Different people of India celebrate Chaturmasya vrata as festival in different styles and on different dates, even though some of these are common for the followers of different faith. It is a very important achara, means performance of religious fast, for controlling self-emotions, and fulfillment of desires by controlling the nature and having the blessings of God at large for the benefit of family and self. In general, it is a holy religious fasting system.

Example of a Successful Chaturmasya Vrata:

The previous name of Porbandar of Gujarat is Sudhamapura. At present, it is a neat and clean city. Late Karamchand Gandhi, or Kaba Gandhi, is the father of Sri Mahatma Gandhi.  He had married three times successively but his third wife also expired. A learned Brahmin knows astrology. Such a noble man advised Karamchand Gandhi for the fourth marriage and so he married to Putlibai. As per his advices, Putlibai conducted four Chandrayana vrata fasting which is called Chaturmasya.

Even after the birth of Mahatma Gandhi, his mother used to observe fast and the power of observing fast influenced him. Later, on completion of local education, that learned man had advised him to go to England for higher education and people know what happened later.

Chaturmasya: Types and Procedure

प्रतिपन्मुख्य राकान्ता तिथि मन्डल पूजिता ॥

The above verse is available in Lalitha sahasranama book and it is mentioned as a secret procedure in the same book. It contains a vow (sankalpa) to be performed from the first day and fast is to be observed by chanting the thousand holy names of God for the next two weeks, ending on the full moon day. This constitutes one block of Chandrayana vratha. Special food, other than rice, is offered daily to God and received back as prasada. At the end of next fortnight is a no moon day but the same fasting procedure is continued to observe in the same manner. Hence, in one month, lunar cycle gets completed. In the next month also, one full moon day and one no moon day occur. Without break, the fast continues in the next one lunar month also. During observing this vrata, there are two full moon days and two no moon days, totally four such days, in two months, and Chaturmasya gets completed. This is applicable to married persons only, called Grahastha Paddhati.  Putlibai observed Chaturmasya.

Yathi Chaturmasya

When Chaturmasya fast is performed by unmarried sanyasis, monks or by institutional pontiffs, it is called Yathi Chaturmasya. Jain monks are observing it with more severe methods. They observe silence during this period. People of Jain faith, especially the merchant community, visit them to seek forgiveness called kshamavani. Royal communities patronize Buddhism pontiffs and they seek blessings from them during this period.

Vyasa Peeta Pooja During Chaturmasya

The main deity is God Vishna for Vaishnava Sanyasis. There are mainly three schools of faith in the worshippers Vishnu but it is common for them to keep holy books on Vyasa peeta considering as the initial teacher or Vishnu himself. This is already discussed in the previous chapter regarding teacher’s day under six important festivals of India.

Reason for Fasting by Monks

Monks used to travel from place to place preaching holy religious messages. They may come across some situations to face any of the six inner enemies. During Shravana masa (say around July and August), monsoon season occurs, and due to rain, they had to halt and journey become a difficult task. Hence, on the full moon day of Ashada lunar month, they perform a vow (sankalpa) to stay at a convenient and approved place till completion of the Chaturmasya Vrata. Sometimes, due to unforeseen reasons like earth quake, continuous rains, and pandemic diseases, the ending date may vary in such cases.

Benefits to the Society

Peace and harmony of various sections of society is achieved during the periods of celebrating Chaturmasya Vrata by pontiffs or seers. In recent days, due to availabilities of advanced media facilities like internet, TV and mobile phones, the holy darshan and performances of various Very Important Persons could be sighted by sitting at one’s desired and convenient place. The result of Chaturmasya of these great lives in India induces good health in youth and kindles high intellectual levels in students. Aged persons are able to lead a peaceful and happy life knowing that the concentration practiced by these great lives is sufficient to teach the entire people of society to remove the six inner emotional enemies of man, namely, kama (malicious desire), krodha (anger), lobha (greed), moha (illegal attachment), mada (egoistic arrogance), and matsarya (jealous) . One who is victorious over these six items during the fast in Chaturmasya visualizes God and hence the name seer. Such great persons called yogis explain the vision of God as seen during Dhyanam as follows.

शान्ताकारं भुजग शयनं पद्मनाभं सुरेशं ।
विश्वाधारं गगन सदृशं मेघ वर्णं शुभांगं ॥
लक्ष्मी कांतं कमल नयनं योगिभिर्ध्यान गम्यं ।
वन्दे विष्णुं भव भय हरं सर्व लोकैक नाथं ॥

He is peaceful in nature, lying on a great serpent; his body is so soft like a lotus flower, he is the leader of suras, he is the supporter of the entire universe, he is endless just like the sky, he has the color of the cloud, he is showing good omen with his assuring hand to remove all difficulties of his worshippers, He is accompanied with the Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi also. His eyes are also beautiful like lotus flowers. Such a supreme lord of this universe, Vishnu, I prostrate.

Lord Vishnu
Shree Lakshminarayana

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