Why we should observe upvas

October 05, 2023 05:33 am | Updated 05:33 am IST

One may wonder why one has to observe vrat practically every month and what benefit one can actually derive from observing such a ritual of fasting. Our Sanatana Dharma states very clearly that the objective of life on this earth (purusharta chatushtaya) is four-fold: dharma (moral conduct), artha (ethical pursuit of economic prosperity), kama (worldly pleasures) and moksha (liberation from cycle of rebirths). The ultimate goal is moksha and in order to attain that, one has to undergo the three other stages, said Tiruvidaimarudhur Brahmasri Nidhiswara Shrowthigal in a discourse.

One may ask how can one attain moksha, it appears to be an impossible goal. One has to attain chittashuddhi, a state where the mind hankers after nothing, following the annulment of one’s sins. We come into this world riding on our prarabdham, the nett of karma from past birth; from there we traverse to sanchitam, representing sins accumulated in this birth; ahead is agami, denoting sins likely in the future. In order to negate all three and progress to the state of chittashuddhi, one has to observe vrat, based on one’s goals, both immediate and long term.

The guideline for observing upvas or vrat in a calendar month are laid out exhaustively, in various granthams, including Hemadri, Vratakhanda, Nirnaya Sindhu, Dharma Sindhu and Vratchudamani, among others. Not everyone can read such texts, hence they are simplified and dates notified in panchangam. A clean body and clean mind are the prerequisites for any upvas. People often assume upvas refers to abstaining from eating heartily. While rich food is the root cause of many ills, upvas actually refers to bring in close proximity to the deity one is praying to by subjugating one’s senses, mind, body and soul.

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