Time for Amassing Religious Merits: Chaturmasa

(From 1st July to 26th November)

(Based on ‘Padma Purana’ and ‘Skanda Purana’)

Lord Vishnu is in Yoga Nidra (completely absorbed in the state of Samadhi) during the chaturmas (four months) period commencing from Ashadha Shukla Ekadashi of the bright fortnight of Ashadha till Ekadashi of the bright fortnight of Kartika. This period is known as ‘Chaturmasa’. All religious observances and vows, spiritual and devotional practices, etc. done during this period give imperishable religious merits.

Vratas & Religious Observances of Chaturmasa

(1) Those abstaining from jaggery, betel-leaf, honey, and leafy vegetables earn religious merits.

(2) One who abstains from milk and curd gets a place in the Goloka, the divine abode of Lord Krishna.

(3) Taking meals served on Palasha (Butea Frondosa) leaves get religious merits each time equal to that earned through the observances of Tri-ratra vrata (abstaining from food for three consecutive nights) and Chandrayana vrata (taking one morsel of food on the first day of the bright fortnight and increasing one morsel each with the increasing number of days till the 15th day – Full moon day, where after the moon begins to decrease. Then commensurate with the decreasing moon one has to decrease the number of morsels by every passing day, eating a single morsel on the No moon day) put together. Moreover, it also destroys the great sins of one doing so.

(4) Taking meals while sitting on the ground and after offering five ahutis (offerings) to the five pranas (the vital airs) certainly helps one destroy five sins.

(5) One who drinks the Panchagavya (the mixture made with the five products of the cow, namely – milk, curd, ghee, dung and urine) earns religious merits equal to that earned by observing the Chandrayana Vrata.

(6) Sleeping on the floor during the four months of Chaturmasa gives one a healthy life apart from the boons of immense wealth, sons, etc. He never suffers from leprosy.

Benefits from fasting during Chaturmasa

Taking only one meal in the day during Chaturmasa affords religious merit equal to that accruing from Agnishtoma Yajna. Observing fast on the Ekadashis falling in both bright and dark fortnights gives great religious merit.

Things to be abstained from during Chaturmasa

(1) Avoid leafy vegetables in Shravana month, curd in Bhadrapada month, milk in Ashwina month, and pulses and bitter gourd in Kartika month.

(2) Don’t use utensils made of bronze.

(3) Auspicious events that are done for the fulfillment of desire such as marriage etc. are prohibited.

During Chaturmasa one should especially avoid criticizing others, which is a grave sin causing enormous fear and pain. Even the listener to slander is a sinner. One, who avoids indulging in enjoyments of choice during Chaturmasa for the sake of devotional love is blessed with an imperishable lot of the same in return.

Practice Brahmacharya

One, who observes continence during Chaturmasa, gets a place in heaven after death; while those who avoid sexual intercourse on the festival days and shun falsehood as well as anger during the entire Chaturmasa would obtain the religious merit of an Ashwamedha Yajna.

Fruits of Japa and Recitation of Hymns

Recitation of the ‘Purusha Sukta’ while standing in front of the image of Lord Vishnu augments one’s intellectual power (For ‘Purusha Sukta’ refer to the July 2012 issue of Rishi Prasad). It is a hundred times more fruitful than normal to do Japa of the mantra –Namo Narayanaya during this period; while doing kirtana or Japa of the pious name of the Lord proves to be millions of times more beneficial.

Taking Bath & Keeping Good Health

It gives immense religious merits to take bath with water mixed with Amla (a kind of myrobalan) juice every day. Put a few leaves of Bilwa tree into the water and make it sacred by repeating 4-5 times the pious mantra – Aum Namah Shivaya. One taking bath with this sanctified water, abiding in the Guru-tattva (Guru principle as distinguished from his form) and worshipping Aum gets his resolves fulfilled. Such bath cures aggravated Vata and protect one’s health.

Golden Period for Sadhana

Chaturmasa is considered to be the golden period for Sadhana. Just as the ants collect enough food for the rainy days well in advance, the Sadhaka too should continue to increase his religious merits in this nectarean period for making progress on the path to Divine Bliss.

Great religious merits accrue by doing Vratas, religious observances prescribed by scriptures, japa, meditation, Mantra Anushthana, service rendered to the cow, Hawana (fire sacrifice), self-study, service rendered to Self-realized ones, darshan of saints and listening to their satsang, etc. duing Chaturmasa. One who spends this golden period of Chaturmasa without doing any vrata, religious observance, or Japa is a fool. Pujya Bapuji inspires us to obtain religious merits in Chaturmasa by saying, “Take a vow that you would increase the capital of your sadhana during this Chaturmasa. The money you have is not your capital; it is that of your body. But, the wealth of sadhana is your capital; even death can’t take it away from you! Set a niyama (rule) of performing an Anushthana or taking a single meal every day or living in seclusion during the Chaturmasa. Set a Niyama of reading ‘Shri Yoga Vasishtha Maharamayana’ or ‘Ishwar ki Or’ (‘Towards God’ in English) or hearing prerecorded Satsang discourses for a fixed time. In this manner, you can set any niyama of doing sadhana or devotional practices according to your capacity. Time and tide stop for none. Whatever sadhana and devotional practices you do is your real wealth.”

Chaturmasa is the best period. Therefore, one should do auspicious acts with due faith during this time. Interested sadhakas can take benefit of the ‘Mauna Mandirs’ (Temples of Silence) for doing sadhana in the pious environment of the ashram.