by Srila Saccidananda Bhaktivinoda Thakura
Two divisions of sastra: smarta and paramartha
The Vedic arya-sastras are divided into two sections:”smarta (literature based on smrti) and paramartha(transcendental literature based on sruti). Those who are eligible (adhikari) for the smarta section do not have any natural inclination or taste for the paramartha-sastras. The thoughts, principles, activities and life goal of every human is constituted according to his respective ruci (inclination). Generally, smartas accept those scriptures which are in accordance with their respective ruci. Having greater adhikara for smarta-sastra, they do not demonstrate much regard for paramarthika-sastra. Providence is the agent behind the creation of these two divisions. Therefore, undoubtedly the maintainer of the world must have a hidden purpose in having made such an arrangement.
As far as I understand, the purpose is that the jivas sequentially make progress in their level of consciousness by remaining steadfast in their respective adhikara. By deviating from one’s adhikara, one falls down. According to one’s activities, a person attains two types of adhikara:karmadhikara and bhakti-adhikhara. As long as one maintains his karmadhikara, he derives benefit from the path shown by the smarta section. When he enters bhakti-adhikara, by transgressing the karmadhikara, then he develops a natural ruci (inclination) for the paramarthika, or transcendental, path. Therefore, providence has made these two divisions of sastra: smarta and paramartha.
The rules and regulations of smarta sastra are committed to karma
The smarta sastra has made various types of rules and regulations in order to help one attain nistha, steadfastness, in karmadhikara. In many instances, it even demonstrates indifference towards paramartha sastra to make people attain specific nistha in such rules and regulations. In reality, although sastra is one, it manifests in two ways for the people. If the jiva gives up adhikara-nistha, he can never attain auspiciousness. For this reason, the sastras have been divided into two: smarta and paramartha.
Adhimasa (extra month), also called mala masa (impure month), is devoid of all auspicious activities
By dividing the whole year in twelve parts, the smarta-sastras have ascertained the auspicious, or religious, activities for these twelve months. All the karma, religious activities which are part of the varnasrama system when allotted to the twelve months, leave the extra month (adhimasa) devoid of any such activity. There is no religious performance in adhimasa. In order to keep lunar months and solar months in tally, one month has to be excluded every 32 months. The name of that month is adhimasa (extra month).* Smartas have discarded this extra month, considering it abominable. They gave it names such as mala masa (impure month), cora masa (thieving month), and so on.
* It is stated in Sri Surya Siddhanta that in one mahayuga there are 1,593,336 extra months and 51,840,000 solar months. Therefore, there is one extra month after every 32 months, 16 days and 4 hours of the solar calendar.
From the perspective of paramartha-sastra, adhimasa is superior and advantageous for Hari-bhajana
On the other hand, the most worshipable paramartha-sastra acclaims adhimasa as the most outstanding month for transcendental activities. Since life in this world is temporary, it is not proper to spend any part of one’s life meaninglessly. It is imperative for the jiva to remain continuously engaged in hari-bhajana at every moment. Thus, the adhimasa, which comes every third year, may also become useful for hari-bhajana. This is indeed the deep meaning of paramartha-sastras. Even though karmis perceive this month to be devoid of all auspicious activities, for the deliverance of all the jivas, paramartha sastra, on the other hand, has ascertained that period as the most conducive for hari-bhajana. Paramartha sastra says, He jiva! During this adhimasa why should you remain lazy inhari-bhajana? Srimad Golokanatha Himself has ascertained that this month is the best of all. It is superior even to the greatly pious months of Karttika, Magha and Vaisakha. In this month, you should perform arcana of Sri Sri Radha-Krsna with special rules, or moods, for bhajana. You will thereby attain all types of perfection.
The history and glories of adhimasa and how it received the name Purusottama
The glories of adhimasa are mentioned in the thirty-first chapter of the Naradiya Purana. Adhimasa considered the sovereignty of the twelve months and saw that he was being slighted. He went to Vaikuntha and related his dilemma to Sri Narayana. Out of compassion, Vaikuntha-pati took Adhimasa with Him and appeared before Sri Krsna in Goloka. After hearing about the distress of malamasa (the impure month), Sri Krsna’s heart melted and He spoke thus:
aham etair yatha loke prathitah purusottamah
tathayam api lokesu prathitah purusottamah
asmai samarpitah sarve ye gunamayi samsthitah
mat-sadrsyam-upagamya masanamadhipo bhavet
jagat-pujyo jagat-vandyo maso ayam tu bhavisyati
sarve masah sakamas ca niskamo ayam maya krtah
akamah sarvakamo va yo adhimasam prapujayet
karmani bhasmasat krtva mam evaisyaty asamsayam
kadacin-mama bhaktanamaparadheti ganyate
purusottama-bhaktanam naparadhah kadacana
ya etasmin-maha mudha japa-danadi-varjitah
jayante durbhaga dustah para-bhagyopajivanah
na kadacit sukham tesam svapne api sasa-srngavat
yenahamarcito bhaktya mase asmin purusottame
dhana-putra-sukham bhunktva pascad-goloka-vasabhak
He Ramapati! Just as I am celebrated in this world by the name Purusottama, similarly, this Adhimasa too will be renowned in the world by the name Purusottama. Now I offer all My qualities to this month. Becoming like Me, from today onwards, this Adhimasa is the monarch of all the other months, and is the most worshipable and most adored in the world. All other months are sakama, that is, they will grant worldly desires. This month, however, is niskama. Those who worship this month, either without any desires (akama) or with all types of desires, will have all their karmas burnt. Then they will achieve Me. My bhaktas sometimes commit offenses, but in this Purusottama month, they will be protected from committing any offense. In this adhimasa, those greatly foolish persons who neglect to perform auspicious activities, such as japa, giving in charity, visiting and bathing at the holy places, and who are envious of the dvijas (brahmanas) are deemed wicked, unfortunate and living at the cost of others. Thus, they will not attain a scent of happiness, even in their dreams. Conversely, those who are filled with bhakti will take advantage of this Purusottama month to perform arcana to Me. After enjoying worldly happiness, such as wealth, sons and so on, they will eventually attain residence in Goloka.
The glories of Purusottama month in the context of Draupadi’s history
Many episodes from the Puranas are narrated in the context of the glories of Purusottama month. One such example is Draupadi. In her previous life, she was the daughter of Medha Rsi. Even after hearing of the glories of Purusottama month from Durvasa Rsi, she neglected to observe that month. As a result, she attained many sufferings in that life and became the wife of five husbands in her birth as Draupadi. During their exile, the Pandavas followed Sri Krsna’s instructions to observe purusottama-masa-vrata and thus crossed over all their sufferings. As it is said:
evam sarvesu tirthesu bhramantah pandunandanah
purusottama-masadya-vratam cerur vidhanatah
tadante rajyam atulam avapur gata-kantakam
purne caturdase varse sri krsna-krpaya mune
He Muni! During the period of their exile, the Pandavas traveled throughout all the holy places, and by the mercy of Sri Krsna they observed Sri Purusottama vrata with all rules and regulations. As a result of this they completed their fourteen years of exile without any obstacles and at the end attained an unparalleled kingdom.
The account of King Drdhadhanva as spoken by Valmiki regarding Purusottama Vrata
Purusottama-masa is glorified in the account of King Drdhadhanva’s previous birth. At Badarikasrama, Narada heard the procedure of the vrata from Narayana Rsi, which Valmiki Muni then related to King Drdhadhanva in answer to the king’s questions. Just as the rules of ahanika (gayatri mantras) for brahmanas are ascertained indharma-sastras, similarly, the obligatory activities for one observing Purusottama vrata are also delineated, beginning from the brahma-muhurta hour.
Regarding the rules for bathing during Purusottama month, it is said:
samudraga nadi-snanam-uttamam parikirtitam
vapi-kupa-tadagesu madhyamam kathitam budhaih
grhe snanam tu samanyam grhasthasya prakirtitam
There are three types of baths as declared by the wise. Bath in the rivers which meet the ocean is the topmost. Bath in lakes, ponds and wells is the second best, and bath in one’s home is an ordinary bath.
For one who is observing Sri Purusottama vrata, after taking bath he should observe the following:
sapavitrena hastena kuryad acamana-kriyam
acamya tilakam kuryad-gopi-candana-mrt-snaya
urddhvapundra mrjum saumyam dandakaram prakalpayet
sankha-cakradikam dharyam gopi-candana-mrtsnaya
After bathing one should perform acamana with clean hands. One should then make paste of gopicandana clay and wear simple, beautiful, straight urddhvapundra tilaka on his forehead and the marks of conch, disc and so on, on his body.
The exclusive worship of Sri Sri Radha-Krsna is Obligatory in Purusottama month
The worship of Sri Krsna is the obligatory activity of Purusottama month.
purusottama-masasya daivatam purusottamah
tasmat sampujayed bhaktya sraddhaya purusottamam
Valmiki said, He Drdhadhanva! Purusottama Sri Krsna is the presiding deity of the Purosottama month. Therefore, being filled withbhakti-sraddha, you should worship Purusottama Sri Krsna with sixteen types of paraphernalia every day of this month. As it is said:
sodasopacarais ca pujayet purusottam
The worship of the divine couple Sri Sri Radha-Krsna is indeed obligatory in Purusottama masa.
agaccha deva devesa sri krsna purusottama
radhaya sahitas catra grhana pujanam mama
Activities forbidden in the month of Purusottama
All the rules and regulations regarding Sri Purusottama vrata, which we have presented above from these sastras,should be followed by religiously devoted persons of all the varnas (castes). The Naradiya Purana concludes by saying that in the holy place of Naimisaranya, Sri Suta Gosvami spoke to the assembled devotees as follows:
bharate janurasadya purusottam-uttamam
na sevante na srnvanti grhasakta naradhamah
gatagatam bhajante ‘tra durbhaga janmajanmani
putra-mitra-kalatrapta-viyogad duhkha bhaginah
asmin mase dvija srestha nasacchastrany udaharet
na svapet para-sayayam nalapet vitatham kvacit
parapavadan na krayan na kathancit kadacana
parannanca na bhunjita na kurvita parakriyam
Even after taking birth in India, those who are the lowest of mankind remain attached to household life and never hear the glories of Sri Purusottama vrata; nor do they observe it. Such unfortunate persons undergo the suffering of repeated birth and death and the distress inflicted by the separation from sons, friends, wife and other relatives.
O best of the dvijas! In this Purusottama month, one should not uselessly discuss worldly literature or mundane poetry. One should not sleep on the bed of others nor indulge in discussions of worldly sense enjoyment. One should not criticize others, eat foodstuffs cooked by others, or perform activities prescribed for others.
The obligatory activities in the Purusottama month
vittasathyam akurvano danam dadhyad dvijataye
vidyamane dhane sathyam kurvano rauravam vrajet
dine dine dvijendraya dattva bhojanam-uttamam
divasasyastame bhage vrati bhojanam acaret
indradyumnah satadyumno yauvanasvo bhagirathah
purusottamam aradhya yayur bhagavadantikam
tasmat sarva prayatnena samsevya purusottamah
sarva sadhanatah sresthah sarvartha phala-dayakah
govardhana-dharam vande gopalam gopa-rupinam
gokulotsavam-isanam govindam gopika-priyam*
kaundinyena pura proktam imam mantram punah punah
japan-masam nayed bhaktya purusottamam-apnuyat
dhyayen-navaghana-syamam dvibhujam muralidharam
lasat pita-patam ramyam sa-radham purosottamam
dhyayam dhyayam nayen-masam pujayan purusottamam
evam yah kurute bhaktya svabhistam sarvam apnuyat
Giving up miserliness, one should give in charity to the brahmanas. If a person remains miserly even though he has wealth, his miserliness will be the cause of his going to Raurava (one type of hell). Everyday one should feed the Vaisnavas and brahmanas with the best foodstuffs. A person who is following the vows should take his food in the eighth part of the day. Indradyuyamna, Satadyuyamna, Yauvanasva and Bhagiratha attained samipya, close association of Bhagavan by worshiping the Purusottama month. One should perform service to Purusottama with all of one’s endeavors. Such service to Purusottama is superior to all types ofsadhana and fulfills all variety of desires. In a previous age, Kaundilya Muni repeatedly chanted the mantra ‘govardhana-dharam vande’. By chanting this mantra with devotion during Sri Purusottama month, one will attain Sri Purusottama Himself. One should devote Purusottama month to constantly meditating upon nava-ghana dvibhuja muralidhara pitambara Sri Krsna with Sri Radha. Those who do this with devotion will have all their cherished desires fulfilled.
* I worship the lifter of Govardhana, Gopala, who has the form of a gopa. He is the festival of Gokula (gokula-utsava), the Supreme Controller of all (isvara), and He is Govinda the beloved of the gopis (gopika-priyam).
The observance for transcendentalists – svanistha, paranistha and nirapeksa
There are three types of transcendentalists: svanistha – those who are steadfast in their personal vows; paranisthita -those who are steadfast in following the vows set forth by their respective acaryas; and nirpeksa – those who are indifferent to the above two types of steadfastness.* All the activities mentioned above for Purusottama month are prescribed for svanistha transcendentalists. Paranisthita bhaktas are eligible to observe Purusottama vrataaccording to the rules and instructions of Karttika vrata prescribed by their respective acaryas. Nirapeksa bhaktasrepect this sacred month by daily honoring sri bhagavat prasad with one-pointed attention, following some routine for sravana and kirtana of sri harinama according to their capacity.
* Svanistha and paranisthita bhaktas are generally householders and nirapeksa bhaktas are renunciates.
The following statement from Visnu Rahasya, which is the topmost instruction of Sri Hari-bhakti-vilasa, recommends:
indriyarthesv-asaktanam sadaiva vimala matih
paritosayate visnum nopavaso jitatmanah
Those whose intelligence has been purified by bhakti are detached from the inclination for sense enjoyment. The intelligence of such persons is naturally pure; therefore, they are jitatma, they have conquered their minds. It is by their innate bhakti, rather than byupavasa (fasting) and other such activities, that they have purified their minds and are thus able to please Sri Krsna at all times.
The innate ruci (inclination) and obligatory activities of ekantika bhaktas
Therefore, Srila Sanatana Gosvami has concluded his book Sri Hari-bhakti-vilasa by presenting the following statements for one-pointed devotees:
evam ekantinam prayah kirtanam smaranam prabhoh
kurvatam param-pritya krtyam-anyan na rocate
bhavena kenacit presthah sri murter-anghri sevane
syad icchyaisam svatantrena sva-rasanaiva tad-vidhih
vihitesv eva nityesu pravartante svayam hite
ityady ekantinam bhati mahatmyam likhitam hi tat
Ekantika bhaktas (one-pointed devotees) of Sri Krsna consider sri krsna-smarana and sri krsna-kirtana alone to be the most fulfilling and valued activities. Generally, they do not engage in any other angas of bhakti besides these two, which they cultivate with great love and affection. Their eagerness for these angas is so strong that no other activity can captivate their taste. They develop an intense desire to serve the lotus feet of Sri Krsna in a specific mood. Therefore, they render service to the lotus feet of Sri Krsna with moods which are favorable to their own rasa, along with some independence (to give up the injunctions which are unfavorable to their cultivation). This alone is their vidhi. The ekantika bhaktas are not bound to follow all the rules and regulations which have been prescribed by the rsis. The moods of the ekantika bhakta’s inborn, natural disposition generally remain prominent. This is their glory.
Adhimasa is dear to bhaktas as there is no disturbance from the karma-kanda in this month.
The bhaktas observe Sri Purusottma month according to their respective adhikara; this means according to the distinctions of the moods of svanistha, paranisthita and ekantika bhaktas. Bhagavan Vrajanatha Sri Krsna is the sovereign of this month; therefore, adhimasa is dear to every bhakta. This is because, incidentally, in this month no disturbance from the karma-kanda can come to obstruct the performance of one’s bhakti.
Source: The Harmonist