Kartik is the holiest month in the Hindu lunar calendar. It usually overlaps with the months October & November in the English calendar. Kartik Maas, also known as Damodar Maas, is described in the scriptures as the best among months for performing austerities.
Lord Shri Krishna says, “Of all plants, the sacred Tulasi is most dear to Me; of all months, Kartik is most dear, of all places of pilgrimage, My beloved Dwarkais most dear, and of all days, Ekadashi is most dear.” (Padma Purana, Uttara Khand 112.3)
Kartik or the festival of offering lamps to Lord Krishna, glorifies Lord Krishna’s pastime of being bound with ropes by Mother Yashoda. Observing vrata in the month of Kartik is glorified in the Puranas.
“As Sat-yuga is the best of yugas (ages), as the Vedas are the best among scriptures, as Ganga is best of rivers, so Kartik is the best of months, the most dear to Lord Krishna.” (Skanda Purana)
This vrata begins on 15th Oct (this year, 2016), and one may observe the following foremost activities throughout the entire month of Kartik:
>> Japa – chanting the holy names of the Lord.
>> Worship the Lord by offering ghee lamps (diyas), flowers, incense, food, etc.
>> Practice brahmacharya – celibacy.
>> Worship of Tulasi Devi.
>> Give charity.
>> Perform austerities.
The month of Kartika is the best of all months, and it is in this month that many special festivals like Dhan-Teras, Diwali, Govardhan Puja, Bhai Duj, Tulsi Vivaah and various others take place.
Following are excerpts from some scriptures (Puranas) describing the glory of the pious Kartik month:
“If somebody performs even a little worship of Lord Shri Hari in this month, He offers that devotee His own abode.”
“If somebody burns a lamp in the temple of Lord Shri Hari even for a short time (in the month of Kartik), then whatever sins, he has acquired for millions of kalpas (one kalpa equals 1000 yugas) are all destroyed.”
“A person, who for the entire month of Kartik eats only once a day, becomes very famous, powerful and heroic.”
“O Narada! I have personally seen that a person who happily reads the Bhagavad Gita in the month of Kartik does not return to the world of birth and death.”
“Of all gifts, the gift of a lamp during the month of Kartik is the best. No gift is its equal.”
“The pious result obtained by bathing in all holy places and giving all charities is not equal to one ten-millionth part of the result obtained by following the vow of Kartik. ”
“By sleeping on the ground during Kartik, one is entitled to the same religious merits as are obtainable by donating a piece of land to Brahmins during solar and lunar eclipses.”
In the holy month of Kartik, which is very dear to Shri Hari, one who bathes early in the morning (before sunrise) attains the religious merit (punya) of bathing in all places of pilgrimage [Padma Purana, Brahma Khanda] and is absolved of all sins.
Pujya Bapuji has advised that in case, one is unable to do this for the entire Kartik month, he should try to ensure that he bathes before sunrise in the last 3 days of the month (Trayodashi, Chaturdashi & Purnima). This also affords the same religious merits as bathing before sunrise during the entire Kartik month.