It is believed that Lord Vishnu falls asleep for four months in the Kshir Sagar (the ocean of Milk) on Shesh Naga (Ananta shesha, the Lord of Snakes — one of the forms of Sri Balaram). Hence this marks the first day of Chaturmasya, which falls on the Ekadasi day (11th lunar day). Because of that, this particular Ekadasi is called Sayana Ekadashi (sayana in Sanskrit means ‘sleep’, ‘resting’, ‘bed’). Sri Vishnu awakens from His deep sleep after four holy months on the day of Utthana Ekadashi (utthana in Sanskrit means ‘rising’, ‘stretching out’), the first Ekadasi in the last month of Kartika (Damodar Month).
During the period of these four months, Lord Shiva, the Supreme Devotee of Sri Krsna, takes charge of the Universe, and he is known to favour the ascetics, thus all the vaisnavas make vows, or, in other words, observe vrata (from Sanskrit, ‘vow’, ‘resolve’, ‘devotion’). Anyone can do it, be they a man, a woman, a young or old person, an initiated or non-initiated, already a devotee or yet to become one — there is no discrimination. Away from vrata, for each month there is a standard fasting rule, excluding the particular item from one’s meal: July-August — fasting from green leafy vegetables, August-September — fasting from yoghurt, September-October — fasting from milk, October-November — fasting from urad dal (urad lentils).
Chaturmasya months according to Purnima system, as per Mayapur, India:
13th July-11th August 2022 — First month.
12th August-9th September 2022 — Second month.
10th September-8th October 2022 — Third month.
9th October-7th November 2022 — Fourth month.
There are two systems of calculating the dates: by Ekadasi days, then each month starts and ends with a particular Ekadasis; or by Purnima system — each month starts with the particular Purnima, full-moon day, for example, 13th July is Guru-purnima.
Vrata can be taken according to one’s choice. It can be one of the following:
- Fasting — eating only once a day, or at a specific time of the day, for example — at noon, or only one type of meal — be it a kichari, or fruits etc.;
- Staying silent/Silence (Maun) — the vow of silence means that one will not speak for a certain amount of time, for example, for a day, a week, or only one hour, or less — a day. An interesting fact — According to Padmapurana, taking prasadam each time silently, with full concentration (avoiding usage of phone etc) is equivalent to observing Maun;
- Japa (more rounds) — one can make a vow of chanting daily a particular amount of additional rounds of japa (can be even one round), or for example — spending at least an hour a day doing kirtan;
- Charity (Danam) — when we are fasting, we are actually meant to collect whatever we are not eating and donate it at the end of the month, or four months, or daily — to others. For example, if one does not eat rice for four months and keeps aside daily what you would eat, and then after Chaturmasya ends — distribute it to vaishnavas, or cook a feast with it, it is considered successful completion of your fast;
- Anger (Krodh) — one can vow to not get angry and avoid being affected by the Krodh (one of the gates to Hell), as stated in the ‘Bhagavad-Gita’;
- Meditation (Dhyana) — spending some amount of time a day in meditation on Bhagavan, Lord Sri Krsna.
Vrata can be also a completely individual one — it can be also doing a certain amount of obeisances to the devotees and the Lord a day, and anything else.
WHAT TO AVOID DURING CHATURMASYA
- Eating meat, eggs, fish etc; taking intoxications (alcohol, drugs); illicit sex; gambling (tricking someone, lie etc)
- Observing celibacy, even in marriage, for these four months is preferable;
- Blaspheming or criticising anyone, especially the devotees and the Lord;
- Wedding ceremonies, buying lands and any other important auspicious ceremonies (Sri Vishnu is sleeping, so there are no blessings from Him).
Chaturmasya is also a very good month for donating to vaishnavas or for a good cause, so we will be very happy to pray in your name to Sri Nrisimhadev during our monthly offerings, if you become our subscriber or donate only once.