Kartik is the holiest month in the Hindu lunar calendar. It usually overlaps with the months October & November in the English calendar. Kartik Maas, also known as Damodar Maas, is described in the scriptures as the best among months for performing austerities.
Lord Shri Krishna says, “Of all plants, the sacred Tulasi is most dear to Me; of all months, Kartik is most dear, of all places of pilgrimage, My beloved Dwarka is most dear, and of all days,Ekadashi is most dear.” (Padma Purana, Uttara Khand 112.3)
Kartik or the festival of offering lamps to Lord Krishna, glorifies Lord Krishna’s pastime of being bound with ropes by Mother Yashoda. Observing vrata in the month of Kartik is glorified in the Puranas.
“As Sat-yuga is the best of yugas (ages), as the Vedas are the best among scriptures, as Ganga is best of rivers, so Kartik is the best of months, the most dear to Lord Krishna.” (Skanda Purana)
This vrata begins on 4th Oct 2009(this year), and one may observe the following foremost activities throughout the entire month of Kartik:
Japa – chanting the holy names of the Lord.
Worship the Lord by offering ghee lamps (diyas), flowers, incense, food, etc.
Practice brahmacharya – celibacy.
Worship of Tulasi Devi.
The month of Kartika is the best of all months, and it is in this month that many special festivals like Dhan-Teras, Diwali, Govardhan Puja, Bhai Duj,Tulsi Vivaah and various others take place.
Following are excerpts from some scriptures (Puranas) describing the glory of the pious Kartik month:
“If somebody performs even a little worship of Lord Shri Hari in this month, He offers that devotee His own abode.”
“If somebody burns a lamp in the temple of Lord Shri Hari even for a short time (in the month of Kartik), then whatever sins, he has acquired for millions of kalpas (one kalpa equals 1000yugas) are all destroyed.”
“A person, who for the entire month of Kartik eats only once a day, becomes very famous, powerful and heroic.”
“O Narada! I have personally seen that a person who happily reads the Bhagavad Gita in the month of Kartik does not return to the world of birth and death.”
“Of all gifts, the gift of a lamp during the month of Kartik is the best. No gift is its equal.”
“The pious result obtained by bathing in all holy places and giving all charities is not equal to one ten-millionth part of the result obtained by following the vow of Kartik.”
(found in the Padma Purana of Krishna Dvaipayana Vyasa, spoken by Satyavrata Muni in a conversation with Narada Muni and Shaunaka Rishi)
"In the month of Kartika one should worship Lord Damodara and daily recite the prayer known as Damodaraishtaka, which has been spoken by the sage satyavrata and which attracts Lord Damodara. "
(Shri Hari-bhakti-vilasa 2.16.198)
lasat-kundalam gokule bhrajamanam
paramrishtam atyantato drutya gopya
To the supreme Lord, whose form is the embodiment of eternal existence, knowledge, and bliss, whose shark-shaped earrings are swinging to and fro, who is beautifully shining in the divine realm of Gokula, who [due to the offense of breaking the pot of yogurt that His mother was churning into butter and then stealing the butter that was kept hanging from a swing] is quickly running from the wooden grinding mortar in fear of mother Yashoda, but who has been caught from behind by her who ran after Him with greater speed—to that supreme Lord, Shri Damodara, I offer my humble obeisances.
rudantam muhur netra-yugmam mrjantam
sthita-graivam damodaram bhakti-baddham
[Seeing the whipping stick in His mother’s hand,] He is crying and rubbing His eyes again and again with His two lotus hands. His eyes are filled with fear, and the necklace of pearls around His neck, which is marked with three lines like a conchshell, is shaking because of His quick breathing due to crying. To this supreme Lord, Shri Damodara, whose belly is bound not with ropes but with His mother’s pure love, I offer my humble obeisances.
itidrk sva-lilabhir ananda-kunde
sva-ghoisham nimajjantam akhyapayantam
tadiyeishita-gyeishu bhaktair jitatvam
puna prematas tam shatavrtti vande
By such childhood pastimes as this He is drowning the inhabitants of Gokula in pools of ecstasy, and is revealing to those devotees who are absorbed in knowledge of His supreme majesty and opulence that He is only conquered by devotees whose pure love is imbued with intimacy and is free from all conceptions of awe and reverence. With great love I again offer my obeisances to Lord Damodara hundreds and hundreds of times.
varam deva mokisham na mokishavadhim va
na canyam Vrine ’ham vareishad apiha
idam te vapur natha gopala-balam
sada me manasy avirastam kim anyai
O Lord, although You are able to give all kinds of benedictions, I do not pray to You for the boon of impersonal liberation, nor the highest liberation of eternal life in Vaikuntha, nor any other boon [which may be obtained by executing the nine processes of bhakti]. O Lord, I simply wish that this form of Yours as Bala Gopala in Vrindavana may ever be manifest in my heart, for what is the use to me of any other boon besides this?
idam te mukhambhojam atyanta-nilair
vrtam kuntalai snigdha-raktaish ca gopya
muhush cumbitam bimba-raktadharam me
manasy avirastam alam lakisha-labhai
0 Lord, Your lotus face, which is encircled by locks of soft black hair tinged with red, is kissed again and again by mother Yashoda, and Your lips are reddish like the bimba fruit. May this beautiful vision of Your lotus face be ever manifest in my heart. Thousands and thousands of other benedictions are of no use to me.
namo deva damodarananta viishno
prasida prabho dukha-jalabdhi-magnam
grhaneisha mam agyam edhy akishi-drshya
O Supreme Godhead, I offer my obeisances unto You. O Damodara! O Ananta! O Vishnu! O master! O my Lord, be pleased upon me. By showering Your glance of mercy upon me, deliver this poor ignorant fool who is immersed in an ocean of worldly sorrows, and become visible to my eyes.
kuveratmajau baddha-murtyaiva yadvat
tvaya mocitau bhakti-bhajau krtau ca
tatha prema-bhaktim svakam me prayaccha
na mokishe graho me ‘sti damodareha
O Lord Damodara, just as the two sons of Kuvera—Manigriva and Nalakuvara—were delivered from the curse of Narada and made into great devotees by You in Your form as a baby tied with rope to a wooden grinding mortar, in the same way, please give to me Your own prema-bhakti. I only long for this and have no desire for any kind of liberation.
namas te ’stu damne sphurad-dipti-dhamne
tvadiyodarayatha vishvasya dhamne
namo radhikayai tvadiya-priyayai
namo ’nanta-lilaya devaya tubhyam
O Lord Damodara, I first of all offer my obeisances to the brilliantly effulgent rope which binds Your belly. I then offer my obeisances to Your belly, which is the abode of the entire universe. I humbly bow down to Your most beloved Shrimati Radharani, and I offer all obeisances to You, the supreme Lord, who displays unlimited pastimes.