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Title: Shri Chaturmasya Vrata - Four months
User: Damodara Svarupa dasa Date: 2005-04-05 06:52:55
Shri Chaturmasya Vrata - Four months -- By Swami Gaurangapada
July to November (Purnima to Purnima)
Shrila Prabhupada states in the Shri Chaitanya Charitamrita Madhya lila 4.169 purport:
"The Chaturmasya period begins in the month of Asadha (June-July) from the day of Ekadashi called Sayana-ekadashi, in the fortnight of the waxing moon. The period ends in the month of Kartika (October-November) on the Ekadashi day known as Utthana-ekadashi, in the fortnight of the waxing moon.
This four-month period is known as Chaturmasya. Some Vaishnavas also observe it from the full-moon day of Asadha until the full-moon day of Kartika. That is also a period of four months. This period, calculated by the lunar months, is called Chaturmasya, but others also observe Caturmasya according to the solar month from Sravana to Kartika."
"Chaturmasya should be observed by all sections of the population. It does not matter whether one is a grhastha or a sannyasi. The observance is obligatory for all asramas. The real purpose behind the vow taken during these four months is to minimize the quantity of sense gratification. This is not very difficult.
In the month of Sravana one should not eat spinach, in the month of Bhadra one should not eat yogurt, and in the month of Asvina one should not drink milk. One should not eat fish or other nonvegetarian food during the month of Kartika. ... On the whole, during the four-month period of Chaturmasya one should practice giving up all food intended for sense enjoyment."
The following dates for Chaturmasya are from Purnima to Purnima:
Date: 2nd July - 17th July and 17th Aug to 30th Aug 2004 Vedic Month: Shraavana Refrain from eating: Spinach, shak, or green leafy vegetables
The period of 18th July to 16th August is the most pure and sanctified month of Shri Purushottama or Adhika Masa (Month) which appears once in every three years and the performance of the vows of the first month of Chaturmasya is halted for this one month and continued again on 17th August.The glories of the vows of Purshottama month will be posted in the next message.
Date: 30th Aug - 28th Sept 2004
Vedic Month: Bhaadra% 9
Refrain from eating: Yoghurt or Curd
Date: 28th Sept - 28th Oct 2004
Vedic Month: Ashvina
Refrain eating: Milk
Date: 28th Oct - 26th Nov 2004
Vedic Month: Kaartika
Refrain from eating:% 9Urad and masur dahl.
Kanda Purana, Nagava Khunda- "In the month of shravana (July, August) one should refrain from eating spinach. In the month of Bhadra (August, September) of yogert in Ashvina (September, October) milk. In Kartik (October, November) meat and urad dal.]
Various vows and austerities during Chaturmasya and Their respective results.
"O King, one who is My devotee and is fixed in vow, whether man or woman, for the purpose of Dharma, should accept these various austerities and observances. I shall now describe to you all of them along with their respective results.
01) No salt -- One's voice becomes sweet.
02) No oil -- One's life is prolonged and gets progeny.
03) No oil massages -- One's body becomes beautiful.
04) No cooking with oil -- One's enemies are vanished.
05) No licorice and oil -- One becomes wealthy.
06) Give up wearing unoffered flowers -- One becomes a Vidyadhara in Devapura.
07) Give up six kinds of tastes (spice, sour, bitter, sweet, salty and harsh)-- One never becomes ugly, smelly, or obtains a bad birth.
08) Practice of yoga -- One goes to Brahmaloka.
09) No betal nuts -- One becomes happy.
10) No cooked food (raw fruits & Vegetables) -- One obtains purity.
11) No honey -- One becomes lustrous.
12) No yogert or milk -- One attains Goloka.
13) No cooking with earthen pots -- One gets . (?)
14) No hot food -- One gets offspring with a long life.
15) Take rest on the ground or on stone -- One becomes an associate of Vishnu.
16) One who gives up meat & honey is a yogi and muni.
17) No intoxicating liquors -- One becomes powerful and free from disease.
18) Fast for one day -- One is honored in Brahmaloka.
19) No cutting of hair and nails -- One gets the benefit of taking bath daily in Ganges.
20) No speaking of grama katha (nonsense) -- One's order will never be disobeyed.
21) Eat food on the ground without dish or plate -- One obtains a kingdom on
22) Chant the mantra Namo Narayana -- One obtains the result of giving in
charity 100 times.
23) Offer prayers to the Lord -- One gets the result of giving cows in charity.
24) Touch the lotus feet of the Deity -- One becomes a successful person.
25) Clean the temple of the Lord -- If one is king he remains so for a Kalpa.
26) Circumambulating the temple three times offering prayers -- At the time of death one will mount a swan airplane and go to Vaikuntha.
27) Singing or playing musical instruments in the temple of the Lord -- One goes to Gardharvaloka.
28) Take pleasure in studying the sastras -- One goes to Vishnuloka.
29) Sprinkle water in the temple -- One goes to apsaraloka.
30) Take bath in a holy place -- One's body becomes pure.
31) Worship Lord Vishnu with flowers -- One goes to Vaikuntha.
32) Eat panchagavya -- One gets the result of observing candrayana fasting.
33) Eat one meal a day -- One gets the results of performing an Agnihotra.
34) Eat at night only -- One gets the result of going to all the places of pilgrimage.
35) Eat at noon only -- One attains Devaloka.
36) Take food not obtained by begging or any extraneous endeavor -- One gets
the results of opening water stands and digging wells.
37) Take bath daily -- One will never see hell.
38) No eating on a plate -- One gets the result of bathing at Pushkara.
39) Eat on a leaf -- One obtains the result of living at Kurukshetra.
40) Eat on a stone -- One obtains the result of bathing at Prayog.
41) Giving up drinking to six hours -- One will not be attacked by diseases.
42) During the Chaturmasya, garlands, caranamrta, candana and water from the conshell of the Lord, mahaprasadam, Deity garlands must be accepted.
In this way one who performs this vrata for the satisfaction of Lord Kesava and Lord Gauranga becomes satisfied himself. O best of the Pandavas, among My devotees, he whoaccepts these vows and austerities during the Chaturmasya goes to my abode at the time of death, of this there is no doubt.
Vishnu Rahasya - Lord Brahma to Narada Muni.
If one accepts all these Vaishnava austerities and observances with devotion, one attains the supreme destination O Narada. One who desires within himself to execute all these Vaishnava austerities and vows, his sins obtained within one hundred births is destroyed. If one is exclusively devoted, peaceful, takes daily bath, is fixed in vow and worships the Lord during these four months, he goes to the abode of the Lord. He who accepts the austerity of sleeping on the ground this time when the Vishnu Deity is sleeping in yoga nidra underwater, he goes to the abode of Laxmi.
For leafy vegetables since at that time (right now) the rainy season is starting in India and plenty of bugs and all sorts of insects are everywere, and especialy in those leafy vegs. It becomes practicaly impossible to wash them out, so in order to prevent breaking our vegetarian diet, we fast from them.
It is considered that Lord Vishnu is resting for these four months. All Acaryas and Shrila Prabhupada also observed the minimum fasts at least as a respect. Additionally more austerities can be done.
During these months the Lord is taking rest and he turns over from one side to the other in the middle of the two months. So each month some basic restrictions are given.
Shri Chaitanya Charitamrita. Madhya-lila 4.169. purport
"One should carefully give up attachment for material assets. People in general have spontaneous attachment for house, household paraphernalia, clothes, ornaments, wealth, wife and children's health, their own health, eatables, trees, and animals. Some people are so addicted to smoking, chewing pan, eating fish and meat, and drinking alcohol that their practice of spiritual life is obstructed.
Many people do not respect the Lord's remnants out of great attachment to eating things like fish. Because of the desire to constantly smoke, many people's study of devotional scriptures, relish for hearing and chanting, and remaining long in temples is obstructed. Attachment for these things is averse to the constant practice of devotional service. If one does not carefully give up these things then he cannot get happiness from his devotional service.
Attachment for these things is easily destroyed by the association of devotees. Still, one should try to destroy these petty attachments by fully engaging in devotional service. By observing vows approved in devotional service, those attachments are vanquished.
By properly observing hari-vasara, Ekadashi, and appearance days of the Lord, those attachments are vanquished. The rules of such vows are the provisions for diminishing one's attachments. There are prescriptions for practicing devotional service while giving up all types of enjoyment on those days. There are two types of eatables-those which sustain one's life and those which gratify the senses.
Eating grains and drinking are life sustaining.
Fish, meat, pan, intoxicants, and smoking are all for gratifying the senses. On days of vows, unless one totally gives up sense gratifying items, it is not a vow. As far as possible, life sustaining items should also be given up. According to the prescribed needs of one's bodily condition one must try as far as possible to reduce the acceptance of life sustaining eatables.
There is no prescription for acceptance of sense gratifying items, the only prescription is to reject them. One of the limbs of a vrata is to diminish the devotee's propensity for enjoyment. If one thinks, "Today somehow or other I will renounce, but tomorrow I will enjoy profusely," then the purpose of the vow will not be successful.
The reason is that vows have been prescribed to give up the association of such items by gradual practice. Vows are usually for three days. First by practicing vows for three days, then by practicing for one month, then by practicing for four months (Caturmasya)-in this way gradually one should completely uproot the attachment for sense gratifying items and leave them forever.
For those who cannot remember the statements of Bhagavad-gita: ksipram bhavati dharmatma-"He quickly becomes righteous," in regard to the observance of vows, their renunciation is temporary like the bathing of an elephant."
============ REF. Sanga-tyaga Shri Bhaktyaloka.
of course like ekadashi vrata, Chaturmasya may be done with a fruitive motive, like Jaiva dharma writes:
"Babaji: I have already said that the goals are different according to the different desires of the living entities. They who yearn after material sense pleasures do not accept liberation as the final goal. To these persons the scriptures advise (Apastamba Srauta-sutra 2.1.1): "They who perform the caturmasya-yajnas attain immortality."
============ REF. Chapter Twelve Jaiva dharma
"Vrajanatha and Vijaya-kumara decided to stay in Jagannatha Puri for caturmasya. After hearing about the rasas from the mouth of Shri Gopala-guru Goswami, they both decided to follow the path of worshipping the Lord according to the rasas. Hearing from him the glories of observing caturmasya, Vrajanatha's grandmother accepted his suggestion to stay in Jagannatha Puri."
============ REF. Chapter Twenty-nine Jaiva dharma.
Pancharatra pradeep 1.13 writes:
"A devotee may offer bona fide foods considered delicacies by the local people or preferred by him or his family.* In commenting on a sloka stating that one may offer his own or local favorites, Sanatana Gosvami writes that this means that even though people in general may not like a certain food, if a person prefers it he may offer it. But this refers to foods the scriptures approves, not those they forbid. Thus if one is fond of a forbidden food, one cannot offer it to the Lord. And thus one cannot eat it. Also, one should not offer even permissible foods that are tasteless, unpalatable, inedible, impure for any reason, or eaten by insects, animals, or people."
One of the vows of chaturmasya is to give up a favorite item one accepts normally throughout the year. The vows are accepted gradually one by one as one is able to do them, the improtance is to continue one's bhajana (along with the vrata as assistant) with a happy heart.
From Bhajana Rahasya
"The Bhagavat-nama-kaumudi quotes the Puramas as follows:
naktam diva ca gatabhir jita-nidra eko
nirvinna iksitapatho mita-bhuk prasantah yady acyute bhagavati sva-mano na sajjen- namani tad rati karani pathed vilajjah (36)
If your mind is not fixed in rememberance of Krishna, then chant those principal names (such as Krishna and Govinda) which increase one's attachment to Him. Chant day and night without fear or shame, conquer sleep, be detached from worldly affairs, eat frugally, and in a tranquil mood always seek the path of spiritual truth."
============ REF. Shri Bhajana-rahasya
Prathama yama Sadhana
Engage in hearing and chanting Krishna's name, form, and attributes with undivided attention, and at the same time try to destroy your anarthas. Then the creeper of devotion will quickly bear fruit. According to the Padma Purama, one should not be agitated by scarcity or loss of desired objects:
alabdhe va vinaste va bhaksyacchadana-sadhane
aviklava-matir bhutva harim eva dhiya smaret (7)
The mind of one who has taken shelter of the holy name is undisturbed even if food and clothes are not easily obtained or if they are obtained but then lost. Leaving behind all material attachments, he takes complete shelter of Govinda.
============ REF. Shri Bhajana-rahasya
The procedure for giving up grief is explained in the Padma Purama:
sokamarsadibhir bhavair akrantam yasya manasam
katham tasya mukundasya sphurttih sambhavana bhavet (8)
Within the heart of one who is full of anger or pride, or lamentation on the state of his wife or sons, there is no possibility of Krishna and Gauranga being manifest.
One should accept only those things necessary for his devotional life, as stated in the Naradiya Purama:
yavata syat sva-nirvahah svikuryat tavad arthavit
adhikye nyunatayanca cyavate paramarthatah (9)
If the devotee accepts those things necessary for the maintenance of his life, it does not mean he is a sense enjoyer. The devotee neither accepts too much nor too little, for that hampers his progress towards his goal.== REF. Shri Bhajana-rahasya
As one progresses in this way he offers prayers similar to Prahlada Maharaja's in the Shrimad Bhagavatam (7.9.39):
naitan manas tava kathasu vikuntha-natha sampriyate durita-dustam asadhu tivram kamaturam harsa-soka-bhayaisanartam tasmin katham tava gatim vimrsami dinah (11)
My dear Lord of the Vaikuntha planets, where there is no anxiety, my mind is extremely sinful and lusty, being sometimes so-called happy and sometimes so-called distressed. My mind is full of lamentation and fear, and it always seeks more and more money. Thus it has become most polluted and is never satisfied in topics concerning You. I am therefore most fallen and poor. In such a status of life, how shall I be able to discuss Your activities? O Krishna! How will I get attachment for topics concerning You? And how will I meditate on Your pastimes?
The Shrimad Bhagavatam (7.9.40) explains how a living entity attracted to sense objects such as form and taste is completely vanquished:
jihvaikato 'cyuta vikarsati mavitrpta
sisno 'nyatas tvag-udaram sravanam kutascit ghrano 'nyatas capala-drk kva ca karma-saktir bahvyah sapatnya iva geha-patim lunanti (12)
My dear Lord, O infallible one, my position is like that of a person who has many wives, all trying to attract him in their own way. For example, the tongue is attracted to palatable dishes, the genitals to sex with an attractive woman, and the sense of touch to contact with soft things. The belly, although filled, still wants to eat more, the ear, not attempting to hear about You, is generally attracted to useless talks. The sense of smell is attracted to yet another side, the restless eyes are attracted to scenes of sense gratification, and the active senses are attracted elsewhere. In this way I am certainly embarrassed.
By taking shelter of the holy name, attachment develops. The symptoms of this attachment are described in the Shrimad Bhagavatam (10.29.34):
cittam sukhena bhavatapahrtam grhesu
yan nirvisaty uta karav api grhya-krtye
padau padam na calatas tava pada-mulad
yamah katham vrajam atho karavama kim va (19)
Until today our minds were absorbed in household affairs, but You easily stole both our minds and our hands away from our housework. Now our feet won't move one step from Your lotus feet. How can we go back to Vraja? What would we do there?
In this condition all good qualities and peacefulness manifest in the devotee.
============ REF. Shri Bhajana-rahasya
Prabhupada mentions it to be done (in cc Madhya as an austerity offered to the lord.
another deep meaning that is that like Ekadashi vrata, it is meant to reduce the bodily conception of life. as per BG 16.1-3, sattva samshuddhi, (for..Jnana yoga vyavasthiti.. sense gratification is opposite of those goals, so to promote it during the heavy rainy season where sadhus can't go out and preach freely in India it was done.
Eating green boiled papaya mixed with mung dhal rice kitchri with whole black pepper and only cumin seeds with ginger root once a day was very sattvic and very healthy.
The papaya ginger root and black peppercorns boiled inside helped digestion which is weak during the rain. No doubt it also protects health too.
It was so sattvic it really mellows out the passion in us. These are side benefits to be realized.
Of course it's tough (but not impossible) to follow it while you travel around the world during Chaturmasya instead of staying at one place. It's also a test on your resolve to stick to your vows. Especially if you remain strict with it even on the festival days like Janmastami, SP Tirobhava, Radhastami, when all the other devotees feast like anything.
catur-varam bhramibhis tu
jagat sarvam caracaram
krantam bhavati vipragrya
In the Skanda Purana, Caturmasya-mahatmya, it is said:
"O best of brahmanas, a person who four times circumambulates the Lord attains the result of circumambulating the entire universe filled with moving and unmoving beings. He attains a result better than going on all pilgrimages."
pradaksinam tu yah kuryat
harim bhaktya samanvitah
visnulokam sa gacchati
In the Caturmasya-mahatmya it is also said:
"A person who with devotion circumambulates Lord Hari flies on a swan to Lord Vishnu's world."