4 July 2020
The Importance of Caturmasya
Chanting is taking place from 714 locations. Welcome and greetings to all of you. Caturmasya is beginning from tomorrow. By another calculation, it starts from Ashadi or Sayana Ekadasi. On the day of Sayana Ekadasi, the Lord starts to sleep in the heavenly planets. Generally, demigods stay in the heavenly planets. The Lord also has His abode there. He sleeps there for four months - Sravana, Bhadrapada, Ashwin and Kartik. In the month of Kartik, one more Ekadasi comes - Utthana Ekadasi. On that day the Lord wakes up. In this way, from Sayana Ekadasi to Utthana Ekadasi Caturmasya is celebrated. Lakhs of devotees visit here in Pandharpur so that devotees can take darsana of the Lord before He goes to sleep. Again lakhs of devotees come to take darsana when He wakes up. When the Lord sleeps, the devotees increase their austerities and glorify the Lord. They increase their sadhana and services. During the prakatya lila of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, devotees from various places like Navadvipa, Shantipur, and Kulina gram would stay with Caitanya Mahaprabhu in Jagannatha Puri.
During the South Indian Yatra, Caitanya Mahaprabhu stayed at Srirangam during Caturmasya and he engaged time in sravanam and kirtana.
mahaprabhoh kirtana-nritya-gita vaditra-madyan-manaso rasena
Translation: Chanting the holy name, dancing in ecstasy, singing, and playing musical instruments, the spiritual master is always gladdened by the sankirtana movement of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu.[ Gurv-astaka, Verse 2]
In the first canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, Srila Narada Muni tells Śrīla Vyāsa deva how he joined Krishna Consciousness. He shared the benefits he got by observing Caturmasya with Vyasa deva. He shared his association with the Bhaktivedantas during Caturmasya. His mother cooked for the Bhaktivedantas who observed Caturmasya which is also a period of the rainy season so the Parivrājakācāryas stays at one place. Narada Muni benefited by the association of such Mahatmas. Narada Muni also listened to the Katha of those Mahatmas and was serving them. Narada Muni got their association and he was also engaged in the service of the sadhus.
Sadhu-sanga, sadhu-sanga — sarva-sastre kaya lava-matra sadhu-sange sarva-siddhi haya
Translation: The verdict of all revealed scriptures is that by even a moment’s association with a pure devotee, one can attain all success.[CC Madhya 22.54]
He did sravanam and kirtana and also rendered service to the sadhus. Narada Muni especially mentions that by their permission he honoured their remnants. We can say that it is with this that he became Narada Muni. Muni means one who is thoughtful and He became Narada, meaning one who gives Narayan to others.
We also should take the benefit of this Caturmasya. In Hari bhakti Vilas Srila Sanatana Goswami writes about the glories of Caturmasya. Srila Prabhupada was pleased with Bhavananda Prabhu's letter in which he mentioned about following Caturmasya. But Srila Prabhupada was not so much in favour as it stops the service of preaching due to certain strict rules that need to be followed.
In 1975 Srila Prabhupada saw that some of his sannayasi disciples had grown their hair and had become mauni babas. Then Srila Prabhupada chastised them and asked them to shave up. They again became active in services.
The rules of Caturmasya are very strict. One can follow as per time, place, and circumstances. It's not easy. Some try to imitate and do the bhajan alone. There are austerities of body, mind and speech which are also mentioned in Bhagavad Gita. There is a need to do more austerities. We refrain from certain items every month.
We can increase the austerity of Japa. Japa is also an austerity. We can practice purifying our minds. We can increase sravanam and kirtana.
śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ smaraṇaṁ pāda-sevanam arcanaṁ vandanaṁ dāsyaṁ sakhyam ātma-nivedanam
We can focus more on the quality of these 9 processes of devotional service. Take vows in Caturmasya. You can look at that which nourishes bhakti. This is a very nice season for sadhana bhakti. Every devotee should look to this starting from Guru Purnima. I also attempted to follow Caturmasya in Pandharpur before 15 years ago, but it was difficult as there was a flood at that time. Now, this time I'm thinking of staying in Pandharpur. As the rainy season is also coming, so Bhaktivedanta stays in one place. Coronavirus is also one reason. We have to maintain social distancing so I have decided to stay in Pandharpur. This has not stopped preaching. We are having a discussion. Preaching has increased.
We will continue our Japa and Japa talk during this Caturmasya from 6:00 am to 7:00 am. You can see how you can make your home and temple a more convenient place just like Caitanya Mahaprabhu used to spend time in Jagannatha Puri.
Devotees come to Pandharpur on Sayana Ekadasi and stay here for 4 months. Not only brahmacharis and sannayasis stay here, but many grhasthas also come. There is no need to go here and there. You can convert your homes into temples and make improvements in your sadhana bhakti. Work on making your weak points strong.
Gaur Premanande Hari Haribol