The month of Kartik

Iskcon Mauritius Damodara

The Padma Purana describes the month of Kartik as Krishna’s favourite month. Devotional activities performed during this holy month are rewarded with greater spiritual results than usual so devotees often take vows to increase their spiritual practices or to simplify their material needs for the entire month. It is a way that they can remember Krishna more and increase their service to Him.

The Padma Purana further recommends the daily offering of a ghee lamp to Krishna during Kartik so in ISKCON temples around the world devotees offer ghee lamps to Krishna either in the morning or evening while singing the Damodaraska prayers. These beautiful verses taught to the devotees by Srila Prabhupada glorify the Damodar pastime of Krishna which occurred during the Kartik month.

In Mauritius the sacred month of Kartik is celebrated in a very special way. Every evening many devotees gather before the Deities for the sandhya-arati at 7 p.m. Everyone has the opportunity to offer the Deities a ghee lamp while singing the Damodarastaka prayers. Every night a different speaker speaks on topics related to Krishna. To end each sublime evening during the whole month of Kartik a feast, which is sponsored by a different devotee or well-wisher, is served to all those present. The mood is so sweet that nobody seems to want to return home.

Many festivals related to Krishna’s or His devotees pastimes occur during this month: Rasa-lila, Diwali, Govardhan puja, Appearance of Radha-kund and the Disappearance of Srila Prabhupada.

The Pastime of Damodar-Krishna

On Diwali Day Mother Yasoda, while feeding Krishna her breast milk, was forced to put Him down to attend to the milk pan boiling over on the stove. Krishna was very upset and after breaking His mother’s butter pots, He distributed the contents to the monkeys. Upon seeing Krishna’s naughty behaviour Mother Yashoda decided to punish Him by binding him with a rope, to a large grinding mortar in the courtyard. She tried to tie the rope around Krishna’s waist but the rope was short by two fingers. Adding more and more ropes, she tried again and again but the ropes always remained short. Then, by His compassion for His tired Mother, Krishna allowed Himself to be tied. When alone, Krishna pulled the mortar between two yamala-arjuna trees bringing them crashing to the ground. Imprisoned in these trees were Nalakuvera and Manigriva, sons of Kuber, who had been cursed by Narada Muni. They were now liberated. When Nanda Maharaja returned and saw Krishna tied to the mortar in between the two uprooted, gigantic trees He untied Krishna and held him lovingly in his arms, thankful that His darling son had been protected from the falling trees.

"In the month of Kartik one should worship Lord Damodar and daily recite the prayer known as Damodar-ashtakam, which has been spoken by the sage Satyavrata and which attracts Lord Damodar. (Sri Hari-bhakti-vilasa 2:16:198)

In the Skanda Puräna, in a conversation of Brahma' and Närada, it is said: "O best of the followers of religion, a person who does not follow the vow of Kärttika-vrata is a sinner. He is like a person who murders. A person who gives ten million cows, all filled with milk and all the mothers of young calves, in charity to the brähmanas does not earn even one sixteenth of the pious merit earned by one who places a lamp on the roof of Lord Krishna's temple.