The Glorious Month of Damodar
BY: SUN STAFF
The Month of Kartika
Baramasa, Jaipur, 19th c.
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Nov 4, 2013 CANADA (SUN)
The Glories of Kartika
Vaisnava literature is replete with descriptions of the glories of Kartika, the lila pastimes of Lord Damodar, and all manner of related auspiciousness. Now at the mid-point of our month-long glorification of Damodar, we offer a selection of references to the holy month of Kartika.
In Sri Sri Raga Vartma Candrika by Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, we read:
"The vow in the month of Kartikka is an indirect cause for the limb of penance and a direct limb for the limb of hearing and chanting. In many places, Srila Rupa Goswami has called Srimati Radharani "Kartikka devata", "Urjjadevi", or "Urjjesvari", the goddess of the month of Kartikka, so it is clear that in the month of Kartikka one has a special opportunity to attain Her."
( Prathama Prakasha, First Diffusion)
This is confirmed by Srila Raghunatha Dasa Goswami in his Sri Sri Radhika Astottara-sata-nama-stotram:
mukunda dayita-vrnda dhammilla mani-manjari
Damodar's unrivalled queen who bestows fame on the Kartika month,
The crest jewel of Mukunda's ladyfriends.
Various aspects of Srimati Radharani are particularly glorified during Kartika, and worship of those things associated with Her are sought after by the devotees, such as bathing in the waters of Radha Kunda. In his Bhakti Ratnakara, Sri Narahari Dasa describes the glories of Radha Kunda and Shyama Kunda:
"Whoever bathes in Radha Kunda and Shyama Kunda gets the glorified results of performing Rajasuya-ashwamedhea Yajana. Shyama Kunda is also known as Airsta Kunda. This is confirmed in Adi Varaha Purana.
Raghava Pandita confirmed that the glory of Radha Kunda is very good. In the Mathura Kunda it is stated that if any person offers a lake to Radha Kunda in the month of Kartik, as a devotee of Visnu he will be able to visualise the entire universe.
In Padma Purana there is a description of the glory of Kartik month. Therein it is written that this Radha Kunda so dear to Lord Krsna is situated near the Gurkadan mountain. If one wants to please Lord Hari or becomes his beloved, he should bathe in the Radha Kunda during the month of Kartik. This Kunda is as dear to Krsna as Radha herself. She is the most beloved of the Gopis. It is the duty of the devotees to bathe in the Radha Kunda during the month of Kartik and thereafter worship Janardana. This simple worship requires only one day and pleases Krsna more than the worship of Janardana or Urthana Ekadashi."
In a description of the tirthas of Mathura, Bhakti Ratnakara likewise mentions the spiritual benefits of bathing during Kartika:
"Raghava then took them to the greatest of all holy places, Sri Akkrura Tirtha. This place was a favorite of Krsna's. Whatever benefit you can get by bathing in all the holy places will be accomplished by one bath here. On Purnima during the month of Kartik whoever bathes on this day, the day of the solar eclipse gets the benefit of performing a rajasuya or asvamedha yajna (Saura Purana)."
The importance of Kartik is underscored in Vaisnava literature by virtue of the many auspicious events taking place during this period, such as the appearance and disappearance days of the great devotees. On the day of the full moon in the month of Kartika, 'Narottama left his house as a bright and beautiful young man', and 'Prabhu Gadadhara departed from this world on the Krishnamasti day in the month of Kartik'. (Bhakti Ratnakara)
Srila Jiva Goswami hosted a grand festival during Kartik month, thus inaugurating a most important pastime in the proliferation of Krishna conscious. This pastime is much loved today by the distributors of Srila Prabhupada's books, because it heralded the distribution of the literature of the Six Goswamis -- seva that offered many obstacles, all overcome by the glorious Vaisnavas of the day, by the mercy of Sri Krsna Caitanya.
This pastime is described in the Prema Vilasa of Sri Nityananda Dasa, which describes the bestowal of the title of 'Acarya' on Srinivasa, his intimate friendship with Narottama (then known as Thakura Mahasaya), their travels together, and Sri Jiva's great Kartik festival:
"In the evening he [Sri Jiva] took Srinivasa to the temple of Govinda to observe the arati ceremony. After the ceremony, the priest gave Govinda's flower garland to Srinivasa, and offered sandalwood paste mixed with saffron on his forehead. Everyone present there cheered the name of Srinivasa Acarya, and Sri Jiva embraced him lovingly.
Lokanatha Gosvami was also very pleased to hear of Srinivasa's new title. Srinivasa went to offer his respects to Lokanatha, who showered his blessings upon him. Thakura Mahasaya also offered congratulations to Srinivasa.
That night Sri Jiva Gosvami decided that the time had come to fulfill the desire of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. As Gauda was devoid of the literature written by the Gosvamis, it was essential that Acarya and Thakura Mahasaya carry the precious books to the devotees in Gauda. Since it was the time of performing the Kartika vrata, Sri Jiva Gosvami decided to hold a grand festival. He send out invitations to all the Vaisnava Mahantas. They responded enthusiastically and quickly assembled at the residence of Sri Jiva Gosvami where they were offered respect befitting to their positions. That very evening, the night of Ekadasi, the cooking began and was completed the following morning. While kirtana was performed, the entire area was cleaned and the offerings were placed before the Deities of Radha Krsna and Gaura Nitai, then offered to Rupa, Sanatana, Raghunatha Bhatta, Svarupa Damodara, Ramananda Raya, and the other associates of the Lord. Thereafter, Sri Jiva ordered Srinivas to wash the hands of the guests, then requested Raghunatha, Gopala Bhatta, Lokanatha Gosvami and others to take their seats. Sri Acarya expertly [offered] sumptuous prasad to the full satisfaction of the Mahantas. Meanwhile, Sri Jiva, feeling great separation from Sri Rupa and Sanatana, began to crying, which touched the hearts of everyone present. After finishing prasad and washing their hands, the guests were offered betel leaf. Sri Jiva was very pleased to serve the Vaisnavas in this way, and the Vaisnavas, in turn, were deeply satisfied by his service. The festival continued in the same fashion throughout the following day.
Before the assembly of Vaisnavas, Sri Jiva Gosvami revealed his desire to send the Gosvamis books to Gauda for distribution. He took the opportunity to extol the glories of Srinivasa Acarya, describing his erudition and devotion, clearly indicating that Srinivasa was the most competent man for executing this service. He also expressed his hope that Thakura Mahasaya would assist Srinivasa with this mission. Lokanatha Gosvami happily gave his consent, and Acarya Thakura and Thakura Mahasaya immediately agreed to carry out the order, despite their reluctance to leave Vrndavana. The following morning after taking their bath, the Gosvamis offered their blessings to Srinivasa and Narottama then departed.
Sri Jiva immediately began making arrangements for the forthcoming journey. He sent a letter to a devotee in Mathura requesting his help. The devotee immediately came before Sri Jiva and bowed at his feet. Sri Jiva revealed the travel plans, explaining that the Gosvamis had written a thousand books describing the pastimes of Radha Krsna and these books would be carried to Gauda by Srinivasa. He asked the devotee to arrange for a suitable cart to be pulled by four strong oxen. He also instructed that the books be carefully covered with cloth to protect them from the rain and sun, and that they be handled with extreme caution. He gave money to the man and ordered him to have everything ready within ten days, and requested that he personally travel along with the cart. The man humbly obeyed the orders of Sri Jiva Gosvami and began to quickly make arrangements for the forthcoming journey.
Ten men employed by Sri Jiva to accompany the cart were introduced to Srinivasa. Sri Jiva then took Thakura Mahasaya along with him to the house of Syamananda prabhu and said, "O Narottama, this Syamananda was previously under my care. Take him along with you on the journey and after completing your mission, send him to his own country giving him some allowance for travelling." Jiva Gosvami then explained to Syamananda, "This devotee, Narottama, is my life, behave with him as you would behave with me."
( Prema Vilasa, Chapter 12)
There are many holy days and ritual observances held during the month of Kartika, which is pervaded by the sweetest mood of love for Sri Krsna and His pastimes in Vraja. One of these pastimes is the subject of a jewel-like transcendental drama by Srila Raghunath das Goswami, entitled Mukta Caritram (History of the Pearl). This Kartik drama begins as the residents of Gokul begin preparations for the Dipamalika festival at Sri Govardhana. Beginning tomorrow, we will present this super-excellent story in several parts, in continued observance of the Glorious Month of Damodar.
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