Bhakta: ‘ What is the origin of Diwālī?”
Advaitadas: “Originally it celebrates Lord Rāma’s return from exile. But it is also celebrated in connection with other deities.”
Bhakta: ‘ How is it connected with Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism?
Advaitadas: ‘ Dāmodar month in general is connected with one līlā:
saṅketāvasare cyute praṇayataḥ saṁrabdhayā dhārayā
prārabhya bhrukuṭim hiraṇya rasanā dāmnā nibaddhodaram
kārtikya jananī kṛtotsava vare prastāvanā pūrvakam
cāṭūni prathayantam ātma pulakaṁ dhyāyema dāmodaram
‘’Once, in the auspicious month of Kārtika, Kṛṣṇa could not meet His beloved Rādhārāṇī in the kuñja on time, so Śrīmatī frowned Her eyebrows out of loving anger and bound Kṛṣṇa around the belly with a golden rope. Śrī Kṛṣṇa then explained to Her that He was too late for his appointment because He had been held up in Ma Yaśomatī’s festival so Śrīmatī released Him again. We meditate on Śrī Dāmodara, who is studded with goosepimples of loving ecstasy!’’ Here Kṛṣṇa is sometimes called Nīvi Dāmodar, who is bound by the strings of Śrī Rādhikā. The pearl-līlā (Mukta Carita by Śrī Raghunātha Dāsa Goswāmī) also takes place on Diwāli, so Diwāli reminds rāgānuga bhaktas of that.”
Bhakta: “ How does a practitioner of mañjarī bhāva experience Dāmodar-līlā?”
Advaitadas: “When one is deeply committed to mañjarī bhāva, one can skip the daily singing of Dāmodarāṣṭakam. The līlā itself can still be appreciated by some mañjarī bhāva-practitioners as observers of mother Yaśoda’s motherly love for her son. Speaking of vātsalya bhāva, Sādhu Bābā's Pitṛdev, the renowned rasik pāṭhak (lecturer) Śrīla Ānanda Gopāl Goswāmī Prabhupada, was, during one of his pāṭhs, requested to speak on bālya līlā. Hearing this, he stood up from the vyāsāsana at once and left the assembly hall. Such was his niṣṭha in mañjarī bhāva. It is a very famous story that I heard outside of the family. Such niṣṭha is very rare, though - most devotees will just sing Dāmodarāṣṭakam daily during the Kārtik month.
Bhakta: ‘There seems to be disagreement on when to start Kartik vows – some Vaiṣṇavas start on Ekādaśī and others on Pūrṇimā.”
Advaitadas: “Haribhakti Vilāsa (16.80) says:
āśvinasya tu māsasya yā śuklaikādaśī bhavet
kārtikasya vratānīha tasyāh kuryād atantritaḥ
Kārtik-vows are observed from (Āśvin śukla) Ekādaśī to (Kārtik śukla) Ekādaśī.