divine appearance to my calendar but along with it, added all the others. (Brajsvamini Devi Dasi)
One day that is most special to me is Radhashtami. Srimati Radharani is the pleasure potency of the Lord, and the embodiment of all devotional service, of pure love. It is only by Her causeless mercy that we can possibly be accepted by Sri Krishna in His transcendental loving service. This special occasion of Radhashtami gives us an opportunity to hear about and remember Her exalted position and to take shelter at Her lotus feet.
On this day, we should try to seriously think about how we can assist our spiritual master best in his service to Srimati Radharani, and resolve to act in that way; and if we’re fortunate, we’ll receive the merciful glance of Srimati Radharani and thus of Lord Radhanatha. (Ankit Verma)
Gaura-purnima is the most significant date in Vaishnava calendar in my opinion. Krishna’s appearance in kali yuga as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the most auspicious day for all the conditioned souls of kali yuga. There is no limit to how much mercy He showered and still showering through His sincere followers. It is only by the causeless mercy of Caitanya Mahaprabhu that we are all able to chant the holy names of Krishna. No amounts of pious credits can award us Krishna bhatki. It is possible only by the mercy of Lord and His devotees. Whole ISKCON is the expansion of Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s sankirtana movement started 500 years ago in Nadia of West Bengal. Gauranga’s mercy is our hope to perform devotional service. There is no other way, no other way, no other way. No wonder a vaishnava acharya sings “yadi gaura na hoito……tabe ki hoito.” (Hari Caitanya)
(Many other readers have written on this topic. Their responses will be published in the next column.)