Which day on the Vaisnava calendar has special significance for you, and why?
SRI KRSNA JANMASTAMI is the most special day of the year for me. Celebrating the appearance anniversary of the Supreme Lord, Sri Krsna, is a very happy occasion, especially in the association of devotees.
I joined the Hare Krsna movement on my eighteenth birthday, which happened to fall on Janmastami, August 11, 1974. Two weeks earlier in Chicago I had met the Rad ha Damodara Traveling Sankirtana Party, headed by Visnujana Maharaja and Tamal Krsna Goswami. After hearing the beautiful chanting of Visnujana Maharaja and the ex pert preaching of Tamal Krsna Goswami, I wanted to join their bus group.
I remembered hearing that they were going to New Vrndavana in West Virginia to celebrate Janmagami. So I took a Greyhound bus from my home in Wisconsin to West Virginia, walked onto the grounds, and immediately saw the RDTSKP bus. When I approached the bus I met Drgadyumna Prabhu, who introdu ced me to the two sannyasis. I asked if I could join, and soon after Drstadyumna was shaving my head. After taking a shower and receiving my first set of devotee cl oth es, I joined the ecstatic kirtanas. There is nothing more satisfying than congregational chanting of the names of God.
I realize that my real self-interest is Krsna consciousness and that my real friends are the devotees, who are selflessly trying to enlighten fallen conditioned souls like me.
(Bhagavan Acarya Dasa Kenosha, Wisconsin, USA)
TO ACHIEVE MERCY of Radha: and Krsna one needs to approach the mercy of Lord Nityananda. The ocean of Lord's mercy was formerly sealed tight. Lord Nityananda, however, cut a channel in the boundary wall to allow great flooding waves of nectarine prema to splash from house to house and drown the entire world in the ecstasy of love of God. For distributing krsna-prema He tolerated offenders, abominable acts of sinners, and showed causeless mercy on suffering souls. Today's world is looking for peace and solace that is possible only by firmly catching hold of His lotus feet. By His mercy most fallen person like me could take up chanting Hare Krsna and as eternal guru He can take us out of the material existence. This hope and faith makes Nityananda Trayadasi my favorite event of the year.
SRILA PRABHUPADA'S appearance day is my favorite holiday because on that day devotees reveal thr ough the ir heartfelt offerings the inspiration behind their life of devotional service to Srila Prabhupada and his mission. It's also special because you hear Prabhupada stories you never heard and relish again those you have heard many times.
Prabhupada brings everyone togeth er. His Vyasa- puja day brings out the best in all of us and pools our inspiration , giving us spiritual strength for another year of service. Not only that, but the feast on that day, cooked with great devotion and one of the most opulent of the year, often features his favorites, like kacauris, karela, and laddu a very pl easant way to remember Prabhupada.
(Krsna Krpa Dasa Mayapur, West Bengal)
ONE FESTIVAL, WHICH portrays the inherent mood of Gaudiya Vaisnava festivals to its pinnacle, is Gaura-purnima, the divine appearance day of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. It is a day when we engage in the yugadharma of the congregational chanting of the hoIy names, hear the transcendental pastimes and instructions of the Lord , glorify the Lord by performing His abhiseka and partaking His prasada. Most importantly, it is the day where we express our gratitude to the most munificent incarnation that has appeared to deliver the most fallen . As a great Vaisnava saint prays,
yadi gaura na haito, tabe ki haito,
kemane dharitam de
radhar mahima, prema-rasa-sima,
jagate janata ke
"If Lord Gaura had n ot appeared as the yuga-avatara in this age of Kali, then what would have become of us? How could we have tolerated living? Who in this universe would have ever learned about the topmost limits of loving mellows that comprise the glory of Sri Radha?" Hence Gaura-purnima is my favorite festival.
(ChandraShekhar, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh)
IN VAISNAVA CALENDER, Ekadasi holds the most significance for me. This is because all material and spiritual problems can be solved if one seriously observes fast on the Ekadasi day. As long as one is filled with sin , no solutions to one's real problems can be reached. Therefore one must first try to become free from sins. The Brahma-vaivarta Purana, states, "In this world there are only two concrete procedures for attaining liberation and atoning for one's sins. They are fasting on the Ekadasi days and chanting of the names of Supreme Lord Sri Hari.(Krsna)". Lord Krsna also confirms while telling to Arjuna (Chapter 1), "If a person fasts on Ekadasi, I will burn up all his sins and bestow upon him My transcendental abode."
Indeed, Ekadasi is the most meritorious day for destroying all kinds of sins, and it has appeared in order to benefit everyone.
(Rajesh Kumar Mishra, BARC, Mumbai)