Bhakti Yoga celebrated Kartik by dedicating the evening to Kirtan – the congregational singing of the Holy Names of the Lord. We also relished the Damodarastakam which are eight verses given by Srila Sanatana Goswami, they are found in the Padma Purana, and recount the lila (pastime) of Krishna as a child being bound by his mother to a grinding mortar. Although Krishna is the original, eternal form of God full of bliss, knowledge (sac-cid-ananta-rupam), he acted like an ordinary child, crying out of fear of being punished by his mother for his mischief. Devotees are not interested in worshiping God in awe and reverence, but in worshiping Krishna in loving intimacy.
The Padma Purana describes the month of Kartik as Krishna’s favourite month. Devotional activities performed during this holy month are rewarded with greater spiritual results than usual so devotees often take vows to increase their spiritual practices or to simplify their material needs for the entire month. The Padma Purana also recommends the daily offering of a ghee lamp to Krishna during this month as well as singing the Damodara prayers, which glorify the Damodar pastime of Krishna which occurred during the Kartik month.
Krishana kicked things off by offering prayers to Srila Prabhupada and the previous acaryas, followed by a sweet kirtan accompanied by the harmonium and karatals. Next Hema sang the Damodastakam with heartfelt devotion with backing vocals from Rita. We all meditated on the beautiful meaning of the prayers by hearing and repeating the English translation. We then enjoyed a wonderful mellow kirtan by Dmitry that was the perfect way to end the evening. We then enjoyed light prasadam of fruit, dhokra and Indian sweets. Here is a video of the prayers, Sanskrit and English translation:
(1) namāmīśvaraḿ sac-cid-ānanda-rūpaḿ , lasat-kuṇḍalaḿ gokule bhrājamanam
yaśodā-bhiyolūkhalād dhāvamānaḿ, parāmṛṣṭam atyantato drutya gopyā
(2) rudantaḿ muhur netra-yugmaḿ mṛjantam, karāmbhoja-yugmena sātańka-netram
muhuḥ śvāsa-kampa-trirekhāńka-kaṇṭha-, sthita-graivaḿ dāmodaraḿ bhakti-baddham
(3) itīdṛk sva-līlābhir ānanda-kuṇḍe, sva-ghoṣaḿ nimajjantam ākhyāpayantam
tadīyeṣita-jñeṣu bhaktair jitatvaḿ , punaḥ prematas taḿ śatāvṛtti vande
(4) varaḿ deva mokṣaḿ na mokṣāvadhiḿ vā , na canyaḿ vṛṇe ‘haḿ vareṣād apīha
idaḿ te vapur nātha gopāla-bālaḿ , sadā me manasy āvirāstāḿ kim anyaiḥ
(5) idaḿ te mukhāmbhojam atyanta-nīlair , vṛtaḿ kuntalaiḥ snigdha-raktaiś ca gopyā
muhuś cumbitaḿ bimba-raktādharaḿ me , manasy āvirāstām alaḿ lakṣa-lābhaiḥ
(6) namo deva dāmodarānanta viṣṇo , prasīda prabho duḥkha-jālābdhi-magnam
kṛpā-dṛṣṭi-vṛṣṭyāti-dīnaḿ batānu , gṛhāṇeṣa mām ajñam edhy akṣi-dṛśyaḥ
(7) kuverātmajau baddha-mūrtyaiva yadvat , tvayā mocitau bhakti-bhājau kṛtau ca
tathā prema-bhaktiḿ svakāḿ me prayaccha , na mokṣe graho me ‘sti dāmodareha
(8) namas te ‘stu dāmne sphurad-dīpti-dhāmne, tvadīyodarāyātha viśvasya dhāmne
namo rādhikāyai tvadīya-priyāyai , namo ‘nanta-līlāya devāya tubhyam
1) To the Supreme Lord, whose form is the embodiment of eternal existence, knowledge, and bliss, whose shark-shaped earrings are swinging to and fro, who is beautifully shining in the divine realm of Gokula, who I (due to the offense of breaking the pot of yogurt that His mother was churning into butter and then stealing the butter that was kept hanging from a swing) is quickly running from the wooden grinding mortar in fear of mother Yasoda, but who has been caught from behind by her who ran after Him with greater speed–to that Supreme Lord, Sri Damodara, I offer my humble obeisances.
2) (Seeing the whipping stick in His mother’s hand) He is crying and rubbing His eyes again and again with His two lotus hands. His eyes are filled with fear, and the necklace of pearls around His neck, which is marked with three lines like a conch shell, is shaking because of His quick breathing due to crying. To this Supreme Lord, Sri Damodara, whose belly is bound not with ropes but with His mother’s pure love, I offer my humble obeisances.
3) By such childhood pastimes as this He is drowning the inhabitants of Gokula in pools of ecstasy, and is revealing to those devotees who are absorbed in knowledge of His supreme majesty and opulence that He is only conquered by devotees whose pure love is imbues with intimacy and is free from all conceptions of awe and reverence. With great love I again offer my obeisances to Lord Damodara hundreds and hundreds of times.
4) O Lord, although You are able to give all kinds of benedictions, I do not pray to You for the boon of impersonal liberation, nor the highest liberation of eternal life in Vaikuntha, nor any other boon (which may be obtained by executing the nine processes of bhakti). O Lord, I simply wish that this form of Yours as Bala Gopala in Vrndavana may ever be manifest in my heart, for what is the use to me of any other boon besides this?
5) O Lord, Your lotus face, which is encircled by locks of soft black hair tinged with red, is kissed again and again by mother Yasoda, and Your lips are reddish like the bimba fruit. May this beautiful vision of Your lotus face be ever manifest in my heart. Thousands and thousands of other benedictions are of no use to me.
6) O Supreme Godhead, I offer my obeisances unto You. O Damodara! O Ananta! O Vishnu! O master! O my Lord, be pleased upon me. By showering Your glance of mercy upon me, deliver this poor ignorant fool who is immersed in an ocean of worldly sorrows, and become visible to my eyes.
7) O Lord Damodara, just as the two sons of Kuvera–Manigriva and Nalakuvara–were delivered from the curse of Narada and made into great devotees by You in Your form as a baby tied with rope to a wooden grinding mortar, in the same way, please give to me Your own prema-bhakti. I only long for this and have no desire for any kind of liberation.
8) O Lord Damodara, I first of all offer my obeisances to the brilliantly effulgent rope which binds Your belly. I then offer my obeisances to Your belly, which is the abode of the entire universe. I humbly bow down to Your most beloved Srimati Radharani, and I offer all obeisances to You, the Supreme Lord, who displays unlimited pastimes