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Kartik Vrata: The Ultimate Project

Kartik Vrata: The Ultimate Project
By Sacinandana Swami

October 2020

Sri Radha, who is most dear to Krishna
should be worshiped along with Lord Damodara
during the Month of Kartika.
One who does so, pleases Lord Damodara immensely.

Padma Purana, quoted in Hari-bhakti-vilasa 16.195+197

Just by living in this world we need to give attention to so many things and projects, invest time to take care of our bodies, our relationships, our plans—the list is huge. These arrangements tend to take almost all of our energy and attention so that quite often there is little time left to attend to the most important “project”: our eternal relationship with the Lord.

Fortunately, the upcoming month of Kartik offers us a unique chance to invest in that ultimate project. During this time, we take on a 30-day vow, which helps us to focus on connecting with and pleasing Radharani, the divine goddess of pure love for Sri Krishna. This is best done by executing special services, spiritual practices, and observances like chanting, studying scriptures, offering lights, pujas, kirtan, and more.

WHAT IS SO SPECIAL ABOUT THIS MONTH

Just like there are special features allocated to each month—heat, cold, snow, blossoming of flowers, rains, etc—the Kartik month is filled with the potency of bestowing special blessings. Since Srimati Radharani, who is karuna-mayior full of compassion, presides over this month, Srila Rupa Gosvami refers to Her as Kartika Devi—the Goddess of Kartik. She awards all those who worship Her Lord, Sri Damodara, with extraordinary blessings—even the children. The Hari-bhakti-vilasa informs us:

“By worshiping Lord Damodara and meditating about Him during the month of Kartik even the child Dhruva Maharaja quickly attained the Lord and saw Him eye to eye—which is extremely rare even for the great mystic yogis.”

Hari-bhakti-vilasa 16.161

No one can “capture” or grasp Krishna, the Supreme Lord, except the devotees who use the ropes of love. Because this is so wonderful and hope-giving, Vaisnavas like to remember daily the pastimes where Mother Yasoda and also Radharani bound restless Krishna—something that even the greatest yogis cannot attain.

WHAT IS THE BEST PLACE TO OBSERVE KARTIK?


Vrindavan!

The scriptures say,

“Residing in Vrindavan during the month of Kartik is most beneficial, gives pleasure to Krishna and bestows the ultimate goal of life.”

Hari-bhakti-vilasa 16.154+153

However, it is to be noted that Vrindavan is not a place situated only on the map of India. It is entirely a spiritual place that pervades the whole world, just like the individual consciousness pervades an entire body and mind. So, if you can’t physically stay in Vrindavan, you can do so in the mind from wherever your present physical location may be… Yes! Vrindavan can be accessed in consciousness from anywhere and everywhere—as long as you are mindful of Vrindavan.

To help you with this, I will offer daily Kartik Inspirations that will connect you with Vrindavan and the spirit of Kartik. (You can find more information on this at the end of this article.)

HOW TO OBSERVE KARTIK?

The Bhakti tradition recommends various practices which are pleasing to the Lord and that can be offered during Kartik. Let me give you some suggestions based on what I personally do each day of the month:

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 Damodara (by placing a picture or deity of the Lord on your altar)

2) Chant extra rounds—or you can at least make sure that you increase the quality of your rounds

3) Increase your reading of Vaisnava scriptures, especially Srimad Bhagavatam

4) Recite various prayers, like the Saranagati Prayers

5) Worship Tulasi devi and sing various songs

6) An absolute must: Recite the Sri Damodarastakam prayers while offering a little light, preferably a ghee lamp.

In addition to these offerings it is recommended to observe some austerities with regards to eating and living. There is an absolute restriction on the consumption of urad dal. I always like to desist from all kinds of sweets, but this is optional. It is also recommended to rise earlier for the auspicious time of the brahma muhurta. Of course, your own kartik vrata should be adopted to your personal situation.

The main point is that whatever you do, it is done daily as a loving offering. I know of one devotee who wrote a personal prayer to Krishna daily. And one little girl who painted one painting for the Lord each day… Be creative! You can of course add any devotional practice that brings you closer to the Lord.

Let me repeat: Please keep in mind that whatever you commit to, do it with devotional focus and regularly—each day, preferably without fail. Then the “magic” of the Kartik vrata will unfold. Quantity is not of the issue; regularity is.

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.

SPECIAL KARTIK INSPIRATIONS

For more than 20 years I have been fortunate to stop all other activities and travel to Vrindavan to spend the month of kartik in solitude, dedicating this time for my personal kartik vrata. There, for the past several years I would record 4 to 5-minute-long “Kartik Inspirations” each day to assist all those who wish to go deeper in their spiritual practice and connection with Radha and Krishna during this time.

This year will be different.

I will not be able to be in Vrindavan physically, but instead will stay on a windy island in Europe— trying to be in my mind in Vrindavan, like most of you. It is from that situation that I will send you this year’s Kartik Inspirations each day, right out of my retreat experience. There will be an additional feature this year: our talented photographer in Vrindavan will provide us with photos each day to assist us to be right there—in our mind. Our desire is to be connected with all of you during this special time and help to nourish you regularly.

You may share these Kartik Inspirations with anyone you know who would be interested in hearing them. They can be downloaded and heard from soundcloud.com/sacinandanaswami starting on Saturday, October 31st

Let us associate through sound at this most exciting time: Srimati Radharani’s month.

Wishing you all the best and lots of spiritual strength

Sacinandana Swami

PS: A motivation-increaser (smile): Please know all spiritual activities executed during the Month of Kartik—even the smallest of offerings—bestow unlimited and extraordinary benefits that cannot be exhausted (aksaya) by time (stated in Skanda Purana and quoted in Hari-bhakti-vilasa 16.53).


 

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