Gaura Purnima is the celebration of the appearance day anniversary of Lord Shri Krishna Chaitanya. The Vedic calendar is based on the lunar cycle, and purnima is the period of the cycle when the moon is full. It is considered a very auspicious time and Lord Chaitanya was born during this cycle of the moon in Mayapur, India in 1486. The Lord’s complexion was golden, so hence the date is celebrated as Gaura Purnima.
Lord Chaitanya’s significance can’t be overestimated, since He was Krishna Himself. He came specifically to deliver the fallen souls of the Kali Yuga by preaching the process of sankirtana, or the congregational chanting of the holy name of God. He was a brahmana by birth, and He grew up to be the perfect spiritual master. He freely distributed love of Krishna to anyone who was willing to receive it. He taught His disciples the science of loving Krishna, and it is because of Him that so many temples were erected in the holy land of Vrindavana. Below is an excerpt from the Sri Caitanya Caritamrtra describing the Lord’s birth.
“I offer my respectful obeisances unto the full-moon evening in the month of Phālguna, an auspicious time full of auspicious symptoms, when Lord Shri Chaitanya Mahāprabhu advented Himself with the chanting of the holy name, Hare Krishna.
On the full-moon evening of the month of Phālguna when the Lord took birth, coincidentally there was also a lunar eclipse.
In jubilation everyone was chanting the holy name of the Lord—“Hari! Hari!”—and Lord Shri Chaitanya Mahāprabhu then appeared, after first causing the appearance of the holy name.
At His birth, in His childhood and in His early and later boyhood, as well as in His youth, Lord Chaitanya Mahāprabhu, under different pleas, induced people to chant the holy name of Hari [the Hare Krishna mahā-mantra].
In His childhood, when the Lord was crying He would stop immediately upon hearing the holy names Krishna and Hari.
All the friendly ladies who came to see the child would chant the holy names, “Hari, Hari!” as soon as the child would cry.
When all the ladies saw this fun, they enjoyed laughing and called the Lord “Gaurahari.” From then on, Gaurahari became another of His names.
His childhood lasted until the date of hāte khadi, the beginning of His education, and His age from the end of His childhood until He married is called pauganda.
After His marriage His youth began, and in His youth He induced everyone to chant the Hare Krishna mahā-mantra anywhere and everywhere.
During His pauganda age He became a serious student and also taught disciples. In this way He used to explain the holy name of Krishna everywhere.
When teaching a course in grammar [vyākarana] and explaining it with notes, Shri Chaitanya Mahāprabhu taught His disciples about the glories of Lord Krishna. All explanations culminated in Krishna, and His disciples would understand them very easily. Thus His influence was wonderful.
When Lord Chaitanya Mahāprabhu was a student, He asked whomever He met to chant the Hare Krishna mahā-mantra. In this way He inundated the whole town of Navadvipa with the chanting of Hare Krishna.
Just prior to His youthful life, He began the saìkirtana movement. Day and night He used to dance in ecstasy with His devotees.
The sankirtana movement went on from one part of the town to another, as the Lord wandered everywhere performing kirtana. In this way He inundated the whole world by distributing love of Godhead.
Lord Chaitanya Mahāprabhu lived in the Navadvipa area for twenty-four years, and He induced every person to chant the Hare Krishna mahā-mantra and thus merge in love of Krishna.
For His remaining twenty-four years, Shri Chaitanya Mahāprabhu, after accepting the renounced order of life, stayed at Jagannātha Puri with His devotees.
For six of these twenty-four years in Nilācala [Jagannātha Puri], He distributed love of Godhead by always chanting and dancing.
Beginning from Cape Comorin and extending through Bengal to Vrindāvana, during these six years He toured all of India, chanting, dancing and distributing love of Krishna.
The activities of Lord Chaitanya Mahāprabhu in His travels after He accepted sannyāsa are His principal pastimes. His activities during His remaining eighteen years are called the antya-lilā, or the final portion of His pastimes.
For six of the eighteen years He continuously stayed in Jagannātha Puri, He regularly performed kirtana, inducing all the devotees to love Krishna simply by chanting and dancing.
For the remaining twelve years He stayed in Jagannātha Puri, He taught everyone how to taste the transcendental mellow ecstasy of love of Krishna by tasting it Himself.
Day and night Lord Chaitanya Mahāprabhu felt separation from Krishna. Manifesting symptoms of this separation, He cried and talked very inconsistently, like a madman.
As Shrimati Rādhārāni talked inconsistently when She met Uddhava, so also Shri Chaitanya Mahāprabhu relished, both day and night, such ecstatic talk in the mood of Shrimati Rādhārāni.
The Lord used to read the books of Vidyāpati, Jayadeva and Candidāsa, relishing their songs with His confidential associates like Shri Rāmānanda Rāya and Svarupa Dāmodara Gosvāmi.
In separation from Krishna, Shri Chaitanya Mahāprabhu relished all these ecstatic activities, and thus He fulfilled His own desires.”
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