I had had a rather busy schedule for the past few months in Europe, and I was looking forward to a few calm days of being in the Dham - without any fixed plans. I relished coming to the morning program, and chanting my rounds early in the morning in Prabhupada's house - upstairs, where Prabhupada is sitting in his rocking chair. As far as I understand these rooms are actually the rooms where Prabhupada used to live, and downstairs was the darshan room, where he would receive guests and meet with devotees. Only later when he became very weak and sick he must have moved down to the big room.
Every afternoon I visited Prabhupada in his darshan room downstairs and again chanted japa. It is here where I like to report to Srila Prabhupada and pray for guidance, meditating on how he prepared himself for his mission of bringing Krsna consciousness all around the world. And prior to leaving this world he had been in anxiety whether this movement would continue....
The day before Kartik began I offered a two-hour session on "The False Ego - our Constant Companion and Troublemaker" in the Balaram Hall. It was pretty well attended, and more devotees of the Vrindavan Community were listening over the radio.
The false ego is so tricky and subtle, that it can get its foot into any door and poison even the best idea. Therefore Prabhupada says in one letter in 1970: "These two things are always side by side - Maya and Krsna - Krsna is service and Maya is sense gratification. Our duty is therefore to be very very careful. The poison is personal ambition."
The false ego can even contaminate the most sublime relationship with Guru or our Deities. Prabhupada explains how our family members become part of the extended false ego: MY husband, MY children, MY house.....And MY Guru can also become part of this. And because MY Guru is the best, that's why I am the next best.... And MY Deities are most special - that's why I am also most special.... And thus we are using Guru or our Deity to bring attention to ourselves, to show off and present ourselves as being very advanced.
It is all very subtle, but factual and powerful. Nevertheless, we are often not even aware of these things at all.
Radhanath Swami explains how a Vaisnava is like salt. Although salt brings out the total flavor of a tasty preparation more than any other part, it remains hidden, and we glorify every other ingredient but salt. Similarly, a true devotee performs all kinds of service, even great things, but always prefers to remain hidden, not seeking credit or glory. And we all know what happens when the salt wants to be noticed: the entire preparation is spoilt. Too salty! In the same way, the offering to Krsna is spoilt, when we seek credit and recognition, and want to be noticed.
Also the salt melts giving up its individual identity to increase the taste of the whole offering. In the same way the devotee is willing to sacrifice everything, even the recognition of his contribution, to make the best offering to Krsna. Although the salt melts, it doesn't merge. It still remains distinct. Likewise the humble devotee has his unique offering to make in the service to Sri Krsna.
Only that food is nourishing to the body which is well digested. Undigested food, even if of high value, creates toxins in the body and thus leads to disease. In the same way, any good talent and ability, any opulence becomes toxic if not digested with humility. Humility is the digestive medicine for our talents and abilities. The most wonderful talent and opulence turns into the greatest stumbling block for our spiritual life, if it leads to pride. It will poison our bhakti lata.
The Damodara Lila is a most famous pastime of Krsna, which we remember for an entire month during Kartik. The very essence is, that within our spiritual life we have to endeavor with great determination - just like mother Yasoda kept endeavoring, even though the rope was always too short so she couldn't manage to bind Krsna. She could have easily given up, saying: "Looks like my son is playing a mystical trick here". But she didn't. She kept endeavoring, asking all the neigboring gopis to bring more and more rope. This intense endeavor is what attracted Krsna's merciful glance upon mother Yasoda, and also upon us.
In SB.2.9.24. Srila Prabhupada says in the purport: "An easygoing life and attainment of perfection in transcendental realization cannot go together. The Lord is more clever than any living entity; therefore He wants to see how painstaking the devotee is in devotional service."
Most of us remain in our comfort zone throughout the entire year, being attached to an easygoing life. So Krsna gives us this month of Kartik - just to push us a little, and help us to make some extra endeavor. It is like a summer sale, where we are induced to purchase something for a special price.
And we can see the practical result: everybody eagerly comes to the temple in Kartik, and goes on parikrama in Vrindavan. Without this Kartik month, they wouldn't do this! But actually, we should have this same eagerness all around the year - not only during Kartik.
"You have asked about the specialness of the month of Karttika, and the answer is that it is a special inducement for persons who are not in Krsna consciousness to perform some devotional service. For persons who are doing nothing in Krsna consciousness, it is an indirect inducement to take to devotional service in earnest seriousness, every moment is Karttika. 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."
So the month of Kartik gives us an opportunity to get a higher taste and increase our devotional life, especially if we are usually not so fully absorbed in Krsna consciousness. And of course the idea is to maintain such eagerness - not that as soon as Kartik is finished, we return to our old and lazy ways in our easygoing life....
On the 20th of October I flew off to Tirupati......
Your servant, Devaki dd