Updated: Dec 2, 2022
The best among all the ages is Satyuga, the best among the scriptures is The Vedas, and the best among the twelve months is ‘Kartika.
Kartika month is that month, which is also called ‘Vijaya’ (victory) month as it gives victory to devotees. It bestows infinite fruits (results) on the devotees in terms of realization against spiritual austerities. It is also called ‘Damodar’ month and has so many other glorious stories associated with this month.
It is said that in this month, Kartikeya (son of Lord Shankar) killed Tarakasura, hence it is also known as ‘Kartika’ after his name. Shripada Roop Goswami has told in a context that the name of Sri Radhika is ‘Kartiki’ and She is the presiding deity of Kartika month. Hence, it is named Kartika. It is also a custom that in the month of Kartika, people wake up at Brahma Muhurta/the most sacred time of the morning (3:30 a.m to 5:30 am), and take bath because it is believed that at this time Lord Narayana resides in water for a month.
Every devotee is familiar with the fact of who Shri Radharani is. Shri Radharani is the hladini or internal potency of Shri Krishna, therefore she is also called Para-shakti. Any devotee/ seeker who worships Sri Radha with steadfast devotion throughout the month of Kartika, he receives blessings of Shri Radha and attains love for Shri Krishna. There are so many festivals and pastimes associated with this month such as Govardhan Leela of Shri Krishna, Damodar Leela, Ukhal Bandhan Leela, and Tulsi Vivah are a few examples.
In Padmapurana, Lord Shankar is saying to Goddess Parvati – “Although worship of Vishnu is the best form of Upasana, - 'Tasmat Parataran Devi. 'O Parvati! Listen, whoever worships my associates, I consider that worship to be greater than my worship.” In this way, if one worships Shri Radha in this month, then Shri Krishna gets elated and showers his infinite blessings on that devotee even if he is a transgressor.
Kartika month is also called ‘Damodar’ month! Why is this? Because on the day of Diwali, Ukhal Bandhan Leela took place. Mother Yashoda caught little Krishna, stealing buttermilk in the house. She followed him but could not catch hold of him. In a bid to punish him, mother Yashoda tethered little Krishna to a heavy mortar. At first, she tried to tie him up with a rope but failed. When lord Krishna noticed her failure and seeing her getting upset, he himself tied in that mortar. Such is the greatness of Supreme God! He can not see others’ helplessness due to his merciful nature.
Another episode in Bhavishya Purana comes from the month of Kartika of Dwapar Yuga. One day, in Kunj, Sri Radha got exasperated after kept waiting for Sri Krishna for so long. Then Shri Radha went in conceitedness. When Shri Krishna arrived there after a long delay, she grabbed Shri Krishna's hands and tied them up to the Madhavi vines of Kunj as retribution. This is the reason why Vaishnavas call the month of Kartika ‘Radha Damodar’ Month. Radha Damodar, the Deity of Jiva Goswami in Sevakuj, is a symbol of that. This pastime has been told by Jiva Goswami Ji, which is discussed in Bhavishya Purana.
Kartika month holds extreme significance for devotees. This is the reason that Jagadguru Swami Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj has made the convention of a one-month rigorous sadhana camp at Shri Mangarh Dham (Shri Bhakti Dham) from Sharad Purnima to Kartik Purnima. He especially organized this sadhana shivir and promoted sadhana by observing Maun (silence) in his own presence so that only the chant of ‘Hari’ can be contemplated through mind and speech. Ever since it started, it has been going on till date and it will continue even in the future as a custom.
Kartika month is the month of resolution. Kartika fast is observed during this time. Many People keep Kartika fast from Sharad Purnima to Kartika Purnima. Let us have a brief detail about fasting. Fasting does not mean skipping meals or taking no food for spiritual practice. The meaning of fasting is - resolution! Strong determination! There are some conditions behind that determination, such as eating little but purely vegetarian and light food, etc., so that the sadhak can stay away from idleness. But these are secondary. The main resolution should be only ‘Devotion.’ Among the various vows, the best could be only two and they are – constant remembrance of God’s glorious Leelas (pastimes) and passionately praising/chanting his divine Names with devotion.
Moreover, the month of Kartika is exclusively for devotees to involve completely their inner being for higher spiritual growth and attain infinite blessings of God. The devotees should utilize each passing moment in chanting the glories of God, his divine names, divine abode, and divine saints for rapid progress in devotional practice. However, if a devotee only submerges his being with the sacred name of Shri Radhe, then what could be greater than that?