Dhanurdhara Swami November 3rd, 2001
Each year I try to perform Kartik-vrata with a firm objective in mind suitable to my level of Krishna conscious practice and devotion. Constant travel in the West makes it too easy to become unregulated, which is not good for spiritual practice. For Kartik, I want to etch my devotional practices in stone?fixed and determined?so no matter how often during the year my venue of devotional practice changes, my practices remain regular. At the same time, I also want to significantly increase my spontaneous devotion, the practice of devotional service as a sweet feeling of love, not simply an obligation.
Pure love is the one activity that is not done to attain some fruit. It is done for itself. If we love to achieve something other than greater love, our love is not pure. Bhakti (love) is thus not a result oriented pursuit, but a causeless “be here and now” action focused on the moment. We thus chant, not just to finish or to complete a vow or obligation, but to please Krishna out of love for Him. I perform Kartik-vrata to increase my bhakti, to be satisfied in service to Krishna, to rid myself of the fruitive consciousness that relegates the practices of devotional service to a task.
The sweetest part of the day: mangala-arati at Govardhana. I haven’t practiced much Krishna consciousness in a temple setting for years. The quaint and intimate gathering during brahma-muhurta (the hour before sunrise) infects one with a simple devotion. I forgot how uplifting and auspicious the prayers to the spiritual master (gurvastakam) can be when sung properly, at the right time, and in the right association.