Madangopal - July 25, 2005 8:43 pm

In general I'm wondering what is the case for following green-leafy, yoghurt, milk and urad fasts as prescribed in the ISKCON calendar. Did Prabhupada introduce this, or care at all? I know there is some scope for following from Hari Bhakti Vilasa, but there is also for so many things.


In particular, I was wondering if the Audarya-vasis follow caturmasya vows in any capacity or if Guru Maharaja prescribes anything in particular beyond kartika vratas.





Bhrigu - September 2, 2005 4:46 pm

I hadn't noticed this thread before; I would also be interested in hearing Guru Maharaja's thoughts about Caturmasya, even though we are a bit late... Of course, there is no exactly corresponding rainy period in the West (or Finland at least), but I guess the principle of taking vows to please Krishna is valid in all places.


Sak, Yoghurt, Milk and Urad dahl are mentioned as the four basic vows to follow during Caturmasya in the HBV (actually, meat is mentioned instead of urad dahl, since this is a vrata also for non-vaishnava Hindus), but many other things one can fast from are also mentioned in the HBV, as well as the corresponding merit. If you fast from for example potatoes, you should break your Caturmasya fast by eating them after Caturmasya is over.


Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati some years followed a very strict Caturmasya, eating only havisya (unspiced kitchari) directly off the floor, not shaving or cutting his nails. Today, some Gaudiya Mathas fast from "all good food" such as tomatoes, eggplant, mustard oil, etc for Caturmasya, but most only during Kartika. Janmastami and Radhastami are exceptions in either case.

Syamasundara - September 2, 2005 7:33 pm

What I gathered of our Gm's opinion while living with him is that SP never really cared as much about the caturmasya vow, nor for the super smarta ways to observe ekadasi that some of his disciples started to write about in the 80's.

Guru Maharaja is more for more chanting, more reading, more seva than not eating this, not clipping that, because after all the idea behind fasting and not taking care of the body is, besides of course not focusing on the material body, that of using that time (spent to cook fancy stuff or shave and such) for reading, chanting etc anyway.

I heard Gm playing down the recent wave of observing caturmasya by some, because, as Bhrgu says, that implies eating off the floor without hands, once a day etc, and not just to stop shaving in order to stand out.

In some other occasion though, I heard him say that we should have our caturmasya period during the 4 months of Northern California rains (Nov-Mar), in the name of living the rituals or the rules and not doing things blindly.

To my knowledge though, the idea didn't go very far.

Rituals are among those bridges that link our material plane of consciousness to the experience of transcendence.

It's not a coincidence that there is always a material counterpart to many spiritual things we do or use.

Tulasi and Nima are medicinal and antiseptical, cow dung and ganges water also have similar properties. Eating milk or yogurt during those hot months is a little heavy on the liver, and leafy greens grow very close to the ground, which during caturmasya is flooded by all sorts of mixed waters, rain, sewage water and what not. Laksmi conch shells are considered the only bones that are not impure or untouchable, and in fact they smell clean and minty because of who knows what substance.

Similar reasons of cleanliness can be found behind not eating pork or circumcision in other traditions.

Many intellectuals use these arguments in order to dismiss the spirtuality of things. I don't find any contradiction. If a river springs from the feet of God and is so transcendental, when it comes in contact with the material energy it must be at least antiseptic, medicinal and useful.


Why is the Lord pleased if we fast on the eleventh day (ekadasi) after new moon or full moon? Why not the tenth, or the ninth? Why is it auspiciousto perform austerities during the months of Sridhara, Hrsikesa, Padmanabha and Damodara? (Which I hope is the right order and names of the months if it follows the same order of the tilaka mantras :P )

I am sure there must be a reason, but for the most part periods like Ekadasi or caturmasya are dear to the Lord inasmuch as they bring our minds and efforts closer to him.

Rituals are there to harness the minds of all those who live below the paramahamsa level.

We need dates, directions to face, discrimination: the light fortnight, the light semester, this is suci, this is muci, this is high, this low, etc, until one day we will celebrate "Reality, the beautiful" every day as if it was Janmastami, we will be austere every day like on Ekadasi, and we'll live every day as if it was the one we die.


Citta hari and I have a nice collection of kartika vratas; I guess his is larger now.

One year we would chant the Brahma samhita after the evening program. So sweet. Chanting in unison has quite some power; it really gives you a feeling of all souls being interconnected, like the organized photons in a laser beam. Once we did it with the maha mantra and were really blown away, but somehow chanting together like the tibetan monks is not encouraged or taken into account in our process–I guess it's not good. We either do japa, which is an intimate affair, or do kirtan, which is collective, but kind of chaotic. Me for one I always start singing half a beat later.

Anyway I am drifting off, I guess I should look into mauna vrata myself :blink:

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - September 2, 2005 8:03 pm

Speaking of Kartika. Last year Guru Maharaja said:

Next year I will say more and announce niyama seva in advance so that everyone can follow it together.


Everyone should take this seriously, as we do Ekadasi.

Just a reminder :) Please don't forget.

Bhrigu - September 4, 2005 10:58 am

Shyamasundara: I didn't mean to say that "real" Caturmasya means eating havisya from the floor; the HBV gives many different alternatives, must very much "easier" than Saraswati Thakura's version. Also, Caturmasya is not only connected with the rainy period, it also coincides with the time of Vishnu's and the gods' sleep.

Syamasundara - September 4, 2005 11:00 pm

I read my post again, I don't think I used the word "real" or that I was referring to you as an example of exaggeration. My point was another.


Also, don't the demigods sleep for 6 months?

Bhrigu - September 5, 2005 1:46 pm
I don't think I used the word "real" or that I was referring to you as an example of exaggeration. My point was another.


No, that's not what I thought either. I just meant that dismissing Caturmasya based on so few being able to eat havisya on the floor anyway is not feasible. It's like dismissing chanting because so few can chant 64 rounds.


Re. the sleep of the gods, I'm sure Ivar could give us more info. I may be confusing Vishnu's sleep with theirs. I guess I thought 1/3rd year equals 8 hours (1/3 of 24 h), long enough for the sattvic gods... :)