Hindu Fasts: The Vow of Monthly Fasting

Said The God Of Fire:

Now I shall describe the process of observing the best of the Vratas of a month's fast. 0 thou holy sage, a man belonging to the orders of Yoti, or Vanaprastha, as well as a widowed wife, should practise the abovesaid Vrata, after having performed the sacrifice known as the Vaishnava Yajna. and obtained permission of his or her spiritual preceptor in that behalf. The fast should be observed under conditions, laid down under the head of the Krichchha Vratas described before, or otherwise as the observer would be capable of.

The Vrata should be first un- dertaken on the day of the eleventh phase of the moon's increase in the month of Ashvina, and thenceforth the observer should go on fasting for thirty days continuously, by reciting the following verses. "This day forward I shall fast and worship thee, 0 Vishnu, for thirty days continuously till thy wakening in the month of Karticka. May this Vrata undertaken by me, be deemed complete, 0 lord, in the ven of my dying in the course of its observance or before the day of thy wakening.".

Each day, the practiser of the Vrata should thrice bathe in the course of its observance, thrice worship the god Vishnu with offerings of flowers and per- fumes etc., recite the Gita sacred to the god, and meditate upon his immutable self. He should give up all profane talks, forego all pecuniary concerns, keep himself aoof of the company of all men not practising a similar Vrata, nor engage in conversation with the wicked and the evil-doers. The full term of its observance (thirty days) should be spent in a divine edifice, and the Brahmanas should be feasted at its close, on the completion of the worship on the day of the twelfth phase of the moon. Then the observer of the vow should pay remunera tions to the Brahmanas and break his fast. A man by practising the Vrata, as above indicated, becomes entitled to enjoy the pleasures of heaven as an emancipated spirit, for the period of thirteen Kalpas.

The ceremony, known as the Vaishnaba Yajna, should be performed at the close of the Vrata, and gifts of a pair of cloths, a metal pot, a seat, an umbrella, a prepared holy thread, a pair of shoes and a Yogapatta, should be made to each of the theirteen Brahmanas invited on the occasion. A golden image of the god Vishnu should be worshipped in a bed with clothes etc. and a Brahmana should be addressed as follows "Through the grace of Vishnu, I stand absolved of all sin, 0 thou twice born one. I shall ascend the region of Vishnu, and ultimately become merged in the essence of that deity." Then the Brahmana would reply as follows- "Depart and Depart, 0 thou who art wise with the wisdom of god. Go to the sinless region of Vishnu, and stay there, shaped after the image of that God." Having thus addressed the Brahmana, the observer of the Vrata, should make a gift of the bed with the golden image, to his spiritual preceptor.

The practiser of such a Vrata, redeems the souls of his relations, remove up to the hundredth degree, and carries their souls with his ownself into the region of Vishnu. Even the country dwelt in by such an observer of a month's fast, becomes blissful and sinless, not to speak of his Vandhus and relations. Thickened milk and clarified butter may be safely given to a penitent, falling down in a swoon while observing the Vrata, without any fear of breaking or vitiating his vow, since clarified butter permitted to be taken by a Brahmana on such an occasion, does not detract its merit and since Vishnu, the maker of all medicinal remedies, pardons the guilt of taking fruits, edible roots, thickened milk and medicines administered by the preceptor is such an emergency.

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