Glories of Karthik Month
Why Karthik month is important to Vaishnavas. Karthik month is the favorite month of Sri Krishna. The aim of human life is to come out of the cycle of birth and death and go back to the god head. This is the biggest challenge. But in our life our priorities keep changing and we forget what is our biggest challenge in life that is going back to god head. This can be achieved by the practice of Bhakti or following a spiritual life. Practicing Spiritual life may seem to be difficult when we have to follow the regulative principles like No meat eating which includes no fish and egg too, no illicit sex, No gambling, No intoxication like tea or coffee. Then we have to chant Hare Krishna Mahamantra, read scriptures like Bhagavad Gita, Srimad Bhagavatam, hear Krishna Katha, Observe Ekadashi vrata or Kartik Vrata, associate with devotees, offer prasadam to Krishna, eat the prasadam offered to Krishna. So, these rules and regulations are not meant to demotivate us but for our own benefit, to uplift us to the spiritual level to attain the love of God. So that in the end of our life we can remember Krishna and go back home back to God head.
In Bhagavad Gita 8.6 Lord Krishna says Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, O son of Kuntī, that state he will attain without fail. It is clear from this verse that at one point we have to leave this body. So, our goal should be how to make our life meaningful .This can be achieved only through the path of Bhakti. In Bhagavad Gita, 18:65 Lord Krishna says Always think of Me, become My devotee, worship Me and offer your homage unto Me. Thus, you will come to Me without fail. I promise you this because you are My very dear friend. Thisis Krishna’s promise and the courage he gives us to live our life with faith in him by completely surrendering. So, we need to practice in our whole life the path of Bhakti and always engage ourself in the service of Krishna by dovetailing all our actions towards him. This gives an opportunity to remember Krishna . In Skanda purana also it is said that there is there is no yuga equal to Satya-yuga, no scripture equal to the Vedas, and no place of pilgrimage equal to the Ganges, so there is no month equal to Kartika. During the Kartika month, millions of devotees’ worship Damodara Krishna with ghee lamps and devotional bhajans, glorifying His playful childhood pastimes. So, the month of Kartik is very dear to Vaishnava.
In Padma Purana also it is said that among all the 12 months, the month of Karthik is very dear to Sri Krishna. According to Puranas (Vedic Scriptures), there are 12 months calendar and every month controlled by each avatar of lord Vishnu, months sequence is based on the Nakshatra pattern, Kartik month is one of them and managed by Damodar Bhagavan and there Nakshatra pattern is Kirtika (another name of Radharani as on her mother’s name Kirtida). The presiding deity is Srimati Radha Rani. Krishna is Bhakt-Vatsala. If somebody worships Sri Krishna this month by offering Ghee lamp, glorify his past time of being bound by the ropes by Mother Yashoda Krishna offers the devotee his own abode. So Kartik (Damodar) is the best, the purest of purifiers, and most glorious of all months. This month is full of bhakta vatsalya. Any vrata, even the smallest, will yield huge results. The effect of performing a Kartik Vrata lasts for one hundred lifetimes.
Many Lila’s had happened in this month. One such is Gopi Geetha. Whenever the Gopi’s hear Krishna’s flute, they left all their house hold chores as it is and went to meet Krishna. In SB 10.31.16 it describes as Dear Acyuta, you know very well why we have come here. Who but a cheater like You would abandon young women who come to see Him in the middle of the night, enchanted by the loud song of His flute? Just to see You, we have completely rejected our husbands, children, ancestors, brothers and other relatives. The Gopi’s are not ordinary people. They were the same saints and sages who performed Tapasya for yugas to become devotees of the Lord Krishna in his Dwaparayuga incarnation. These saints and sages met Bhagavan Ram in his exile. Lord Ram could not spend ample time with them. All these sages requested Lord Rama to be reborn as Gopi’s in their next birth and become devotees of Lord Krishna.
Govardhan Puja is celebrated on the next day after Diwali Puja in the month of November. People of Gokul had worshiped the Govardhan mountain instead of Lord Indra for bringing rain to their crops. This made Lord Indra furious and he began heavy rains, causing a flood. To protect the people from torrential rains Lord Krishna had lifted the Govardhan hill on his little finger. Since then Krishna is also known as Giridhari. This day is also known as ‘Annakut’ (heap of food). Devotees prepare Chappan bhog and offer to Lord Krishna depicting Govardhan mountain; on the remembrance of the day for saving them showing their faith and love on Lord Krishna.
The festival of Gopashtami is celebrated on the eighth day in the Hindu month of Kartik. According to the legend, on the specific day of Gopashtami, Nand Maharaj sent his sons, Lord Krishna and Lord Balaram, for the very first time to herd the cows, since they had both entered into the Pauganda age i.e ages between 6 to 10 years. Lord Krishna and his elder brother Balarama went across the Vrndavan bare feet. It is said that they purified the land of Vrndavan by leaving the prints of their lotus feet. According to Lord Krishna, the cows must be worshiped and protected. People who follow the footsteps of Lord Krishna should work for the cow welfare. As Lord Krishna himself worshiped the cows on various occasions like Gopashtami and Govardhana-puja, people should worship the cows and protect them as well. As Srimati Radharani and Her friends wanted to enjoy the fun, and because of Her resemblance to Subala-sakha( dear friend of Krishna), she put on his dhoti and garments and joined Krishna. The other Gopi’s joined in too.
This day celebrates the victory of Lord Krishna over the demon Narakasura. Krishna Paksha Chaturdashi of the month of Kartika is known as Naraka Chaturdashi. Bhaumasura, who was also known as Narakasura was the son of Dharitri, the earth goddess, by the Lord Himself. But he became a demon due to the bad association of Bana, another demon.Narakasura kidnapped many daughters of great kings and kept them imprisoned in his palace (16,100 queens). Narakasura stole Lord Varuna’s umbrella, mother Aditi’s earrings. Narakasura was powerful and he took pleasure in terrorizing the inhabitants of the three worlds. Indra, feeling humiliated at his loss and even worse that his mother was assaulted, wanted revenge and he knew that there was only one person who was a match for Naraka. It was Krishna. Indra went to Dvaraka and described the demon’s transgressions to Lord Krishna. Krishna who was in the company of Satyabhama was enraged that Narakasura might lay his hands-on mother Aditi and said that Naraka must die for his insolence. Finally, the Lord Kills Narakasura and saves all the queens. The queens pray to the Lord to be their Husband. Krishna accepted them as his wives upon their insistence to save themselves from the society who saw them as slaves of the demon king Narakasura.
Other past time in the month of Kartik is Caitanya Mahaprabhu arrives at Arishta Gram, where Krishna killed the demon Arishtasura five thousand years ago. This episode led to the manifestation of Syama-kunda and Radha-kunda. With the passage of time, however, these holy lakes had almost disappeared, and none of the local residents could help Lord Chaitanya find them. Being the abode of knowledge, He found two paddy fields called Kali Badi (black field) and Gauri Badi (white field) whose waters had reduced to the size of two small ponds. He entered them and bathed while offering them prayers. Lord Chaitanya had rediscovered Syama Kunda and Radha Kunda. As Srimati Radharani is dear to Krishna, so is Her kunda, or lake.One who takes bath in Syama kunda and Radha kunda on Bahula Ashtami they go back to godhead.
Other past times which happened in the month of Kartik are Lord Rama coming back to Ayodhya after his exile. Bali Maharaj and Vamana Dev past times, Thulasi Maharani and Shaligram marriage. The Disappearance day of Srila Prabhupad, the founder acharya of ISKCON, without whose mercy we would know nothing about this supremely purifying month.
Several incarnations happened in this month like Matsya, Vamana, Kurma, Mohini Avatara. Also the Lord kills Kamsa also in this month. The past time of Dhruva Maharaj, who got to see the face of the Lord, Abarish Maharaj also happened during this month of Kartik.
We can perform various austerities in this month by getting up early in the morning, take bath, offer ghee lamp to the Lord, pour water, circumambulate Thulasi Maharani 4 times, offer prasadam to the Lord and eat that prasadam, do not eat unoffered food. If in case we are not able to practice service austerities the last 5 days of Kartik you can perform these austerities.
Prabodhini Ekadashi, Utthana Ekadashi appears in the month of Karthik which is very good to perform austerities.
Also, in Kartik month SrilaBhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura gives instruction to Srila Prabhupada to print more books
In this Kartik month we can offer prayer for the well being of others too.
In Kali Yuga people perform charity to have names and photos published online and newspapers. Such charity has no value as its intentions are not Dharmic. But charity performed without any expectation or results earn great merits. The story of Kalaka and pious person named Dharmadatta points to this fact. Kalaka was an evil life in her previous birth and she committed suicide by consuming poison. The messengers of Lord Yama, the god of death, came to take Kalaka away. They took her to Lord Yama. Lord Yama asked Chitragupta, the record keeper and the god of judgement, about the details of Kalaka’s life. Chitragupta told the details of Kalaka’s life and said: ‘She is bound to roam as a ghost for a long time.’
Kalaka was wandering on earth here and there as ghost and suffering greatly. One day she met Dharmadatta who was going to temple to perform the Ekadashi fasting in Kartik month. Dharmadatta was carrying tulsi leaves and water to the temple. The pious Dharmadatta was in the habit of fasting on all Ekadashis. Kalaka decided to attack Dharmadatta but when she ran towards him, he sprinkled Tulsi leaves and water on her. Kalaka remembered her previous lifetimes and said to Dharmadatta: ‘Sir! Please save me by your grace from the lowly births I would have to take because of my evil actions. I surrender to your holy feet.’ Saying these words, Kalaka fell at Dharmadatta’s feet.
Dharmadatta pondered. He felt compassion for Kalaka. He thought: ‘It is impossible to save her through ordinary virtuous acts. Hence, the best way is to give half of the effect of the fasts I have observed in the Kartik month.’
Dharmadatta made Kalaka sit and taught her the eleven-lettered mantra of Lord Vishnu: ‘Namo bhagavate vasudevaya; salutations to Lord Vishnu.’ He poured tulsi water over Kalaka.
Then, he gave her half of the merits he had earned just as he had planned. Kalaka was freed of her evil tendencies. She started radiating a brilliance surpassing the beauty of celestial nymphs like Urvashi.
Then landed an airplane from the sky. From that alighted two persons named Punyasheela and Susheela. They were both the servants of God. Surprised at their sight, Dharmadatta prostrated at their feet. The God’s servants embraced Dharmadatta and saluted him.
The God’s servants told Dharmadatta: ‘Sir! You are quite fortunate. You have performed a great charity by great compassion. This woman has been freed of all her sins because of your mercy. She will live in the abode of Vishnu in this lifetime. And your merits will double because of that. Hence, you, along with your two wives, will also go to the abode of Vishnu.
In your next lifetime, you would be born as King Dasharatha. Both your wives would be your wives in that lifetime too. This woman, who has received half of your merits, would also become your wife by the name Kaikeyi.
In that lifetime, you would have Lord Vishnu as your son. You will again attain heaven after that lifetime.
Another story regarding Kartik month is .Once upon a time during the culmination of Satyayuga, there lived a Brahmanabelonging to the lineage of Muni AtriinHaridwarawhose name was Devasharma. He was very Expert in the knowledge of the Vedas and its sub parts and was very regular in performing various religious practices. He had one daughter who name was Gunavati, who was married to his disciple named as Chandra. Chandra was properly trained in the matter of sense control and was very dear to his father in law-Devasharma.
Once upon a time when both Devasharma and his disciple Chandra went to collect some wood and fuel for performing daily ablutions in a hill of Himalayas, a Ferocious Man eater Demon attacked ,and Killed Them. Because Both of them were highly qualified in performing religious practices, ultimately leading to the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord,Vishnu; they were escorted to Vaikunthaplanets by the Vishnudutas. When Gunavati came to know about the death of her Father and Husband, she became highly aggrieved and lamentfull. Nevertheless the pious lady controlled herself and performed all Religious rites for the well being of the departed souls.
From that day onwards she started living an austere life by always performing the devotional service of the supreme Lord, Vishnu and by executing two important Vows – Observing fast on Ekadashi and properly following the Vow in the month of Kartika, which are very dear to Lord Krishna.
Once , when all her limbs had become very weak due to the old age and high temperature, she nevertheless went to take bath in the banks of the Ganges.The Moment she kept her foot in the chilled water of the river, she fell down in the river shivering due to the intense Cold. In that anxious state she saw an airplane plane coming down to the earth which was looking all auspicious by the presence of the Vishnudutas carrying Lotus flower, Conchshell , club and disc; and decorated with a Flag marked with the sign of Garuda. When that airplane from Vaikuntha came near by her, She immediately assumed a Divine Self Effulgent Form and Boarded on it. On being consistently served by fanning Chaamar she was ultimately escorted to the Transcendental Vaikuntha Planet , to the Lotus feet Of Krishna ,the Supreme Personality Of Godhead.
When the Original Supreme Lord Krishna came to this mortal World, His associates who are equal to Him in qualities and are very Dear to Him also incarnated in this material World in order to participate in His Pastimes in different ways. The very same Devasharma , father of Gunavati came as Satraajit(Father of Satyabhama).Chandra, husband of Gunavati became Akrura ;and the Gunavati was none other than Satyabhama herself(one of the most prominent Wives Of Krishna in Dwarika).
Krishna himself Concludes this incident to Satyabhama by saying that because in her last life she has observed the vows of Kartika month, She Satisfied Him and got the privilege of becoming His wife in this life. Because in her last life, she properly served Tulasi Devi in the corridor of the Vishnu temple, she got the Good fortune of regularly seeing the desire tree in her Courtyard. She was enjoying such a Great opulence with Him only because of her great vow in regularly offering Lamp to the Deity(Deep Dan) in her Birth as Gunavati. As a result of consistently performing the Vow of Kartika every year during her entire lifetime in her last birth, she would never be bereft from the association of Krishna.Even Activities like great sacrifices, charity, austerities and vows can never be equal to the part of the result one achieves by observing Vow On Kartika Month.
So, to conclude :
Those who follow the austerity of taking early morning bath in the Month Of Kartika; they get Liberated, Those people who follow austerity by getting up early morning in the month of Kartika, offer Lamp to the Deity, Serve and maintain Tulasi Plant, offers various paraphernalia like incense, flowers, offering prasadam to the Lord, eats the prasadam offered to the lord , cleans Vishnu temple, offers charities will be liberated that is the glory of Kartik month