Mahanidhi Swami

This is Vaishakha month (aka Madhusudana, 23 April-21 May) which is one of the three best months of the year along with Karttika and Magh. Why? Because pious acts done in these months award one tremendous benefits.

Significant events in Vaishakha month: Radha-Krishna Candana Yatra, Nrsinghadeva appears, Ganga appears on earth, and Vishnu creates the barley grain (job). The rest of the article describing the “Vaishakha Vrata” is taken from Srila Sanatana Goswamipada’s Hari-bhakti Vilasa (14).

Suggested good deeds to perform daily or occasionally; pre-sunrise tirtha snana; public Harinama Sankirtana; dhama parikrama; read Bhagavatam; attend Gita class; increased Thakuraji sevas; serve saints; eat once a day; and to the worthy, donate sesame seeds, cow ghee, umbrellas, shoes, cloth, money.



Even one good deed done today i.e. fasting, jagaran, holy bath, charity, and nama/mantra sankhya yields INEXHAUSTIBLE RESULTS. Treta-yuga begins today (when it comes), and Vishnu created the barely grain today.


Maa Ganga Appearance; kindly remember, pray to, bathe and worship the sweet and purifying mother of all sacred rivers. Gange! Gange! Gange! Ki jai!


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


Good deeds today yield inexhaustible merit. Skanda Purana suggests: tirtha-snana (Radha Kunda best); bathe Thakuraji in milk or pancamrta; donate money and pots of water. But if you’re not a Vraja gopi, this means a bottle of water. In the evening, satisfy Thakuraji with sweet drinks, and give sweet scents (itra) to others.


Watch for new article on how to observe it.

Vaishakha Month of Lord Madhusudana Sri Krishna ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Swami

“What amazing beauty, power, nobility, grace and sweetness!” they thought just by seeing Him. “O, what great fortune it would be to be His beloved!” Thus, the forest ascetics desired just by a moment’s darshana of Raghupati Raghava Raja Rama in Treta-yuga.

In His soft and compassionate heart, Sri Ramachandraji blessed the Dandakaranya rishis with future fulfilment of their cherished sankalpa.

Eons of time passed. Then the scorching suns of summer wreaked a terrible drought in South India. The cowherds, fearing the death of their precious wealth of cows, moved Northward to the lush green pastures and dense virgin forests of Vraja Gokula to take shelter of Vrajaraja Nanda Baba in Vrindavana.

In spring of the following year, the wives of these migrant cowherds gave birth to very beautiful girls—lovely little gopis. Realizing the boon of Lord Rama, the Dandakaranya rishis now took birth as Vraja gopis during the prakata-lila of Bhagavan Sri Krishna.

One day, these new Vraja gopis approached Srimati Radharani and asked, “O Ishvari Radha! How can we please Sri Krishna, attract His attention and acquire His mercy?”

Sri Radha tersely replied, “Strictly observe the Ekadashi vrata!”

After instructing them in various details, Radha added, “Also, you will gain the result (vrata phala) of observing the Dvadashi vrata for one year if you chant the name of the 26 Ekadashis:

“Utpanna, Mokshada, Saphala, Putrada, Shat-tila, Jaya, Vijaya, Amalaki, Papamochani, Kamada, Varuthini, Mohini, Apara, Nirjala, Yogini, Devashayani, Kamini, Pavitra, Aja, Padma, Indira, Pashankusha, Rama, Prabodhini, (Padmini, Parama: adhika mas).

(Garga Samhita, adapted)

Jaya Jaya Sri Radhe! Ekadashi Vrata Ki Jai!

Mahanidhi Swami

The Ekadashi fasting day is extensively described in Hari-bhakti Vilasa. Sanatana Goswamipada, quoting numerous Vedic scriptures, defines the basic Ekadashi thus: “All humans, especially Vaisnavas, should NOT EAT ANYTHING on Ekadashi, the day of Sri Hari, hari-vasara.”

In Narada Purana, Lord Shiva told Durga, “Again and again the Puranas proclaim, ‘On Ekadashi, Do not eat, Do not eat!’’’ (HBV 12.12)

In Bhakti-sandarbha anu. 299, Sri Jiva Goswamipada quotes many shastras to make the same point. For example, the Gautamiya-tantra says, “If by madness a Vaisnava eats anything on Ekadashi, then his worship is worthless!” Vishnu-yamala states, “If one is normal and healthy, he should not eat anything on Ekadashi.”

So it is clear that the basic and original Ekadashi Vrata is a day of complete fasting to facilitate more surrender and more offerings of devotion to Bhagavan Sri Krishna.

It is amazing how in the entire Ekadashi fasting day description, Srila Sanatana Goswamipada does not mention one word about eating this or avoiding that type of food. In one verse, however, he gives a concession for eating on Ekadashi, and even that is restricted to a few persons. He quotes the Markendeya Purana: “A child, an elderly or sick person may take ONE MEAL consisting of milk, fruits and roots and that only AT NIGHT.” (HBV 12.91)

In other words, Srila Sanatana Goswamipada is telling all of us, who are normal and healthy by Krishna’s grace, to FAST COMPLETELY ON EKADASHI. This is the basic Ekadashi—austere, powerful and beneficial.

Of course, there are many other approaches to fasting on Ekadashi given by various gurus, institutions and individual family traditions. Ultimately, the best way of observing the austerity of Hari-vasara is to follow the teachings of one’s mentors on the devotional path.

We are describing the original form of Ekadashi observance to encourage old devotees to do more, and to show new devotees the ideal path outlined in our sacred books. Many devotees we know follow the basic, traditional Ekadashi of not eating anything, plus not drinking even a drop of water! Besides being the basic observance of Ekadashi prescribed by our mahajanas, a complete fast is an excellent means for improving both spiritual and material health.

Srila Sanatana Goswamipada and all the Vedas describe the Ekadashi vrata as part of a “penance triad”. Although very difficult in the modern age, this fasting package includes three days of austerity i.e. Dashami, Ekadashi and Dwadashi (10th, 11th and 12th). However, the full basic observance of the one fasting day of Ekadashi is practical and prescribed for most sadhakas of today.

Still, sadhakas can respect and honor these three holy days by following Hari-bhakti Vilasa’s instructions about eating, which are listed below.

10th Day Dashami: Eat only one time, the following foods ONLY; winter white rice, mung dal, sesame seeds, root bulbs minus taro, amla, banana, jackfruit, mango, tamarind, cow’s ghee, milk & yogurt, Sind (ekadashi) or sea salt, pepper, cumin, ginger, and sugar without molasses.

BUT DON’T EAT: honey, oil [fried foods], chickpeas (channa), flour i.e. rotis, bread, etc., masura dal or leafy vegetables. (HBV 13.10-15)

11th Day Ekadashi: Chant Hare Krishna, read the Bhagavata and dance in delight, but keep food and water far from your sight! Ekadashi Devi ki jai ho!

12th Day Dwadashi: Eat only once, but DON’T EAT: honey, oil [fried foods], chickpeas (channa), flour i.e. rotis, bread, etc, and masura dal. (HBV 13.260-264)

To close this article, we will cite Srila Sanatana Goswamipada’s perfect definition of fasting. And this is the type of fasting we should all do every day of our devotional lives:

“To remain steady and steadfast, even in the face of sin by cultivating good qualities, and to give up all sense enjoyment is called FASTING.” (HBV 13.35)

Ekadashi fasting ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Swami

The yearly one month long (Jan.-Feb.) world famous Kumbha Mela offers amazing benefits for a daily sunrise bath in a holy river like the Ganga, Yamuna, or especially the Triveni in Allahabad U.P.

Here in a series of articles, we will highlight some of the glories of the “Magha Month Vrata” which focuses primarily on sacred bathing in addition to one’s other daily sadhana.

As Gaudiya Vaisnavas, we follow the teachings of Gita and the Bhagavata, the books of our Mahajana acharyas like the Six Goswamis, and the instructions of our spiritual teachers. One major work is the Hari Bhakti Vilasa, compiled by Srila Sanatana Goswamipada. This is our Gaudiya Vaisnava smrti, which means a book of rules and recommended practices for endearing oneself to Bhagavan Sri Krishna.

To prove and establish the immense importance of the Magha snana, the Hari-bhakti Vilasa quotes 160 Sanskrit verses from different Puranas such as the Bhavisottara, Brahmavaivarta, Narada, Padma and Skanda. Here’s a sample:

The Padma Purana (Uttara-khaëòa 126.9) states, “It is an injunction that one must bathe in a holy place during Magha to please Bhagavan Vasudeva [Sri Krishna], priyate vasudevasya, magha snanam prakirttitam.” (HBV 14.54) Skanda Purana: “By bathing in a holy place in Magha, one will not take birth again, snanam karoti yo maghe, samsara na bhavet punah.” (HBV 14.72)

The following benefit befits the bhaktas, who want to be with Radha-Krishna forever serving Their lotus feet: “If one desires to live near Vishnu [Sri Krishna], iccha vishnu vasam, he should bathe every year during Magha, magha snanam tada karyyam varshe varshe. (HBV 14.76)

In Skanda Purana, Narada Muni glorifies the tremendous blessing power of Magha snana: “Magha snana destroys all sins committed by thoughts, words and deeds.” And further, “Bath, charity, chanting and sacrifices done in Magha yield unlimited benefit, snanam danam japa homa, kriyate maghe ananta phalam.” (HBV 14.80-81)

One can take the next quote to mean that a woman will become beautiful, charitable, supremely chaste and fortunate by a Magha snana. “Vashishta Muni said, ‘Because of bathing during the month of Magha, Shachi became beautiful; Arundhati became charitable; Anusuya became most chaste; and Rohini attained good fortune.’” (HBV 14.100-101)

Any contact with the transcendental Yamuna, Ganga or other sacred waters will produce wonderful benefits like good health, purity and promotion to Vaikuntha. So what makes holy waters so especially powerful during Magha month? The Narada Purana answers, “The devatas cast all their respective powers into water during Magha, devata teja pari kshiptam, magha mase jaleshu vai.” (HBV 14.163)

However, of all the holy waters one can bathe in, there is an astonishingly unique value in bathing in Sri Radha Kunda!

Srila Rupa Goswamipada explains, “Even ONE BATH in Radha Kunda can manifest that prema, tat premedam sakrd api sarah snatur avishkaroti.”

What is “that prema” (tad prema) you may ask? Srila Rupa answers saying, “You will receive that special oneness in love for Krishna felt by Radha, the foremost of all Krishna’s beloved sweethearts, radha preyasibhyah uccaih vasati pranaya krishnasya.” (Upadeshamrita 11)

So plan now and try to bathe daily during the entire Magha month either in Radha Kunda, Vrindavana, Navadvipa or Jagannatha Puri. In this regard, Sri Dattatreya said, “Magha month is the best of all months, as far as doing good deeds, masanam magha shreshtha.” (HBV 14.159)

If you can’t spare a month, however, then you can follow Sri Dattatreya Muni who said, “At least bathe for three days during Magha, and you will attain wealth and long life.” (HBV 14.161-162)

When is the bathing period?

“One should begin his Magha snana on Pausha Purnima (Jan. 24) and end on Magha Purnima (Feb. 22).” (HBV 14.67)

Magha Mas Tunda Snana ki jai! Radha Kunda Dhama ki jai!

Gopi Prema ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Swami

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

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. The daily bath
  2. Time : Best before sunrise (90, 138) or pratah kala (6:00 – 8:30 a.m.).
  3. 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).

  1. 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

  1. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Magha Vrata
  4. 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)
  5. 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.
  6. 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)
  7. Special puja days

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

Krsna Paksa : 1. Makara Sankranti: 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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)
  2. 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.

  1. 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)