Difference between ‘Vrata’ and ‘Fast’
We often used to denote vrata by english word fasting. Although it may be denoting the same thing in many cases but there is a lot of difference between these two. A fast will usually mean staying hungry for a specific time. However the vrata may consist of not only fasting but it may mean inclusion or restrictions of some other activities or articles too.
- Vrata may sound closer to vow, but the vow is generally taken for longer period and usually does not denotes fasting. A vrata on other hand is a combination of ‘Fasting’ and ‘Vow’ together. We shall try and explain this with an examples.
- A vrata could be a set of rules to be observed for a specific period of time. It could be eating once in a day for week fortnight, or month or year or life lng.
- It could be donating everyday. For example Karna was a Daan vrate. He used to donate Gold everyday till the time he was alive and even donated on the battlefield of Kurukshetra.
- A vrata could be of speaking the truth. For example King Harishchandra was a Satya vratee. He always used to speak truth. In modern times Mahatma Gandhi is said to be a great Satya vratee. This is highly cherished quality in Sanatan Dharma
- A person could have a vrat of leaving something as well for example a person could leave sweet in the months of Holy Chaturtmas. Some people leave salt, fruit some other leave grains and some other leave milk. When the four months of Chaturmas are finished they start taking those things again.
- A vrata could be offer water to Tulasi everyday.
- A vrata could be to perform Sandhya everyday. Some even have vrata fo Go seva, taking care of cows.
- A vrata which is highly revered is Brahmacharya Vrata. They maintain celibacy either till the end of their student life usually considered till 25 years of age) or could remain celibate for all their lives like Bheeshma or Hanumanji.
- A vratee could be Pranam Vratee. that is to do Pranam to every Brahmana or Rishi. It is said that Rishi Markandey was predicted to die early at young age of 12. However Rishi narada suggested him to to Pranam to every Rishi or Brahamanas he met. In this process., one Day Markandeya did Pranam to some Rishis and they gave him blessing of long life. In the after math of his death saga Lord Shiva killed even the death God and Rishi Markandeya became immortal.
- Some sanyasi live only on milk so they are called ‘Payovratee’. (Payo=Milk)
- In Chaturmas some people just east once a day like our current Prime minister Narendra Modi, who kept Chaturmas vrata of eating once only in 24 hours.
- So we see the fast actually does not represent Vrata correctly. We should using vrata as it is wherever it is required as fasting may or may not be part of Vrata always.
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