by Purujit Dasa
The month of Karttika also known as Urja vrata begins today on Sunday the 16th of October and willlast until the Rasa-Lila Day on the next full moon night. This month isespecially ausicious for those who want to get their devotional desires to befulfilled and any devotional service you might execute during this month isbelieved to be extraordinarily effective. Devotees of Krsna therefore makedifferent vows which they faithfully execute during this month. For example onemakes a vow to chant some extra rounds on the japa-mala, do some extra servicefor the temple of Krsna, read an extra chapter of the Bhagavad-gita etc. Thereis no restriction on what vows one should take as long as the service is doneunder the guidance of the bona fide spiritual master. The main point is toincrease our meditation on the Lord and elevate our consciousness more andmore. No devotee thinks he's perfect and any sincere devotee naturally takesadvantage of this auspicious month. Srila Prabhupada explains:
In the Padma Puranathere is a statement that one should perform the ceremonies for the Lord according to one's financial position. Everyone should observe the differentceremonies and celebrations of the Lord by all means. One of the most important of these ceremonial functions is called Urja-vrata. Urja-vrata is observed inthe month of Karttika (October-November); especially in Vrndavana, there is aspecific program for temple worship of the Lord in His Damodara form. Damodararefers to Krsna's being bound with rope by His mother, Yasoda. It is said thatjust as Lord Damodara is very dear to His devotees so the month known asDamodara or Karttika is also very dear to them.The execution ofdevotional service during Urja-vrata in the month of Karttika is especiallyrecommended to be performed at Mathura. This system is still followed by manydevotees. They go to Mathura or Vrndavana and stay there during the month ofKarttika specifically to perform devotional services during this period.
In the Padma Purana it is said: "The Lord may offer liberation or material happiness to adevotee, but after some devotional service has been executed, particularly in Mathura during the month of Karttika, the devotees want only to attain puredevotional service unto the Lord." The purport is that the Lord does notaward devotional service to ordinary persons who are not serious about it. Buteven such unserious persons who execute devotional service according to theregulative principles during the month of Karttika, and within the jurisdictionof Mathura in India, are very easily awarded the Lord's personal service. NoD 12-1970: Revealed Scriptures
Srila Prabhupada here commments that we should celebrate the month of Karttika by all means. In other words, it is best to give up all other activities at least for the month ofKarttika and engage in devotional service. This is very much required if wewant to make progress and not remain on the material platform. Lord Damaodra isvery merciful and can bestow the supreme benediction of pure devotional serviceon anyone, but one has to "execute devotional service according to theregulative principles." In other words he should engage in devotional service on daily basis with commitment and not half-way with very little or nocommitment. We cannot expect miracles if we do not engage with full enthusiasmand are not willing to undergo austerities for the Lord. Of course, any place where devotionalactivities are taking place under the instruction of the bona fide spiritualmaster Srila Prabhupada take place is as good as Mathura. Krsna says,
naham tisthamivaikunthe yoginam
hrdayesu vayatra gayantimad-bhaktah
tatra tisthami narada
"I do not stay in Vaikuntha-loka, the spiritual world, or within the hearts of the yogis. Istay where My devotees chant My glories"(Padma Purana).