Essence Of Skanda Purana


Padma

Vaisakha Months Significance

Sage Narada confirmed from Brahma that ‘Vaisakha Masa’was of immense consequence as it fulfills all desires to human beings just as a mother did to children. The month is very dear to Vishnu and confers several boons to those who deserve.The month is the essence of Dharma, Yagna, Kriya (noble tasks) and Tapasya.

Vaisakha  is a ‘Dharma Sadhaka’(Virtue-prone) month, just as Veda Vidya is the preeminent of Vidyas, ‘Pranava’is the superlative of Mantras, ‘Kalpa Vriksha’ is the paramount of Trees, Surya Deva is the most superior of all radiances, Sudarshan Chakra is the most powerful among all Shastraas and Astras, Gold is the best of all metals, Siva is the unique among Vaishnavas and ‘Kaustubh’ is the best  among  the jewels.Those who perform ‘Snaan’even before Sunrise are valued by Narayana. Just as Vaishakha, there is no Yuga like Satya, no charity like that of water, no prosperity like farming, no Tapasya like Upavas (fasting), no happiness like giving away, no virtue like mercy and forgiving, no superiority like good health, and above all there is no Bhagavan like Vishnu.
During the month of Vaishakha, ‘Jala Daan’assumes high importance as those who wish to attain affluence must resort to ways and means of supplying water to public; road side outlets to travellers are of great utility especially in Summer season. Planting trees for shade, providing umbrellas, footwear and fans to individuals, ‘Anna daan’ or mid day meals and free accommodation in rest houses especially to ‘Yatris’ and devising other facilities have enormous and far reaching ‘Punya’; the donors of these items would automatically receive manifold benefits in ‘Iham’ (current life) and ‘Param’, especially the ‘Naraka lokas’which one ought to visit after life. To those who give away clothing in charity would be rid of difficulties at birth and death; to those who donate mats that Lord Vishnu Himself rests on; to those who give away bed sheets would have comfortable sleep; to those who provide relaxed clothing to Brahmanas their life span would be extended; to those who donate flowers would be blessed with luxuries in life; to those who offer chandan would enjoy happiness; to those who construct free rest houses would become Kings; to those who provide free facilities of gardens, water wells, and ‘Mandapas’  would have the happiness of good children; and to those who perform rites to ‘Pitras’ by offering Kasturi, Camphor, fragrant material and pots full of scented waters are sure to achieve various types of reliefs in the ‘Paraloka’. While these are illustrative types of charities and the far reaching results of benevolence, the avoidable tasks during the Vaisakha month are eight-folded viz. applying oils on body, bathing in the house, sleeping during the day timings, eating in glass utensils, sleeping on water beds, keeping away from avoidable foods, eating more than once a day and eating in the night. If one takes Vaishakha bath before Sun-rise in any of the Seven Gangas viz. Ganga, Buddha Ganga (Godavari), Kalindi or Yamuna, Saraswathi, Kaveri, Narmada and Veni, the person concerned would be saved from even ‘Pancha Patakas’, let alone lesser level sins. Daanas of ‘Kanda’/ ‘Moola’ (Underground Vegetables), Phala (Fruits) Shakha (Plain Vegetables), Salt, Gud, Edible Leaves, and water would have endless benefits.
While performing ‘Snaanas’during Vaishaka, the following Mantras should be read in praise of Madhusudan as follows:
Madhusudan Devesha Vaishaakhe Meshage Ravai,
Prathahsnaanam karishyaami nirvighnam kuru Madhava.
(Hey Madhusudan, Deveswara Madhava, I am performing Vaishakha month bathing early morning when Surya Deva is situated in Mesha Rasi; Kindly accomplish my bathing without hindrance and bless me). After the bath, one should offer ‘Arghya’ (Handful of water) looking at Sun:
Vaishaakhe Meshage Bhaanau Praathah Snaana paraayanah,
Arghyam theham pradaasmahi gruhaana Madhusudana.
(I am formally offering the ‘Arghya’during early morning of Vaishaka when Surya is in Mesha Rasi; kindly accept, Madhusudana!)
Once there was a King named Kirtiman in Kashipura who went hunting in forests and being desirous of visiting the ‘Ashram’of Sage Vasishtha found several of the Sage’s disciples offering the shade of umbrellas, fruits and cool drinks to passers by.They were unmindful of normal human beings and Kings like him and asked why were they doing the service, they did not reply. On meeting Vasishtha, the King enquired about the acts of the disciples and the Sage described the significance of Vaisakha Month. Pursuant to this the King ordered that the good example of the disciples of the Sage be followed in the nook and corner of the entire Kingdom and was able to save the lives of several of his subjects, especially Brahmanas by providing rest houses, planting trees, supplying food and cool water and creating innumerable facilities to his people.Also, the King organised a Kingdom-wide campaign of propagating Dharma in the Vaishakha Month and spreading the awareness of the ‘do’s and don’ts’ as also strictly enforcing early mornig bathings, performances of daanas, ‘Pujas’by individual families and a general uplift of Dharma.This resulted in a very thin outgo of deaths from his Kingdom in the months of Vaishaka and Lord Yamaraja made an appeal to Brahma that the traffic of deaths and births registered in the Kingdom of Kirtiman was highly disturbed, that there was little difference of ‘Swarga’ and ‘Naraka’ and even those few deaths in the Kingdom made a bee-line to Vaikuntha! Amused by the complaint of Yamaraja, Brahma accompanied by Yamaraja approached the ‘Ksheera Sagar’ (Ocean of Milk) and Vishnu replied smilingly that He would rather leave away His Srivatsa, Kaustubh jewel, Vijayanti Mala, Sweta Dwip, Vaikuntha, Ksheera Sagar, Sesha Nag, Garud or even Devi Lakshmi, but would never abandon His Bhakta Raja Kirtiman. He further said that He would desire to multiply the good illustrations of that King and extend their lives for thousands of Years. He warned Yamadharmaraja not to interfere with the observance of the ‘Mahatmya’ of the month of Vaisakha. However, Lord Vishnu provided for a special dispensation in favour of Yamadharmaraja that the devotees of Vaisaska month should perform a special Puja in his favour during the first half of the month before Purnima and give away a Daan of potful of water, curd and Anna (rice/foodgrains) to appease him. Only after the special Puja that one should observe Pujas to Pitras, Gurus and Bhagavan Vishnu in their names and charity be given to Brahmanas offering cool water, curd, Anna, fruits, betel leaves/ nuts and ‘dakshina’ along with a copper vessel and an Idol of Maha Vishnu.
The importance of Vaisakha Akshaya Triteeya through the end of the month was illustrated by a King Purushaya of Panchaladesha who no doubt was virtuous and noble but lost his kingdom following a famine in his Kingdom and the opportune neighbouring Kings defeated and sent Purushaya into exile. Two Sages explained that Purushaya was a cruel hunter in his previous birth but luckily he showed two old and very thirsty passers-by about the location of a waterbody and hence he became a King; yet Purushaya never performed charity and hence faced bad days. The Sages suggested that the next day was Vaisakha Akshaya Triteeya and the King could therefore observe early morning Snaan, Puja to Lakshmipati, perform charity by way of water-dispensers for the benefit of thirsty passers- by and such other good deeds. Purushaya realised the fault and executed several charitable deeds during Akshaya Triteeya through Amavasya and regained his kingdom eventually and decided to provide many charities in the entire month of Vaisakha month every year. Eventually, the King became a great devotee of Lord Vishnu, had His darshan and attained ‘Sayujya’.
While all the days of Vaishakha Month are significant, Ekadashi, assumes special value.The ideal deeds like Snaan, Daan, Homa, Deva Puja and other Punya Karmas like Japas, Stotras and Katha Shravanas bestow instant results. Those who suffer from illness and acute poverty would be free from Purana Shravana; those who are blind, widows, or normal men, women, and children, youth, old, decrepit and the rest would all be able to lessen or even remove their problems as a result of their virtues on Ekadashi of the month. Similarly, Amavasya of Vaisakha Monthis of the great impact for Pitru Puja and for performing ‘Shraddhas’,’Pinda daanas’ and ‘Tila Tarpanas’.

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