It is a simple program aimed at capitalizing the most auspicious month of Dāmodara / Kārtika to introduce Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa to as many individuals as possible, especially offering them a chance to offer ghee lamps to Krsna.
The Śāstras clearly elucidates the glories of this simple act of devotion, done knowingly or unknowingly. This agyatya-sukriti, or unknowingly performing devotional service can elevate any sincere fallen soul to the transcendental abode of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Thus, the potency of this activity is further increased.
Rūpa Gosvāmī quotes from the Padma Purāṇa that just as Lord Dāmodara is favorably inclined toward His devotees, so the month of Kārtika, which is also dear to Him, bestows great favor upon them, even for a little service or a little practice. It is even said that the benefit gained for service performed in the last five days of Kārtika is equal to that gained from service performed for the entire month. In other words, for a very small performance of devotional service in the month of Dāmodara, one gets a very big result—especially in Vrindavan. Also, Śrīla Prabhupāda has explained that wherever the Deities of Rādhā and Krsna are installed, that is also Vrindavan. So, even here our devotional service will be magnified “one thousand times.”
Śrīla Prabhupāda instructions about Dāmodara Outreach Program
“You have asked about the specialness of the month of Kārttika, and the answer is that it is a special inducement for persons who are not in Kṛṣṇa consciousness to perform some devotional service. For persons who are doing nothing in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, it is an indirect inducement to take to devotional service in earnest seriousness, every moment is Kārtika. In this connection, there is a good example that sometimes a store gives a special concession to attract new customers. But for those who are already customers there is no need of a special sale. They will purchase at any cost if they know the important value of the goods. Similarly, those who are pure devotees do not aspire for any concession, and out of spontaneous love try to engage themselves in devotional service twenty-four hours each day, three hundred and sixty five days every year, without any stoppage.”
SP Letter to Jayapatākā das Brahmacārī, 30th January, 1969
“This is a very special month (Kartik Damodar month), and offering a lamp on this day not only helps you but also your forefathers and also helps your descendants- your children, your grandchildren, even those who are not yet born. So who will not take this opportunity to offer a lamp or do some simple seva.”
H.H. Jayapataka Swami
Dāmodara program (FAQ)
1. Outline of Dāmodara Program
The Dāmodara Program is an initiative taken by the Congregational Development Ministry to promote outreach and the cultivation of congregations in ISKCON according to the guidelines provided by Śrīla Prabhupāda, giving them a chance to participate in the offering of lamps to Lord Dāmodara, in the very auspicious month of Kārtika. (Dāmodara).
Apart from being used by the congregation for active outreach and networking, it can also be used by families to help engage their children, for it is seen that the kids are very fond of it.
The idea of the program is to encourage devotees to create visiting teams and perform the Dāmodara worship (offering of candles, singing the Dāmodara -song and hearing the narration of the pastime) in as many places as possible. This is a great opportunity to establish and cultivate new contacts and strengthen previous ones. We are now focusing on the Dāmodara program more because Kartik, or Dāmodara month is the most glorious and purest of purifiers of all months.
Śrīla Prabhupāda said:
“the Dāmodara month is a good time to bring new people to Krsna consciousness, and the śāstras say that during this month, service performed for the satisfaction of Lord Krsna bestows unlimited benefit.”
2. How to do the Dāmodara Program?
Following are the basic elements of a Dāmodara program:
• Introduction (5 mins) – what is the importance of Kārtika month. Why we are celebrating Dāmodara month in brief.
• Kīrtan (5 mins)
• Explanation of Śrī Dāmodarāṣṭaka song (10 mins) – Reading the translation and singing Damodarastakam.
• Dāmodara ārati (10 mins)- offering of lamp to Lord Dāmodara.
• Interactions (15 mins) participants can ask about Dāmodara Līlā, explain in brief, involve the audience in discussion.
• Feedback form filling (10 mins) Ask them about contact details, offering to sponsor lamps and Śrīla Prabhupāda books and their experience of attending the program in one or two lines.
• End (5 mins)- distribution of dry prasādam, distribution of Prabhupāda books, announcement of next program etc.
Total (I hour)
Note: The Congregational Development Ministry has compiled a Dāmodara-kit that has all that you need to go to friends’, relatives’ and neighbors’ homes and hold a Dāmodara program with them. Power points, handouts, the song, the pastime and a step-by-step guide are included in the kit. It even includes a children’s version of the slideshow. In addition, it has handouts for participants, a brochure, and a report template. Everything is designed in a user-friendly style to make it easier for any devotee who wants to implement this program in their local area.
This kit is available at: https://iskconcongregation.com/product/damodara-kit/
3. What can be offered? Lamp or Candle?
It is the recommendation of shastras (holy scriptures) that we should offer a ghee lamp in the month of Kartik to Lord Dāmodara for more spiritual benefits. However, if you are not able to arrange the ghee lamps in your place, then you can offer candles instead.
“Anybody who offers the Lord a ghee lamp in the month of Kartik, O brāhmaṇa, becomes free from all kinds of sins, such as killing a brāhmaṇa, and he goes to the abode of Lord Hari.” (Brahmā Khaṇḍa)
4. When does Dāmodara Program start and end?
The Dāmodara Program starts on 1st of November 2020 and runs for four weeks till 30th November 2020.
5. What is the house visit especially during lockdown?
As we all know, at this time during the covid-19 pandemic it may not be possible to reach people physically. Governments have imposed more restrictions on mass gatherings.
So, the best way of reaching out to more devotees all around the world is via Zoom/Google meetings. On our websites you can find a video tutorial on how to organize and conduct meetings/programs using social media.
6. Do I need any permission to conduct a Dāmodara Program?
No, we don’t need any permission to conduct Dāmodara programs but you may want to share your ideas and plans with your local ISKCON authorities.
7. How to do the Dāmodara Program without religious connotation?
This need sometimes arises when we are interacting with new devotees who are not so aware of Krsna, Dāmodara or Kartik month, especially in the western world. So here are some of the points we can explain to them very nicely without any religious connotations:
- Explaining environmental benefits of a GHEE LAMP such as that it works as an air purifier. Indeed, when the ghee present in the lamp comes in contact with the fire, the atmosphere becomes sanctified.
- Singing the Damodarastakam song together in the association of devotees while offering lamps can act as a meditation therapy for mind, body and soul.
- It’s a part of Indian culture and people love to experience each other’s cultures.
- From an astrological point of view this could be an indication that fire rituals like lighting of the lamp, would yield quick, sustainable and stable results.
8. Is there any Training Required?
No formal training is required to do the Dāmodara Program.
We can visit ISKCON temples, visit social media sites, You Tube videos, PowerPoint presentations, we can spend time in the company of devotees to learn how to do the Dāmodara program.
9. Is there any course conducted for this program?
Yes, we have PREACHERS TRAINING COURSE manual for Dāmodara house program provided by the MĀYĀPUR INSTITUTE for HIGHER EDUCATION and TRAINING
QUOTES ON DĀMODARA MONTH
1)O great brāhmaṇa, if the opportunity to perform vratas during Kārtika is neglected all pious merits amassed in the past are reduced to ashes, the study of Vedas and Purāṇas becomes futile, charity, japa, and penances become fruitless, and reaching svarga, becomes impossible, despite the performance of countless sacrifices and
hundreds of Śraddhā ceremonies.
2)As Satya-yuga is the best of yugas (ages), as the Vedas are the best among
scriptures, as Gaṅgā is best of rivers, so Kārtika is the best of months, the most
dear to Lord Kṛṣṇa.
All holy places reside in the month of Kārtika, which is eternally dear to Lord Kṛṣṇa.
Whatever pious deeds one performs to please Lord Viṣṇu during the month of Kārtika brings benefit that is eternal. O Nārada, I speak to you the truth.
3)Of the twelve months, this month is particularly dear to Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Śrī Vishnu certainly rewards the devotee who worships Him during Kārtika with residence in His own abode, even if worshipped with minimum items. Dāmodara is famous as bhakta-vatsala, and His month imbibes His characteristics: it rewards even a tiny effort with huge results.
Text 41, Kartika-mahatmya, Hari-bhakti-vilāsa
4)During the month of Kārtika, they who with love hear the topics of Lord Viṣṇu, even if they hear only half a verse or a fourth of a verse, attain the pious result of giving a hundred cows in charity.
Text 75, Kartika-mahatmya, Hari-bhakti-vilāsa
5)O tiger of sages, a person who during the month of Kārtika eagerly hears the topics of Lord Krsna delivers a hundred generations of his family.
Text 75, Kartika-mahatmya, Hari-bhakti-vilāsa
6)O tiger of sages, a person who during the month of Kārtika hears the topics of Lord Hari becomes free from the sufferings of hundreds and millions of births.
Text 80, Kartika-mahatmya, Hari-bhakti-vilāsa
GLORIES OF WORSHIPING ŚRĪ DĀMODARA DURING KĀRTIKA MONTH
7)When one offers a lamp during the month of Kārtika, his sins in many thousands and millions of births perish in half an eye blink.
Text 77, Kartika-mahatmya, Hari-bhakti-vilāsa
8)Lord Krsna is pleased by the offering of a single lamp during the month of Kārtika.
Lord Krsna glorifies anyone who lights a lamp for someone else to offer.
Text 44, Kartika-mahatmya, Hari-bhakti-vilāsa
9)Please hear the glories of offering a lamp during the month of Kārtika, an offering that is very pleasing to Lord Keśava. O king of brāhmaṇas, a person who offers a lamp in this way will not take birth again in this world.
Text 100, Kartika-mahatmya, Hari-bhakti-vilāsa
10)Even one who never performs religious rituals or even the worst sinner will surely be
purified by this offering. O Nārada, in the three worlds there is no sin that can stand
before this Kārtika dīpa. In fact, by presenting this dīpa before Lord Vāsudeva, the
eternal abode can be reached without obstruction.
Find 42 additional quotes below