By Vaisesika Dasa
Having heard that the Lord gives special consideration to those who reside in the area of Mathura during Kartika, devotees from all over the world are pouring in to Vrndavana Mandala to observe the urja-vrata.
Here are some of the benefits of observing Urja-vrata
In the Nectar of Devotion, Srila Prabhupada gives an indication of the special mercy available during Karttika month:
“The execution of devotional service during Urja-vrata in the month of Karttika is especially recommended to be performed at Mathura . . . 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 Karttika, and within the jurisdiction of Mathura in India, are very easily awarded the Lord’s personal service.” (Srila Prabhupada in NOD chap. 12)
The Kartika mahatmya from the Padma Purana further extols the glories of Kartika:
“They who as a joke serve Lord Hari during Karttika in Mathura will attain pure devotional service, what to speak of they who serve the Lord with faith and devotion” (Padma Purana).
How to follow the urja-vrata.
Wherever one resides, one should daily offer a lamp to the Lord and sing the Damodara astakam. One should also increase one’s other devotional activities, especially hearing and chanting the names and pastimes of the Lord. All these practices will be quickly effective during Kartika.
In this regard, Srila Prabhupada spoke the following during a conversation with some disciples:
Devotee (2): Srila Prabhupada, today is the beginning of urja-vrata
(the Kartik vrata). Can you describe what that is, urja-vrata, how it should be observed?
Prabhupada: Urja-vrata, you chant Hare Krsna twenty-four hours one month (laughter) That’s all.
Gurudasa: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna…
Prabhupada: Yes. Don’t sleep, don’t eat. This is urja-vrata. Can you execute?
Devotee (1): I don’t know. (laughter)
(Srila Prabhupada lecture 18/10/72 in Vrndavana RadhaDamodaraMandir)
Daily offering a lamp
Offering a lamp to the Lord is so simple; yet it is sublime and the rewards are great. Here are some citations from sastra about this:
Srila Sanatana Goswami recites the following famous history from Padma Purana, Kartika Mahatmya section, in which a mouse attained perfection during the Kartika month by inadvertently offering a lamp to the Lord:
In a temple of Lord Visnu, there lived a mouse that daily ate the ghee from the extinguished ghee lamps, which had been offered to the Lord. One day when the mouse felt hungry, she tried to eat the ghee from a lamp that was not yet extinguished. While nibbling at the lamp, the cotton wick got stuck in her teeth. Since the ghee wick was still ablaze, the mouse, feeling the heat, started jumping up and down on the altar in front of the Deity; soon afterwards she died from the fire.
The all-merciful Lord Sri Visnu seeing the mouse jumping before Him with a lamp, assumed that she was offering Him aratik. Out of gratitude, He rewarded her with and exalted human birth in her next life from which she made further progress and then went back to Godhead.
(HARI BHAKTI VILASA 16/198)
(HARI BHAKTI VILASA 16/198)
More evidence about the power of offering a lamp during Kartika:
In the Skanda Purana it is said: “When one offers a lamp during the month of Karttika, his sins in many thousands and millions of births perish in half an eye blink.”
“By offering a lamp during the month of Karttika one attains a pious result ten million times greater than the result obtained by bathing at Kuruksetra during a solar eclipse or by bathing in the river Narmada during a lunar eclipse.”
“Even if there are no mantras, no pious deeds, and no purity, everything becomes perfect when a person offers a lamp during the month of Karttika.”
“By offering a lamp during the month of Karttika one burns away a collection of sins as big as Mount Meru or Mount Mandara. Of this there is no doubt.”
“A person who offers a lamp during the month of Karttika attains a result that cannot be obtained with even a hundred yajnas or a hundred pilgrimages.”
“Even a person addicted to all sins and averse to all pious deeds who somehow offers a lamp during Karttika becomes purified. Of this there is no doubt.”
“O Narada, no sin exists anywhere in the three worlds that will not be purified by offering a lamp to Lord Kesava during Karttika.”
“A person who offers a lamp to Lord Krsna during Karttika attains the eternal spiritual world where there is no suffering.”
“As fire is present in all wood and may be extracted by friction, so piety is always present in the offering of a lamp during the month of Karttika. Of this there is no doubt.”
Singing the Damodarastakam
Besides offering a lamp to the Lord, one should sing and meditate upon the Damodarastakam which glorifies mother Yasoda’s binding baby Krsna with ropes.
(This song is listed in the Songs of the Vaisnava Acaryas.)
Vows like the urja-vrata are pleasing to the Lord and they come highly recommended by sastra, guru and sadhu. Just by following these simple vows during Kartika month, no matter where one resides, a devotee will gain rapid spiritual advancement by the grace of the Lord.
Sastra confirms: Harim vina naiva srtim taranti: “Without the blessings of Hari, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one cannot stop the continuous chain of birth and death within this material world.”
Trying to find happiness outside of devotional service and without the blessings of Lord Hari is futile.
We want to swim in a river of happiness. But diving into material life – which is a dry riverbed only — we repeatedly break our heads on the rocks.
Fortunately, Srimad Bhagavatam tells us exactly where to find the real river flowing with the water of eternal happiness. It is available through the nine direct processes of devotional service beginning with hearing and chanting.
Narada Muni (SB 1.5.28) explains how this happened for him:
“Thus during two seasons—the rainy season and autumn—I had the opportunity to hear these great-souled sages constantly chant the unadulterated glories of the Lord Hari. As the flow of my devotional service began, the coverings of the modes of passion and ignorance vanished.
PURPORT Transcendental loving service for the Supreme Lord is the natural inclination of every living being. The instinct is dormant in everyone, but due to the association of material nature the modes of passion and ignorance cover this from time immemorial. If, by the grace of the Lord and the great-souled devotees of the Lord, a living being becomes fortunate enough to associate with the unadulterated devotees of the Lord and gets a chance to hear the unadulterated glories of the Lord, certainly the flow of devotional service takes place like the flow of a river. As the river flows on till she reaches the sea, similarly pure devotional service flows by the association of pure devotees till it reaches the ultimate goal, namely, transcendental love of God. Such a flow of devotional service cannot stop. On the contrary, it increases more and more without limitation. The flow of devotional service is so potent that any onlooker also becomes liberated from the influence of the modes of passion and ignorance. These two qualities of nature are thus removed, and the living being is liberated, being situated in his original position.”
Let us follow in the footprints of the sages and heed the advice of the sastra by observing the urja-vrata everyday during Karttika month!
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