Blessed indeed is that soul who, due to some good fortune, can observe the month of Kartika in the most exalted of all holy places, Sri Vrndavana-dhama. This month, known as the month of Damodara, is most auspicious and truly benevolent, for the sukrti obtained by performing devotional activities for the pleasure of the Lords in this month is 1000 times more than in any other time of the year. This month commemorates how mother Yasoda was able to bind the Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krsna with the ropes of her love and affection. The same Supreme Lord, who is difficult to attain for Lord Brahma, Lord Siva, and even the Goddess of Fortune, Laksmi devi, was bound by the selfless, pristine parental love of Mother Yasoda. It is in this very month that Vrajendranandana Sri Krsna displayed transcendental fear of his mother and was running from her to escape punishment. After greatly endeavoring and also by receiving the mercy of the Lord, the two ingredients a devotee needs in order to bind Syamasundara, she tied Krsna to a grinding mortar. Sri Krsna later crawled to the twin Yamalarjuna trees growing in the courtyard of Nanda Maharaja, dragging the mortar behind him, and delivered the two sons of Kuvera, namely Nalakuvera and Manigriva. Remembering this beautiful pastime, and hoping to one day be able to bind Damodara with their ropes of love, devotees offer ghee lamps in the evening and sing the beautiful Damodarastakam. This creates a transcendentally surcharged atmosphere in the temple room of Krsna-Balarama Mandira in the land of Vraja, the very place where Sri Yasodanandana manifested these pastimes five thousand years ago. The Lords purpose was to satisfy his pure devotees and to attract the minds of conditioned souls to His pastimes, so they can one day realize their eternal nature as the servants of Sri Krsna (jivera svarupa haya krisnera nitya-dasa).
This month is also known as Urja-vrata. Urja means sakti and refers to Sri Krsna’s internal potency, the personification of which is Vrndavaneswari Sri Radha. Thus She is the predominating deity of this month of Kartika. Glorification of Her transcendental name, fame, form and qualities, is the main vrata to be performed in this month. In this month, Sri Radha and the other sakhis sang the Gopi-gita, which is truly relished by elevated Vaisnavas who aspire for the moods of the young damsels of Vraja, whose love for Krsna is unsurpassed. Foremost among all gopis is Srimati Radhika. Aspiring to be the humble recipients of a single drop of the moods of separation of the gopis and pleading to receive the dust of their lotus feet, the devotees chant the Gopi-gita in the Krishna Hall, after they have sung Damodarastakam.
This Kartika month is truly glorious, not only for the aforementioned reasons but also because many prominent, pleasing pastimes of the Lord were performed in this month. On the first day of the month, Sarad Purnima, the Saradiya raas was performed and the desires of the gopis were fulfilled. In this month, the gopis who had never before attained the direct audience of their worshipable Lord, their very life and soul Sri Krsna, were purified of all the traces of anarthas left in them by the intense heat of separation and were able to fulfill their long cherished heart’s desire to attain their one and only goal, the lotus feet of Sri Krsna.
It was in this month that the demon Aristasura was killed, which led to the appearance of Radhaa-kunda and Syama-kunda, two beautiful kundas at the foot of the great Govardhan Hill. These kunds are lined with jewelled steps, filled with blooming lotus flowers and surrounded by the kunjas of the eight prominent aakhis. In the centre is the kunja of Ananga Manjari, Svanada-sukhada-kunja, where the Divine Couple perform many enchanting pastimes.
In this auspicious month, on Amavasya, Dipavali is celebrated, the festival of lights.It is held in honor of Lord Rama’s long awaited return to his kingdom of Ayodhya, after 14 years of banishment and the war waged between Rama and Ravana. Devotees celebrate this beautiful festival by lighting lamps in all the corners of their houses and discussing the pleasing transcendental pastimes of Lord Rama. The day after Amavasya, Govardhan puja is celebrated. On this day, all the Brijabasis, after stopping their worship of Lord Indra in accordance with the instructions of Syamasundara, worshiped Giriraja-Govardhan, who is celebrated as Hari-dasa-varya, the best of the servants of Sri Hari. Sri Girirajaserves the Divine Couple by providing gently flowing streams, beautiful waterfalls, fragrant forests full of fruits and flowers, and caves suitable for various pastimes. Prior to Krsna lifting Govardhana Hill, All the Brijvasis performed parikrama of the glorious, blessed mountain Govardhan. Following in their footsteps, devotees perform parikrama of Giriraja Maharaja and offer anakuta to the deities. Mother cow is also worshiped on this day.
Other auspicious days celebrated in this month are the disappearance day of Srila Prabhupada, the founder acarya of ISKCON, without whose mercy we would not know anything about this supremely purifying month. A few days after that is Gopastami, the day commemorating Sri Krsna’s going out to graze the cows for the very first time. Many other festivals are also celebrated in this month, enhancing the spiritual mood of this already transcendental realm of Vrndavana.
Devotees from all over the world come to Vrndavana during this month to become spiritually surcharged so they may continue their preaching of Krsna Consciousness with vigor. They participate in Vraja-mandala parikrama, krsna-katha, and deep-daan (offering a ghee lamp). They sing of various Vaisnava bhajanas, kirtanas and perform many other devotional activities for the satisfaction of Sri Guru-Gauranga and Krsna. We therefore welcome all of you to come to Vrndavana for the upcoming month of Kartika.