Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das
According to our Gaudiya Vaisnava acaryas, 5,000 years ago, Bhagavan Sri Krishna originally manifested Radha-Syama Kundas on Caitra Purnima. For Gaudiya Vaisnavas, Karttika Bahulastami is the sacred day that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu unveiled the hidden location of Radha Kunda.
As far as we know, the only Gaudiya Vaisnava pramana or evidence to establish the appearance day of Radha Kunda comes from Sri Jiva Goswamipada’s commentary on Srimad Bhagavatam (10.45.3): “ON CAITRA PURNIMA (March-April) Bhagavan Sri Krishna killed Aristasura at midnight and manifested Shyama-kunda.”
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, Gaudiya Vaisnavas bathe every year in Radha Kunda at midnight on Caitra Purnima to celebrate the appearance, and also in Karttika on the day of Bahulastami.
Besides being beautiful, Caitra Purnima is the first Purnima of the Hindu new year. One can only imagine how incredibly beautiful, romantic and blissful it was on that magical full moon night five millenniums ago when Madhuri-Madhava manifested Radha-Syama Kundas, and enjoyed a festive rasa dance on the banks! Jai Radhe!
** Note: In 2019, the Chaitra Purnima Tithi bathing is at midnight 18th April.
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.
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.”
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: Thus for the last five-hundred years, Gaudiya Vaisnavas have been worshiping and bathing in Radha Kunda to celebrate both these wonderful days!
In other words, there are two appearance days:
1) To the eyes of Radha Govinda and all the sakhis when they manifested it 5,000 years ago;
2) To the eyes of Caitanya Mahaprabhu when He found it in the middle of a field 500 years ago.
Karttika Bahulastami ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!
Chaitra Purnima Radha-kunda Appearance ki jai!