Importance of Damodara-vrata
In the Padma Purana there is a statement that one should perform the ceremonies for the Lord according to oneís financial position. Everyone should observe the different ceremonies and celebrations of the Lord by all means. One of the most important of these ceremonial
functions is called Urja-vrata. Urja-vrata (also known as Damodara-vrata) is observed in the month of Kartika (October-November); especially in Vrindavana, there is a specific program for temple worship of the Lord in His Damodara form. In Sanskrit, dama means rope and
udara means belly. Damodara refers to Krishnaís being bound with a rope by His mother, Yashoda. It is said that just as Lord Damodara is very dear to His devotees, so the month known as Damodara or Kartika is also very dear to them. Devotees observe vows and undertake
austerities in the month of Kartika to please the Supreme Lord.
The Padma Purana records the following statement of Suta Gosvami: If anyone fasts and observes the Damodara-vrata according to the rules and regulations, the Yamadutas (the messengers of Yamaraja) run away from him. The performance of Damodara-vrata is better than performing one hundred great sacrifices as prescribed in the Vedic scriptures. Kartika is the best of the months and is very dear to Lord Sri Krishna. Srimati Radharani is the presiding Deity of this month. Any vrata observed in this month will yield more results and the effect of performing such vrata will last for one hundred life times. It is said that the pious results obtained by bathing in all the holy places and giving various charities is not equal to even one ten-millionth part of the result obtained by following the vow of Kartika. Anyone who worships Lord Vishnu in this month gets a residence in Vaikuntha. One who hears the narration related to Lord Hari in this month becomes free from the sufferings of hundreds and millions of births.
How to observe Damodara-vrata
The procedure to observe Damodara-vrata is given below: Wake up early in the morning and take bath. The Padma Purana says: ìOne who bathes early in the morning during the month of Kartika attains the merit of bathing in all places of pilgrimage.î Chant more rounds of Hare Krishna maha-mantra. You can optionally observe a fasting vow during this month. Gaudiya Vaishnavas fast from urad dhal for the whole month of Kartika. In the Skanda Purana, Lord Brahma informs Narada Muni: One should follow Kartika fast and listen to narrations of Lord Sri Hari. Read the 9th and 10th chapter of the book Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, authored by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, which speaks about the pastime of Lord Damodara in detail. A summary of the pastime is also given in this booklet. Cook varieties of vegetarian food stuffs and offer to Lord Damodara. Perform Damodara-arati daily. You can sing the Damodara-ashtaka and offer a ghee lamp to Lord Damodara. The Damodara-ashtaka song is there in this booklet, also one can recite Gopi Geet in this month daily following the footsteps of vrajavasis. In vraja, vrajavasis recite this throughout the month.
Benefits of offering a ghee lamp to Lord Damodara
In the Padma Purana it is said: ìAnyone who offers a ghee lamp to Lord Damodara in the month of Kartika will be freed from all kinds of sins and he goes to the abode of Lord Hari. The glories of offering ghee-lamp is elaborately described in the next section. You can also offer a ghee lamp to Tulasi devi and pray for eternal service at the lotus feet of Radha and Krishna. You may also invite your neighbors, relatives and friends to participate in this sacred Damodara-arati and give them an opportunity to offer ghee lamps to Lord Damodara and accept the prasadam of the Lord.
Glories of offering ghee lamp in Kartika month, the following references are from the Skanda Purana (a conversation between Lord Brahma and Sage Narada) If one offers a ghee lamp to Damodara in the month of Kartika, his sins of many thousands and millions of births perish. Even if no mantras are chanted, no pious deeds performed and no purity observed, everything becomes perfect when a person offers a lamp during the month of Kartika. Offering a lamp to Lord Keshava in the month of Kartika is equivalent to performing all yajnas and bathing in all holy rivers.
When someone pleases Lord Keshava by offering Him a lamp during the month of Kartika, then by the mercy of the Lord, the ancestors in the family will all attain liberation. To one who, either at home or in a temple, offers a lamp during this month, Lord Vasudeva gives a great result. Person who offers a lamp to Lord Krishna during the month of Damodara becomes very glorious and fortunate. No sins exist anywhere in the three worlds that will not be purified by offering a lamp to Lord Keshava during Kartika. A person who offers a lamp to Lord Damodara during Kartika attains the eternal spiritual world where there is no suffering.
The Binding of Sri Damodara
Once when mother Yashoda was feeding her lovely son Krishna, she noticed that the milk on the stove was overflowing, So she put Krishna down and went to attend to this. Left alone by His mother, Krishna became very angry and broke the pot of yogurt kept there for churning to make butter. He went inside his home and took butter from the pot kept hanging from the roof and He began to eat the butter thinking that mother Yashoda will not find him in that secluded place. Mother Yashoda search Krishna all over. She found her son sitting on a big wooden grinding mortar kept upside down.
On seeing His mother with a stick in her hand, Krishna got down from the grinding mortar and began to flee in fear. Mother Yashoda chased Him to all corners, trying to capture the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is never approached even by the meditation of great yogis. The Supreme Lord was playing just like a little child for such a great devotee as Mother Yashoda. Finally, Mother Yashoda caught Krishna. Krishna was almost on the point of crying. His eyes became restless out of fear. Seeing that her son was fearful, Mother Yashoda threw away the stick. To punish Him, she thought to bind Him with ropes. She did not know that it is actually impossible for her to bind the Supreme Lord.
When she tried to bind Him, she found that the rope was always short by two fingers. She gathered more ropes from the house and joined them, but still she found the same shortage. In attempting to bind her son, she became tired. Then Lord Krishna appreciated the hard labor of His mother, and being compassionate upon her, He agreed to be bound up by the ropes. Krishna, playing as a human child in the house of mother Yashoda, was performing His own selected pastimes. Of course, no one can control the Supreme Personality of Godhead. But He agrees to be controlled by His pure devotees.
Srila Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakura says that the incident of Krishnaís breaking the pot of yogurt and being bound by mother Yashoda took place on the Deepavali Day. This pastime is elaborately described in the ninth chapter of the tenth canto of Srimad Bhagavatam.
See: Sri Damodarastakam | The Gopis Song of Separation (Gopi Gita)