By:Mahanidhi Swami

Although most Vaisnava calendars mention this vow, on this day Gaudiyas usually focus on worshiping Haridasa Thakura. Some also observe the tirobhava of Srila Kavi Karnapura. The Ananta Chaturdashi Vrata is not described in Hari-bhakti vilasa, but is observed throughout India with the utmost devotion and great festivity with lots of sweets and special prasadam dishes. For devotees desiring to observe this vrata, we offer the following suggestions based on sastra and the consideration of pure devotion.

*What is the Ananta Chaturdashi Vrata?

Today, the fourteenth day of the bright fortnight of Bhadra (sukla chaturdashi, is the appearance day of Ananta Padmanabha, Lord Vishnu’s transcendental form reclining on the serpent Ananta floating on the sea. The Mahabharata describes how Shri Krishna advised Yudhishthira to observe the Ananta Vrata for 14 years in order to regain his kingdom after the Pandavas’ exile.

At that time, King Yudhishthira asked Sri Krishna what Ananta represents. In response, Bhagavan Sri Krishna showed His universal form, Vishvarupa, and said, “I am Ananta—endless time. You may call me Hari, Vishnu, Krishna, Shiva, Surya, Adi Shesha or Brahma. I am the Paramatma residing in the hearts of all creatures, and I descend in different forms to protect the righteous and punish the demoniac. In Me rest all the 14 lokas, 14 indras, 12 adityas, 11 rudras, 8 vasus, 7 rishis, the earth, sky, rivers and mountains.”

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu visited the South Indian temple of Ananta Padmanabha and felt great bliss relishing the Lord’s darshana for three days consecutively, darshana anande dekhite. (Cc. 2.9.242)

*What are the benefits of observing the Ananta Vrata?

The word ananta means endless, so following this vrata vow removes all the endless difficulties of material life. It is called a “kamya vrata” because it is usually observed to fulfill material desires; mainly to regain lost prosperity, glory or fame. It removes all difficulties, destroys sins, and protects one from all enemies. Devotees observe it with the desire to remove all the obstacles, inimical thoughts and inner difficulties which keep us from enthusiastically serving Radha-Krishna with pure love and devotion.

* How to observe it?

Srila Prabhupada briefly stated how to observe it: “Because that is Ananta Chaturdasi Vrata, generally fasting is observed till evening, up to 5 o’clock.” (720311RC.VRN)

Rise early in the morning, bathe and take a sankalpa, a solemn promise or oath, to strictly follow this vrata. Sastra recommended one does it every year on this day for 14 years! Avoiding salt, eat only milk and fruits.

The main ritual is to prepare a cotton band of 14 individual threads or a string with 14 knots colored with kumkum and turmeric, and offer it to a picture of Lord Ananta Vishnu (see bbt sb 3.2), or a Deity of sarva-avatari svayam Bhagavan Sri Krishna. Then tie this string, the raksha-sutra, on the wrist (men:right; women:left) while chanting the mantra:

ananta sansar mahaa samudre,

magnan sam abhyuddhar vaasudeva,

ananta rupey vini yojitam mahya,

ananta rupey namoh namastute.

Worship the Lord with sandalwood paste, tulasi, a sumptuous bhoga offering and a full arotika with lots of fragrant flowers. Lord Ananta Vishnu especially likes sweet puris made of pumpkin. Accompany all aspects of the puja while chanting the mantra “Om anantay namoh namaha”.

Sastra says on this day one should also worship Sesha Naga and Yamuna-devi with bhoga, arotik and prayers. Prayers to Lord Balarama or Lord Nityananda (Nityananda Astakam) would suffice for Ananta Sesha since He is Baladeva’s expansion. And chanting Srila Rupa Goswamipada’s Yamunastakam would greatly please Kalindi Maharani and secure her divine blessings.

Yamunastakam

bhrätur antakasya pattane abhipatti-häriëé

prekñayäti-päpino api päpa-sindhu-täriëé

néra-mädhurébhir apy açeña-citta-bandhiné

mäà punätu sarvadäravinda-bandhu-nandiné

“May Yamunä-devé, the daughter of Sürya the sun-god, always purify me. One who touches Yamuna does not go to Yamaraja, her brother, and merely seeing her destroys all sins. The attractive blue water of the Yamuna captivates everyone’s heart.”

häri-väri-dhärayäbhimaëòitoru-khäëòavä

puëòaréka-maëòalodyad-aëòajäli-täëòavä

snäna-käma-pämarogra-päpa-sampad-andhiné

mäà punätu sarvadäravinda-bandhu-nandiné

“Yamunä-devé adorns Indra’s massive Khäëòava forest with her enchanting current, and upon her blooming white lotuses, birds such as wagtails always dance. Simply desiring to bathe in her crystalline waters frees one from the greatest of sins. May Surya’s daughter Yamunä-devé always purify me.”

çékaräbhimåñöa-jantu-durvipäka-mardiné

nanda-nandanäntaraìga-bhakti-püra-vardhiné

téra-saìgamäbhiläñi-maìgalänubandhiné

mäà punätu sarvadäravinda-bandhu-nandiné

“Sprinkling a drop of Yamuna upon oneself frees one from the greatest sin. Yamunaji increases the flow of devotion for Nanda-nandana within one’s heart and benedicts anyone who simply desires to reside on her banks. May Surya’s daughter Yamunä-devé always purify me.”

dvépa-cakraväla-juñöa-sapta-sindhu-bhediné

çré-mukunda-nirmitoru-divya-keli-vediné

känti-kandalébhir indranéla-vånda-nindiné

mäà punätu sarvadäravinda-bandhu-nandiné

“Yamunä-devé is so inconceivably powerful that although she flows through the seven oceans which surround the earth’s seven giant islands, she never merges into them as ordinary rivers do. Being an intimate part of Sri Mukunda’s wonderful pastimes, Yamuna-devi manifests those pastimes in the hearts of those who take shelter of her. Her dark, shimmering beauty defeats even that of a precious blue sapphire. May Surya’s daughter Yamunä-devé always purify me.”

mäthureëa maëòalena cäruëäbhimaëòitä

prema-naddha-vaiñëavädhva-vardhanäya paëòitä

ürmi-dor-viläsa-padmanäbha-päda-vandiné

mäà punätu sarvadäravinda-bandhu-nandiné

“Ornamented by the supremely enchanting land of Mathurä-maëòala, Yamunä-devé inspires spontaneous devotion in the hearts of the loving Vaiñëavas who bathe in her waters. With her waves, which are like playful arms, she worships Çré Kåñëa’s lotus feet. May Surya’s daughter Yamunä-devé always purify me.”

ramya-téra-rambhamäëa-go-kadamba-bhüñitä

divya-gandha-bhäk-kadamba-puñpa-räji-rüñitä

nanda-sünu-bhakta-saìgha-saìgamäbhinandiné

mäà punätu sarvadäravinda-bandhu-nandiné

“Yamunä-devé’s supremely attractive banks are further beautified by the celestial fragrance emanating from the flowers of the kadamba trees and by the presence of mooing cows. She is especially delighted when Nanda-läla’s devotees assemble on those banks. May Surya’s daughter Yamunä-devé always purify me”

phulla-pakña-mallikäkña-haàsa-lakña-küjitä

bhakti-viddha-deva-siddha-kinnaräli-püjitä

téra-gandhaväha-gandha-janma-bandha-randhiné

mäà punätu sarvadäravinda-bandhu-nandiné

“Hundreds of thousands of swans glide along Her waters. Yamuna-devi is worshiped by the demigods, siddhas, Kinnaras, and devotees of Sri Hari. Anyone who is touched by her gentle breezes is released from the cycle of birth and death. May Surya’s daughter Yamunä-devé always purify me.”

cid-viläsa-väri-püra-bhür-bhuvaù-svar-äpiné

kértitäpi durmadaru-päpa-marma-täpiné

ballavendra-nandanäìgaräga-bhaìga-gandhiné

mäà punätu sarvadäravinda-bandhu-nandiné

“Yamunä-devé distributes transcendental knowledge throughout the lokas Bhüù, Bhuvaù, and Svaù as she flows through them. Singing her glories burns to ashes the reactions of the greatest of sins. She has become supremely fragrant due to the sandal paste from Çré Kåñëa’s body melting in her waters as He enjoys His water-sports. May Surya’s daughter Yamunä-devé always purify me.”

tuñöa-buddhir añöakena nirmalormi-ceñöitäà

tväm anena bhänu-putri! sarva-deva-veñöitäà

yaù stavéti vardhayasva sarva-päpa-mocane

bhakti-püram asya devé! puëòaréka-locane

“Hey Sürya-putré! Devé! O Yamune, whose forceful waves are so purifying and who is surrounded by all the demigods! O Yamuna-devi, please increase the current of bhakti for Pundarika-lochana, who frees all from their sins, for that peaceful, intelligent person who recites this prayer.”

Ananta Padmanabha Swami ki jai!

Ananta Chaturdashi Vrata ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

By: Mahanidhi Swami

While visiting New Delhi one day, I noticed a short message repeated over and over again on a boundary wall beside a main road. Everyday thousands of people read that message which says, “Do One Good Deed Today”. Of course, this is a good maxim to live by, but why is it repeated on this particular wall? Inside this wall lies a cremation ground where people lie for their last time. So the message is reminding you, me and all of us to do something good before it’s too late.

In the balance of this article, I will quote Hari-bhakti Vilasa (14) to mention some good deeds one can perform during this most auspicious month of Vaishakha aka Madhusudana (16 April-14 May). Of twelve, Vaishakha, Magha, and Kartika are considered the best because pious acts done in these months give tremendous benefits to the performer. The following significant events occur in Vaishakha month: Radha-Krishna Candana Yatra, Bhagavan Nrsinghadeva appears, Ganga appears on earth, and Vishnu creates the barley grain.

The following good deeds can be done daily or whenever you can: public Harinama Sankirtana; dhama parikrama; read Bhagavatam; attend Gita class; upgrade Thakurji sevas; serve saints; eat once a day; bathe in a holy place (best before sunrise); and to good spiritual persons give charity of cow ghee, umbrellas, shoes, cloth, money, and sesame seeds alone or mixed with honey.

Special days to DEFINITELY observe:

MAY 2 FRIDAY Akshaya Tritiya because even one good deed done today i.e. fasting, jagaran, holy bath, charity, and mantra sankhya yields INEXHAUSTIBLE RESULTS. Treta-yuga begins today (when it comes), and Vishnu created the barely grain today.

MAY 6 Shukla Saptami—Maa Ganga Appearance; remember, pray to, bathe and worship the sweet, kind mother of all sacred rivers. Gange! Gange! Gange! Ki jai!

MAY 10 Ekadasi—Stay awake all night chanting Hare Krishna and dancing in Gaura-smarana. Skanda Purana says, By doing jagaran, one becomes jivan-mukta, “a living liberated soul.”

MAY 11 ***AKSHAYA DVADASI—like 3rd, deeds yield inexhaustible merit. Skanda Purana suggests: bathe Thakurji in milk or pancamrta; donate money and pots of water (if you’re not a Vraja gopi, this means a bottle of water); in the evening satisfy Thakurji with sweet drinks, and also give sweet scents (itra) to others.

MAY 13 Lord Nrsinghadeva Avirbhava. Watch for new article on how to observe it.

Vaishakha Month of Lord Madhusudana Sri Krishna ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

By: Mahanidhi Swami

from padma purana and hari bhakti vilasa, 14th vilasa (verses in brackets)

I. Tattva / identity

If one does not take Magha snana, his life is meaningless. Magha snana pleases krsna more than observing vows, austerities and charity. This is the best month to do pious activities. (160) One should observe Magha vrata every year. (76) It is the duty of every human being to bathe in a holy place during Magha masa to please lord Krsna. (127) Water is pure and destroys unlimited amount of sins during Magha masa because the demigods place all their individual potencies in water. (163) Dattatreya explains, “The human body is useless without Magha snana.” (P.P. Vol. 46, Pg. 2763). These five acts are very pleasing to Lord Krsna: (i) observe Magha vrata; (ii) observe Karttika vrata; (iii) chant twelve–syllable mantra ─ Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya; (iv) worship Lord Visnu daily with sixteen articles; and (v) maintain a Tulasi grove. There is also a triad of vows which is very dear to Lord Visnu ─ Magha vrata, Karttika vrata, Ekadasi vrata.

II. Magha Vrata Summary

It is best to bathe before or at sunrise in a holy place. One should give gifts esp. sesame seeds and gur to brahmanas. Worship the sun-god and keep the ghee lamps lit in the home or temple.

III. Date to Start and finish the vow

Start on pausa Purnima and end on Magha Purnima. (67) On Magha Purnima, feed brahmanas, give charity and break your fast.

IV. The daily bath

1.Time : Best before sunrise (90, 138) or pratah kala (6:00 – 8:30 a.m.).

2.Place: Outside in a pond, lake, kunda or river. Ganga bath awards 1,000 times the benefit. By bathing in Triveni, one gets 1,00,000 times the benefit. Every step one takes to go outside for bathing burns the reactions of sins that have not yet fructified and pleases Yama. (93) It is a sastric injunction to bathe in a holy place only to give pleasure to Lord Krsna. One must bathe outside the home at least 3,5 or 7 times in the month. Even bathing in a mud puddle awards mukti.

House Bath – Set a bucket outside in the open air overnight, bring it inside and bathe. This equals bathing in a holy place. Such a bath bestows all desirable objects. (Add a drop of Ganga, Yamuna or Radhakunda water).

3. Sankalpa Mantra Vow: Upon waking in the morning, one should recite this : “O Supreme Lord Madhava! I will bathe every morning without fail during Magha masa.”

maghamasam imam purnam

snasye’ham deva madhava

4. Best Bath Time Mantra : “O Acyuta, O Govinda, O Madhava! I bathe in the month of Magha when the sun travels to the Makara rasi. O Lord, kindly bestow upon me the appropriate fruit of this vow.”

makaraste ravau magha

govinda acyuta madhava

snanenanena me deva

yathokta phalado bhava

5. Benefits of magha snana in a holy place: Grave sins committed knowingly or unknowingly are destroyed. (79) Lord Brahma says, “All sins committed with the mind, speech or action are destroyed by bathing in a holy place. Any pious acts (e.g., chanting mantras or yajnas) performed for the pleasure of lord krsna give unlimited benefits.” (81) If one person from a family bathes in a holy place, all the past and future relatives get liberated by Lord Krsna. (83) All sins are vanquished. (141, 145) just by bathing in a holy place for three days, one gets wealth and long life. One becomes free from all distress and sins and goes to Svarga. (60) One goes to Vaikuntha with 21 generations. (78, 154, 164) Nothing is more effective in destroying sinful reactions than bathing in a holy place. Magha snana in a holy place is the best remedy for conditioned souls because it instantly destroys all sinful reactions. It is more beneficial than all vows. It awards all types of boons. (115) Gives good health, beauty, good qualities, wealth and long life. (118) Daily Magha snana destroys all sins and calamities, pleases Lord Visnu, and gives liberation. Magha snana fulfills all one’s desires. if one takes Magha snana anywhere outside of home, he will experience no sorrows in this or next life. Magha snana at Prayaga is equal to worshiping Lord Visnu at a 100 crore of other places. The fruit of fasting for ten years is equal to three days Magha snana at Prayaga.

6. Bath rules: You don’t have to follow any other vow. Nothing else is required except bathing in a holy place. If you bathe in a holy place, you don’t have to do anything else. (88) One should bathe in silence. (31, 85) Put clay on your head before bath. While bathing, offer oblations to Suryadeva. Brahmanas should remember the names of Hari, Madhava, Vasudeva and Visnu.

V. Magha Vrata

1.Rules : (i) One should control the mind and senses, observe celibacy, sleep on floor and follow proper behaviour; (ii) no oil on body; (iii) don’t eat food cooked or given by others; (iv) eat once a day; (v) give up receiving gifts; (vi) renounce your favorite object. (106)

2.Deity Puja : Worship the Supreme Lord with special care and attention, offering lamps, food, incense and sandalwood paste. By worshiping the supreme lord with care and attention, one attains spiritual world. (69) One should worship a brahmana couple with food, sandalwood paste, blanket, cloth, jewels. (46) light an akhanda-dipa from sunset to sunrise near Deity, offer lots of tulasi leaves and manjaris to the deity. Offer fragrant rice. If you offer lotus or campaka flower, you’ll go to Vaikuntha. Bathe the Deity daily in water and milk. Offer sesame seed preparations to the Deity, khichri with dry fruits, kheer and ghee fried items.

4.Charity: Give charity according to your capacity throughout the month. Blankets, warm clothes, shoes, wood, waterpot, umbrella, ghee, oil, cotton wicks are preferred items. Giving food items with sesame seeds and gur destroys your sins, esp. on Sankranti. Magha masa is a special month to give gifts to brahmanas. It destroys sins, awards happiness and residence in heaven. Austerities and penances performed without giving gifts don’t shine like sky without sun. Whatever gifts one gives to brahmanas, one gets inexhaustible results. One should also offer food to ancestors. Lord Krsna says: “On sankranti, Amavasya or Purnima in Magha, Vaisakha, Asadha and Karttika, if you give charity to a brahmana, you will receive a house, happiness, other enjoyable things and liberation.” It especially pleases Krsna if we give blankets, quilts, warm clothes, shoes, rice, ghee, oil, wood, ghee lamps and kumkuma. (47)

VI. Special puja days

Everyone should observe vasanta pancami, Bhaimi Ekadasi and Varaha Dvadasi. (166)

Krsna Paksa : 1. Makara Sankranti (Jan. 14) : offer fragrant rice to thakuraji. Offer lotus or campaka flower ─ go to Vaikuntha. One should definitely take Magha snana in a holy place. One must distribute gur and sesame gajjak to brahmanas in public.

2. Amavasya (Mauni Amavasya): One must take a bath in a holy place. Observe complete silence from sunrise to sunset and constantly chant Hare Krsna mahamantra.

Sukla Paksa : 3. Tritiya (Manvantari): Any gifts given on this day bestow inexhaustible results.

4. Pancami (Vasanta): It is a very important bathing day. Bathe the Deity with milk and coconut water. Offer lots of fruits. Decorate the temple with mango leaves. Dress them in new, fine clothes. Illuminate the house with lamps. Offer whole coconut, grapes, sugarcane juice, green vegetables and yellow food items like saffron rice. Worship sun-god, Ganga and Mother earth. Worship Saraswati, and also worship Srimad Bhag., Bhag. Gita, Guru-Parampara, and articles which are worshiped as dwelling places of saraswati like notebooks , pens, papers, musical instruments e.g., karatals, mrdangas etc. Keep everything on the altar and cover the picture of Saraswati with yellow cloth. Serve vaisnavas, sing and dance. (167) Play musical instruments in Vasanta raga. If you worship Lord Krsna on Vasanta Pancami, you will become very dear to Supreme Lord. (170)

5. Saptami: It is a special day to worship Surya Bhagavan (Sun–God). If you fast on this day, you get liberation and attain the punya equal to observing a solar eclipse. Recite this prayer:”This seventh day of Magha sukla should destroy the sins of my seven lives, and destroy my diseases and miseries. This saptami day is the mother of all Saptamis! Belonging to the Sun, you have appeared on the seventh day. I offer my respects to you, O devi, living on the Sun planet.”

On Sapatmi, donate grains and red cloth out of love for the sun. Worship Surya Narayana. Offer an arka leaf, a fragrant red flower, badri fruit, rice, sacred thread coated with kumkuma, all inside a copper pot. Offer saffron water. Offer grains and red cloth. Also wear red clothes.

6. Bhisma Astami: For five days, beginning on astami, when bathing stand in water facing North and hang one’s brahmana thread like a flower mala. Offer water to Bhisma with this mantra: ”Let me offer this oblation of water to the great devotee Bhisma, who belongs to the Vaiaghra pada (Lion), is enriched with spiritual understanding and who had no son. (173)

vaiaghra padya gotraya

sankrti pravaraya ca

aputraya dadyam ye tat

salilam bhisma varmmane

VII. Breaking the magha vrata

On Magha Purnima, feed brahmanas and give them gifts. At the end of Purnima tithi, break the fast. End with this prayer : “O Govinda, Acyuta, Madhava! Please give me the fruit of Magha vrata and eternal service of the lotus feet of Srimati Radharani in the groves of Vrndavana as Her eternal palyadasi.” (9027)

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

By: Mahanidhi Swami

Once upon a time Sri Krishna was playing with Radhika and the gopis in an area near Yavata-grama and Kokilavana. Somehow the ancient pastime of Anantashayi Vishnu (aka Ananta Padmanabha came up in Their conversation. Suddenly Radhika wanted to see the lila of Ananta Vishnu resting on the thousand-hooded divine serpent. To satisfy His precious Priyaji, Shyama absorbed Himself in the bhaava of Anantashayi and laid down on a 1,000 petalled lotus in the middle of lake, which turned into Kshirasagara. Much to the amazement of the gopis, Jaya Sri Radha adopted the mood of Lakshmi and massaged Ananta Vishnu’s lotus feet.

When Chaitanya Mahaprabhu took darshana of this place, He swooned in ecstatic love remembering this beautiful pastime. We can glorify this pastime by reciting a prayer from (Vraja Vilasa-stava 91) by Srila Raghunatha dasa Goswamipada:

sri gosthe prathayatu sada, sheshashayi sthitam nah “I sincerely pray that Sheshashayi Sri Krishna may kindly bestow upon me eternal residence in His beautiful and enchanting pasture lands of Vrindavan.”

Today this lila-sthali is called Sheshashai, and one can see a wonderful Shyama black Deity of Bhagavan Ananta reclining on His bed with Lakshmi massaging His lotus feet.

Ananta Sheshayshayi Bhagavan Sri Krishna ki jai!

Ananda Khanda Bhagavan Sri Krishna ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

By: Mahanidhi Swami

What is it?

It is one complete day (vaishakha sukla caturdasi) of austerity observed for the pleasure of the Bhagavan Sri Nrsimhadeva. For millions of years, all the leading demigods, sages, kings, and humans have observed it. Many Puranas explain its observance, but here I will cite Hari-bhakti Vilasa (14).

What are the benefits? One Nrsimha Caturdashi vrata gives liberation; fulfillment of all desires; the merit of following 1,000 Dvadasi vratas; and a child to the childless.

How to observe it?

PERSONAL: Rise early, holy bath, set your resolution to do strict vow (sankalpa), pray to Lord Nrsimhadeva, Sri Guru and Vaisnavas for completion. Speak only essentials, no gossip or idle talk, and constantly remember Nrsimhadeva. Noon bath with sesame seed body rub. Eat once a day, fruits only after evening puja. Best drink only water or nirjala till next day after sunrise. The Super Amazing Lord, Adbhuta Bhagavan Nrsimhadeva ki jai ho!

PUJA: Evening time—

first arati to Bhakta Prahlada, then offer Bhagavan Nrsimhadeva the following:

1. Sandalwood paste and camphor

2. Flowers and tulasi leaves

3. Aguru incense, or sandalwood incense dipped in aguru oil.

4. Ghee lamp

5. Bhoga

6. Arghya

7. Prayers; O Lord Nrsimhadeva! Please accept my sincere worship, and give me Your mercy.

*** JAGARAN: “Stay awake all night chanting and dancing in Sri Krishna Harinama Sankirtana; and hear Krishna’s glories from the Tenth Canto.” (HBV 14.483)

Bathe next morning, REPEAT ABOVE PUJA SEQUENCE AGAIN. Feed Vaisnavas, give charity and honor maha-prasada.

Bhakti vighnan vinaasha, Bhagavan Nrsimhadeva ki jai! Bhakta Prahlada Maharaja ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

By: Mahanidhi Swami

What is this vrata? The Nagara Khanda (HBV 200) says, “This day, phalguna krishna chaturdashi, is called Shivaratri because on this day Lord Shiva personally remains present in all the shiva-lingas on earth.” This is the most essential and important day of the year to honor Shree Krishna’s greatest devotee (vaishnavanam yatha shambhu) named Lord Shiva. Therefore, one should fast and remain awake all night (jagaran) on Shiva Chaturdashi.

Do Gaudiya Vaisnavas observe this vrata? Yes, it is very important, and everyone should observe it; even if you have never done it before. In Hari-bhakti vilasa (187) Sanatana Gosvami quotes Gautimiya-tantra: siva ratree vratam vaishnava karryam, sri krishna preetaye sadaa: “It is the duty of Vaishnavas to observe the Shiva Ratri vow to remain forever dear to Shree Krishna.” Text 195: “Lord Shiva is the topmost Vaishnava, therefore, every Vaishnava should observe the vow of Shiva Ratri.”

What are the benefits of this vrata?

“When devotees of Sri Krishna observe Shivaratri, Lord Shiva shows his mercy by showering them with Krishna bhakti-rasa.” (HBV 221) “One who worships Shiva today and remains awake all night will never take birth again in the material world.” (HBV 219)

How to observe the Shiva Ratri Vrata?

“One should fast, worship Lord Shiva, and remain awake the entire night” (upavaasa mahadeva pujaa jaagaranam nishi: HBV 208)

1. 6 a.m.-8:36 am : Early morning at sunrise, read Rudra Gita, SB Fourth Canto ch. 24.

2. Fast all day until next sunrise, or at least until midnight.

3. Worship a Shiva Linga on the night of Chaturdashi:

a. In the evening, go to a Shiva Temple and take a vow before Lord Shiva before commencing your worship. If no temple, i-net download a picture of the Vrndavana Gopisvara Linga deity. Then worship the picture by pouring the milk, water and offerings into a bowl or pot placed in front of the picture.

b. Chant the 5-syllable mantra (Om Namah Shivaya) (HBV 211) and bathe Lord Shiva with milk, honey and ghee. Offer bilva patra (bael leaves), (upside down on top of linga). Then offer sesame seeds, perfumes, flowers, ghee lamps, incense, and arghya in a conchshell.

c. Stay up all night chanting Hare Krishna and dancing, reading Srimad Bhagavatam, hearing Shiva tattva. You can chant the many prayers of Lord Shiva glorifying Radha-Krishna like Radha-Krpa Kataksha (e-book on Amazon) You should especially hear about the pastimes of Lord Shiva visiting Sri Kåñëa in Vrndavana, and the glories of his linga deity forms in Vraja. “One who sees the linga of Bhuteshvara Mahadeva in Mathura, Vrndavana will obtain the result of visiting the entire Vraja Mandala.” (Mathura-mahatyam v. 235)

Conclusion:

When one receives the mercy of Lord Shiva, he will become free from false ego and the purusha bhava of being the enjoyer. He will then manifest his eternally pure, and true serving nature, kinkari-bhava. The “easily pleased” lord Ashutosh Shiva will become satisfied with such a devotee. Lord Shiva will then grant him residence in the sweet land of Vrndavana to forever serve his divine sweethearts, Radhe-Syama.

We hope on this most auspicious day of Shiva Ratri that everyone will please Lord Shiva by duly honoring him and thus receive his mercy.

Bom Bom Bole! Om Namo Shivaya!

Kundeshvara Mahadeva ki Jai! Gopeshvara Mahadeva ki Ji!

By:Mahanidhi Swami

In India, Sravana masa is the first full month of the rainy, monsoon season (varsha-ritu). In Vraja, for the pleasure of Priya-Priyatama, many wonderful festivals are celebrated to rejoice in the refreshing cool air and life nourishing rains.

In Hari-bhakti vilasa 15.166, Sri Sanatana Goswami encourages us to increase our Thakuraji seva this month by especially offering camphor, sandalwood paste, musk (kasturi) and mogra (jasmine) flowers. Satisfy Krishna’s transcendental taste buds with varieties of fruits; and also cook with cloves (long) and cardamom (elaichi).

This month’s dates and descriptions are given to enable everyone outside of the Holy Dhama to celebrate these amazing Vraja festivals with their personal Thakurajis. Jai Radhe-Shyama!

1. July 30 HARIYALI TEEJ

In Vraja, teej means three, the third day of the waxing moon (suklatritiya), and hariyali means green—rich and soothing forest green. On this day Radha-Krishna sit on a swing, which is completely decorated with lots and lots of fresh from the forest (or your garden) green leaves, sweet-smelling flowers and vines (latas of fragrant madhavi and malati); all placed by the fragrant loving hands of devotees.

2. July 30-August 10 JHULANA YATRA

Throughout Vraja Mandala, Hariyali Teej marks the first day of Radha-GovindaYugala’s blissful 12 day swing festival, Jhulana Utsava. Most temples in Vrindavana, Radha-kunda and elsewhere decorate the jhulana most beautifully on Hariyali Teej. So don’t miss the wonderful darsanas in Vrndavana on that day, Wednesday July 30; especially Radha-Damodara, BankeBihari, RadhaRamanji, Govindaji, RadhaVallabhaji, Radha-MadanaMohanaji and Radha-Gopinathaji. Now and forever let’s follow the Vrajavasis, and swing your hearts and your Thakurajis for 12 happy monsoon days until Sravana Purnima, August 10.

3. August 7 LALITA-SAKHI APPEARANCE DAY & PAVITRA EKADASI (sravana sukla ek)

You might be surprised to know that according to the only available authentic scriptural reference today is the actual day of Lalita-sakhi’s avirbhava tithi or appearance day. Now let’s discuss exactly when is Lalita-sakhi’s appearance day?

In Radha-Krishna Ganoddesa Dipika (v. 79 or 80 sapta vimshati-vaasarih) SrilaRupaGoswamipada says Lalitasakhi’s appearance day is 27 days before Radhastami, which means EVERY YEAR the app. day of Lalita is today Sravana sukla ekadasi. And this date has been acknowledged by most all Gaudiya Vaisnavas for the last 500 years. There are no other sastric references mentioning any other day. Some say it’s on saptami before Radhastami and Vrajavasis say it’s on sashti, the 6th.

Either way, Lalita’s app. day is not really celebrated much by any Vaiṣṇava group with fasting, feasting, a specific lecture about Lalita, or even a mentioning of Lalita-sakhi during in a lecture. During my 12 years in U.S. Iskcon, before moving to Vrindavana, we never observed this day.

Srila Prabhupada did not give one lecture on Lalita-sakhi, nor did His Divine Grace give any instructions on observing her birthday. Hence the contradiction of dates is not so important. Of course in Vraja it is observed in Unchagoan (Lalita’s temple) and maybe Iskcon Vrindavana.

The conclusion is that in principle, based on the authority of Srila Rupa Goswamipada, one could according to their personal wish celebrate Lalita’s avirbhava today, sravana sukla ekadasi, which is the actual day. But how to properly celebrate it since there are no sastric descriptions or historical examples to guide its observance?

As a suggestion, today you could pray to Lalita-sakhi for her for mercy and chant Srila Rupa Goswamipada’s beautiful Lalita-ashtakam. Certainly this will bring gain and no loss.

Srimati Lalita Sakhi ki jai!

4. August 8 SRILA RUPA GOSWAMIPADA TIROBHAVA MAHOTSAVA

In Radha-Krishna’s divine Vraja lilas, Lalita-sakhi is the leader of all Radha’s sakhis, and Sri Rupa-manjari (RupaGoswami) is the leader of all the manjari maidservants of Radhika. It is interesting to note the proximity of their days of appearance and disappearance. By prayer and meditation, one might realize the internal reasons for the disappearance of Srila Rupa Goswamipada falling the day after the appearance day of Lalita-sakhi.

Srila Rupa Goswamipada ki jai!

5. August 10 BALADEVA APPEARANCE DAY &RAKHI PURNIMA, Last Day Jhulana-yatra

Jaya Radhe, Jaya Krishna, Jaya Vrindavana

Sri Govinda, Gopinatha, Madana-Mohana!

2014 Karttika Classes (Oct. 3- Nov. 5) Mahanidhi Swami

3 pm Mahaprabhu’s Amazing Pastimes.

4 pm The Glorious Sweet Seva of Sri Radha

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

By: Mahanidhi Swami

* What is it?

Extensively described in the Puranas, the magha month vrata is a one month long penance, vow or vrata observed from pausa purnima until magha purnima to please Bhagavan Sri Krishna worshiped as Lord Madhava, the presiding Deity of the month of January 15 to February 15.

The vrata involves mainly taking a bath daily before sunrise in a holy river like Ganga, Yamuna, especially in a holy place like Radha-kunda, Vrndavana, Navadvipa, Jagannatha Puri, Prayaga Triveni (Allahabad)

* Is the magha month vrata for Gaudiya Vaisnavas?

Yes, definitely for Srila Rupa Gosvamipada mentions it in Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (1.2.260), “bathing in the Ganga or Yamuna in magha month is part of hari-bhakti, pure devotion to Sri Krishna.” In Hari-bhakti-vilasa, Srila Sanatana Gosvami gives a 40 page description of this vrata, which is summarized herein with reference verses in brackets.

* Who observed the magha month vrata?

In Chamatkara Chandrika, Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura describes a wonderful pastime of how Sri Krishna, on the pretext of observing a magha month vrata, secretly met Srimati Radharani and the Vraja-gopis early in the morning in the keli-kunjas near Keshi Ghata beside the Yamuna river in Vrndavana. At that time, Kutila devi, the crooked, inane and suspicious sister-in-law of Sri Radha, came to spy on Radha in hopes of catching Her with Syamasundara.

However, Sri Krishna cleverly fooled Kutila by disguising Himself as Sri Radha’s alleged husband Abhimanyu, the brother of Kutila. Then after tricking Kutila, Sri Krishna went to Yavat, and enacted even more hilarious and satisfying conjugal pastimes with Srimati Radharani right inside the home of Kutila and her nasty mother Jatila.

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu passed ten days in Prayaga bathing daily at the confluence of the Ganga and Yamuna (Triveni) during the yearly magha-mela, the magha month vrata (Cc. 2.18.222).

All the pious demigods and their chaste wives like Aditi, Anasuya, Arundhati, Rohini and Saci observed the magha month vrata. In 1971, Srila Prabhupada and 40 disciples attended the Kumbha Mela in Allahabad to honor the magha month vrata and preach pure Krishna consciousness.

* What benefits does it give?

Like most of the austerities and vratas mentioned in the Puranas, the magha month vrata gives good health, beauty, good qualities, wealth and long life. Bathing outdoors in any body of water during Magha month is very pleasing to Bhagavan Sri Krishna.

It also destroys unlimited sins because the demigods place all their individual potencies in outside bodies of water (163) during this month. Magha snana in a holy place instantly destroys all sinful reactions (115), and grants residence in Vaikuntha (78, 154, 164).

* When to observe the vrata?

Start on Pausa Purnima and end on Magha Purnima. (67)

* How to observe the vrata?

Admittedly, most devotees do not observe this vow, but everyone should be familiar with it and then decide accordingly what is best for your devotional advancement. At least, this most beneficial magha month vrata gives one a good reason to spend a few days in a holy dhama to bathe in Radha kunda, Yamuna or Ganga.

And do not think this vrata is only for neophytes, because I have personally seen one of the biggest Bengali preachers at Radha kunda observing the magha month vrata with a daily pre-sunrise bath.

Like any vow or vrata, this vrata also includes many details concerning diet, prayers, pujas, personal restrictions, chanting astakams etc. but specifically in relation to this vrata, the Hari-Bhakti Vilasa stipulates, “You don’t have to follow any other vow except bathing in a holy place (88). Thus the main vrata or activity is to bathe before sunrise (90, 138) in an outside body of water, preferably Radha-kunda, Yamuna or Ganga (or a bucket of water left outside over night to collect the celestial nectar).

Every step one takes to go outside for bathing pleases Yamaraja, and burns up the reactions of sins that have not yet fructified.

a. Daily Sankalpa Mantra

(affirms your determination or vow)

Upon waking, recite: “O Supreme Lord Madhava! I will bathe every morning without fail during Magha masa.”

b. Before bath, chant this mantra:

“O Acyuta, O Govinda, O Madhava! I am bathing in the month of Magha when the sun travels to the Makara rasi. O Govinda, Madhava kindly bestow upon me the appropriate fruit of this vow.”

c. Puja:

Offer your Thakurji lots of tulasi leaves, manjaris, kitri, kheer, sesame seed preps, fried items and dry fruits.

d. Charity:

Magha, Vaisakha, and Kartika are the most auspicious and beneficial months of the year to observe vratas and give charity. Hari-bhakti-vilasa says Bhagavan Sri Kåñëa becomes very pleased if one donates blankets, quilts, warm clothes, shoes, rice, ghee, oil, wood, ghee lamps and kumkuma (47).

e. Breaking the vrata: On magha purnima, feed Vaisnava Brahmins and give them money and gifts. At the end of the Purnima tithi, break your fast if you fasted.

Concluding prayer:

“O Acyuta, O Govinda, O Madhava! Please give me the fruit of this magha vrata and grant me the eternal service of the lotus feet of Srimati Radharani in the groves of Vrndavana as Her eternal maid in attendance.”

Magha Month Pre Sunrise Radha Kunda Snana ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

*****(Note: this fb article is a streamlined version, but if you want a detailed description of the magha month vrata, then request and we will e-mail to you)****

By: Mahanidhi Swami

Upon hearing about Bhisma-panchaka, non-devotees respond by saying, “O what a terrible vrata!”(word bhisma means terrible)

I. INTRODUCTION

Bhisma Panchaka is a special 5-day vrata starting on Utthana Ekadasi tithi (which usually means dashami when the ekadasi tithi starts) and ending on Karttika Purnima. Pure Krishna bhakti is easily obtained by following Bhisma Pancaka Vrata. By following Bhisma Pancaka in Vrindavana one can fulfill all his desires and easily attain pure devotional service to Sri Krishna.

II. STARTING BATH:

Begin with sunrise bath in holy place or at home on Dashami. Then starting the vrata, worship Bhismadeva with a bhoga offering, water and afterwards aratik. (use a painting of Bhismadeva for puja). Everyday bathe in silence at sunrise. Then offer obeisances and water to Bhisma along with this prayer: “I offer this water to Bhisma, who has Vaiyaghra pada gotra and Sanskrit pravara. I offer respectful obeisances to Bhisma, the incarnation of Vasu, who is the son of Santanu and a lifelong celibate.” Worship Bhisma and pray for his mercy to complete the vow.

III. PUJA:

1. Daily bathe Deities with panchamrta.

2. Offer new clothes to the Deities.

3. Offer excellent food and cloves to the Deities.

4. Offer aratika with incense, ghee lamp, water in a conchshell, napkin, flowers and camara. *also offer camphor lamp mixed with aguru oil.

5. Maintain an akhanda dipa near the Deities or Tulasi for the entire five days.

6. Offer ghee lamp in morning and evening to the Deities.

7. Daily offer ghee lamp to Tulasi devi.

On Utthana Ekadasi, offer lotus flowers to Krishna’s feet; on Dvadasi, offer bilva leaves to Krishna’s knees; on Trayodasi, offer jasmine flowers to Krishna’s head.

IV. ACTION:

1. Observe celibacy and sleep on the floor.

2. After Deity puja, chant 108 times the mantra, “Om namo vasudevaya”.

V. EATING: Begin Dashami fasting til sunset and eat phalahara, no grains. Every day eat once only after sunset. Eat fruits fresh and dried, nuts, boiled roots like potato and sweet potato. Ok to eat ghee, ekadasi salt, black pepper and ginger. No other spices can be taken. Continue this diet every day until Purnima.

A. DASAMI (DURING THE EKADASI TITHI): Eat ½ tsp of cow dung; then eat only once after sunset.

B. EKADASI: Nirajala vrata; if you can’t do this, then eat muni-phala (apple, papaya, banana, mousambi) only once after sunset.

C. DVADASI: Break fast with Maha Tulasi leaf and water; then drink lemon water with misri if you did Nirjala vrata; if you ate muniphala on ekadasi, then break fast with charnamrta or a few cashews, almonds or raisins; then drink 50 ml of cow urine; eat the recommended foods once a day after sunset.

D. TRAYODASI: Eat ghee once after sunrise. After sunset, eat recommended foods.

E. CATURDASI: Eat yoghurt once after sunrise. After sunset, eat recommended foods.

F. PURNIMA: Drink milk once after sunrise; and follow the rules below for fast breaking.

VI. BREAKING THE FAST:

1. Before you break your fast, you must first feed brahmanas sweet rice made from cow’s milk and serve them all the foods you fasted from during your vratas of Bhisma, Kartik and Chaturmasya.

3. Give money, gifts, sesame seeds and pots of water to the brahmanas.

4. Now break your fast during Purnima Abhijit Muhurta (11:45 am to 12:30 pm appx.), or later if necessary, but before sunset of Purnima day. First eat panchagavya (cow dung, cow urine, cow milk, cow yoghurt and cow ghee)

5. Then eat sweet rice.

6. NOW eat all foods fasted from for Chaturmasya, Karttika Vrata and Bhisma Pancaka (eg. spinach, yoghurt, urad dal, milk, sweets, honey etc.)

7. Shave your head.

8. All the above actions should be completed before sunset or before the end of Purnima tithi.

SRI BHISMA PANCAKA VRATA KI JAI!!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!