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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > Other Scriptures by Acharyas > Damodarashtakam Kartika Glories > Kartika Mahatmya

Kartika Mahatmya





damodaram prapadye ‘ham shri-radha-ramanam prabhum

prabhavad yasya tat-preshthah kartikah sevito bhavet


“I take shelter in the Supreme Lord, Damodara8, Who is Shrimati Radhika’s beloved, and under Whose influence His dearest month, Kartika, can be served9.” (1)


The activities to be performed during Kartika are exhaustively dealt with in Puranas such as Skanda and Padma. Here I’m summarizing the essential features of those descriptions. (2)

In this month a Vaishnava should regularly worship Shri Damodara and undertake vows such as bathing before sunrise, giving alms, and so on. Worship and other activities for specific occasions will be discussed later in this vilasa.



Cogency of Kartika vows


O Narada, best of pious souls! After attaining the rare human form, whoever does not follow the duties prescribed for Kartika is like a murderer of his mother and father. One who wastes this month without undertaking any vrata10 is excluded from any religious duty and will be born in an animal species. Such an individual shall be counted among brahmana-murderers, cow-slaughterers, gold-thieves, and congenital liars. If this person is a widow, hell is her secure destination. If he is a householder, other pious deeds will be worthless, and he will reside in hell until the dissolution of the universe. If he is a brahmana, he will be neglected by all the demigods, beginning with Indra. Especially sannyasis, widows, and vanaprasthas who fail to undertake Vaishnava vows during Kartika will fall in the infernal regions. (5-12)

O great brahmana, if the opportunity to perform vratas during Kartika is neglected all pious merits amassed in the past are reduced to ashes, the study of Vedas and Puranas becomes futile, charity, japa, and penances become fruitless, and reaching svarga, becomes impossible, despite the performance of countless sacrifices and hundreds of Shraddha11 ceremonies. (5-17)


Whoever wastes the month of Kartika without undertaking any vow for Vishnu, O Narada, will not get the result of former pious deeds. (18)

O sage, he who passes Kartika and Caturmasya12 without imposing any regulations on himself shall be considered the lowest of his race and a killer of brahmanas. (19)

O Narada, I can not fathom the destiny of persons who fail to offer pinda13 to the ancestors during pitri-paksha14, to undertake vows during Kartika, to offer oblations to the Sages during Shravana, to take part of the swing festival during Caitra, to bathe in pure water during Magha and to follow the Amardaki vrata during the conjunction with Pushya15, the Rauhinashtami vrata during the month of Shravana, and the Shravana-dvadashi vrata. (20-22)

(Skanda Purana, dialogue between Brahma and Narada)


A human being who wastes the month of Kartika is like the fool who acquires a cintamani gem and then throws it in a morass. O brahmanas, one will be rejected by Shri Krishna if he spends Kartika without regulations, because this month is very dear to Him. (23-24)

(Padma Purana, dialogue between Narada, Shaunaka, and other sages)



Compulsion of specific vows such as ablutions and charity.


O son Narada, even a twice born shall be known as the lowest of men if in this month he does not resolve to perform charity, ablutions, homa16, or japa for the pleasure of Shri Hari. (25)

Those who do not give alms and do not take on homa, japa, or other religious observances during Kartika are certainly losers, because they will not reach their coveted goals. By showing indifference for Janardana during the month of Kartika, they are doomed to suffer in Yama’s abode along with their ancestors. Indeed, those who do not devotedly worship Keshava during Kartika will go to hell, where they will be tormented by the Yamadutas. (26-28)

This most rare human form, attained after billions of births, will be taken away from those who do not worship Vishnu during Kartika. Ten years of pious activities are nullified for those who in this month do not worship Hari, listen to Hari-katha17, and see Vaishnavas. (29-30)

(Skanda Purana, dialogue between Brahma and Narada)


Greatness of Kartika


First I shall discuss the general virtues of Kartika and then I will deal with specific activities and places related to it. (31)


General virtues of Kartika


The merits accrued by bathing in all holy places and by performing all sorts of charity cannot match the results attainable in this month even if multiplied by the millions. (32)

My dear son, visiting holy places, performing and giving dakshina18, residing in Pushkara, Kurukshetra, or in the Himalayas, or offering in charity the weight of Mount Meru in gold are all very nice, but only Kartika is dear to Keshava in all respects. O Narada, these are the facts: in this month, pious deeds aimed at Shri Vishnu’s satisfaction yield imperishable fruits19, for this is the best month, the holiest among the holy and the purest among the purifiers. (33-36)

O Narada, the merits and demerits obtained during Kartika are like rivers, mountains, and oceans in that they are never exhausted. There is no month equal to Kartika, no yuga equal to Satya, no scripture equal to the Veda, and no tirtha equal to Gauge. O great sage, this is the best month and is always dear to Vaishnavas. By serving Kartika with devotion a Vaishnava can deliver any of his ancestors who are suffering in hell. (37-40)

(Skanda Purana, dialogue between Brahma and Narada)


Of the twelve months, this month is particularly dear to Shri Krishna. Shri Vishnu certainly rewards the devotee who worships Him during Kartika with residence in His own abode, even if worshipped with minimum items. Damodara is famous as bhakta-vatsala20, and His month imbibes His characteristics: it rewards even a tiny effort with huge results.

Of all living species, the ephemeral human form is seldom achieved by the incarnated being, and throughout his existence the month of Kartika, which is so dear to Hari, is even rarer. (41-44)

(Padma Purana, dialogue between Narada, Shaunaka, and other sages)



Virtues of Kartika vratas


In this world, the results of vows last for one lifetime only, but the effects of Kartika vratas extend up to one hundred lives. (45)

O best of brahmanas, the results of bathing at Akrura-tirtha while fasting on the full moon day of Kartika can be achieved simply by hearing about this Vaishnava-vrata21. This type of vrata yields pious results equal to those available from pilgrimages to Varanasi, Kurukshetra, Naimisharanya, Pushkara, and Arbuda22. By undertaking this vrata even a person who never performs a sacrifice and who never offers pinda to his ancestors can attain the status of a Vaishnava. By restricting his usual eating habits in the course of this Kartika vrata one will definitely obtain liberation, earning a form similar to Krishna’s. (45-49)


O eminent sage, after executing a Kartika vrata a person will not take more low births23, be he a brahmana, a kshatriya, a vaishya, or a shudra. (50)


O celebrated sage, a person who undertakes the Vaishnava vrata according to his best capacity has liberation already waiting on his palm. A vrata yields the maximum results even when minimally performed during Kartika. This month is worshipped even by devarshis24 and pitris. (51-52)

(Skanda Purana, dialogue between Brahma and Narada)


Virtues of specific activities


O excellent brahmana! Charity, penance, homa, and japa all give unfading results when performed during Kartika. Moreover, whatever one donates, especially eatables, for Lord Vishnu’s satisfaction, yields perpetual results. (53-54)

Whoever sits in svastikasana25 during this month is rewarded with a full year worth of Agnihotra sacrifices26. A woman who draws a mandala27 in the temple of Keshava will shine in heaven like a kapoti28 bird. The man who regularly offers meals (to Shri Vishnu) during Kartika will not meet with calamities throughout the reign of fourteen Indras29. (55-57)

By eating on leaves of the Brahma30 tree, all past sins are annihilated, every desire is fulfilled, the merit of every pilgrimage accrues, and hell will never be seen. O great sage, this palasha tree is also known as Brahma, for it fulfills any desire. A shudra, however, must skip the middle part of the leaf, otherwise he will experience hell for the life span of fourteen Indras. (58-60)

Donating sesame, bathing in a river, hearing saintly discourses, serving saintly persons, and eating on brahma leaves all confer liberation when performed during Kartika. (61)

In this month, the merit of donating one thousand cows accrues to the person who is awake in front of Shri Damodara at dawn, and Shri Vishnu’s abode is at hand for someone who is awake during the last yama31 of the night. (62-63)

Kartika vratas like serving saints, feeding cows, hearing holy speeches, worshipping Shri Vishnu, and being awake during the last three hours of the night are all rare feats in the age of Kali. (64)

The benefit of donating thousands of jala-dhenus32 when the sun is in Taurus can be achieved in this month merely by ablutions. (65)

The merit of bathing in the Sannihati lake, Kurukshetra, on Sunday, at the time of a solar eclipse, is obtained by a single bath during Kartika. (66)

O great sage, there is perpetual value in grains and water offered to the ancestors during Kartika, Shri Krishna’s dearest month. (67)

O Narada, just by passing this month in the merriment of music one may not take birth again. I have personally witnessed this. (68)

During Kartika, every step yields the benefit of an Ashvamedha sacrifice while circumambulating Shri Vishnu’s temple. By singing, playing, or dancing with devotion before Lord Hari one reaches the eternal realm. By reading Shri Hari’s thousand names or the episode of Gajendra’s liberation, one will never again experience birth or death. By reciting prayers and singing during the last yama of the night, one will dwell in Shvetadvipa along with his ancestors. O great sage, by offering eatables to Shri Hari one will reside in heaven for as many yugas as the number of yavas33 in those foodstuffs. By burning aguru34 and camphor for the pleasure of the Lord one will not take birth again, not even when the yuga will end. (72-74)

Moreover, for those who hear Vishnu-katha in this month, each half verse or quarter of verse yields the fruits of donating one hundred cows; indeed, O great sage, all other duties should be given up in favor of hearing scriptures from holy men. Be it for spiritual benefit or with other expectations, by engaging in Hari-katha one uplifts hundreds of his family’s generations. A person will burn all sinful reactions and gain the fruit of ten thousand sacrifices for each day of Kartika spent in the delight of the scriptures. In fact, Madhusudana is not as pleased by sacrifices or by charity of cows and elephants as He is pleased by discourses from the scriptures during Kartika. O eminent sage, by hearing Hari-katha one can transcend the distress accumulated in millions of births. By regularly trying to read Shrimad Bhagavatam during this month one gains the benefit of reading all eighteen Puranas. (75-81)

Furthermore, during Kartika a man should cultivate supreme devotion by living among Vaishnavas, at the cost of giving up acts of piety and other prescribed duties. (82)

(Skanda Purana, dialogue between Brahma and Narada)


In this month, one who sleeps on the floor, maintains celibacy, worships Shri Damodara, and eats only havishya35 items using palasha leaves is freed from all sins and will taste the bliss of Lord Vishnu in Vaikuntha36. (83-84)

By bathing at dawn, controlling the senses, performing japa, and eating havishya throughout Kartika, one is freed from all sins, and by eating only once a day he will become famous, strong, and courageous. (85-86)

He who eats on palasha leaves and offers his food to Shri Hari becomes sinless and achieves liberation. But non-brahmanas should never use the middle part of the leaf. (87)

Thousands of offenses and even the greatest sins of someone who worship Lord Hari during Kartika will all be forgiven, and if he offers to Shri Vishnu His favorite candied sugar and sweet rice with ghee, and honors the Lord’s remnants, he gains the same merit of performing sacrifices, day after day. (88-89)

(Padma Purana, dialogue between Narada, Shaunaka, and other sages)


Those who bathe, stay awake37, offer lamps, and care for Tulasi’s garden during Kartika will obtain a form similar to Lord Vishnu’s. Those who perform these practices for just three days become the object of the demigods’ prayers. What, then, shall I say about those who can do it throughout their life? (90-91)

(Padma Purana, dialogue between Shri Krishna and Satyabhama)


Types of Kartika vratas


Specific Kartika vratas are: Hari-jagaranam38, bathing at dawn, tending Tulasi, completing a charitable work39, and offering dipas40. A person who undertakes these five vows can attain both bhukti and mukti41. (92-93)

Hari-jagaranam may be performed in temples of Vishnu or Shiva, near Ashvattha42 trees, or in places where Tulasi grows. (94)

A person who cannot get bathing water for his ablutions, or who is sick, should purify himself by chanting Lord Vishnu’s names. (95)

If a charitable work cannot be completed in time, one can feed brahmanas in a quantity proportional to the work, and thus temporarily fulfill his vow. (96)

If one is unable to offer a dipa, one can endeavor to revive another’s dipa or protect it from the wind. (97)

In the absence of Tulasi plants, one can serve Vaishnavas and brahmanas instead. And if none of the five vows is feasible, then by serving brahmanas, cows, and Ashvattha or Vata43 trees, he can still complete his vrata. (98)

(Padma Purana, dialogue between Shri Krishna and Satyabhama)


Virtues of offering dipa (dipa-dana)44


The sins accumulated in millions of kalpas vanish in an instant when a dipa is offered during Kartika. O great brahmana, listen to this dipa’s virtues, which are dear to Keshava. By offering a dipa in this month a person will not take birth on earth again. (99-100)

This dipa-dana bestows all the benefits available at Kurukshetra during solar eclipses and at Narmada during lunar eclipses, multiplied by the millions. O great sage, what is the value of Ashvamedha45 sacrifices for someone who in this month lights ghee or sesame oil lamps? By this offering to the Lord, all prescribed activities, even if devoid of mantra, rituals, and cleanliness, are brought to perfection. Anyone who offers dipa to Keshava during Kartika is actually performing all sorts of ablutions and sacrificial ceremonies. (101-104)

On the other hand, all the pious deeds of the three worlds are not effective46 if this Kartika dipa does not burn before Lord Keshava. (105)

O brahmana, since time immemorial the ancestors are praying, ‘If a scion who can please Lord Keshava by this dipa-dana would appear in our lineage, we would certainly all become liberated by the mercy of the Lord, who has a cakra on His hand.’ (106-107)

Moreover, even if the volume of one’s sins equals Mount Meru, this dipa-dana can certainly incinerate them. Be it in a temple of Lord Vasudeva or in one’s private house, this offering yields amazing results. Indeed, the person who lights this dipa before Madhusudana is fortunate and glorious, because even hundreds of sacrifices and ablutions in holy places cannot match the results instantly acquired by this dipa-dana. (108-111)

Even one who never performs religious rituals or even the worst sinner will surely be purified by this offering. O Narada, in the three worlds there is no sin that can stand before this Kartika dipa. In fact, by presenting this dipa before Lord Vasudeva, the eternal abode can be reached without obstruction. (112-114)

Now I will tell you about the merits accruing to one who offers a dipa with camphor throughout Kartika, or particularly on the day of Dvadashi. O Narada, all the born or to-be-born members of one’s family line, including all the innumerable forefathers, will enjoy in heaven for a long time according to their wishes, and will attain liberation by the grace of Lord Hari, who has a cakra on His hand. (115-117)

In this month, O great brahmana, a person who illuminates Lord Keshava’s temple even for the sake of gambling purifies his family up to seven generations. And those who kindle this Kartika dipa in a temple of Lord Vishnu will prosper with wealth, progeny, good reputation, and fame. Just as friction manifests the fire inherent in any wood, so this dipa-dana undoubtedly manifests dharma (present in any action)47. (118-120)

O eminent brahmana, the destitute should also arrange for this offering throughout the month, until the full-moon day, even if it is necessary to sell his own person to do so. (121)

The fool who does not offer this dipa in Lord Keshava’s temple during Kartika, O sage, should never be considered a Vaishnava48. (122)

(Skanda Purana, dialogue between Brahma and Narada)


Between the offering of all existing wealth and the offering of a dipa during Kartika there is no comparison – in fact, the latter is certainly more precious. (123)

(Naradiya Purana, dialogue between Rukmangada and Mohini)


A person who kindles an akhanda-dipa49 before Lord Hari will leave for the Lord’s abode on a effulgent vehicle and live there in bliss. (124)

(Padma Purana, dialogue between Shri Krishna and Satyabhama)


Virtues of reviving someone else’s dipa


All the results acquired by donating grains during pitri-paksha or by distributing water in the months of Jyeshtha or Ashadha are easily gained in the course of Kartika merely by reviving a dipa offered by someone else. In this month the fruits of Rajasuya50 and Ashvamedha sacrifices are attainable just by reviving another’s dipa and by serving the Vaishnavas. (125-126)

O best of kings, the person who revives a dipa in Hari’s temple shall never suffer Yamaraja’s torments again. (127)

The results of reviving someone else’s dipa during Kartika cannot be obtained by any other means, not even by the greatest sacrifices. (128)

Once even a mouse attained the rare human form and reached the supreme destination after reviving a dipa on Ekadashi51. (129)

(Skanda Purana, dialogue between Brahma and Narada)


Virtues of a dipa on the temple dome (shikhara-dipa)


O great sage, know that the stock of  sins will continue melting as long as a dipa shines on top of the temple (130)

The fruit accrued by offering in charity the whole earth with her belt of oceans to brahmanas, by donating millions of milk cows, or by giving everything in charity to Vaishnavas, is not even a sixteenth part of the result yielded by installing a dipa on top of Hari’s temple. (131-133)

Moreover, a person who settles a dipa on the dome or within the temple delivers hundreds of generations in his lineage even if he is hired, and in the family of those who admire with great devotion the illuminated temple of Lord Keshava no one will ever experience hell. (134-135)

Observing a human offering a lamp to Lord Vishnu, even the demigods think, “When will I get his association?” In fact, even the post of Indra is within the reach of someone who offers this shikhara-dipa. (134-137)

(Skanda Purana, dialogue between Brahma and Narada)


Virtues of a string of lamps (dipa-mala)


A person who arranges a dipa-mala inside and outside Lord Vishnu’s temple will attain a form similar to the Lord’s, with conch and cakra. Moreover, he is assured that in his family line hundreds of thousands will not go to hell. (138-139)

O sage, he who arranges a dipa-mala inside and outside Lord Vishnu’s temple will leave for the supreme abode on the path illuminated by those very dipas. (140)

(Skanda Purana, dialogue between Brahma and Narada)


A person who arranges a beautiful dipa-mala during Kartika and particularly on the days of Ekadashi, when the Lord awakens, and Dvadashi, illuminates the four directions with his radiance and, situated on a luminous vehicle, brightens the universe with the luster of his body. He will live in Vishnuloka52 for as many thousands  years as the number of ghee lamps that he arranged. (141-143)

(Bhavishya Purana)


Virtues of a dipa elevated to the sky (akasha-dipa)53


A person who in this month elevates a lamp high in the sky delivers his family and reaches the abode of Lord Vishnu. (144)

Now listen to the merits of elevating dipas or floating them on water in Lord Vishnu’s honor during Kartika: these dipas will bring wealth, abundance, prosperity, all sorts of opulence, progeny, a benign glance and wisdom. (145-146)

Moreover, the sages say that anyone who arranges a Kartika dipa for the house of a brahmana will gain the results of an Agnishtoma sacrifice54. Dipas placed at crossroads, by the sides of main roads, in brahmanas’ houses, at the roots of trees, in cow-pens, in forests, or in caves, all bestow great results. (147-148)

(Padma Purana, dialogue between Shri Krishna and Satyabhama)



damodaraya nabhasi tulayam lolaya saha

pradipan te prayacchami namo’ nantaya vedhase


In this month of Kartika I’m elevating this dipa to the sky for You, O Damodara, Who are accompanied by Lakshmi55. O Unlimited, O Supreme Creator, I offer my obeisances to You. (149)

(Padma Purana, dialogue between Shri Krishna and Satyabhama)


Virtues of Kartika related to specific locations


During Kartika, a person who bathes or gives alms, no matter where, earns the merits of an Agnihotra sacrifice, and the results are even more if this pious deed includes worship as well; the results are millions of times more if in this month one bathes at Kurukshetra or in the Ganga, O scion of Bhrigu, and even greater if one bathes at Pushkara. Finally, bathing and worshipping in Dvaraka bestows Krishna-salokya56. (150-151)

O assembled sages, each of the seven holy cities57 offer the same amount of pious merits, but Mathura stands alone, because only there Lord Hari displayed His character as Damodara. Therefore the Lord is extremely pleased and certainly offers the highest reward to one who performs Kartika vratas in Mathura. As Prayaga and Ganga are to be frequented in the month of Magha and Vaishakha, respectively, so is Mathura in the month of Kartika; to be in Mathura during Kartika, in fact, is the highest possible achievement, and those who, besides being there, perform ablutions and worship Damodara, will undoubtedly obtain Krishna-sarupya. (152-155)

O brahmana, this Mathura is seldom approachable by men, because only here the Lord gives Himself to those who worship Him with devotion. Elsewhere He offers bhukti and mukti to His worshippers, this is true, but He does not grant them bhakti, the force which can subdue Him. However, those who in the course of Kartika worship Lord Damodara in Mathura even once can easily attain this very bhakti. (156-158)

In Mathura the Lord will accept even worship devoid of proper rules, mantras, and ingredients. The atonement of sins, which are otherwise expiated after death, is thoroughly achieved by worshipping Lord Damodara in Mathura, during Kartika.

It was in this month that the child Dhruva58 quickly obtained the vision of Lord Hari by worshipping Him in Mathura, although He can rarely be seen even by great yogis. (159-161)

Mathura can be easily traced in Bharata-varsha, and Kartika comes regularly every year, yet there are fools who are still carried around in the ocean of material existence!59 (162)

When one worships Shri Krishna along with His dear Radhika, what is the use of sacrifices, penances, and pilgrimage to other holy places? During Kartika, in fact, all the existing holy places, rivers and lakes are present in Mathura. Therefore one can reach Shri Krishna, the Supreme, merely by entering once in Mathura-puri, for, this is the Lord’s birthplace. (163-165)

If mocking Lord Hari’s devotee in Mathura could produce such an amazing result60, what shall then be said about worshipping Lord Hari with faith and devotion? (167)

(Padma Purana, dialogue between Shri Krishna and Satyabhama)



Prescribed duties for Kartika


Beginning the vrata


In the month of Ashvini, on the eleventh day of the bright fortnight, one should earnestly undertake his Kartika vrata. (168)

Everyday he should wake up by the last yama61 of the night and, after due purification, he should awaken the Lord with hymns. Then he should offer nirajana62 to Him. Later, in the company of other Vaishnavas, he should blissfully listen to the qualities of Lord Vishnu, engage in singing, and perform mangala-aratrika  during the early morning hours. (169-170)

He should then go on the river’s bank, perform acamana and express his sankalpa63. He should then formulate his request to the Lord with prayers and offer Him arghya64. (171)



karttike ‘ham karishyami pratah-snanam janardana

prity-artham tava devesha damodara maya saha


O Janardana, O Devesha, O Damodara, You are accompanied by Shri Radhika. During this month of Kartika  I shall bathe early every morning for Your satisfaction65. (172)



tava dhyanena devesha jale ‘smin snatum udyatah

tvat-prasadac ca me papam damodara vinashyatu


O Devesha, I’m about to bathe in this water, absorbed in meditation on You. O Damodara, may my sins be destroyed through Your mercy. (173)



vratinah karttike masi snatasya vidhivan mama

damodara grihanarghyam danujendra-nisudana

nitye naimittike kritsne karttike papa-shoshane

grihanarghyam maya dattam radhaya sahito hare


O Damodara, I’m bathing in the month of Kartika in conformity to the rules, as I committed myself. O killer of demons, please accept this arghya.

In this month all activities, whether habitual or occasional, have the power to destroy sins. O Hari, O Radha, please accept this arghya. (174-175)


Then, after smearing the body with sesame and bathing according to etiquette while loudly chanting the Lord’s names, one should perform his sandhyopasana66 and return home. There, after drawing a svastika67 before the Deity, he should worship the Lord with Tulasi and flowers such as lotus, Malati68 and Agastya. (176-177)

Every day one should hear Bhagavata-katha in a gathering of Vaishnavas and regularly worship the Lord with ghee and sesame-oil lamps; particularly, he should offer foodstuffs, pay obeisances, and undertake vows, such as eating once a day, according to his best capacity. (176-179)

(Padma Purana, dialogue between Shri Krishna and Satyabhama)


Other relevant activities are eating in silence, offering lamps to Tulasi, and offering gold, silver, lamps, gems, pearls, and fruits to Lord Damodara.

Moreover, sankalpa can alternatively be taken on the last ekadashi or on the full moon day of Ashvini, or even on Tula-sankranti, the day in which the sun enters Libra during Kartika.

The performance of Kartika vratas is best done in an holy place rather than at home.  [Excerpts from verses 180-186]


To be avoided during Kartika


O great sages, those who eat rajamasha and nishpava beans69 during Kartika will remain in hell until the time of dissolution. This applies also to those who do not abstain from kalinga70, patola71, eggplant, and sandhita72 items. (187-188)


Furthermore, during Kartika the wise should especially abstain from others’ food73, others’ beds, others’ wives, and others’ wealth. (190)

He who refrains from anointing his body, sleeping on a bed, consuming other people’s food, and eating in bell metal vessels is indeed a full fledged vrati74. (191)

The man who in this month avoids food meant for others earns the fruits of arduous penances, day after day. (187-192)

(Skanda Purana, dialogue between Brahma and Narada)


Festivities during Kartika


This last part of the chapter deals with specific duties to be discharged on particular days of the month. What follows is a complete list of these festivities with selected verses that describe related rituals and background. [Translator’s note]






O brahmanas, Radha-kunda, which is dear to Lord Hari, is situated at the feet of the charming Govardhana Hill. During Kartika, the person who bathes there on the day of Bahulashtami75 becomes the Lord’s dear devotee, because this act highly pleases Him. Of all the gopis, Radha is undoubtedly Lord Vishnu’s dearest, and this kunda is as dear to Him as Radha Herself. (207-208)

(Padma Purana, dialogue between Shri Krishna and Satyabhama)


Being highly pleased by Radha, Shri Krishna gave the sovereignty of Vrindavana to Her. Consequently She is Radha in Vrindavana, and elsewhere She is Devi.

By bathing in Radha-kunda on this ashtami one pleases Janardana as much as by worshipping Him on the day of Subodhani-ekadashi76. (209-210)

(Padma Purana, dialogue between Shri Krishna and Satyabhama, at the conclusion of the narration about Radha)




On the thirteenth day of the dark fortnight, at dusk, a dipa should be kindled in Yama’s honor outside the house, to prevent the possibility of an untimely death. (211)


The related mantra:

mrityuna pasha-dandabhyam kalah shyamalaya saha

trayodashyam dipa-danat surya-jah priyatamiti


On this day of trayodashi, may this dipa please the son of the sun-god, Kala77, as well as his noose, his stick, death, and Syamala78. (212)

(Padma Purana, dialogue between Shri Krishna and Satyabhama)




On the fourteenth day of the dark fortnight those who fear hell should certainly bathe and fervently worship Dharmaraja. But bathing at times other than dawn will certainly cancel one year worth of pious activities. (213-214)

(Padma Purana, dialogue between Shri Krishna and Satyabhama)


By offering a dipa on the evenings of caturdashi and amavasya in the course of Kartika a person is delivered from the darkness of Yama’s path. (221)

(Skanda Purana, dialogue between Brahma and Narada)




On this day everyone, except for children and the diseased, should fast and worship Lakshmi at the time of pradosha79.

O brahmanas, at the time of pradosha one should arrange a string of dipas and then awaken the sleeping Lakshmi. (222-223)


The related mantra:

tvam jyotih Shri-ravish candro vidyut-sauvarna-tarakah

sarvesham jyotisham jyotir dipa-jyotih sthite namah


You are the light, You are the sun and the moon, You are lightning, You are gold, and You are the stars, You are the light of all luminous objects. I bow down to You, Who are present in the light of this dipa.. (224)


O brahmanas, ladies should wake Kamala Devi80 by reciting this mantra and offering dipas, and only then have their meal. On this occasion, she who eats only after worshipping Lakshmi at dusk will certainly be accompanied by her for the whole year. (225-226)

(Padma Purana, dialogue between Shri Krishna and Satyabhama)







After worshipping Govardhana in the early morning, one should engage in gambling82. Then he should adorn cows and oxen, along with carts and milking vessels, and honor them all83.

Vaishnavas should worship Govardhana Hill, the best of Shri Krishna’s servants, in the early morning of this pratipat, and then remain awake throughout the night. (231-233)

(Skanda Purana, dialogue between Brahma and Narada)


Rules for Govardhana-puja:


If Govardhana-puja is to be performed somewhere outside the area of Mathura, then a hill should be built out of cow-dung and worshipped as Giriraja. But, by circumambulating Govardhana and by offering direct puja to it in Mathura, one reaches Lord Vishnu’s abode and rejoices in His company. (248-249)


govardhana-puja mantra:

govardhana dharadhara gokula-trana-karaka

vishnu-bahu-kritocchraya gavam koti-prado bhava


O Govardhana! O sustainer of Earth! O protector of cowherds! Lord Vishnu blessed you by lifting you with His hand. Please give us your mercy, in the form of millions of cows.84 (250)

(Padma Purana, dialogue between Shri Krishna and Satyabhama)


This is the go-puja mantra:

lakshmir ya loka-palanam dhenu-rupena samsthita

ghritam vahati yajnarthe yama-pasham vyapohatu

agratah santu me gavo gavo me santu prishthatah

gavo me parshvatah santu gavam madhye vasamy aham


May Lakshmi, who takes the form of a cow85 among the protectors of this world and thus provides clarified butter for the sacrifice, free us from the fetters of death.

Let cows be before me, behind me, and at my sides. May I live amidst cows! (251-252)


Go-krida (playing with the cows)


Cows and buffaloes should be provoked against each other and then let free to run here and there. Then the cowherds should attract them towards the bulls by calling and shouting back and forth, and let the cows and bulls play together. (253)

(Skanda Purana, dialogue between Brahma and Narada)



The worship of Shri Bali, King of the demons.


On the same pratipat, at dusk, after painting a portrait of Shri Bali with his wife, Vindhyavali, one should worship him, for he is the Lord’s devotee. (256)


One should worship Bali, the King of the Daityas, after painting him in five colors, with a joyful expression, with two arms, fully decorated with ornaments such as earrings and helmet, in the company of Vindhyavali, and escorted by the demons Kushmanda, Maya, Jambhoru, and Mura. (257-258)

(Skanda Purana)


Background of the puja


This great soul, Bali, gave his body in charity to Lord Vishnu in order to keep his word. But, alas, he was roughly treated and tied by Vamana Deva; the wise Bali was bound by the Lord and brought to Patala, but, although displeased and distressed, he did not disrespect the Lord and he totally relinquished his egotism.

Then the Lord, highly pleased with Bali, said: “O king of demons! You shall obtain all the pious merits previously earned by those who give charity to non-brahmanas, who perform homa without mantras, who recite japa with disturbed minds, and who, on the first lunar day of the bright fortnight of Kartika, do not worship You.” (259-261)

Therefore on pratipat one should definitely worship this king of demons with joy, because this is the day in which the Lord granted His boon to Bali. This puja ought to be performed with fervor in the proximity of Lord Krishna86. (259-262)

(Padma Purana)


Rules for Bali-puja:

A person, assisted by the whole family, including one’s mother, brothers, relatives and friends, should worship Bali in a wide space within the house compound. He should offer him many items such as sandal-paste, lilies and lotuses, eatables, akshata87, and pupakas88 dipped in jaggery. (263-264)

(Skanda Purana)



bali-raja namas tubhyam virocana-suta prabho

bhavishyendra surarate pujeyam pratigrihyatam


O King Bali, I bow down to You. O son of Virocana, O master, O future Indra, O enemy of the demigods, kindly accept this worship. (265)


dipotsavair janita-sarva-jana-pramodaih

kurvanti ye sumatayo baliraja-pujam


nunam prayati sakalam pramudaiva varsham


Wise persons who honor King Bali with this festival of lamps that cheers everyone will experience happiness and prosperity for hundred generations as a result, and they will obviously spend in full delight this whole year as well. (266)




Yama should be worshipped at noon on the second day of bright fortnight; a person who bathes in the Yamuna on this occasion will never see Yamaloka. (268)


O brahmana, on this day wise men should not eat at home but rather accept food affectionately cooked by their sisters, because food prepared by one’s sister is highly nourishing. Gifts should be presented to one’s sister according to rules, and all sisters should be honored adequately. In absence of direct sisters, one can honor step-sisters.

This is the day on which Yamuna cooked for her brother, Yamaraja, with utmost affection. Therefore, eating from the hand of one’s sister will yield great power and the most precious treasure.89 (268-269)

(Skanda Purana and Padma Purana)



The eighth day of the bright fortnight is also called Gopashtami by the wise. On this day Vasudeva, who was previously known as vatsa-pa, received the appellation of go-pa90.

Whoever desires to fulfill his wishes should honor, feed, circumambulate, and serve cows on this occasion. (270-271)

(Padma Purana and Kurma Purana)


Prabodhani (shukla)-ekadashi


Just as in the occasion of Shayani-ekadashi91, on this Prabodhani-ekadashi also the great Milk Ocean festival92 should be organized, after which Shri Krishna should be awakened and invited on the ratha93. (273)


Necessity of Prabodhani-vrata


Whatever piety one may have accumulated in life becomes worthless if this festivity of waking up the Lord is not properly honored. (274)

(Skanda Purana)


Virtues of Prabodhani-vrata


O great sage, listen to the greatness of this Prabodhani, which destroys sins, increase piety, and bestows mukti. (275)

On this Earth, Bhagirathi Ganga and all other holy places are powerless until the day of Lord Vishnu, Hari-bodhani94, which erases all sins. Just by fasting on the day of Prabodhani a person will earn the results of thousands of Vajapeya95  sacrifices and hundreds of Ashvamedha sacrifices. (276-278)

(Skanda Purana)


Rules to awaken the Lord


After carrying Shri Krishna to the bank of a lake and performing an opulent worship, as in the case of Shayani-ekadashi, a sankalpa should be expressed and the Lord should be awakened. (319)



brahmendra-rudragni-kuvera-surya-somadibhir vandita-pada-padma

budhyasva devesha jagan-nivasa mantra-prabhavena sukhena deva


O master of demigods, O shelter of the universe, Brahma, Indra, Rudra, Agni, Kuvera, Surya, Soma, and the other devas all pray to Your lotus feet. O Lord, please wake up with ease upon hearing this mantra. (320)


iyam tu dvadashi deva prabodhartham vinirmita

tvayaiva sarva-lokanam hitartham shesha-shayina


O Lord, this Dvadashi was created by You, Who rest on Shesha, for the very purpose of waking up, thus benefitting the whole universe. (321)


uttishthottishtha govinda tyaja nidram jagat-pate


Wake up, wake up, O Govinda! O Lord of the universe, please abandon Your sleep. (322)


Then the Lord, being awakened by the sound of bells, should be allowed to seat comfortably. At this point one should pray to Him with the following mantra: (327)


so’sav adabhra-karuno bhagavan vivriddha-

prema-smitena nayanamburuham vijrimbhan

utthaya vishva-vijayaya ca no vishadam

madhvya girapanayatat purushah puranah


May the all-merciful Lord, the Primeval Person, open His lotus eyes with a smile of intense love and conquer the world. May He bless me by driving away my sorrow with His sweet words. (328)

(Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.9.25)


After this prayer the Lord should be honored with pushpanjali96, invited to stand according to etiquette, and worshipped with arati, following due execution of nyasa97. The ceremony should end with offerings of clothes, etc. (329)


Greatness of Ratha-yatra


O Emperor, all the sites blessed by the glance of Lord Damodara in the course of the Ratha-yatra which follows His awakening, should be considered equal to svarga. O leader of humanity, while pulling Shri Krishna’s ratha, every step becomes as good as a Vedic sacrifice. Dog-eaters achieve the status of demigods when they watch Keshava on His ratha, even if they do it out of mere curiosity. (340-343)


Rules for Ratha-yatra


Shri Krishna should be invited on the ratha, amidst chants of ‘Jaya! Jaya!,’ and should be honored with opulent worship and arati. He should then be glorified with benedictory sentences such as: (367)


His lustrous countenance is dark like a blue lotus and glistens due to His resplendent earrings. His moon-like face is adorned by a tilaka made from sandalwood paste and akshata. He playfully fills everyone with joy with His Ratha-yatra, and His glance is filled with nectar. May Shri Vishnu, in whose heart Lakshmi Devi eternally resides, protect the whole universe. (368)

(Vishnu-dharmottara Purana)


Then, reciting choice verses one should happily wear the Lord’s sanctified garland. (372)


Virtues of wearing maha-prasada


For a person who devotionally accepts the garland of the all-auspicious Lord there is nothing inaccessible in this world or in the next. Such a garland bestows every pleasure and grants liberation. It should by all means be secured, because it will fulfill every desire. (373-374)


“Great souls like Prahlada are also pulling the ratha”—meditating in this way one should engage with other Vaishnavas in pulling the ratha through the streets of the city. (375)


Necessity of attending Ratha-yatra


Even dog-eaters achieve Lord Vishnu’s association when they walk in front, behind, or on the sides of the ratha; on the other hand, even scholarly brahmanas become dog-eaters if they neglect Lord Janardana’s Ratha-yatra. (381-382)

(Bhavishya Purana)


Glories of remaining awake on  the night of Prabodhani-ekadashi


The sins accumulated in thousands of previous births burn like a mass of cotton for someone who remains awake during Prabodhani-ekadashi. Even if guilty of the most heinous sins, such as killing a brahmana, O sage, a person shakes away his sins by remaining awake in Vishnu’s honor throughout Prabodhani-ekadashi. All his mental, vocal, and physical sins will be washed away by Shri Govinda. (388-390)

Results that are difficult to obtain even with great yajnas, such as Ashvamedha, effortlessly accrue to those who remain awake during Prabodhani-ekadashi. (391)


Rules of parana98


On the twelfth day of the bright fortnight, one should break his fast and dedicate his difficult vrata to Shri Krishna; then he should worship Janardana with devotion. In this way he will reach Vishnuloka. (411)

(Padma Purana, Kartika-mahatmya)


A person should end his caturmasya vrata on the twelfth day of the bright fortnight. After attending to his habitual duties in the early morning, he should feed brahmanas  to his best capacity and offer them presents proportional to the vrata that he performed, in order to counteract accidental flaws. Then he should break the fast with the items given up during Caturmasya. (412-414)



Vratas such as Bhishma-pancaka


If possible, one should undertake the Bhishma-pancaka vrata from the day of shukla-ekadashi, for the pleasure of the Lord. Similarly he may take on the Dhatri-vrata on the full moon day, or on the Navami-vrata during shukla-navami. If he is willing and capable to perform these and other difficult vratas such as the Paitamaha-vrata and Masoposhana-vrata he should study the details given in scriptures such as Padma Purana. (434-436)