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Tuesday, March 18th, 2003

Gaura Purnima
Thousands convene at the Math

Gaura Purnima, or the day of the Golden Full Moon: the anniversary of the day that our Golden Lord, Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, appeared in this world, just across the Ganges River, in Mayapur, in 1486.

Math/Kunda [36k]

Thousands of pilgrims and devotees from India and all over the world have converged on the worldwide headquarters of the Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math here in Navadwip Dham, India, to celebrate this day. They throng the temple grounds, they congregate on the terraces of Sri Govinda Kunda, and they mill about on the Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math Road that separates the temple and the kunda [pond].

I have come to Navadwip three times before, but this is the first time that I have come for Gaura Purnima. I have never seen such a huge crowd here at the Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math — and I was here for Srila Sridhar Maharaj's Centenary Celebration in 1995.

I attend all four of the daily mangala aratis at the Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math: the arati for Lord Shiva at the Shiva Mandir at Govinda Kunda, the arati for Sri Giriraj and Sri Govinda Kunda at the Mahaprabhu's Divine Water Play and Gupta Govardhan Mandir in the middle of Govinda Kunda, the arati for Srila Sridhar Maharaj at His Divine Grace's Samadhi Mandir, and the arati for Sri Sri Gandharva-Govinda Sundarjiu at the Nat-Mandir.

It is a grand festival, with special offerings, aratis, and pujas, congregational chanting, and readings from the Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita. We observe a total fast until moonrise. The feast celebrating Mahaprabhu's appearance is tomorrow — the Anandotsava of Sri Jagannath Misra. I don't feel hungry at all — and it's not because I'm nervous.

In the middle of the afternoon, I calmly sit under a tree in the Math courtyard and a local barber shaves my head in preparation for that other big event tomorrow: my sannyas ceremony.

After shaving my head, I cross the road to bathe in Govinda Kunda. I splash some water on my head and enter the water. Srila Govinda Maharaj's purport to the Sri Govinda Kunda Mahima verse from Sri Garga-Samhita comes to mind:

   bahu-bhagye keha sei dughasvada paya
   chidananda-deha labhi krsna-loka yaya

"Sometimes, by great fortune, someone will get to taste the water of Govinda Kunda as the milk of Surabhi, the divine cow, attain a transcendental form, and go to Krishna-loka."

I open my eyes... still here! Then the next line:

   sri krsna-manase yeba kare hetha snana
   gupta-govardhane radha-krsna-seva pana

"Anyone who bathes in Sri Govinda Kunda, desiring to serve Krishna, attains the divine service of Sri Sri Radha Krishna in Gupta [Hidden] Govardhan."

And who can give that divine service? Waist deep in the water of Govinda Kunda, I pray:

"O Lord Chaitanya, You distributed pure love of Godhead to everyone, without considering whether they were qualified or not. The only qualification was that they should want it: I want it! Please be merciful to me, on this, Your auspicious appearance day.

"O Lord, You know how weak I am. Please give me the strength to keep the holy vow of sannyas that I will make tomorrow, to justify the faith that Srila Gurudeva, Sripad Bhakti Sudhir Goswami Maharaj, Sripad Bhakti Pavan Janardan Maharaj, and so many others have in me.

"O most merciful Lord, I implore you to protect me and keep me strong, so that I do not deviate from my vow and thus bring disrepute to the glorious Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math."

   Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
   Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
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