Gauranga

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Gauranga is a term popularized by the Hare Krishna movement in the 1970s. It is derived from Sanskrit gaurāṅga (Devanagari गौराङ्ग) "having a white or yellowish body", a bahuvrihi compound from gaura "white, yellowish, reddish" and aṅga "limb, member; the body".

Gaurāṅga is a name of Krishna in Puranic literature, and in Gaudiya Vaishnavism in particular a name of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (considered an incarnation of Krishna[1]).

In Vaishnavism[edit]

Within Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition it is taken to refer to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's golden skin complexion. Caitanya Mahaprabhu was born in Mayapur, West Bengal, in 1486. His activities and teachings are described in detail in the book "Teachings of Lord Caitanya" and the multi-volume Chaitanya Charitamrita.

The term predates Caitanya as an epithet of incarnations of Vishnu-Krishna, appearing in various Vaishna Puranas, for example in the Agni Purana (before 1100 CE),

prasantātma lambakanṭhas / gaurāṅgas ca sura-vṛtaḥ
"the supreme Self, long-necked / and golden-limbed, surrounded by sages"

Hare Krishna movement[edit]

Within ISKCON, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada propagated that whoever hears, reads, or speaks the name gaurāṅga is blessed with fortune and happiness due to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's extraordinary saintly nature.[2]

A Gauranga installation on a railway bridge in Leicester

Stickers bearing the word Gauranga or stating "Call out Gauranga and be happy!" began appearing on bridges over motorways and railways in Scotland, the North of England and Wales from the mid-nineties onwards. Stickers and fridge magnets with the phrase have also been handed out by Hare Krishna monks at music festivals throughout the UK, such as Glastonbury and Download.

Gauranga in popular culture[edit]

The song "Twydale's Lament" from the album Achtung Bono by Half Man Half Biscuit references this occurrence, with the lyrics "Gauranga Gauranga, yes I'll be happy, when you've been arrested for defacing the bridge."

The word is involved in one of the many Easter eggs in the first of the Grand Theft Auto video game series. The game displays the text "GOURANGA!" whenever the player runs over a complete group of Hare Krishnas, who are occasionally featured as pedestrians. "GOURANGA" is also the name the player has to enter in Grand Theft Auto 2 to enable the cheat mode. Additionally, in the online GTA IV mode, the message "Player X Gouranga'd Player Y" appears occasionally when a player is killed by running over with a vehicle.

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ see commentary by Bhagvant Swami Prabhupada on Bhagavata Purana 11.5.32: Gauranga is a-krishna "not black" = gaura or hari "bright/golden", a "chromatic complement", as it were, that is also encountered in the hare krishna mantra
  2. ^ "O infallible and most famous person, whose name, when chanted, spreads all good fortune!" from BhaP 8.17.8. "It should be noted in this connection that the holy names of Lord Krishna and Gaurasundara are both identical with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore one should not consider one name to be more potent than the other." A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada from Chaitanya Charitamrita purport, Adi-Lila, Chapter 8, Text 31. ISBN 0-947259-06-6.

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