Posts

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!

By: Mahanidhi Swami

The two wonderful syllables RA DHA immediately attract Gokulapati (Krishna, the Lord of Gokula).

If one develops love for chanting RA DHA then all the goals of human life seem insignificant.

The syllables RA DHA are marked within the mantra that is lovingly chanted by Lord Madhava Himself.

May this pair of amazing syllables RA DHA become manifest to me forever.” (Radha-rasa-sudha-nidhi 95)

A Verse Meditation:

Look at a beautiful painting of Sri Radha;

Read the verse above with full concentration;

Pray to Radhika for the memory power or shakti to remember it;

Close your eyes;

Chant japa while immersing your mind and heart in this divine illumination.

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

By: Mahanidhi Swami

Here is another description of Sri Radha’s purva-raga, the awakening of pure love toward Hari.

One day Sri Radha confided to Her friend, saying, “O sakhi, who has uttered the name “Shyama” within the range of My hearing? This name Shyama has entered My ears and penetrated the core of My heart to stir the very depths of My soul.

“I can’t imagine how much nectar is present in the name “Shyama”. I simply cannot stop repeating it, “Shyama! Shyama! Shyama!” By constantly chanting this name My body has become incapacitated. O sakhi, tell Me how can meet Shyama!

“If the influence of just Shyama’s name can reduce Me to such a plight, I wonder what will happen if I touch His body! I really want to forget Shyama. But alas! I cannot. O, what shall I do? How can I get relief?” (Dvija Chandidasa)

Shyama-vinodini Radha ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

By: Mahanidhi Swami

One day in Vrindavana along the beautiful bank of the Yamuna, which was filled with red, blue and yellow lotus flowers swaying in the gentle sandal- scented breeze, Radha and Krishna were wandering alone together with their arms draped lovingly on each other’s shoulders. There were no sakhis around and the Divine Couple were in an extremely romantic mood.

Turning to Shyama and looking deeply into the eyes of His heart, Radhika began to sing…“O Pranabandhu! Thinking that I am the pride of Your pride and the very form of Your form, I forever enshrine Your tender feet within My heart. I have no one but You in My life. And moreover I feel You to be dearer hundreds of My own lives. O Shyama, You are the kajjala on My eyes and the ornaments on My body.”

In response, Shyama sings, “O Radhe, just listen. I am completely subjugated by the rapture of Your love and think of no one but You. Whenever I chant Your name and meditate on Your form I lose my patience and cannot maintain My prana.

“My mind runs to any direction where My ears hear Your name “Sri Radhe! Sri Radhe!” I gaze upon Your moonlike face like a Chataka bird thirsty for life-giving rains. Raising My head I repeatedly cry ‘Radha!’ and thus maintain My life. I enjoy Vrindavana only because of Your presence. When I cannot see You, Radha, I pick up My murali and loudly proclaim ‘RADHA!’ But upon hearing the sweet jingling of Your anklebells, My mind become pacified and peaceful.” Thus sings the poet Jnana dasa.

By hearing and singing such love songs, which are filled with waves of nectar, Radha Govinda Yugala continually savor the sweetness of Their mutual love. Intensely hankering for such a vision in one’s meditation, and sincerely praying to Sri Krishna for it is the sum and substance of raganuga bhajana.

With purified yearning in our hearts and tears of submission in our eyes, we can follow the lead of Srila Rupa Goswamipada who prayed in Utkalika-vallarih (29) “O Radha-Krishna! When will that day come when I can hear the rising waves of Your sweet artistic singing that will cleanse all the dirt from my ears?”

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!