Is today the end or beginning of Kartika?

Hare Krishna.

14th November, 2016. Gurgaon.

kartika-month

Today is the last day of Kartika. Different devotees would have had different experiences and realisations in this Kartika. But for some fortunate devotees it will be the beginning of a full year of Kartika! Yes, it is indeed very rare and only some fortunate souls receive the mercy and inspiration to observe it properly for one full year (or a life time).

In one of the verses in Stavamala, Srila Rupa Gosvami, describes Srimati Radharani as Kartiki-devi. She is the presiding deity of this month. In Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu, he describes Kartika Vrata as the Urja vrata. Urja means power, strength and empowerment. Who is the source of this urja, power and spiritual strength? Urjesvari, Srimati Radharani.  So this is the month we can receive spiritual strength, empowerment to increase our qualification for service and power to make rapid progress in bhakti. So most devotees observe Kartik vrata to somehow please Srimati Radharani.

Does this mercy departs on the last day of Kartika?

Let us hear what Srila Prabhupada has to say on it:

You have asked about the specialness of the month of Karttika, and the answer is that it is a special inducement for persons who are not in Krsna consciousness to perform some devotional service. For persons who are doing nothing in Krsna consciousness, it is an indirect inducement to take to devotional service in earnest seriousness, every moment is Karttika. In this connection, there is a good example that sometimes a store gives a special concession to attract new customers. But for those who are already customers there is no need of a special sale. They will purchase at any cost if they know the important value of the goods. Similarly, those who are pure devotees do not aspire for any concession, and out of spontaneous love try to engage themselves in devotional service twenty-four hours each day, three hundred and sixty five days every year, without any stoppage.”

(SPL to HH Jayapataka Swami, 30th January, 1969)

For pure devotees every day of the year is Kartika.  But what about us? Those who are yet to develop, and bestowed upon, a spontaneous love for Radhe Shyam. What  if we did not/ could not keep any vow this Kartika or what if we feel disheartened because somehow we failed to keep our vows. Not everything is lost for us. We still have a ray of hope and a very bright ray, mercy of Srimati Radharani. It would not end on the last day of Kartika, provided we take some last minute action, today.

We are aware that mercy of Srimati Radharani is readily available in Kartika. Today being the last day, we can take a vow to improve upon any of the areas where we are spiritually weak and/or continue to keep what we started in Kartika. We should earnestly pray to Srimati Radharani to please help us in that area and we take a vow to continue our vow till the beginning of next Kartika. So that it finally becomes part of my daily service. We will show our sincerity and seriousness by trying to keep that vow for Her pleasure, not to collect some pious credits or flaunt some numbers. This will please Her. This would be a proper cultivation and utilisation of Kartika. We are not looking at Kartika as some quick fix solution. Our goal should be to cultivate bhakti, spontaneous love for Radhe Shyam.

I repeat what I quoted few weeks back that the temple will be packed all through the Kartika but it is practically empty a day after Kartika, that should not be the condition of our heart. Whatever mercy we received this month should propel us ahead in bhakti. Not that Kartika is gone and we are back to the same old routine, not the best of the attitude to please Srimati Radharani.

Also at our stage it is best to keep austerities away and take vows which are based on direct limbs of bhakti.

śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ smaraṇaṁ pāda-sevanam arcanaṁ vandanaṁ dāsyaṁ sakhyam ātma-nivedanam (SB 7.5.23)

Some suggestions I am thinking for myself:

Endeavoring to carefully hear the Holy Name during my japa.

Daily read one chapter of Bhagavad Gita (takes 10-12 minutes)

Daily read Srimad Bhagavatam (HG Vasisesika Prabhu recently shared that it takes reading just 41 pages daily to complete Srimad Bhagavatam in one year! I could not believe it.)

Daily offer lamp to Tulasi Devi

Daily read the translation of Tulasi Arti after singing it.

Daily read the translation of any of the mantras ( pranam mantras, prasadam prayer, …)

Start daily Guru Puja at home

The list is endless and we can pick wherever we think we need improvement: our hearing, reading, improving relationship with Holy Name/ devotees/ guru.

radha-shyamsundar-vrindavan-kartika-darshan-gopastami

Let us look at the lotus feet of Radha Shyamsundar and pray to Them, beg Srimati Radharani and we take our vow to continue what we started in Kartika or start afresh today with a new vow to please Her lotus feet. Today is the last day of Kartika to show Srimati Radharani that we indeed have some desire to please Her and are willing to walk the talk. 

Radharani’s mercy doesn’t end on the last day of Kartika. It’s ongoing!Let us aspire for it.

All glories to Kartika month.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Kartika doesn’t end on the last day of Kartika!

Hare Krishna.
25th Oct, 2016. Gurgaon.
kartika-month-radha-madhava
There so many benedictions for the month of Kartika and we get constant reminders via email, messages on mobile and so many other mediums. The list grows only bigger by the day.

“In the month of Kartik, which is very dear to Sri Hari, one who bathes early in the morning attains the merit of bathing in all places of pilgrimage. Anybody who offers the Lord a ghee lamp in the month of Kartik, O brahmana, becomes free from all kinds of sins, such as killing a brahmana, and he goes to the abode of Lord Hari.”

(Brahma Khanda)

There is no other month equal to Karttika. There is no other scripture equal to Vedas. There is no other place of pilgrimage equal to Ganges, therefore, the month of Karttika is very dear to the Vaisnavas .

(HBV, 16/39,40 quoted from Skanda Purana)

HG Srimati mataji shared (most of the below content is also from her lectures only) that there are five essential limbs of Kartika. They are very simple but very important. During the month of Kartika:

  1. One should rise early in the morning for the pleasure of Lord Hari
  2. Take a morning bath early
  3. Serve and worship Tulasi
  4. Offer a ghee lamp
  5. At the end of the vrata celebrate a festival. ( Which means kirtan and prasadam distribution)

Of course because it is Kartika, month of Lord Damodara, so daily chanting of Damodarastkam is also a must.

Sri Sri Damodarastakam is sung during Kartika, also known as month of Damodara. As quoted in the Sri Hari Bhakti Vilasa,”In the month of Kartika one should worship Lord Damodara and daily recite the prayer known as Damodarastaka, which has been spoken by Sage Satyavratra and which attracts Lord Damodara.

(Sri Hari Bhakti Vilasa 2.16.198)

So it a very very powerful month.
Now let us hear a different point of view from Srila Prabhupada.

You have asked about the specialness of the month of Karttika, and the answer is that it is a special inducement for persons who are not in Krsna consciousness to perform some devotional service. For persons who are doing nothing in Krsna consciousness, it is an indirect inducement to take to devotional service in earnest seriousness, every moment is Karttika. In this connection, there is a good example that sometimes a store gives a special concession to attract new customers. But for those who are already customers there is no need of a special sale. They will purchase at any cost if they know the important value of the goods. Similarly, those who are pure devotees do not aspire for any concession, and out of spontaneous love try to engage themselves in devotional service twenty-four hours each day, three hundred and sixty five days every year, without any stoppage.”

(SPL to HH Jayapataka, 30th January, 1969)

Isn’t this a very interesting angle on what all we have been reading since past many days. We should be certainly aware of what Srila Prabhupada wants to convey- for a serious and sincere devotee. Being the Kaliyugians, or a dyed in the wool karmi like me, we have a tendency to forget the preciousness of what Srila Prabhupada has given us and actually how dynamic and how powerful every single little tiny thing is. Let us read some other quotes from Hari Bhakti Vilasa.

Just by offering obeisances to Lord Hari even once, a devotee can attain His transcendental abode.

(HBV 8.367)

Even if one offers obeisances with duplicity, all of his sinful reactions that have accumulated during hundred of previous lives are at once eradicated.

(HBV 8.370)

Know for certain that in Kali-yuga, drinking Lord’s caraāmta is the best atonement for all kinds of sinful activities. Just by drinking caraāmta , one’s body becomes purified.

(HBV 9.26,51)

One who worships the lotus feet of Lord Hari with offerings of tender tulasī leaves never returns to this miserable world after attaining the abode of supreme Lord.

(HBV 7.322)

Lord Keshava becomes pleased with a devotee who prepares a garland of tulasī leaves and manjaris and then offers it to Him. Indeed, He awards such a devotee residence in the spiritual world.

(HBV 7.340)

Those who offer incense to the Supreme Lord achieve prosperity in this life and enter the spiritual world in the next. Just as the incense smoke rises, the devotee who offers incense everyday advances towards an exalted destination as a result of his devotional activities.

(HBV 8.25)

The purification one achieves by bathing in hundreds of millions of holy places can be achieved simply by smelling the remnants of incense offered to Lord Hari.

(HBV 8.30)

Lamps give us vision and upliftment. The more a devotee offers lamps to the Lord, the more he makes advancement.

(HBV 8.70)

Lust, anger and pride that born of ignorance, as well as one’s material entanglement, are destroyed simply by worshipping the Lord with a beautiful ghee lamp.

(HBV 8.303)

Now the most interesting thing is that all the above benedictions are not for Kartika but these are for everyday of the year. Can we see and appreciate how strong and potent devotional practices Prabhupada has given us. Everything about Krishna consciousness process is cintamani but we are blind, slow fools and just can’t see it. And so we have to be encouraged with strong, fruitive type ‘incentives’ like Kartika. That’s why Prabhupada is saying that for the awake devotee every day is Kartika. These are common everyday things in our devotional life. Prabhupada has got us do them every single day. Even if I am a rascal still I get unlimited benefits.

The process Srila Prabhupada has given us is very powerful. So if we become aware of what we have got then every moment is Kartika for us, every moment benedictions are being showered on to the devotees. If every moment we are conscious then every moment we are gaining in a similar way as we are supposed to gain in Kartika!

This brings us to the point that we have to approach Kartika with intelligence. Let us hear some questions and see what is our heart’s response to them.

Q: Kartika is here, am I performing vratas because I want pious credits or I want prema bhakti?

Q: Am I going to approach it as a ‘process wala’ or as a personalist?

Q: Do I want to love Radha Damodar or I want to ‘use’ Their mercy?

The answers are quite obvious for any sincere and serious devotee.

So we should also be aware of subtleties. We should not get caught up in the externals or too many activities in Kartika, or the numbers. Of course, we do the things which are the essence, the five things that we discussed in the beginning. We do the things we are very attached to. But we can think of what are my weaknesses in my devotional life.

Is it something about my relationship with devotees?

Is it something about my relationship with my guru?

Is it something about my relationship with the Holy Name?

What are my weaknesses? I am going to work on them this Kartika.

And we use the mercy of Radhika to help us with that. We can speak to Her about that and don’t let it finish with Kartika. Radharani’s mercy doesn’t end on the last day of Kartika. It’s ongoing!

So if we use the month to facilitate building a relationship which is based on the realisation of our needs in our Krishna consciousness. And we actually want to meet those needs. And we are depending on her mercy then it illuminates our hearts. In this way Kartika can be very very special.

So we should not try to approach Kartika as some quick fix or as a process. The temple will be packed all Kartika but it is practically empty a day after Kartika. That should not be the condition of our heart. Because if we are actually wanting to use Kartika to develop our attachment to Radha-Shyam, then mercy during Kartika should be propelling us, pushing us in Krishna consciousness- after the Kartika! Not that Kartika finish, all done and dusted and back to the same old routine! Next year, Next special! Not a very healthy mentality.

f we are careful and intelligent then we will realise that is it is such a rare opportunity. It is said that Radharani has no eyes for anyone other than Krishna but this month she has an eye for all of us fallen conditioned souls. Are we going to talk numbers to her? We should be wanting to develop our relationship with Her and Her devotees.

What does this means?

As her aspiring servants should we be worried about pious credits or cultivate bhakti? Proper cultivation means that it should be inspiring to continue AFTER the Kartika has finished.

I found an amazing quote by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura which speaks of similar essence for sincere and serious devotees.

What should one specifically think of, on an each Ekädaçé?

“On each Ekädaçé, one should think, how much advancement I have made since the last Ekädaçé. If one finds that he has not made any advancement or rather he has degraded then one should think bad association as the cause of this, and thus he should endeavor to give up that association.”

(Sajjana Toñaëé 4/5)

(Quoted from Bhaktivinoda Väné Vaibhäva)

So I have shared whatever little I heard and I hope, and I pray, that it helps us not to let this Kartika end on the last day of Kartika but rather propel, and inspire, us to continue after Kartika. Now that would indeed be very pleasing to Srimati Radharani.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Your servant,

Giriraj dasa

Happy Radha Ashtami, Appearance day of Radharani

Hare Krishna.

8th September, 2016. Gurgaon.

Tomorrow is the most auspicious Radhastami.

Radharani_feet

sharad-vikaca-pankaja-shriyam ativa-vidveshakam
milinda-muni-sevitam kulisha-kanja-cihnavritam
sphurat-kanaka-nupuram dalita-bhakta-tapa-trayam
calad-dyuti-pada-dvayam hridi dadhami radha-pateh

In my heart I place the splendid feet of Radha’s Lord, feet that eclipse the glory of autumn lotuses, are served by hosts of bumblebee sages, are marked with lightning and lotus and decorated with glistening golden anklets, and break the three sufferings of the devotees.

(Garga Samhita, Canto 1, chapter 1, verse 2)

Radharani’s Birth

Then, placing Her glorious transcendental form in (the womb of) King Vrishabhanu’s wife, Shri Radha descended into a great palace in a garden by the Yamuna’s shore.

In the month of Bhadra (August-September), on a Monday that was the eighth day of the bright fortnight of the moon, at midday, when the sky was covered with clouds, (to celebrate Radha’s descent) the demigods scattered flowers that had blossomed in the Nandana gardens.

Because of Radha’s descent the rivers became very pure and clear, the directions became auspicious and happy, and graceful, gentle, cooling breezes carried the pollen of lotus flowers.

Gazing at her daughter beautiful as hundreds of moons, the gopi Kirti became happy. To bring auspiciousness she gave two hundred thousand cows in charity to please the brahmanas.

(Garga Samhita, Canto 1, chapter 8, verse 6-9)

Who exactly is Radharani?

Today is Radharani’s appearance day. So we should try to understand Radharani’s feature. Radharani is the pleasure potency, hladini-shakti. Änandamayo ‘bhyäsät (Vedänta-sütra 1.1.12). In the Vedänta-sütra the Absolute Truth is described as änandamaya, always in pleasure potency. That änandamaya potency… Just like änanda. When you want änanda, pleasure, you cannot have it alone. Alone, you cannot enjoy. When you are in the circles of friend or family or other associates, you feel pleasure. Just like I am speaking. The speaking is very pleasing when there are many persons here. I cannot speak alone here. That is not änanda. I can speak here at night, dead of night, nobody here. That is not änanda. Änanda means there must be others. So because Krishna, the Absolute Truth, is änandamaya, therefore eko bahu syäm, He has become many. We are also Krishna’s part and parcel, to give pleasure to Krishna. And the chief pleasure potency is Radharani.

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, London, 29th August 1971)

Radha Shyamsundar Vrindavan

We approach Krishna through the mercy Radharani

Actual aim of life is to satisfy Lord Vishnu, and Krishna is the origin of Vishnu-tattva. And He is pleased through Radharani. Therefore we don’t keep Krishna alone. No, Radha-Krishna. First Radharani. So that day is today. First you have to worship Radharani.

Therefore in Vrindavan you will see all devotees, they will address one another, “Jaya Radhe.” Still. Because they know that “If Radharani is pleased, if I can please Radharani …” Radharani is presented, the original pleasure potency, always absorbed in thought of Krishna. So anyone who comes before Radharani to serve Krishna, oh, She becomes so pleased, “Oh, here is a devotee of Krishna.” She immediately recommends, “Krishna, oh, here is a devotee. He is better than Me.” This is Radharani . I may be a, not devotee. I may be most fallen rascal. But if I try to reach Krishna through Radharani , then my business is successful. Therefore we should worship Radharani first. That is our business. Instead of offering directly one flower to Krishna, you just put it in the hands of Radharani : “My mother Radharani, Jagan-mata, if you kindly take this flower and offer it to Krishna.” “Oh,” Radharani says, “Oh, you have brought a flower?” Krishna said, patraà puñpaà phalaà toyaà yo me bhaktyä prayacchati [Bg. 9.26], but don’t try to offer Krishna directly. Just offer through Radharani. It will be very much appreciated by Radharani.

So this is our philosophy, to please Krishna through Radharani, and just today is the auspicious day of Radharani appearance. So we should offer pushpanjali and pray to Radharani that “Radharani , kindly be merciful and tell about me to Your Krishna. To Your Krishna. Krishna is Yours.” Krishna , Radha-Krishna. Krishna is not independent. Krishna is Radharani’s property. So you have to approach Krishna through Radharani. That is, today is the auspicious day. Worship Radharani very nicely and be happy.

( Srila Prabhupada lecture, London 5th September 1973)

Radharani’s position: always feeling the separation.

As Radharani is always in feelings of separation of Krishna, similarly, in the position of Radharani, Lord Caitanya was feeling separation of Krishna. That is the teachings of Lord Caitanya, feelings of separation, not meeting. The process of devotional service taught by Caitanya Mahäprabhu and His disciplic succession is how to feel separation from Krishna. That is Radharani’s position, always feeling the separation.

The Gosvamis, they also, when they were in Vrindavan, they never said that “I have seen Krishna.” Although they were the most perfect, they never said that “I have seen Krishna.” Their prayers were like this: he rädhe! vraja-devike! he nanda-suno! kutaù. He rädhe, Radharani, he rädhe! vraja-devike! ca. Radharani does not remain alone. He (She) remains always with His (Her) friends, vraja-devé, Lalita or Vishakha and other damsels of Vrindavan. So the Gosvamis are praying, in their mature stage, when they were living at Vrindavan, they were praying in this way, he rädhe! vraja-devike! ca lalite! he nanda-suno! kutaù: “Where, Radharani, where You are? Where are Your associates? Where You are, Nanda-suno, the son of Nanda Mahäräja, Krishna? Where you are, all?” They were searching after. They never said, “I have seen Krishna dancing with the gopis. Last night I saw.” (laughter) This is sahajiyä. This is not mature devotee. They are called sahajiyä. They take everything very cheap—Krishna very cheap, Radharani very cheap—as if they can see every night. No. The Gosvamis do not teach us like that. They’re searching after. He rädhe! vraja-devike! ca lalite! he nanda-suno! kutaù, çré-govardhana-pädapa-tale kälindé-vanye kutaù: “Are you there under the Govardhana Hill or on the banks of the Yamunä?” Kälindé-vanye kutaù. Ghoñantäv iti sarvato vraja-pure khedair mahä-vihvalau. Their business was crying like this, “Where You are? Where You are, Radharani? Where you are, Lalita, Vishakha, the associates of Radharani? Where You are, Krishna? Are You near Govardhana Hill or on the bank of the Yamuna?” Ghoñantäv iti sarvato vraja-pure. So throughout the whole tract of Vrindavan they were crying and searching after Them, khedair mahä-vihvalau, as if madman. Khedair mahä-vihvalau. Vande rüpa-sanätanau raghu-yugau çré-jéva-gopälakau.

So we have to follow the footprints of the Gosvamis, how to search out Krishna and Radharani, Vrindavan, or within your heart. That is the process of Caitanya Mahäprabhu’s bhajana: feeling of separation, vipralambha, vipralambha-sevä…..Not that very easily, “We have seen Krishna or seen Radharani in rasa-lila.” No, not like that. Feel the separation. The more you feel separation from Krishna, you should understand that you are advancing. Don’t try to see Krishna artificially. Be advanced in separation feeling, and then it will be perfect.

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, London, 29th August 1971)

Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī’s earrings are the name, fame and qualities of Lord Kṛṣṇa.

                               (<strong>CC Madhya 8.179)</strong>

Let us now close our eyes, open our heart and get absorbed in the bhajan below

All glories to Srimati Radharani.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.