Which day on the Vaishnava calendar has special significance for you, and why?
The day on the Vaishnava calendar that holds special significance for me is the appearance day of Lord Nityananda Prabhu.
Srila Narottama Dasa Thakura writes, nitai-pada-kamala, koti-chandra-sushitala: “The lotus feet of Lord Nityananda are as cooling as millions of moons.” He also writes, balarama hoilo nitai: “Lord Balarama appeared as Lord Nityananda.”
Lord Nityananda Prabhu represents spiritual strength and infinite mercy, both of which I sorely need to successfully complete my journey back to Godhead.
Sri Nityananda Prabhu is the original spiritual master, and He shows special mercy to even the most fallen souls, such as Jagai and Madhai, who attacked Him. When Lord Chaitanya wanted to kill these sinful brothers for their offensive attack, Lord Nityananda stopped Him by reminding Him that saving such sinful souls was Their mission in this world.
I have always been very fond of Lord Balarama, and in fact my namesake is Dasharha, Lord Balarama’s forefather. I pray for the causeless mercy of Sri Nityananda Prabhu.
Marble, North Carolina
Sri Krishna Janmashtami is the most special day of the year for me. Celebrating the appearance anniversary of the Supreme Lord, Sri Krishna, is a very happy occasion, especially in the association of devotees.
I joined the Hare Krishna movement on my eighteenth birthday, which happened to fall on Janmashtami, August 11, 1974. Two weeks earlier in Chicago I had met the Radha Damodara Traveling Sankirtan Party, headed by Vishnujana Maharaja and Tamal Krishna Goswami. After hearing the beautiful chanting of Vishnujana Maharaja and the expert preaching of Tamal Krishna Goswami, I wanted to join their bus group.
I remembered hearing that they were going to New Vrindavan in West Virginia to celebrate Janmashtami. So I took a Greyhound bus from my home in Wisconsin to West Virginia, walked onto the grounds, and immediately saw the RDTSKP bus. When I approached the bus I met Dhrishtadyumna Prabhu, who introduced me to the two sannyasis. I asked if I could join, and soon after Dhrishtadyumna was shaving my head. After taking a shower and receiving my first set of devotee clothes, I joined the ecstatic kirtanas. There is nothing more satisfying than congregational chanting of the names of God.
I realize that my real self-interest is Krishna consciousness and that my real friends are the devotees, who are selflessly trying to enlighten fallen conditioned souls like me.
Bhagavan Acharya Dasa
Nityananda Prabhu’s appearance day has always had a special place in my heart. Two years ago I had been wondering how I could glorify Lord Nityananda properly on His special day. I kept racking my brain, but nothing was coming. When His appearance day came, I suddenly had an inspiration to write a poem about Him. And within five minutes I had written ten verses. I offered the poem at the lotus feet of Lord Nityananda that day.
I realized that Lord Nityananda Himself had given His special favor for me to be able to write that poem, because I had never been able to write poems before. I hope that Lord Nityananda continues to let me serve Him eternally in various ways.
Basking Ridge, New Jersey
All the days are special, but the appearance day and disappearance day of Srila Prabhupada are the most special. I can’t imagine the material world without His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada. He has saved us. Even though we are in this material world, there’s nothing better than Krishna consciousness. I pray that in my next life I can be a fulltime devotee of the Lord.
Without Srila Prabhupada we in the West would not have known this wonderful ISKCON. My husband and I live in Port Elizabeth, and by Srila Prabhupada’s mercy we are able to assist with the building of the temple. We are determined to build it, and we know that Srila Prabhupada will give us the necessary knowledge and guidance.
Port Elizabeth, South Africa
It has to be Ekadashi, the eleventh day of the lunar cycle, as per the Vaishnava calendar. I fast on Ekadashi because it lightens my heart, and in my faith I am closer to Krishna, possibly closer to enlightenment than I have been in my other lifetimes. I do not want liberation. I do not want anything when I feel close to Him. I feel His presence, and I feel at peace. Then my worship of Krishna is not idle; it celebrates the inner peace I feel. It is important to my existence and my consciousness.
Jayananda Prabhu’s disappearance day is very important. With topmost humility he guides us and allows us to help him serve Srila Prabhupada. I use the word allows because Jayananda Prabhu takes the bums, drunkards, and otherwise useless conditioned souls and gives them the taste of devotional service. After he gives us this taste, we are rescued by the bhakti he exemplified.
Blue Ridge, Georgia
Srila Prabhupada’s appearance day is my favorite holiday because on that day devotees reveal through their heartfelt offerings the inspiration behind their life of devotional service to Srila Prabhupada and his mission. It’s also special because you hear Prabhupada stories you never heard and relish again those you have heard many times.
Prabhupada brings everyone together. His Vyasa Puja day brings out the best in all of us and pools our inspiration, giving us spiritual strength for another year of service. Not only that, but the feast on that day, cooked with great devotion and one of the most opulent of the year, often features his favorites, like kachauris, karela, and laddu—a very pleasant way to remember Prabhupada.
Srila Prabhupada’s appearance day—a special day to remember him, because without his temples, books, and devotees, I wonder if my spiritual life would have ever reawakened.