Acclaimed astrologer and Sunday Tribune Herald columnist Mahesh Bang answers your questions.
Q: Dear Mahesh, please could you explain why Navrathri is not following directly after Pitr Paksha this year. - SB
A: This year for the first time after 19 years Adhik Maas has caused a delay in Navrathri following Pitr Paksha.
Adhik Maas is the extra lunar month, assigned to Lord Vishnu, which occurs once in every three years, and in this year, the month runs from September 18 to October 16. The extra lunar month is also known as Mal Maas and Purushottam Maas.
To clear all myths, one can call on God’s name (naam japa) on all 365 days in the year. However, certain prayers (paath), mantras and “anushtan” (a special prayer for a particular purpose) must be in line with certain rules, regulations and recommended times to derive maximum benefits.
In fact, during Adhik Maas, one should do more good deeds – daan (charity), jaap (chanting), vrat (fasting), paath and poojas (prayers) to receive Lord Vishnu’s blessings as he grants us the boon of Adhik-Maas to recuperate our losses in spiritual terms. This chance comes once every three years. So we must use the opportunity to the fullest.
Adhik-Maas is celebrated as a sacred month. All endeavours with the intention of worldly gains are strictly prohibited during Adhik Maas as mentioned in holy scriptures. During this period, marriages, mundan and anushtans are prohibited.
According to scripture, charitable and meritorious acts and fasting etc., carried out during this month derive fruitful results. Just as the tiny contents within a seed are able to produce a giant and long-living banyan tree, in the same manner, even small acts of charity performed in this month produces huge results. For this reason, it is also referred to as the Purushottama (best) Maas (month) and is regarded to be more significant than other months.
The following is the significance associated to the month:
● Adhik Maas is the month for Vishnu prayer and all his Avtaar’s (incarnation). The recitation of Srimad Bhagavata Purana and the Bhagavad Gita during this month produces the best benefits. Singing and listening to the praises of Lord Vishnu, chanting the Vishnu sahasranama and the Suktas are also recommended.
● If there is a temple in your area, you should perform a prayer to the deities in that place of worship. Pilgrimage undertaken during this time is considered most beneficial.
● According to some scholars, one should also recite chapter 15 of the Bhagavad Gita (PurushottamYoga) during this month.
● There is also significance in the circumambulation Pradakshina of Shri Giriraj Parvat situated near Vrindavan. This period is a medium to adjust the gap between the solar and the lunar year. The solar year consists of approximately 365 days and six hours, whereas the lunar year is of 354 days. Thus, the gap between the solar and lunar year is around 11 days. The gap increases to approximately a month over three lunar years. Therefore, to balance the gap between the solar and lunar calendar an extra month comes about after every third year, and is called Adhik Maas.
History behind Adhik Maas
As per legends, once Demon Hiranyakashipu had asked for a boon from Lord Brahma to be immortal but that could not be granted so he again asked to not be killed by neither man, woman nor animal, no weapon nor object, not on land nor in air and water, not in day nor in night, not inside nor outside, further he asked that he should not meet his death in any of the 12 months of the year.
Bestowed with the boon, Demon Hiranyakashipu thought he had become immortal. Later Demon Hiranyakashipu met death at the hands of Lord Narasimha who ripped his chest with the claws (no weapon or objects) taking the form of half lion and half man (no man or animal), during Adhik Maas (not any of the 12 months) around sunset (not day or night) and at the threshold of the palace (neither inside nor outside) on Lord Narasimha’s lap (not on land, air and in water).
So, in this month worshipping Lord Vishnu and his Avtar’s (incarnations) has greatest benefits.
1. Any planetary problem in a horoscope can be regulated during this month by doing charity and chanting or taking the name of Allah, Jesus, Buddha and other divine form. It is believed rectifying planetary effects during this month give positive results 10 times better than performed during any other month.
2. Maintain a vegetarian diet during the entire month of Adhik Maas starting from September 18 until October 16.
3. Give at least one item for charity every day to the temple (if it’s nearby) or give to the needy. The best suggestion is to offer or donate fruits and/or grains every day like coconut, banana, apple etc.
4. Best to do charity for 33 times during this month.
5. One thousand names of Lord Vishnu is equivalent to one name of Lord Rama. So, keep chanting Rama Naam more.
6. The ideal mantra to chant is Mahamantra: “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.”
7. Double your chanting and prayer for this month. This is one opportunity that comes once in every three years to accumulate immense good karma, hence improve the good luck in your destiny, by following the above. We are blessed to have an extra spiritual month this year, when we need it the most. It’s important we try to utilise this time properly.
Wishing you a blissful Adhik Maas.