We are gathered here in the auspicious month of Kartik, which is also known as Damodara. Srila Prabhupada wrote in The Nectar of Devotion that just as Lord Damodara is very dear to His devotees, so the month of Damodara is also dear to them. And in the month of Kartik, in the year 1974, Srila Prabhupada completed his translation of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, in Juhu, Bombay.
When Srila Prabhupada was in Bombay, we used to go to his quarters every morning at six o’clock he would go for his morning walk on Juhu Beach. But this time we were surprised to find that the door was locked. In fact, both doors—to his quarters and to his staff’s quarters—were locked, and we could not understand why. We knocked, and eventually Srila Prabhupada’s secretary Harikesa Prabhu opened the staff’s door and told us that Srila Prabhupada had just completed his translation of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, that he had written the most beautiful glorification of his guru maharaja at the end, that he was in a very jubilant mood, and that he said we should celebrate by having a feast.
So, some time between the night of Ekadasi and the morning of Dvadasi marks the anniversary of Srila Prabhupada’s completion of the translation of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta.
Srila Prabhupada ki jaya! Sri Caitanya-caritamrta ki jaya!
At the end of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami concludes:
‘ami likhi’,—eha mithya kari anumana
amara sarira kastha-putali-samana
“I infer that ‘I have written’ is a false understanding, for my body is like a wooden doll.” (Cc Antya 20.92)
anipuna vani apane nacite na jane
yata nacaila, naci’ karila visrame
“My inexperienced words do not know how to dance by themselves. The mercy of the guru made them dance.” (Cc Antya 20.149)
Now we shall read from Srila Prabhupada’s Concluding Words at the end of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta:
Kartik is very auspicious for spiritual advancement. Another name for Kartik is Urja-vrata. Urja means power. The supreme power, the original power, is Srimati Radharani. So, Urja-vrata, or Kartik-vrata, is for Srimati Radharani. Many important pastimes took place in the month of Kartik. On the full-moon night, Sri Krishna played His flute and enjoyed the rasa-lila, which is considered the best of His pastimes. Also during Kartik, Krishna saw that the residents of Vrindavan were preparing to worship Indradeva, and He convinced them not to worship Indra but to use the same paraphernalia to worship Govardhana Hill, the brahmans, and the cows. When Indra saw that his worship had been stopped, he became furious and wanted to take revenge against Krishna and the Vraja-vasis. He sent torrential rains and hail. And to give protection to the residents of Vrindavan, Krishna lifted Govardhana Hill and kept it on the little finger of His left hand for seven days. Thus Indra’s pride was shattered, and he came to beg forgiveness from Lord Krishna.
In the month of Kartik also, our beloved founder-acharya, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, left this world and entered the eternal pastimes of Krishna.
One other event that took place during Kartik was Lord Krishna’s killing of the demon Arista, who had assumed the form of a bull. Thereafter, Lord Krishna manifested Syama-kunda and Radha-kunda. Because today is celebrated as the appearance day of Radha-kunda, we shall read a relevant verse from The Nectar of Instruction, an authorized English presentation by Srila Prabhupada of Srila Rupa Gosvami’s Sri Upadesamrta.
The Nectar of Instruction, Text Ten:
karmibhyah parito hareh priyataya vyaktim yayur jnaninas
tebhyo jnana-vimukta-bhakti-paramah premaika-nisthas tatah
tebhyas tah pasu-pala-pankaja-drsas tabhyo ’pi sa radhika
prestha tadvad iyam tadiya-sarasi tam nasrayet kah krti
karmibhyah—than all fruitive workers; paritah—in all respects; hareh—by the Supreme Personality of Godhead; priyataya—because of being favored; vyaktim yayur—it is said in the sastra; jnaninah—those advanced in knowledge; tebhyah—superior to them; jnana vimukta—liberated by knowledge; bhakti-paramah—those engaged in devotional service; prema-eka-nisthah—those who have attained pure love of God; tatah—superior to them; tebhyah—better than them; tah—they; pasu-pala-pankaja–drsah—the gopis who are always dependent on Krsna, the cowherd boy; tabhyah—above all of them; api—certainly; sa—She; radhika—Srimati Radharani; prestha—very dear; tadvat—similarly; iyam—this; tadiya-sarasi—Her lake, Sri Radha-kunda; tam—Radha-kunda; na—not; asrayet—would take shelter of; kah—who; krti—most fortunate.
In the sastra it is said that of all types of fruitive workers, he who is advanced in knowledge of the higher values of life is favored by the Supreme Lord Hari. Out of many such people who are advanced in knowledge [jnanis], one who is practically liberated by virtue of his knowledge may take to devotional service. He is superior to the others. However, one who has actually attained prema, pure love of Krsna, is superior to him. The gopis are exalted above all the advanced devotees because they are always totally dependent upon Sri Krsna, the transcendental cowherd boy. Among the gopis, Srimati Radharani is the most dear to Krsna. Her kunda [lake] is as profoundly dear to Lord Krsna as this most beloved of the gopis. Who, then, will not reside at Radha-kunda and, in a spiritual body surcharged with ecstatic devotional feelings [aprakrta-bhava], render loving service to the divine couple Sri Sri Radha-Govinda, who perform Their astakaliya-lila, Their eternal eight-fold daily pastimes. Indeed, those who execute devotional service on the banks of Radha-kunda are the most fortunate people in the universe.
We welcome you to this most auspicious place, the temple of Sri Sri Radha-Radhanath, on the most auspicious occasion of the beginning of Kartik, in the most auspicious association of Lord Krishna’s devotees. Kartik is also known as the month of Damodara (dama means “ropes,” and udara means “abdomen”), or Krishna who allowed Himself to be bound about the waist by the ropes of His devotee’s love.
Srila Rupa Gosvami compiled the law book of Krishna consciousness, the science of devotion, as the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, translated by Srila Prabhupada in a summary study as The Nectar of Devotion. There the observance of Kartik is mentioned as one of the sixty-four items of devotional service. Rupa Gosvami quotes from the Padma Purana that just as Lord Damodara is favorably inclined toward His devotees, so the month of Kartik, which is also dear to Him, bestows great favor upon His devotees, even for a little service or a little practice. It is even said that the benefit gained for service performed in the last five days of Kartik is equal to that gained from service performed for the entire month. In other words, for a very small performance of devotional service in the month of Damodara, one gets a very big result—especially in Vrindavan. Also, Srila Prabhupada has explained that wherever the Deities of Radha and Krishna are installed, that is also Vrindavan. So even here our devotional service will be magnified “one thousand times.”
Srila Prabhupada gave the example of a store holding a sale, when a customer can get a valuable item by paying a small amount. So, the month of Kartik is like a sale, a transcendental sale. By a little investment in terms of spiritual practice and service, you can get a great benefit. Of course, the management of the store hopes that you will come to appreciate its goods and patronize the store even after the sale is over. And we too hope that you will continue with your spiritual practices, or increased practices, even after the month of Kartik.
There is a special potency to the month itself. Just as certain times of the day, such as the brahma-muhurta, which begins one hour and thirty-two minutes before sunrise and continues until the sun rises, are more auspicious for spiritual progress and enhance the value of one’s practices, so too, within the year, the month of Kartik is most auspicious. Devotees try to take advantage of the facility offered by Kartik by on the one side increasing their spiritual practices and doing extra service—they chant more rounds, read more scripture, recite more prayers, distribute more books, and make special offerings—and on the other side decreasing their material involvement, their sense gratification. As it is, we are in the four-month period of Chaturmasya, so every month we forgo a certain type of food, but in Kartik devotees may do extra austerities. They may eat only once a day, or give up sweet or fried foods, or rise earlier than usual, or whatever—work on some area of their spiritual life that they want to improve—and they get special mercy in the month of Kartik to fulfill their vows and improve their spiritual practices.