By Mahanidhi Swami

The Karttika Vrata means, “Don’t eat, don’t sleep; just chant Hare Krishna 24/7!”

In 1972, Srila Prabhupada once observed Karttika month in Sri Vrindavana beginning on Ashwina Shukla Ekadasi, and he advised his American disciples to do likewise. Before leaving America to go to India for Karttika, Srila Prabhupada said, “In Vrindavana, we shall have Urja vrata [means Karttika vrata] for one month. You also could observe Karttika vrata here [Los Angeles] from the next EKADASI for one month.” (721005DP.LA)

When Srila Prabhupada arrived in India, some disciples asked, “Srila Prabhupada, can you describe how to observe the Karttika vrata? Srila Prabhupada replied, “You should chant the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra twenty-four hours a day for one month. That’s all! Yes! And don’t sleep, don’t eat. This is Karttika vrata. Can you execute? (721018ND.VRN) Srila Prabhupada ki jai!

More Karttika posts coming soon. Karttika niyama-seva Vrata ki jai!

Srimati Radharani ki jai! Shyama-kunda Radha Kunda ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

By Mahanidhi Swami

Why do Gaudiya Vaisnavas observe Karttika Vrata? Gaudiyas especially observe Karttika Vrata for the purpose of worshiping and pleasing Srimati Radharani. Because Radha is most famous as Karunamayi Radha, we very strictly follow all the rules and regulations of the Kartika Vrata, NIYAMA SEVA, so that Srimati showers us with Her divine compassion.

The goal of this month, our lives and every moment is simply to gain a glance of mercy and favor from our beloved Swamini Radha.

May Sri Radha, all Her merciful sakhis and manjaris, Sri Krishna, Nitai-Gauranga, and all the Gurus in our parampara bless us with gopi-bhava and Srimati Radhika’s eternal loving service in the groves of Sridhama Vrndavana.

For Gaudiya Vaisnavas, Karttika Vrata is more important than any other vrata in the year. Other vratas observed for the satisfaction of Syamasundara and His expansions last for one day at most, but Sri Radha’s pleasure vow of Karttika LASTS FOR ONE MONTH.

In Stavamala, Sri Rupa Gosvamipada describes Sri Radha in one verse as Kartiki-devi Srimati Radharani. In Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu, he describes Karttika Vrata as the Urja-vrata. Urja means power, strength and empowerment. And who is the source of this urja, power and spiritual strength? Urjeshvari Radha and only Radha. Kishori Radha is the Goddess or the Queen and one and only worshipable Deity of the month of Kartika.

Kartikidevi Srimati Radharani ki jai! Urjeshvari Radhika ki jai!

All Vaisnavas, including Gaudiyas, observe many other vows, vratas, and fasting days to honor Bhagavan or His various expansions on days such as Janmastami, Ramnavami, Nrsimha Chaturdashi, Vamana Mahadvadasi etc.

It is interesting to note that these shaktiman Purusha Bhagavan Vratas only extend for one day or half a day at most. But in case of the shakti, sarva-sakti-mayi powerhouse source, Radharani, the vrata extends for one month. It is not one day long or fasting till midnight like Janmastami or fasting half a day. It is one entire month called niyama seva month.

And yes, like all other Vaisnavas, we will sing about and full-heartedly glorify Lord Damodara of Gokula throughout this month and devotedly worship Bhagavan Sri Krishna in this most mischievous and beautiful form. But this most auspicious and wonderful month of Karttika, we Gaudiya Vaisnavas especially focus on worshiping and performing special observances for the pleasure of our most worshipful Aradhya-devi Srimati Radharani.

Niyama means doing extra and special sevas simply to please Radharani; more Nama-japa and kirtana, extra prayers, extra puja, extra reading, extra preaching, extra Hari, Guru, Vaisnava seva and more—all for happiness of Srimati Radharani. This is the goal of our sadhana.

Our prayojana is Radharani’s pleasure! We observe Karttika Vrata only for the purpose of bringing more joy to Radhika. And if Swamini so desires, She will be compassionate to us, purify us, and make us eligible to attain Her eternal divine service in the groves of Vrindavana.

Other vratas like Harivasara Ekadasi and Bhagavan Janmotsavas are of course important, but for Gaudiya Vaisnavas, Kartika Vrata is by far the most powerful, extensive and necessary vow of austerities, penances, pujas and devotional practices.

To repeat, our ishta-devi is Srimati Radharani and Karttika is THE MONTH TO SPECIFICALLY WORSHIP Srimati Radharani.

And there are so many benefits of the Kartika Vrata described in Hari Bhakti Vilasa which will be described in our upcoming articles. When the days get longer and longer, and your vrata seems to become more and more difficult, simply remember: DO OR DIE, IT’S ALL FOR RAI!

(Rai is a sweet name for Radha)

Karttika Niyama Seva Vratotsava ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!

By Mahanidhi Swami

On the day after Dipavali, Nanda Baba arranges for Jatipura brahmanas to do a pancha-amrta abhisheka of Giriraja Govardhana. Cooks prepare many kinds of sweets, rice, rotis and sabjis. Then then they arrange everything on leaf places to offer to Govardhana Hill. In one form Krishna sits next to Nanda Baba. And in another, huge form, Krishna sits atop Giriraja gobbling up all the offered foodstuffs at once with one very long arm! Observing this, small Gopala says, “Baba! Just see how Giriraja is eating everything!” Nanda and the cowherders happily gaze upon Giriraja in great amazement as Giriraja Baba concludes His bhoga and munches on some paan.

Then the Vrajavasis offer Giriraja Dharan lots of flower garlands and sandalwood paste. Local brahmanas offer Giriraja a huge ghee lamp held on a long pole. At the end, the gopas offer dandavats to Giriraja and ask Him, “O Giriraja Dharani! What is the best way to please You?”

Giriraja resoundingly replies, “I am most pleased by anyone who performs My parikrama!” So that’s exactly what Nanda Baba and all the gopas do. Leading the parikrama are the cows, then the brahmanas, the older gopas and gopis, the young gopis, Sri Krishna, His chums and lastly Nanda Maharaja and Yashoda Maiya. After Govardhana parikrama, Nanda Baba feed all the Vrajavasis brahmanas and give lavish charity of cows, gold, silver and cloth.

Nanda and his family then take prasadam and rest afterwards. The Playful Pair, Priya-Priyatama, slipped away for some confidential exchanges in a secluded Giriraja nikunja. Later, the Divine Couple return to the camp and meet again at midday at Radha Kunda for Their usual fun loving pastimes. (Gaur Govinda Gutika, adapted)

Radha-Govinda’s Giriraja Annakuta Utsava ki jai!

Giriraja Dharan ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

By Mahanidhi Swami

Hurry! Only 11 days remain until Karttika Vrata begins! The Karttika Vrata, the one month long vow performed especially to please Srimati Radharani, consists of “niyama-seva” or increased sevas and offerings in sadhana bhakti performed every day at particular times. Most sincere sadhakas are trying their best every day to serve Radha Govinda Yugala, so they really can’t do much more. But Karttika is a special time with special benefits available to devotees who need a boost to surrender more, do more and serve more.

Although many devotees observe Karttika Vrata from Ashvina Purnima to Karttika Purnima), the Radha-Damodara Mandira, all the Goswami temples in Vrindavana and Radha-kunda observe the Karttika Vrata “niyamaseva” month from Ashwina Sukla Ekadashi to Karttika Utthana Ekadashi (Oct.24—Nov.22)

We are reminding all the devotees to START NOW thinking about, planning and devising a reasonable and sustainable increased sadhana program for your Karttika Vrata. Remember the 5 P’s of sadhana success:

  1. Proper
  2. Planning
  3. Prevents
  4. Poor
  5. Performance

From Sri Radha-kunda Dhama within the Madana-sukhada Kunja, we sincerely pray that Radhika-Giridhari Shyama will fully bless all my devoted friends with the requisite enthusiasm, surrender and determination to complete their Karttika niyama-sevas vows. As always, every year we remind everyone of our Karttika motto, “DO OR DIE IT IS ALL FOR RAI!!!

Srimati Radharani ki jai! Radha-Damodara ki jai!

Sri Vraja Dhama ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!