Chaturmasya is an auspicious four-month period starting from Ashadha Shukla Dashami to Kartika Shukla Paurnima. The months of Shravana, Bhadrapada, Ashvina and Kartika fall under this period. These four months are said to be very pleasing to Bhagavan Vishnu.
There is an interesting conversation between the Varaha form of Lord Vishnu and Dharani Devi(a manifestation of goddess Kali) occuring in the Varaha Purana about the significance of this Chaturmasya period.
Once Dharani Devi, concerned about the people who take birth in the Kali Yuga who are ignorant, short lived and always afflicted with ailments, approached Lord Varaha and pleaded Him to reveal the method in which even the people of Kali Yuga get great benefits even with very little effort.
Sri Varaha smilingly replied – There is a 4 month period in a year known as Chaturmasya wherein any Dana, Vrata, Japa and Homa performed brings forth countless merits. Compared to the noble deeds performed during other months, those performed in these holy months, would no doubt, yield multifold benefits.
अस्ति प्रियतमः कालः चातुर्मास्याभिधो मम ।
दानं व्रतं जपो होमः तत्रानन्तगुणं स्मृतम् ॥ वराह 1.16
मासेष्वन्येषु यत्किञ्चित् क्रियते मम तोषणम् ।
ततोप्यनन्तगुणितं चातुर्मास्ये न संशयः ॥ वराह 1.17
On hearing this, Dharani Devi asked. O Lord, why among the 12 months only these 4 months are so auspicious?
To this Lord Varaha replied – In an year, the 6 months beginning from Ashadha are called Dakshinayana. 6 months beginning from Pushya are termed as Uttarayana. This period of one year for human beings is equivalent to 1 whole day(day/night) for the celestials (Devas). Pushya to Ashadha is the day and Ashadha to Pushya is the night for the Devas.
Once, I was sitting on the top of the Meru mountain. At that time, all the celestials approached and said – “O Lord – currently it is night for us. So, we would take leave of you.
Then a lady dark in complexion wearing white sparkling clothes holding parashu in her hand came forward, prostrated and spoke to Lord Varaha – O Lord, I am ratri who is the abhimanini of this part of the year. I am sad that during this time, no auspicious events like Marriage etc take place. All people dislike me and term be as be ing inauspicious. There is no point in continuing my life like this. I would like to end my life unable to bear this insult. I can only live if you bless me”.
All the devas also prayed – “Oh Lord! Kindly show mercy on Ratri whereby she will become happy”.
Heeding to the prayer of all the Devas Lord Varaha granted boon to Ratri devi.
Lord Varaha spoke – “Oh Ratri, you have three Yamas(1 Yama = 4th part of night or 2 months). Out of these three yamas the first two yamas (4 months i.e Chaturmasya) would henceforth become dearer to me. Any pious deed performed during these two Yamas (Chaturmasya) brings forth immense merits. Among these four months of Shravana, Bhadrapada, Ashvina, Kartika, the merits accrued would increase day by day. That is the reason why the last Month, Kartika is most beneficial in all respects. Hearing this, Ratri Devi became very happy and returned to her abode”.
Lord Varaha continued – “Oh Dharani, that time onwards, this chaturmasya period became very dear to me. I benevolently grant great merits to anyone who performs noble deeds like Snana, Dana, Vrata, Homa, Japa during this period”.
Chaturmasya is also a period in which Lord Narayana enters into Yoga-Nidra. This does not mean that Lord Narayana sleeps like us mortals. Even, the demi-gods are called Animishas because they have no sleep. What to speak of Lord Narayana, the creator of all these demi-gods? Therefore, this is to be understood to be just another playful sport of the Almighty.
The Lord is the presiding deity for all the four months with his Sridhara, Hrishikesha, Padmanabha and Damodara forms respectively.
This is great opportunity to enhance once spirituality and take a step forward in the direction of Moksha. Our scriptures ordain us to make the following noble ten-fold resolutions during this period.
- Guru, Deva, Agni Tarpana
- Dana Bhakti
- Dharma Sadhana
Among the several danas one can perform during this period, anna dana is greatly praised as the most important dana accruing great merits.
Control of senses
Any vrata imposes restrictions on the food that can be partaken. This is for us to reduce our dependence on the external material world and realize the inner spiritual power. This is a great way for achieving control of the senses which is a very important factor in a persons spiritual development.
The four vratas in Chaturmasya
During the four months period, certain food items are prohibited. The respective vrata is named after the item that is prohibited during the month. So, the names of the four vratas are
4. Dvidala Vrata
Any vrata gives full fruits if performed with proper Sankalpa. The sankalpa for each vrata should be done at the beginning of each month’s vrata.
(Ashadha Shukla Ekadashi)
आचम्य, प्राणानायम्य, देशकालादिसंकीर्त्य
वासुदेव शुचौ मासे शाकव्रतमनुत्तमम् ।
त्वत्प्रीत्यर्थं करिष्येहं निर्विघ्नं कुरु माधव ॥
(Shravana Shukla Ekadashi)
संकर्षणारविन्दाक्ष करिष्येहं दधिव्रतं ।
द्वितीये मासि देवेश निर्विघ्नं कुरु मे प्रभो ।
(Bhadrapada Shukla Ekadashi)
प्रद्युम्न तव तुष्ट्यर्थं प्रोष्टपद्यां तृतीयके ।
निर्विघ्नं कुरु देवेश करिष्येहं पयोव्रतम् ॥
Dvidala Vrata Sankalpa
(Ashvina Shukla Ekadashi)
अनिरुद्ध सुरैर्वन्द्य द्विदळव्रतमुत्तमम् ।
करोम्यहमिषेमासे निर्विघ्नं कुरु मे प्रभो ॥
Just as Sankalpa is important at the beginning of the Vrata, Samarpane to Mukhyapranantargata Bhagavan Vishnu should be made for the Vrata to yield proper fruits.
Shaka Vrata Samarpana
वासुदेव नमस्तुभ्यं प्रथमे मासि मत्कृतम् ।
शाकव्रतं मया तेन संतुष्टो भव माधव ॥
Dadhi Vrata Samarpana
संकर्षण नमस्तुभ्यं श्रवणे मत्कृतेन च ।
दधिव्रतेन देवेश तुष्टो भव जनार्दन ॥
Ksheera Vrata Samarpana
श्रीप्रद्युम्न नमस्तुभ्यं मासमारभ्य यत्कृतं ।
इष्टदो भव सर्वेश गृहीत्वा तु पयोव्रतम् ॥
Dvidala Vrata Samarpana
अनिरुद्ध नमस्तुभ्यं द्विदळाख्यव्रतेन च ।
मत्कृतेनाश्विने मासे प्रीत्यर्थं फलदो भव ॥
Who are eligible to do this Chaturmasya Vrata?
This Vrata can be performed by one and all. There is no discrimination based on age/gender/caste/ashrama. Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vyshyas, Shudras, Women, Grihasthas,
Sanyasins are all eligible to undertake this vrata.
If one does not undertake this vrata due to ignorance or negligence, he would surely thrown into the hell for a long time.
(Ashadha-Shukla-Ekadashi to Shravana-Shukla-Dashami):
Shaka Vrata, is the first of the four Vratas of Chaturmasya. As the very name indicates, Shaka or any kind of Vegetable and fruit should not be offered to Lord nor should be partaken.
The following list gives what can be used during this Vrata
- All pulses
The following list gives what is not to be used during this Vrata
- All fruits (Some people take mango)
- All Vegetables
- All leafy-vegetables, curry-leaves, kotambri
- Spices – Cashew, Dry Grapes etc.
(Shravana-Shukla-Ekadashi to Bhadrapada-Shukla-Dashami)
In this second Vrata curds/yogurt is disallowed.
(Bhadrapada-Shukla-Ekadashi to Ashvina-Shukla-Dashami)
Milk and all its derivatives are disallowed,
(Ashvina-Shukla-Ekadashi to Kartika-Shukla-Dashami)
All pulses, which have two halves like channa, toor, masoor, urad, groundnuts are disallowed..
Scientific reasons why one should not consume particular food during following vrathas
Scientific reason – for shaaka vratha :
Why one must observe Shaakavratha during the period Ashada Shukla Ekadashi to Shravana Shudda Dashami ?
As Chandra will be in Poorvashada nakshatra, during this month, this month is called as Ashada. Normally, during this month, Sun will be in Aardra nakshatra, Punarvasu and Pushya nakshatras. Sun also will enter Karkataka Rashi, which day will be called as Dakshinayana punyakaala. During this period, the heat of the sun will be reduced when compared to Uttarayana punyakaala, the power of moon will be more. As the power of Sun is being reduced and Moon’s power will be increased, the heat in the body of the human/animals also is subject to change. That is why some rules have been for food. This vratha is called as “Shaka vratha”. Shaka means vegetables or heat. During this period more vegetables would be grown with the assistance of new rain and the heat inside the bhoomi. When the rainy season starts, the water goes inside the bhoomi, the temperature inside the bhoomi will be dissolved in the vegetable crops, resulting in the temperature already raised in the earlier months tend to increase further in our body. Many bacteria would be developed. Further the insects would come out and would join the roots of the vegetables. The vegetables, tamarind, green chillies, pickles, fruits, etc., would have more heat, As such, during this period vegetables are banned as per ayurveda also. But the temperature required for our body can be got from other items which we are eating in this month sufficiently.
Scientific reason – for Dadhi vratha (Curds) :
This period is from Shravana Shudda dwadashi to Bhadrapada shudda dashami. Curds is more heat and it raises the fat in our body. Already heat is increased during the earlier months in Uttarayana, and eating of curds may raise more heat, which may result in health obstacles. During this period, cow and other milk giving animals would be engaged in mithuna kriya. The cow milk would have more quality of unhealthy quality. As such curds is prohibited and majjige (buttermilk) is used, which can result in cooling of the temperature in the body. As such, Curds is avoided in this month.
Scientific reason for ksheera vratha
During the varsha rutu – rain will be coming, and grass, the main food of cow is grown in plenty during this period. This new grass would contain ushnaamsha of the bhoomi. As the cows would be eating the grass, the ushna amsha in the milk will be more. We may be surprised at this. The grass do have different categories, one is shunti hullu. If the cow eats this grass, even the milk would have the smell of shunti. Similarly in the other grass also, the same effect would be there. Further, the cows which are involved in mithuna kriya during the previous period, would have conceived. The milk from the cows which are just conceived are not helpful for our body. As such, milk is prohibited during this month.
Scientific reason for dwidala vratha
It is during this period only that the dwidala dhaanyas are coming afresh. The atmosphere would have temperature (ushnaamsha). Our digestion power is reduced. That is why tamarind, vegetables are restricted. Eating vegetables during the period would reduce the capacity of our body. As such, they are restricted during the period.<
Source: Dr. Vijay Danapur, Bangalore