The auspicious day of Makar Sankranti which falls in the Krishna paksha of Magha maas, in the month of January, is considered a very auspicious day, and marks the entering of the sun into the sign of Capricorn or ‘Makar’. Although in ancient times all Sankrantis were observed and celebrated, Makar sankranti is of special importance, as it also marks the beginning of the auspicious six month period of Uttarayan, the Sannyasa thithi of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and also the descent of the river Ganges on this earthly planet.
After the war on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, when Bhishma dev was lying on a bed of arrows and was about to leave his body, at that time he was waiting for the sun to enter into Uttarayan, as it is considered to be an auspicious time, and therefore it may be understood that he left his body on the auspicious day of Makar Sankranti while beholding the beautiful face of Lord Krishna in the holy place of Kurukshetra which is also known as Dharmakshetra.
This glorious day also marks the descent of mother Ganges on this earthly planet, after the austere penances performed by King Bhageerath with the aspiration to free his ancestors from the curse of Kapila rishi, who, at being falsely accused by the sixty thousand sons of King Sagar for stealing the sacrificial horse actually stolen by indra, cursed them to go to the Nether regions. After being pacified by their prayers, he proclaimed that the only way for their salvation would be if the river Ganges would descend from the heavenly planets and come down to the earth and upto the nether regions, then by being purified by her they shall be freed from the curse. After the austere penances of King Bhageerath, the most purifying Mother Ganges came down to the earth on the day of Maker Sankranti, and this descent of hers is celebrated till today in the form of Ganga Sagar Mela, when numerous pilgrims go to the Sagar islands in West Bengal and bathe in the holy confluence of the Ganga with the ocean.
Another significant event that took place on this day was the acceptance of the Sannyas order of life by Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu for the purpose of preaching and propagating the path of devotional service and delivering all the fallen conditioned souls in this age of Kali. It was on this day that he left behind his widowed mother and young wife in Mayapur, and in the village of Katwa he renounced his Grhast ashram and accepted Sannyas from Shri Keshava Bharati, shaving his beautiful locks of hair and donning saffron cloths. Although, being the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one of his opulence is that he is the most renounced and therefore there was no need for him to accept the renounced order of Sannyas, yet seeing the faultfinding nature of the people and understanding that if he would accept the life of a renunciant then the general populace would be able give him the proper respect and refrain from committing offences at his lotus feet, he decided to take sannyas. Thereafter he inundated the entire universe with Krishna Bhakti and it is due to his causeless mercy alone that we are able to today tread the path of devotion under the guidance and following in the footsteps of his followers.
anarpita-carīṁ cirāt karuṇayāvatīrṇaḥ kalau
samarpayitum unnatojjvala-rasāṁ sva-bhakti-śrīyam
sadā hṛdaya-kandare sphuratu vaḥ śacī-nandanaḥ
May that Lord who is known as the son of Śrīmatī Śacīdevī be transcendentally situated in the innermost core of your heart. Resplendent with the radiance of molten gold, He has descended in the Age of Kaliby His causeless mercy to bestow what no incarnation has ever offered before: the most elevated mellow of devotional service, the mellow of conjugal love.
This auspicious day also marks the appearance day of Srila Gopal Bhatta Goswami. Gopal Bhatta Goswami was one of the six goswamis of Vrindavan, who were dear associates of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and were residing in Vraja to fulfill his desire of manifesting the holy pastime places of Shyamsundar and writing transcendental literatures on the sublime topics of Bhakti. The son of Vyenkata Bhatta and the nephew of Srila Prabhodananda Saraswati, the author of the masterpiece Sri Vrindavan Mahimamrita, Srila Gopal Bhatta Goswami stayed with his parents, who were great devotees of the Sri Sampradaya, and served them till they stayed on this planet earth, in accordance with the instructions of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
After the departure of his parents, Gopal Bhatta went to Sri Vrindavan Dham and stayed there in the association of Srila Rupa and Sanatan Goswami. Before going to Vrindavan, he went to the Gandaki river and there eleven Shilas came into his bathing pot while he was taking a dip in the sacred river. Not certain of whether he should take them along with him or not, he put them back in the river. However, when the same Shillas came twice more in his lota, he understood it to be the desire of the Lord that he should worship them, and therefore he took them with him and continued worshiping them while residing under various trees in Vrindavan.
Once, when a wealthy devotee came to Vraja and was offering various beautiful clothes and jewelry for the deities of the different Goswamis and also gave him beautiful ornaments and dresses, Srila Gopal Bhatta Goswami lamented not being able to beautifully decorate the three-fold bending gorgeous form of the Lord, as his worshipable Shillas were all round and did not show the divine bodily features of the Lord. Thinking in this way he went to sleep, and to his utter surprise, in the morning, one of the Shillas had transformed into a deity of Tribhang lalita Shyamsundar. Being the combined form of Sri Madanmohan, Sri Govinda and Sri Gopinath, with his tapering thighs and lotus feet resembling those of Madanmohan, his slender waist and broad chest appearing just like that of Govinda, and his lotus face, oozing nectar, was as splendid as that of Sri Gopinath, Radha Raman was exceedingly beautiful and captivating. Seeing the spellbinding form of the Lord, Srila Gopal Bhatta Goswami was overwhelmed with transcendental ecstasy and along with the other goswamis, he performed a grand appearance festival of Sri Radha Raman, after which he decorated his divine form with the ornaments and clothes that he had received. Indeed, Sri Radha Raman had appeared in this most enchanting form just for the pleasure of Gopal Bhatta Goswami, as the desire of his pure devotee is surely fulfilled by the Lord.
Srila Gopal Bhatta Goswami authored the Vaishnava Samskara book named Sri Satkriya Sar Deepika and also assisted Srila Sanatan Goswami with Sri Hari Bhakti Vilas. After having stayed in Sri Vrindavan Dham for the rest of his present lilas in this material world, he entered the eternal pastimes of Sri Sri Radha Raman in the nikunjas of Sridham Vrindvan, where he served them as Sri Guna Manjari. Some Vaishnavas including Srila Kavi Karnapura, the author of Sri Gaur Ganadesh Deepike, are of the opinion that Srila Gopal Bhatta Goswami is Sri Ananga Manjari in Krishna Lila, and therefore he can be understood to be both Sri Guna Manjari and Sri Ananga Manjari.On this auspicious day we pray to him to bestow his mercy upon us so that we may develop pure love for Radharaman and all the vaishnavas.
The Krishna tritiya in the month of Magha also marks the disappearance day of Srila Ramachandra Kaviraj, the disciple of Srinivas acharya and dear friend of Srila Narottam das thakur. Born in the town of Sarajani in the family of Sunanda and Chiranjiv Sen, he was the elder of two brothers, who were both great devotees of the Lord. Due to his poetic expertise, he was blessed with the title Kaviraj by Srila Jiva goswami and other vaishnavas in Vrindavan, who were all very pleased with his compositions in the glorification of the Lord. May Srila Ramachandra Kaviraj, who is karuna manjari in Golok Vrindavan, shower his karuna(mercy) upon us and bless us with Krishna bhakti.