(Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das Maharaj): According to our Gaudiya Vaishnava Acaryas, 5,000 years ago, Bhagavan Shri Krishna originally manifested Radha-Syama Kundas on Caitra Purnima. For Gaudiya Vaisnavas, Kartik Bahulastami is the sacred day that Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu unveiled the hidden location of Radha Kunda.
As far as we know, the only Gaudiya Vaisnava praman or evidence to establish the appearance day of Radha Kunda comes from Shri Jiva Goswamipada’s commentary on Shrimad Bhagavatam (10.45.3): “ON CAITRA PURNIMA (March-April) Bhagavan Shri 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 Shrimati Radharani, Gaudiya Vaishnavas bathe every year in Radha Kunda at midnight on Caitra Purnima to celebrate the appearance, and also in Kartik 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-Shyama 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). Shri Caitanyadeva first came to Mathura (Cc 2.17.155); then Gaurahari toured the 12 forests of Vrindavan (Cc 2.17.193); and He arrived in Arita Grama (Radha Kunda) on Kartik Bahulastami when MAHAPRABHU DISCOVERED RADHA KUNDA (Cc 2.18.1-13).
Since then, the old Vrajavasi sadhus and Gaudiya saints say that Gaudiya Vaishnavas have been especially honoring Mahaprabhu’s discovery of Radha Kunda by bathing in Radha Kunda on Bahulastami in Kartik. The Goswamis also endorse this practice.
Shri Rupa Goswamipada in Mathura Mahatmyam (verse 439, 441) and Shri Sanatana Goswamipada in Hari Bhakti Vilasa (16.207, 210) both quote the Padma Purana, Kartik mahatmyam which says: “Anyone who BATHES ON THE DAY of Bahulastami in Radha-kunda becomes very dear to Bhagavan Shri 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, Shri Krishna. All the different spiritual truths, practices and places exist together in perfect harmony vibrating beautifully for the happiness of Shri Shri 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.
Kartik Bahulastami ki jai!
Chaitra Purnima Radha-kunda Appearance ki jai!
Jai Jai Shri Radhe!
Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Maharaj (DOB 6 Feb. 1951) has been a Gaudiya Vaisnava Babaji (sannyasi), and a teacher of Gaudiya spiritual truths, practices and perfection (siddhanta, sadhana, sadhya) since 1974. He has authored 25 English & 11 Hindi spiritual books about Shri Guru, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Radha-Krishna, and the Gaudiya holy places.