Srila Gurudev speaking on the first day of Kartik, 14 October 1989.
It is my duty to serve the devotees. I can do that properly or improperly, but I must try to serve. Service is our life. Without service we cannot maintain our spiritual life. Srila Guru Maharaj gave us that responsibility, and then he disappeared. ‘Disappeared’ means that he is present within us, looking to see what we will do, if we will wholeheartedly try to maintain our spiritual life and try to practise proper Krishna consciousness. In the scriptures we can see many things for practising Krishna consciousness and one of the most valuable things is this month of Kartik. During this time we will try to closely engage ourselves twenty-four hours a day with our service and the program as given in the scriptures.
This month is called niyam-seva, which means that we will try to serve Kartiki Devi, and Damodar Sri Krishna and Radharani with their associates and paraphernalia with rules and regulations. This month is also called Damodar-vrata. We will try to offer one month of regular service to Guru Gauranga Gandharva Govindasundar, with time to time bhoga, time to time worshipping, and taking our prasad in a regulated way.
śrāvaṇe varjayech chākaṁ dadhi bhādrapade tathā
dugdham āśvayuje māsi kārttike chāmiṣaṁ tyajet
(Sri Hari-Bhakti-Vilasa 117.15, from Skanda Purana, Nagara Khanda)
[(While following chaturmasya) one should give up eating leafy vegetables in the month of Sravana (July-August). In the month of Bhadrapada (August-September), one should give up yogurt. In the month of Asvina (September-October) one should give up milk and in the month of Kartika (October-November), one should give up eating white dal.]
These are the rules of chaturmasya very shortly, but in Kartik month there are some special regular worshipping instructions in the scriptures, and you know that: we must wake up at 4 o’clock, 4.15 we start the arati, kirtan, bhajan, parikrama, etc. And we must regulate our principal diet, prasadam. Without prasad the devotee is not taking anything, but that is also regulated this month. But what is the regulation for? It is because the devotee does not want to spend much time for themselves: they mix dal and vegetables in a pot, boil, they are offering to the Deity and taking that. If we can maintain this nicely for the whole month it is very good, but our service to Guru and Gauranga and also Radha Govindasundar is always leading us and so sometimes we cannot properly maintain the whole month; and also in raga-marg that is excusable. But when something is excusable then always we want an excuse from the Deity, and that is not good. We shall try our best, but if it is not possible then it will be excusable.
In niyam-seva mas, the month of niyam-seva, we will always remember Damodardeva, Krishna, and the service of Radharani. The higher devotees are especially remembering the asta-kaliya-seva this month. The higher devotees are always remembering and trying to serve that way, but in this month they are especially trying to remember. And we heard from Srila Guru Maharaj that in his last days Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur spent this month in Jagannath Puri and every day would hear the asta-kaliya-lila. That is for the higher devotees, not the ordinary devotees like ourselves. Our duty will always be what Guru Maharaj wants, in that way.
We can only see twenty-four hours engagement in spiritual life in Vaishnavism. They have no other engagement: they are always trying to serve the Lord and the associates of the Lord and also the Vaishnavas. Mahaprabhu gave a very simple instruction to us: anything you do, you must do with Krishna-sankirtan, with the mahamantra, and that seva will be fulfilled.
We can also see in the vidhi-marg that when we are doing sacrifice, a fire sacrifice or another program in vidhi-marg, then lastly we are praying this way:
yadāsaṅga kriyā karma jānatā vāpy ajānatā
pūrṇaṁ bhavatu tat sarvaṁ śrī-harer nāma-kīrtanāt
[May whatever offences I have knowingly or unknowingly committed be completely absolved by chanting the Holy Names of the Lord.]
“I do not know whether I have done this properly or not, but it must be fruitful if I chant the Hare Krishna mahamantra.” And the priest, or whoever is doing the sacrifice, will lastly chant the Hare Krishna mahamantra and then consider that it is fully satisfied. Everything that we do, we will do with Krishna Nam-sankirtan.
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
With this mantram whatever we do will be fulfilled and satisfying to Krishna and Guru–Gauranga.
We are conditioned souls, and so our practice will start from a lower stage and go to a higher stage. This month, however, gives us the special facility to follow the higher devotees’ program. We are praying and we are chanting many things in this month: Radharani’s glorification, Krishna’s glorification, the glorification of Guru Gauranga, etc. The way in which the higher devotees are worshipping Radha–Krishna, we are singing that during this month. We are chanting the songs that Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur wrote that are related to this month. We are not always singing this song Radhe jaya jaya Madhava dayite, or Deva bhavantam vande, but in this month we are getting that facility, by the blessings of Guru, Vaishnava and Bhagavan. There are also many hidden lila of Radha–Krishna, which in this month we are getting a chance to chant. When we are getting the chance we must be cautious about that, otherwise sahajiyaism can attack us. Sahajiyas are always singing about Radha–Krishna lila; they are not very interested to sing the Vaishnava prayers, and are only interested to sing the Radha–Krishna lila, but that is pushing them to hell, not to heaven. In this way Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur preached to all the conditioned souls, “If you want to try to follow proper Vaishnavism, you must follow a good Vaishnava who is practising properly according to the guidelines of Vaishnavism. We cannot ignore the vidhi-marg, and ignoring the vidhi-marg is not good for the conditioned souls; but when the conditioned souls by blessings and mercy have fortunately received the qualification to worship the higher Vaishnavism, then they are doing that; and this month is giving that chance, to see and cautiously follow that higher Vaishnavism.
We must try to follow the vidhi, but Krishna’s nature is that he wants to break the vidhi, and this play goes on between the devotee and Krishna. In this mundane world that shadow is going: somebody wants to maintain vidhi-marg, and somebody wants to break that vidhi-marg. Krishna’s nature is that he always likes the raga-marg and he is the worshippable Deity of raga-marg. He doesn’t say “Don’t follow the vidhi”; Krishna is always telling “Follow the vidhi-marg”, but showing the raga-marg. For the conditioned souls it is very helpful to follow the vidhi-marg, but if we engage ourselves in vidhi-marg that may close our raga-marg future. Then, we shall follow our Guru and Mahaprabhu’s real followers, and then our activity must be perfect.
From this day we will start continuously worshipping and offering bhoga under our guardian, and guardian’s rules for worship to Guru Gauranga Radha Govindasundar and we shall cautiously maintain the proper intensity for that. After seven days Guru Maharaj’s appearance day is coming and we are expecting many devotees will come. We shall try to do some program every day.
This is the starting day of Kartik-vrata. In the time of Guru Maharaj we heard and we are always following this Kartik-vrata from purnima to purnima [Ed: full moon to full moon; some persons follow from ekadasi to ekadasi.]. And bhog tyag, tyag tyag; tyag means renunciation, the order of renunciation. For ourselves we must do some tyag in this month and that time we must engage for the service of our Lord and Guru Gauranga Gandharva Govindasundar.
We are singing many songs this month but it is necessary to carefully do that. I have seen the tendency within a few devotees that they want to know everything within one day. They are very eager to know everything. I do not know if you will believe it or not, but until now I have not read Ujjvala-nilamani, or Govinda-lilamrita, which are our worshippable books. I am in the position of an acharya, and it is necessary for me to read them, but I am afraid.
I was in a village where there were always many men discussing Radha–Krishna-lila, and so I know something about that from them. But when I joined Guru Maharaj’s mission, Guru Maharaj said it will come gradually in your heart, don’t try to forcefully catch it. If you do that you will not see the real thing, you will be cheated. We shall try to wholeheartedly practise our Krishna consciousness in a very humble way, and try to follow what guidelines our Guru Maharaj gave us, and we must be successful, with his blessings and mercy.
Today is a very auspicious day: it is also the disappearance day of Murari Gupta, Sharadiya Rasa Yatra, and also shonibar [Saturday], Mahaprabhu’s birthday. Then we must follow the guidelines of our Guru Maharaj, and every day wake up in the morning, early in the morning and worship, chant Hare Krishna mahamantra and engage in Nama-sankirtan.
This audio file was originally published on scsmath.com