The Magnificence of Kartik Month

दामोदरं प्रपद्येऽहं श्रीराधारमणं प्रभुं ।
प्रभावाद् यस्य तत्प्रेष्ठः कार्तिकः सेवितो भवेत् ॥
dāmodaraṁ prapadye'haṁ śrīrādhāramaṇaṁ prabhuṁ ।
prabhāvād yasya tat-preṣṭhaḥ kārtikaḥ sevito bhavet 
“I bow to Shri Radharaman, who is also known as Damodar. By his grace alone, we can properly observe his beloved month of Kartik.” ( Hari Bhakti Vilas, 16.1)
Kartik is a special time when we can please Shri Krishn easily. During this month, devotees take a vow or vrat to follow certain spiritual practices, and this is also known as Niyam Seva. In the Bhakti Rasamrit Sindhu (1.2.221), Shri Roop Goswami also refers to this vrat by the name of urja, meaning divine power. This month also belongs to the source of all divine power, the goddess of sacred love, Shri Radharani.
Those who follow the Kartik Vrat are blessed beyond imagination. In the Padma Puran (quoted in Hari Bhakti Vilas, 16.23), Sage Narad says:
मानुषः कर्म्मभूमौ यः कार्तिकं नयते सुधा ।
चिन्तामणिं करे प्राप्य क्षिप्यते कर्द्दमाम्बुनि ॥
mānuṣaḥ karmmabhūmau yaḥ kārtikaṁ nayate sudhā ।
cintāmaṇiṁ kare prāpya kṣipyate karddamāmbuni ॥
“The month of Kartik is like the legendary gem, chintamani, which grants all wishes to those who possess it. But if you pass the month of Kartik without observing a vow, it is like throwing chintamani in a lake of mud.”

The scripture recommends performing the Kartik Vrat in a holy place rather than at home. But in particular, offering Kartik Vrat in Braj is extremely powerful. The Padma Puran (quoted in Hari Bhakti Vilas, 16.156-162) says:
दुर्लभः कार्तिको विप्र मथुरायां नृणामिह । यत्रार्च्चितः स्वकं रूपं भक्तेभ्यः संप्रयच्छति ॥
भुक्तिं मुक्तिं हरिर्दद्यादर्च्चितोऽन्यत्र सेविनाम् । भक्तिञ्च न ददात्येष यतो वश्यकरी हरेः ॥
durlabhaḥ kārtiko vipra mathurāyāṁ nṛṇāmiha ।
yatrārccitaḥ svakaṁ rūpaṁ bhaktebhyaḥ saṁprayacchati ॥
bhuktiṁ muktiṁ harirdadyādarccito'nyatra sevinām ।
bhaktiñca na dadātyeṣa yato vaśyakarī hareḥ ॥
“It is very rare for a human being to be able to be in Braj during Kartik. In Braj, Shri Krishn gives his very self to his devotees. In other places of the world, Krishn grants material blessings or liberation, but he rarely gives devotion, because devotion has the power to bring Krishn under its spell and control him completely.”
सा त्वञ्जसा हरेर्भक्तिर्लभ्यते कार्तिके नरैः । मथुरायां सकृदपि श्रीदामोदरपूजनात् ॥
मन्त्रद्रव्य विहीनञ्च विधिहीनञ्च पूजनम् । मन्यते कार्तिके देवो मथुरायां यदर्च्चनम् ॥
sā tvañjasā harerbhaktirlabhyate kārtike naraiḥ ।
mathurāyāṁ sakṛdapi śrīdāmodarapūjanāt ॥
mantradravya vihīnañca vidhihīnañca pūjanam ।
manyate kārtike devo mathurāyāṁ yadarccanam ॥
“But when you worship Damodar (Krishn) in Braj even one time during Kartik, he easily grants this devotion to you. Even if the worship is done without proper mantras, rules and offerings, Krishn accepts it as the highest form of worship.”
यस्य पापस्य युज्येत मरणान्ता विनिष्कृतिः । तच्छुद्धयर्थमिदं प्रोक्तं प्रायश्चित्तं सुनिश्चितम् ।
कार्तिके मथुरायां वै श्रीदामोदरपूजनम् ॥

yasya pāpasya yujyeta maraṇāntā viniṣkṛtiḥ ।
tacchuddhayarthamidaṁ proktaṁ prāyaścittaṁ suniścitam ।
kārtike mathurāyāṁ vai śrīdāmodarapūjanam ॥
“Sins that otherwise would only be paid for after death are washed away by worshipping Krishn in Braj during Kartik.”
कार्तिके मथुरायां वै पूजनाद्दर्शनाद्ध्रुवः । शीघ्रं सम्प्राप्तवान् बालो दुर्ल्लभं योगतत्परैः ॥

kārtike mathurāyāṁ vai pūjanāddarśanāddhruvaḥ 
śīghraṁ samprāptavān bālo durllabhaṁ yogatatparaiḥ ॥
“By worshipping Krishn in Braj during Kartik, the famous devotee Dhruv Maharaj attained the Lord’s darshan, which is difficult for even the great rishis to attain. He attained this blessing despite being just a small child.”
सुलभा मथुरा भूमौ प्रत्यब्दं कार्तिकस्तथा । तथापि संसरन्तीह नरा मूढा भवाम्बुधौ ॥
sulabhā mathurā bhūmau pratyabdaṁ kārtikastathā
tathāpi saṁsarantīha narā mūḍhā bhavāmbudhau
“India is right here, Braj is easy to reach, and the month of Kartik comes every year. Yet foolish people miss the chance to observe Kartik in Braj, and so they remain fallen in the ocean of repeated birth and death.”
Spiritual Practices During Kartik
In addition to increasing daily practices like jap, kirtan and so forth, the scriptures mention specific practices for devotees to observe during Kartik. These are as follows:
Five Main Practices
The five main practices are mentioned by Shri Krishn in the Padma Puran (quoted in Hari Bhakti Vilas, 16.92). These are:
  1. Deep daan or the offering of lamps daily
  2. Bathing at dawn daily
  3. Jaagran or staying up all night for Krishn’s sake (this can be done on any day during the vrat)
  4. Serving the tulsi plant daily
  5. Udyaapan or holding a grand festival at the end of the vrat, which includes a fire offering or havan, feeding Brahmins and Vaishnavs, go-daan or giving cows away in charity, and other special events
Krishn goes on to say, “One should perform jaagran in a temple of Hari, a temple of Shiv, at the base of a peepal tree, or in a tulsi garden. If due to some misfortune, you are unable to find any water to bathe in, or if you are physically ill, then you can perform snaan just by chanting Harinaam.
If you are unable to perform udyaapan, then you can feed Brahmins according to your ability in order to complete the vrat.
If you are unable to offer lamps in Kartik, instead, you can re-light someone else’s lamp which has gone out, or protect someone else’s lamp from the wind. If there are no tulsi plants to serve, you may worship Brahmins and Vaishnavs instead. And finally, if you cannot do any of the above practices, then you can still complete the vrat by simply serving Brahmins, cows, and the sacred trees known as peepal and banyan.” ( Hari Bhakti Vilas, 16.95-98)
Other Important Practices
The scriptures also recommend the following practices during Kartik month:
• Chanting Damodarashtakam daily
• Hearing Shrimad Bhagwatam Katha daily in the association of Vaishnavs
• Living amongst devotees
• Serving saints
• Feeding cows
• Offering obeisances to Krishn, Shri Dham, guru parampara, devotees and so forth
• Worshipping Krishn, especially by offering food, fruits, silver, gems and pearls to him
Further, one is advised to:
• Observe the vrat in a holy place instead of at home • Sleep on the floor
• Otherwise, avoid sleeping in someone else’s bed • Eat a limited diet and/or eat only once a day
• Avoid applying oil on the body
• Eat in silence
• Stop all sinful actions like eating forbidden foods, theft, adultery and so forth when performing the vrat
Material Benefits of Kartik Practices
Devotees following the Vrindavan mood offer Kartik Vrat for Krishn’s sake, without wanting any result but his happiness. Although the scriptures have also mentioned many material benefits of this vrat, these are not the main reasons for observing it. Still, we have included just a few examples here:
Observing Kartik Vrat grants positive results that last forever.
By limiting one’s diet during Kartik, one gets sarupya mukti (a form like Narayan’s).
By offering a lamp during Kartik, amongst other benefits, all one’s sins are burned up, one’s ancestors
attain mukti, and one gets a greater result than if he had offered everything he owns in charity.
By reviving someone else’s lamp, one never goes to hell.
  • By placing a lamp on the spire of a temple, hundreds of generations of one’s ancestors are delivered, even if the person was hired to do so.
  • By lighting a lamp in the house of a Brahmin, you get the results of an agnishtom yagya.
  • One who offers a deep mala – a row of lamps – inside and outside a temple of Shri Hari (Krishn) will, at the end of life, depart for the supreme abode on a path illuminated by those same lamps.
  • Even one who just admires the temple when it is lit by lamps during Kartik never goes to hell.
  • Each step of a parikrama around a temple of Hari during Kartik gives the result of an ashwamedh yagya.
In contrast, neglecting to observe the vrat yields negative results for one who worships the Lord with desires. The details of all the material and spiritual results of Kartik Vrat can be found in the sixteenth chapter of Hari Bhakti Vilas.
Guidelines for Offering Lamps During Kartik
The lamps we offer during Kartik should consist of a cotton wick soaked in either ghee or sesame ( til) oil. No other oil should be used.
In addition to offering a single lamp to Krishn, we can also offer rows of lamps ( deep mala), a lamp on the spire of a temple ( shikhar deep), a hanging lamp ( akash deep) or a lamp floating on water. We can also offer lamps to tulsi.
Krishn is also pleased if we re-light a lamp that was offered by someone else, or protect someone else’s lamp from the wind. More information along with mantras for different lamp offerings can be found in the sixteenth chapter of Hari Bhakti Vilas.
Shri Radha-Damodar Puja
“Damodar” is Krishn's Name meaning “he who is bound by love” and his beloved month of Kartik also goes by the name of Damodar. During this month one should offer puja to Radha-Damodar (Radha-Krishn) in their deity form. The Padma Puran also states:
द्विजं दामोदरं कृ त्वा तत्पत्नीं रािधकां तथा ।
 काितर् के पूजनीयौ तौ वासोऽलङ्कारभोजनैः ॥
dvijaṁ dāmodaraṁ kṛtvā tat-patnīṁ rādhikāṁ tathā ।
 kārtike pūjanīyau tau vāso'laṅkārabhojanaiḥ
“During Kartik, one should worship Shri Radha-Damodar in the form of a Brahmin and his wife by performing their puja with offerings of clothes, jewellery and fine foods.” ( Hari Bhakti Vilas, 16.196)
In one or both of these forms, one should perform this Radha-Damodar Puja and chant the Damodarashtakam every day throughout Kartik. 
Sankalp and Starting the Vrat
In the Padma Puran, Shri Krishn says to Satyabhama, अिश्वनस्य तु मासस्य या शुक्लैकादशी भवेत् । काितर् कस्य व्रतानीह तस्यां कु य्यार्दतिन्द्रतः ॥ aśvinasya tu māsasya yā śuklaikādaśī bhavet । kārtikasya vratānīha tasyāṁ kuryyādatandritaḥ ॥ – “On the Shukla Ekadashi of Ashwin month, one should give up laziness and begin the Kartik Vrat.” ( Hari Bhakti Vilas, 16.168) The vrat continues until the Dwadashi following Devotthan Ekadashi. However, the option of beginning the vrat on Sharad Purnima or on Tula Sankranti is also given in the Hari Bhakti Vilas (16.183).
Krishn further instructs us on how to take the sankalp or vow on the first day of our vrat. He says that we should wake up in the last yaam of the night (any time within the period of about three hours before dawn), bathe, and then awaken Shri Krishn by offering prayers ( stavas). After hearing katha on Vaishnav philosophy, we should celebrate Mangla Aarti at dawn, with singing and so forth, along with other Vaishnavs.
After Mangla Aarti, we should go to a river or kund and, after doing aachman, declare our sankalp (vow) to the Lord, pray to him, and offer arghya to him according to the rules.
Sankalp Mantra
काितर् के ऽहं किरष्यािम प्रातःस्नानं जनार्द्दन ।
 प्रीत्यथर्ं तव देवेश दामोदर मया सह ॥
kārtike'haṁ kariṣyāmi prātaḥ-snānaṁ janārddana ।
 prītyarthaṁ tava deveśa dāmodara mayā saha 
“O Damodar! O Janardan! O Devesh! I perform this Kartik morning snaan for the happiness of you and Shri Radharani.”
Prarthana Mantra
तव ध्यानेन देवेश जलेऽस्मिन् स्नातुमुद्यतः ।
 त्वत्प्रसादाच्च मे पापं दामोदर विनश्यतु ॥
tava dhyānena deveśa jale'smin snātumudyataḥ
। tvatprasādācca me pāpaṁ dāmodara vinaśyatu ॥
“O Damodar! O Devesh! As I meditate upon you, I perform the act of bathing. May all my sins be destroyed by your grace.”
Arghya Mantra
व्रितनः काितर् के मािस स्नातस्य िविधवन्मम ।
दामोदर गृहाणाघ्यर्ं दनुजेन्द्रिनसूदन ॥
नित्ये नैिमित्तके कृ त्स्ने काितर् के पापशोषणे ।
गृहाणाघ्यर्ं मया दत्तं राधया सिहतो हरे ॥

vratinaḥ kārtike māsi snātasya vidhivanmama । 
dāmodara gṛhāṇārghyaṁ danujendranisūdana
nitye naimittike kṛtsne kārtike pāpaśoṣaṇe
gṛhāṇārghyaṁ mayā dattaṁ rādhayā sahito hare ॥
“O Radha-Damodar! Having accepted the Kartik Vrat, I am now performing praatah snaan. Please accept my arghya to you. In Kartik Maas all nitya and naimittik kriyas remove sins; hence, I offer you this arghya.”
Thereafter, we should apply til [sesame paste or oil] on our body and chant the Holy Names of Shri Krishn, as we take snaan according to the rules. Afterwards, those who do sandhyopasana should perform it. Then, return home. After that, we should cleanse the altar and draw a swastik [using sandalwood paste or roli] in front of the deity, and do his puja by offering tulsi with lotus, malati, agastya and other flowers that Krishn likes.
Paaran: Bringing the Vrat to a Close
In the Kartik Mahatmya section of the Padma Puran, it is written:

पारणं काितर् के शुक्ले द्वादश्यान्तु ततश्चरेत् । कृ ष्णस्याग्रे निवेद्यथ व्रतं कृ च्छ्राग्र्यमुत्तमम् ।विष्णुलोकमवाप्नोित
भक्त्याभ्यच्च्यर् जनादर्नम् ॥
pāraṇaṁ kārtike śukle dvādaśyāntu tataścaret kṛṣṇasyāgre nivedyatha vrataṁ
kṛcchrāgryamuttamam viṣṇulokamavāpnoti bhaktyābhyarccya janārdanam
“One should end the vrat on Kartik Shukla Dwadashi, and perform Shri Krishn’s puja, offering the vrat to him. By doing so, one attains his eternal dham.” ( Hari Bhakti Vilas, 411)
Chapter 16 of the Hari Bhakti Vilas mentions a specific procedure for ending the vrat on this day if one has also observed the Chaturmaysa Vrat. Otherwise, one should end the vrat like any other Ekadashi (by eating the foods one gave up during the vrat) and awaken the gods.
Prayers to Offer
  • Shri Damodarashtakam
  • Gopi Geet
  • Shri Radhikashtakam


Additional Practices Recommended by Shri Chandan Goswami Maharaj
In addition to the practices outlined in this document, Shri Chandan Goswamiji Maharaj also recommends the following practices for his disciples and followers:
Read one chapter of the tenth canto of Shrimad Bhagwatam every day during Kartik. If you wish to read a commentary along with the verse translations, please read the tikas of Shri Sanatan Goswami, Shri Jeev Goswami and/or Shri Vishwanath Chakravarti.
Read or sing at least 2 pads from Shri Radharaman Gita daily.
Read or sing at least 3 pads from Prem Bhakti Chandrika with their translations daily.
Read at least 2 verses of Shri Radha Ras Sudha Nidhi daily; just the translation without any commentary.
Chant “Shri Radhikashtakam” by Shri Krishn Das Kaviraj once daily.
Chant 11 rounds of your guru mantra.