Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das
Upon hearing about Bhishma-panchaka, non-devotees respond by saying, “O what a terrible vrata!” The following information comes from Padma and Skanda Purana.
I. BENEFITS & INTRODUCTION:
Bhishma Panchaka is a 5-day vrata, vow of fasting, starting on Utthana Ekadashi tithi (which usually means Dashami when the Ekadashi tithi starts) and ending on Karttika Purnima. Pure Krishna bhakti is easily obtained by Bhishma Panchhaka Vrata. Doing Bhishma Panchaka in Vrindavana can fulfill all one’s desires and easily give one pure bhakti for 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 Bhishmadeva for puja).
Then offer obeisances and water to Bhishma along with this prayer: “I offer this water to Bhishma, who has Vaiyaghra pada gotra and Sanskrit pravara. I offer respectful obeisances to Bhishma, the incarnation of Vasu, who is the son of Shantanu and a lifelong celibate.” Worship Bhishma and pray for his mercy to complete the vow. Everyday bathe in silence at sunrise.
Daily bathe Thakurji with panchamrita. Offer new clothes to the Thakurji. Offer excellent food and cloves to the Thakurji. Offer aratika with incense, ghee lamp, water in a conchshell, napkin, flowers and camara. *also offer camphor lamp mixed with aguru oil.
Maintain an akhanda dipa near Thakurji or Tulasi for the entire five days. Offer ghee lamp in morning and evening to Thakurji. Daily offer ghee lamp to Tulasi devi.
Observe celibacy and sleep on the floor. After Thakurji puja, chant 108 times the mantra: “Om Namo Vasudevaya” [Hare Krishna maha-mantra].
Begin Dashami fasting til sunset and eat phalahara, no grains. Every day eat once only after sunset.
Eat fruits only ripe papaya, apple, mousambi, banana, all dried fruits, all raw nuts, sabzis only arbi, green banana and papaya, potato, yams (suran), and sweet potato (shakarkandi).
Ok to eat ghee, ekadashi salt, black pepper and ginger. No other spices can be taken. Continue this diet every day until Purnima.
DASAMI (DURING THE EKADASHI TITHI): Eat ½ tsp of cow dung; then eat only once after sunset.
EKADASI: Nirjala vrata; if you can’t do this, then eat muni-phala (apple, papaya, banana, mousambi) only once after sunset.
DVADASI: Breakfast with Maha Tulasi leaf and water; if you ate muniphala on ekadashi, then breakfast with charanamrit or a few cashews, almonds or raisins; then drink 50 ml of cow urine; eat the recommended foods once a day after sunset.
TRAYODASHI: Eat ghee once after sunrise. After sunset, eat recommended foods.
CATURDASHI: Eat yoghurt once after sunrise. After sunset, eat recommended foods.
PURNIMA: Drink milk once after sunrise; and follow the rules below for fast breaking.
VI: BREAKING THE FAST:
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, Karttik and Chaturmasya. Give money, gifts, sesame seeds and pots of water to the brahmanas.
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). Then eat sweet rice.
NOW eat all foods fasted from for Chaturmasya, Karttika Vrata and Bhisma Pancaka (eg. spinach, yoghurt, urad dal, milk, sweets, honey etc.)
All the above actions should be completed before sunset or before the end of Purnima tithi.
*NOTE: Eating five things from Gomata and sweet rice on Purnima is optional.
SRI BHISMA PANCAKA VRATA KI JAI!!
Jai Jai Sri Radhe!