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Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

Upon hearing about Bhishma-panchaka, non-devotees respond by saying, “O what a terrible vrata!” The following information comes from Padma and Skanda Purana.

I. BENEFITS & INTRODUCTION:

Bhishma Panchaka is a 5-day vrata, vow of fasting, starting on Utthana Ekadashi tithi (which usually means Dashami when the Ekadashi tithi starts) and ending on Karttika Purnima. Pure Krishna bhakti is easily obtained by Bhishma Panchhaka Vrata. Doing Bhishma Panchaka in Vrindavana can fulfill all one’s desires and easily give one pure bhakti for Sri Krishna.

II. STARTING BATH:

Begin with sunrise bath in holy place or at home on Dashami. Then starting the vrata, worship Bhismadeva with a bhoga offering, water and afterwards aratik. (use a painting of Bhishmadeva for puja).

Then offer obeisances and water to Bhishma along with this prayer: “I offer this water to Bhishma, who has Vaiyaghra pada gotra and Sanskrit pravara. I offer respectful obeisances to Bhishma, the incarnation of Vasu, who is the son of Shantanu and a lifelong celibate.” Worship Bhishma and pray for his mercy to complete the vow. Everyday bathe in silence at sunrise.

III. PUJA:

Daily bathe Thakurji with panchamrita. Offer new clothes to the Thakurji. Offer excellent food and cloves to the Thakurji. Offer aratika with incense, ghee lamp, water in a conchshell, napkin, flowers and camara. *also offer camphor lamp mixed with aguru oil.

Maintain an akhanda dipa near Thakurji or Tulasi for the entire five days. Offer ghee lamp in morning and evening to Thakurji. Daily offer ghee lamp to Tulasi devi.

IV. ACTION:

Observe celibacy and sleep on the floor. After Thakurji puja, chant 108 times the mantra: “Om Namo Vasudevaya” [Hare Krishna maha-mantra].

V. EATING:

Begin Dashami fasting til sunset and eat phalahara, no grains. Every day eat once only after sunset.

Eat fruits only ripe papaya, apple, mousambi, banana, all dried fruits, all raw nuts, sabzis only arbi, green banana and papaya, potato, yams (suran), and sweet potato (shakarkandi).

Ok to eat ghee, ekadashi salt, black pepper and ginger. No other spices can be taken. Continue this diet every day until Purnima.

DASAMI (DURING THE EKADASHI TITHI): Eat ½ tsp of cow dung; then eat only once after sunset.

EKADASI: Nirjala vrata; if you can’t do this, then eat muni-phala (apple, papaya, banana, mousambi) only once after sunset.

DVADASI: Breakfast with Maha Tulasi leaf and water; if you ate muniphala on ekadashi, then breakfast with charanamrit or a few cashews, almonds or raisins; then drink 50 ml of cow urine; eat the recommended foods once a day after sunset.

TRAYODASHI: Eat ghee once after sunrise. After sunset, eat recommended foods.

CATURDASHI: Eat yoghurt once after sunrise. After sunset, eat recommended foods.

PURNIMA: Drink milk once after sunrise; and follow the rules below for fast breaking.

VI: BREAKING THE FAST:

Before you break your fast, you must first feed brahmanas sweet rice made from cow’s milk and serve them all the foods you fasted from during your vratas of Bhisma, Karttik and Chaturmasya. Give money, gifts, sesame seeds and pots of water to the brahmanas.

Now break your fast during Purnima Abhijit Muhurta (11:45 am to 12:30 pm appx.), or later if necessary, but before sunset of Purnima day. First eat panchagavya (cow dung, cow urine, cow milk, cow yoghurt and cow ghee). Then eat sweet rice.

NOW eat all foods fasted from for Chaturmasya, Karttika Vrata and Bhisma Pancaka (eg. spinach, yoghurt, urad dal, milk, sweets, honey etc.)

All the above actions should be completed before sunset or before the end of Purnima tithi.

*NOTE: Eating five things from Gomata and sweet rice on Purnima is optional.

SRI BHISMA PANCAKA VRATA KI JAI!!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

I. What is Karttika vrata?
It is a 30-day vow observed during the Karttika (Damodara) month for the sole pleasure of Srimati Radharani, the transcendental form of pure devotion to  Krishna. During Karttika, one offers daily regulated extra services (eg. pujas, dipams, prayers, sastric study, parikramas).

II. Who observes it?
Because the Karttika vrata is extensively glorified and recommended in the Puranas and other Vedas, all Vaisnavas observe it, especially Gaudiya Vaisnavas.

III. How is Karttika vrata related to Sri Radha?
In Bhakti-rasamrita Sindhu, Sri Rupa Goswamipada calls it the “Urja vrata”. This refers to Sri Krishna’s internal potency for performing pastimes i.e. Urjeshvari Sri Radha, who is the Queen of all Krishna’s powers and pastime potencies.

In Stavamala, Sri Rupa Goswamipada Gosvami says Sri Radha is Karttiki-devi, the ishta-devata of Karttika. Therefore, Gaudiya Vaisnavas observe Karttika vrata to please the Queen of Bhakti, Sri Radhika, and attain Radha’s eternal service.

In Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna says, “I am the month of Nov.-Dec. (margashirsha -aham).” The shakti always precedes shaktiman as in Lakshmi-Narayana, Sita-Rama, Radha-Krishna. Thus, the month preceding Nov.-Dec. (Krishna month) is Oct.-Nov. or Karttika (Radha month)!

IV. The Radha Damodar Lila
The Brahma Vaivarta Purana describes a lila wherein Sri Krishna arrived 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, during the month of Karttika, Gaudiya Vaisnavas focus their worship on Radha-Damodara. Jai Jai Sri Radheee!!

V. What are the benefits?
The good results of other vratas last for only one lifetime, but Karttika vrata awards one inexhaustible benefits (akshaya phala). [Hari Bhakti Vilasa 16.54] For the smallest offering during Karttika, Sri Krishna gives one a spiritual form and eternal residence in Goloka Vrndavana.

VI. When and where to observe it?
Wherever you are that’s where, but make sure your heart is in Vrndavana. Why is Vrndavana the best place 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-Krishna in Vrndavana during Karttika. Sri Rupa Goswamipada quotes Padma Purana in Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu (1.2.222), “Sri Hari very quickly awards pure Krishna bhakti to anyone observing Karttika in Vraja Mandala.”

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

Hari Bhakti Vilasa (16.183) says, “You can start on Ashvin Ekadasi or Purnima.” Many Gaudiya Vaisnavas start on Purnima and breakfast on Karttika Purnima.

VII. 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
Don’t eat Urad dal (e.g. kachoris)

Diet # 2
Don’t eat #1 plus avoid the following:
1. Carrots
2. Your 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-Krishna.

4. Observe celibacy one month.
5. Chant 16, 32 or 64 rounds of Hare Krishna mahamantra japa.
6. Recite ashtakams and prayers glorifying Radha and Krishna, e.g. Radha Krpa Kataksham; Gopi Gita (SB 10.31)

7. Hear, recite or speak Bhagavad-gita or Srimad Bhagavatam, Radha-Krishna’s 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 offerings to the maximum level.
12. Keep ghee or sesame oil lamp burning daily near Thakuraji.

* Utthana Ekadasi Vrata: If possible you should observe the Utthana Ekadasi vrata with 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.

VIII. Last Words
Before starting the Karttika Vrata you should worship your spiritual master and  take blessings for success. Upon concluding the vrata, you should again worship your spiritual master, and offer Krishna prasada to the Vaisnavas.

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!!
Jai Jai Sri Radhe! Giriraja Baba ki jai!

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

How should we worship Radha-kunda on Her appearance day in Caitra Purnima (april), and on Karttika Bahulastami (october), the day Caitanya Mahaprabhu discovered Radha-kunda?

Sri Sanatana Goswami’s Hari Bhakti Vilasa, the lawbook (smrti) for the Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya, describes the observance of and worship details for Krishna, Rama, Nrsimha, Vamana, Visnu and Siva. It does not mention anything about observing or worshipping the appearance (avirbhava) days of Radharani, Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Nityananda or Advaita Acarya, what to speak about Radha-kunda.

Nevertheless, for all Gaudiya Vaisnavas these appearance days are supremely worshipable. They should be observed with grand celebrations of fasting, puja, worship, tirtha snana (Radha-kunda, Yamuna, Ganga), Hari-katha, kirtana, bhajans, Sri Harinama Sankirtana and sumptuous transcendental maha-prasadam!

But why are these most significant divine days not mentioned in Hari Bhakti Vilasa? Sri Sanatana Goswami produced this important law book by collecting references from all the authentic and ancient Vedic literatures, especially the Puranas. These sastras say very little or nothing about worshiping Srimati Radharani. And they say nothing at all about worshiping Caitanya and the Panca Tattva because they appeared here long after these sastras were written.

Thus over the last 500 years, the different lineages of the Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya have developed their own worship standards for observing these sacred appearance days.

How to observe Radha-kunda’s appearance and discovery days depends on one’s devotional inspiration and the instructions of Sri Guru.

Bhagavan Sri Krishna Himself, Vedic sastras i.e. Puranas, and our Gaudiya Vaisnava sastras all say that Radha-kunda is non-different from Srimati Radharani, which means SRI RADHA KUNDA IS SRIMATI RADHARANI!

So on Her appearance day in Caitra Purnima, one can worship Radha-kunda just like one observes Radhastami by:

-fasting until midnight;
-panca-amrta abhiseka;
-wonderful bhoga offering;
-astakams and prayers;
-Radha-Krishna katha;
-grand aratika;
-kirtan;
-kunda parikrama & Sri Harinama Sankirtana;
-snana—midnight moon light bath in Yugala’s prema-amrta;
-relish Radharani’s maha-prasadam!

Now that’s the proper way to observe the divine appearance of Vrndavanesvari Srimati Radharani in Her most merciful, compassionate, prema-giving, madhurya rasananda svarupa as SRI RADHA KUNDA!

Srimati Radharani ki jai! Caitra Purnima Radha-kunda appearance day ki jai!

Sridhama Vrndavana 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

Before introducing a most wonderful and simple Karttika vrata, we will highlight the ultimate vow of austerities to please Sri Sri Radha Govindadeva.

In 1972, during his Karttika vrata in Vrndavana, one devotee asked, “Srila Prabhupada, this is the beginning of Urja-vrata. Can you describe what that is and how it should be observed?”

Srila Prabhupada: “Urja-vrata means—you chant the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra twenty-four hours a day for one month. That’s all. And don’t sleep and don’t eat. This is Urja-vrata. Can you execute it?” (Vrndavana Days (1972/Hayagriva Dasa)

Indeed, Srila Prabhupada prescribed the ultimate Karttika vrata for those rare, austere few who have acquired such a refined taste for Sri Harinama, which comes, according to the Puranas, after hundreds of births of chanting Hare Krishna! The majority of devotees, however, will opt for a more feasible vrata which suits their status.

And since Karunamayi Srimati Radharani is in charge of dispensing the results and benefits of all Karttika vratas, one can certainly expect to receive lots of mercy and spiritual strength from any pure hearted simple vrata regularly performed to please our beloved Swamini Sri Radha during the most beautiful and auspicious month of Karttika.

As the perfect transcendental exemplars of the topmost form of immaculately pure and self-less love, Sri Sri Radha-Govindaji derive the greatest happiness by praising, serving and satisfying each other. This truth is seen in all the writings of the Gaudiya Vaisnava rasika mahajanas i.e. Sri Rupa Goswamipada, Sri Raghunatha Dasa Goswami, Sri Narottama Dasa Thakura and Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti.

Our Gaudiya Vaisnava acaryas have written many amazing prayers in praise of Sri Krishna, Sri Radha, Radha-Govinda Yugala, Radha/Syama Kunda, Govardhana, Vrndavana, Yamunaji and more. Reciting their perfect prayers greatly pleases the Divine Couple.

And it simultaneously purifies, enlightens, enriches, satisfies and delights the heart of the reciter. As a great way to please Srimati Radharani during Karttika, you can daily recite the following astonishing prayer written by Radha-kunda nivasi, Sri Raghunatha Dasa Goswami.

Sri Sri Govardhana Vasa Prarthana Dasakam
Sri Raghunatha Dasa Goswami

***This prayer is in “mallini meter”. The / mark in each line indicates the break between chanting the first half of the line and the second.

  1. nija-pati-bhuja-daṇḍac/-chatra-bhāvaṁ prapadya
    pratihata-mada-dhṛṣṭod/ daṇḍa-devendra-garva
    atula-pṛthula-śaila-/ śreṇi-bhūpa priyaṁ me
    nija-nikaṭa-nivāsaṁ /dehi govardhana tvam
  2. pramada-madana-līlāḥ / kandare kandare te
    racayati nava-yūnor / dvandvam asminn amandam
    iti kila kalanārthaṁ / lagnakas tad-dvayor me
    nija-nikaṭa-nivāsaṁ / dehi govardhana tvam
  3. anupama-maṇi-vedī/-ratna-siṁhās anorvī-
    ruha-jhara-dara-sānu/-droṇi-saṅgheṣu raṅgaiḥ
    saha bala-sakhibhiḥ-saṅ/ khelayan sva-priyaṁ me
    nija-nikaṭa-nivāsaṁ / dehi govardhana tvam
  4. rasa-nidhi-nava-yūnoḥ /sākṣiṇīṁ dāna-keler
    dyuti-parimala-viddhāṁ/ śyāma-vedīṁ prakāśya
    rasika-vara-kulānāṁ / modam āsphālayan me
    nija-nikaṭa-nivāsaṁ / dehi govardhana tvam
  5. hari-dayitam apūrvaṁ / rādhikā-kuṇdam ātma-
    priya-sakham iha kaṇṭhe / narmaṇ āliṅgya guptah
    nava-yuva-yuga-khelās/ tatra paśyan raho me
    nija-nikaṭa-nivāsaṁ/ dehi govardhana tvam
  6. sthala-jala-tala-śaṣpair/ bhūru hac-chāyayā ca
    pratipadam anukālaṁ / hanta samvardhayan gāh
    tri-jagati nija-gotraṁ /sārthakaṁ khyā payan me
    nija-nikaṭa-nivāsaṁ / dehi govardhana tvam

  7. sura-pati-kṛta-dīrgha/-drohato goṣṭha-rakṣāṁ
    tava nava-gṛha-rūpas/ yāntare kurva taiva
    agha-baka-ripuṇoccair/ datta-māna drutaṁ me
    nija-nikaṭa-nivāsaṁ / dehi govardhana tvam
  8. giri-nṛpa hari-dāsa-/ śreṇi-varyeti-nāmā-
    mṛtam idam uditaṁ / śrī-rādhikā-vaktra-candrāt
    vraja-nava-tilakatve/ kḷpta-vedaiḥ sphuṭaṁ me
    nija-nikaṭa-nivāsaṁ / dehi govardhana tvam
  9. nija-jana-yuta-rādhā/-kṛṣṇa-maitrī-rasākta
    vraja-nara-paśu-pakṣi-/ vrāta-saukh yaika-dātaḥ
    agaṇita-karuṇatvān / madhuri –kṛtya- tāntaṁ
    nija-nikaṭa-nivāsaṁ/ dehi govardhana tvam
  10. nirupadhi-karuṇena / śrī-śacī nandanena
    tvayi kapaṭi- śaṭho ’pi / tvat-priyeṇ ārpito ’smi
    iti khalu mama yogyā/ yogyatāṁ tām agṛhṇan
    nija-nikaṭa-nivāsaṁ / dehi govardhana tvam

SRUTI PHALA

rasada-daśakam- asya/ śrīla-govardhanasya
kṣitidhara-kula-bhartur / yaḥ prayatnād adhīte
sa sapadi sukhade ’smin/ vāsam āsādya sākṣāc
chubada-yugala-sevā-/ ratnam āpnoti tūrṇam

TRANSLATION

Sri Sri Govardhana Vasa Prarthana Dasakam
Sri Raghunatha Dasa Goswami

  1. O Govardhana Hill! Held by the staff-like arm of your personal Master, You became an umbrella to destroy the pride of Devendra, the intoxicated, bold and arrogant one. Thus, O Govardhana, You are the incomparable King of mountains. And You are so dear to me, so please give me residence near You!
  2. O Govardhana! Please grant me residence near You, so I can get a chance to see the youthful Divine Couple, Radha-Govinda, as They enthusiastically enjoy maddening amorous pastimes in Your many caves.
  3. O Govardhana! In great delight, Krishna, Balarama and the cowherd boys play many games in Your plentiful valleys, caves, waterfalls, the hollows of Your trees, on the peaks of Your hills, and Your incomparable bejeweled thrones. O Govardhana! You are so dear to me, so please give me residence near You!
  4. O Govardhana! By manifesting as the splendorous and fragrant blue stone platforms at Dana Ghati, You witness the tax lila of Radha-Krishna—the youthful Divine Couple and the ocean of rasa. Thus You increase the ecstasy of all rasika Vaisnavas! O Govardhana! Please give me residence near You!
  5. O Govardhana! You affectionately and secretly embrace the neck of Your dearest friend, the unprecedented Radhika kunda, the beloved of Hari. O Govardhana! Please give me residence near You, so I can see the confidential pastimes of the youthful Divine Couple!
  6. O Govardhana! The full meaning of Your name, “sustainer of the cows” is established by Your many shady trees and pasture lands full of succulent grass. Alas! At every moment and with their every step the cows are being fully nourished by You. Thus You are famous throughout the three worlds. O Govardhana! Please give me residence near You!
  7. O Govardhana! Agha/Bakaripu honored You immensely by engaging You as a new home for the Gosthavasis to protect them from the sustained anger of Surapati Indra. Please give me residence near You!
  8. O Girinrpa! Because the nectar of your name as “Haridasa varya” arose from the moonlike mouth of Sri Radhika, and was recorded in the Srimad Bhagavatam (10.21.18), You are famous in the Vedas as the nava tilaka of Vraja. O Govardhana! Please give me residence near You!
  9. O Govardhana! You are a dear friend of Radha-Krishna and Their families. And You give special happiness to all the Vrajavasis, and the hosts of animals and birds attached to You. Out of Your immeasurable mercy and sweetness, O Govardhana, please accept this tired and unhappy one and give him residence near you.
  10. O Govardhana! Although I am certainly vile and deceitful, Your dearmost, endlessly merciful Sri Sacinandana has offered You to me. Without considering whether I am qualified or not, O Govardhana, please give me residence near You!

Final Blessing Verse (phala-sruti)

By carefully reciting these ten rasa-bestowing verses praising Sri Govardhanaji, the beautiful ruling Master of all mountains, one will quickly obtain a blissful residence here, and the most auspicious jewel of Radha-Govinda Yugala’s direct blissful seva.” (translation: Mahanidhi Madan Gopal das)

Sri Girirja dharana teri sarana ki jai! Giriraja Baba ki jai ho!
Sri Raghunatha Dasa Goswami 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.’” (NOD 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 brähmaëas! 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!

By: 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.’” (NOD 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 brähmaëas! 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!

By: 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!

By: Mahanidhi Swami

The Fall season in Vrindavana (Oct-Nov), 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 (Cc. 2.20.201), wherein Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said:

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

“In the month of Äçvina, 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.

Gauòéya Vaiñëavas 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 Puräëa, Uttara-khaëòa) Rädhäräëé’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!

Karttika Vratotsava ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

By:Mahanidhi Swami

In Karttika month, Maa Yashoda bound her Lala Damodara, Dhruva had darshana of his ishta-deva, Lord Vishnu, and King Amburisha humbled the powerful Rishi Durvasa. In Mathura Mahatmya, Srila Rupa Goswamipada highlights the glories of living in Vraja Mandala during Karttika: “It gives immense pleasure to Bhagavan Sri Krishna, and Krishna awards one residence in the spiritual world. Although Karttika comes every year, foolish people (nara-mudha) do not take advantage of this.” (verses 172-180)

Please do not take the last phrase personally. Srila Rupa Goswamipada, like Sri Krishna in Gita motivating Arjuna in different ways, is trying to encourage us to observe Karttika Vrata in Vraja [especially Radha Kunda]. Let’s just say the phrase means, “Stop fooling around, get serious about bhakti, and arrange to spend Karttika this year in Radha Kunda to get the full mercy of Karunamayi Sri Radha.”

To facilitate the devotees wanting to do this, I have collected the names and the up-to-date contact numbers of guesthouses in Radha Kunda. You must call first, and then come here to personally see the rooms before booking. As there are lots of varieties of accommodations, you must see yourself. If a guest house is not in Radha Kunda, it will be marked (N), meaning near, 1-3 km. from the village.

1. Manipur Gopala Mandira 9897430910

2. Sri Nathji Ashram 8755116769

3. Gajendra Goswami 9897412716; 9456684004

4. Sriji 9411442020; 9634215583

5. Lakshman Brijwasi 9897509067

6. Raghu Lila (N) 7417103234

7. Yugala Bhajana Kutir (N) 8791314610

8. Radharani G.H. 9997874528

9. Smt. Susma Parashar (N) Noida G.H. 9897500365

10. Giridhari G.M. (N) 9760628646; 0565-281-5668

11. Radha Kunja G.M. (N) 9454875061

12. Rupanuga Bhajana Ashram 9412777437

13. Nataraja Manipur Mandir 9897534796

14. Nitai G.M. (B.R. Sadhu) [behind Mahanidhi S. Ashram] 8755570735

KARTTIKA 2014 CLASSES: Radha Kunda Ashram, mahanidhi swami

Start Ekadasi Oct. 5 conclude Uttana Ekadasi Nov. 3

3 pm The Glorious Sweet Sevas of Sri Radha.

4 pm Gauranga Mahaprabhu’s Amazing Pastimes.

5 pm Radha-kunda Parikrama with Sri Harinam Sankirtana.

Radha-Damodara ki jai!

Karttika Niyama Seva Vratosava ki jai!

Shyama Kunda Radha Kunda ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!