Karttika: Origin of the Name and Vow


Sri Sri Radha-Krsna
Illustration from Gita-Govinda, Mewari

Oct 28, IRELAND (SUN) — Extract from a conversation with B.R. Sridhar Swami, dated July 1982, From Chaitanya Saraswati (Voice of Sri Chaitanya) No.1, printed in London, England, September 1990.

Asvini, Varuni, Kirttika. Kirttika is the name of the third daughter of Daksa. It was a custom in Vraja-mandal to name one's daughter after one of the daughters of Daksa Prajapati. So Radharani's mother's name was Kirttika, and Radharani is called Karttiki, in the sense that she is born from Kirttika.

So regarding the holy month of Karttika, Sanatana Goswami has given the clue: "mansanam marga-sirso 'ham" -- Krsna says, "Of all months, the month Marga-sira (Nov-Dec) represents Me." Karttika precedes Marga-sirsa or Agrahayan. So Karttika month, therefore, has some reason to be conceived of as representing Radharani. As Krsna represents Marga-sirsa, it can follow that the goddess representing the preceding month, Karttika, represents Radharani.

Karttika month is the month of the vow known as Urjjah-vrata. "Urjjesvari" is also a name of Radharani. Urjjah means 'resources'. All resources culminate in Her. She commands all resources. The sakti, power or resources are commanded by Her. So the vow followed in the month of Karttika known as Urjja-vrata goes ultimately to the connection of Urjjesvari, Sri Radhika, and thus Vaisnavas lay stress upon the observance of Karttika, especially with the aspiration of satisfying Radharani - to attain Her Service, and the Service of Krsna.

We are told that in that month, the Gopi's observed the worship of Katyayani, with the internal aim of satisfying the Devi (Goddess). Nandagopa-sutam devi patim me kurute namah. That was their internal prayer to the Devi Yogamaya: "Please manage in such a way that we can have the Service of the son of Nanda in our own hearty way." With that prayer, the Karttika-vrata was observed by them.

So we also lay some special stress on the observance of the last portion of the Caturmasya known as Karttika-vrata. And that is exclusively connected with Service of the Gopis, Radharani, and Krsna. Srimad-Bhagavatam also comes to encourage us in the line of the Gopi's worship of Katyayani. With that spirit within, we observe the last month of Caturmasya more attentively.

Quality vs Quantity

Devotee: Is it true that by practising Caturmasya during the month of Karttika in the Holy Dham, one receives the benefit of observing the entire four months?

B.R. Sridhar Swami: That depends on the quality of observance. One day's or a second's observance may cover the whole thing. Intensity and quality must get us relief from the 'mathematics.'

    eka krsna-name yata papa hare
    pataki sadhya nahi tata papa kare

    "No sinner can commit as much sin as one Name of Krsna can destroy"

    namno 'sya yavati saktih papa-nirharane hareh
    tavat karttum na saknoti patakam pataki janah

Still we are requested to observe the formalities of taking one thousand Names, one lakh Names, sixteen rounds, etc. These observances are necessary for the lower order. Our attention should nonetheless focus on the quality. One Name can be infinitely more effective than crores of Names if they are only Namaparadha or Namabhasa (offensive or an indirect, hazy facsimile). This must be discerned.

    tunde tandavini ratim vitanute tundavali-labdhaye
    karna-kroda-kadambini ghatayate karnarvvudebhyah sprham
    cetah-prangana-sangini vijayate sarvvendriyanam krtim
    no jane janita kiyadbhir amrtaih krsneti varna-dvayi

    Vidagdha-Madhava 1.15

The highest section can never satisfy themselves that they have 'reached the standard' of taking the Name - they are paralysed from the beginning. When Yasoda takes the Name of Krsna, or Radharani takes the Name of Krsna, how many 'volts' are present there? The magnitude of that voltage is inconceivable to us!

    anyabhilasita-sunyam jnana-karmmady anavrtam
    anukulyena krsnanusilanam bhaktir uttama

    B.R.S Purvva 1.11

Anyabhilasa is the layer of random, fleeting desires or whims of every individual. Within the relativity of revealed truth, the path of karmma which is recommended while catering for our present stage, produces a mixture. A certain percentage of devotion may be present in us, but it is mixed with the objects of this anomalous world.

Then above karmma is jnana: 'we can perceive the mortality of this world, so we should not keep any connection with such a world of death; we must rise above it, otherwise we cannot be happy.' Both jnana and yoga come forward with this proposal to somehow escape from the difficulty of death, the chains of mortality. But all these things are merely to get out of the negative side. The word adi (etc) signifies yoga and saithilya, our idleness and apathy. And anukulyena-krsnanusilanam indicates 'not pratikulya' or 'not that which is undesirable,' so cultivation of Krsna means the Service of Krsna. Our normal relation with our higher existence can only be that of service, not otherwise. So somehow we must take that path, and progress. To begin with it may be calculative, but it will come to an automatic stage. We will find it within ourselves - spontaneously.


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