Hindu Fasts: 4 Vrats
Said The God Of Fire:-Now I shall describe the process of performing the Vrata, known as the Panchami Vrata, which grants health, residence in paradise, and salvation. The sarpents, such as Vasuki (the primordia Hydra), Takshaka, Kalya, Mani, Bhadraka, Airavata, Dhritarashtra, Karkotaka, and Dhananjaya should be worshipped on the day of the fifth phase of the moon’s increase, either in the months of Shravana (Nabhas), Bhadra (Nabhasya) A~msia. These grant to their votaries, the boons of long life, erudition, fame, and prosperity (1-2).
Said The God Of Fire:-Now I shall describe the process of performing the Vrata, known as the Shasthi Vrata, and which should be practised in the months of Karticka and others. The penitent should live on fruits on the day of the Vrata, and perform it by offering Arghas and other oblations, whereby he would attain salvation.
The Vrata, known as the Skanda Shasthi, should be performed in honour of the Marshal of the heavens, on the day of the sixth phase of the moon’s increase in the month of Bhadra. The Vrata, known as the Krishna Shasthi, should be first undertaken on such a Tithi, occurring in the month of Magha. The penitent should observe a fast for the whole of that day, and abstain from taking anything on such Tithis throughout the year. The effect of practicing such a vow, is salvation after a happy and prosperous career on earth.
Said The God Of Fire:-Now I shall narrate the process of performing a Saptami Vrata (Vrata practised on the day of the seventh phase of the moon’s wane or increase), which grants to all, enjoyment in this life and salvation in the next. Grief can never touch a man, who worships the sun god with white lotus flowers on such a day, in the month of Magha; the result of such a worship on an identical Tithi in the month of Bhadra, being the attainment of all wished for objects. The man, who observes a fast and worships the sungod on such a Tithi in the month of Pousha, becomes purged of all sins. The fulfilment of all heartfelt desires follows in the train of such a worship, held on the day of the seventh phase of the moon’s wane, in the month of Magha. Such a worship, performed on the day of the seventh phase of the moon’s increase in the month of Phalguna, is known as the Nanda, and fills the votary with eternal felicity. A man by worshipping the sun god on such a Tithi in the month of Magha, conquers all his enemies; whereas a suppliant for the birth of a child, should practise the Vrata on the same day.
The Asthami Vrata
Said The God Of Fire:–Now I shall discourse on the process of performing the Ashtami Vratas (vows practised on the day of the eighth phase of the moon’s wane or increase), of which the one usually performed on such a Tithi as the above, marked by the asterism Rohini, heads the list in respect of merit. Since, in the month of Bhadra, Krishna was born on the midnight of such a Tithi, marked by the asterism Rohini, the Tithi is known as the Jyanti (victorious) Ashtami. By observing a fast on such a Tithi in the month of Bhadra, a man becomes absolved of all impieties, accumulated in the course of his seven successive rebirths. The man, who fasts and worships the god Krishna, on such a Tithi in the month of Bhadra, marked by the asterism Rohini, attains salvation at the close of a happy and prosperous career on earth. The worship should be conducted by addressing Krishna and his relations as follows:—”I invoke the presence of Krishna as well as that of Valabhadra, Devaki, Vasudeva, Jashoda, and of the cows he used to take to the pasturage.
I worship them all and make them obeisance. Obeisance to Krishna-the communion of the human soul with the eternal spirit, – to Krishna the – life and soul of: such a communion, and to Krishna who is the infinite Real, merged in by the soul in the above said act. I make obeisance and obeisance to Govinda-the protector or the all-pervading spirit of the universe, who has originally come into being, through an act of such blending of the finite, and the infinite soul (Yogadisambhava). Accept these flowers and these perfumes thou relishest and art fond of, and grant me all boons, oh thou who art worshipped by the gods. I fumigate thee with the fumes of these burning incense-sticks, accept them, oh Hari, and so ordain that people may burn incense before me, in awe and humility [some editions read “so ordain, oh Hari, that people may strew flowers in my path” (Pushpadhyam)]; Accept these flames of lighted lamps, waived before thee by my humble self, and left me up towards fuller light and higher self, oh thou light of light-Oh thou who shinest through all flames and flashes. Obeisance to the lord whose embodiment is the universe.
I am a suppliant at the feet of the God, who evolves himself out though the successive evolutions of the universe. I make obeisance to Govinda (the protector of the universe), and to the god manifest as absolute piety. Obeisance to the lord of virtues and to the god who presides over all virtues. Lie down (in this bed) who thou Govinda, who makest thyself manifest through all virtues. I make obeisance to the all, the all-pervading, and the all-controlling deity. I offer this holy thread unto the god Govinda. Accept this Argha offering. Oh thou manifest as the moongod and art accompanied by thy queen Rohini. Accept these Argha offerings, oh Moon, who hast come into being through the churning of the ocean, and hast sprung from the eyes of the holy sage Atri”.
The moon god, together with his wife Rohini, should be worshipped on the sacrificial sand-cushion. Similarly Devaki, Vasudeva,Jashoda, Nanda and Valabhadra, should be worshipped thereon; and jets of clarified butter and molasses should be let flow on the ground in the mid-night. Clothes gold, etc., should be given to the Brahmanas who should be sumptuously feasted. The man, who performs this Janmashtami Vrata (the celebration of the birth day of Krishna), becomes the father of many a good sons and goes to the region of Vishnu. Each year, the Vrata should be repeated with a view to beget children or to get rid of all dangers by praying as follows. “Bless me with offsprings, wealth, longevity, and health, 0 lord, and may my piety, possession and fortune augment and increase. May I ascend heaven and attain salvation after death”.