Matsya Avatara


14    Over-view of Sixty Vratas
Nandikeswara indicated that while innumerable Vratas were described in the Eighteen Maha Puranas or otherwise as per the beliefs of humanity in several parts of Bharat, sixty select Vratas were worthy of shortlisting. *Persons observing day long fast till the evening for the duration of a full year, after performing daily puja to Bhagavan Shiva and after a year donating a golden Chakra and Trishula to a family Brahamana along with food and dakshina is called Deva Vrata which entitles Shivaloka Prapti.* Those who perform Rudra Vrata by fasting similarly during every day till the dusk time to worship Shiva and after a year donate a pair of golden pratimas of a cow and ox to a Brahmana with bhojan and dakshina are also sanctioned Rudra loka, besides destroying their previous sins and future discomfitures in life.* Similar day time fasting and worship of Vishnu for a year and giving away daana of a sugarful of vessel and a golden neel-kamal (blue lotus) along with a live’Vrishabha’/Ox is called Neela Vrata bestowing great contentment in life and Vaikuntha thereafter. * Preeti Vrata is called when a devotee observes it without applying and using oil for four months beginning from ‘Ashadha’ month and donates Bhojana Material including vessels to vegetables and glasses to grains at the end of the Vrata would endear himself to one and all. *Those who abstain from milk, curd, ghee and sugar as also their related products during the Chaitra month and resort to sincere worship to Devi Gauri daily after which make charity to a Brahmana couple with silver vessels full of various fruits and juices and honour them with Vastras and gifts are stated to have acted upon Devi Gauri Vrata. * Persons who execute Kama Vrata resort to fasting day long on the day previous to Trayodadshi coinciding with Pushya Nakshatra and donate a golden Ashoka tree of ten inches along with sugar cane and vastras to a Brahmana before proper Puja to Pradyumna Deva are blessed with destruction of all difficulties and obstacles in life and attain Vishnu loka there after. *Those observing four-month long Shiva Vrata from Ashadha Purnima to Kartika Purnima without cutting hair and nails and refraining from eating ‘bhanta’ or round brinjals and at the end of that period donating pots of honey and ghee and donating a golden bhanta on the Purnima to a Brahmana are destined to contentment in life and ‘Sivaloka prapti’thereafter. *Resisting from the beauty and fragrance of the seasonal flowers during ‘Hemanta and Shishira Ritus’ (winter and cold /dewy seasons), persons observing Sowmya Vrata on Phalguna Purnima day would perform puja to Bhagavan Shiva and Keshava would donate seasonal flowers of their choice in gold to a Brahmana in the evening time for fulfilment of desires and attaining ‘Paramapada’after life. *Sowbhagya Vrata commences from Phalguna Month’s Triteeya Tithi for a full year when the Karta should stop consuming salt and salty food and the Deity for worship is Devi Bhavani. At the close of the Vrata, Karta and his wife should perform ‘Dampati Puja’-husband and wife-presuming that the worship was for ‘Adi- Dampatis’ of Bhagavan Shiva and Bhavani and give away all kinds of household items as donation, especially beds; this Vrata bestows the fruits of ‘Gauri loka Nivas’ till ‘Kalpanta’to both Karta and his wife. *Those who take up the Sarasvata Vrata should observe silence in evening Sandhyas for a year and at the end of the year donate gheeful ‘ghatas’/ pots, Vastras, tila seeds, and ghanta (bell). The Kartas would be blessed with Soundarya, Vidya and intelligence and ‘Sarasvata Pada’/ Vidyadhara and Brahmalokas later on.
*Sampad Vrata is commenced on a ‘Panchami’and goes on for a year on a Panchami again when Lakshmi’s puja is held to Devi Lakshmi. On the concluding day, formal Puja is performed and a cow as also a golden lotus is given as ‘daan’ to a Brahmana. In the present life, the Karta’s sorrows and difficulties are terminated and in every subsequent life he would be born in exceedingly properous and renowned families. *Ayur Vrata is performed by those who carry out ‘lepana’ or paste their heads to the Bhumi before the Idols of Shiva and Keshava for a year and at the close of the year donate a cow with waterful of pot would be Kings for thousand years (ie. for long, long time) and after death reach Shivaloka. * Persons who abstain from jealousy, take food once a day, practise silence and try to worship ‘peepul’ tree, Surya Deva and Ganga for a year and at the end donate three cows and golden tree replicas to a husband-wife pair are known to have observed Kirti Vrata who are blessed with instant opulence and reputation and attain the benefit of organising an Ashwamedha Yagna. * Saama Vrata is successfully done by devotees of Bhagavan Shiva or Keshava who are required to reside in a cow-dung house for a year and worship the Deities by performing snaan with ghee and puja with flowers, Akshatas, Dhupa, Deepa etc. After a year’s observance of the Vrata, charity of a cow with Tila seeds as also an eight inch long golden lotus is to be made a Sama Veda Pandit for attainment of Shivaloka.* Veera Vrata is essentially meant for women and observed on Navami days for a year ; they should take a single meal in the day along with as many ‘Kanyas’ as possible and gift them ‘Asanas’( Chairs) along with gold embroidered jackets with stars and sarees, besides a golden Simha / Lion as a symbol of bravery and strength to be given away to a Brahmana; such ladies would become prettier, healthier and happier by the day and through crores of births ahead to finally reach Shivaloka. *Pitru Vrata commences on a Purnima day and goes on for a year when the Karta lives only on milk and at the twelfth Purnima again, perform Shraadha and provide ‘daanaa’ of five milk yielding cows, red Vastras and waterful of pots; this Vrata would relieve of the ‘pitaras’ of hundred past generations, and bestow them Kingship for the current and next Kalpa times too. *Those persons who perform Ananda Vrata for four months from Chaitra Month by providing running water or ‘Jala daana’ without asking and at the end provide ‘Anna daana’, besides donate Vastras and pots of water with tila seeds apart from suvarna (gold) to a Brahmana would certainly become a ‘Bhupala’/ King in the same life and at the end of his/her life qualify to reach Brahmaloka. * Ghriti Vrata is observed by performing ‘Panchamrita Snaana’ (bathing with milk, curd, ghee, madhu/honey, and sugar) to the Idol of Bhagavan for a year daily and after the year donating a cow with Panchaamrita and a ‘Shankha’/ conchshell would yield the fruits of becoming a King and attaining Brahmaloka. * Those that do not eat meat for a year and donate a cow and a golden deer’s pratima at the end would get the fruit of performing Ashwamedha Yagna and becoming a King at the ‘Kalpantha’ and this is known as Ahimsa Vrata. * If a person takes bath in the ‘Brahma Muhurta’ in Magha Month, prays to rising Sun and performs ‘Brahmana Dampati Puja’ by providing ‘Bhojan’along with donation of Vastras and ornaments, that is called Surya Vrata and he is entitled with Suryaloka till ‘Kalpaanta’. * Vishnu Vrata has duration of four months from the beginning of Ashadha month till Kartika Purnima and its procedure is to worship Vishnu Deva commencing from ‘pratahkaala snaana’, daily puja to Vishnu Pratima by way of Pushpa, Gandha, Dhupa, Deepa and Naivedya and Brahmana Bhojana every day and Go-daana at the close of the Vrata; this Vrata bestows Vishnu loka.*Those devoted persons who abstain from flowers and ghee from Uttarayana to Dakshinayana and at the end of the Vrata at the Uttarayana time, donate a cow to a Brahmana with ‘pushpa malaas’/ flower garlands along with ‘Khaadya Padaarthaas’/ sweets and savouries made of milk and ghee would accomplish Shivaloka; this is called Sheela Vrata which bestows ‘Sushilata’ / Excellent Manners and ‘Neerogata’/ Good health. * Persons who give ‘deepa daana’ every evening for a year, give up oil and ghee items of food and at the end of a year donate golden chakra, Trishula, two Vastras and deepas become ‘Tejaswis’ or bright and brilliant and after their life attain Rudraloka and this is called Deepa Vrata. * Ishwara Vrata is observed for a year from the beginning of Kartika Month to perform ‘Nakta Vrata’ or eating food only at the night and donate a cow at the end; this Vrata provides Kingship and the ‘phala’of residing in Gauri loka till Kalpanta. *Dhrudha Vrata involves abstinence of ‘Sugandhas’ or scented materials from Chaitra Month and gives up ‘Gandha dharana’ for a year and at the end of the Vrata donates a variety of scented material and vastras; those who observe the Vrata attain Varuna loka. * Kanti Vrata bestows body radiance and brilliance of mind to the Karta of the Vrata who has to give up salt and flowers during Vaishakha month and at the close of the Vrata performs ‘Godaana’; at the end of the Vrata, the Karta would achieve a position of royalty and fame during his on-going life and thereafter accomplish Vishnu loka. *Those who observe Brahma Vrata should prepare an Idol of ‘Brahmaanda’ (Universe) in gold and set it on a ‘tila raashi’, perform Agni homas for three days and organise meals to Brahmanas with til daanas, and on the fourth day execute Brahmana Dampati Puja while donating ‘pushpamaalaas’/ flower garlands, vastras/ clothes and golden ornaments as also the Brahmanda Pratima in gold would attain Moksha and have no rebirth. * Dhenu Vrata is performed by taking a little milk only for a full day and the next morning donate a ‘dwi-mukhi pratima’ (two faced idol) of a cow and calf with as much gold as possible to a Brahmana; this would impart the blessing of Moksha on ‘punaraagamana rahit’ or non-return to another life basis. * Similarly, if a Karta carries out a three day long milk-consuming Payovrata and donates a golden Kalpa Vriksha / tree pratima on top of a heap of rice on the next day, he/she would achieve Brahmapada as a result of Kalpa Vrata. *Those devotees who are ‘niraahaars’ without food and complete a month observing Bhima Vrata and donate a healthy cow to a Brahmana would possess right of entry to Vishnu loka.* By executing Dhara Vrata, an individual takes milk once a day and next morning gives charity of a golden replica of Prithvi, he/she is allowed firm and lasting entry to Rudra loka. * If a human being performs ‘Gud-Dhenu daan’/ molasses-cow charity after keeping a ‘guda vrata’ either on Chaitra or Maagha Triteeya, that human being would attain Gauri loka and that is called Maha Vrata. * Prabha Vrata requires ‘nirahara’/ without food for a fortnight and donation of two ‘kapila’ cows thereafter; such a devotee who does so becomes worship-worthy by both Danavas and Devatas and is readily admitted into Brahmaloka and after one Kalpa becomes a Sovereign on Earth.* If a person takes only one meal a day for a year and therafter provides a full-fledged bhojan with ‘Shadrasas’ or six courses of tastes to a Brahmana along with a big pot of water, this activity is called Prapti Vrata and the Karta would be destined to Shivaloka for a Kalpa time. * Sugati Vrata is to be observed by fasting till the evening on every Ashtami day of a year and donates a cow at the conclusion of theVrata and it entitles Indraloka after life. * From Varsha Ritu (rainy season) for four Ritus onward, if cooking material is donated daily to a Brahmana, and at the end of the Vrata a cow is donated then the donor’s sins are washed out and after death gets absorbed in Parabrahma; this is called Vaishvanara Vrata. * If a day long fast is observed for a year on every Ekadashi and on the last Ekadashi evening a Brahmana is treated to a wholesome meal along with a golden Vishnu Chakra, the Krishna Vrata facilitates the donor to reach Vishnu loka and by the ‘Kalpantara’ enables the donor to become an Emperor. *Eating ‘Kheer’ (milk and cooked rice /wheat grains) once a day for a year and donating two cows after the Vrata enables a person performing Devi Vrata to get prosperous in life and reach Lakshmi loka after life. * Bhanu Vrata involves single bhojan on Saptami after sun-sets during a full year and provides charity of a healthy cow on the last Saptami after prayers to Surya Deva at the Sun-set time blesses the Karta with good health and Suryaloka prapti.* For one full year on every Chaturthi if day-long ‘Upavaas’is exercised and on the last Chaturthi donation of a golden elephant is given to a Brahmana, Vinayaka Vrata enables removal of obstacles in life and Shivaloka prapti there after. * Phala Vrata involves avoidance of five fruits viz. bel fruit, jamun (Indian blackberry), ber (Indian jubub), kaith (wood apple) and seedy lemon for four months preceding Kartika Purnima and donation of the five fruit pratimas in gold and a cow, resulting in contentment in on-going life and Vishnuloka prapti after life.* Soura Vrata entails fastings on Saptami days for a year and donation of a golden lotus, cow, potful of water, and Bhojana to a Brahmana on the last Saptami shall result in Surya loka prapti and great fame in the on-going life. * Dwadashi Upavasas for a year and ‘daanaas’ of vastra, dhenu and suvarna help secure eventful and long healthy life and attainment of Vaikuntha after life in Vishnu Vrata. * Nakta Vrata on Kartika Purnima as also ‘Vrushotsarga’ (release of a bull) is known as Vaarsha Vrata. * Those perform Krucchrut- Chandrayana Vrata (increasing the daily meaures of food-units from Prathama to Purnima Tithis in Shukla paksha and decreasing the daily intakes from Prathama to Amavasya in Krishna paksha) and at the end of the month, provide Bhojana and dakshina to as many Brahmanas as possible is called Praajaapatya Vrata its punya would be such that the Karta is blessed with health and wealth on his life and Shilaloka later. *Triayabaka Vrata is observed by fasting on all Chaturdashis till the nights for a year and providing go-daan at the close of the Vrata which secures Shivaloka prapti. *Those performing day-long fasts till the nights and at the end of the week donates ‘Ghata purna Ghrita’ or pot-ful of ghee are stated as ¬Ghrita Vrata kartas and their destiny after death would be Brahma loka.* Whoever sleeps in the open during the Varsha Ritu or rainy season and at the end of the Season donates a cow with calf shall be gifted with access to Indraloka to stay there for long time and this is called Indra Vrata. *Persons not eating cooked items on Triteeya tithis for a year and concludes the Shreyo Vrata by Go-daan would reap excellent happiness and health and reach Shivaloka after life. * Without taking food till night, Ashwa Vrata is concluded after a year with food and donation of a golden pratima of a chariot drawn by two horses to a Brahmana and this would yield the fruits of becoming a King in life and residence of several Kalpas in Satyaloka.* Similar is the pattern of Kari Vrata of daily fasting for a year and donation of golden pratima of two elephants drawing a chariot to a Brahmana and the results would be simlar too. * Observance of day-long ‘upavasa’for a year and performing Go-daana at the end is called Sukha Vrata which would yield happines as long the Karta lives and later on would be in high position in Yakshaloka. * If a person lives in water through out the night and performs Go-daana next morning, he / she would be eligible for Varunaloka and the task is known as Varuna Vrata. * Chandraloka prapti is bestowed on a person practising Chandrayana Vrata or eating measured meals as per the Tithis of Shukla and Krishna Pakshas respectively and at the end donating a golden Pratima of Moon.* Maha Rudra Vrata is practised by those who stay with Panchagnis around through out the day till the evenings of Jyeshtha Ashtami and Chaturdashi days and by the evening of the latter tithi make a donation of gold made cow would be ever contented in life and attain Swargaloka eventually. * A person arranging silver work in a Shiva Temple on a Triteeya tithi and after a year executes Go-daan is blessed with entry in Bhavaniloka for the successful completion of Bhavani Vrata. * Pavana Vrata involves any bhakta of Vayu Deva who keeps drenched wearing wet Vastras through out Magha Saptami night and donates a cow next morning after ablutions and bathing; such a person would become a King and a resident of Swara for a period of a Kalpa. * Dhaama Vrata is observed a person who practises ‘Upavaasa’ for three nights and donates a beautiful house to a Brahmana on Phalguna Purnima day; that person is bestowed with opulence in the on-going life and Surya loka prapti thereafter. * A fasting person who would perform ‘Dampati Pujas’to Brahman couples three times a day in the morning, afternoon and evening with ornaments, vastras and gifts is stated to be executing more than Indra Vrata and eventually would be highly prosperous and happy in the on-going life and finally qualify for Moksha Prapti. * There is a reputed Vrata in the name of Soma Deva called Soma Vrata and whosoever would perform this has to donate to a Brahmana a vessel full of salt in the name of the Deva on a Shukla Paksha Dwiteeya and at the end of a year make go-daana; the fruits of the Vrata are immense including contented and healthy life besides Shivaloka Prapti and Kingship on Prithvi by the Kalpantara. * Maha Deva Vrata is observed on Pratipada Tithi by taking only one meal a day and at the end of a year donates a kapila cow, and then the person concerned would accomplish ‘Vaishwanara loka’.* Those who take a single meal a day commencing from Dashamis and after a year donate golden plaque depicting ‘Dasa dishas’/ ten directions and ten cows to Brahmanas are stated to have successfully concluded the Vishwa Vrata and such persons attain great fame besides eventuallly becoming highly renowned ‘Adhipatis’ or Overlords of ‘Brahmanda’(Universe). This Vrata destroys ‘Maha Patakas’or the Greatest Sins. Those persons who read or listen about the afore-mentioned accounts of the SHASTHA VRATAS would indeed qualify for Gandharva Loka.

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