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Karthik – Observing the Sacred Month of Radha

By Sacinandana Swami

A unique opportunity is before all of us – to observe the month of Karthik (06.10-04.11) where even a little devotional service yields the biggest result.

In this world we know of special times in the year that bring valuable gifts: the summer gives us warmth, the beginning of autumn many fruits, late winter gives us snow, and early spring brings flowers, etc. According to the 16th chapter of Hari-bhakti-vilasa, the month of Karthik gives us inexhaustible spiritual benefits. The scriptures, hence, variously describe how even little amounts of devotional service are regarded by the Lord as very special when they are done during the month of His beloved Srimati Radharani. Srila Prabhupada told his disciples that “even ‘unserious persons’ who execute devotional service during this month of Karthik are easily awarded the Lord’s personal service.” (Nectar of Devotion, Ch. 12)

For this special month, the devotees take to various devotional practices, which bring them closer contact with Srimati Radharani and Krishna. Traditionally these vows are executed in the sacred land of Vrindavana, but they are certainly not limited to Vraja. If you cannot be in Vrindavana physically during this time, make sure your heart is there by remembering the pastime places or looking at the many beautiful pictures of Vraja taken by the devotees on their many pilgrimages.

What Can You Do to Observe the Karthik Vrata?

To start with, set your mind on performing a list of devotional services you commit to during Karthik.

A personal vow should be something you do regularly and unfailingly each day of the month. Srila Prabhupada encouraged the devotees in all temples around the world to execute the Dāmodara vrata by offering a light to the Lord each morning or evening (or both) while singing the Damodara Prayers (Sri Damodarastakam).

Let me give you some additional suggestions based on what I do personally during Karthik:

1) Rise early and offer a little aratik. You can choose how many items you wish to offer, but certainly there should be at least a ghee lamp offered to Lord Dāmodara (by placing a picture or deity of the Lord on your altar);
2) An absolute must – recite the Sri Damodarastakam;
3) Chant extra rounds – or at least make sure that you increase the quality of rounds;
4) Increase your reading of Vaisnava scriptures – especially Srimad-Bhagavatam;
5) Recite various prayers, like the Saranagati prayers;
6) Worship Tulasi-devi by praying to her with the Tulasi aratik song.

These are minimal requirements, but of course you can add any devotional practice that brings you closer to the Lord. The main point is that it is done daily as a loving offering.

Additionally, it is recommended to observe some austerities with regards to eating. There is an absolute restriction on the consumption of urad dal. I personally like to also desist from all kinds of sweets, but this is optional.

Please know the main point of observing the month of Karthik is to increase our attraction to Krishna. I am intending to soon publish an article about the two essential keys to increase our attraction.
You can expect that your resolve will be tested but rest assured that you will pass all tests if you remember your priority: to please Srimati Radharani by engaging in devotional service to the Lord. If Sri Radha is merciful to you, then every obstacle will be removed.

Let me end with a wonderful verse written by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura:
“Without the lotus feet of Śrī Rādha, one can never attain Sri Krishna. All the Vedic scriptures declare that Krishna belongs to the servants of Srimati Radharani.”
(Radhika-carana-padma, from Sri Gitavali)

Special Karthik Inspiration

To give you solid inspiration during the month of Karthik, I will write you directly from the Holy Dhama about the meaning of the sacred festival days and how to observe them.

Wishing you all the best and lots of spiritual strength
Your humble servant,
Sacinandana Swami
 

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