The Holy Month of Damodara
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(Mother Yashoda trying to bind Lord Krishna with a rope)

Kartik, also known as the month of Damodara, is a month for deepening one's love for Krishna. It is considered by devotees of Krishna to be the holiest month of the year. During this month devotees make extra vows, perform extra spiritual activities and worship Krishna in His form as a young boy, Damodara, Who was once bound at the waist by His mother, Yashoda, as a punishment for His mischievous childhood pastimes. Devotees show their heartfelt love and devotion to the Lord by offering ghee lamps or candles and singing His praises.

"My dear Kṛṣṇa, Yaśodā took up a rope to bind You when You committed an offense, and Your perturbed eyes overflooded with tears, which washed the mascara from Your eyes. And You were afraid, though fear personified is afraid of You. This sight is bewildering to me."

(Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.8.31)

"Kṛṣṇa's another name is Dāmodara. The Dāmodara temple, Rādhā-Dāmodara temple, is there in Vṛndāvana, and I was staying there. Still I have my two rooms. So this Dāmodara description... The Dāmodara month is coming, and it will begin on the 18th of this October. So from that day, we'll observe Dāmodara-vrata for one month, from 18th to 17th November. The duty will be that in the evening you'll offer candle, a small candle, all of you, just before the Deity; not within the room, outside the room; and chant the Dāmodarāṣṭaka, namāmīśvaram. That is already printed in our song book. So this will be Dāmodara-vrata."

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Mayapur, October 11, 1974)

"As Satya-yuga is the best of yugas, as the Vedas are the best of scriptures, as Ganga is the best of rivers, so Kārttika is the best of months, the most dear to Lord Kṛṣṇa."

(Skanda Purāṇa)

"Similarly, there is a statement in Padma Purāṇa describing the ritualistic function during the month of Kārttika (October-November). During this month, in Vṛndāvana it is the regulative principle to pray daily to Lord Kṛṣṇa in His Dāmodara form. The Dāmodara form refers to Kṛṣṇa in His childhood when He was tied up with rope by His mother, Yaśodā. Dāma means 'ropes,' and udara means 'the abdomen.' So mother Yaśodā, being very disturbed by naughty Kṛṣṇa, bound Him round the abdomen with a rope, and thus Kṛṣṇa is named Dāmodara. During the month of Kārttika, Dāmodara is prayed to as follows: 'My dear Lord, You are the Lord of all, the giver of all benedictions.' There are many demigods, like Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva, who sometimes offer benedictions to their respective devotees. For example, Rāvaṇa was blessed with many benedictions by Lord Śiva, and Hiraṇyakaśipu was blessed by Lord Brahmā. But even Lord Śiva and Lord Brahmā depend upon the benedictions of Lord Kṛṣṇa, and therefore Kṛṣṇa is addressed as the Lord of all benefactors. As such, Lord Kṛṣṇa can offer His devotees anything they want, but still, the devotee's prayer continues, 'I do not ask You for liberation or any material facility up to the point of liberation. What I want as Your favor is that I may always think of Your form in which I see You now, as Dāmodara. You are so beautiful and attractive that my mind does not want anything besides this wonderful form.' In this same prayer, there is another passage, in which it is said, 'My dear Lord Dāmodara, once when You were playing as a naughty boy in the house of Nanda Mahārāja, You broke the box containing yogurt, and because of that, mother Yaśodā considered You an offender and tied You with rope to the household grinding mortar. At that time You delivered two sons of Kuvera, Nalakūvara and Maṇigrīva, who were staying there as two arjuna trees in the yard of Nanda Mahārāja. My only request is that by Your merciful pastimes You may similarly deliver me.'

The story behind this verse is that the two sons of Kuvera (the treasurer of the demigods) were puffed up on account of the opulence of their father, and so once on a heavenly planet they were enjoying themselves in a lake with some naked damsels of heaven. At that time the great saint Nārada Muni was passing on the road and was sorry to see the behavior of the sons of Kuvera. Seeing Nārada passing by, the damsels of heaven covered their bodies with cloth, but the two sons, being drunkards, did not have this decency. Nārada became angry with their behavior and cursed them thus: 'You have no sense, so it is better if you become trees instead of the sons of Kuvera.' Upon hearing this, the boys came to their senses and begged Nārada to be pardoned for their offenses. Nārada then said, 'Yes, you shall become trees, arjuna trees, and you will stand in the courtyard of Nanda Mahārāja. But Kṛṣṇa Himself will appear in time as the foster son of Nanda, and He will deliver you.' In other words, the curse of Nārada was a benediction to the sons of Kuvera because indirectly it was foretold that they would be able to receive the favor of Lord Kṛṣṇa. After that, Kuvera's two sons stood as two big arjuna trees in the courtyard of Nanda Mahārāja until Lord Dāmodara, in order to fulfill the desire of Nārada, dragged the grinding mortar to which He was tied and struck the two trees, violently causing them to fall down. From out of these fallen trees came Nalakūvara and Maṇigrīva, who had by then become great devotees of the Lord.

There is a passage in the Hayaśīrṣa-pañcarātra which states, 'My dear Lord, O Supreme Personality of Godhead, I do not want any resultant benediction from my religious life, nor do I want any economic development, nor do I want to enjoy sense gratification, nor liberation. I simply pray to be an eternal servant at Your lotus feet. Kindly oblige me and give me this benediction.'"

(Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 4)

"One of the most important of these ceremonial functions is called Ūrja-vrata. Ūrja-vrata is observed in the month of Kārttika (October-November); especially in Vṛndāvana, there is a specific program for temple worship of the Lord in His Dāmodara form. 'Dāmodara' refers to Kṛṣṇa's being bound with rope by His mother, Yaśodā. It is said that just as Lord Dāmodara is very dear to His devotees, so the month known as Dāmodara or Kārttika is also very dear to them.

The execution of devotional service during Ūrja-vrata in the month of Kārttika is especially recommended to be performed at Mathurā. This system is still followed by many devotees. They go to Mathurā or Vṛndāvana and stay there during the month of Kārttika specifically to perform devotional services during this period.

In the Padma Purāṇa it is said, 'The Lord may offer liberation or material happiness to a devotee, but after some devotional service has been executed, particularly in Mathurā during the month of Kārttika, the devotees want only to attain pure devotional service unto the Lord.' The purport is that the Lord does not award devotional service to ordinary persons who are not serious about it. But even such unserious persons who execute devotional service according to the regulative principles during the month of Kārttika, and within the jurisdiction of Mathurā in India, are very easily awarded the Lord's personal service."

(Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 12)

"The real ocean of mercy is Krsna and it is the duty of the spiritual master to tell his disciple to come to the ocean and be happy. The spiritual master's duty is to lead the disciple to this ocean. I am trying my best and if you try to follow surely you will benefit.

Bhaktivinode Thakura has sung, 'Krsna sei tomara, krsna dite para, tomara sakati ache. Ami ta'kangala, krsna krsna boli, dhai tava pache pache.' 'Krsna is yours and you have the power to give Him to anyone you wish. I am poor and wretched and running behind you shouting Krsna, Krsna!'

Krsna is unlimited, no one can catch Him, but if someone follows the parampara, he agrees to be captured. Everyone is afraid of Krsna, but Krsna is afraid of Mother Yasoda. That is Krsna's special mercy."

(Srila Prabhupada Letter, August 14, 1976)

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