"durlabho bhakti-yogo me mama vasya-vidhayakah
“Pure devotional service to Me which, because it places Me under My devotee’s dominion, is very difficult to attain, is easily attained by following this vow in Mathura during Kartika.”
Kartik Holiest month
Kartik is the holiest month of all the months. 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. 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.
Following are excerpts from some scriptures (Puranas) describing the glory of the pious Kartik month:
Padma Purana describes the legend of Matsya Avatara of Lord Krishna
Celestial Marriage of Tulasi & Saligram
Kartik month is an auspicious month, and on the Ekadasi day (eleventh day from new moon day), a unique festival called Kartik Puja is performed by women on the banks of the Ganga in Varanasi. This also happens to be the day of the celestial marriage of Tulasi with Saligram Shila. There are two types of Tulasi – one is Rama Tulasi with light green leaves and the other is Krishna Tulsi with dark green leaves. They are a prerequisite for the worship of Vishnu and Narayan. A Saligram Shila is an ammonite fossil, it can generally be classified under Cephalopoda class, which is roughly 425 million years old. This stone is one of the most sacred stones for Hindus.
The origin of the Saligram Shila goes back to the Puranic era. Vishnu and Lakshmi once had a terrible quarrel and cursed one another. Sarawati’s curse transformed Lakshmi into a Tulsi plant destined to live on earth forever. Vishnu, however, intervened and said, “Lakshmi, you will live in the world as a holy Tulsi plant and when the curse has been completed you will come back to me.
Kartik Purnima day
On that day a river named Gandaki will start from your body which will be in the shape of a Tulasi plant. On the bank of that river I will remain as a stone image (Saligram). There will be many worms with strong tusks and teeth which will pierce the stone into the shape of the Sudarshan chakra (quoit) and it will create numberless Saligram.” Puranic sources further state that Tulasi and Saligram Shila married on earth on Kartik Purnima day. Women celebrate the celestial marriage. One group adopts Saligram as Krishna and the other Tulasi. The celestial marriage is a unique phenomenon during which women forget their human existence and merge with the celestial figures. The women behave as if they have found oneness with God. During the marriage ceremony they sing marriage songs numbering around 50. They verbally fight amongst themselves – one group taking the side of Krishna and the other that of Tulasi. Both groups trade allegations against each other. For instance the group that adopts Tulsi says, “Your Krishna has no character as he roams around with many gopis (milkmaids)…” Even priests are not spared and they are termed as a “greedy lot”.
Guidelines for devotees during Kartik month: