Essence Of Dharma Sindhu -2

Essence Of
Dharma Sindhu  


In the earlier Chapter,  common Tithi Nirnayaas were outlined but specific details of Maasa-Tithi Nirnayaas were not described in detail. It is possible that there might have been some repetition but the following pages provide explanations in details and highlight certain facts more comprehensively.

Chaitra Maasa

Chaitra Shukla Pratipaada heralds the New Year. In Mesha Sankranti, the first and previous ten ghadis are considered as Punyakaala. If the Samkramana starts before the previous midnight, then the Punyakaala is stated to commence on the previous night and otherwise then the Uttaraartha Punya kaala is considered as on the following day. In case the Sankramana is exactly on the midnight then both the days are deemed as of Punyakaala. Even if Chaitra Maasa happens to be an Adhika Maasa / Mala Maasa, then also the ‘Tailaabhyangana’ / oily head bath and other formal duties need to be performed and the New Year is declared as has begun. Each house-hold would then have a festive look and the Praatipada Morning should witness freshness with Nimba Patra Bhakshama with gud /jaggery and raw Mango pieces signifying equanimity of the  mixed tastes of the New Year. That indeed announces the Vasanta Nava Rathris or the Devi Sharannava Raatris (Nine Nights).                              [ Parameswari is stated to assume  NINE SWARUPAS OF DEVI viz. Brahmi / Devi Sharada as ‘Hamsavaahini’ / seated on a Swan with Kamandalu, Aksha Maala, Pustaka, Paasha and Chinmudra; Maheswari-Vrishabha Vaahini / seated in a bull, wearing a Crest Moon and Trishula /Trident; Koumaari as Mayura Vaahini / riding a Mayura or  peacock with Shakti as her Aayudha / weapon; Vaishnavi as Garuda Vaahini with Shankha-Chakra-Gadaa ( conchshell, disc and  mace); Indrani with Vajraayudha; Sharada with Veena bestowing knowledge; Mohini with Amrita Kalasha distributing Nectar to Devas and denying to Asuras; Raja Rajeswari / Kameshwari seated on a lotus with Paasha, Ankusha, Pushpa Baana and Chaapa bestowing wealth, food, happiness and contentment; Devi Chamundi the Simha Vaahini /seated on a lion and destroying the most potent Demons like Chanda-Mundas and protecting the virtuous and the wise from their torment and finally as Gajalakshmi seated on a lotus with elephants geeting her with their trunks aloft and providing happiness to her devotees. The Nava Swarupas of Jagan Maata signify the assurance to the Universe the truism: Ekaivaaham Jagatyaatraa dwiteeyaa kaa mamaaparaa/ (I am the eternal and unique Shakti and none else!) ]

Chaitra Shukla Paksha Vrata Pradaana: On Pratipa Tithi, Prapeya (Pousala or Water supplying rest houses) daana is observed to satisfy Pitru Devataas; if one is unable to do so every day in the Month pots of water are given as Daana to  Brahmanas; the relevant Mantra is: Esha Dharma ghato datto Brahma Vishnu Shivaatmakah, Asya Pradaanaatsakalaa mama santhu manorathaah/ ( This dharma ghata or  pot of Dharma representing Brahma-Vishnu- Maheshwara is being given as charity so that my ‘manoratha’ or menal desires be fulfilled). This type of Daana is not only done on Pratipada Tithi of Chaitra Maasa, but  on Chaitra Shukla Panchami, Vaishakha Shukla Triteeya, Maagha Shuka Trayodashi, Kartika Saptami, Maargaseersha Navami and Phalguna Krishna Triteeya; these are the days when Pitru Shraadha is to be performed. Some persons believe that Matsya Jayanti is also observed on Chaitra Shukla Pratipaada. On Chaitra Shukla Patipaada, Gouri  Vrata is also observed by performing ‘Dampati Puja’ or worship of respected couples signifying Gouri Puja and by avoiding Ksheera-Ghrita-Madhus or Milk-Curd-Honey. On the Chatra Shukla Dwiteeya Pradosha (Sun-set time), Chandra Vrata is observed by worshipping Bala Chandra. On Chaitra Shukla Triteeya, Andolini Vrata is executed after worshipping Shiva-Parvatis; if tritteya has commenced on the previous day itself, then too this Vrata has to be observed on the next day itself. On the Triteeya itself  Shri Ramachandra ‘Dolotsava’should begin and the Puja should continue till the end of the entire Chaitra Maasa. On the Chaitra Shukla Triteeya itself the Manvaadis or the beginning of reign of Fourteen Manus; in fact the Manvaadis are celebrated on Chaitra Shukla Triteeya and Purnima, Jyeshtha Purnima, Ashadha Shukla Dashami and Purnima, Shraavana Krishnaashtami, Bhadrapada Shukla Triteeya, Ashvayuja Shukla Navami, Kartika Shukla Dwadashi and Pournamaasi, Pousha Shuklaikaadashi, Maagha Shukla Saptami and Phalguna Purnima and Amavaashya. Incidentally, the Fourteen Manus are: Swayambhu,Swarochisha, Aouttama,Tamasa, Raivata, Chakshusa, Vaiwasvanta, Savarni, Daksha Savarni, Brahma Savarni, Dharma Savarni, Rudra Savarni, Rouchya, and Indra Savarni. On all these Manvaadis, one is required to perform Pindarahita Shraaddhaas. In fact in each year there are ninety six Shraaddhas to be performed and these are: twelve Amavasyas, four  yugaadis, fourteen Manvantaraas, Twelve Kranthis, Twelve Vaidhritis, twelve Vyatipaataas, Mahalayaas fifteen , Ashtaka-ashaadhas as five, Anvashtakas five , Purveddha shraaddhas five, totalling ‘Shannavati’ Shraaddhaas. Dashaavatara  Jayantis: On Chaitra Shukla Triteeya there was  the Origin of Matsya-Avatara; at the evening of Vaishakha Purnima was of the Kurmaavatara; Varahaavataara at the Aparaahna of Bhadrapada Shuklka Triteeya; Nrisimaavataara at the evening of Vaishakha Shuka Chaturdashi; Vaamanaavataara in the Madhyaahna of Chaitra Shukla Dwaadashi; Parashu Rama at the Madhyaahna on Vaishakha Shukla Triteeya ; Chaitra Shukla Madhyaahna Shri Rama; Shri Krishna at the midnight of Shravana Krishnaashtami; Buddhaavataara in the evening of Ashviyuja Shukla Dashami; and on Kalkyaavataara on Sharavana Shukala Shashthi on the evening.

Ganesha Damana Puja is performed all over Bharata Varsha  on Chaitra Shukla Chaturthi for Vighna naasham Sarvakaamaapnuyaat or for overcoming all difficulties and fulfilling all kinds of desires. Any Puja or auspicious tasks should be initiated only after Ganesha Puja always. Panchami naaga Puja  is observed  in Chaitra Shukla Paksha by offering Ksheera- Ghrita to Naaga Devataas / Serpent Gods. Also this Panchami is the day of re-incarnation of Goddess of Wealth Lakshmi Devi pursuant to the ‘Ksheera Mathana’ or the churning of the Ocean of Milk by Deva-Daityas as also of the emergence of ‘Ucchaaishravaas’ or the Divine Horses and thus Lakshmi worship and Haya Vrata are observed on the same day. Chaitra Shukla Shasthi is the Skanda Shashthi and worship of Shiva Kumara Skanda. Chaitra Shukla Ashtami is the day of Bhavani Devi’s Puja. On the same day, if Punarvasu Nakshatra coincides too that auspicious day is to observed as of the worship of Ashvatha (Peepal) Tree by consuming eight tender buds of the flowers of the tree for fulfillment of human desires. Again, Punarvasu Budhopetaa Chaitrey Maasi sitaashami, Praatastu Vidhivatsnaatvaa Vaajapeya phalam labhet/ ( If formal bathing is done on the early morning of Wednesday coinciding with Punarvasu Nakshatra of Chaitra Shukla Ashtami followed by the worship of  ‘Ishta Devata’, then that auspicious act would bestow the fruit of executing  Vaajapeya Yagna!)  

Shri Rama Vrata on Chaitra Shukla Navami: Lord Shri Rama assumed the incarnation of Bhagavan Vishnu on Chaitra Shukla Navami’s Madhyaahna, during the Punarvasu Nakshatra in the Karkataka Lagna when Surya Deva was in Mesha Raasi as five Grahas / Planets were in ascendencyor predominance. As such, persons dedicated to Shri Rama Vrata should initiate their Upavaasa’s morning on the presumption of  Navami extending upto the afternoon but if Navami arrived on the previous day and extends on the next afternoon, then the Sankalpa of Upavasa should be on the previous day itself and the Upavasa would be for two days. The Vrata Sankalpa commences with Shri Rama Pratimaa Daana to the Acharya, by reciting the Shloka:  Shri Rama Pratimaa Daanam -kareshyam Dwijottama, Tatraachaaryo Bhava preeta sshreemaarosi twamevamey/  ( I pray to Shri Rama and offer the Shri Rama Pratima presuming th Acharya is Shri Rama himself); the Karta should further take a vow: Navamyaa anga bhutena eka bhuktena Raghavaa! Ikshwaaku Vamsha Tilaka preetobhava bhavapriya/  (As part of the Navami Vrata, I do resolve hereby that I will fast till the end of the Vrata; Shri Ragava! The jewel of the Ikshwaku Vamsha! Shiva Priya!). There after, Puja Vedika / Platform is made, take the vow to keep fast for eight yaamas, and recite : Shri Rama Navami Vrataangabhuta Shodashopachaara Pujaam karishye/ and intiate the Puja comprising sixteen services like Aavahana- Shuddhodaka Snaana-Vastra- Gandha-Pushpa-Phala-Naivedyaadis. Then invoke Devi Kousalya with the Mantra: Raamasya jananichaasi Raamatmakamidam Jagat/  Then worship Dasharatha saying Om Namo Dasharadhaaya./ This would be followed by Shanka Puja with the recital: Dashaanana Vadhaarthaaya Dharma Samshaapanaaya cha, Daanavaanaam Vinaashaaya Daityaanaam nithanaaya cha/ Paritraanaaya Saadhunaam jaato Raamasswayam harih, Grihaanaarghyam mayaa duttam bhraatrubhissahitonagha/  (Shri Rama! You are indeed the incarnation of Shri Hari who has descended to earth to destroy the powerful Ten-headed Ravana and other Daitya-Daanavaas and re-instate Dharma in the Universe; may offer this obeisance to you alng with your brothers). This Puja would by followed by night long ‘jaagarana’ and Punah Puja next morning along with Agni Homa and Mula Mantra Pathana hundred times. On conclusion, Patimaadi daanaas, Dakshina Pradaana and Prasaada Sweekaaarana Paarana / Brahmana Bhojana.

Shri Krishnaandolanotsava on Chaitra Shukla Ekaadashi ( Celebration of Baala Krishna in cradle): Dolaarudham prapashyanti Krishnam Kalimalaapaham, Aparaadha sahasraistu Muktaastey dhoonaney kritey/  Taavatthishthanti paapaani janmakotikritaanyapi kreedantey Vishnunaasaardham V aikunthey Deva Pujitaah/ (Mere vision of Bala Krishna playful in a cradle is enough to destroy the sins of Kali Yuga; if the cradle is swung, thousands of misdoings are forgiven and ‘Janmaantaraaparaadhaas’ or sins of previous births are desroyed at once and if  the Pratima of Krishna is played with in full faith and devotion, Vishnu Saayujya is assured).

Damanotsava ( Festival of Damana Devata) on Chaitra Shukla Chaturdashi: Damana literally means self- restraint and conquering  Evil  Forces. Observing Upavasa and Nitya Puja on this occasion, the Karta of Festival enters  the Damana Sthaana, cleans it up with ‘Pancha Gavyas’ (Five products of Cow viz. milk, curd, ghee, dung and urine), decorates it with Chandana-Pushpa-Phalaas,  initiates puja with the invocation of  Shri Krishna Pujaartham twaam nesheye, meditate Sarva Devatas and performs Puja to Kama Devata with the Mantra: Namostu Pushpa baanaaya Jagadaahlaadakaariney, Manmathaaya Jagannetrey Rati preeti priyaayatey/ (I greet Manmatha Deva-the carrier of Flowery Arrows to bestow  happiness of the entire Universe, the Saviour of all Beings in the Lord’s Creation and the beloved of Rati Devi ). Then at the Damana Sthaana, instal a ‘Kalasha’/ vessel in the center of a Square over a white cloth and propitiate Damana Devata with the Prayer: Pujaartham Deva Devasya Vishnorlakshmi patey Prabho, Damanatwamihaagaccha saannidhyam kurutey namah/ (May I greet Lakshmi Pati Vishnu before I invoke Damana Devata from the ‘Ashta Diks’ or the Eight Directions)  with the Mantras: Kleem Kama Devaaya Namah, Hreem Ratyai Namah, Kleem Bhasma Shareeraaya Namah, Hreem Ratyai Namah, Kleem  Anangaaya Namah, Hreem Ratyai Namah, Kleem Manmadhaaya Namah, Kleem Vasanta Sukhaaya Namah, Kleem Smaraaya Namah, Kleem Ikshu chaapaaya Namah, Kleem  Pushpa Baanaaya Nama etc.and Gayatri Damana  Mantra viz. Tatpurushaaya Vidmahey, Kaama Devaaya dheemahi, Tannanangah prachodayaat. Subsequently, the Karta greets Bhagavan Vishnu as follows: Ksheerodadhi Maha Naaga shayyaavasthita Vigraha, Praatastwaam pujayishyaami sannidhou bhavatey namah/ ( Parameswara who is resting on the ‘Sesha Talpa’!  May I offer my  Morning Puja; do provide my nearness to you!) and observes ‘Ekaadasha Jaagarana’ or Night Vigil all through the Ekaadashi. Next Morning after performing Nitya Puja , execute worship to Damana Devata and after reciting ‘Mula Mantra’, pray to Paramatma with the Stanza: Deva Deva Jagannatha vaanchitaartha pradaayaka, Hruthpaan purayamey Vishno kaamaan Kameshwari Priya/ Idam damanakam Deva grihana madanugrahaat, Imaam Saam vatsaram  Pujaam  Bhagavan Paripuraya/ (Deva Deva Jagannaatha! Parameswara! As you always fulfill every body’s desires, do grant my wishes too and accept my Damana Puja over the Year) .

Nrisimha Dolotsava again on  Chaitra Shukla Chaturdashi is a Damana Puja to Parama Shiva, Ekaveera Devi and Bhairava. This Chaturdashi has to extend upto the noon if commenced on the previous day itself. If not, it should be considered as Chaitra Purnima in which case, Damana Puja has to be performed to all Devas. If Chaitra Purnima coincides with Chitra Nakshatra, Chitra Vastra Daana would bestow excellent prosperity. If that day falls on Sunday-Thursday- Saturday then Praatahsnaana-Shraaddaas would grant the Punya of performing Ashwamedha yagna.

Vaishaakha Maasa

Vaishakha Snaanaas are scheduled during Chaitra Shukla Ekaadashi to Purnima with the arrival Mesha Samkraanti: Vaishaakham sakalam maasam Mesha sankraman Raveh, Praatassnnimaya-ssnaassy preeyataam Madhu Sudanah/ Madhu hantuh prasaadena Brahmanaamanugrakaat, nirvighnamastu mey Punyam Vaishaakha snaanamanvaham, Maadhavey Meshagebhaanow Muraarey Madhusudana/ Praatassnaanena mey Naatha Phalado Bhava Paapahan/ (During the entire Vaishaakha Maasa when Mesha Sankraanti occurs, I resolve that I shall take formal baths by which Madhusudana would be pleased; give my devotion to Him and th blessings of Brahmanas, may the series of th Snaanaas be completed without hindrance and break; in the exception of a break if need be, at least three Snaanas be performed from Tayosashi onward. As stated earlier, Manvaadis are on Purnimas; in case, Chaitra KrishnaTrayodashi coincideswith Shatabhisha that day is reckoned as a ‘Vaaruni’ and is worthy of Snaanaas on the days of  ‘Grahana’. If there is Shubha Yoga or auspicious coincidence of a Saturday and Shatabhisha Nakshatra, then that day is called Maha Vaaruni. F urther, there is a belief that Snaanas in Ganga on Chaitra Krishna Chaturdashi on a Tuesday in the presence of a Shiva Temple could even get rid of a person from Pishaachatwa! In Vaishakha Maasa’s  Vrishabha Sankranti time ie. sixteen Ghadiyas before the First day, Tila Tarpana and Ghata Daana are stated to be significance. Vasanta Puja to Brahmanas with Sandalwood paste( Gandha)-Jaggery water and Plantain fruits is also of great value. In Vaishakha Maasa (as also in Jyeshtha) when summer gets intense, then after Nitya Puja keep a full vessel of Sandalwood water and Tulasi leaves with ‘Panchopachaaraas’to Vishnu and perform ‘Maarjana’ or sprinkle drops to purify ‘Griha Dwaaraas’ and on retaining the same Tirtha pour around an Ashwatta (Pipal) Tree by doing Pradakshinas on the next morning then several Pitru Devataas are stated to redeem their souls; also the skin-itches of cows are believed to be cured. In the Vaishakha Maasa, voluntary ‘Nakta Bhojanas’ are stated to fulfill longstanding desires of the persons conerned. Shiva Lingaarchana with cotinuous pourings of  Sacred Water as Abhishkaas along with Namaka-Chamaka Mantras would bestow far reaching Punya. Similarly Chhatra-Paada raksha daanaas would yield Maha-Phala.

Observance of Akshaya Triteeya in Vaishakha Maasa:  The fruits of  vituous deeds on this day should yield far reaching ; Asyaam Yatkinchitjapahoma Pitrutarpana daanaadi kriyatey tatsarvamakshayam, Iyam Rohini Budha Yogey Mahaa Punyaa/ Asyaam Japahomaadi krityepi Vakshyamaana yugaadivan –nirnayah, Iyam kritaugasyaadih/ (On this Akshaya Triteeya, whatever little is performed by way of Japa-Homa- Pitru Tarpana-Daanaadi Dharma karyaas would never be wasted; especially when these Karyaas are done on Wednesdays coinciding Rohini Nakshatra would bestow ‘Mahaa phala’. Such Japa-Homa and such acts are as good as those performed at the  Yugaadis. Yugaadi Shraaddha should be Pinda rahita or without resorting  to offer of Pindaas. If Shraaddha is not possible on these lines , tila tarpana would suffice. However, Kumbha daana is stated to be essential; a Kumbha (pot) has to be covered with a cloth and filled up with ‘Gandhodaka’before giving away as a kumbha daana by reciting: Esha Dharma Ghato dutto Brahma Vishnu Shiaamakah, Asya pradaanaatrupyantu Pitarassapitaamahah/ Gandhodakatilairyuktam snaanam kumbham phalaanvitah Pitrubhyas- sampradaasyaami Akshayyamupatishthatu/ (I am giving away this ‘Kalasha’ filled with tila-phala-Gandhotakas through you Brahmanas in favour of my Pitru Devataas; may this daana bestow to me endless benefits. At the Yugaadis like this Akshaya Triteeya, ‘Samudra Snaana’ and ‘Upavasa’ are stated to be immense ‘Punya’. On this Triteeya, Parashu Rama Jayanti is also observed; on this day’s ‘Pradosha’ Time, Parashu Rama puja is performed by offering ‘Arghya’or Sacred Water to Parashu Rama with the Mantra: Jaamadagnya Mahaa Vira Kshatriyaantakara Prabho, Grihaanaarghyam mayaa duttam kripayaa Parameswara!( Parmeswara Parashu Rama who uprooted the entire Kshatriya Vamsha! Do accept the offer of  the Arghya from me and safeguard me always!)                   In the Vaishakha Maasa Saptami, Ganga Devi was brought down from Heavens by Bhagiradha to purify the ashes of his great grand parents and Ganga Puja had been observed eversince. On Vaishakha Shukla Dwadashi Madhusudana Puja bestows Agnishtoma Yagna Phala.

Nrisimha Jayanti on the Chaturdashi, especially if coincides with Swati Nakshatra and a Saturday would be of great consequence. The Narasimha Vrata should actually commence on the preceding Trayodashi itself as ‘Eka Bhukta’ or on a single meal and after the Nitya Karmaas on the morning of Chaturdashi and on its afternoon the Karta should take bath with Tilaas and the dried powder of Amla (goosebury) fruit. In the Evening, instal a Golden Pratima of Nrisimha Deva on a ‘Purna Kumbha Paatra’ or a Vessel filled up with Sacred Water and offer ‘Arghya’ along with ‘Shodashopachaaraas’ to Nrisimha Deva reciting : Paritraanaaya saadhunaam jaato Vishnurnrukesari,Grihaanaartghyam maya duttam sa Lakshmirruharey swayam/ (Lakshmi yuta Vishnu’s Avataara Nrisimha Deva! You assumed the Incarnation of Vishnu to save Sadhus and punish the Evil Forces; do kindly accept the Sacred Water and the Sixteen Services of Abhisheka, Vastra, Yagnopaveeta, Gandha, Pushpa, Phala, Deepa, Dhupa- Naivedyaadi). Affter the offerings, the Devotee should pray to say: Mad Vamshey ye Naraa jaataa ye janishyanti chaaparey, Taan Samuddhara Devesha dusshaad bhava Saagaraat/ Paatakaarnava magnasya vyaadhi duhkhaambu Vaaridheyh, Neechaischa paribhutasya Mahaa Duhkhagatasyamey/ Karaavakambanam dehi Sesha shaayin agatpatey, Shri Nrisimha Ramaakaanta bhaktaanaam bhaya naashana, Ksheeraambudhi nivaasastwam Chakrapaaney Janaardana Vratenaanena Devesha Bhukti Muktiprado bhava! (Sesha shaayi! Jagannatha! Shri Nrisimha! Lakshi Priya! and the Resident of the Ocean of Milk ! Do please save and protect those who were born or would be born in future in my Vamsha from the tortures of Samsara- Samudra from their sins, diseases, and banes as they are often subjected with insults and annoyances;  do always lend them with your helping hand, accept my Vrata and bestow to me fruits of Bhoga-Mokshaas).  The following steps in the Nrisimha Vrata include Paarana/ brahmana Bhojana and daanas of Kumbha- Go- Suvarna- Krishnajina and Bhu Daana ; Madhu- Tila Taila and  Ghee etc. Also TilaSnaana, Tila  Homa; Tilataila Deepa Daana, Tila Pitru Tarpana, Tila-Madhu Daana and so on are executed to secure Maha Phala.   

Vaishakha ‘Snaanaas’ (popularly called AKAAMAVAI SNAANAS viz. the Snaanaas of Ashwiyuja-Kaartika- Maagha-Vaishakha) are concluded on Vaishakha Purnami or even earlier on the previous Shukla Dwadashi itself. On the occasion of the ‘Snaana Udyaapanas’, Go- Paduka- Chharta- Vyajana Daanaas are commended.

Jyeshtha Maasa Karyaas

Mithuna Sankranti Punya kaala is stated to arrive sixteen ghadiyas after the Jyeshta Shukla Pratipada. In case the Punya Kaala commences on that night, Brahma Deva’s Pratima is made of Wheat flour and worshipped with Vastra-Pushpaas to reap Suryaloka Prapti.In this Jyeshtha Maasa, Jala Dhenu daana is prescribed. On this Pratipada Tithi, Karaveera Vrata is scheduled. On Jyeshta Shukla Triteeya, Rambha Vrata is an important Vrata  which is observed only those men and women performing Panchaagni Tapas are qualified; they make a Swarna Pratima of Devi Parvati and execute formal worship by way of Homaas and offer the Pratima finally donate it to a virtuous  Brahmana couple to whom a self-contained house is to be given away as Daana. Jyeshtha Shukla Chaturdashi happens to be the birth day of Uma Devi and hence her worship is significant on that Tithi. On that Ashtami Shukla Devi is to be worshipped and on the following Navami Upavaasa is prescribed and repeat puja is to be performed on Dashami.

Gangaavataarana and worship on Dwaadashi: The most auspicious time that the most Sacred River Ganga was born  was stated to possess ten Yogaas: Jyeshtha Maasi Sita Pakshey Dwadashyaam Budhahaspatayoh Vyateepaatey garaanandey Kanyaachandrey Vrusho Ravou! These yogaas are Jyeshtha-Shukla Paksha- Dashama Tithi- Budha Vaara-Hastaa Nakshatra-Vyateepaata-Gara Karana-Ananda Yoga- Kaanyaa’s Chandra-and Vrisha’s Surya. Even if this happens to be an Adhika Maasa, there is no objection to observe the ‘Gangaa Vrata’. Those who are fortunate to reach Ganga on this day, especially in Varanaasi make the Sankalpa after stating the Desha Kaala and recite as follows : Mamaitatjjanma janmaantara sumudbhuta trividhakaayika Chaturvidha vaachika trividha maanasika swarupa Skaandokta dasha vidha paapaniraasatraya strimshacchata  Pitruddhaara Brahma lokaavyaaptaadi phala Praaptyhardham Jyeshthamaa Shukla Paksha Dashami Budhavaasara Hastaanakshatra Gara karana Vyatipaataananda yoga Kanyaastha Chandra Vrishastha Suryeti Dasha Yoga Parvanyasyaam Mahaa Nadyaam Snaanam Tirtha Pujanam pratiyaamaam Jahnavi pujaam Tilaadi daanam Mula Mantra Japamaajya homam cha Yathaa shakti Karishye! ( I have the great satisfaction to bathe in the Holy River of Ganga and seek to wash off the cumulative sins of this and previous birth on account of three kinds of Physical ailments, four kinds of vocal problems and three kinds of mental agonies as described in Skanda Purana. The ‘Snaana’ is also to redeem three thousand thirty three Pitru Devataas besides attaining Brahma loka. This type of Sacred Snaana is ideal in Jyeshtha Shukla Paksha-Dashami Tithi- Wednesday-Hasta Nakshatra- Gara Karana-Vyatipaata and Ananda Yoga as also in Chandra in Kanya Raashi, and Surya in Vrisha Raashi- all totalling ten Yogaas when Ganga was materialised. It is in such Most Illutrious and Highly Sacrosanct River that Snaana- Tirtha Pujana-Tila and other Daanas, Mula Mantra Japa and Homaas would be performed by me as per my capacity!) After making this Sankalpa or Determination, the devotees concerned should dip in Ganga  ten times, render Stotraas, wear dry clothing, perform Nitya Karma, Tirtha Puja, Pitru/ Tila Tarpana by taking ten handfuls of Ghee and jaggery mixed Pindas in favour of Pitru devataas and finally invoke Ganga stating: Namo Bhagavatyai Dasha Paapa haraayai Gangaayai Naraayanyai Revathai Shivaayai Dakshaayai Amritaayai Vishwa Rupinyai nandinyai tey Namo Namah/ After the invocation as above,  render ‘Aavaahana’ Mantra viz. Om Namasshivaayai Narayanyai Dasha Paapa haraayai Gangaayai swaaha, thus inviting Narayana, Rudra, Brahma, Surya, Himavan, Bhagiratha and execute ‘Shodashopachaaraas’. ‘Pujaanantara Stotra’ addressing Ganga as given in Skanda Purana after the Puja is as follows: Namasshivayai Gangaayai Shivadaayai Namo Namah, Namastey Rudra Rupinyai Shaankaryetey Namo Namah/ Sarva Deva Swarupinyai Namo Bheshaja Murtaye, Sarvaswa  Sarva Vyaadheenam Bhishak Shreshthyai Namo namah/  Sthaanu jangama sambhutaVisha hantrai namonamah, Bhogopabhoga daayinyai Bhogha Vatyai namonamah/ --- ( Devi Ganga! You are the auspicious Form of Rudra, Vishwa Swarupa, Brahma Murti and Sarva Deva Swarupa, the Curer of all kinds of ailments and diseases; the destroyer of pousons of animate and inanimate beings; the bestower of all kinds of happiness; Bhogavati! Mandakini! ‘Swarna Daata’ or the giver of gold and precious Stones; you are the Triloka Maata! Your unique presence at Gangaa Dwaara, Prayaga and Saagara Sangama grants immense joy to us; I greet you with several titles as Nanda, Loka  Dhatri, Linga Dharini, Narayani, Vishwa Mukhya, Revati, Brihati, Tejovati, Vishwa Mitra, Prithvi, Shiva, Amrita, Suvrusha, Shanta, Varishtha,Varada, Usra, Sukhadrogi, Sanjeevani, Brahmishtha, Brahmada, Duritaghni, Pranataarti bhanjani, Jaganmata, and the extinguisher of all possible difficulties and Mangala! Devi Ganga! Kindly stay secure and firm  always by my sides ahead and behind as my very existence in your waters is solely due to your courtesy; in fact, your presence in Srishti-Sthiti-Laya is a known realism as you are the Mula Prakriti, Narayana, Shiva, Paramatma. Those who recite your Stotra with faith and devotion  by the means of hearing or pronouncing or by mental concentration should definitely extinguish all kinds of sins and fulfill any type of desires.)  Among the tangible sins the ten prominent ones area: acceptance of  other’s material without permission; commit acts of violence disapproved by Shastras and other Scriptures; and desire for other women : these are by way of Physical acts; Parusha Bhashana or Utterances  of Unsavoury language, lies, gossip, etc. are of ‘Vaachaka’ or vocal-based; ‘Paradravyaabhilaasha’ or interest in other’s money-property-belongings; thinking of and doing acts that hurt others; and useless ego problems which are all mind-based. Devi Ganga! You have the unique distinction of redeeming the Souls of Three thousand thirty three Pitru Devaas! You are seated on a while Crocodile, hold  a ‘Kalasha’ with a‘Kamala’by your hands, wear a white silk Vastra; and is a Brahma-Vishnu-Rudra-Rupini. You are the Sacred Water in Brahma’s Kamandulu uilised for ‘’Srishti’; the Water with which Bali Chakravarti washed the consecrated feet of  Vamana Deva; and the hallowed water of Ganga retained in the ‘Jataajuta’or the curled and twisted coarse hairs of Parama Shiva a strain of which was released in response to  the earnest prayers of Bhagiratha to redeem the Souls of the latter’s ancestry. Such indeed is the illustrious history of Ganga  that even a ‘Smarana’ or thought of the River from hundreds of yojanas would suffice to wash off sins and Vishnu Loka Prapti!

‘Nirjala Vrata’ on Jyeshtha Shuklaikaadashi:  This Vrata is observed by avoiding water except for the ‘Nityaachamaniya’ purposes or of formal sippings of water for Pujas. Such Nirjala Vrataas on twelve successvive Ekaadashis would indeed qualify for far reaching phala. After observing  the Upavaasa and Vrata on the Ekaadashi there should be daana of ‘Sahiranya Sharkarodaka Kumbha or  charity of  Potful of sugar water with Gold Dakshina. In fact, Puja of Trivikrama Vaamana Deva on the following Dwadashi and a Gavaamaya Kratu  are of immense benfits. ‘Tila Darpana’on Jyeshtha Purnima’’ is staed to yield Ashvamedha Phala. In the Jyeshtha Nakshatra, Chhatra-Paada Raksha Daanaas bestows superiority. ‘Bilva Raatri Traya Vrata’ / Vata Savitri Vrata from Trayodashi to Purnima Tithis -with atleast Trayodashi Nakta Bhojana- is observed  in the Jyeshtha Shula Paksha. However women folk normally observe the Vrata without fasting; those women in menstrual circle might opt for Brahmanas to carry out the Vrata on their behalf although there is a strong opinion that the concerned women must not perform the Vrata in that state.  On Jyeshtha Pourmami, if there is a conjunction of Brihaspati and Chandra with Jyeshtha Nakshatra or Surya with  Rohini Nakshatra, that specific Tithi is called  Mahaa Jyaishthi;  that day is extremely appropriate for Snaana-Daanaas; as that Tithi is also significant as the ‘Manvaadi’ and Pinda Rahita Shraaddha is to be performed. In fact, the entire Jyeshta Maasa is of Trivikrama ‘Preeti’ or of great fondness of Vamana Deva and Daanas of ‘Chandananodaka Kumbha’ and such other Daanaas  are stated to have far reaching consequence.

Ashaadha Maasa Vratas

Dakshinaayana / Karkataka Sankranti occurs in Ashaadha Maasa. Some thirty ghadiyas before that is reckoned as Punya kaala; that too those ghadiyas nearing the specific time is supposed to be the most auspicious Punya kaala. If Karkaataka Sankramana takes place at mid night or nearabout, then the Punya kaala is stated to have arrived as on the previous Tithi, but the Sankramana is after Sunrise within two ghadiyas then the Punya kaala is reckoned as on the same day and Daana-Upavaasaas are to be observed then. In case Surya is in Karkaataka Raashi, or Kanya, or Dhanush or Kumbha, then Chudaa karmaadi are prohibited. In the Ashadha Maasa, observance of ‘Eka Bhukta’ or single meal a day would yield generous money, grains and progeny. In this month, Vamana Deva is propitiated by daanaas of  footwear, umbrelllas, salt and Amla fruit. On Ashaadha Shukla Dwiteeya, preferably in Pushya Nakshatra, Shri Rama Rathotsava is popular. Ekaadasahi is notable as ‘ Vishnu Shayanotsava’ or when Vishnu Pratima is placed in a swing resting on a soft bed and pillow as though  on the high tide of Ksheera Sagara fully ornamented with his four hands wearing Shankha-Chakra- Saranga and Gada while Devi Lakshni pressing his feet; then elaborate puja is performed and a devotee’s prayer would be : Twayi Suptey Jagannatha Jagatsuptam bhavedimam, Vibuddhey twayi Buddheta tat sarvam sa charaacharam/ (Jagannatha! If you resort to sleep, then the Universe is put to sleep.  As you are awake, the Universe is woken up too). On the Dwadashi  day,  Puja would continue followed by ‘Jaagarana’or night vigil well spent with songs, music and dances and on the early morning of Trayodashi again,  Punah Puja is executed ; thus this ‘Utsava’ or celebration is a three- day long affair.

Chaaturmaasa Vrata: This Vrata is not to be initiated on Thursday and Fridays, preferably at the beginning of  Ashaadha Shukla Dwadashi evening after ‘Paarana’’. This Vrata could be accomplished by Shaivaites also.This  is intiated by Jaati-Pushpa Maha Puja with the ‘Sankalpa’ commencing  with the same  above Prayer viz. Twayi Suptey Jagannaadha------------ and as follows: Chaturo Vaarshikaan Maasaan Devasyothaapanaavadhi, Shraavaney varjyayecchaakam dadhi Bhaadrapadey tatha/  Dugdhamaaswayujey maasi Kartikey dwidalam thyajet, Imam Karishyeniyamam nirvighnam kurumechyuta/ Idam Vratam mayaadeva gruheetam puratastawa, Nirvighnam Siddhimaayaatu prasaadaatey Ramaa patey/ gruheetesmin Vratey Deva panchatwam yadimey bhavet,Tadaa bhavatu sampurnam prasaadaattye Janardana/  (Jagannadha! If you resort to sleep, the whole Universe falls in slumber and if you are out of your ‘yoga nidra’ the World is active too. Be kind to me! I resolve hereby to observe the regulation of ‘Chaturmaasya’as follows: Chaturo Vaarshikaan maasaan devasyotthaapanaavadhi, Shraavaney varjyaye shaakam dadhi Bhadrapadey tathaa/ Dugdhamaashwayuje maasi Kartikey dwidalam tathaa, Imam Karishye niyamam nirvighnam kurumeychyuta! (In the Year’s  four months, I will not eat vegetables during Shravana Month, nor consume curds during Bhadrapada month, milk on Aswayuja, and ‘dwidalam’ (Pulses) during Karthika maasa; may I be blessed to observe the regulations as above and be ensured that no obstacles should stop me from being strictly adhered to). Bhagavan! in the event of my death during this Chaaturmaasya Vrata, then may I be considered as eligible to have succsessfully completed the Vrata; so saying the Karta would offer Shankhu Tirtha to Bhagavan. On the same lines as the Chaaturmasya Vrata, similar resolutions could be made in other Vrataas as well. For instance, resolves be made about ‘Gudaanna’dharana or Varjana and so on  as applicablein relevant resolutions: Varjayashey gudam Deva Madhura swara siddhaye, Varjyayishye tailamaham sundaraangatwa siddhaye/ Yogaabhaasi Bhavishyaami praaptum Brahma padam param, Mounavrati bhavishyaami swaagnaapaalana siddhaye/Ekaantaropavaasi cha praaptum Brahmaputam param/----Iti sankalpah/  (  There might be similar Resolutions: Avoiding Jaggery eating would improve sweet voice; evading oil consumption would enhance phycical charm; Yogaabhyaasa will be observed to facilitate Brahma pada prapti; Mouna Vrata will be followed to enable me self control; fasting of alternate days should help secure Brahma pada and so on). There area also some nishiddha or  avoidable materials and actions in th course of Chaaturmaasa Vrata: no material should be offered as Naivedya as water in leather sachets, the burnt ash of dead animals or flies collected from Agni, Yagna’s left over cooked rice, burnt food, Masura or Meat products, seedless or of too many seed vegetables, Mulaka or Mulis, Kushmanda / pumpkin , sugar cane, black gram, brinjal, snake gourd, tamarind , salt , honey  etc. are strictly forbidden.  Vrintaaka bilvodumbara kalinga bhissataastu Vaishnavaih sarvamaaseshu varjyayaah/ (Brinjal, bilwa, udumbara, Kalinga, bhissata are forbidden by Vaishnavaites always.) Milk and products of any animal excepting cows, buffalos or goats are not worthy of offering as Naivedya to Bhagavan. During the entire Chaaturmaasaas, those who consume Havishya bhojana  are commended. Those who refrain from eating jaggery would have soft voices; avoiding oils would help develop attractive body parts; refrain from eating ‘taamboola’ would possess sweet voice; ghee consumption spoils skin; avoiding milkand curd leads to Vishnu loka; those who sleep on mats on ground become the beloved of Bhagavan. Eating by squatting on the ground would bestow royalty. Ridding of ‘Madhu Maamsa’ or honey and meat makes a person a Muni / hermit. Eating on alternate days paves the way to Brahmaloka. Growing hairs and nails yields Ganga Snaana phala. Silence is like giving instructions to others. Vishnu Vandana yields Go-daana phala. Vishnu paada sparsha is ‘kritartatwa or a life well spent in fulfillment . Cleaning ‘Devagriha’ provides kingship. Hundred ‘pradakshinaas’ or circumambulations of Bhagavan bestows ‘ Vishnu Sayujya’. ‘Ekabhuktaashana’ or  a meal a day provides ‘Agnihotra karma phala’. Construction of wells or water bodies confers fame and ‘Punya’. Eating at the sixth part of  days together as habit grants ‘Swargavaasa’. Eating on leaves gives Kurukshetra Vaasa phala. Bhojana squatted on rocks endows Prayaaga Snana. On these lines, if Chaturmaas Vrata is observed from Ashaadha Ekaadashi /Dwadashi to Shravana Maasa, a person is stated to have made a significant accomplishment!

Chaturmaasa Vrata is stated to have terminated on Shravana Purnima. For those Grihastis observing The Vrata as also to Yatis / Sanyasis, Vyasa Puja is scheduled on the Purnima’s Sunrise presuming that the Tithi is valid at least upto six ghadis thereafter. Vyasa Puja commences after the Kshura Karma or  shaving the head-hair and  beard. During these four months or  atleast a mimum of two months, the Yati is required to stay at the same place. After the shaving of head, the Karta or Yati has to perform twelve ‘Mrittikaa Snaanaas’ followed by Vyasa Puja. The Sankalpa is : Chaaturmaasya Vaasam kartum Shri Krishna Vyasa bhaashyakaaraanaam saparivaaraanaam pujanam karishye/  In this Sankalpa, thePlacements of the ‘Saparivaaraas’ are: Shri Krishna in the Centre along with Vaasudeva- Sankarshana- Pradyumna- Aniruddha are invoked first; to the South of Krishna be Vyasa-Sumantu- Jaimini-Vyashampaayana-and Paila; to the left of Krishna and others be the Bhashyakaara Adi- Shankara and Padmapaada- Vishwarupa-Trotaka-and Hastaaala; to the sides of Shri Krishna would be Brama and Rudra; and on the four sides would be Sanaka-Sananaa- Sanaatana-Sanatkumaaraas; BrahmapVasishtha-Shakti-Paraashara-Vyaasa-Shuka-Goudapada-Govinndapaada and Shankaraachaarya; then Ganesha in Agneya, Kshetrapaala inIshana, Durga in Vaayavya, Sarasvati in Nirruti, and staring from the outer East the Ashtapaalakaas. After the Avaahana Puja, Narayanaashtaakshara Mantra and Omkaara Namasshabda mantras be recited. After Lakshmi-Narayana wosrship is performed, there must be prayers in favour of married Grihastis to mean that the Chaturmaasa Vrata should nowterminate successfully and there shoud not be mutual absence from each other. At the end of the Nakta Bhojana,the coulpe should perform the Krishna-Lakhmi ‘Shayya’ (bed) and Pratima daana and the Brahmanas should bless the couple observing the Vrata succssfully that the Vrata should bestow them ‘Akshya Daampathya Sukha’, ‘Putra-Dhana-Vidya yoga’ and ‘Sapta Janma Sukruta Phala’!

Shraavana Maasa

The Punya kaala in Shravana Maasa is stated to occur sixteen ghadiyas later than Simha Sankramana. In this Maasa the basic requirements are Eka Bhukta / Nakta Vrata and Abhishakaas of Vishnu and Shiva. In case, a cow gives birth when Surya is in Simha Sankramana,  the owner of the cow is to perform  thousand homaas and give it away as Daana to a Brahmana. If the cow cries in the night, there is a need to perform Mrityunjaya Homa and Shanti. Hence the saying: Maaghey Budhecha Mahishi Shraavaney badabaa Diva, Simhey Prasuyantey Swamino Mrithyu daayakaah! (If a buffalo  gives birth on Budha Vaara of MaghaMaasa, a horse gives birth in Shraavana Maasa, or if  a cow gives birth in Simha Sankranti, the concerned owner risks his/ her own life.  The ‘Shaanti’ or the way of appeasement for the occurrence in Shravana Maasa is to execute Soma Vaara Vrata  formally as per laid procedure and if unable to do so,  atleast Nakta Bhojana must be observed. On Shravana MangalaVaaraas, Mangala Gauri Vrata is definitely prescribed especially by the newly married ‘Grihinis’. Shravana Shukla Panchami is popularly called Naaga Panchami and is observed upto six ghadiyas after Suryodaya when serpents are worshipped in Snake Pits or in Temples to  Subrahmanya Kumara by offering milk and Pushpa-Gandha-Dhupa-Deepa-Phala Naivedyas. On Shravana Shukla Dwadashis,Shaakha Vrata is observed when ‘Shaakaas’ or vegetables are donated by the ‘Sankalpa’ saying Brahmanaaya Shaaka daanam karishye/  Then after worshipping Brahmana, recite the Mantra: Upaayanamidam Deva Vrata Sampurti hetavey, Shaakantu Dwija Varyaya sahiranyam dadaamyaham/ With this Mantra, cooked or raw vegetables in good stock be donated along with ‘dakshinaas’.

Pavitraaropana: On the Paarana day of  Shravana  Dwadashi or Trayodashi or Purnima,  ‘Pavitraadhiropana’ or providing  spun cotton Sacred Threads on Vishnu Idol is observed. Shiva Pavitraaropana is done  in the Shravana Shukla Paksha on  Chatudrashi, Ashtami or Pournamaasi. In respect of Devi Ganesha or Durgaadi Devatas, Pavitraaropana is accomplished on any of the Tithis viz.Charurdasi, Chaturthi,Triteeya or Navami as per one’s own ‘Kulaachaara’. If not, this is performed on Shravana Purnima. Cotton threads are in the clusters of nine with twenty four grandhis (knots) each and are called Nava Sutris ( or nine threads) representing hundred eight Devataas and this option is stated to be  the best. The medium alternative has fifty four Nava Sutris with twenty four grandhisand these cover upto the thighs of Bhagavan’s idol. The minimum option is of twenty seven Nava Sutris with twelve grandhis covering upto the navel of the idol. In the case of Shiva Linga, the length and width of the Sutris are taken into account to cover the Linga. The Pavitras are all treated by Pancha Gavyaas and the Pranavaakshara OM. Then Kumkuma (Safron) is applied over the Grandhis of the Sacred Threads while reciting the Mula Mantras hundred eight times and cover up Vastras and pray to Bhagavan seeking pardon for lapses in the observance of the formal procedure: Kriyaalopa vidhaanaardham yatwayaa vihitam Prabho, Mayaitatkriyatey Deva tava thushtai pavitrakam/ Na vighno bhaveddeva kuru Naatha dayaammayi, Sarvatha Sarvadaa Vishno mamatwam paramaa gatih/

(Deva! May deficiencies in the Procedure be taken care of by the Pavitra as ordained for your pleasure; do very kindly ensure that there should be any obstacles in our worship as you are the Ultimate Refuge to us). After the Prayer , Sankalpa be made for sanctifying the Samvatsara Puja, invoke the Tri Sutri with Brahma-Vishnu-Maheswara and the Nava Sutri with Omkaara, Vahni, Brahma, Nagesha, Surya, Shiva and Vishwa Deva with the Mula Mantra, and perform ‘Panchopa –chaaraas’  to the Pavitraas and and thus accomplish Pavitraaropana to Vishnu or Shiva as the case may be.

Upaakarma Vidhi:  Among the formal and initial ‘Veda Karmas’ is the Upaakarma . Bhavishya Purana stated: Sampraaptey Shravanasyaantey Pournimaasyaam Dinodaye, Snaanam kurvaanti Matimaan Smriti Shruti Vidhaanatah/ Upaakarmaadikam proktamrusheenaam chiva Tarpanam, Shudraanaam Mantra rahitam snaanam daanam cha shyaashyatey/ Upaakarmaani kartavyamrusheenam chaiva pujanam/ ( On the arrival of Shraavana Maasa Pournami’s Sun Rise, Wismen perform  Upaakarmaadika Karmaas including Tarpanam as per the Intructions ofVeda Shastraas. After the Upakarma, the duty is to perform Puja).

 To Rigvedis, ‘Upaakarma Kaala’ is determined on Shravana Shukla Paksha  Purnima in Shravana Nakshatra and Panchami’s Hasta Nakshatra; rather the former option. Upaakarma is performed during the period when there is no Grahana or Samkranti and this principle is followed by both Rigvedis and Yajurvedis. Otherwise, during Hasta-Panchami Yoga or atleast Hasta or Panchami seperately  is allowed. In case, Shravana Nakshatra is on two days of Pournami and the next, then the earlier day’s Suryodaya and upto the next day’s Suryodaya, there could be a carry forward of three muhurtas to allow the Upakarma on the Pournami ( broadly stated from sunrise to midday) . Even otherwise, ie. even if the Shravana Nakshatra is over  on  the day, the next Nakshatra of Dhanishtha is allowed. However, the ‘Sesha’  of the previous Nakshatra to Shravana viz. of Utraraashaadha is not suitable.  

To Yajurvedis also, Upaakarma Kaala is suitable to Shravana Purnami’s Shravana Nakshatra. In case there is a Khanda Purnima ie.  if Purnima entered after  the Sunrise of the previous day and extends to the next day upto six muhurtas then all Yajurvedis would consider the suitable time for Upakarma as on the next day. However there are different opinions based on the number of Ghadis extended after Sunrise of the Khanda Purnima on the subsequent day;  in case both the days happen to extend beyond Sunrise, then all the Yujurvedis agree that the Upaakarma Kaala is on the previous day. In case Purnima occurs on the previous day’s Muhurtha and  extends to the next day by two or three muhurtaas but by less than six muhurtaas, then Taittireeyas consider that the Upaakarma Kaala would be on the next day’s Purnima; but Yajurvedis other than the Taittiriyas consider the Kaala in favour of the previous day’s Purnima.  Hiranyakeshi Taittireeyas consider the ‘Aavaraniya (extended) Purnima as the Upaakarma Kaala.Other wise, they might consider Shraavana Maasa Hasta Nakshatra.             , Apastambha Sutrasthaas no doubt prefer Shraavana Purnima but alternatively could consider Bhadrapada Purnima. Bodhayanaas too prefer Shravana Purnima or as an alternative  Ashaadha Purnima be considered. Kanva/ Madhyam Dinaas or Katyaayanaas  feel that either’ Shraavana sahita Purnima’ or Hastaayukta Panchami or since Shravana Maasa is full of  controversies Bhadrapada Purnima or Panchami would be suitable.  The short point however is that Shravana Pournami is the appropriate tithi for the Upaakarma, while taking into account the different permutations of muhurtas at or after the Sun Rise of the Khanda Pournami Tithi. If Shravana Pournami for any reason or interpretation is not fully satisfactory, then another alternative would be either Bhadrapada Pournima or Panchami.

As regards Saama Vedis, the decision is as follows: Saam Vedinaam Bhadrapada Shukley Hastaa Nakshatram Mukhyakaalah, Sankraantyaadi doshana tatraa sambhavey Shraavana aasey Hastograahya iti Nirnaya Sindhuh/ (To Saama Vedikaas, Bhadra pada Shukla Paksha Hastaa Nakshatra is the best option for performing Upaakarma; in case however there is a Sankraanti Dosha then,  Shravana Shukla Hasta Nakshatra as stated by the Nirnaya Sindhu.) Another School  of Thought is that while Upakarma is performed on Sharvana Pourami but should be activised till Bhadrapada Hasta! If there is a Hastaa Nakshatra Khanda  carried forward to the nexrt day then the remainder Hasta must extend up to Aparaahna, since to Saama Vedis, Upakarma kaala is Apaarahna.

To Atharva Vedis, both the options of Shraavana Purnima and Bhaadrapada Purnima are equally acceptable. Purnima however has to be Udaya Vyapini or should span upto Sun Rise next.

[ In sum, Upaakarma by Rig Vedis prefer Shravana Nakshatra on Shraavana Purnima spanning atleast from Sunrise to mid day or Panchami’s Hasta Nakshatra. Sama Vedis prefer Shravana Purnima’s Hasta Nakshatra or Bhadrapada Shukla Hasta. Yajur Vedis basically approve of Shravana Purnima but for interpretations of Purnima’s extensions after Sun Rises on the next day as detailed above ]

Upaakarma Saamaanya Nirnaya: The normal practice of performing Upaakarma to ‘Sarva Shaakhaas’  is in Shravana- Bhadrapada Maasaas- Shukla Panchami or Pournamis as per their own Home-Rules, subject however to limitations such as Grahana-Sankranti, Ashuchi and such exigencies. But those in the North of Narmada give consideration to Panchami etc. of Surya in  Simha Raashi in Shravana while those in Dakshina Desha pay attention to Surya in Karka Raashi in Shraavana on Panchami-Pournamis.

Prathama  Upakarma to new Yagnopaveetis: The first Upaakarma to new Yagnopaviti Brahmacharis should not be performed on Guru-Shukraastaas, Mala Maasaas, and when Guru Graha is  in Simha Raashi. First Upaakarma is to be observed with Swasti Vaachana and Nandi Shraadha. Those who are ‘Nutana Yagnopaveetis’ or newly inducted to the Sacred Thread and Gayatri Mantra should intiate Upaakarma in Shraavana Maasa on Panchami-Hasta /Shravana Kaala-Guru Shukraasta Samaya; if this is not possible then another alternative would be Bhadrapada Panchami- Shravana Nakshatra. The required paraphernalia  are: Mounjeem Yagnopaveetam cha Navam dandamcha dhaarayet, Ajinam Katisutram cha navam  Vastram tathaiva cha/ Iti Brahmachaarino visheshah Prativarsham dhyeyah/

(Mounjee or String of Darbha /Kusha grass, Yagnopaveetam or the Sacred Thread, Navam Dandam or Palasha Danda or New Stick; Mriga Charma or Deer-Skin, Ajinam Kati Sutram or waist-band and Navam Vastram or  new clothing; these are the Annual Specialities of a Brahmachari).  Learning of Vedas invariably begins in Shraavana  Maasa with Upaakarma; the learning process is terminated temporarily in ‘Makara Raashi’with the Utsarjana Ritual but would be revived in Shraavana Maasa again. Both in the case of Upaakarma and Utsarjana , Brahmachaaris as also Grihasthis and Vanaprasthas are required to follow the procedure and Nirnaya Sindhu Grandha mentioned that there would be ‘Prayaschitta’ or atonement by way of  ‘Praajaapatya Kruccha’or atleast Upavasa Prayaschitta. However the practice has been otherwise since both  Upakarma and Utsarjana are performed at the same time; the relevant Sankalpa states:  Adheetaanaam Chhandasaamaapyaayana dwaaraa Shri Parameshwara preetyarthamupaakarmaa diney adhyotyasarjanaakhyaam Karma karishye / (As per the Vedaas studied, I shall now perform on the Upaakarma day itself the Utsarjanaa Karma also). However, Dharma Sindhu states that the Karmaas are apparently observed as per one’s own family traditions.

Rakshaabandhana: The task of ‘Rakshaabandhana’ is observed on Shaavana Purnima from morning  till Aparaahna or Pradosha provided Bhadra Nakshatras are not in predominence; otherwise if Purnima  is short of three muhurtas on that day then Rakshabandhana be obeserved on the previous day upto Padoshakaala if Bhadra is not present. The Sankalpa of ‘Rakshaabandhana’ or tying of the Security Band on the Right Wrist is: Yena baddho Bali Raaja Daanavendro Maha Balah, Tenatwaamabhi badhnaami Rakshamaachalamaachala/ (Raksha Bandhana! I am tying this to you as was tied by King Bali of Vamana Avataara fame; be steady and firm)/.

Shraavana Krishna Ashtami: The Ashtami is of two kinds viz. Shudda and Viddha. When there is no Saptami Yoga then Ashtami is Shudda and it could occur during the day or night. But the Viddha is determined by the extent to which Ashtami Yoga  is affected by the Saptami sesha. Again the permutations of Rohini Nakshatra and Krishna Ashtami are several and Dharma Sindhu offers hair- splitting juxtapositions of Saptami-Ashtami and Krittika-Rohini. Added to this is the interpretation by Koustubha Grandhas as per Madhwaacharya followers that Krishnaashtami by itself is the Janmaashtami and the one with  Rohini Nakshatra is Krishna Jayanti. Other followers of Madhwacharya assert that Janmaashtami on  Shukla Ashtami is significant for the Vrata and if there is no coincidence with Rohini, Jayanti need to be observed. Another interpration is that if need be both the Vratas be duplicated or observed twice.  Vrata Vidhana: In any case, the Janmaashtami Vrata be performed on a day when Ashtami is predominant. In the morning of that main Ashtami after Nitya Karmaas, the Kartha should resolve: Shri Krishna preetyartham Janmaashtami Vratam karishye/ Alternativly the Sankalpa might be Janmaashtami Vratam/ Jayanti Vratam karishye/  Then sip spoonful water thrice from a Copper Vessel and state: Vaasu Devam samuddisya Sarva Paaoa prashantaye, Upavaasam karishyaami Janmaashtamyaam Nabhasyaham; in case of incompetence of observing fast, then one might imply Phalaani bhakshaishyaam/ Afterwards, perform ‘Aachamana’ and take the Vow: Aajanmamaranam yaavadyanmayaa dushkrutam kritam, Tatpranaashaaya Govinda praseeda Purushottama ( Purushottama! Do destroy the sins that got accumulated in the past from my birth and might be committed in my future till my death as I am now observing the Sacred Vrata on this most propitious day of your mortal bitrh and save me). Then after purifying with a bath at midnight, the Karta who pre-arranged - as per one’s own capacity and devotion, a Platform made of gold-silver-metal-or earthen with a large swing with Baby Krishna on bed cushions and design an appropriate background with  Pratimas of Devaki-Vasudeva, Yashoda-Nanda Gopa , Balarama-Revati and groups of Gopa-Gopikas along with Lakshmi at Krishna’s feet. Then the Puja commeces reciting: Shri Krishna preetyartham saparivaara Shri Krishna pujaam karishye/ This wouldbe followed by the ‘’Nyaasaas’ by way of Anganyaasa and Karanyaasa, worship of Shankha- Chakra- Gadaa- Sarangaas and perform ‘Dhyaana’ as follows: Paryankasthaam Kinaaraadyairyutaam dhyaayettu Devakim, Shri Krishna baalakam dhyaayetparyankeystanapaayinam/ Shri Vatsa vaksha samshaantam neelotpala dalacchavim,Samvaahayanteem Devakyaah paadou dhyaayecchataam Shriyam/  (May I now meditate ‘Neelotpala Shyaama- Shri Vatsaanka- Shri Krishna Baalaka!’ as you are engaged in enjoying the breast-milk of Mother Devaki and experiencing the soft pressings of your tender feet by  Devi Lakshmi!) Then the Puja is initiated with concentration by the Mula Mantra and ‘Purusha Sukta Ruks’ as follows: Shri Krishnaaya Namah, Devakyai Namah, Vasudevaayai Namah, Yashodaayai Namah, Nandaaya Namah,Shri Ramaaya Namah, Chandikaayai Namah and so on  and Sakala -parivaara Devataabhyo Namah---Atraavaahita DevakyaadiParivaara Devataa sahita Shri Krishnaaya Namah/   There after Worship would continue by the offerings of Aasana- Paadya- Arghya- Aachamaniya- Abhyanga Snaana-Panchaamrita Snaana- Chandana lepana- Vasstra-Yagnopaveeta-Gandha-Pushpa-Dhoopa-Deepa along with the Mantraas viz. Visveshwaraaya Vishvaaya  tathaa Vishvodbhavaaya cha, Vishyasya pataye tubhyam Govindaaya Namo namah/ The various Upachaaraas /Services performed, Naivedya is offe red to the Lord with the Mantra: Jagannaatha Namastubhyam Samsaara bhaya naashana, Jagadeeshvaraaya Devaaya Bhutaanaam Pataye Namah/ Then, Taabmbula-Pradakshna- Namasaaraa- Pushpaanjalis are proposed. Finally ‘Udyaapana’of the Vrata is accomplished with repeat Puja and Samasta Raajopachaara- Mantropachaara-Bhagavat Kathaa Pathana/ Shravana, Geeta -Nritthya and various Services along with Shadrasopeta Bhojana- Brahmana Puja-Dakshina and so on.

Kusha Sangrahana:Yet another Sacred Deed that is executed on ‘Shraavana Maasa Krishnaamavaasya’ is reaping and preserving  Darbhaas for repeated usages for Yagnaas, Homaas, Vrataas, Pitru Karyaas and so on. Nabho maasasya darshey tu Shuchirbhaanupaaharet, Ayaatayaamaastey darbhaa viniyojyahah punah punah/  Some opine that the ‘Kusha Sangrahana’ is to be effected on Bhadrapada ‘Krishnaamavaashya’.  Kushaas are ten varieties : Kushaah kaashaa yavaa durvaa Vusheeraascha sa kundakaah godhumaa vreehayoMunjaa Dasha Darbhaassabalajaah/
( The ten varieties of Darbhaas are Kusha, Khasha or a kind of dried grass flower used for mats and house-roofs, Yava truna, Durva, Vusheera or the grass providing relief from heat, Kundaka, Godhuma graas, Rice / dhanya grass, Munja grass and Ulapa truna). Virinchinaa sahotpanna Parameshthi nisargaja, Nuda sarvaani paapaani darbha swasti karobhava/ ( Darbha! You are the one born along with Brahma or Srishthi Prarambha thus imbibing the Sacred Nature of Brahma Himself; hence destroy all kinds of Sins and bestow propitiousness). Yevam mantram samucchaarya tatah purvottaraamukhah, Humphat kaarena mantrena sakrucchitwaa samuddaret/ ( With this Mantra one should face Ishana Disha and cut the darbhaas in one go ) and pronounce the Mantra again saying Hum Phat/ Such four darbhaas make a PAVITRA.


The Punya Kaala of Bhadrapada Maasa is counted sixteen ghadiyaas after Kanyaa Sankramana. Observing ‘Ekaannaahaara Vrata’or One Meal a day Vrata in this Month would bestow ‘Dhana-Arogya Phala’ or wealth and health. In this Month, Guda-Lavana Daana or charity of jaggery and salt in favour of Hrishikesha would yield far reaching results. Haritaalikaa Vrata is performed on Bhadrapada Shukla Triteeya. If even one Muhurta less for Triteeya then the Vratakaala is to be counted on the next day viz. Chaturthi. Gana Yoga on the Vrata is considered as auspicious. This Vtata is mainly observed by House wives by Upavaasa and Puja aiming Parvati- Parameshwara with the oft repeated Puja-Mantra viz. Mandaara Maalaa kulitaalakaayai Kapaala Maalaankita Shekharaayai Divyaambaraayaicha Digambaraaya Namasshivaayai cha Namasshivaayai/

Siddhi Vinayaka Vratais celebrated all over Bharata Desha on Bhadrapada Shukla Chaturthi with the Chaturthi extending upto Madhyaahna. If Triteeya and Chaturthi are on both the days, then the determining factor is whether Triteeya is longer or Chaturthi is on that day. If the Vrata falls on a Sunday orTuesday, it has an added significance.  Atra Chaturdhyaam Candra darshaney Mithyaabhi dushana doshastena Chaturthaamuditasya panchamyaam darshanam Vinaayaka Vrata dinepi na doshaaya/ Purva diney saahaynamaarambhya pravruttaayam haturtheem Vinaayakavrataabhaavepi purvadyureva Candra darshaney dosha iti sidhyati/ Chaturthaamuditasya na  dasrshana miti pakshetu  Avishta panchashnarmuhurtamaatra Chaturthi dinepi nishedhaapattih/Ideenaam lokaastu eekatarapakshaashrayena Vinaaka Vrata diney eva Chandram na pashyanti na tudaya kaaley darshana aaley vaasatvaa satvey nyamenaashrayanti/ Darshaneyjaatey taddosha shantaey:   On this Chaturthi, Chandra darshana is believed strongly to ‘Mithyaapavaada’ or false  allegations. In case, Chaturthi occurs in that evening  and Chandra Darshana was performed  but Vinayaka Vrata is performed on the Chaturthi day, it does not matter. But Chandra Darshana on the next morning must be avoided at any cost. People tend not to do so and this would result in the ‘dosha’; the ready remedy is to perform the Vrata sincerely and avoid Chandra Darshana on that day but certainly witness the same on Panchami Raatri on Chandrodaya. If by mischance, Chandra darshana is seen on Chaturthi, then the atonement Mantra be recited viz. Simhaha Prasenavadheessimaho Jambavataah hatah, Sukumaarodeestavahyeshas- shamantakah/  Iti Shlokla Japa Karyah/ ( A lion killed Prasena the younger brother of Satraajit; Jaambavanta killed the lion and gifted away the ‘Shyamantaka Mani’to you Kumara! This Shloka be rendered for the Praayaschitta definitely). Vrata Vidhaana: After accomplishing ‘Praana Pratishtha’ the formal Mantrik- Way of according life to Ganeswhwara Idol, the Devotees of each and every of family-relations and friends should then perform ‘Shodaashopa-chaara’ or the formal Services to Ganesha with Dhyaana-Aavaahana-Vaahanaadis and Shoddhodana Snaana- Vastra-Yagnopaveeta-Gandha-Pushpa-Phala- Naivedya of Modaka-Laddu and so on with twentyone  ‘Durva Yugmaas’ reciting Ten Names of Ganesha viz. Ganaadhipa, Umaaputra, Aghanaashaka, Vinayaka, Isha Putra, Sarva Siddhi Pradaayika, Ekadanta, Hastimukha, Mooshaka  Vaahana and Kumara Guru.  

Rishi Panchami:  This Vrata is observed on Bhadrapada Shukla Panchami. Besides performing worship to Rishis,  the Karta should consume the leaves of  vegetable plants grown on untilled land. On Bhadrapada Shukla Shashthi,Surya Puja be performed: Snaanam Bhaskara pujanam, Praashnam Panchagavyasyachaaaswamedha Phalaadikam / (After Snaana and Surya Puja, Pancha Gavya praashana  should be take in  to qualify the Phala or the Punya of executing Ashwamegha Yagna). On this very day of Surya  Shashti, darshan of  Kumara Swami would bestow relief for Brahma Hatya too. On Shuklaashtami Durvashtami Vrata is observed. This Vrata is performed by women aiming Jyeshtha Devi with primacy on Ashtami and on Jyeshta  but not  in Jyeshtha- Mula Nakshatra yoga and when Surya is not in Kanya Rashi. Persons in Dakshina Bharata normally observe theVrata with importance  on Jyeshtha Nakshatra. This is a three day Vrata with Aaaahana on Anuradha, Puja on Jyeshtha and Moola for Visarjana.

Vishnu Parivartanotsava’: is implemented on Bhadrapada Shukla  Ekaadashi or Dwadashi.  Parivartana means inter-change of phases; in Kaalamaana, the  Supreme Energy called Vishnu changes the course of Kaala’s Yuga-Manvantara- Samvatsara-Raashi-Maasa- Tithi-Nakshatras. The Vishnu Parivartana is executed every year’s Bhadrapada Shukla Paksha’s Ekaadashi or Dwadashi and keeping in view the ‘Vachana’ (Statement) viz. Shruteccha madhye parivartameti,  the Shravana Nakshatra’s coincidence of either of the three parts of   Ekaadashi or Dwaadashi would be the appropriate time for the Vishnu Parivartanotsava. At the Sandhya Kaala of the Dwadashi, Vishnu Puja is performed reciting: Vaasudeva Jagannaatha praapteyam Dwaadashi tava, Paarshvena parivartasya sukham swapihi Madhava! ( Vaasudva! Jagannaatha! Your Dwadashi has arrived. Now you may turn around / or perform the Parivartana and resort back to your Yoga Nidra comfortably!)

Vamana Jayanti’: ‘Vaamanaavataara’ occurs on Bhadrapada Shukla Dwadashi’s Shravana Nakshatra in the ‘Madhyaahna’. Thus whenever Dwadashi extends to Madhyahna coinciding with Shravana yoga  is to be reckoned as the Vamanavatara. If Shravana Yoga is on both the Tithis of Ekadashi and Dwadashi then Ekadashi be finalised as the Avatara Jayanti. At the Madhyaana time the Karta should purify with ‘Nadi Sangama Snaana’ and offer Arghya to a Vamanamurti with a Golden Vessel and  initiate the Puja with the Prayer: Deveshwaraaya Devaaya Deva sambhuti kaariney, Prabhavey Sarva Devaanaam Vamanaaya namo namah/  Then Arghya is offered with the Mantra: Namastey Padma –naabhaaya Namastey Jala shaayiney,Tubhyamarghyam prayacchaami Bala Vamana Rupiney/ Namasshaaranga dhanurbaana paanaye Vamanaayacha, Yagnabhukphala daatrey cha Vamnanaaya namo namah/ On the following day, the Karta and family members should give away the  Daana of the Suvarna Vamana with the Daana Mantra : Vamanah pratigruhnaati Vamanohamdadaami tey, Vamanam sarvatobhadram Dwijaaya pratipaadaye/ Thus the Deva Puja is concluded on the Dwadashi night itself, but if not possible then Dadhi Vrata is dedicated to Bhagavan Vishnu by performing Dadhi Daana and accomplish Dugdha Vrata; in the Payo Vrata, ‘Anna Paayasa’ is offered too. But milk of those cows which yielded a calf within ten days of delivery is prohibited for use in this Vrata.

Ananta Vrata: This Vrata is performed on Bhadrapada Shukla Chaturdashi when Chaturdashi should exten atleast by three Muhurtaas of the Morning or atleast by two Muhurtaas. Otherwise, the Vrata Kaala should be determined as the previous day; if the Tithi is on both the days, then the suitable time for the Vrata is stated to be on the previous day; but the Tithi must be at the Madhyahna Kaala either way. The Vrata Vidhana as explained in Koustubha grandhaas requires that ‘Torana’/ String of silk of twenty four grandhis / knots on the wrist for the Puja as per the Puja Vidhana.  The Procedure requires Homaas numbering hundred eight and by reciting as many Vaasudeva Dwaadashaakshara Mantra. Any shortcoming in the Procedure  is recoverable by  ‘Krucchaadi Prayaschitta Vrata’.

Proshthapadi Shraaddha: On Bhadrapada Purnima day, Proshthapadi Shraaddha is performed addressed to Pitru Devas in Vasu-Rudra-Aditya Swarupaas of three generations with their wives ie. ‘Saptneekaas’. As this Shraaddha is of Paarvana type, Pinda daanas are required to be done recalling ‘Pururava- Aardra Devaas too.  Some believers invoke Vishwadevaas too  and perform ‘Naandi Shraaddha’.

Mahalaya Pakshas: Shraaddhaas are required to be observed in the Mahaalaya Paksha starting from Bhadrapada Krishna Pratipada till Amavasya. Shraaddham Kanyaagatey Baanou  yo na kuryaad Grihaashrami, Dhanam Putraa  kruta tasya Pithru kopaagni peedanaat/ Yavaccha Kanyaa Tulaayoti kramaadastey Divaakarah, Shunyam Pretaapuram taavad yaavad  vrischika darshanam/ ( If a Grihasti does not perform Mahalaya Shraaddha, how could he deserve prosperity, propitiousness and excellent progeny! He would surely by subject to the severe curses of Pitru Devataas as their Souls are not liberated when Surya moves from Virgo and Libra to Scorpio. In turn they should most certainly rebuff  their golden opportunities in their lives).  Those who have the ability execute the Ceremonies are indeed blessed.Those who are unable to do so might perform from Panchami or Shashthi or Ashtami or Dashami or Ekadashi till Amavasya. If even this is not possible, then atleast  Mahalaya Amavasya might be the last resort but those must be ‘Sakrun -Mahalayas’ or with pinda pradaana. In case only Mahaalya Amavasya Shraaddha is performed, then the avoidable Tihis are Pratipada, Shashthi, Ekaadashi, Chaturdashi and Shukravaara besides the tenth and nineteenth Tithi from one’s own Janma Nakshatra as also Rohini, Magha and Revati. Some believe that Trayodashi, Saptami and Sunday/ Tuesday too are avoidable. However, if the Tithis of Father’s or Mother’s Death anniversary falls on any of the Mahalaya Paksha Tithis there should not be any objection to perform fulfledged Shraddha. Another important aspect of Mahalaya Paksha Shraaddha is expectedto be performed  on the same lines as the Abdika Shraaddha as explicit in the Stanza: Mahaalaye Gayaa shraaddhey Maataa Pitrormriteyhani, Krutwedaahopi kutveetapinda daanam yathaavidhi/ (Mahaalaya Shraaddha is just like that which is performed as ‘pratyaabdika’ or an Annual Ceremony). The Out line of the Deva Sankalpa Mantra- which needs to be amended as applicable to individual cases – is as follows: Pitru Pitaamaha Prapitaamahaanaam Maatru tatsapatni pitaamahi  tatsa patni prapitaamahi tat sapatni naamastatsaaptnya maatuditivaa Maataamaha Maatuh Pitaamaha Maatuh prapitaa-mahaanaam sapatneekaanaam yathaa naama gotraanaam Vasu Rudraaditya rupaanaam paarvana vidhinaa Patnyaaha Putrasya Kanyaayaah Pitruvyasya Maatulasya Bhraatuh Pitrushvasuh Maatrushvasuraatma Bhaginyaah Pitruvya putrasya jaamaturbhaaginey yasya swasurasya swasrwaah Achaaryasya Upaadhyaayasya Guroh Sakhyussishyasyai teshaam yathaa naama gotraanaam purusha vishaye sapatneekaanaam streevishaye sabhatrika sapatyaanaam Ekokodishta vidhinaa Mahalayaapara paksha shraaddham vaa Sa Daivam sadyah karishey/  In case of those who are alive, those designations be deleted from the Sankalpa. However the expression of ‘Saptneekam’ is used in respect of women in case of grand mothers etc are alive but if the husband is alive the expression of ‘Sabhatreekam’ is not essential. Further, Mahaalaye Gayaashraddhey Vruddhou chaanvashtakaasu cha, Nava Daivata Manreshtam sesham shaatpourusham viduh/ Anvashtakaasu Vruddhoucha Prati Samvatsarey tathaa , Mahaalaye Gayaayaamcha Sapindikaramaatpuraa, Maatusshraaddham Pruthakkaryamanyatra Patinaa saha/ (In respect of Mahalaya Shraaddha, Gaya Shraddha, Vriddhi Shraaddha / Nandi Shraaddha and Anvashtaka Shraaddha there are Nine Pitru Devataas and for the rest,  there should be ‘Shaddevataas’or  Six only . In case of the above mentioned Shraaddhaas and the Regular Abdikaas, Sapindikarana for Maatru Shraaddha is accounted seperately. For other Shraddhaas there should be three Paarvanaas as mother’s  Shraaddha is already included among  all the three generations of father-grand father and great grand father. Some opine that there should be four Paarvanaas as the fourth one represents the wives of the three generations in which case, Pitru Devataas are counted as twelve. (Anvashtaka Shraaddha relates to the nine Navami Tithis of Bhadrapada, Margaseersha, Pushya, Maagha and Phalgunaas in Bahula Paksha.  Nandi Shraaddha is performed during the start of any happy occasion or Sixteen religious rites like Karmaanga Shraaddha at Garbhaa Daana or Vriddhi Shraaddha at the birth of a Child. Tirtha Shraaddha is like  Gaya Shraaddha ).Thus the procedure of determing the nine Pitru Devataas for Mahalaya Shraaddha is the same as that of the afore-mentioned Anvashtaaadi Shraaddhas too. Now, in the case of Mahalaya, Vishwa Devataas are called ‘Dhuri Vilochanaas’ and if one could afford in terms of money or availability of Brahmanas then two extra priests could be arranged. At the close of the ceremony, one Brahmana be detailed to represent Vishnu. Incidentally, if  there is no availability of adequate number or none of Brahmanas, then at the ‘Swagriha Deva Shtaana’ one could improvise a Brahmachari with Darbhaas Mahalaya Shraddha be performed as a last resort but the Sankalpa should not include Arghya daana, Samantrakaavaahana, Agnoukarana, pinda daana, Swadhaa vachana Sananklpa ought to be avoided!

(Background of Shraddhas : There are Shannavati Shraadhaas (Ninety Six) viz. Fourteen Manvantasaas; Four Yugaadi days of Krita-Tretaa-Dwapara-Kali; Twelve Sankramana Days of each year;  Twelve Amavasya Days; Fifteen Days of the Krishna Paksha of Bhadrapada Maasa; Twelve Vyatipata Yoga days in a year when calamities might happen; Twelve Vaidhruti or forbidden  days of the Year; Five  Purvavedu or Saptami days of Krishna Pakshas of Bhadrapada, Margashira, Pushya, Maagha, and Phalgunaas; Ashta Tithis of Krishna Pakshas of the afore-mentioned Maasaas; and Anvashtaka  Krishna Navamis of the same Months. These include Ardhodaya days of Sundays associated with Amavasya-Shravana Nakshatra  and Vyatipata Yoga/ and Mahodaya. Matsya Purana mentioned Nitya,Naimittika and Kamya Shraddhas viz, Daily /Regular, Periodic and Kaamya Shraaddhas. If daily Shraaddhais not possible, Darsha Shraddha be performed at least on Amavasya days; if not do perform on Chaitra-Bhadrapada-Ashviyuja Amavasyas; even this is not possible, do accomplish Mahalaya Amavasya Shraddha atleast or at any suitable day of Mahalaya Paksha! Additionally there could be any number of Kamya Shraddhas ranging from Shuddhi, Pushti,  Yatra , Ghrita- Dadhi, Daivika, Hiranya or Gold / Uncooked food, Hasta or foodgrains and so on.)

[ Brahma Purana describes Shraaddha Kalpa Varnana as follows: At the Naimisha forest at the congregation of Munis requested Veda Vyasa to explain in brief the procedure of Shraaddha Karma: and the latter explained as follows: those who belonged to the Vranaas of Brahmana, Kshatriya and Vaishyas were required to perform Shraaddhaas as per their own Kula Dharma according to the prescribed ‘Veda Mantrocchaarana’. When done by only Women , the relevant Mantras were not to be recited nor Agni Homas done while doing Shraaddhas on their behalf. The hallowed places where Shraddhas could be performed included Tirthas like Pushkara, Holy Temples, Mountian tops, Sacred Places, Holy Rivers, Sarovaras, Sangamas, Sea shores, own residences, Holy Tree root bottoms, and Yagna Kundas. There are three kinds of Shraddhhaas viz. Nitya, Nimittika and Kaamya Shraaddhas. At Jaata Karma and such other occasions, Abhudaayika or Vriddhi daayika Shraaddha too is required to be performed. When Surya is in kanya Rasi, Saaddhaas are best performed for fifteen days: Padyami Shraddhaas bestow Dhanalaabha, Vidiya Pashu sampada or the benefit of cattle, Tadiya Putras, Chaturthi Shatru Naashana, Panchami Aaishwaryaprada, Shashthi Loka Pujya, Sapatami Ganaadhipatya, Ashtami Jnaana prada, Navami Stree Labha, Dashami Sarvaabhistha, Ekadashi Veda Sampannata, Dwadashi Vijaya Labha,  Trayodashi Santaana Vriddhi and Deerghaayu, Chaturdashi Shraaddha blesses those who perform  to appease the Souls of those who died in battles and Amavaasya Shaaddhyaas provide all-round well-being. Gaya Shraaddhas would yield long term benefits, especially when performed with jaggery, honey and black ‘tilas’, since Pitru Devas would look forward to such opportunities to their ‘Vamseeyas’; they crave for tarpanas in the rainy season of Magha-Phalguna months and Gudaanna / Rice-Jaggery Payasas mixed with honey; they hope that atleast one son might turn up at Gaya to offer Pinda Pradaana and that was their desire when alive to procure many sons; they wished that at least one kanyaa daana or one Nila Vrishabha Utsarga might be executed! Pitru Shraaddha during Krittika Star provides paasage to Swarga; Rohini Nakshathra gives good progeny; Mriga Shira Nakshatra Shraaddha gives Tejas, Ardra secures Shourya; Purvasu Kshetra darshana prapti, Pushyami Akshayadhana, Aslesha purnaaryrdaaya, Magha Santaanapushti, Purvaphaluni sowbhaayga, Uttara phalguni uttama santaana, Hasta Shraaddha yields Shasrtra vidya phala, Chitra secures tejas and santaana, Swaati Vyaapaara laabha, Vishakha putraprada, Auradha Nakshatra Shraaddha provides Chakravartitwa, Jeshtha gives Aadhipatya, Moola excellent health, Purvaashadha gives fame and name, Uttaraahaashaadha demolishes grief and troubles, Shravana provided Shubha lokas, Dhanisdhtha dhana samruddhi, Abhijit gives knowledge Vedas, Shatabhisha Vaidya Siddhi, Purvabhadra gives goat-sheep sampada, Uttaraabhadra provides Go Sampada, Revati Rajata samruddhi, Ahwavi Ashwa Sampatti, and Bharani nakshatra shraaddha provides ‘Deerghaayu -raarogya’; thus Gaya Shraadha at any time during any Nakshatra bestows all kinds of auspicious tidings! When Surya is in Kanya rashi, those who offer Shraaddhha Pindaas would fulfill all their desires as Pitras look forward to them; in fact the entire fornight during this Mahalaya Period, Tarpana Pinda Pradaanaas are stated to be of high value resulting in Raajasua -ashwamedha Phalaas. Shraaddhas are to be offered at this time with water, leafy vegetables and ‘kanda mulaas’ or ground sprouted ones only. Devotees would do well in performing such Shraaddhaas as Surya enters Uttara-Hasta Nakshatra timings; such offerings when Ravi would enter Hasta in Vrishchik Raasi, but beyond Vrischika raashi, Pinda pranaanaas are not only counter-productive but might have adverse effects as Pitru Devas might even curse them for belated offerings! ]Also, Shraaddhaas need to be performed during Ashtakaas, Manvantaraas, and Anvashtakaas; Ashtakaas are known as Krishna Paksha Ashtamis of the months of Pousha, Maagha, Phalguna and Chaitra. Manvantaraas denote Ashadha Shukla Dashami, Shraavana Krishna Ashtami and Bhadra Shukla Triteeya, since Utsavaas / celebrations were organized at these Manvantaraas. Anvashtakaas signify the Navamis followed by the Ahtakaas. Abhuyudayas denote the above three categories of Ashtakas-Manvantaraas-Anvashtakaas as these are first and foremost addressed invoke Maata- Pitaamahi- Pramitaamahi and then by Pita-Pitaamaha-Prapitaamaha. In other words, Maatru Varga would be addressed first, followed by Pitru varga and finally to Mataamaha- Pramitgaamah- Vriddha Mataamaha.Shraaddhaas are also required to be performed at Grahanas or Solar-Lunar Eclipses, Vyatipatas, Surya-Chandrama Sangamaas, Janma Nakshatraas, and Graha Peedaavasaras; these Shraaddhaas are to be Paarvana Shraaddhaas. At the timings of Aayana -kramana or change of Dakshinatana-Uttaraayana as also the two Vishus (or when Surya reaches the line when the day-night calculations are equivalent) as also on Samkraanti day, vidhi purvaka Shraddhas need to be performed in a full-fledged form, but minus Pindapradaada. Shraaddhhas are required to be performed on Vaishakha Shukla Triteeya and Kartika Shukla Navami as per the Samkraanti Vidhi; again on Bhadra Shukla Trayodashi and Magha Amavasya days, Paayasa Shraadha or Cooked rice in boiled sweet milk should be offered to Pitru Devaas. When ever a VedaVetta or Nityaagnihotriya Brahmana arrives at a Brahmana’s house, then too a Shraaddha would better be given. On the days of death of one’s own parents Shraaddhhas are required to be performed in a fulfledged manner every year including to Pitru devatas and Vishva Devatas separately.Prati Samvararam Kaaryam Maataa Pitrormrotey hani, Pitruvyasyaapya putrasya Bhraatur Jyeshthasya chaivahi/ Paarvanam Devapuryam syaadekoddhishtam Surairvinaa, Dyuodevey Pitrukaaryea Treenakaikamubhayatravaa/ ( On the day of the passing away of one’s own father or mother, one has to perform Ekoddishta Shraaddha; if father’s brother  had no male issue then too the Ekoddishta Shraaddha be performed. In the Parvana Shraaddha, Vishva Devas are to be invoked first and their puja is to be performed.But without Vishvadevas in Ekoddishta Shraaddha, Brahmanas are arranged in Deva Pitru Shtaanaas and worshipped. In the Deva Kaarya, two Brahmanas are to be arranged and for Pitru Karyaa three Brahmanas; Or at least one each of the Karyas are required as minimum. Pretajeeva deeds to be kept in the form of a Pinda ón Bhumi beneath Kushaa grass with black Tilas and water. On the termination of Sutaka or Asuddhi, Brahmanas should perform Ekoddishta Shraddha on the twelfth day, after a month, after Traipaksha or three weeks and every month thereafter for a year. Then the action of ‘Sapindeekarana Paarana Vidhhana’ must be followed, when the departed Soul would abandon the ‘Pretha Swarupa’ and attain the status of ‘Pitru Devatva’.The Pitaras are of two types viz. Amurtaas (Formless) and Murtimaan ( with Form). Naandimukhaas are stated to be Formless and Paarvanaas are Murtimaans. Now, the procedure of Sapindeekarana is as follows: In the context of Sapindeekarana, Vishwa Devaas are not invoked, only one ‘Arghya’/ water is given, no Agnikarana or invocation of Agni is done, four Patras or small vessels are used with Tilodakaas or water with black Tilas and chandana; three of the Paatras are to invite to three generations of forefathers and one for the Preta: Paatratraye pretapaatraadarghyam chaiva prasechayet, Yesamaanaah iti japanpurva -vacchhesha maacharet/ ( while reciting the Mantra ‘Yenamaanaah’, the Kartaa should  perform ‘Jala Prokshana’ (sprinkle of water); even in respect of the diseased women the same procedure of Ekoddhishta should be adopted, but no need for Sapindeekarana is required in respect of women without children and the concerned relatives of  husband or her own brothers could take up the task of Shraaddha. In case, there is none, the King becomes responsible as he would be the relative to all the prajaa who are helpless and execute all the related actions including the annual Shraaddhaas. Even related women could assume the charges, provided no Mantras are recited’.

Naimittika Shraadhhas would follow sapindeekarana, when the departed father would join the ranks of the earlier three generations viz. the Karta’s departed father, grand father and the great grandfather who would all be the ‘Pinda bhuks’`; actually, seven previous generations of the Karta would be eligible for the fruits of the shraddha: Pindasambandhino hyetey vigjneyaah Purushaatrayah, Lepa sambandhinaschaaney pitaamah pitaamahaah/ Prabhrutyuktaa -strayasteshaam yajamaanascha saptamah, Ityesha Munibhih proktah sambandhaha Saapta Pourushah/ But those who were beyond the three earlier generations viz. those of Sapta Pourushaas of four further earlier generations would be satisfied with the particles of ‘Anna’ or rice grains spread along and around the  leaf above the kushagrass on which three pindas are placed in a line; the water drops from the clothes after taking bath by the Karta would provide relief to those who might have turned as Piscachas;  those who might have been born as trees would be satisfied too by the  water drops from the body of snaana of the Kartha; and those who might have been born as Pashu-Pakshis would be satisfied from the water drops while performing prokshana around the pindas in the process of worship. As the bhojana of the Brahmana bhoktas would be complete, the water drops to wash the hands and feet of the Bhoktas would relieve those who might have been born otherwise. Thus each Shraaddha would liberate the Souls of Seven Generations and none indeed would be dis-satisfied in the ‘Kula’for seven generations! Those who perform Shraaddhaa even by the low caste human beings with Shraddha or Faith would relieve the misery of the departed Souls, while those Brahmanaas who are virtuous observing daily tasks would indeed be responsible for the certain salvation of the ancestors. Now, the Bhahmanas who are selected as bhoktas must also have proper qualfications; they should preferably be Veda vettaas, maatru-pitru bhaktas, Acharyas, Panditaas, father-in-laws, brothers-in-law, Purana TatvaVetta, and such others. Those who are selected as the representatives of Vishwadeva Pitraas too should be equally learned. The Kartha should feed such ideal Brahmanas as would indeed alleviate the miseries of the departed ones and hence the care for the selection. The services provided to the bhoktas are as good as those given to the departed parents or others concerned. In this context, Vastra daanana was emphasized: Vastraabhaavey kriyaanaasti yajgnaa Vedaastapaamsicha, Tasmaadwaasaamsi deyaani Shraaddha kaaley viseshitah/ Kauseyam kshaama kaarpaasam dukulamahatam tathaa, Shraaddheytwetaani yo dadyaat kaamaanaapnotichottamaan/ (Without the charity of Vastraas, no task of Shraaddhha would be complete; in fact, no sacred task like Yagnaas, Vedaas and Tapaas would be complete without Vastra daanaa. More particularly so, in respect of Shraaddhhaas as Pitru Devas would not be appeased otherwise. Silk Vastraas or at least new cotton Vastraas constitute a definite input in Shraaddhas. Yathaa goshu prabhutaasu vatso vindati maataram, Tathaannam tatra Vipraanaam janturyatraavasishthatey/ Naama gotrancha mantraascha datthamannamnayantitey, Aapiye nidhanam praaptaas trupistaanupatishthatey/ (Just as a calf reaches its mother’s udder on a group of cows, Anna daana to Brahmanaas too is an inclusive input in Shraaddhaas to enable the relief of the departed Souls; recitation of Naama-Gotraas in the formal medium of Mantras would reach the fruits of Shraaddhaas to the concerned Vamsha-Gotra-Naamaas so that the respective categories are satiated.) The relevant Mantra further states: Deataabhyah Pitrubhyascha Mahaa Yogibhy yevacha, Namah Swadhhaayai Swaahaayai Nithyameva bhanantiti, Adhaavasaaney Shraaddhasya traavruttvaa japettadaa, Pinda nirvahaney vaapi japedevam samaahitah/ Kshipramaayaanti pitaro Raahshasaah pradravanti cha, Preeyantey trishu lokeshu Mantroyam taarayatyuta/(My obeisances to Pitraas and Devataas; to my homage to Swadhaa Devi and Swaahaadevi; May these be always with me; This Mantraa must be recited thrice at the time of Pinda-Nirvahana of while performing the Task of Pindaas as also at the time end of the Shraadda. The recitation of this Mantra would instantly respond to the Pitra Devas and the Rakshasaas would run away; the Tri Lokas would be satisfied and the Performer would fully bless with salvation. Offering away the Pindaas to Agni in the Homakunda would bless the Karta would secure Bhoga Vriddhi or enhance pleasures; offering the Pindas to the Karta’s wife would result in Putra Prapti; offering them to Cows would ensure ‘Tejovriddhi’; immerse the pindaas would increase Keerti /fame; feeding them to crows would provide long life; and some Pandits stated that ‘Pindaagraas’ or tops of the Pindaas should be lifted. Tasmaatsam Pujayet bhaktya swapitruunvidhivannarah, Kaamaanabhhepsinsakalaan –paadaatma vimochanam, Vasuun Rudraamstathaadityaan Nakshatra graha taarakaah/ Preenayanti Manushyaanaam Pitarah Shraaddha tarpitaah, Aayuh Prajaam Dhanam Vidyaam Swargam Moksham sukhaanicha/ Prayacchanti tathaa Raajyam Pitarah Shraaddha tarpitaah, Tathaapahaarnah Purvaahnaat pitruunaamatirichyatey/ Sampujya Swaagateynaitaan sadanebhyaagataandvijaan, Pavitra paaniraachaantaa nasaneyshupa –vesayet/ Shaadhham krutwaa vidhaanena sambhojya cha Dwijottamaan, Visarjaeyt priyaanyukaa pranipatya cha bhaktitah/ Aadwara manugacchhecchaa gacchhedan moditah,Tato nitya kriyaamkuryaad bhojayeccha tathaa tithheen/ Nithya kriyaam pitruunaamcha kechidicchanti Sattamaah/ (As the Shraddha Karta is anxiously awaited by the concerned Pitru Devaas, he should worship them with faith and devotion as prescribed so that the desires of Karta are fulfilled; the Ashtaa Vasus, Ekaadasha Rudraas, Dwadasha Adityas , Nava Grahas and Nakshatraas would all be satisfied with the Shraaddhhas and bestow long and healyhy life, good progeney, prosperity, Vidya, over-all fulfillment and Swarga. As ‘Aparaahna’or mid-day is the appropriate time, the Kartha should welcome the Brahmanaas with devotion, make them feel comfortable and conduct the proceedings with perseverance and fortitude, perform the duties till the end and then take the Nitya Karmas after duly sending them off with reverence). In conclusion, Veda Vyasa Maharshi assured: Aajaaramaacharedyastu Pitru medhha shritam Narah, Ayushaa dhana putraischa vardhastyasu na samshayah/ Pitrumedhaadhyaaya mimam Shraaddha kaaleshu yah pathet, Tadannamasya pitaroshnanti cha tri-yugam dwijaah/ Yevam mayoktah Pitrumedha kalpah paaaapahah punyavivaddhanascha/ Shrotavya yesha prayatainaraihscha shraaddeghachainaapyanu keertayet/     ( Those who observe the traditions of Pitrumedha Kalpa, are blessed with Dhana-Dhanya-Ayuraarogya- Putra Poutra-Vardhana. Those who read ‘Pitrumedha-adhyaa’ of this Purana, would be blessed with the contentment of Pitru Devatas of the past three yugas! The recitation or patient hearing of the contents of the Adhyaaya itself would bestow the boon of demolishing sins and of and ushering propitiousness).]

Having  discussed the significance of Mahalaya Pakshaa, Dharma Sindhu narrates the Bhadrapada Krishna Shraaddhas with the orientation of Nakshatras. Bharani Nakshatra Shraaddha is as good as of Gaya Shraaddha phala. This is of ‘Sapindeeka’ variety in which Shaddaivata Sankalpa is involved ie . of three generations. This Kamya Vratais performed aiming Pururavaadrava Pitru Devaas or Vishva Devaas who are Dhuri Vilochanaas as described in the context of Mahalatya Paksha Shraaddhaas. Normally , this ceremoney is executed in the first year of the demise of a parent. But not in the Second year as suggested by some but actually  Dharma Sindhu opines that the second year might be a better optionfor the reason that during the course of the first year of demise, the dead parent might not have secured Pitrutwa Siddhi yet; more over the Gaya Shraaddha is expected to aim at three generations but that status of joining the two higher generations would not have attained before the close of first year of the death; nor  one Paarvana which was to be offered to Devas  was not acceptable to Devaas before the first anniversary of the deceased. Maghaa yukta Trayodashi is performed in either of the Trayodashis of Bhadrapada Maasa. This ceremony is performed with the Sankalpa of ‘Pindarahita Shraaddha’and should be restricted to the Mantra: Eshaam trupyartham Brahmana Puja karishey; Pitru rupiney Brahmanaaya gandham samarpayaami/ Thus having provided ‘Panchopachaaraas’, the Karta would recite the Mantras: ‘Brahmaarpanam Brahma havi’-Anena Brahmana Bhojanena Pitraadi rupeshwara preeyataa etc. and then satisfy the Brahmanaas with ‘Madhura Padaadhaas’sweets only without cooked Anna Bhojana. Like wise Shastrahata Mahalaya Shraaddha is performed on Krishna Chaturdashi of Bhadrapada Month is performed  to father or his brothers by sons or cousins as the formers  die on account of weapons, poison, Fire, water, snakes or cruel animals. Shraaddhhas in respect of such accidental deaths are performed on Ekoddhishta basis with the Sankalpa viz. Amukanimittey namrutasya chaturdashi nimitta –mekoddhishtam shraaddham sa Daivam sa pindakam karishye/ ( I shall perform Shraddha with Arghya etc.and  on ‘Sa-pinda’ and ‘ Sa-Daiva’ basis but by offering  a single Pinda). However, this Shraaddha is not to be considered as a substitution of repetitive and regular Shraaddhas on the death anniversary Tithis. Kapilaa Shashthi Shraaddha: In case a Tuesday with Rohini Nakshatra appears in Krishna Bhadrapada Month on Shashthi, it is considered as a very significant and Sacred day;  when Surya is in Hasta Nakshatra then too that day is extremely fruitful. Kapila Shashthi Homas and Daanaas are stated to yield Koti-Koti Phala! Asyaam hutam cha duttam cha Sarvam koti gunam bhavet!  Atra Shraaddham kaaryamiti visesha vachanam nopalabhyatey tathaapi Alabhyagogey Shraaddhavidhaanaaddarshavat Shaddevatam kaaryam/ ( There would be no betterdeed that could be described in words leading to ‘Alabhya Yoga’ than performing Shraaddha on this day and that Karya is to be like what is executed on the lines of Amaavasya Shraaddha aiming at ‘Shaddevataas’ or the Six Devataas).

In the context of observing Kapila Shasthi, Surya Vrata Vidhaana  has also been described by Dharma Sindhu. Addressing Surya Deva in the ‘Sankalpa’, the Vrata Karta proposes to observe ‘Upavaasa’ and take Sacred Bath by applying the paste of Devadar Tree Bark, Khusha, Cardamom, Manassila, Padmakaashtha and rice mixed with honey and Cow milk while reciting the Mantra: Ataswamasi Devesha Jyotishaam patirevacha, Paapam naashaaya mey Deva Vaagmanah kaaya karmajam/  (Devesha! You are the Jala Swarupa and Jyotishpati! Kindly destroy my ‘Trikarana Paapaas’ involved in  Speech, Thought and Action). Thus beseeching Surya, the Vrata Karta smears ‘Pancha Gavya’ made of the five cow products, cleanses the body with  ‘Pancha Pallavaaas’ or five kinds of tender leaves, smudges the body with ‘Mrittika’ or Earth, takes bath again, performs Tarpana and other Nitya Karmaas, worships Varuna Deva, arranges a ‘Kalasha’with rice in the center of a platform,  draws a Lotus with eight leaves and  recites from the East invoking Sun God in the form of a Golden ‘Pratima’ with his eight names as follows: Suryam, Tapanam, Swarna lepanam, Ravim, Adityam, Divaakaram, Prabhakaram, Suryam aavaaha –yaami/  Later invoke Aruna Deva who is the charioteer of Surya and to ‘Ashta Dikpaalakaas’ viz. Indra-Agni-Yama-Nirruti-Varuna-Vaayu- Kubera and Ishaana with ‘Karaveeraadi’ flowers, offer twelve ‘Arghyaas’standing before him and perform  worship to Surya with the Prayer as follows: Prabhakara Namastubhyam Samsaaraanmaam samuddhara, Bhukti Mukti prado yasmaattasmaa- chhaanti prayacchamey/ Namo Namastey Varada Ruksaamayajushaam patey, Namostu Vishwa Rupaaya Vishwa dhaatrey namo Namah/ ( Prabhaakara! My obeisances to you. You are the bestower of Bhoga and Mokshaa; do grant me peace, fulfillment and Salkvation. You are the Master of Three-Vedas; Jagadrupa! Jagatposhaka!). The Vrata Karta then observes ‘Raatri Jaagarana’ reciting ‘Soura Sukta’and other Prayers and next morning takes bath, executes Nitya Karmaas and performs Homaas with ‘Arka Samidhaas’ / twigs, ghee, tila and so on. Then he ushers Kapila Cow bedecked with decoratives, colourful  ‘Vastraas’,  jingle bells and so on, performs Puja and gives it away as ‘Daana’ to a Brahmana saying: Namastey Kapiley Devi Sarva paapa pranaashani, Sasaaraanavamagnam maam Gomaatastaatu marhasi/  ( Kapila Devi! Gomaataa! My worshipful respects to you; do relieve me of my sins and save me from the Ocean of Samsaara). The Daana be given with satisfactory Dakshina along with the Golden Pratima of Surya Deva thus concluding the SuryaVrata successfully.

Om Tat Sat


(My humble salutations to  the lotus feet of Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Mahaswamy ji and also my humble greatulness to  Brahmasree Sreeman V D N Rao ji Philosophic Scholar for the collection)


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