Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das
Since every pastime of Bhagavan Sri Krishna is eternal, at midnight on Chaitra Purnima, the first full moon of the Hindu new year, Sri Radha-kunda is appearing in some material universe right now before the amazed eyes of Radha Govinda Yugala and the nitya and sadhana siddha gopis of Bhauma Vrndavana.
Sri Sanatana Goswami proves that Chaitra Purnima (April 18th 2019), is the real and actual appearance day of Sri Radha-kunda in his tika (Srimad Bhagavatam 10.45.3): “Bhagavan Sri Krishna killed Arista on the full moon day of Caitra month when Krishna was eleven. Afterwards Radha-Krishna manifested Shyama-kunda and Radha-kunda.”
The Bahulastami Karttika Radha Kunda Bath
So what about Kattika month and the Bahulastami snana? Other than recommending daily or regular bathing in Radha-kunda, the six Goswamis also quote Puranas which prescribe daytime bathing in Radha-kunda on Karttika Bahulastami.
Vrajavasis say that on this day, Krishna tested the saintliness of a cow named Bahula, and thus the Puranas prescribe a holy dip in Radha-kunda on THIS DAY. Incidentally, the Vrindavana forest named Bahulavan is very close to Radha-kunda.
Sri Rupa Goswamipada in Mathura Mahatmyam (verse 439, 441) and Sri Sanatama Goswamipada in Hari Bhakti Vilasa (16.207, 210) both quote the Padma Purana, Karttika Mahatmyam which says:
“Anyone who BATHES ON THE DAY of Bahulastami in Radha-kunda becomes very dear to Bhagavan Sri Hari, karttike- bahulastamyam, tatra -snatva -haripriya.”
The Bahulastami MIDNIGHT Radha-kunda BATH is actually a major event for 50,000 or so barren North Indian married couples. In the hopes of attaining a child, they worship a North Indian fertility Devi named Ahouri Devi. The various rites and pujas culminate in a REQUIRED midnight bath in Radha-kunda.
Thus, it seems that over time, the Gaudiya sastric ordained DAYTIME Radha-kunda SNANA on Bahulastami merged with the barren grhasta’s midnight snana in Radha-kunda. This resulted in Gaudiya Vaisnavas thinking their midnight bath was and is a celebration of the appearance of Radha-kunda.
In closing, we include some excerpts from recent posts on this topic.
Bhakti-ratnakara and Chaitanya-caritamrita (Madhya chapter 18) say that Mahaprabhu stayed in Vraja Mandala for about 4 months (September-December). Sri Caitanyadeva first came to Mathura (Caitanya Caritamrita 2.17.155); then Gaurahari toured the 12 forests of Vrndavana (Caitanya Caritamrita 2.17.193); and He arrived in Arita Grama (Radha Kunda) on Karttika Bahulastami when MAHAPRABHU DISCOVERED RADHA KUNDA (Caitanya Caritamrita 2.18.1-13).
Since then, the old Vrajavasi sadhus and Gaudiya saints say that Gaudiya Vaisnavas have been especially honoring Mahaprabhu’s discovery of Radha Kunda by bathing in Radha Kunda on Bahulastami in Karttika. The Goswamis also endorse this practice.
Both the appearance and discovery days of Radha Kunda are equally sacred and worshipable. Because they are always eager to take advantage of every possible opportunity to serve and worship Srimati Radharani.
Thus, all Gaudiya Vaisnavas bathe every year in Radha Kunda at midnight on Caitra Purnima to celebrate Radha-kunda’s appearance. And they also bathe on the day of Karttika Bahulastami to celebrate the day Caitanya Mahaprabhu discovered this lupta tirtha, hidden most holy place.
There is no real conflict or problem with having two appearance days because in spiritual matters everything is perfectly included within the complete whole, Sri Krishna. All the different spiritual truths, practices and places exist together in perfect harmony vibrating beautifully for the happiness of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna.
SUMMARY: Maybe not others, but for Gaudiya Vaisnavas there are two appearance days of Radha-kunda and Syama-kunda:
1) To the eyes of Radha Govinda and all the sakhis when They manifested Radha-kunda and Syama-kunda 5,000 years ago on Chaitra Purnima according to Gaudiya Vaisnava Mahajana Acarya, Sri Sanatana Goswamipada.
2) To the eyes of Caitanya Mahaprabhu when He found or discovered Radha-kunda and Syama-kunda in the middle of a field 500 years ago.
Karttika Bahulastami Snana ki jai! Chaitra Purnima Radha-kunda Appearance Snana ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!