Hindu Fasts: Monthly Fast

Said The God Of Fire:-

Now I shall describe the process of practising the Masa Vratas (vows which should be observed in the different months of the year), which grant enjoy- ment in this life and salvation in the next. The wise and the intelligent should forego the use of oils and unguents during the four months, commencing from the month of Ashada. Similarly by foregoing the use of flowers and salt in the month of Vaishaka, and making the gift of a cow to a Brahmana, a man acquires a sovereignity in this life. A man by ob- serving a fast, extending over a period of month, and making the gift of a cow to a Brahmana, should practise the Vrata known as the Bhimavrata.

By bathing every day in the morning during the month of Ashada, a man becomes merged in the essence of Vishnu, the same result being obtained by making gifts of treacle and a cow in the months of Chaitra and Vaishaka. The greatest of all observers of vows, the husband of the goddess Gouri, practised the abovesaid Vrata of treacle, on the day of the third phase of the moon. The man who practises the Nakta Vrata (Breaking one's fast in the night) in the month of Margashirsha;

goes to the region of Vishnu. The Vratas known as the Vrata of a single meal each day (Ekabhakta), the Dvadashi-Vrata, and the Tila-Vrata should be practised for four consecutive months (1-5).

By practising Vratas during the four months com- mencing from the month of Shravana, a man is able to witness the realisation of all his heart-felt desires. The resolution of practising the Chaturmashya Vratas spoken of before, should be first solemnly made, by fasting on the day of the eleventh phase of the moon in the month of Ashada. The god Hari, manifest as the sun god, should be worshipped under the auspicies of the continuance of that luminary in the sign of cancer, and by riciting the following prayer " I undertake this vow, 0 lord, in thy presence, may this come to a safe termination through thy gracious pleasure, 0 Keshava. May this vow be deemed as complete even in the event of my dying before it reaches its goal."

Thus a Brahmana should abstain from taking all animal- food, forego the use of oils and unguents, and worship the god Hari for three days by observing a fast on each alternate day, whereby he would attain the region of Vishnu. A man, by practising the vow of silence (Mouni-Vrata) and the one known as the Chandrayana, goes to the region of Vishnu and becomes an eman- cipated spirit in the end. Similarly, by practising the Vrata known as the Prajapatya, while living on a diet of powdered wheat and barley, a man ascends the heaven after death. Again by drinking milk sim- ply, or by living solely on the composition known as the Panchagavya or on roots and vegetables, a man goes to the region of Vishnu after death. Simi- larly the man who abstains from all meat, lives on a diet of barley, on forgoes the use of all sweet articles, attains the god Hari (6-13).

Now I shall describe the process of performing the Koumuda-Vrata, which should be practised in an empty stomach in the month of Ashvina. The god Vishnu should be worshipped in the Vrata, occur- ring on the day of the twelfth phase of the moon's increase. Lotus and other water-flowers and Naividyas illuminated by lamps of oil or clarified butter, should be offered to the god. The god Vasudeva should be worshipped with garlands of Malati flowers, and by reciting the Mantra running as "Om obeisance to Vasudeva." Thus by practising a fast for a month in connection therewith, a man acquires piety, worldly prosperity, wealth and salvation, in short, every thing he sets his mind upon (14-15).

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