When Lord Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, appears on earth, He performs extraordinary pastimes as a transcendental cowherd boy. As a child, Lord Krsna lived with His pure devotees in the village of Vrndavana, or Gokula. In the spiritual world (Vaikuntha) the Lord, in His form called Narayana, is worshiped with great awe and reverence, but the devotees in Vrndavana have such great love for the Lord that they even forget that He is the Lord. Because of their intense love for Him, they think of Him as their friend, son or lover. And the Lord, to please His devotees, responds in the roles in which the devotees think of Him.
As a transcendental pastime, Lord Krsna used to steal butter from the gopis, the ladies of Vrndavana. Once, however, His mother caught Him, bound His waist with a rope, and tied Him to a grinding mortar to punish Him. The Lord is therefore also known as Damodara (dama means "rope," and udara means "waist").
In Lord Krsna's courtyard were two trees, who were actually sons of the demigod Kuvera but had been cursed to stand as trees. By His mercy, Lord Krsna crawled between these trees, dragging the heavy mortar behind Him, and pulled the trees down, thus liberating Kuvera's two sons.
What is Damodara Puja?
Damodara Puja, The festival of offering ghee lamps to Lord Krishna, lasts the entire month of Damodara. Damodara-month occurs usually during October and November. It is also known as Kartik-month, in accordance with Vaishnava calendars. It is described in the scriptures as the best among months. Damodara-month glorifies Krishna’s pastime of being bound with ropes by Mother Yasoda.
Observing vrata (austerities) in the month of Kartika is glorified in the Puranas. It is also mentioned that one who offers ghee lamps to Lord Damodara in this auspicious month and sings the Damodara Ashtakam (8 verses glorifying the Lord) will get rid of his past sins and develop bhakti (devotion) to Lord Damodara(Krishna).
Everyone, indiscriminately – man, women, young and old can offer the ghee lamps. Ghee lamp offerings can be made in the morning or evening or during both times.
Why Damodara Puja?
Lord Krishna has many glorious names like Gopal, Madhava, Mukunda, Hrishikesa, etc. The name, Damodara, means one who is bound by the ropes of love, and happened when The Lord was tied with a cord (daama) around His waist (udara), denoting a divine pastime in which Krishna's mother Yasoda bound Krishna for being mischievous.
Through his pure willingness to be finally bound by the pure love of Yasoda, His divine mother, He becomes submissive to His mother’s love although in truth, no rope has the power to bind the Supreme Lord. It is this love that we hope to fill our hearts with, to bind Lord Krishna to us, eternally. This is beautifully illustrated in the Srimad Bhagavatam, which says, even though the Lord is greater than us in every single way, He is controlled and bound by the love of His pure devotee.
What are the Puja Benefits? (Based on Puranas)
Padma Purana, Uttara Khanda 112.3
tasmad vrata tra yam hy etan mama tiva priyankaram
magha kartikayos tad vat tat hai vaikadasi vratam
van aspatinam tulasi masanam kartikah priyah
ekadasi tithi nam ca ksetranam dvaraka mama
ete sam sevanam yastu karoti ca jitendriyah
same vallabhatam yati na tat ha yajanadi bhih
Of all plants, the sacred Tulasi is most dear to Me, of all months, Kartika is most dear, of all places of pilgrimage, My beloved Dvaraka is most dear, and of all days, Ekadasi is most dear.
One who offers a steady ghee lamp to Lord Hari during the month of Kartika enjoys pastimes in Lord Hari’s splendid spiritual world.
Satya-yuga is the best of yugas (ages), as the Vedas are the best of scriptures, as Ganga is the best of rivers, so Kartika is the best of months, the most dear to Lord Sri Krishna.
When one offers a ghee lamp during the month of Kartika, his sins in many thousands and millions of births perish in half an eyeblink.
A person who offers a ghee lamp during the month of Kartika attains a result that cannot be obtained with even a hundred yajnas or a hundred pilgrimages.
A person who gives ten million cows, all filled with milk and all the mothers of young calves, in charity to the brahmanas does not earn even one sixteenth of pious merit earned by one who places a lamp on the roof of Lord Krsna's temple.
Please hear the glories of offering a ghee lamp during the month of Kartika, an offering that is very pleasing to Lord Kesava.O king of brahmanas, a person who offers a ghee lamp in this way will not take birth again in this world.
Even if there are no mantras, no pious deeds, and no purity, everything becomes perfect when a person offers a ghee lamp during the month of Kartika.
To one who either at home, or in a temple offers Him a ghee lamp during the month of Kartika, Lord Vasudeva gives a great result.
A person who offers a ghee lamp to Lord Krishna during Kartika attains the eternal spiritual world where there is no suffering.
By offering a ghee lamp during the month of Kartika one burns away a collection of sins as big as Mount Meru or Mount Mandara. Of this there is no doubt.
O Narada, no sin exists anywhere in the three worlds that will not be purified by offering a ghee lamp to Lord Kesava during Kartika.
Narada Purana, in a conversation of Sri Mohini-devi and Sri Rukmangada
Of all gifts the gilt of a ghee lamp during the month of Kartika is the best. No gilt is its equal.
Song Name: Namamisvaram Saccidananda Rupam
Official Name: Damodarastakam
Book Name: Padma Purana
This song was originally spoken by Satyavrata Muni in a conversation with Narada Muni and Saunaka Rsi.
This song is sung during the Month of Kartik, also known as the month of Damodara. As quoted in the Sri Hari-Bhakti-Vilasa, "In the month of Kartika one should worship Lord Damodara and daily recite the prayer known as Damodarastaka, which has been spoken by the sage Satyavrata and which attracts Lord Damodara. (Sri Hari-bhakti-vilasa 2.16.198).”
This is usually sung in Raga Asavari in Lofa or Bengali ektal, or Bhairavi in kaherva or bhajani tala.
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.
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.
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) varaḿ deva mokṣaḿ na mokṣāvadhiḿ vā
na canyaḿ vṛṇe ‘haḿ vareṣād apīha
idaḿ te vapur nātha gopāla-bālaḿ
sadā me manasy āvirāstāḿ kim anyaiḥ
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) idaḿ te mukhāmbhojam atyanta-nīlair
vṛtaḿ kuntalaiḥ snigdha-raktaiś ca gopyā
muhuś cumbitaḿ bimba-raktādharaḿ me
manasy āvirāstām alaḿ lakṣa-lābhaiḥ
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) namo deva dāmodarānanta viṣṇo
prasīda prabho duḥkha-jālābdhi-magnam
gṛhāṇeṣa mām ajñam edhy akṣi-dṛśyaḥ
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) kuverātmajau baddha-mūrtyaiva yadvat
tvayā mocitau bhakti-bhājau kṛtau ca
tathā prema-bhaktiḿ svakāḿ me prayaccha
na mokṣe graho me ‘sti dāmodareha
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) namas te ‘stu dāmne sphurad-dīpti-dhāmne
tvadīyodarāyātha viśvasya dhāmne
namo rādhikāyai tvadīya-priyāyai
namo ‘nanta-līlāya devāya tubhyam
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.