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!!!!!!!!!!!!