Kartika vrata
10 November 2008

November 10 2008

Mother Yasoda and baby Damodara

kartika offerings

Its getting near the end of Kartika vrata and the Damodar prayers. This is always the best month of the year. I used to like observing it in Vrndavana. When we first opened the Krsna Balaram mandira in 1975 I had the pleasure of observing the first Kartika for the temple as the temple commander. And right after that I became Srila Prabhupada’s personal servant. In those days we didn’t really know much about observing the festivals and not so many people were coming. Now you can’t move, the temple is so packed up. So my allegiance has shifted to Mayapur.

Mayapur is also packed up but not to the degree Vrndavana is.


And the Bengali kirtaneers have a different style of singing the Damodara prayers which is very sweet. 


In 1976 also I was in Vrndavana with Srila Prabhupada.


On advice from one of the devotees, a local man Sri Vishvambhar Dayal, affectionately known as Bhagatji, I decided to observe a special vrata for the month. Not very successfully though. 

 I had decided to only eat once a day. But on the night of the first evening, as I was massaging Srila Prabhupada, I felt very weak and could hardly do my service. I immediately abandoned the planned tapasya. I thought about Lord Caitanya’s servant Govinda, who put all else aside in favor of his service to Mahaprabhu:

Antya 10: Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu Accepts Prasadam from His Devotees

 “As previously, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu performed the cleansing ceremony at Gundica and chanted the famous verse jagamohana-pari-munda yau. After kirtana ended, He distributed prasadam to all the devotees and also took some Himself. Then He lay down at the door of the Gambhira to take rest. Somehow or other Govinda, the personal servant of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, crossed over the Lord’s body and massaged His feet. Govinda could not go out that day, however, and therefore he was unable to accept prasadam. From the character of Govinda it is to be learned that we may sometimes commit offenses for the service of the Lord, but not for sense gratification.”

When I informed Bhagatji the next day he was a bit upset but when I explained my reasoning that my service to Srila Prabhupada was far more important and would benefit me spiritually far more than any special penance performed for Kartika, he accepted it.

Later on in 1980, 81 and 83 I did observe some strict vows while observing Kartika in Vrndavana. The first year I chanted 64 rounds and only ate 6-7 dry chappatis a day. The next year I chanted 64 rounds and only drank one and half clay cups of milk in the morning, and the same again in the afternoon after completing my rounds. And the third year I chanted 64 rounds for the whole of caturmasya (four months of the rainy season). I started off just eating boiled rice and green papaya once a day but later had to abandon that due to some managerial issues which required urgent travel and attention. I switched to  eating just maha-prasadam only once a day after completing my rounds, but with no special fasting for Kartika.

 I remember those observances with special pleasure, my mind was completely peaceful and senses subdued. I read and chanted continuously and it was the best time in my Krsna consciousness apart from when I traveled with His Divine Grace. One day I hope to emulate it again.

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