As most traditions, ‘Chaturmasya Vratha’ undertaken by mutt seers is being diluted, thanks to modernisation. Seers take time off monastic responsibilities from the Ashada month, to enhance their spirituality.
Protection of life during monsoon, which rejuvenates life and marks the auspicious period of the Hindu calendar with frugal living, is the guiding principle behind Chaturmasya Vratha.
Vidyaprasanna Swamiji of Subrahmanya Mutt says meditation and the practices of anustana, acharane are the integral parts of Chaturmasya.
The concept of Chaturmasya draws from a simple concept that sensitive lives will be disturbed during the movement of wandering Swamijis.
For four months seers set aside most of their time for giving spiritual discourses. Rajashekharananda Swamiji of Vajradehi Mutt says that modernisation has a part to play in Chaturmasya period being reduced to two months. Seers will be on frugal diet during the period, he says.
The Vratha has been commercialised, rues Esha Vittaladasa Swamiji of Kemaru Sandipani mutt. The engineer-turned-seer points out that grand celebrations with jathas to mark and end the Vrathas has become a norm in recent times.
Distasteful practices like making the swamiji meet as many influential devotees as possible makes a mockery of the basic concept of the Vratha. “Bursting crackers and organising processions are in total contrast to the objective of leaving nature undisturbed,” stresses Vittaladasa Swamiji.
The food taken these days is a far cry from that consumed by seers a decade ago during Chaturmasya, he says. Even among seers, there are rebels. Gurudevananda Swamiji of Odiyoor Mutt will not observe the Vratha and will stay at his mutt near Vittal. He reveals a scientific bend of mind by pointing out that he will stick to a frugal diet during this period as it is good for health.
During the first month observed as ‘Shakha Vratha,’ vegetables and fruits should not be offered to god or partaken as they will have worms and insects during the month of Ashada.
In the following month observed as ‘Dhadhi Vratha,’ milk is avoided. During Dahi Vratha in the third month, curd and yogurt are not allowed. In the fourth month of Dvidala Vratha, all pulses with two halves (dicots), like channa and groundnuts, are avoided and only cereals are consumed.