by N.A. Deshpande | 1951 | 1,261,945 words | ISBN-10: 8120838297 | ISBN-13: 9788120838291
This page describes the importance of caturmasya which is chapter 64 of the English translation of the Padma Purana, one of the largest Mahapuranas, detailling ancient Indian society, traditions, geography, as well as religious pilgrimages (yatra) to sacred places (tirthas). This is the sixty-fourth chapter of the Uttara-Khanda (Concluding Section) of the Padma Purana, which contains six books total consisting of at least 50,000 Sanskrit metrical verses.
1-2. O great god, I desire to hear about the restraints to be observed during the four months that are well-known on the earth. (Please) tell them. O lord, tell me what should be done during the four months (from the Ekādaśī in the bright half of Āṣāḍha to the Ekādaśī in the bright half of Kārtika) when Viṣṇu, Janārdana has gone to sleep? (Tell me) the fruit (obtained) on giving up the six flavours and keeping (i.e. not cutting) hair and nails, and (the fruit obtained) through other restraints.
Now, O divine sage, listen. I am telling in detail. A man should observe a fast on the Ekādaśī in the bright half of Āṣāḍha. He should devoutly observe the Cāturmāsya-vows. When Viṣṇu is asleep, the wan should lie on the bare ground and should pass the four months till Kārtikī (Ekādaśī) would come. No installation (of an image) or rites like sacrifices take place. So also marriages, thread ceremonies, other auspicious ceremonies, royal journeys and processions do not take place (in Cātumāsya).
8-15. Listen to the fruit of the vow of him (i.e. that he gets) who would observe vows (and practise) rites when the Garuḍa-bannered, Acyuta, Jagannātha is asleep. A man would obtain that fruit by observing the vows in Cāturmāsya which he would obtain by means of thousands of horse-sacrifices. He should make Viṣṇu sleep when the Sun is in Gemini; and should awaken Viṣṇu, when the Sun is in Libra. When the intercalary month comes, the order of the rite is like this: He should install Viṣṇu’s image holding a conch, a disc, and a mace. O Nārada, he should place the auspicious (image) wearing a yellow garment on a bed covered with a white (piece of) cloth and a pillow. And the Viṣṇu devotee, knowing (accounts in) history and Purāṇas, should bathe it with curd, milk, honey, fried grains and ghee. O brāhmaṇa, he should smear it with auspicious sandal, incense and lovely flowers, and should worship it with white flowers with (the accompaniment of) this sacred prayer: “O Jagannātha, when you are asleep, this world would be asleep. When you are awake, the world with the mobile and the immobile would be awake.”
16-29. Thus (i.e. with this prayer), O Nārada, having installed that image of Viṣṇu, he should, in front of it, take up the vow: The person (taking up the vow) may be a male or a female devotee of him, according to the division between righteousness and unrighteousness. For four months, till the awakening of the god, he should take up these restraints preceded by brushing the teeth. Then he should observe a fast. When it is the bright morning, he, having conquered his self, should do his daily acts. I shall separately tell the fruits of the doers of the acts: A man, by avoiding jaggery, would secure sweetness. A man would obtain a long(-lived) progeny by avoiding oil. O brāhmaṇa, a man becomes handsome-bodied by avoiding ghee. He would secure his enemy’s destruction by avoiding bitter oil. He would secure matchless good fortune by avoiding fragrant oil. He who avoids enjoying flowers, would be a vidyādhara in heaven. A man who practises abstract meditation, would obtain Brahma’s position. He who would avoid the six flavours, viz. acrid, sour, sweet, saline, pungent, and astringent, would avoid deformity and a bad smell. By avoiding tāmbūla he becomes an enjoyer and has his throat red. By avoiding ghee he (secures) handsomeness and his body would always be glossy. O best brāhmaṇa, by giving up fruits he gets many sons. By eating from a palāśa-leaf he would be handsome and would get pleasures. One who illuminates would become bright and actually the lord of wealth. He who avoids curd and milk, obtains Goloka. The order of him who observes the vow of silence, is never futile.
By avoiding a dish of barley or rice boiled in milk he secures Indra’s seat. He, abiding in religious practices and taking delight in them, would, after muttering the hundred-fold fruitful (prayer) ‘Salutation to Nārāyaṇa’, be the only lord of vidyādharas in heaven.
30-41. He who always enjoys the fruit of a bath in Gaṅgā by merely bathing at Puṣkara would be the lord of the earth. O wise one, he who would anoint and bathe Viṣṇu in his house would live for a kalpa in Vaikuṇṭha. There is no doubt about this. That man who goes round (the image) keeping it to his right, goes with (i.e. in) a divine aeroplane to which swans are yoked. He who sings and plays upon musical instruments would go to the world of gandharvas. O wise one, one who eats the five products of a cow, would obtain the fruit of the Cāndrāyaṇa(-vow). He who would amuse people every day with recitations from sacred texts, gets the form of Vyāsa before Viṣṇu, and then would obtain Viṣṇu’s position. By worshipping (him with) the Tulasī-leaf he would go to Viṣṇu’s city. Having done sprinkling, he would obtain the divine place of the celestial nymphs. By bathing with cold water in his house he would obtain a spotless, body. By avoiding a bath with hot water he would get the fruit of a bath at Puṣkara. A man who eats from leaves would obtain the fruit (of a bath) at Kurukṣetra. He who everyday sleeps on a slab of stone gets the merit due to (a bath at) Prayāga. By avoiding (drinking) water for three days he is not overcome by diseases. He who eats from copper vessels would obtain the fruit of (a bath at) Naimiṣa. Avoiding bell-metal he should use the remaining vessels. If no (other) vessels are available, he should use an earthen pot or vessels made by him of palāśa leaves or taken from others. The wise man who for one year keeps the sacred fire and the wise one who eats from the vessels—both these are said to be equal.
42-49. The eating from the vessels made of lotus-leaves is said to be equal to the Cāndrāyaṇa-vow. O brāhmaṇa, each of the meals taken from the lotus-leaves is said to to equal to (the vow of) three nights. The fruit which is said (to accrue) from the Ekādaśī-fast is (the same as) the fruit of giving everything. He would get the fruit of (visiting) all holy places. He would not see hell on eating from lotus-leaves. A brāhmaṇa goes to Vaikuṇṭha. The others would obtain heaven. This great divine tree is sin-destroying and gives all desired objects. O best king, a śūdra should avoid the (use of) the middle leaf. If he eats from that he would get (i.e. live in) hell for a period of fourteen Indras. He should avoid the middle leaf and eat from others. O brāhmaṇa, that śūdra who eats his meal from the middle leaf, would be purified by giving a tawny cow to a brāhmaṇa, not otherwise. A śūdra who would get a cow milked in his house, and would drink (that milk), would be born as an insect in the feces (and remain like that) for ten thousand years. And being freed from the insect-stock, he would get the beast-stock (i.e. will be born as a beast).
50-63. That man (belonging to the) śūdra (caste), who would drive a tawny bull, is, O Nārada, roasted in the Kumbhīpāka (hell) for as many years as are the hair (on his body). There is no doubt about it. If especially the śūdra has a she-goat in his house, he, drinking her milk goes to Raurava (hell). That śūdra who deals with a brāhmaṇa, is said to be belonging to a noble family, and the brāhmaṇa would be cast out (of the fold of) the Vedas. A brāhmaṇa who, prompted to doing trade, obeys a śūdra, becomes the resident of hell for as many years as he walks the steps. If a brāhmaṇa is sent by a śūdra for getting water to his house, he would go to hell by drinking that water which is like liquor. A śūdra should always give gifts to a brāhmaṇa. He should especially be devoted to him (i.e. a brāhmaṇa). Enjoying pleasures here, he goes to the next world. This (world) fashioned with the five elements is said to be useless. Therefore, he should give (gifts) to his preceptor. By that he would obtain inexhaustible fruit. O best brāhmaṇa, in this fearful Kali-age, full of sinful conduct, the wicked ones censure men of meritorious deeds. Due to censure (of others) a man becomes unhappy till the universal deluge. O wise one, there are many practices in the Kali-age. The religious practice giving merit, fulfilling desires and giving salvation is rare. A man who sleeps on the bare ground on the earth, is not troubled by diseases for ten thousand years. The man endowed with many sons and wealth, becomes free from leprosy. A man who eats (only) at night, would obtain the fruit of a pilgrimage. Without asking he gets the fruit of constructing wells and tanks. So also he who, averse to taking (someone’s) life, would avoid treachery. It is told in the Vedas that non-violence is a great virtue.
64-80. I have heard that everywhere giving gifts, kindness and restraint (are great virtues). Therefore, even by the great these should be done with a great effort. He who gives his body, sons and grandsons to his preceptor, would by the efficacy of the gift, become dear to Viṣṇu. He who is initiated by a śūdra, and the śūdra who initiates him—both are said to be sinners till the universal deluge. That most sinful śūdra who would advise harm, drops twenty-one (members of) his family into hell. O brāhmaṇa, in the Kali-age many śūdras who are heretics are seen. Even for conversing with them hell is (visited by a man). By merely seeing the śūdras who are engaged in (getting) sacred knowledge and who mutter the Gāyatrī (hymn), (the sin of) the murder of a brāhmaṇa comes (to him who sees them). The brāhmaṇas having (marks of) conches and discs and accepted in the Vaiṣṇava sects, and always engaged in duties enjoined by the Vedas, purify (even) the respectable brāhmaṇas. This should always be done in the Cāturmāsya. What is the use of telling others things again and again, O brāhmaṇa? Those men who are Viṣṇu’s devotees are blessed on the earth. Their family is most blessed, and their caste is said to be most blessed. The sin of him who would eat honey when Viṣṇu is asleep, would be great. Listen to what happens on avoiding it. He would obtain that fruit which he would get by all various sacrifices. He should avoid pomegranates, citrons and coconuts. Becoming a deity and moving in an aeroplane, he would go to Viṣṇu’s position. The fortunate one, being rich, is born in an affluent family. That man who would pass the four months by eating once only, is honoured in Viṣṇu’s world for as many thousand years as the muhūrtas after the sun have passed. That man who would avoid rice, barley and wheat (in the Cāturmāsya), would get that fruit which is declared by the sages to be the fruit of a horse-sacrifice duly performed with gifts. He possesses wealth and grains and has many sons. The fruit of offering with Tulasī(-leaves), sesamum-seeds and darbhas, is especially crore-fold in Cāturmāsya, when he would do it with the three articles (like Tulasī-leaves) when Viṣṇu is asleep.
81-94. They too rejoice near Viṣṇu for crores of yugas. Those who sing a line or half a line, half a ṛk or ṛks in front of Viṣṇu, are undoubtedly released. He who avoids sexual union when god (Viṣṇu is asleep, i.e. during the Cāturmāsya) is honoured in Viṣṇu’s world for the period of a Manu. By avoiding curd, milk, so also butter milk, jaggery and vegetables, a man gets release. There is no doubt about it. O sage, those men who, day after day, bathe (with water mixed) with āmalaka, obtain great religious merit, (for) the wise say that the dhātrī (i.e. āmalaka)-fruit destroys sins. (Dhātrī) was formerly created by Brahma for the emancipation of the three worlds. He who practises sandhyā and silence for the four months, rejoices in Vaikuṇṭha for the periods of four Manus. A man who cooks for himself and eats the food (cooked by himself) for four months is honoured in Indra’s world for ten thousand years. A man should resort to silence during the four months of the rainy season. He would go to Viṣṇu’s world, and after that to Brahma’s (world). A man who observes silence while eating, never perishes. The demons observing silence while eating, went to heaven. A man would be impure (due to) food with (i.e containing) worms and insects. Such food should be known as equal to cow-flesh, O best brāhmaṇa. That food should be known to be impure. If a man eats that, that is said to be the food which is always dear to the demons. Formerly Brahmā was pleased. That magnanimous one gave it. (Men) having eaten silently, have undoubtedly gone to heaven. If a man eats food while talking, then by that it would become impure. He just eats sin. Therefore, he should observe silence. O Nārada, eating silently should be known to be like (observing) a fast.
95-110. There is no doubt that the five (great) sins of him who, the best man, eats after giving the five oblations to the five breaths, are destroyed. O brāhmaṇa, a garment that has joints should be worn at the time of a rite (in honour of) the manes. That garment remaining on an impure body would be impure. A man who, with a garment put around his waist on his back, passes excrement or urinates, or has sexual union, should avoid that garment (while doing holy rites). O brāhmaṇa, the rite especially in honour of the manes should be avoided (when such a garment is put on). O sage, at all times the worship of god (Viṣṇu), the disc-holder, should especially be done by those who have controlled their senses. When Viṣṇu is asleep, grassy vegetables and safflower (should be avoided). So also garments having joints should be carefully avoided. He who avoids these in Cāturmāsya, when Viṣṇu is asleep, would not go to hell till the universal deluge. One should not (drink) liquor, should not eat flesh of a rabbit or a pig. That man also, on being engaged in harmlessness, when, especially in Cāturmāsya, god Viṣṇu is asleep, obtains godhead. O best brāhmaṇa, he who has given up uselessly getting angry or harsh, so also sexual union on the parvan days, would obtain the fruit of a horse-sacrifice. On celibacy (being observed) the progeny grows, so also life. He should avoid flowers, leaves, fruits, a couch, rubbing his body with unctuous substances and anointing (it), so also (taking) milk for no reason, flesh and liquor. Whatever is given up in Cāturmāsya when Viṣṇu is asleep, should first be given to a brāhmaṇa. There is no doubt about this. That wealth which is given to a brāhmaṇa, is, O wise one, inexhaustible. O brāhmaṇa, thereby he gets crore-fold merit. There is no doubt about this. O best brāhmaṇa, with whatever vow Viṣṇu is worshipped, he gives Viṣṇu’s abode. No doubt should be raised in this matter. He who, in the Cāturmāsya when Viṣṇu is asleep, does not have a vow, goes to hell, (and) his life has passed in vain. That man who everyday observes the excellent vow as told by a brāhmaṇa, so also the restraints that have been told, goes to the highest position. The gift given without the three things (viz. Tulasī, sesamum-seeds and darbhas) becomes useless.
111-112. Therefore, the best man, should according to his capacity and with all efforts please with vows and gifts Viṣṇu, the god of gods. All that gift (that is given) and that honouring of the brāhmaṇas done without bathing are useless till the regimes of fourteen Indras last.
113. O lord, O master of the universe, tell me what kind of celibacy is that, having practised which human beings would pleased Viṣṇu.
114-121. He who is devoted to his wife is said to be a celibate by the wise. O wise one, he who would forsake his wife, is inferior to a cāṇḍāla. Approaching the wife during her menses is said to be celibacy. The man who abandons his devoted, faultless wife, is a sinner in the world, and would obtain the (sin of) causing an abortion. Thousands of horse-sacrifices and hundreds of Vājapeya sacrifices are not equal even to a sixteenth part of the Ekādaśī-fast. All (such things as) bathing, (giving) gifts, muttering (hymns), sacrifices, self-study and worship of deities done in the Cāturmāsya are inexhaustible. He who listens to the Purāṇa one time or two times, gets free from all sins and goes to Viṣṇu’s world. O best brāhmaṇa, he who, when Viṣṇu is asleep, recites or mutters his name, gets a crore-fold fruit of it. A brāhmaṇa devoted to Viṣṇu, who worships (Viṣṇu), he alone, the soul of the entire religion, is worthy of respect. There is no doubt. On hearing this auspicious, pure, sin-destroying (account of) Cāturmāsya, a man obtains religious merit, and would obtain the fruit of a bath in Gaṅgā.
Footnotes and references:
Goloka: ‘Cow-world’, a part of heaven, or (in later mythology) Kṛṣṇa’s heaven.
Prāṇāhuti: Oblations offered to the five vital breaths, viz. Prāṇa, Apāna, Vyāna, Udāna and Samāna.