The Supreme Glories of Kartika
Here we find the rules and regulations for observing Kartik plus additional explanation of Damodarastakam Prayer which should be sung and deeply meditated upon everyday during Radhika’s holy month, as well as other useful information that will help us to be absorbed in the mellows of love for Sri Damodar.
sarvatha saranapatti kartikadi-vrata, ‘catuh-sasti anga’ ei parama-mahattva
SYNONYMS sarvatha-in all respects; sarana-apatti-surrender; kartika-adi-vrata-to observe special vows in the month of Karttika; catuh-sasti anga-sixty-four parts; ei-this; parama-mahattva-very important items.
TRANSLATION “Thirty-four: One should surrender to Krsna in all respects. (35) One should observe particular vows like kartika-vrata. These are some of the sixty-four important items of devotional service. (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 22.128)
Performing Devotional Service in Karttika
“One of the most important of these ceremonial functions is called Urja-vrata. Urja-vrata is observed in the month of Karttika (October-November); especially in Vrndavana, there is a specific program for temple worship of the Lord in His Damodara form. “Damodara” refers to Krsna’s being bound with rope by His mother, Yasoda. It is said that just as Lord Damodara is very dear to His devotees, so the month known as Damodara or Karttika is also very dear to them.
“The execution of devotional service during Urja-vrata in the month of Karttika is especially recommended to be performed at Mathura. This system is still followed by many devotees. They go to Mathura or Vrndavana and stay there during the month of Karttika specifically to perform devotional services during this period. In the Padma Purana it is said, “The Lord may offer liberation or material happiness to a devotee, but after some devotional service has been executed, particularly in Mathura during the month of Karttika, the devotees want only to attain pure devotional service unto the Lord.” The purport is that the Lord does not award devotional service to ordinary persons who are not serious about it. But even such unserious persons who execute devotional service according to the regulative principles during the month of Karttika, and within the jurisdiction of Mathura in India, are very easily awarded the Lord’s personal service.” (Srila Prabhupada in NOD chap. 12)
How to Observe????
(Srila Prabhupada Conversation with a disciple)
Devotee (2): Srila Prabhupada, today is the beginning of urja-vrata (the Kartik vrata). Can you describe what that is, urja-vrata, how it should be observed?
Prabhupada: Urja-vrata, you chant Hare Krsna twenty-four hours one month (laughter) That’s all.
Gurudasa: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna…
Prabhupada: Yes. Don’t sleep, don’t eat. This is urja-vrata. Can you execute?
Devotee (1): I don’t know. (laughter)
(Srila Prabhupada lecture 18/10/72 in Vrndavana RadhaDamodaraMandir)
Quotes from Mathura Mahatyam by Srila Rupa Gosvami
Residing in Mathura During the Month of Karttika
In the Karttika-mahatmya, Narada says: By bathing in sacred places and giving charity during the month of Karttika, a person in any country attains piety equal to an agnihotra-yajna.
krsna-salokya-do masah puja-snanais ca karttikah
anyah puryas tat-samana bhavanti mathuram vina
In Mathura bathing and worship during the month of Karttika place one on the same planet as Lord Krsna. No other holy place is equal to Mathura.
damodaratvam hi hares tatraivasit yatah kila
mathurayam tatas turjo vaikuntha-priti-vardhanah
karttiko mathurayam vai paramavadhir isyate
The month of Karttika, when Lord Hari enjoyed His Damodara-pastime in Mathura, delights Lord Vaikuntha. The month of Karttika spent in Mathura brings the supreme destination.
yatha maghe prayagah syad vaisakhe jahnavi tatha
karttike mathura sevya tatrotkarsah paro na hi
As Prayaga should be served in the month of Magha, and the Ganges in the month of Vaisakha, so Mathura should be served in the month of Karttika. Nothing is better than that service.
mathurayam narair urje snatva damodaro ‘rcitahkrsna-rupa hi te jneya natra
They who, after properly bathing, worship Lord Damodara in Mathura during Karttika, attain forms like that of Lord Krsna. Of this there is no doubt.
durlabhah karttiko vipra mathurayam nrnam iha
yatrarcitah svakam rupam bhaktebhyah samprayacchati
O brahmanas, residence in Mathura during Karttika is a rare attainment for humans. To they who worship Him there and then the Lord gives their original spiritual forms.
bhuktim muktim harir dadyad arcito ‘nyatra sevinam
bhaktim tu na dadaty eva yato vasya-kari hareh
When He is worshiped in any other place, Lord Hari gives only liberation or sense-gratification to His servants. He does not give them pure devotional service, for that service brings Him under their dominion.
sa tv anjasa harer bhaktir labhyate karttike naraih
mathurayam sakrd api sri-damodara-sevanat
By once serving Lord Damodara in Mathura during Karttika, the people can easily attain pure devotional service to Lord Hari.
mantra-dravya-vihinam ca vidhi-hinam ca pujanam
manyate karttike devo mathurayam mad-arcanam
They who, even without proper mantras and offerings, and without properly following the rules, worship Him in Mathura during Karttika, the Lord considers His true devotees.
yasya papasya yujyeta marananta hi niskrtih
tac-chuddhy-artham idam proktam prayascittam su-niscitam
karttike mathurayam vai sri-damodara-pujanam
The perfect atonement to purify the sins of a lifetime is: worship Lord Damodara in Mathura during Karttika.
sulabha mathura loke pratyabdam karttikas tatha
tathapi samsarantiha nara mudha bhavambudhau
Although Mathura is easy to visit in this world, and although Karttika comes every year, the fools still swim in the ocean of repeated birth and death.
yani sarvani tirthani nada nadyah saramsi ca
karttike nivasanty atra mathure sarva-mandale
All holy places and all holy rivers, streams, and lakes reside in the circle of Mathura during Karttika.
Sparopahasam uddisya karttike hari-sevaya
mathurayam labhed bhaktim kim punah sraddhaya narah
They who as a joke serve Lord Hari during Karttika in Mathura will attain pure devotional service, what to speak of they who serve the Lord with faith and devotion.
tatraiva dhumrakesam prati yama-vakyam
tasman nrpatmaja sreyah param kincin na-not; vidyate
karttike mathurayam ca sri-damodara-pujanat
Yamaraja says to Dhumrakesa:
Therefore, O prince, nothing is better than to serve Lord Damodara in Mathura during Karttika.
Residence in Mathura During Prabodhini tithi
In the Padma Purana, Karttika-mahatmya, it is said:
When Lord Visnu does not wake from His happy sleep on Prabodhini tithi, then all the holy places roar with asvamedha-yajnas. Note: Prabodhini tithi is the first ekadasi in the month of Karttika. On that day the Lord awakens from His four-month-long nap.
mathurayam tu kim vacyam jagare hari-sannidhau
karttike bodhinim prapya tatah sreyah param hi na
What can be said about approaching the Deity of Lord Hari when He awakens in Mathura? No day is better than the Prabodhini day in the month of Karttika.
rajyam anyatra santyajya sphitam nihata-kantakam
karttike mathurayam vai kaimutyam jagaram caret
One should leave any other great and peaceful kingdom, and in Mathura stay awake through the night during Prabodhini in the month of Karttika. What place is better than Mathura for this?
Residing in Mathura During Dvadasi in Karttika Month
In the Visnu Purana it is said:
A person who during the Sukla-dvadasi in the month of Karttika bathes in the Yamuna and sees the Deity of Lord Hari in Mathura attains the supreme destination.
atha bhisma-pancake padme bhismam prati sri-krsna-vacanam
tvaya krte vrate pascat khyasyate bhisma-pancakam
ye tatra janma-bhumau me karisyanti maha-vratam
mathurayam tu gangeya tesam bhaktih kare sthita
Residing in Mathura During Bhisma-pancaka (goes from Utthana Ekadasi til Purnima)
In the Padma Purana, Sri Krsna says to Bhisma:
O Gangeya, this vow you have followed will henceforth be known as Bhisma-pancaka. They who follow this great vow in My birthplace, Mathura, find pure devotional service resting in their hand.
durlabho bhakti-yogo me mama vasya-vidhayakah
karttike mathurayam ca vratenanena labhyate
Pure devotional service to Me which, becausae it places Me under My devotee’s dominion, is very difficult to attain, is easily attained by following this vow in Mathura during Karttika.
puranantare ca sarvabhista-pradam proktam
In another place in the Puranas it is said: Following the vow of Bhisma-pancaka in Mathura is said to fulfill all desires.
yatha bhavisye bhisma-panca-dine prapte
mathura-mandale hareh nidra-ccheda-kare punye
In the Bhavisya Purana it is said: A person who observes Bhisma-pancaka and Prabodhini tithi in Mathura will see Lord Hari’s splendid sandals.
Srila Bhaktivinoda’s article quoted in Bhakti-prajnan Kesava Maharaja’s book commenting on the Damodarastaka Prayers by Satyavrata Muni: “The observance of the Karttika-vrata is one of the most important things for the Vaisnavas. In accordance with these words, the vrata therefore begins on the waxing ekadasi that comes the day after Vijaya-dasami in the month of Asvina. And the vrata will be concluded on Utthana-ekadasi. That vrata which is observed during the month between these two dates is called niyama-seva. The rules of niyama-seva are: every day during this month, one must rise upon the last hour of the night, purify oneself and perform the mangala-arati of Sri Krsna. Then, after bathing in the morning, one should worship Lord Damodara. At night, one should light brilliant lamps filled with either ghee or sesame-seed oil, and place them in these places – in the Lord’s temple, around the base of tulasi plants, and in the sky. During the month of Kartika, one should eat only vegetarian foodstuffs and Bhagavan’s prasad remnants. One should renounce excessive eating and sleeping, plus avoid using oil, wine, and bell-metal utensils. After honouring prasad, one should hear or recite scriptures headed by Srimad Bhagavatam in the company of Vaisnavas. There should be incessant harinama-kirtana and smarana. Thus passing the entire month in observance of such regulations, on the final Utthana-ekadasi day one should fast from everything including water and stay awake all night absorbed in Krsna-katha. On the next day, after first purifying oneself and engaging in hari-kirtana, one should serve the Lord’s prasad to one’s dearmost intimate Vaisnava associates, and when they are finished one may then honour prasad. That day, at the end of the night, the vrata will be completed.
The chief aim of observing this Urjja-vrata is to please Sri Radha-Damodara. Srimati Radharani is called Urjjesvari (the Queen of the Urjja-vrata). Only because of this, in order to establish the pleasure of Sri Sri Radha-Damodara, the sage Satyavrata Muni uttered (in the eight verse of Damodarastaka) the words namo radhikayai tvadiya priyayai – “My obeisances unto Radhika, You most beloved.” By this statement, he indicated that the sole activity to be done during the observance of Damodara-vrata is the worship of Sri Sri Radha-Damodara.
Among the 64 branches of bhakti followed by our Gaudiya Vaisnavas, we see that the observance of Urjja is listed. It is to be understood that one follows the Catur-masya-vrata completely only if one honours Urjja during it. Some devotees are of the opinion – “Because Catur-masya-vrata is not listed among the 64 branches of devotion, we will only follow the (one-month long) vow of Urjja; we will not undergo the difficulty of observing the entire four-month-long vow.” In this way, those persons who attempt performing bhajana, but who are unaware of the deep meaning of the sastras, thereby remain in the indulgences of in discipline. Sriman Mahaprabhu Himself observed the Catur-masya-vrata while situated in many different places, and has thereby taught the practice by His own example. We cannot consider such persons, who are unable to follow the instructions that were enacted and preached by Mahaprabhu, to be part of the lineage of pure Vaisnavas.
At this point, we would like to mention that the principle of atma-nivedana is listed as one of the nine types of devotion (which are counted among the six types of surrender, saranagati). Is it understood, then, that by performing atma-nivedana (offering one’s soul), the other five types of surrender are therefore unnecessary? The ultimate surrender among the six processes of saranagati is atma-nivedana – by this being listed as such, it is understood that engaging in the other forms of surrender are also recommended for the sadhaka. Thus it is accepted that a single sadhana takes the form of several different aspects.
Due to the eternal nature of Sri Sri Damodarastaka, it is necessary to study it every day during the month of Karttika (or Damodara).
How to observe the Kartik Month?
Well may devout devotees of Lordi Krishna give up something that they like for a month. For example if one likes milk, then one gives up milk and its products for a month. By performing this vrata one is showing oneâ€™s devotion and austerities to please the Lord. Many also have only one meal after sunset.
Also in the morning after bathing go to your prayer place and offer lamp to a picture of Lord Damodara (which is provided at the top). Offer the lamp 7 times around the whole picture of Lord Damodara. Now for a bonus just for reading this article.Lord Shiva states in the Padma Purana to his wife Parvati Devi that, â€œif one offers a lamp with a Tulsi twig in it to Sri Krsna that person gets the benefit of 10 million aratiâ€™sâ€, BUT in this period remember I mentioned that everything is multiplied by 1000. So by offering a lamp the benefits you receive is 10 million xâ€™s 1000. You can also add Sesame seeds to the lamp, as this is most holy. Sesame seeds originated from the pores of Lord Visnu and removes eons of sins committed. By offering Lord Damodara a lamp with Tulsi and sesame seeds daily you will receive unlimited punya karma â€“ spiritual merits.
“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. Anybody who offers the Lord a ghee lamp in the month of Kartik, O brahmana, becomes free from all kinds of sins, such as killing a brahmana, and he goes to the abode of Lord Hari.” (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)
“O sage, that foolish person who does not offer a lamp in Lord Keshava’s temple during Kartik is not considered a Vaishnava (a devotee of the Lord).”
The conclusion is, as Lord Brahma tells Narada in the Skanda Purana: ‘O son Narada, the month of Kartik is very dear to Lord Keshava. If anyone acts meritoriously in this month just to please Lord Visnu, he receives unlimited results”
The point to emphasize here is that Kartik is not just about fasting. The most important thing is to somehow or another increases our activities in devotional service, especially during this holy month. If hundreds of millions of Islamic faithfuls can follow severe vows of fasting during their month of Ramadan, then we should be able to perform some special austerities to please the Lord of Kartik, Sri Damodara, as it has been prescribed and laid down by our Acharyas.
Radharani is Herself the Queen of Vrndavan, who maintains the vows of and directly reciprocates with Her devotees during this, holy month, which is also called Urja-vrata.
Kartik is the best, the purest of purifiers, and most glorious of all months. Kartik month is particularly dear to Lord Sri Krsna. 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 Kartik Devi; in other words, Radhika is the goddess or presiding Deity of the Kartik Vrata. = From the Padma Purana.
FINALLY remember what you do in this month has a thousand fold effect, so try to perform many good deeds and charity as possible because that multiplies by a thousand.