Chaturmas vrat: Relevance in today’s World
Chathurmas is a lesser known of many vratas in India and seems to be one of the longest duration spanning into 4 months. This usually falls from July to November of English calendar every year. The exact days will vary every year as per the cycles of moon based calendar. However the it starts with lunar month date of Ashaad Shukla Ekadashi (Also known as Devshayani Ekadashi- Lord Vishnu goes to yogic sleep-Yognidra), to Kartika shukla Ekadashi. (e bright half of Dev Utthana-Ekadashi).The day Lord Vishnu is supposed to be awake from yognidra.
Chaturmas is one of the most flexible vratas. There is no fixed rule for this vrata. Although you can do certain things to achieve different results. But it gives you copleet flexibility to make up your own rule, which might suit your busy routine. You just need to make sankalp ( a promise) in front of God that you will be carrying the particular activity everyday through these four months of Chaturmas.
Mahatma Gandhiji’s mother used to do this auspicious vrata in a very fastidious manner. Here is the exerpt from his book My experiments with Truth
“The outstanding impression my mother has left on my memory is that of saintliness. She was deeply religious. She would not think of taking her meals without her daily prayers. Going to Haveli -the Vaishnava temple-was one of her daily duties. As far as my memory can go back, I do not remember her having ever missed the Chaturmas . She would take the hardest vows and keep them without flinching. Illness was no excuse for relaxing them. I can recall her once falling ill when she was observing the Chandrayana vow, but the illness was not allowed to interrupt the observance. To keep two or three consecutive fasts was nothing to her. Living on one meal a day during Chaturmas was a habit with her. Not content with that she fasted every alternate day during one Chaturmas . During another Chaturmas she vowed not to have food without seeing the sun. We children on those days would stand, staring at the sky, waiting to announce the appearance of the sun to our mother. Everyone knows that at the height of the rainy season the sun often does not condescend to show his face. And I remember days when, at his sudden appearance, we would rush and announce it to her, She would run out to se with her own eyes, but by that time the fugitive sun would be gone, thus depriving her of her meal. “That does not matter,” she would say cheerfully, “God did not want me to eat today.” And then she would return to her round of duties.”
This does not mean that everyone needs to keep their vow so tough. You can just select a routine which suits you best . For example you could just opt to take name of God in morning or any other time, or just to feed birds in your balcony everyday or just to give a coin to the beggar on crossing you pass by everyday or just leave that odd habit of eating at night or just just leave any substance which is causing you discomfort. It could be anything. Try to be unique & creative. Only thing is that whatever you do that has to be offered to God, so it should not be bad karma. The oath in God’s name could be the most powerful thing to leave that bad habit you really want to get rid off.
You can also use this to improve your health and get rid of that unhealthy habit, Here are a few things you can do in Chaturmas to improve your health:
1.)You can just offer one fruit to God and eat everyday. Please note fruits are very powerful means to improve your health. Pomegranate is one fruit which is found round the year and can improve your health drastically. you could choose any other fruit like orange melon, apricot etc to offer to God and consume it daily. This single habit can do wonders to your health in four months of Chaturmas.
2.)You can do intermediate fasting of 12-18 hrs any three times a week.
3.)You can leave alcohol/tobacco/ any other intoxicant.
4.)Or if you find it difficult just leave going to the place you o=go most frequently to booze. If you frequent the place you enthusiasm to drink might come down. provide you do not start liking the other place too much;). Honesty is the key here.
5.)You can leave one dish , you are very fond of and which is the main reason behind making you look like fat-meatball.
6.)You can leave a certain carb which is getting you fat. For example if rice is getting you fat you can leave rice for four month. Although your other sources of carbs are open you still are able to cut out a lot of carb because you wont eat then much as you do with rice.
7.)You can leave oil, which is root cause of most of your health problems.
Above mentioned suggestions may or may not give you spiritual merit a lot but will built up your grit to improve your health and will certainly improve your health for sure.
In case if you are interested to know the standard practices taken by devotees in this period , those are mentioned below:
1) No salt – gives good voice texture.
02) No oil – gives long life.
03) No raw fruits & Vegetables – gives purity.
04) No betal nuts – gives happiness.
05) No yogert or milk – gives peace.
06) No honey – gives lustre.
07) No intoxicating liquors – gives sound health.
08) No hot food – gives the children long life.
09) Rest on ground – gives shelter of Lord Vishnu.
10) No meat – gives power of yogi and muni.
11) One meal a day – gives results of an Agnihotra.
12) Eat at noon only – gives entry to Devalok.
13) Eat at night only – gives the pleasure of pilgrimage.
14) Touch the lotus feet of Deity – gives success.
15) Cleaning the God temple – gives good house.
16) Circumambulation the temple – gives Moksha
17) Singing in temple – gives entry in Gardharvalok.
18) Studying the shastras – gives Vishnulok.
19) Sprinkle water in temple – gives entry in Apsaralok.
20) Worship Lord Vishnu – gives Vaikuntha.
21) Practice of yoga – gives Moksha.
22) Eating on floor without dish – gives power.
23) Eat on a leaf – gives pleasure of l Kurukshetra.
24) Daily bath – gives heaven.
25) No bad words – gives commanding position
Or generally you can avoid the follwing in the month wise:
Chaturmas Vrat is observed by all – Karmis, Gyanis, Yogis and Devotees,for the attainment of their respective desires.During this period sleeping on the floor is considered highly auspicious. Observing Maun Vrat (silence)and spending time in worshiping Lord Vishnu is fruitful.
Please note that the Chaturmas is not considered auspicious for ceremonies like marriages,thread ceremonies,occupying new residence,establishing a shrine or other auspicious activities.So usually people wait till Dev Uthaan Ekadashi( Kartik Shulka Ekadashi-Usually falls in November) to commence these auspicious ceremonies.
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