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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 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!