“Of all plants, the sacred Tulasi is most dear to Me; of all months, Kartika is most dear; of all places of pilgrimage My beloved Dwaraka is most dear, and of all days, Ekadasi is most dear.”
(Padma Purana, Uttara Khanda 112.3)
Kartika Maas, also known to Vaishnavas as Darmodara Maas is described in the scriptures as the best among months.
Kartika, or the festival of offering lamps to Lord Krishna lasts the entire month of Damodara starting from Ashwin purnima (04.10.09) till Kartika purnima (02.11.09), which glorifies Krishna’s pastime of being bound with ropes by Mother Yashoda.
Observing the Kartika vrata or Urja vrata as it also called, is glorified in the puranas. One may observe any or all of the following activities throughout the month of Kartika:
1.Japa – chanting the holy names of Krishna
2. Worship of Krishna by offering ghee lamps, flowers, incense, food, etc.
3. Practice brahmacharya (celibacy)
4. Worship of Tulasi devi
5. Giving of charity (money, foodgrains, clothes, fruits, lamps)
6. Perform austerities
In the Hari Bhakti Vilas it is stated:
“In the month of Kartika, one should daily worship Lord Damodara and sing the Damodarashtakam which pleases Lord Damodara, written by the sage Satyavrata.”
Srimati Radharani is the personification of the holy month of Kartika, which precedes Lord Krishna’s month, Mrigashirsha. Sri Radhika is known as the Kartika Devi and She is the presiding goddess of the month of Kartika.
During this best of months, many special victorious events have occurred as recorded in our epics which are celebrated and observed till this day.
- Bahula Ashtami (appearance day of Sri Radha Kund)
• Dipavali (Diwali)
• Govardhan puja/Annakuta
• Bhrartri dwitiya (Bhaiya dooj)
• Gopashtami (the day Krishna graduated to cow-herding from calf-herding)
• Sri Jagadhaatri puja (Sri Durga navami)
• Sri Uthaana Ekadasi
• Kartika purnima (Rasyatra of Lord Radha Madhava)
• Sri Tulasi vivaha (celebrated either on Uthaana Dwadasi following Ekadasi or on Kartik purnima)
Srila Jiva Goswami writes in Bhakti-Sandarbhaj anuccheda 153:
It is seen that the activities of pure bhakti when
performed even without a devotional attitude are
still very powerful.
He then narrated the following story from the Vishnudharmottara Purana on the significance of offering lamps during the month of Kartik.
In the country of Vidarbha there lived a king named Chitraratha. He had one hundred-fifteen sons, but only one daughter whose name was
She was virtuous and possessed matchless beauty. Her father gave her in marriage to the righteous king of Kashi. The king of Kashi had three hundred wives, but Lalitika became his principal queen.
Beginning from the dark half of the month of Asvina (September-October), till the bright half of the month of Kiirttika (October-November), it was Lalitika’s daily practice to light thousands of lamps, both day and night, in the temple of Vishnu.
She also sent lamps to the houses of brahmins, to crossroads of the streets, to various temples, at the bottom of holy trees, on the top of mountains, on the sandy banks of rivers, and on the surface of wells.
Seeing her thus absorbed, her co-wives gathered together and asked her, “0 fair eyed Lalitika, neglecting all other rituals, you always seem keen on lighting lamps in the temples of Vishnu. We are very curious to know why you do this. Please explain to us why you have so much faith in this activity?”
Lalitika replied: “O auspicious ladies! I have faith in the fruit of giving lamps. That worthy daughter of the lord of mountains, who is the beloved wife of Shiva, is famous in the country of Madra in her form of the divine river named Umadevi.
To bless the populace, she was called by the brahmins to descend to the earth. On her banks there is a sacred place measuring eight miles in circumference. The water in that holy place is considered to contain waters from all the places of pilgrimage. Whoever dies there obtains an auspicious result. That goddess destroys sins whenever she is heard, wished for, or seen.
Her holy place, named “Narasimha”, destroys all sins. In the past, the Lord who has a combined form of a man and a lion had taken a bath there. In ancient times, the king of Sauvira constructed a temple of Lord Vishnu at that place. The priest there daily worshipped the Lord with flowers, fragrant scents, and the offering of lamps.
One evening during the month of Kartika, the lamp that had been offered to the Lord was almost extinguished. I was then living in that temple in the body of a female mouse.
Thinking to eat the ghee-soaked wick, I seized it, but suddenly a cat appeared. I fled away out of fear with the wick in my mouth. My running made the flame of the lamp bum brightly. I then met with death and was later reborn as a daughter of the king of Vidarbha.”
Om Vishnupad 108 Tridandi Swami Sri Srimat Bhakti Sravan Tirtha Goswami Maharaj