Mahanidhi Swami

One day in Goloka Vrindavana on Karttika Purnima during Sri Krishna’s aprakata-lila an amazingly, sweet and beautiful pastime took place. Soothing rays of moonshine danced on the floor of the nikunja, as Nikunjeshavari Radha, rapt in the anticipation of romance, sat in anxious waiting. But Priyaji’s gallant lover Shyama arrived in the wee hours of night just before dawn.

Upset and disappointed, Radhika glared at Shyama, and then angrily tied Krishna around the waist with the string from Her undergarment (nivi). Krishna said He was detained due to Maa Yashoda’s offering a feast to celebrate the end of Karttika. Pacified by this excuse, Radhika untied Her Priyatama and smiled affectionately at Her sweetheart. At that time, Sri Krishna felt the epitome of bliss being bound by His beloved in such an intimate way.

In supreme satisfaction, Shyama addressed Sundari, “O beautiful treasure of My heart, because You bound Me around the waist with Your girdle, My name Damodara has become even more endearing to Me. No other name of mine is as dear to Me than this. By the power of this name “Damodara”, one will obtain vishuddha-vraja-prema and residence in My glorious abode of Sridhama Vrindavana. During My prakata-lila in Bhauma Vrindavana, when Janani Yashoda binds me to the mortar this name Damodara will be revealed to the world.”

Now Bhagavan became famous as “NIVI DAMODARA”, and this is the most adorable form of Sri Krishna in Vrindavana that we so lovingly revere as Gaudiya Vaisnavas. (net source: Sri Jiva Goswamipada’s Radha-Krishnarchana-dipika, verses 120-127)

Radha-Damodara ki jai! Nivi-Damodara ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

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!

Mahanidhi Swami

In Karttika 1972, in his “eternal residence” at the Radha-Damodara Mandira, Srila Prabhupada had the most amazing conversation full of realizations and Vraja illuminations. Present there at that most auspicious time were his fortunate disciples Shyamasundara, Gurudasa, Hayagriva, and Prabhupada’s gurubhai Dr. O.B.L. Kapoor. We hope all our devoted friends will increase their understanding and love for Radha-Krishna, the Vrajavasis and Sridhama Vrindavana by reading the following entries which we have categorized by topic.

THE VRAJAVASIS

Srila Prabhupada: “The Vrajavasis prefer to die rather than give up their Krishna. Throughout India you’ll find that some of the lower castes—the shudras, or vaishyas, or harijans—will convert to Mohammedanism [Christianity], but in Vrindavana even the shudra will not give up Krishna, not even for all the gold in the world.”

“A devotee knows that this Vrindavana right here is Vrindavana. Even if the people living in Vrindavana do not appear very pious, they are most fortunate because they live in the land of Krishna. Jaya jaya vrindavana-vasi yata jana, all glories to all the inhabitants of Vrindavana! It is not said that only the devotees here are glorified. Everyone! Even the pigs. It is more fortunate to be born in Vrindavana than in a rich or aristocratic family, because in the next life, one will go back to Godhead.”

ANIMALS IN VRINDAVANA

Srila Prabhupada: “No one born in Vrindavana is ordinary. It may not be very palatable to hear, but those who live in Vrindavana and commit sinful activities take birth as dogs, monkeys, and hogs here. In this way, by eating the dust of Vrindavana, they become purified, liberated.”

Disciple: “Gurudeva, how does one get these different bodies?”

Srila Prabhupada: “If a person in Vrindavana engages in too much sex indulgence, he will get the body of a dog, a monkey, a pigeon, or even the body of a tree. The pig body is there for one who overeats or eats prohibited food.”

Disciple: “Gurudeva, what about those guys down by the Yamuna that smoke ganja all day?”

In a very sweet, humorous way with a slight laugh, Srila Prabhupada replied: “They get hippy bodies with big beards and long hair. And they have to take birth in San Francisco U.S.A.”

POWER OF VRAJA VASA

Srila Prabhupada “The effect of living in Vrindavana cannot be overestimated. At every turn, you are reminded of Krishna here, and your spiritual strength increases due to that contact. For instance, from ’62 to ’65, I would sit in these rooms and chant Hare Krishna and see the samadhis of Jiva and Rupa Goswamis. Just by thinking of how they wrote, I got courage to write. I would type and cook a little. I lived very simply, content to be in Rupa Goswami’s presence. These samadhis are the best in Gaudiya Vaishnavism. They actually inspired me to go to the West.”

DIRT & DETERIORATION

Disciple: “Prabhupada, it appears that the Dhama is deteriorated and unclean.”

Srila Prabhupada: “Vrindavana has not deteriorated! Just see. For a materialist, everything is topsy-turvy because his vision is perverted. Beauty and ugliness are in the eye of the seer. The ugliness that you see here is yoga-maya, Krishna’s covering. Vrindavana appears dirty and deteriorated to drive away the atheists and impersonalists. For a devotee, this Vrindavana is as good as Krishna’s transcendental abode in the spiritual sky, Goloka Vrindavana. But you must have the eyes to see. Vrindavana hides HERSELF from the materialist.

“Vrindavana is so potent that even the dogs and pigs here are going to be liberated. Life here is not polluted because even the most polluted are being purified. So it is not deteriorating. If even the dogs are going to be liberated, how has Vrindavana deteriorated?”

PERSONAL VRINDAVANA

Disciple: Prabhupada, why did you just speak of Vrindavana as a person [hides herself]?

Srila Prabhupada: “In spiritual consciousness, everything is personal. In Ramayana, we find that even the city of Ravana appeared before Hanuman as a gigantic person, a rakshashi, and Hanuman knocked her down because she challenged him.”

LIBERATION IN VRINDAVANA

Srila Prabhupada: “Both the pigs and devotees here in Vrindavana are liberated, indiscriminately. Unless one is a devotee in a previous life, he cannot take birth here. He may take a pig’s or dog’s body for a few years, but that’s no impediment. He is simply getting rid of sinful reactions.

Disciple: “Are people in Vrindavana liberated even if they don’t have a bona fide spiritual master?”

Srila Prabhupada: “Yes, because Vrindavan is directly under Krishna’s supervision. Krishna is their spiritual master.”

ALL BE MESSENGERS

Living eternally in Vrindavana engaged in the loving personal service of Srimati Radharani is the goal of all Gaudiya Vaisnavas. In our hearts, in our minds and with our lives we all try to live moment by moment in Vrindavana. We meditate on Vrindavana, dream of Vrindavana, and try our best to tell everyone about the sweet glories of Vraja Dhama. Every Gaudiya is a messenger of Vrindavana, carrying the good news of Radha-Govinda’s pure loving service to one and all.

In closing his wonderful teachings at this time, Srila Prabhupada humbly said, “I’m simply Vrindavana’s messenger.” (all entries from Vrindaban Days cp. 5)

Srila Prabhupada ki jai!

Kartika Vratosava ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Swami

The Fall season in Vrindavana (October-November), Karttika, is surcharged with both sensual beauty and spiritual shakti. The peacocks freely advertise their rainbow colors, and tall trees scent the breeze with sweet aromas from their flowers. With the loving arms of her soothing waves, the Yamuna River offers crystal clear water for tasting and cooling currents for bathing.

Every day at the Radha-Damodara temple, thousands of Vaisnava pilgrims go around the temple, participate in the many kirtanas, and hear the enlightening Bhagavata discourses by different panditas speaking in turn. This spiritual atmosphere, swelling with sounds, scents and sentiments, saturates any sincere soul with ecstatic love for Sri Krishna.

All the months of India are named after different forms of Narayana like Madhava, Govinda, Keshava and so on as in Vaisnava tilaka. Similarly, the month of Karttika is called “Damodara” which also refers to a Vishnu form. This fact is confirmed in sanatana-siksha (Caitanya Caritamrita 2.20.201), wherein Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said:

äçvine padmanäbha, kärtike dämodara, rädhä dämodara anya vrajendra-kumara

“In the month of Äshvina, the predominating Deity is Padmanäbha, and in Kärttika it is Dämodara. This Dämodara [which the month is named after] is different from Rädhä Dämodara, the son of Nanda Mahäräja in Våndävana

Nevertheless, most Vaisnavas understand that the “Damodara month” refers to that naughty boy, Krishna, who Mother Yasoda bound around the waist with a rope, which took place on Dipavali day in Karttika. 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.

Gaudiya Vaisnavas consider Radharani to be the presiding Deity for the month of because Sri Srila Rupa Goswamipada (Utkalika-vallari) refers to Radharani as Karttika-devi, the goddess of Karttika. Unlike others who call it the “Damodara” month, Gaudiyas, using the following scriptural evidence, refer to Karttika as the “Radha-Damodara” month.

“One day in Karttika, Shyama arrived late for His rendezvous with Priyaji in Her kunja. In loving anger, Manini Radha glanced at Shyama with frowning eyebrows. Using some golden vines, Kunjeshvari then tied a rope around Shyama’s belly to punish Him for not showing up as promised. Madhava pleaded that He was late because Maa Yashoda had kept Him home for a festival. Seeing Her mistake, Radha quickly untied Her beloved Damodara.” (Bhaviñya Puräna, Uttara-khanda) Rädhäräni’s desire to bind Krishna with Her love is fulfilled in this pastime. Thus Vrajavasis adore this Damodara, bound by Devi’s love.

The Garga-samhita tells another wonderful lila of Radha-Damodara: “One day as children Radha and Gopala were walking together in Bhandiravana along the shimmering blue waters of Kalindi. The lovely couple rested for a time under the cooling shade of a Banyan tree. In an instant, Yogamaya manifested their robust, youthful forms. Suddenly from nowhere, Lord Brahma arrived. Then acting as the officiating priest, Brahmaji performed a mock marriage with all the demigods in attendance. During the wedding ceremony the sari and dhoti of Radha and Krishna were tied together as is the custom in Vedic weddings. After the ceremony the guests left, and Radha-Govinda again assumed their childhood forms and walked home.” Since the Divine Couple were tied together at this time, some Vaiñëavas consider this pastime a lila of Radha-Damodara ki jai!

Damodara Yashoda-dulala ki jai! Joi Damodara Lal ki jai!

Karttika Vratotsava ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

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, [Hari Bhakti Vilasa says start on Purnima also ok] 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!

Mahanidhi Swami

Karttika is a special month to collect lots of mercy and blessings from Bhagavan Sri Krishna. Before citing the super benefits of observing the Karttika Vrata, we will quote Srila Prabhupada’s translation of one verse of Satyavrata Muni’s “Damodarastakam” which is chanted daily in the Karttika month.

Srila Prabhupada said, “In this prayer, one passage says, ‘My dear Lord Dämodara, once when You were playing as a naughty boy in the house of Nanda Mahäräja, You broke the box containing yogurt. Because of that, mother Yaçodä considered You an offender and tied You with rope to the household grinding mortar. At that time, You delivered the two sons of Kuvera, Nalaküvara and Maëigréva, who were staying there as two arjuna trees in the yard of Nanda Mahäräja. My only request is that by Your merciful pastimes You may similarly deliver me.’” (Nectar Of Devotion cp. 4)

In His teachings to Srila Sanatana Goswamipada (Cc. 2.22), Gauranga Mahaprabhu explained the 64 limbs of devotion by which one can attain the most valuable treasure of love for Krishna (pai Krishna-prema-maha-dhana). At that time, Mahaprabhu said, “In all respects, one of the most important limbs is to observe special vows in the month of Karttika, (karttika adi vrata, parama-parama-mahattva).

Srila Rupa Goswami extols the Damodara (Karttika) month in his Mathura Mahatyam: “To they who worship Krishna in Vrindavana, Lord Krishna gives them their original spiritual forms. The perfect atonement to purify the sins of a lifetime is to worship Lord Damodara in Vrindavana during Karttika. The month of Karttika spent in Vrindavana takes one to the spiritual world.”

The Hari-bhakti-viläsa proclaims, “O learned brähmanas! Lord Dämodara becomes very pleased if during the month of Karttika with one worships a Deity of Radhika solely for Her pleasure.” (16.95)

In Jaiva Dharma, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura said, “Another name for Kärttika is Ürja. Devotees take special vows of renunciation and increase their devotional activities of hearing, chanting, remembering, circumambulation, etc., to celebrate the pastimes of Sri Krishna.”

In his Nectar of Devotion, Srila Prabhupada said, “One of the most important functions is called Ürja-vrata, observed in the month of Kärttika. The execution of devotional service during Ürja-vrata in the month of Kärttika is especially recommended to be performed at Mathurä. This system is still followed by many devotees. They go to Mathurä or Våndävana and stay there during the month of Kärttika.

“Even unserious persons who execute devotional service according to the regulative principles during the month of Kärttika within the jurisdiction of Mathurä in India are very easily awarded Sri Krishna’s personal service.”

Srila Prabhupada ki jai! Karttika Super Benefits ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Swami

I. What is It?
It is a 30-day vow observed during the Karttika (Damodara)month for the sole pleasure of Srimati Radharani, the Goddess of pure love devotion to Bhagavan Sri Krsna in Vrndavana. In brief, niyama-seva means offering daily regulated extra services (eg. pujas, dipams, prayers, sastric study, parikramas).

II. Who observes it?
Because the Karttika vrata is extensively glorified, described and recommended in the Puranas and other Vedas, all vaisnavas observe it, especially the Gaudiya vaisnavas who strictly follow the teachings of their mahajana Rasikacarya Srila Rupa Gosvami pada.

III. How is Karttika vrata related to Sri Radha?
In BRS, Rupa Gosvami describes the observance as “Respecting the Urja vrata” and he says it is one of the sixty- four angas or important limbs of pure Krsna- bhakti. Urja refers to Sri Krsna’s internal potency for performing pastimes. Sri Radha is known as Urjesvari , the controller or Queen of all powers and pastime potencies. Therefore, Gaudiya vaisnavas observe Karttika vrata to please the Queen of Bhakti, Sri Radhika, in order to attain Her eternal service along with Her Priyatama Syama.

In Stavamala , Rupa Gosvami says Sri Radha is the ista-devata of the Karttika month by referring to Her as Karttiki Devi. The Brahma Vaivarta Purana describes the lila wherein Sri Krsna was late for His meeting with Radhika in a Vraja Nikunja. Priyaji punished Her beloved Priyatama by using many Madhavi- latas to tie Him up to a Kadamba tree.

Thus, the Gaudiya vaisnavas worship Radha-Damodara during the month of Karttika. Also in Bhagavad Gita, Bhagavan Sri Krsna says, “I am the month of Nov-Dec (Margasirsa aham).” As always, Sakti precedes Saktiman as in Laksmi-Narayana, Sita-Rama, Radha-Krsna. Therefore, the month preceding Nov-Dec (Krsna month) is Oct-Nov or Karttika which is Radharani’s month!

Jai Jai Sri Radheee!!

IV. What are the benefits?
The good results of other vratas last for only one lifetime but the Karttika vrata awards one inexhaustible benefits (aksaya phala). [HBV. 16.54] For even the smallest offering during Karttika, Sri Krsna gives one his spiritual form and eternal residence in Goloka Vrndavana.

V. When and where to observe it?
Wherever you are that’s where, but beware your heart is there— in Vrndavana. Why is Vrndavana the best place in universe to observe the Karttika vrata? It is because all the holy places, rivers and lakes reside in Vrndavana during Karttika.

The perfect atonement to purify the sins of a lifetime is to worship Radha and Krsna in Vrndavana during Karttika. Rupa Gosvami quotes Padma Purana in Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu (1.2.222), “Lord Hari awards enjoyment and liberation to devotees observing Karttika vrata outside Vraja Mandala.”

Summarizing Sri Jiva Gosvami’s tika on this verse, our Srila Prabhupada said, ”Even an unserious person who executes the Karttika Vrata in Vraja Mandala is very easily awarded Lord Krsna’s personal service.” (Nectar Of Devotion 103)

In other words, the worship of Radha Damodara in Vraja during Karttika has such supercharged spiritual power that one immediately becomes eligible for the blessing of pure bhakti from our most merciful Lord, Bhakta Vatsala Sri Krsna.

You can start on Ekadasi or Purnima according to Hari Bhakti Vilasa. Some devotees start Pasankusa Ekadasi and end on Purnima to get even more mercy.

VI. How to observe Karttika vrata?
All the sevas and practices mentioned here must be done everyday for the entire month.

A. EATING
(Choose your diet plan, and then everyday FOR 30 DAYS DO NOT EAT…..)

Diet # 1
Urad dal(e.g. kachoris)

Diet # 2
Don’t eat #1 plus avoid the following:
1. Carrots
2. Favorite food items
3. Fried food
4. Hing
5. Honey
6. Kidney Beans (Rajma)
7. Mustard oil (in or on the body)
8. Pickles

Diet # 3
Avoid items in #1 and #2, plus eat only one time during 24 hours (sunrise to sunrise).

B. TWELVE DAILY SEVAS (Observe each of the following twelve sevas everyday for 30 days of Karttika )
1. Rise brahma muhurta time and offer mangala aratika.
2. Recite Damodarastakam by Satyavrata Muni.
3. Offer ghee lamp to Radha –Krsna.
4. Observe celibacy one month.
5. Chant 16, 32 or 64 rounds Hare Krsna Mahamantra japa.
6. Recite astakams and prayers glorifying Radha and Krsna, e.g. Radha/ Krsna Krpakataksam; Gopi gita.
7. Hear, recite or speak Bhagavad Gita or Srimad Bhagavatam, Radha-Krsna Vrndavana lilas.
8. Perform 1-3 hours daily Sri Hari Nama Sankirtana.
9. Thakuraji/ Mandira parikrama.
10. Tulasi—aratika, song and parikrama.
11. Deity puja– Increase to maximun level.
12. Keep ghee or sesame oil lamp burning daily near Thakuraji.

Finally on last day of Karttika, you should observe the Utthana Ekadasi vrata; complete fasting including water, and remain awake all night hearing, chanting, singing and dancing for the pleasure of Radha-Damodara. On Dvadasi, break fast by giving charity and donating food to vaisnava brahmanas.

VII. Last Words
Before starting the Karttika vrata you should worship your spiritual master and the vaisnavas, and take their blessings for success. Upon conclusion of your vrata, you should again worship your spiritual master, thank him and offer mahaprasada to the vaisnavas.

From our small corner at Radhakunda in Sri Dhama Vrndavana, we sincerely pray to our Swamini Sri Radha and our Prananatha Giridhari Syama to bless you all with full success in your Karttika Niyama Seva Vrata.

And remember that whatever difficulties may arise to test your heart’s determination just think: DO OR DIE, ITS ALL FOR RAI!! Karttika Vrata ki jai! Radha Kunda ki jai!
JAI JAI SRI RADHE SYAMA!!

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 Vratosava ki jai!

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

Mahanidhi Swami

Hurry!  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 (October 20—November 19)

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!

Mahanidhi Swami

In every possible way, our Srila Prabhupada was a strict disciple and follower of his beloved Gurudeva, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada. On two different occasions Srila Prabhupada’s Guru observed a Karttika Vrata in Vraja Mandala. “In October 1934, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada and many disciples stayed in Mathura strictly executing the Kartika Vrata. During this time, he spoke on the topics of Radha-Krishna’s asta-kaliya-lila in Vrindavana.” (Ray of Vishnu) In 1935, Sarasvati Prabhupada observed Karttika-vrata in Sri Radha-kunda.

Perfectly following the example of his Gurudeva, Srila Prabhupada came to Vrindavana to observe the Karttika Vrata in 1972. In August of 1972, Prabhupada wrote a letter to the T.P. of Krishna-Balarama Mandira: “My plan is to come to Vrindavana for the Karttika Vrata, and I want to sit down there in the Sri Sri Radha-Damodara temple until sometime near the end of November. I will lecture daily in the courtyard on Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, especially for the benefit of the devotees.”

Srila Prabhupada came to the Radha Damodara temple, the place of Sri Rupa Goswami and the lotus feet of Sri Sri Radha Damodara—the source of the nectar of devotion. The time was Karttika 1972 and the audience was filled with fledgling disciples eager for nourishment. So it was the natural choice, according to time, place and circumstance for Srila Prabhupada to deliver the “Nectar of Devotion”.

What follows are excerpts from my book Prabhupada at Radha-Damodara, wherein various devotees told me their memories of that astonishing time:

Ganga Mayi dasi: “Every morning the devotees who were staying at Keshi Ghat would assemble outside Prabhupada’s room in the Radha-Damodara courtyard. Thirty devotees would have these real far-out, rip-roaring kirtanas. The sannyasis Subala, Parivrajakacharya, Paramahamsa and Tushta Krishna used to jump up and down with their dandas whirling about. And they would leap into the air, pole vaulting with their dandas. Those kirtanas were pretty amazing, come to think about it. They were very ecstatic. I remember thinking to record one of those kirtanas. But it was so wild I couldn’t figure out where to put the tape recorder. They were leaping around the courtyard like anything in ecstasy.”

Gopala Ghosh: “Prabhupadaji would come out of his room with his stick, and his chaddar wrapped over his shoulder. Two devotees would accompany him, waving camara and peacock fans. First he would do pranams to Radha-Damodaraji, then Jiva Goswami, Rupa Goswami and then sit down to lecture. During his lectures, he often paused and asked Hari Charan Goswami, famous pandit who would attend, if he had any questions. Prabhupada invited him many times to come to New York or London and preach the glories of his Deity, Radha-Raman and the aims of Gopal Bhatta Goswami.”

Ganga Mayi: “Prabhupada spoke from a small asana facing north, between Rupa Goswami’s bhajana kutira and samadhi. It was a tight cluster of fifty disciples sitting in the courtyard, which was just dirt and clumps of grass. The public didn’t pay attention, they just walked around us. During the talks, the monkeys would be jumping about in the trees, dangling on loose wires, or occasionally bounding amongst the devotees.”

Next we have some very enlightening quotes from Prabhupada’s 1972 Karttika Nectar of Devotion lectures. Gurudeva’s classes focused on four main topics: Guru, devotees, Goloka and living in Vrindavana. By reading these entries one can appreciate the special flavor of Srila Prabhupada’s intimate preaching to his disciples within the sanctified setting of Seva Kunja, Vrindavana.

SPIRITUAL MASTER

Srila Prabhupada: “A spiritual master does not think of himself as Hari, although he is offered the respect of Hari. He thinks of himself as the humble servant of Hari and all others. He takes his own disciples as his spiritual masters, and thinks himself to be their servant. They have to be trained, and Krishna has appointed me to train them.”

HUMILITY

Srila Prabhupada: “We should always be ready to offer respects, not only to devotees but to everyone.”

DANCING IN GOLOKA

Srila Prabhupada: “Once we go to the spiritual world, we stay with Krishna, dance with Him and play with Krishna. Or we serve Krishna as a tree, a plant, water, cow, land, as cowherd boys, as father or mother, or as gopis. When we go to Krishna, we live forever with Krishna in either of these capacities. Let me live at Vrindavana in any of these capacities, it doesn’t matter, but live there.”

VRAJA VASA

Srila Prabhupada: We should be very much respectful toward Vrindavana Dhama. If we remain here in Vrindavana, we should know that we are living with Krishna. How much we should be cautious, how much we should be careful, if we actually understand what the dhama is. The Holy Dhama is also Krishna. If You actually live in Vrindavan carefully without committing any offense or sinful life, then in this life you are going to Krishna.”

CORRECT VISION

Srila Prabhupada: “Cupid is one of the agents of this illusory material energy. There may be thousands of beautiful girls before a devotee, but that does not disturb his mind. He sees that they are all energies of Krishna. They are gopis of Krishna. They are enjoyable by Krishna. I have to serve them, they are gopis, because I am a servant of the servant: gopi bhartuh pada kamalayor das anudas anudasa.

RADHARANI

Srila Prabhupada: “Just like in Vrindavana, they always speak of Radharani, because the Vrajavasis have taken shelter of Radharani to approach Krishna very easily. The facility of Vrindavana is that you take shelter of Radharani directly, and Radharani will help you to approach Krishna very soon. This is the idea of coming to Vrindavana.”

TRUE DEVOTE

Srila Prabhupada: “This is the sign of a devotee, appreciation. The devotee always appreciates the qualities of the other devotees. A devotee who is actually freed from all contaminations does not find any fault with other devotees. He does not think that he’s a bigger devotee or greater devotee than others. He thinks himself as the lowest of all.”

The Dancing Lions

All narrations and dramatic performances should end on a sweet note, madhureëa samäpayet.

Thus we are concluding this Karttika article with a very funny true story that happened in Vrindavana during Karttika 1972.

A great Vrajavasi Gaudiya Vaisnava named Shri Gopala Chandra Ghosh, who has now gone serve his beloved Gopala, personally told me the following anecdote revealed in a conversation Srila Prabhupada had with Vishvambhara Goswami during Karttika in 1972.

Visvambhara Goswami: “Prabhupada, are you doing a circus in Vrindavana?”

Srila Prabhupada: “Circus? I am not doing a circus.”

Visvambhara Goswami: “Yes you are. You have caught many lions, and you have thrown them in the Vrindavana market. Many lions are now dancing there.”

Srila Prabhupada: “Lions dancing…. Goswamiji, you are an advocate, a big, big scholar and a leading person of Vrindavana. And you are my friend. So why are you saying this?”

Visvambhara Goswami: “Swamiji, with my own eyes I have seen five of your disciples riding on rickshaws, snatching from the shopkeepers and eating. The shopkeepers asked me, ‘Goswamiji, will you please save us! These Englishmen are snatching our yogurt, and snatching our pera, our sweets and our fruits. And as they do it they just say, ‘Hari Bol and Hare Krishna!’ This is very bad. Will you please go tell Prabhupada.’”

Srila Prabhupada: “Who has done this work?”

A short time later, five errant disciples came into Prabhupada’s quarters to plead their case.

Disciples: “Prabhupada, Lord Krishna stole yogurt and butter, so why can’t we? We are also following Him?”

Srila Prabhupada: “Lord Krishna played flute and performed rasa lila. So you do maha-rasa lila? And Krishna lifted Govardhan Hill, so you will lift Govardhana Hill? And Krishna danced on a serpent, can you do? Therefore, first of all you obey our Vaisnava order: trnad api sunicena taror iva sahisnuna; be humble and always chant Hare Krishna. When you go out on the road and see the Vaisnavas, you say Hare Krishna and bow your head.

“And when you go to the market, you can simply beg the shopkeeper to give you a sample of his sweets and then you can purchase. And if you have no money, then ask a Vrajavasi and he will surely give you some yogurt, sweets or anything you want. But you have snatched, this is very shameful.”

Karttika Vratotsava ki jai! Joi Damodara Jeu! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Srila Prabhupada ki jai!