The ISKCON Juhu temple opened on Makara Sankranti, January 14, 1978.
The auspicious day of Makara Sankranti, which falls in the Krishna paksha of Magha mas, in the month of January, marks the sun’s entering the zodiac sign of Capricorn, or Makara. Although in ancient times all Sankrantis were observed and celebrated, Makara Sankranti is of special importance as it also marks the beginning of the auspicious six-month period of Uttarayana, the tithi of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s sannyasa and of the descent of the Ganges on this earthly planet.
After the Kurukshetra war, when Bhishmadeva was lying on a bed of arrows and was preparing to leave his body, he was waiting for the sun to enter into Uttarayana, which is considered to be an auspicious time, and therefore it is understood that he left his body on the auspicious day of Makara Sankranti, while beholding the beautiful face of Lord Krishna in the holy place of Kurukshetra, 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 Bhagirath 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 their only means of salvation would be if the Ganges would descend from the heavenly planets and come down to the earth and down to the nether regions. Then, by being purified by her, they would be freed from the curse. After the austere penances of King Bhagirath, the most purifying Mother Ganges came down to the earth on the day of Makara Sankranti, and this descent of hers is still celebrated—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 date was the acceptance of the sannyasa order by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu for the purpose of preaching and propagating the path of devotional service and delivering the fallen, conditioned souls in this Age of Kali. It was on this day that Mahaprabhu left behind his widowed mother and young wife in Mayapur and in the village of Katwa left the grihastha ashrama. Shaving His beautiful locks of hair and donning saffron cloth, He accepted sannyasa from Sri Keshava Bharati. As the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one of Mahaprabhu’s opulences is that He is the most renounced, and thus there was no need for Him to accept the renounced order of sannyasa. But seeing the faultfinding nature of the people and understanding that if He accepted 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 do so. Thereafter, He inundated the universe with Krishna-bhakti, and it is due to His causeless mercy alone that today we are able to tread the path of devotion under the guidance of and following in the footsteps of His followers.
anarpita-carim cirat karunayavatirnah kalau
samarpayitum unnatojjvala-rasam sva-bhakti-sriyam
sada hrdaya-kandare sphuratu vah saci-nandana
“May that Lord who is known as the son of Srimati Sacidevi be transcendentally situated in the innermost core of your heart. Resplendent with the radiance of molten gold, He has descended in the Age of Kali by His causeless mercy to bestow what no incarnation has ever offered before: the most elevated mellow of devotional service, the mellow of conjugal love.” (Cc Adi 1.4)
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