In today’s shopping-oriented culture nary a day goes by when we do not see a sign or a huge billboard announcing a sale shoes, sarees, handicrafts, household furniture, cosmetics practically everything. Marketers know well that their usual customers will buy, no matter what but it is the person who has not yet become a customer is the one that they are trying to attract.
Similarly, devotional service unto Lord Sri Krsna is the sole objective of pure devotees, but what about those who have not yet accepted the process as the goal of their lives? For them it is the KARTIK SPECIAL SALE! The Padma Purana states, “Lord Krsna may offer liberation or material happiness to a worshiper, but after executing devotional service, particularly in Vrndavana during the month of Kartika, the devotee wants only to attain pure devotional service to the Lord.”
The lifting of Govardhana hill, Mother Yasoda tying Krsna to a grinding mortar and Krsna accepting the charge of taking the cows to pasture are some of the salient pastimes which have occurred in this special month.
The month of Kartika is observed as a special month to perform a little devotional service and reap huge benefits. To begin with, it was in this month that Lord Sri Krsna performed his lila of stealing butter and after being caught from behind by Mother Yasoda He was tied to a grinding mortar. Since Krsna was tied with a rope around His waist He is famous as Damodara (dama means “a rope” and udara means “waist”). Lord Krsna also enacted the pastime of lifting Govardhana Hill in this month. By lifting the Hill, He protected the inhabitants of Vrndavana, including all the cows, calves and other animals, from the anger of Indra. Indra was completely humbled when he saw that not even a drop of water touched any of the inhabitants and he surrendered to Sri Krsna.
Lord Sri Krsna is celebrated as the divine cowherd boy. On a special day celebrated as Gopastami, He was given charge of the cows.
suklastami kartike tu
smrta gopastami budhaih
tad-dinad vasudevo ’bhud
gopah purvam tu vatsapah
“The eighth lunar day of the bright fortnight of the month of Kartika is known by authorities as Gopastami. From that day, Lord Vasudeva served as a cowherd, whereas previously He had tended the calves.”
The Srila Prabhupada lilamrta describes a typical Kartika month atmosphere when Srila Prabhupada had visited Vrndavana when he was a householder.
“On the road there was lively horse-drawn taìga traffic. The month of Kartika, October-November, was one of the several times of the year that drew many pilgrims to Vrndavana. The one-horse taìga carried large families, some coming from hundreds of miles away. Larger bands of pilgrims, grouped by village, walked together, the women dressed in bright-colored saris, brown-skinned men and women sometimes singing bhajanas, carrying but a few simple possessions as they headed for the town of thousands of temples, Vrndavana. And there were businessmen like Abhay, dressed more formally, coming from a city, maybe to spend the weekend. Most of them had at least some semblance of a religious motive to see Krsna in the temple, to bathe in the holy Yamuna River, to visit the sites where Lord Krsna had performed His pastimes such as lifting Govardhana Hill, killing the Kesi demon, or dancing in the evening with the gopis (cowherd girls).
As I am writing this, a friend called from Vrndavana and said that this year the dhama witnessed the highest rains in the last thirty years. It is lush green everywhere. Places like Kaliya-ghata were ghatas in name only as the Yamuna had changed her course and used to flow from afar. But this year’s monsoons saw the over-flooded Yamuna creating bathing ghatas even at Kaliya-ghata.
The BTG team wishes all its readers a very auspicious and successful Kartika month’s devotional service. (Syamananda Dasa)