sri sri guru gauranga jayatah!

Rays of The Harmonist Fortnightly Edition

Issue 8, Fortnightly Centennial Edition
Posted: 14 October 2021

In honour of the centennial appearance year of
nitya-līlā-praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda

Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Vāmana Gosvāmī Māhārāja

Dedicated to and Inspired by
nitya-līlā-praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda

Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Māhārāja

Śrī Dāmodarāṣṭakam and Cāturmāsya-vrata

 (from the Foreword to the Bengali edition of Śrī Dāmodarāṣṭakam)


Excerpts from the writings of

Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Vāmana Gosvāmī Māhārāja 


Presented in English for the first time

SBVVGM for Fortnightly posting


Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the possessor of all potencies and reservoir of all the nectar of rasa, accepted dāma-bandhana-līlā (the pastime of being bound about the waist) so that He could relish the pure vātsalya-prema of Mātā YaśomatīBy doing so, He displayed to the world the pinnacle of His dependence on or subservience to the devotees. As the aforementioned pastime manifested in the month of Kārtika, Kārtika-māsa has become famous as Dāmodara-māsa, the month of Dāmodara. Śrīla Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī, the compiler of the Vaiṣṇava smṛti [Hari-bhakti-vilāsa], has therefore prescribed the performance of arcana (worship) of Śrī Rādhā-Dāmodara and the recitation of Śrī Dāmodarāṣṭaka written by Satyavrata Muni every day during this month. 

During the month of Kārtika, if one performs pūjā (worship) to please Śrī Rādhikā, Dāmodara Śrī Hari becomes pleased, because Ūrjeśvarī Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī is the presiding deity of this month. The possessor of all potencies, Dāmodara Śrī Kṛṣṇa, does not accept worship without His svarūpa-śakti (intrinsic potency), otherwise known as hlādinī-śakti. Likewise, Śrī Rādhā-devī, that antaraṅga (intimate) or parā-śakti (supreme energy) rejects everything in the absence of Her prāṇanātha (the Lord of Her life). That is precisely why the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas under the guidance of Śrī Svarūpa Dāmodara and Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī have accepted only the worship of rādhāliṅgita-vigraha Yugala (the Divine Couple when Kṛṣṇa’s form is embraced by Śrī Rādhā). And this is why Śrī Kṛṣṇa Dvaipāyana Vedavyāsa has also conveyed his obeisances unto Śrī Rādhikā, the daughter of Vṛṣabhānu, and Her beloved, Śrī Dāmodara Kṛṣṇa, the performer of infinite pastimes, in the final verse of Śrī Dāmodarāṣṭaka. In other words, he has established the predominance of śakti-śaktimān-tattva (the coexisting principles of potency and potent) as existing on a single shared foundation. 

Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmīpāda has conveyed in his Dig-darśinī-ṭīkā on Dāmodarāṣṭaka: “This hymn is eternally perfect and so is fully capable of attracting Śrī Dāmodara Bhagavān.” This aṣṭaka written by Śrī Vyāsadeva is a paragon in the realm of Sanskrit literature and replete with philosophical insights. In this hymn, comparative analysis in the realm of sādhana-bhajana and the successive excellence of madhura-rasa beyond that of vātsalya have been propounded. If one carefully studies the above-mentioned commentary, one will see that this hymn completely declines the prākṛta-sahajiyā’s inappropriate discussions of the supra-mundane pastimes of rāsa (rāsa-līlā). 

Those who want to please Śrī Dāmodara will perform kīrtana of Śrī Dāmodarāṣṭakam and study it every day during Ūrja-vrata, or Dāmodara-vrata. Ūrja-vrata is part of Cāturmāsya-vrata. “Ūrjādara – honouring Ūrja-vrata” is one of the sixty-four limbs of bhakti. Hence, without Cāturmāsya-vrata, it is impossible to observe Ūrja-vrata. Therefore, the rules of observing Ūrja-vrata have been outlined like those of Cāturmāsya-vrata. In other words, the vrata begins on Ekādaśī, Dvādaśī or Pūrṇimā and concludes on the corresponding days of those tithis.

dugdhābdhi-bhogī-śayane bhagavān ananto yasmin dine svapiti cātha vibudhyate ca

Hari-bhakti-vilāsa (16.293), quoted from Padma Purāṇa

“One should observe the vrata with one-pointed concentration from the day on which Bhagavān goes to sleep on Śeṣa in the ocean of milk till the day on which He wakes up.”  

This statement proves that niyama-sevā encompasses the four months extending from Śayana Ekādaśī up to Utthāna Ekādaśī. In other words, without Cāturmāsya-vrata, it is virtually incomplete or unfinished. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu Himself observed Cāturmāsya-vrata with His devotees, setting a special example for His followers that they too should certainly observe it. The Śrī Rūpānuga Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas, especially jagad-guru Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Prabhupāda, also followed this standard. Hence, as Śrī Dāmodarāṣṭaka’sperpetual relevance is proven thus, it is to be perused every day, even besides niyama-sevā [Kārtika], during Cāturmāsya. 

The subservience to His devotees that Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa has displayed in śrī dāma-bandhana-līlā is inconceivable and incomparable. Mother Yaśodā was running to catch Śrī Bāla-gopāla, who is rarely obtained by the yogīs, and when, after great effort, she caught Him, she began to chastise Him. As His mother, she was not aware of her son’s infinite majestic power, so she tried to bind Him. It was by her vātsalya-prema alone that Yaśodā-devī bound to the grinding mortar that Parabrahma Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who is all-pervading, forever resplendent in His eternal form, and beyond the purview of mundane senses. That independent controller of all that exists, Śrī Hari, is otherwise never controlled or defeated by anyone. The splendid fortune that is the vātsalya-prema of Śrī Nanda and Yaśodā has been explicitly described in verses [of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam] like:

Tad-bhūri bhāgyam iha janma kim apy aṭavyām – The greatest fortune is to be born here, somehow or other [in the sacred land of Vraja].” [(10.14.34), spoken by Lord Brahmā.]

Nandaḥ kim akarod brahman śreya evaṁ mahodayam? – What auspicious activities did Nanda do, O learned one, which resulted in this greatest perfection?” [(10.8.46), a question by Parikṣit Mahārāja]

Aho bhāgyam aho bhāgyaṁ nanda-gopa-vrajaukasām—What a fortune! Look just how greatly fortunate are Nanda, the cowherd men, and all other inhabitants of Vraja.” [(10.14.32), spoken by Lord Brahmā.]

The scriptures have informed us that even Brahmā himself and Maheśvara, and even Lakṣmī-devī, who rests upon Bhagavān’s chest, are incapable of attaining such an exalted eligibility. Herein, the sweetness of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes (līlā-mādhurya) alone have been manifested in every respect. 

Translated from Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Vāmana Gosvāmī Māhārāja’s Prabandhāvalī

By The Rays of The Harmonist team

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