History of Chathurmasya

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 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 not 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.

Satsanga

Dvijabhakti Guru, Deva, Agni Tarpana

Gopradana

Vedapatha

Satkriya

Satyabhashana

Gobhakti

Dana Bhakti

Dharma Sadhana

Anna Dana

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

1. Shaka Vrata

2. Ksheera Vrata

3. Dadhi Vrata

4. Dvidala Vrata

Sankalpa

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.

Shaka Vrata Sankalpa (Ashadha Shukla Ekadashi)

आचम्य, प्राणानायम्य, देशकालादिसंकीर्त्य

वासुदेव शुचौ मासे शाकव्रतमनुत्तमम् ।

त्वत्प्रीत्यर्थं करिष्येहं निर्विघ्नं कुरु माधव ।।

 

Dadhi Vrata Sankalpa (Shravana Shukla Ekadashi)

संकर्षणारविन्दाक्ष करिष्येहं दधिव्रतं ।

द्वितीये मासि देवेश निर्विघ्नं कुरु मे प्रभो ।

Ksheera Vrata Sankalpa (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 ।।

Samarpana 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. Shaka Vrata(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

1. All pulses

2. Jeerige

3. Oils

4. Milk/Curds

 

The following list gives what is not to be used during this Vrata

1. All fruits (incl. mango)

2. All Vegetables

3. All leafy-vegetables, curry-leaves, kotambri

4. Lemons

5. Spices - Cashew, Dry Grapes etc.

6. Tamarind Dadhi Vrata (Shravana-Shukla-Ekadashi to Bhadrapada-Shukla-Dashami)

In this second Vrata curds/yogurt is disallowed. Ksheera vratha (Bhadrapada-Shukla-Ekadashi to Ashvina-Shukla-Dashami) Milk and all its derivatives are disallowed, Dvidala vratha (Ashvina-Shukla-Ekadashi to Kartika-Shukla-Dashami) All pulses, which have two halves like channa, toor, masoor, urad, groundnuts are disallowed..