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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!

Mahanidhi Swami

Every year throughout the world, thousands of sincere, love divine hankering devotees seriously observe the “Karttika or Urja Vrata”. The Puranas and Gaudiya Goswamis proclaim that Srimati Radharani is Karttiki-Devi, the Empress or Queen presiding over the yearly Karttika month (October-November) which is also called the Urja month.

The word urja means power, strength, energy or vigor. Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti says, “Urja means strength and life air.” (Ujjvala Nilamani 9.36/tika). “Urja is Sri Krishna’s internal potency for performing pastimes.” (Srimad Bhagavatam 10.39.53-55/tika)

It is very easy to see that all the meanings given above for the word URJA especially indicate Srimati Radharani who is the “one and only source and maintainer of Sri Krishna’s very power, strength, energy, internal hladini sakti pastime potency, vigor and life air, prana.”

Krishna Pranesvari Srimati Radharani ki jai!

Quoting the Puranas, Sri Rupa Goswamipada says that the one month long Karttika vow or vrata of austerity that Vaisnavas perform to please Sri Radhika is called the Urja Vrata because Radharani is Urjesvari-devi—the presiding Devata of the Karttika month. And it is Sri Radha who is gives all the wonderful benefits to Karttika month vratis. Urjesvari also means that Srimati Radharani ALONE is the Controlling Queen of the strongest (urja) internal potency of Bhagavan Sri Krishna —the POWER OF PURE SELFLESS LOVE!

Sri Radha Kunda Mahanta Acarya, Sri Ananta Dasji Maharaja extols the Karttika month:

“By calling Sri Radha the goddess of Karttika, Sri Rupa Goswamipada indicates Radha’s Absolute Supremacy over all the other devotees. Sri Rupa says: ‘O Radha, Devata of Karttika! I praise You and I pray to You with sweet, anxious words:

“’O Srimati Radhika! May Sri Krishna give me more mercy, knowing me to be Your maidservant! Krishna will serve You with His own hands, and I will assist Krishna. Then Krishna will shower me with His mercy, knowing me to be Yours Sri Radha!’” (Utkalika Vallari 20)

“In his books Sri Rupa Goswamipada repeatedly mentions Sri Sri Radharani’s Holy Names of Karttika Devi, Urja Devi and Urjesvari. Therefore, it is understood that those who observe the vow of Karttika will be blessed by attaining the lotus feet of Sri Vrndavanesvari. (Raga Vartma Candrika/tika I.14)

“The human form of life is very rare, short and uncertain. Similarly, the Karttika month also short and occurs rarely—once a year. If one offers even a little lamp [to Krishna] in Karttika, or even just relights another person’s extinguished lamp, Bhagavan Hari will be very pleased and bestow a good destination on that person.

“It is Srimati Radharani who bestows all these glories on the month of Karttika. Thus Radha is indeed the presiding goddess of this month, Urjesvari.” (Stavalli/tika)

In our next new post, we highlight a beautiful and simple vow to please Srimati Radharani during Karttika. For more information on Karttika, and specific details of observing the Karttika Vrata, please see our older posts which will again appear here.

Karttika Devi Urjesvari Sri Radha ki jai! Urja Vrata ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Swami

To confirm the connection between Radharani, the Karttika vrata and the uniqueness of this month, Sri Rupa Goswamipada says Radha is Karttika-devi, Urjadevi, Urjesvari, and the Kartika-devata.

KARTTIKA VRATA—SIX INCONCEIVABLE BENEFITS

  1. The benefits of other vows last for only one life, but the benefits from a Karttika vow last for a 100 lives, vratasyoktam phalam janma satanugam (Skanda Purana: Hari Bhakti Vilasa 16.45)
  2. In Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, Sri Rupa Goswamipada cites the Padma Purana to prove the special effect of observing Karttika in Vraja-dhama:

“Sri Krishna gives sense enjoyment or liberation, but never bhakti to those worshiping Him outside of Vraja Dhama, bhuktim-muktim-harir-dadyad-arcito-anyatra-sevinam. However, one will quickly obtain Hari bhakti by worshiping Damodara in Mathura/Vrndavana during Karttika—harer-bhaktir-labhyate- kartike-naraih-mathurman-sakrd-api-damodara-pujanat.”

Sri Jiva Goswamipada comments: “By the power of just once worshiping Sri Krishna in Mathura/Vrndavana during Karttika, even an UNQUALIFIED person will OBTAIN BHAVA, love for Krishna—mathura-karttikayoh-sangame-pujanam-ghatate-tada-yogyata-virahiten-api-vastu-prabhavat-prapyate- eveti-bhava.”

  1. The Skanda Purana says, “The Karttika vrata is always dear to Sri Kesavaji, sarvada-kesava-priyah. If during Karttika one performs even a few pious deeds for the pleasure of Vishnu/Krishna, one will derive indestructible benefits, kincit-kriyate-punyam-visnum-uddisya-karttike, tad-aksayam-bhavet-sarvam-satyoktam-tava-narada.”
  2. Once Sri Rupa-manjari said, “O Krishna! You delight the world with Your flute by singing the glories Kartika-devi Radha, the topmost form of pure love, prema mūrti-vara kārtika devī, kīrti gāna mukharī-kṛta vaṁśam.” (Uttkalika Vallari 11)
  3. The Padma Purana (Karttika-mahatmya) says, “Of the twelve yearly months, Kartika is the most beloved of Krishna—dvādaśāsv- api -māseṣu / kārtikaḥ -kṛṣṇa-vallabhaḥ.”

“If one performs even a little Vishnu/Krishna puja during Kartika, one will definitely attain Vaikuntha—sampūjito- viṣṇur -alpa- dadāti / vaiṣṇavaṁ -lokam -niścitaṁ.”

“Bhagavan Sri Hari, the Master controller, will be pleased if one offers a ghee lamp, or even just relights another person’s extinguished lamp, and He will give one a good destination—dīpenāpi -hi –yatrāsau / prīyate -harir –īśvaraḥ / sugatiṁ- ca –dadāty- eva / para- dīpa –prabodhanāt.”

  1. Five Liberation Vows

In Hari Bhakti Vilasa (17), Sri Sanatana Goswami quotes the Padma Purana (Uttara-khanda chapter 115), wherein Bhagavan Sri Krishna says:

“If one performs these FIVE VOWS for the entire month of Karttika, one will attain liberation (mukti) to the spiritual realm:

  1. Stay awake both Karttika Ekadasi nights (Hari-jāgaraṇam).
  2. Daily sunrise bath (just before sunrise is best).
  3. Caring for a Tulasi plant. (Daily watering, bathing, puja, plucking leaves and manjaris, praising, respecting and circling).
  4. Finishing a charitable work previously started i.e. building a temple, digging a well.
  5. Daily offering ghee lamps (dīpas).”

Radharani Month Karttika Vrata ki jai! Kartika-devi Sri Radha ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

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 2018 CLASSES: Radha Kunda, Mahanidhi Swami Ashram
October 20 – November 23, 2018

3 pm – 5 pm  Rasa Lila Katha
5 pm – Radha Kunda Parikrama with Sri Harinam Sankirtana

Radha-Damodara ki jai! Karttika Vratosava ki jai!

Shyama Kunda Radha Kunda ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!