By: Mahanidhi Swami

* What is it? Extensively described in the Puranas, the magha month vrata is a one month long penance, vow or vrata observed from pausa purnima until magha purnima to please Bhagavan Sri Kåñëa worshiped as Lord Madhava, the presiding Deity of the month of January 15 to February15. The vrata involves mainly taking a bath daily before sunrise in a holy river like Ganga, Yamuna, especially in a holy place like Radha-kunda, Vrndavana, Navadvipa, Jagannatha Puri, Prayaga Triveni (Allahabad)

* Is the magha month vrata for Gaudiya Vaisnavas? Yes, definitely for Srila Rupa Gosvamipada mentions it in Bhakti-rasämåta-sindhu (1.2.260), “bathing in the Ganga or Yamuna in magha month is part of hari-bhakti, pure devotion to Sri Kåñëa.” In Hari-bhakti-vilasa, Srila Sanatana Gosvami gives a 40 page description of this vrata, which is summarized herein with reference verses in brackets.

* Who observed the magha month vrata? In Chamatkara Chandrika, Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura describes a wonderful pastime of how Sri Kåñëa, on the pretext of observing a magha month vrata, secretly met Çrématé Rädhäräëé and the Vraja-gopis early in the morning in the keli-kunjas near Keshi Ghata beside the Yamuna river in Vrndavana. At that time, Kutila devi, the crooked, inane and suspicious sister-in-law of Çré Radha, came to spy on Radha in hopes of catching Her with Syamasundara. However, Sri Kåñëa cleverly fooled Kutila by disguising Himself as Çré Radha’s alleged husband Abhimanyu, the brother of Kutila. Then after tricking Kutila, Sri Kåñëa went to Yavat, and enacted even more hilarious and satisfying conjugal pastimes with Çrématé Rädhäräëé right inside the home of Kutila and her nasty mother Jatila.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu passed ten days in Prayaga bathing daily at the confluence of the Ganga and Yamuna (Triveni) during the yearly magha-mela, the magha month vrata (Cc. 2.18.222). All the pious demigods and their chaste wives like Aditi, Anasuya, Arundhati, Rohini and Saci observed the magha month vrata. In 1971, Srila Prabhupada and 40 disciples attended the Kumbha Mela in Allahabad to honor the magha month vrata and preach pure Kåñëa consciousness.

* What benefits does it give? Like most of the austerities and vratas mentioned in the Puranas, the magha month vrata gives good health, beauty, good qualities, wealth and long life. Bathing outdoors in any body of water during Magha month is very pleasing to Bhagavan Sri Kåñëa, and it also destroys unlimited sins because the demigods place all their individual potencies in water (163). Magha snana in a holy place instantly destroys all sinful reactions (115), and grants residence in Vaikuntha (78, 154, 164).

* When to observe the vrata? Start on Pausa Purnima and end on Magha Purnima. (67)

* How to observe the vrata? Admittedly, most devotees do not observe this vow, but everyone should be familiar with it and then decide accordingly what is best for your devotional advancement. At least, this most beneficial magha month vrata gives one a good reason to spend a few days in a holy dhama to bathe in Radha kunda, Yamuna or Ganga. And do not think this vrata is only for neophytes, because I have personally seen one of the biggest Bengali preachers at Radha kunda observing the magha month vrata with a daily pre-sunrise bath.
Like any vow or vrata, this vrata also includes many details concerning diet, prayers, pujas, personal restrictions, chanting astakams etc. but specifically in relation to this vrata, the Hari-Bhakti Vilasa stipulates, “You don’t have to follow any other vow except bathing in a holy place (88). Thus the main vrata or activity is to bathe before sunrise (90, 138) in an outside body of water, preferably Radha-kunda, Yamuna or Ganga (or a bucket of water left outside over night to collect the celestial nectar). Every step one takes to go outside for bathing pleases Yamaraja, and burns up the reactions of sins that have not yet fructified.
a. Daily Sankalpa Mantra (affirms your determination or vow)
Upon waking, recite: “O Supreme Lord Madhava! I will bathe every morning without fail during Magha masa.”
b. Before bath, chant this mantra: “O Acyuta, O Govinda, O Madhava! I am bathing in the month of Magha when the sun travels to the Makara rasi. O Govinda, Madhava kindly bestow upon me the appropriate fruit of this vow.”
c. Puja: Offer your Thakurji lots of tulasi leaves, manjaris, kitri, kheer, sesame seed preps, fried items and dry fruits.
d. Charity: Magha, Vaisakha, and Kartika are the most auspicious and beneficial months of the year to observe vratas and give charity. Hari-bhakti-vilasa says Bhagavan Sri Kåñëa becomes very pleased if one donates blankets, quilts, warm clothes, shoes, rice, ghee, oil, wood, ghee lamps and kumkuma (47).
e. Breaking the vrata: On magha purnima, feed Vaisnava Brahmins and give them money and gifts. At the end of the Purnima tithi, break your fast if you fasted.
Concluding prayer; “O Acyuta, O Govinda, O Madhava! Please give me the fruit of this magha vrata and grant me the eternal service of the lotus feet of Srimati Radharani in the groves of Vrndavana as Her eternal maid in attendance.”
Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

2015: 17th june—16th july 16

By: Mahanidhi Swami

introduction to purusottama month:

Purusottama month or adhika masa (extra month) is also called mala masa, which means the dirty or useless month. In India, the sadhus, sadhakas and pious people of all sampradayas undertake serious penances (vratas) during Purusottama Month. Now let us examine the name, history, benefits and method of practice of this age old “King of All Vratas” or month long penances.

WHY IS IT CALLED MALA MASA? (dirty or useless month) This is because all forms of karmic activities i.e. karma-kanda (reward seeking) pujas and yajnas will not produce any results this month. Therefore it is a useless month. Gaudiya Vaisnavas say the dirt or filth indicated by the word mala refers to the fact that devotional activities performed in this month quickly and easily destroy the mental dirt, filth and contamination caused by sins, ignorance and aparadhas. Thus for Krishna bhaktas this is the most purifying and beneficial month.

WHY IS IT CALLED ADHIKA MAS? (extra month)

It is called adhika (extra) masa because Sri Krishna has placed not only extra but ALL HIS potencies, mercy and blessings in this month, which supercharges this month beyond all others. Thus a sadhaka will receive extra or more results from any religious actions performed.

WHAT MAKES THIS MONTH SO GREAT?

The Puranas say that Purusottama Month is the favorite month of Bhagavan Sri Krishna. Sri Krishna personally created this month and named it after Himself. Purusottama Month, which only comes once every 36 months, is the most powerful spiritual reward giving month among all the months. It is far superior to the pious months of Magha, Vaisakha and Karttika. On the earth planet and all over the universe the Purusottama Month is honored and worshiped by devotees, sages, gods and Laksmi Devi Herself.

BENEFITS OF PURUSOTTAMA MONTH VRATA

Different months of the year have different ista-devatas, worshipable Personalities. But for Adhika Month, Radha-Krishna Yugala are the ista-devatas. If one sincerely worships Radha and Krishna in Purusottama month, he will attain whatever he wants. Observing the Purusottama vrata burns up the reactions of all one’s bad karma and gives the direct service of Radha and Krishna. Purusottama month is the best month to make spiritual advancement because Krishna overlooks all aparadhas. Residence in the holy dhama in this month yields 1000 times the benefit of living elsewhere!!! We invite all the fortunate to quickly book a room in Radha Kunda or Vrindavana to worship Radha-Krishna Yugala in the prema giving holy abode of Sri Vrindavana Dhama. Come and join the thousands of pilgrims doing dandavat parikrama of Giri-Govardhana this month!!! Giriraj Dharan ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

The glories of pursottama MONTH

All quotes come from the Padma and Skanda Purana.

  1. Lord Sri Krishna: “Purusottama Month has all the power I have to bless its observer. One who follows Purusottama vrata will destroy all his past sinful reactions. Without performing Purusottama vrata, one cannot perform pure devotional service. The value of Purusottama month is far more valuable than all other types of austerities and religious activities mentioned in the Vedas. Anyone who observes Purusottama vrata will return to My abode, Goloka, at the end of his life.”
  1. Durvasa Muni: “One becomes sinless just by bathing in a holy river during Purusottama Month. The glory of all other months is not equal to one-sixteenth of the glory of the Purusottama Month. Bathing in a holy place, giving charity and chanting the Holy Names of Krishna during Purusottama Month destroys all miseries, awards all kinds of perfection and fulfills all desires.”
  1. Valmiki Muni: Observing Purusottama vrata brings more benefit than performing one hundred horse sacrifices. All holy places live within the body of an observer of the Purusottama Month vrata. Anyone who faithfully performs Purusottama vrata will go to Goloka Vrndavana”.
  1. Narada Muni: “Purusottama Month is the best of all months, vratas and austerities. Just by faithfully hearing the glories of Purusottama Month, one attains Krishna-bhakti and immediately nullifies his sinful reactions. One who performs Purusottama vrata properly will attain unlimited piety and spiritual merit (sukrti) and go to the spiritual world.”
  1. Naimisaranya Sages: “Merciful Purusottama Month acts like a desire tree to fulfill a devotee’s desire.”

HOW TO OBSERVE THE PURUSOTTAMA MONTH VRATA

General points: Observe celibacy and bathe daily before sunrise; chant extra rounds and read Srimad Bhagavatam daily; give charity.

  1. Rise at brahma-muhurta (1½ hours before sunrise), and jump out of bed chanting “Jaya Radhe!”
  2. Chant Hare Krishna Mahamantra and meditate on Radha-Krishna’s beautiful divine forms, qualities, and ecstatically purifying and heart stirring transcendental pastimes in Sridhama Vrndavana. Daily chant fixed number extra rounds for entire month: 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, 32, 64, 108, 192 (always multiples of four rounds).
  3. Observe the Vrata in Vrndavana, Navadvipa or any holy dhama to experience the maximum benefits and bliss.
  4. Daily offer full puja or at least a ghee lamp to Radha-Krishna Deities or picture. Offer a row of 33 individual clay ghee lamps daily, or at least for one auspicious day this month e.g. (ekadasi, sankranti, purnima etc).
  5. Daily Tulasi Devi aratika and parikrama.
  6. Daily Thakuraji Mandira parikrama (4 times).
  7. Daily offer roses, lotus, and tulasi manjaris and 100,000 Tulasi leaves (or as many as you can) to Radha-Krishna Deities or photos and paintings.
  8. Daily read Srimad Bhagavatam.
  9. Hear Radha-Krishna Katha from advanced Gaudiya Vaisnavas.
  10. Daily chant Sri Jagannathastakam (because this vrata is named after and often performed in Purusottma Ksetra Jagannatha Puri Dhama. Also chant astakams, prayers and bhajans glorfying Radha-Krishna Yugala.
  11. Take a vow to remain peaceful and 100% truthful throughout the month.
  12. Be careful not to blaspheme any devotees, brahmanas, saints, cows, sastras or especially anyone observing the Purusottama Month Vrata.
  13. Don’t ask anyone for anything; be satisfied with whatever you have, and don’t endeavor to acquire any material thing during this month.
  14. Try your best to please Radha and Krishna by performing devotional austerities according to your abilities. Don’t break your vow in the middle of the month. Be determined, pray intently for mercy and tolerate your crazy monkey mind. Take a vow, at least for this month, to remain deaf to your mind.
  15. Eat on leaf plates sitting on the floor (optional).
  16. No cutting of hair or nails (optional).
  17. No cooking in oil or rubbing oil on your body.
  18. Don’t eat mustard oil nor rub on the body.

Diets: Be your own guide and choose an eating program that is realistic within your means. The main vrata and austerity is to everyday Krishna consciously associate with serious devotees in Vrndavana who are glorifying Radha-Krishna

************If you can, it is best to EAT ONCE A DAY after sunset or at noon the following diets:

  1. i) only milk; ii) only fruits (no milk, no veg.); iii) no grains (selected veg., fruits, nuts, milk); iv) selected foods (all categories as per caturmasya standards).

A NICE HUMILITY VRATA: Daily offer 33 dandavats to Bhagavan Sri Krishna or the Vaisnavas.

SRILA BHAKTIVINODA THAKURA’S Purusottama Month VRATA:

Observe 30 days of concentrated, one–pointed worship and service to Radha-Govinda Yugala by hearing, chanting, remembering Their divine names, forms, qualities, pastimes, and honor Sri Krishna’s Mahaprasada.

BEST DAYS TO GIVE CHARITY TO DEVOTEE BRAHMANAS:

Ekadasi, Dvadasi, Purnima, Amavasya, Sravana Naksatra Day; DO offer money, gold, cloth, shoes, fruits, etc. Also offer 33 plantains or mangos plus dana and daksina to Brahmanas and Vaisnavas.

Very Important Point: When you give dana (i.e. diff. items like cloth, land, gold, cows, books, sweets, flowers, clothing, shoes, umbrellas) to a brahmana, one must simultaneously donate daksina (i.e. money equal to the monetary value of the dana). For example, if give a 300 rupees pair of new shoes, then must give 300 rupees in laksmi or money to that same person.

BREAKING THE PURUSOTTAMA VRATA

  1. Day and Time: consult local calendar.
  2. Bathe in brahma-muhurta time
  3. Perform Deity Worship: Radha-Syamasundara Deities, personal Deities or Picture.
  4. Chant this mantra: “O Supreme Lord, O Sanatana, O Purusottama, O Lord Hari! I offer my obeisances unto you. May you and your beloved Radhika, please accept my offerings. I offer my repeated obeisances unto Syamasundara, who wears effulgent yellow garments on His beautiful body.
  5. Offer pushpanjali (handfuls of fresh fragrant flowers or petals) and then dandavats to your personal Deities or Deity Picture.
  6. Feed and give charity to 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 brahmanas/ Vaisnavas to the best of your ability (e.g., new clothes, two pairs of shoes, umbrella, ghee, yogurt, gumsas, sweets, lotas, plates. Also donate money equal to cost of given item (ie If give Rp. 300 box of sweets, then also give Rp. 300.

********According to Puranas, the best charity is to give a Srimad Bhagavatam to a qualified grhastha vaisnava brahmana. This act will deliver all your ancestors to the spiritual world and award them the association of Lord Purusottama!************

SPECIFIC VRATA BREAKING ACTIONS

If you ate fruits, ghee, rice, wheat etc, donate the same to brahmanas.

If you slept on the floor, give a bed and pillows to a brahmana.

If you ate on a leaf plate, feed brahmanas with ghee and sugar.

If you didn’t cut nails or hair, donate a mirror to a brahmana.

If you offered ghee lamps, give new lamps and pots to a brahmana

********If you broke any rules or regulations during Purusottama vrata, feed different sweet juices to brahmanas.

******Mahadeva Lord Siva says that the best charity is to: “Fill a bell metal pot with thirty malpuas (a pancake like sweet), bind the pot with seven new threads and give to a worthy brahmana.”

Comment: many humble niskincana Vaisnavas have no money or sufficient wealth to donate substantially to brahmanas. But according to your means, donate some laksmi or a new object to a qualified person, begging for his mercy and blessings. And in your mind, (manasi-seva), you can sincerely donate generously to many good devotees. Remember that sastras say, bhava grahi janardana, Bhagavan Sri Krishna is pleased with the purity and sincerity of one’s attitude, mood of love and purity of purpose. Try your best to break your vow by donating something within your means.

May Giridhari Syama bless you all with full success in your Purusottama Month Vrata, being performed solely for the divine pleasure of Sri Guru, Gauranga and Sri Sri Radha and Krishna.

Purusottama month vrata ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

By: Mahanidhi Swami

Upon hearing about Bhisma-panchaka, non-devotees respond by saying, “O what a terrible vrata!”(word bhisma means terrible)

I. INTRODUCTION:

Bhisma Panchaka is a special 5-day vrata starting on Utthana Ekadasi tithi (which usually means dashami when the ekadasi tithi starts) and ending on Karttika Purnima. Pure Krishna bhakti is easily obtained by following Bhisma Pancaka Vrata. By following Bhisma Pancaka in Vrindavana one can fulfill all his desires and easily attain pure devotional service to Sri Krishna.

II. STARTING BATH:

Begin with sunrise bath in holy place or at home on Dashami. Then starting the vrata, worship Bhismadeva with a bhoga offering, water and afterwards aratik. (use a painting of Bhismadeva for puja). Everyday bathe in silence at sunrise. Then offer obeisances and water to Bhisma along with this prayer: “I offer this water to Bhisma, who has Vaiyaghra pada gotra and Sanskrit pravara. I offer respectful obeisances to Bhisma, the incarnation of Vasu, who is the son of Santanu and a lifelong celibate.” Worship Bhisma and pray for his mercy to complete the vow.

III. PUJA:

  1. Daily bathe Deities with panchamrta.
  2. Offer new clothes to the Deities.
  3. Offer excellent food and cloves to the Deities.
  4. Offer aratika with incense, ghee lamp, water in a conchshell, napkin, flowers and camara. *also offer camphor lamp mixed with aguru oil.
  5. Maintain an akhanda dipa near the Deities or Tulasi for the entire five days.
  6. Offer ghee lamp in morning and evening to the Deities.
  7. Daily offer ghee lamp to Tulasi devi.

On Utthana Ekadasi, offer lotus flowers to Krishna’s feet; on Dvadasi, offer bilva leaves to Krishna’s knees; on Trayodasi, offer jasmine flowers to Krishna’s head.

IV. ACTION:

  1. Observe celibacy and sleep on the floor.
  2. After Deity puja, chant 108 times the mantra, “Om namo vasudevaya”.

V. EATING: Begin Dashami fasting til sunset and eat phalahara, no grains. Every day eat once only after sunset. Eat fruits fresh and dried, nuts, boiled roots like potato and sweet potato. Ok to eat ghee, ekadasi salt, black pepper and ginger. No other spices can be taken. Continue this diet every day until Purnima.

  1. DASAMI (DURING THE EKADASI TITHI): Eat ½ tsp of cow dung; then eat only once after sunset.
  2. EKADASI: Nirajala vrata; if you can’t do this, then eat muni-phala (apple, papaya, banana, mousambi) only once after sunset.
  3. DVADASI: Break fast with Maha Tulasi leaf and water; then drink lemon water with misri if you did Nirjala vrata; if you ate muniphala on ekadasi, then break fast with charnamrta or a few cashews, almonds or raisins; then drink 50 ml of cow urine; eat the recommended foods once a day after sunset.
  4. TRAYODASI: Eat ghee once after sunrise. After sunset, eat recommended foods.
  5. CATURDASI: Eat yoghurt once after sunrise. After sunset, eat recommended foods.
  6. PURNIMA: Drink milk once after sunrise; and follow the rules below for fast breaking.

VI: BREAKING THE FAST:

  1. Before you break your fast, you must first feed brahmanas sweet rice made from cow’s milk and serve them all the foods you fasted from during your vratas of Bhisma, Kartik and Chaturmasya.
  2. Give money, gifts, sesame seeds and pots of water to the brahmanas.
  3. Now break your fast during Purnima Abhijit Muhurta (11:45 am to 12:30 pm appx.), or later if necessary, but before sunset of Purnima day. First eat panchagavya (cow dung, cow urine, cow milk, cow yoghurt and cow ghee)
  4. Then eat sweet rice.
  5. NOW eat all foods fasted from for Chaturmasya, Karttika Vrata and Bhisma Pancaka (eg. spinach, yoghurt, urad dal, milk, sweets, honey etc.)
  6. Shave your head.
  7. All the above actions should be completed before sunset or before the end of Purnima tithi.

SRI BHISMA PANCAKA VRATA KI JAI!!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

By: Mahanidhi Swami

The most auspicious spiritual month of Purusottama is soon ending. For various reasons, many could not observe the one month long vow or vrata prescribed in the shastras. But do not lament. Since this is the “additional or extra month”, our most merciful and benevolent sweet Lord Lila Purusottama Sri Krishna has given extra mercy in the form of a special five day fast called the “Pancharatri Vrata”.

This five day Vrata or vow, beginning on Purusottama Parama Ekadashi (July 12) and ending on Amavasya (July 16), is full of wonderful boons and benefits. In the Ekadashi Mahatmya, Bhagavan Sri Krishna tells King Yudhisthira, “One who eats only once a day during these five days becomes free from all sinful reactions and goes to the spiritual world.”

Eating once a day means exactly that. You should eat only one time in 24 hours, preferably after 12 noon, whatever pure Krishna prasadam you choose; be it fruits, milk, grains, etc. The balance of time, you can ONLY DRINK WATER.

Start on 16th July with an Ekadashi fast. Then from Dvadashi to Amavasya eat once a day. The Pancharatri Vrata ends on 16th July 7 a.m. On Amavasya, feed Vaisnava brahmanas, give charity, and then take your regular meals.

Purusottama Pancha Ratri Vrata ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!