By Srila Prabhupada’s mercy we are able to be in Sri Vrindavana dhama, physically or mentally or through internet etc., and behold the beautiful, transcendental forms of our Lords, Sri Sri Gaur Nitai, Sri Sri Krishna Balarama and Sri Sri Radha Shyamasundar. And we are most fortunate to be here during the month of Kartik, also known as Damodar masa, month. Any devotee who comes at this time can experience the wonderful, devotional ambiance, especially in the evening, when the assembled devotees are chanting the Holy Names, the Hare Krishna maha mantra for the pleasure of the Lord. And when the Damodar astakama prayers are chanted, glorifying Krishna, Who is the Supreme Lord, adored by His eternal associates, Who is bound by His mother Yashoda, with parental love, with ropes to a wooden mortar, then the devotees are swimming in the ocean of bliss. The devotees are trying to increase their devotional activities, reducing material necessities during this month. Traditionally on the last day of the previous month, Ashvin masa, purnima tithi, the sankalpa, declaration of the vrata, vow one is taking, is formally or informally declared, in front of the Deities, in the temple or at home. That evening the lamp is offered and the prayers are chanted. The next day is the first day of Kartik month and the devotees are abstaining from taking urad dal at least. Others may abstain from eating any sweets or may take only once grains a day. Some are not taking any grains at all. Most important is to be always engaged in the various limbs of devotional service, not wasting any time in sense gratification, gossiping and we should by all means avoid criticizing or offending any vaisnava and for that matter also not hurt any living being.
Krishna is performing so many pastimes throughout the day, and nighttime also, simultaneously in the spiritual world, Goloka Vrindavan, known as aprakat lila, not visible to ordinary person, and in the material world, known as prakat lila, visible when He is present here. By the mercy of the Lord these pastimes have been revealed in the transcendental literatures presented by His pure devotees. The intelligent vaisnavas will daily hear and speak about these pastimes and then try to remember them also. In this way they are always very enthusiastically also able to serve the Lord in various ways.
Sharad purnima, full moon day and night, the famous and wonderful, divine dance, rasa lila, was performed by Krishna with His beloved gopis, at the bank of the Yamuna river, under the full moon. As Srila Prabhupada and our previous acaryas have pointed out our goal is to one day enter the arena of the rasa dance and be able to serve the divine couple during Their loving pastimes. But in the beginning stage of devotional service we humbly pray to be able to listen about His pastimes with proper consciousness. On the 8th day of this month the appearance of Shyama kunda and Radha kunda, in this world, is celebrated. In the Srimad Bhagavatam, 10th Canto, these pastimes have been revealed to some extent and our previous acaryas have also elaborated on these wonderful pastimes for our benefit. Krishna is unlimited and His pastimes are unlimited and very deep and confidential and mysterious and we therefore have to hear from the advanced, realized devotees so we may properly understand and get a glimpse of amazing Krishna and His entourage and His pastimes.
An other important festival in this month is divali, also known as dipa vali. It is on Amavasya, new moon day and night. The pastime of mother Yashoda binding Krishna happened actually on this day. Originally is was observed during Rama lila. Lord Rama, after killing the wicked Ravana, returned on this evening, accompamied by His beloved Sita Devi and His brother Lakshman and Hanuman and others to Ayodhya. The inhabitants of Ayodhya lighted lamps and put all around their houses, on the streets, at the palace of the king, practically everywhere, to welcome Sri Rama. All over the world it is celebrated by those following Vaisnava, vedic, Indian culture up to this day. Also in Krishna lila and Gaur lila it is celebrated, and actually this lila of binding Krishna, happened on this day, as Krishna was a small boy.
The next day we observe govardhana puja. Lord Indra became upset because Krishna told His father not to worship Indra in such an elaborate way. Krishna said rather we should worship Giriraj, who is supplying so many things to us Vrajavasis, like grass for the cows, fruits, water, minerals and also we can play there at any time and when it rains or it is too hot or too cold we can take shelter of the many caves there. Also we should worship the cow and the bull, who are just like our mother and father. Especially the cow is supplying milk, which is so essential for us, for our daily use, and for getting ghee and dahi etc. Even the cow dung and urine are helpful for us. And finaly we should worship the brahmanas, who are giving us blessings so that we may have a peaceful life. Indra got upset and sent so much rain. The Vrajavasis took shelter of Krishna and He lifted up very easily the big Govardhana hill with the little finger of His left hand, for seven days. During these days Krishna reciprocated with the Vrajavasis as per their different bhavas. Krishna is truly amazing and wonderful and very sweet.
Three days later on cathurti tithi we observe the divine disappearance day of our Srila Prabhupada, by glorifying his extraordinary devotional achievements all over the world, in establishing pure bhakti and bringing so many conditioned souls to join his movement in the many temples and centers all over the world and also many who took up the mood of Srila Prabhupada and practice Krishna consciousness at home. It is truly a great miracle, his impact in the world in regards to uplifting the consciousness of the conditioned souls. To adequately glorify him we do not have the words and the time and pages…..
On astami we celebrate Krishna for the first time taking out the calves and one or two years later also taking out the cows to the pasturing grounds. In the temple we adorne Srimati Radharani with Subala vesha, taking the dress of Krishna’s friend, who came to Javat and suggested to Radharani to take his dress so She may go and meet Krishna unnoticed. It is a beautiful pastime which is followed in the temples of Vraja. Those who are fortunate may take darshan of the lotus feet of Srimati Radharani….
Then on ekadasy we observe the disappearance of Gaur Kishor das Babaji Maharaja, the divine spiritual master of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur, the holy master of our Srila Prabhupada. Bababji Maharaja was the embodiement of renunciation, always chanting the Holy Names, remembering Sri Guru Sri Gauranga and the divine couple Sri Sri Radhe Shyam and showing us how to cry in separation from the Lord in order to be able to increase our love for the Lord. We always pray for the mercy of the great souls. Also it is the beginning of Bhisma pancaka vrata, which the great warrior Bhismadeva performed to obtain the mercy of the Lord. We may also try to perform this vrata according to our capacity, ability. The devotees, who follow strictly, will fast completely, but only take a little cowdung and water early morning and then fast, whole ekadasi, without water, from early morning till next day. At paran, breakfast time they will take some water and then some cow urine and then fast till evening time, only taking water, and after sunset they will take ekadasi prasadam. Next day early morning they will take a little ghee and then water only throughout the day and after sunset ekadasi prasadam. Next day early morning some dahi, yoghurt and water throughout the day and again only ekadasi prasadam at night. Finally on Purnima day, early morning they will take some milk and then water till noon time. Then they will break the fast with panchamrita and then they will charity to a brahmana, vaisnava, following which they will accept some sweet rice and full prasadam, also breaking Kartika month vrata and caturmasya vrata. If that is too difficult devotees may simple take ekadasi prasdam for these days or they simple try to avoid sweets for these days of Bhisma pancake or at least they should try not to gossip or criticize any devotee and always chant Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. On Kartika Purnima Krishna again performed rasa lila with the gopis, this time with only Radharani and Her intimate friends. Of course that is only a brief description of the many wonderful events of this most auspicious month of Kartika.