Major Hare Krishna Festivals 2011
- February 16 – Appearance of Nityananda Prabhu
- February 22 – Appearance of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati
- March 19 – Gaura Purnima
- April 12 – Appearance of Lord Ramachandra
- May 16 – Appearance of Lord Nrsimhadeva
- August 13 – Appearance of Lord Balarama
- August 21 – Sri Krishna Janmashtami
- August 22 – Appearance of Srila Prabhupada
- September 4 – Radhashtami
- September 9 – Appearance of Bhaktivinoda Thakura
- October 27 – Govardhana Puja
- October 29 – Disappearance of Srila Prabhupada
Lord Nityananda Prabhu appeared as Lord Chaitanya’s principal associate for spreading the congregational chanting of the holy names of God. He especially spread the holy names of Krishna throughout Bengal. He is considered an incarnation of Lord Balarama, Krishna’s elder brother. (See Sri Chaitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila, Chapter 5.)
Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura was the spiritual master of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the Founder-Acharya of ISKCON. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura powerfully spread the teachings of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in the early twentieth century. He preached strongly against the deep-rooted influences of casteism and impersonalism. Meeting with scholars, educators, and other leaders and writing over 108 essays and books, he strove to present Krishna consciousness as a science to be highly esteemed. He established sixty-four temples, known as Gaudiya Maths, inside and outside of India.
Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is Lord Krishna Himself, in the form of His own devotee. He came to this world to spread love for Krishna through the congregational chanting of the holy names of the Lord. He appeared in Sridhama Mayapur, West Bengal, in 1486. His activities and teachings are described in detail in Srila Prabhupada’s “Teachings of Lord Chaitanya” as well as the multi-volume “Sri Chaitanya-Charitamrta.”
Lord Ramachandra is an incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead as the ideal king. He appeared in the Treta-yuga, more than two million years ago. Under the order of His father, Maharaja Dasaratha, Lord Ramachandra lived in the Dandakaranya forest for fourteen years, along with His wife, Sita Devi, and His younger brother, Lakshmana. After the demon Ravana kidnapped His wife, Lord Ramachandra, with the help of His faithful servant Hanuman, killed Ravana and rescued her. The history of Lord Ramachandra’s pastimes is recounted by the sage Valmiki in his Ramayana. (See also Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.3.22, 2.7.23-25, 5.19.1-8 and Canto Nine, Chapters 10 and 11.)
Lord Nrsimhadeva is Lord Krishna’s incarnation as half man, half lion. When the evil king Hiranyakashipu found that his son Prahlad was continuously praying to Krishna and coaxing his schoolmates to become devotees of the Lord, he was furious. He began to terrorize and torture his young son, until finally Krishna, in the form of Nrsimhadeva, burst from a pillar in Hiranyakashipu’s palace and slew the evil king to protect His devotee. Vaishnavas the world over pray to Lord Nrsimhadeva for protection, particularly in dangerous circumstances.
Lord Balarama is the first personal expansion of Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. All other incarnations expand from Him. In Lord Krishna’s pastimes, He appears as Krishna’s elder brother. Together Krishna and Balarama enact many pastimes as cowherd boys in the land of Vrindavan. Lord Balarama carries a plow and club and is known for His great strength. Therefore devotees pray to him for spiritual strength. (See Sri Chaitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila, Chapter 5.)
Krishna is the Supreme Person, the Godhead. He is the speaker of the Bhagavad-gita, recognized throughout the world as one of mankind’s greatest books of wisdom. In the Gita, as it is also known, Krishna says repeatedly that He is God Himself, the source of everything.
Five thousand years ago, Krishna appeared on Earth, and devotees celebrate the appearance by chanting His name, reading about Him, and fasting throughout the day.
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. He brought the teachings of Lord Chaitanya out of India and spread them all over the world. In only twelve years, he circled the globe fourteen times, initiated over ten thousand disciples, and established one hundred and eight Krishna temples. However, he is perhaps most famous for his books. He is the author of Bhagavad-gita As It Is and over forty other volumes of translation, commentary, and scriptural instruction.
Srimati Radharani is the eternal consort of Lord Sri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Together, they are known as the divine couple, and are the full manifestation of God. Embodying perfect love for Krishna, Radha is known as the personification of Bhakti, or loving devotion to God.
Loving God is our natural state, now dormant. By Her pure example, Radha is the beacon calling everyone to re-awaken full love for Krishna. She also dispenses mercy to help us achieve that goal.
In the late nineteenth century, Bhaktivinoda Thakura reestablished the teachings of Lord Chaitanya, which by then had been largely misinterpreted or lost. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura wrote almost one hundred books to explain the science of Krishna consciousness, expose pseudo incarnations of God, and correct misconceptions about the path of devotional service. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura was both an active preacher and the Deputy Magistrate for Jagannatha Puri, Orissa, as well as the father of ten children. One of his sons was Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, guru of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
On this day, the farming people of Vrindavan (where Lord Krishna appeared on Earth) traditionally held a festival in honor of the demigod Indra, who provided the rains essential for their harvest. Krishna, however, convinced them to honor Govardhana Hill instead, because it provided the grass upon which their cows and bulls grazed. Outraged, Indra retaliated with terrifying thunderstorms. But Krishna showed that he was supreme and more powerful than Indra by lifting Govardhana Hill above His head to shelter Vrindavana’s inhabitants.
To celebrate this festival, devotees build a replica of Govardhana Hill made of food, and they worship Lord Krishna as the lifter of Govardhana Hill, and the hill itself as Krishna’s incarnation. Special worship is also given to the cows and bulls, which are so dear to the Lord.
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder-Acharya of the International Society of Krishna consciousness, passed away in November 1977, in Vrindavana, the holy land of Krishna’s birth. He was surrounded by many loving disciples and left a legacy of thousands of Krishna devotees, over one hundred temples, and many revered teachings in his books.