Posts

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.

III. PUJA:

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.

IV. ACTION:

Observe celibacy and sleep on the floor. After Thakurji puja, chant 108 times the mantra: “Om Namo Vasudevaya” [Hare Krishna maha-mantra].

V. EATING:

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!

Mahanidhi Swami

This is Vaishakha month (aka Madhusudana, 23 April-21 May) which is one of the three best months of the year along with Karttika and Magh. Why? Because pious acts done in these months award one tremendous benefits.

Significant events in Vaishakha month: Radha-Krishna Candana Yatra, Nrsinghadeva appears, Ganga appears on earth, and Vishnu creates the barley grain (job). The rest of the article describing the “Vaishakha Vrata” is taken from Srila Sanatana Goswamipada’s Hari-bhakti Vilasa (14).

Suggested good deeds to perform daily or occasionally; pre-sunrise tirtha snana; public Harinama Sankirtana; dhama parikrama; read Bhagavatam; attend Gita class; increased Thakuraji sevas; serve saints; eat once a day; and to the worthy, donate sesame seeds, cow ghee, umbrellas, shoes, cloth, money.

SPECIAL DAYS TO OBSERVE:

MAY 9 MONDAY: AKSHAYA TRITIYA!

Even one good deed done today i.e. fasting, jagaran, holy bath, charity, and nama/mantra sankhya yields INEXHAUSTIBLE RESULTS. Treta-yuga begins today (when it comes), and Vishnu created the barely grain today.

MAY 13 FRIDAY: SHUKLA SAPTAMI

Maa Ganga Appearance; kindly remember, pray to, bathe and worship the sweet and purifying mother of all sacred rivers. Gange! Gange! Gange! Ki jai!

MAY 17 TUESDAY: EKADASHI

Stay awake all night chanting Hare Krishna and dancing in Gaura-Govinda smarana. Skanda Purana says, By doing jagaran, one becomes jivan-mukta, “a living liberated soul.”

MAY 18 WEDNESDAY: AKSHAYA DVADASHI

Good deeds today yield inexhaustible merit. Skanda Purana suggests: tirtha-snana (Radha Kunda best); bathe Thakuraji in milk or pancamrta; donate money and pots of water. But if you’re not a Vraja gopi, this means a bottle of water. In the evening, satisfy Thakuraji with sweet drinks, and give sweet scents (itra) to others.

MAY 20 FRIDAY: NRSINGHDEVA AVIRBHAVA

Watch for new article on how to observe it.

Vaishakha Month of Lord Madhusudana Sri Krishna ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Swami

The Ekadashi fasting day is extensively described in Hari-bhakti Vilasa. Sanatana Goswamipada, quoting numerous Vedic scriptures, defines the basic Ekadashi thus: “All humans, especially Vaisnavas, should NOT EAT ANYTHING on Ekadashi, the day of Sri Hari, hari-vasara.”

In Narada Purana, Lord Shiva told Durga, “Again and again the Puranas proclaim, ‘On Ekadashi, Do not eat, Do not eat!’’’ (HBV 12.12)

In Bhakti-sandarbha anu. 299, Sri Jiva Goswamipada quotes many shastras to make the same point. For example, the Gautamiya-tantra says, “If by madness a Vaisnava eats anything on Ekadashi, then his worship is worthless!” Vishnu-yamala states, “If one is normal and healthy, he should not eat anything on Ekadashi.”

So it is clear that the basic and original Ekadashi Vrata is a day of complete fasting to facilitate more surrender and more offerings of devotion to Bhagavan Sri Krishna.

It is amazing how in the entire Ekadashi fasting day description, Srila Sanatana Goswamipada does not mention one word about eating this or avoiding that type of food. In one verse, however, he gives a concession for eating on Ekadashi, and even that is restricted to a few persons. He quotes the Markendeya Purana: “A child, an elderly or sick person may take ONE MEAL consisting of milk, fruits and roots and that only AT NIGHT.” (HBV 12.91)

In other words, Srila Sanatana Goswamipada is telling all of us, who are normal and healthy by Krishna’s grace, to FAST COMPLETELY ON EKADASHI. This is the basic Ekadashi—austere, powerful and beneficial.

Of course, there are many other approaches to fasting on Ekadashi given by various gurus, institutions and individual family traditions. Ultimately, the best way of observing the austerity of Hari-vasara is to follow the teachings of one’s mentors on the devotional path.

We are describing the original form of Ekadashi observance to encourage old devotees to do more, and to show new devotees the ideal path outlined in our sacred books. Many devotees we know follow the basic, traditional Ekadashi of not eating anything, plus not drinking even a drop of water! Besides being the basic observance of Ekadashi prescribed by our mahajanas, a complete fast is an excellent means for improving both spiritual and material health.

Srila Sanatana Goswamipada and all the Vedas describe the Ekadashi vrata as part of a “penance triad”. Although very difficult in the modern age, this fasting package includes three days of austerity i.e. Dashami, Ekadashi and Dwadashi (10th, 11th and 12th). However, the full basic observance of the one fasting day of Ekadashi is practical and prescribed for most sadhakas of today.

Still, sadhakas can respect and honor these three holy days by following Hari-bhakti Vilasa’s instructions about eating, which are listed below.

10th Day Dashami: Eat only one time, the following foods ONLY; winter white rice, mung dal, sesame seeds, root bulbs minus taro, amla, banana, jackfruit, mango, tamarind, cow’s ghee, milk & yogurt, Sind (ekadashi) or sea salt, pepper, cumin, ginger, and sugar without molasses.

BUT DON’T EAT: honey, oil [fried foods], chickpeas (channa), flour i.e. rotis, bread, etc., masura dal or leafy vegetables. (HBV 13.10-15)

11th Day Ekadashi: Chant Hare Krishna, read the Bhagavata and dance in delight, but keep food and water far from your sight! Ekadashi Devi ki jai ho!

12th Day Dwadashi: Eat only once, but DON’T EAT: honey, oil [fried foods], chickpeas (channa), flour i.e. rotis, bread, etc, and masura dal. (HBV 13.260-264)

To close this article, we will cite Srila Sanatana Goswamipada’s perfect definition of fasting. And this is the type of fasting we should all do every day of our devotional lives:

“To remain steady and steadfast, even in the face of sin by cultivating good qualities, and to give up all sense enjoyment is called FASTING.” (HBV 13.35)

Ekadashi fasting ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!