Kartik - The Holiest Month (24th Oct - 21st Nov'10)
Kartik is the holiest month in the Hindu lunar calendar. It usually overlaps with the months October & November in the English calendar. Kartik Maas is described in the scriptures as the best among months for performing austerities.
Sutaji said to the great sages: “The sin-destroying month of Kartik is said to be endowed with divine influence. It is ever so dear to Lord Vishnu and is the bestower of both worldly pleasures and moksha (salvation).”
The rituals associated with the Kartik month are as follows:
v Japa – chanting the holy names of the Lord. As per our scriptures, if somebody performs even a little worship of Lord Shri Hari in this month, He offers that devotee His own abode.
v Deep Daan (offering lamps) - Worship the Lord by offering lamps (diyas), flowers, incense, food, etc. Lighting a diya before the Lord is called as “deep-daan” and affords immense religious merits when performed during the Kartik month.
- In the Padma Purana, Kartik Mahatmya, there is a very famous story of a mouse.
In a temple of Lord Vishnu, there was a mouse who used to eat the ghee from the extinguished ghee lamps which had been offered by devotees to Him. One day when she felt hungry to eat ghee, she tried to eat the ghee from a lamp which was not yet extinguished. While eating ghee from the lamp, the cotton wick got stuck in her teeth. Since the ghee wick had a flame, the mouse started jumping in front of the Lord's Deity form and thus died due to fire. But Lord Sri Vishnu accepted the jumping of that mouse with a lit ghee wick in her mouth as His aarti. In the end, He gave her liberation, the highest destination.
- “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 1000 yugas) are all destroyed.”
- “Of all gifts, the gift of a lamp during the month of Kartik is the best. No gift is its equal.”
- The Pushkar Puran states, “The person who lights the lamp of sesame (til) oil in the name of Lord Shri Hari in the month of Kartik (during Sandhya) gets unlimited prosperity, beauty, blessedness and wealth.”
v Brahmacharya – During Kartik month, one should refrain from indulging in sex and should practice Brahmacharya.
v Worship of Tulsi Devi in Kartik is the bestower of innumerable virtues. As per our scriptures, the religious merits obtained from bathing at Prayag, death in Kashi, and study of the scriptures are acquired simply through the worship of the Tulsi plant. During Kartik month, one should specially light a diya near the Tulsi plant. Applying tilak on the forehead using Tulsi ji’s mitti (sand) in Kartik bestows good fortune (saubhagya).
v Give Charity (daan).
v Perform austerities – Lord Shiva said to His son Kartikeyaji, “Dear son! One who takes a bath before sunrise in the month of Kartik is absolved of all sins.” A bath during the Brahma-murat in this month at home as well affords the same religious merits as bathing in holy places of pilgrimage like Gangaji, Kashi, etc. By sleeping on the ground during Kartik, one is entitled to the same religious merits as obtained by donating a piece of land to Brahmins during the solar and lunar eclipses.
Legend of Kartik Month
Despite having scores of servants and attendants, Mother Yashoda would seize every opportunity to do her personal seva to her Gopal. One day, mother Yashoda was churning yogurt into butter herself, and in the meantime Krishna came and tugged at her saree asking for a feed.
Of course, mother Yashoda immediately allowed Him to do so, and keeping Him in her lap she suckled him while rhythmically pulling the strings of the churning rod and singing Krishna's lilas to herself.
Desiring to enact another charming pastime, Krishna decided to break the sweet cosy serenity. Presently the hot milk on the stove began hissing and boiling over, and Mother Yashoda immediately stopped what she was doing, removed Krishna from her breast and put him on the floor and ran to take the milk pot off the stove.
Displaying a transcendental tantrum, Krishna, annoyed at having been so unceremoniously dumped on the ground, picked up a piece of stone, hit and broke the churning pot. Then he crawled to an adjacent room where He began to eat freshly churned butter kept in a pot there.
After attending to the overflowing milk when Mother Yashoda returned and saw the pot broken and all the yoghurt spilt, she could understand that this was the work of her mischievous Krishna, and went looking for him in an angry mood.
Hearing some sounds from the adjacent room she entered and round Krishna standing on the ulükhala, a large mortar for grinding spices.
Standing on the mortar, He was stuffing butter hanging from a swing into his and also generously distributing the butter to the monkeys who had assembled in the meantime. As soon as Krishna saw His mother, He froze and looked at her with big fearful eyes, his face all smeared with butter and his mouth stuffed. He then tried to run away and Mother Yashoda began to chase Him with a stick in her hand.
After a few rounds, Maiya was able to catch Krishna, who was now pretending to be crying and saying he didn't do it. After scolding Him for having caused so much loss and mess, she decided to teach him a lesson by binding Him with a rope.
Holding him by one hand she went off in search of a rope. Finally finding a length of rope, she sat down and proceeded to tie him up to a tall heavy mortar standing in the verandah thinking he wouldn't be able to move from there for some time.
Now, when the time came to knot the rope, the rope was just short by about two fingers. Finding another piece of rope, she tied it to the first rope and winding it around Krishna's belly (Daam) to use up the slack she tried to knot it. Again it was short by about two fingers. Again and again she tried, and again and again she found the rope too short by two fingers.
Thus poor Maiya became very perplexed and tired, and Krishna, seeing His affectionate mother hassled and perspiring, allowed Himself to be bound. Being compassionate, He did not show her His unlimited potency.
"Dam" means "rope," while "udar" means "stomach," therefore "Damodar" refers to the bound form of Krishna. This pastime represents that Krishna feels transcendental pleasure by submitting to the will of the pure devotee. Due to this Damodar Lila of Lord Krishna, Kartik Maas is also referred to as Damodar Maas.
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