Kartik – The best of all months (Oct. 18 – Nov. 17, 2013 )

Quotes from scriptures – Importance of Kartik month

The month of Kartika is the topmost of all other months.It is the most meritorious and purified of all other pure months.

There is no other month equal to Kartika and there is no other yuga equal to Krtayuga. There is no other scripture equal to Vedas. There is no other place of pilgrimage equal to Ganges, therefore, the month of Kartika is very dear to the Vaisnavas (people dedicated to Visnu).

Among all twelve months, the month of Kartika is dear to Lord Sri Krishna. If somebody performs a little worship of Lord Sri Hari in this month, He offers that devotee His own abode. This statement is true.

“ Kartik is the best, the purest of purifiers, and most glorious of all months. Kartik month is particularly dear to Lord Sri Krishna. This month is full of bhakta vatsalya. Any vrata, even the smallest, will yield huge results. The effect of performing a Kartik Vrata lasts for one hundred lifetimes, whereas ordinary vratas only last for one lifetime! Srimati Radhika is the presiding deity of the holy month of Kartik. Rupa Goswami and others refer to Radharani as Kartiki Devi; in other words, Radhika is the goddess or presiding Deity of the Kartik Vrata”. – Padma Purana. : quoted by Srila Sanatana Goswami in his Hari-Bhakti Vilasa

Many festivals related to Krishna’s or His devotees pastimes occur during this month: Rasa-lila, Deepavali, Govardhana Puja, Appearance of Radha-kund and the disappearance festival of Srila Prabhupada & the auspicious Bhishma panchaka.

The Pastime of Damodar-Krishna
According to the great Gaudiya Vaishnava acharya Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, Lord Krishna enacted the Damodara-lila on the day of Dipavali. In this pastime, which is described in the Tenth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, Mother Yashoda, while feeding Krishna her breast milk, was forced to put Him down to attend to the milk pan boiling over on the stove. Krishna was very upset and after breaking His mother’s butter pots, He distributed the contents to the monkeys. Krishna then ran away when He saw a furious Yashoda chasing Him. Upon seeing Krishna’s naughty behaviour Mother Yashoda decided to punish Him. After a great struggle, Yashoda caught baby Krishna and tried to bind Him with rope to a grinding mortar. But surprisingly, she found the rope she was using was two inches too short. Although she added more rope, every time she tried to bind Krishna she found the rope was short by exactly two inches. Finally, Krishna, appreciating His mother’s hard endeavor, agreed to be bound. Then, by His compassion for His tired Mother, Krishna allowed Himself to be tied. (Devotees therefore call Him Damodara, “one whose udara (belly) is bound by dama (ropes).” )

Later, when alone, Krishna pulled the mortar between two yamala-arjuna trees bringing them crashing to the ground. Imprisoned in these trees were Nalakuvera and Manigriva, sons of Kuber, who had been cursed by Narada Muni. They were now liberated. When Nanda Maharaja returned and saw Krishna tied to the mortar in between the two uprooted, gigantic trees He untied Krishna and held him lovingly in his arms, thankful that His darling son had been protected from the falling trees.

Srila Prabhupada writes:
Yogis, mystics, want to catch Krishna as Paramatma, and with great austerities and penances they try to approach Him, yet they cannot. Here we see, however, that Krishna is going to be caught by Yashoda and is running away in fear. This illustrates the difference between the bhakta and the yogi. Yogis cannot reach Krishna, but for pure devotees like mother Yashoda, Krishna is already caught. Krishna was even afraid of Mother Yashoda’s stick. . . . Krishna is afraid of Mother Yashoda, and yogis are afraid of Krishna. (Srimad Bhagavatam 10.9.9, purport).

When devotees see the master of the entire universe bound by the love of His devotee their hearts are filled with extreme gratitude. Attracted by Krishna’s divine qualities their hearts are uncontrollably pulled toward Him. Although devotees do not wish to subdue the Lord, the Lord takes extra pleasure in being dictated and controlled by His devotees. Each tries to be controlled by the other, because where love is present, happiness lies not in winning but in being won over. Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam (6.16.34), “The Lord and the devotees both conquer. The Lord is conquered by the devotees, and the devotees are conquered by the Lord. Because of being conquered by one another, they both derive transcendental bliss from their relationship.”

Because this pastime happened during Kartika, Kartika is also called “the month of Damodara.” During this Damodara month, if one manages to capture Krishna with the ropes of pure devotion, he will be released from the bondage of repeated birth and death, thus everyone is eager for the mercy and will go through any effort to achieve a drop!

The Damodarashtakam prayer
A beautiful bhajan is sung during this month that justs melts the hearts of all the devotees with affection for little Damodara. Every night at the evening sandhyaa, the beautiful eight verses called the Damodarashtakam, written by the great sage Satyavrata Muni is sung. Damodarashtakam is a beautiful description of little Damodara (Krishna), who despite being the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the All powerful God, is still running in fear from His mother’s stick! Is this not the epitome of sweetness? Accompanying this rendition are all the devotees offering each a ghee lamp directly to Their Lordships in front of the altar and also to the effigy of little Damodara and Mother Yashoda which will be placed in the temple room for the duration of the entire month. This shimmering dazzle of glowing lamps is an offering of pure love between the devotees and their beloved Lord. Everyone can feel that sweet energy that permeates the atmosphere of the room, as they gently sway to the rhythm of the Damodarashtakam.

After immersing their minds in this wonderful pastime for an entire month, devotees feel much more closely connected to their Lord. You can also try this immersion. If possible, visit an ISKCON temple and participate in the evening Damodarastakam prayers throughout Kartika, offering your own devotion to Lord Damodara with your lamp. If you are unable to visit an ISKCON temple, please arrange to sing these prayers and offer lamps at home.

Amongst all this festivity, is another beautiful but serious side to Kartika. Many devotees will take this chance to intensify there sadhana and bhajana, and thus may do some kind of vrata or vow for the entirety of the month. This is our chance- one month! Only one month- of course after that month it becomes a habit! Habits are like that: if you do something for one month then it’s easy to keep on doing it. In his Nectar of Devotion Srila Prabhupada writes about Kartik: “(34) One should surrender to Krishna in all respects. (35) One should observe particular vows like kartika-vrata. These are some of the sixty-four important items of devotional service.” 

Quotes from scriptures on importance of observance of a vow during Kartik month:
“If somebody performs even a little worship of Lord Shri Hari in this month, He offers that devotee His own abode.”

“If somebody burns a lamp in the temple of Lord Shri Hari even for a short time (in the month of Kartik), then whatever sins, he has acquired for millions of kalpas (one kalpa equals 1000 yugas) are all destroyed.”

“A person, who for the entire month of Kartik eats only once a day, becomes very famous, powerful and heroic.”

“A person who happily reads the Bhagavad Gita in the month of Kartik does not return to the world of birth and death.”

“Of all gifts, the gift of a lamp during the month of Kartik is the best. No gift is its equal.”

“The pious result obtained by bathing in all holy places and giving all charities is not equal to one ten-millionth part of the result obtained by following the vow of Kartik.”

“In the month of Kartik, which is very dear to Sri Hari, one who bathes early in the morning attains the merit of bathing in all places of pilgrimage.” (Brahma Khanda).

“Suta Goswami says, “If anyone fasts and observes the Kartik-vrata according to the rules and regulations, the Yamadutas, the messengers of Yamaraja, run away from him, just as an elephant runs away by seeing a lion. This dear fast [vrata] of Lord Vishnu is even better than performing one hundred great sacrifices that would take him to heaven because the person who observes the Kartik-vrata goes to the spiritual world.” (Padma Purana)

“Although one can easily reach Mathura [Vraja Mandala] on this earth, and although Kartik month is easily observable, and although in the month of Kartik all of the places of pilgrimage, oceans, rivers, and lakes come to the Mathura area, still, those human beings who are foolish and suffering in the ocean of material existence do not take advantage of it.” (Padma Purana)

Specifically in the month of Damodara, one should daily worship Lord Damodara and take bath early in the morning, give charity and follow a fasting vow. This is the duty of Vaisnavas. – (HARI BHAKTI VILASA 16/3 from SKANDA PURANA)

Oh son Narada, those brahmanas who do not give charity in the month of Karttika, perform sacrifice, chant japa and fast for Lord Hari are the lowest of mankind. – (HARI BHAKTI VILASA 16/25 from SKANDA PURANA)

Oh great sage, after giving up all varieties of religious functions, one should follow Karttika fast and listen to the narrations of Lord Sri Hari before His Deity form. – (HARI BHAKTI VILASA 16/76 from SKANDA PURANA Lord Brahma speaks to Narada Muni)

One rat (female mouse) had once burnt a ghee lamp which was offered by someone else on Ekadasi day. By doing so, she achieved a rarely achievable human form and at last attained the topmost destination. – (HARI BHAKTI VILASA 16/129 from SKANDA PURANA)

Festivals during the month of Kartik : Oct. 18 – Nov. 17 2013 

24 Oct: Srila Narottama Das Thakur Disappearance (great Gaudiya Vaishnava acharya)
27 Oct: Appearance of Sri Radha Kunda (most auspicious place in the universe)
30 Oct: Rama Ekadashi – (Fasting)
3 Nov: Deepavali, deep daan
4 Nov: Govardhana Puja, Go Puja
7 Nov: His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada Disappearance (Fasting till noon)
9 Nov: Annual Sri Jagannath Rath Yatra (Old Delhi)
10 Nov: Gopashtami
13 Nov: Utthana Ekadashi & Srila Gaura Kishora Das Babaji Maharaj Disappearance (Fasting till noon)
17 Nov. Sri Krishna Rasayatra, Marriage of Tulasi & Shaligram (Kartik Poornima)

Besides these, in ISKCON Dwarka there shall be the regular Saturday & Sunday Love feast programmes & daily performance of Deep Daan (offering of ghee lamps) along with recitation of Damodarashtakam prayers every evening during Kartik month.

We cordially invite you all to observe Kartik month with some vow, participate wholeheartedly in these programs & attain eternal benefit by rendering devotional service to the Lord.

Sri Sri Rukmani Dwarikadheesh Temple,
ISKCON Land, Plot No-4, Opposite Radisson Hotel,
Sector-13, Dwarka, New Delhi

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