First Month of Caturmasya
BY: SUN STAFF
Jul 10, CANADA (SUN) Today marks the beginning of Caturmasya.
In Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 9, observance of the period of Caturmasya is described as follows:
"The Caturmasya ceremony is observed during the four months of the rainy season in India (approximately July, August, September and October), beginning from Sravana. During these four months, saintly persons who are accustomed to travel from one place to another to propagate Krsna consciousness remain at one place, usually a holy place of pilgrimage.
During these times, there are certain special rules and regulations which are strictly followed. It is stated in the Skanda Purana that during this period, if someone circumambulates the temple of Visnu at least four times, it is understood that he has traveled all over the universe. By such circumambulation, one is understood to have seen all the holy places where the Ganges water is flowing, and by following the regulative principles of Caturmasya one can very quickly be raised to the platform of devotional service."
In Light of the Bhagavata, Text 46, we read:
"The people in general--especially the merchants, preachers, kings, and students--are advised not to leave home during the four months of the rainy season. These four months are known as Caturmasya, and for everyone there are specific rules for observing this period, partly for the sake of health and partly for spiritual realization. During this period the merchants cannot do free business, dedicated souls like sannyasis cannot freely preach the doctrines of the Vedas, kings cannot go out to tour their states, and students cannot go to their schools, which are closed. But after the Caturmasya period they all get the freedom to go out and perform their respective duties, and by doing so they can achieve the results they desire."
In the Bhavisya Purana we read that "One who passes the Caturmasya season without observing religious vows, austerities and chanting of japa, such a fool although living should be considered to be a dead man."
If one is unable to follow the full regiment, which is very austere, then one should at least maintain the basic regulations, as follows:
Sravana (month 1 - Jul/Aug) - Fast from green leafy vegetables, spinach, sak
Bhadra (month 2 - Aug/Sep) - Fast from yoghurt
Asvina (month 3 - Sep/Oct) - Fast from milk
Kartikka (month 4 - Oct/Nov) - Fast from urad and masur dahls
Srila Prabhupada instructed that the devotees can practice the restrictions of Carurmasya. At the same time, in his purport to Bhagavad-gita 4-28, he compares the observance of Caturmasya and similar sacrificial yagnas to the benefits gained from simply practicing Krsna consciousness:
"There are others who, for higher elevation in life or for promotion to higher planets within the universe, voluntarily accept many kinds of austerities such as candrayana and caturmasya. These processes entail severe vows for conducting life under certain rigid rules. For example, under the caturmasya vow the candidate does not shave for four months during the year (July to October), he does not eat certain foods, does not eat twice in a day and does not leave home. Such sacrifice of the comforts of life is called tapomaya-yajna. There are still others who engage themselves in different kinds of mystic yogas like the Patanjali system (for merging into the existence of the Absolute), or hatha-yoga or astanga-yoga (for particular perfections). And some travel to all the sanctified places of pilgrimage. All these practices are called yoga-yajna, sacrifice for a certain type of perfection in the material world. There are others who engage themselves in the studies of different Vedic literatures, specifically the Upanisads and Vedanta-sutras, or the Sankhya philosophy. All of these are called svadhyaya-yajna. or engagement in the sacrifice of studies. All these yogis are faithfully engaged in different types of sacrifice and are seeking a higher status of life. Krsna consciousness, is, however, different from these because it is the direct service of the Supreme Lord. Krsna consciousness cannot be attained by any one of the above-mentioned types of sacrifices but can be attained only by the mercy of the Lord and His bona fide devotee. Therefore, Krsna consciousness is transcendental."
Varius Caturmasya austerities are described in the Vedic literature, along with the benefits one can expect to receive by following perfectly:
- No salt - One's voice becomes sweet.
- No oil - One's life is prolonged and gets progeny.
- No oil massages - One's body becomes beautiful.
- No cooking with oil - One's enemies are vanished.
- No licorice and oil - One becomes wealthy.
- Give up wearing unoffered flowers - One becomes a Vidyadhara in Devapura.
- Give up six kinds of tastes (spice, sour, bitter, sweet, salty and harsh) - One never
becomes ugly, smelly, or obtains a bad birth.
- Practice of yoga - One goes to Brahmaloka.
- No betel nuts - One becomes happy.
- No cooked food (raw fruits and vegetables) - One obtains purity.
- No honey - One becomes lustrous.
- No yoghurt or milk - One attains Goloka.
- No cooking with earthen pots - (?)
- No hot food - One gets offspring with a long life.
- Take rest on the ground or on stone - One becomes an associate of Visnu.
- One who gives up meat and honey is a yogi and muni.
- No intoxicating liquors - One becomes powerful and free from disease.
- Fast for one day - One is honored in Brahmaloka.
- No cutting of hair and nails - One gets the benefit of taking bath daily in Ganges.
- No speaking of grama katha (nonsense) - One's order will never be disobeyed.
- Eat food on the ground without dish or plate - One obtains a kingdom on Earth.
- Chant the mantra Namo Narayana - One obtains the result of giving in charity 100 times.
- Offer prayers to the Lord - One gets the result of giving cows in charity.
- Touch the lotus feet of the Deity - One becomes a successful person.
- Clean the temple of the Lord - If one is king he remains so for a kalpa.
- Circumambulating the temple three times offering prayers - At the time of death one will mount a swan airplane and go to Vaikuntha.
- Singing or playing musical instruments in the temple of the Lord - One goes to
- Take pleasure in studying the sastras - One goes to Visnuloka.
- Sprinkle water in the temple - One goes to Apsaraloka.
- Take bath in a holy place - One's body becomes pure.
- Worship Lord Visnu with flowers - One goes to Vaikuntha.
- Eat pancagavya - One gets the result of observing candrayana fasting.
- Eat one meal a day - One gets the results of performing an Agnihotra.
- Eat at night only - One gets the result of going to all the places of pilgrimage.
- Eat at noon only - One attains Devaloka.
- Take food not obtained by begging or any extraneous endeavor - One gets the results of opening water stands and digging wells.
- Take bath daily - One will never see hell.
- No eating on a plate - One gets the result of bathing at Puskara.
- Eat on a leaf - One obtains the result of living at Kuruksetra.
- Eat on a stone - One obtains the result of bathing at Prayaga.
- Giving up drinking to six hours - One will not be attacked by diseases.
- During the Caturmasya, garlands, caranamrta, candana and water from the conchshell of the Lord, mahaprasadam, Deity garlands must be accepted.