Why follow Caturmasya?

Why follow Caturmasya?

By ISKCON Mayapur

“The real purpose behind the vow taken during these four months is to minimize the quantity of sense gratification. This is not verydifficult.” 

– Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya Lila 4.169, Purport

In the purport to Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya-lila 4.169, Srila Prabhupada writes that “the Caturmasya period begins in the month of Ashadha (June-July) from the day of Ekadasi called Sayana-ekadasi. The period ends in the month of Kartika (October-November) on the Ekadasi day known as Utthana-ekadasi. This four month period is known as Caturmasya.” In the Sri Hari-bhakti-vilasa it is recommended that for the first month of Caturmasya, which is known as Sravana (July–August), one should give up eating any green, leafy vegetables. This includes but is not limited to all types of spinach, coriander, curry leaves, basil and other herbs. In the second month known as Bhadrapada (August –September), one should avoid eating yogurt. For the third month, Asvina (September –October), it is recommended that one should abstain from milk. In the last month, Kartika (October –November), one should not eat white lentils (masura and urad dhals).

In the Varaha Purana, it describes the significance and origin of the Caturmasya period. Once Mother Earth approached Lord Varaha, the boar incarnation of the Lord, and expressed her concerns about the people who take birth in Kali Yuga. She pointed out how these people are ignorant, short-lived and always afflicted with weakness and disease, and she begged the Lord to reveal a method which would allow the people of Kali Yuga to get great benefits with very little effort.

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Draupadi – dishonored yet honorable

Draupadi – dishonored yet honorable

By Chaitanya Charan das

Draupadi. Her admirable character is revealed in the most humiliating incident of her life – her disrobing by the wicked Dushasana. Though victimized in body, she refuses to be victimized in her heart. Her exceptional character transforms the lowest point in her life into the highest point. The incident in which she is the most dishonored, she emerges as the most honorable.

On that dark day, her period has just ended and she has emerged after bathing, wearing a single cloth before she puts on her royal dress as the chief queen of the reigning monarch. Unknown to her, the monarch Yudhisthira has, in a rigged gambling match, lost everything, including all his property, his brothers, himself and finally her.

The jeering Karna suggests that Draupadi be brought into the assembly and be disrobed publicly for she was now the Kauravas’ slave. If the Kauravas had succeeded in disrobing her, whether they would have physically violated her in the public assembly is doubtful. The atrocious idea was not just driven by lust but by power play – the Kauravas saw Draupadi not as a person, but as a tool to demean the Pandavas. Objectification of women runs through and through in the Kauravas’ attitude. They order a court messenger to summon Draupadi to the palace.

When the messenger informs her that she has been summoned to the assembly and tells her all that has transpired there, she is aghast. But pulling herself together with amazing speed, she comes up with a strategy to buy time. She tells the messenger to ask the assembly whether she had been rightly gambled and lost when Yudhishtira had already gambled and lost himself – when he was not his own master, was he her master to have gambled her?

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Srila Bhaktivinoda recommends that we move like a person climbing a ladder

Srila Bhaktivinoda recommends that we move like a person climbing a ladder
By Vaisesika Das 

Question: What if I can only chant Hare Krsna right now, but I can’t do much service? Answer: Chanting Hare Krsna is service.

However, when you are chanting “Hare Krsna,” you are also requesting service. After chanting, don’t be surprised when you are awarded more service. And then when Krsna gives you service, there may be a question about how much service you should take. On the one hand, Krsna advises in the Gita (18.66) that we simply surrender to Him. And this is actually the main business of a devotee. On the other hand, Krsna tells Uddhava in the Srimad-bhagavatam, sve sve adhikari ya nistah … “It is a good quality to take service according to one’s Adhikari, or current capacity.” (SB 11.21.2)

Bhaktivinoda Thakura, in his Sri Caitanya Siksamrita, explains how to reconcile these two sides through vigilant introspection.

He says, If we are ready for more service, but hesitate to take it, our devotional service will slacken. Or, if we aren’t fixed in the service we have now, and we hastily take more than we are qualified for, we may fall down.

To advance, therefore, Srila Bhaktivinoda recommends that we move like a person climbing a ladder, who moves from a lower rung to a higher one only after finding a secure footing. In our devotional service, we should similarly gain a solid footing in whatever service we have now and then grasp for the next highest level of service when we can actually reach it. Our gaining solid footing and our looking for the next higher rung should go on simultaneously, he says.

“If we are in too much in a hurry to climb to a higher step, we may slip and be forced to step down. Or, if we don’t try to take the higher step when we are actually ready, our progress will stop. Therefore, considering both haste and hesitancy as obstacles, we should rise up by becoming fixed on the rung of advancement we have achieved and then reach for the next higher step. Many express sorrow about not getting devotion to Krishna; but the fact is that they do not try their best to rise up to the steps leading to advanced devotion to Krishna.” (Adapted from Caitanya Siksamrta; p 112. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura)

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