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Dr K K Aggarwal

Health Implications of Chaturmas

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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The “Chaturmas” begins on Ekadashi in the month of Ashadha (June/July) and ends with Ekadashi in the month of Kartik (overlaps October/November) and has got both spiritual and health implications. It is a period when no marriages and auspicious functions are held.

The four months of monsoon are called holy months of the year or Chaturmas and coincide with many festivals. Chaturmas starts with Guru Poornima, a festival to worship your teacher. Then comes the month of Shravana, in which Mondays are worshiped for Lord Shiva. The Narali Poornima in this month marks the end of heavy rain and the throwing of the coconut in the sea appeases it and it calms down. Nag Panchami and Gokul Ashtami are also a part of this month.

Bhadrapad is the next. The first half is dedicated to the worship of Ganapati, the lord of removal of obstacles and the second half to shradhs when religious ceremonies are held in memory of the departed souls.

The month of Ashwin starts with “Navratri” through Dussehra to Diwali. Kojagiri Purnima in this month is the bright Purnima. The last two days of Ashwin and the first two days of Kartik are usually the days of the Diwali festival. Ekadashi in the first half of the month of Kartik marks the end of the Chaturmas.

The days of monsoon are not usually healthy days. For doctors it is a healthy season as they get a large number of patients.

Health implications

  • In the monsoon, all the three doshas (movement, metabolism and structure) are vitiated.
  • Light diet and less oily food are advised, as digestive power is weak. Stomach upsets are common.
  • Most ground worms come to the surface and contaminate underground and surface vegetables.
  • Community feasts, marriages, social functions, gatherings are therefore prohibited in this season.
  • River water gets contaminated.
  • Observance of regular fast counteracts these unhealthy conditions.
  • Snakes come out and snakes bites are common. Nag Panchami tells us not to kill them unnecessarily as most of them are not poisonous.
  • Green leafy vegetables are avoided in the Shravan month, curd in Bhadrapad, milk in Ashwin and pulses (split variety) and oils in Kartik month. The reason is that in rainy season Vata dosha is aggravated (vegetables aggravate vata) and pitta is accumulating. Pitta producing foods are therefore avoided (curd and fermented foods). In Kartik, the kapha is accumulating and hence oils are restricted. In allopathy, vata is movement, pitta is metabolism and kapha is structural functions.
  • In general, the advice is to abstain from tea, coffee, sugar, rice, wheat, etc., and avoid garlic and onion as it can stimulate unnecessary excitements and cause indigestion.
  • Chaturmas is the time to meditate, read spiritual scriptures and strengthen inner immunity by meditation.
  • Negative thinking and emotions are common in Chaturmas due to vata imbalance and hence most agreements and important celebrations are avoided during this period.

The science behind Bhai Dooj

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Bhai Dooj is celebrated two days after Diwali. Like Raksha Bandhan it’s a day dedicated to the sacred love between a brother and sister. Both Raksha Bandhan and Bhai Dooj festival falls in Chaturmas one at the start and the other at the end of this four months of negative state of mind. Jagannath Yatra (another festival of love between brother and sister where Krishna is worshipped with his sister Subhadra) is also held in Chaturmas. All three festivals also signifies purification of mind, getting it lust free and reminding the people a sacred relationship between men and women
The festival is known as “Bhav-Bij” in Marathi and “Bhai-Tika” in Nepal.
On Bhai Dooj, sisters pray for the wellbeing and prosperity of their brothers by putting tika/tilak (vermilion spot) on their forehead and offer sweets (healthy) and perform a ritual of taking their ‘Arti’. The brother offers gifts as an expression of love. Some sister may fast on this day; gifts often involve rice, new grass, aab’ (a length of flax, knotted into a circular shape and dotted with sugar batashas) etc. Rice in mythology symbolizes with fulfilled desires and again this ritual on this day signifies a non lust based sacred relationship between a man and a woman.
(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are my own).

Diwali The Festival of Inner Purnima on Outer Amavasya

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Diwali is celebrated on the day of Amavasya but the festival is symbolized by inner happiness, lighting or Purnima.
Moon in mythology is symbolized by cool positive thoughts. Generally, one encounters negatives thoughts ly on the day of Amavasya and positive thoughts on the day of Purnima.
Diwali is the only day in a year where one experiences positive thoughts on the day of Amavasya, hence some people believes Diwali symbolizes Diwali with inner Purnima and outer Amavasya.
Diwali celebrations also coincide with the terminal phase of Chaturmas, the four months of negative state of mind.
The purification process in Chaturmas starts with the first Navratra falling on Amavasya. During these nine days one undergoes mind, body and soul detoxification by not thinking negative, doing positive things and acquiring soul-based knowledge.
The mind-body detoxification during Navratras ends with killing of Tamas (Kumbhakarna), Rajas (Meghnath) and ego (Ravan) and of consciousness (Rama) over the evil.
These benefits do not lead to inner Moksha or happiness until 20 days, the day of Diwali. In order to continue getting benefits of Navratras one needs to fast with positive state of mind every fourth day till Diwali.
On Sharad Purnima, the fast involves thinking positive with a cool mind to get health benefits. Four days later, on Karvachauth again, one fasts and worships the Moon with positive thoughts and acquires longevity benefits. Four days later on Ahoi Ashtami again, one worships the moon and the stars with positive thoughts and acquires fertility benefits. On the day of Dhanteras one acquires a win over the fear of death (Yama). On this day, the fast involves deeper meditation (Samudra manthan) to get all the benefits of Samadhi.
At the end of the meditation in the state of Samadhi, one gets in touch with the consciousness or the God, the insight gets illuminated and a person experiences bliss, a state of ecstasy of inner happiness and that is what is called experiencing inner Purnima on the day of outer Amavasya and the festival is celebrated as Diwali.
Let us all worship this Diwali as a state of positive mental state. This one month of purification of thoughts helps one in combating the depression phase seen in winter.
Diwali is the only Amavasya where one does not do Shraadh pooja.  On Diwali Amavasya (falling in Chaturmas) one is allowed to start any new project. Even deaths on this Amavasya are considered auspicious (unlike on other Amavasya days).
(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are my own).

Origin of Raksha Bandhan

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Raksha Bandhan is observed as a bond of protection and celebrates the relationship of brothers and sisters. It is also called Rakhi Purnima. It is said that in the historical time the Rajputs Queens used to send Rakhi threads to the neighboring rulers as a token on brotherhood. The festival grew in popularity after Rani Karnavati, the widow queen of Chittor sent a Rakhi to the Mugal Emperor Humayun when she required his help. It is difficult to digest that Raksha Bandhan started in Mughal Era. It had its presence in the Vedic times which is cleared from the fact that it is not observed on any fixed day but exactly 8 days before the Janmashtami. If it would have been based on the Mugal Era, it would have been observed exactly the same day when Rakhi thread was sent to Humayun. The real fact is that the day and date of Raksha Bandhan changes every year, which means it has same Vedic logic. Lust in today’s language is considered as one of the main cause of any disease and it can be for food, cigarette, alcohol, drugs or sex. In Vedic Era, lust was synonymous with sex lust as cigarette was not there, alcohol was not a drink of kings, refined carbohydrates were not prevalent and drugs were also not prevalent. In Chaturmas which happens in Dakshinayan when the days are shorter than the nights, in Vedic literature, it has been mentioned that Chaturmas is a period when the desires are not fulfilled and there is turmoil of negativity in the mind. That is the reason that most of the mind control exercise, rituals and festivals are observed in the month of Chaturmas. Controlling of sexual lust is one such phase in Chaturmas which needs to be controlled. Raksha Bandhan, Jagannath Yatra and Bhai Dooj, all the three festivals which relate to the sacred relationship of brothers and sisters are observed in these four months only. The protection of a female probably is meant not physical protection but from sexual assault protection. Observance of Raksha Bandhan on Purnima again indicates that compared to Amavasya in Purnima, there is significantly more mental turmoil which needs to be controlled. The time of Rakhi in the hands, just above the wrist, taking acupressure points into considerations coincides with the control of sexual area. Observance of Janmashtami after 8 days of Raksha Bandhan again indicates that control of lust may take upto 8 days, once your mind is purified from the lust, you get in touch with your consciousness and which was the birth of Krishna, indicates the Union with the Consciousness.

Importance of Sixteen in Mythology

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1. Solar Shringar are the sixteen adornments of a woman done on the bride. The ritual is said to correspond to the sixteen phases of the moon which has a negative effect on the woman’s menstrual cycle. Solah Shringar is said to nullify this effect. Solah shringar (literally meaning sixteen decorations) and is traditionally marked by the sixteen items of cosmetics and jewelry.

2.Shodasha Upachara Pooja is sixteen steps of pooja, detoxification and attending to a guest at home.

3. Shiva is worshipped in Chaturmas as the sixteen Monday fasts.

4. Four Tuesdays of Shravan month are worshipped as Pooja of Mangala Gauri where one does every step either sixteen times or with sixteen things at a time.

Shodasha Upachara Pooja: Pooja means to take care or to serve. Pooja involves sixteen steps of any deity worship. As GOD recites within us we should incorporate these sixteen basic steps in our daily routine or dincharya.  These sixteen steps also form our dealing with our guests (atithi devo bhava or treat guests as God).

These sixteen steps should become a part of the daily routine.  Following are the sixteen steps

1.     Dhyana (focused attention) and Avahana (welcome): welcome the new day with a concentration on the self. This reminds us about the force controlling us. It also makes us aware about our soul profile and keeps us away from the ego profile.

2. Asana or sitting and planning for the day starting with detoxification of body, mind, intellect, ego and the environment.

3.Padhya or washing the feet. Feet should be washed first in the body to remove all the dirt we may be carrying from the environment.

4.Argya or washing the hands, which are  the next to be washed after the feet.

5. Achamanya and Madhuvarg mean cleaning the mouth and face. Mouth hygiene is very important in preventing diseases. Madhuvarga is a beverage made of honey and milk used for mouth rinsing.

6. Abhishekam or full body bath with water, milk, rose water, sandalwood paste or panchamrat (milk, curd, honey, ghee, sugar). It provides natural bathing without soap.

The next six steps (7th to 12th) involve various offerings to the body.

7.     Wearing Vastra or dress.

8.      Yagnopaveetham or wearing the sacred thread as a reminder of the purpose of my life.

9.      Gandha : Sandalwood / kum-kum red powder

10.    Wearing  Abarana or ornaments.

11.     Pushpam or archana using flowers of various types

12.    Dhoopam or igniting an incense stick like an agarbathi.

13.  Deepam or lighting the lamp. It also indicates lightening the whole house as the day starts.

14.  Naivedya or offering satvik food (fruits or cooked food including kheel and patasha symbolizing fulfilled desires).  It is followed by Tambol (supari, pan, betel leaves, and clove) symbolizing internal cleansing.

15. Arti which is lighting camphor and reciting mantras or prayers. Mantras here symbolize the intentions or the check list of the day to be completed by the end of the day. The Arti ends with Dakshina, a reminder to start the day with some charity.

16.  Pradakshina and Namaskara or surrendering to the self and the GOD for giving us one another day to live. It also invokes humility within us to live yet another day full of inner happiness.

B:  Solah Shringar: Beautification of the bride consists of sixteen parts and starts from the top with her hair and ends at her toe.

1.     Bindi, a sacred symbol of a married woman.

2.      Sindoor or vermillion is a sacred symbol of suhaag.

3.      Maangteeka is a hair accessory worn on the central parting of the hair made of gold.

4.      Anjana or Kajal is applied on the edges of the upper and lower eyelids.

5.      Nath or nose ring, of gold is generally worn on the left nostril and is often supported by a gold chain, which extends just behind left ear.

6.      Haar: After the face, next comes the neck of the bride. It is adored with beautiful haar or necklace.

7.      Karn Phool or ear rings or karn phool adorn the ear.

8.      Mehendi signifies the essence of love and is applied on the hands and feet.

9.      Choodiyan or bangles adore the wrist.

10.      Baajuband or armlets are worn on the upper arms of the bride.

11.   Aarsi is a thumb ring and has a mirror embedded on it and enable the bride to have a glimpse of herself as well as her life-partner.

12.  Keshapasharachana: Apart from the make-up, hair style plays an imperative role in determining the look of the bride.

13. Karmarband is a waist band that is tied on the waist line of the bride.

14. Payal & Bichuas is a thick silver chain that is tied on the ankle. Bichuas or toe rings are similar to rings worn in the fingers of the hand.

15. Itar is a special fragrance that is applied on to the bride.

16. Bridal Dress is the special bridal dress. 

1.       Why people say that Bili Ka Rasta katna is a bad omen?

This bad omen came into existence long time back in India when plague was very common. The disease used to spread by infected rats. Wherever there were rates, there were cats. Whenever someone travelled and if he found a cat on the way that would mean that the area would have rats and that worked as a warning for traveler to take precautions otherwise he could get plague. Rat is also a sign of poor hygiene in the area where cats are in abundance.

2.   Whenever anyone sneezes we must stop for some time.

 Sneezing librates viral and bacterial particles which can travel a distance of 3-6 ft. They settle down within few seconds. To avoid getting infections, it is said that we must not go near a sneezing person for few seconds.

3.  One should donate Sarson ka tel on every Saturday.

One should not consume oil in excess and whatever is left is donated on Saturday so that one does not eat extra oil on Sunday. Saturday oil massage is also indicated as it helps in healing the body.

4.       Take a bath after visiting or touching a dead body –

After death the infected body may putrefy and release germs. If the person has died of an infection, the body may remain infected till it is burnt off. In a hospital setting we always recommend before and after touching a patient, one should wash hands with antiseptics.  Washing hands before and after touching a dead body is hygienic and prevents many infections.

5.       One should not marry in chaturmas.

In Chaturmas, falling in Dakshinayana; the four months are a phase of negativity of the mind with more unfulfilled desires. Also during this period, the digestive fire is weak; therefore, a person cannot enjoy heavy meals often offered during marriage functions. Worms which come out on the ground can infect green leafy vegetables; therefore, eating salad in this time may be harmful.

6.       One should not eat curd in the night

Not only curd but every fermented food should not be taken after sunset as if is mixed with unfermented food, there will be a mismatch of digestion and a person may end up with acidity or gas.

7.       On Purnima, there are more chances of one becoming lunatic

The word Lunatic came from the word Lunar which means Lunar Cycle. In body our air and water component behaves alongside the high and low tides in an ocean. On the day of Purnima, there are high tides in the ocean. As is the microcosm so is the microcosm is an Ayurveda saying. On Purnima day, blood pressure may rise and the person’s mental behavior may show fluctuations.

8.       When leaving home, it is auspicious to see a bride, Brahmin or religious idol but not a widow

This superstition may have been true in the era when widows were to wear white sarees and had a lot of social restrictions. Most widows used to be in depression. It is said for positive mental health if you see somebody cheerful you will become cheerful and if you see somebody depressed you may also get depressed.

9.       Nails should not be cut in the night

In the night there are chances that you may cut nails wrongly and cause injury.

10.   One should not sweep the house in the evening or the night

Ten percent of the society has Asthma which gets precipitated with dust. In the evening it is likely that more people are at home than in the daytime. Therefore there are more chances of asthma getting precipitated in someone if one sweeps the house in the evening when more people are present.  Another reason is that in the evening, especially, in areas with poor light, there is likelihood that the dust may contaminate food. You may also throw some precious thing due to poor light while sweeping.

11.   Why no hair cutting on Tuesday and/or Thursday?

In Hindu mythology, to maintain some discipline on every day one is supposed to restrain from doing one or other thing. For example, not having sexual relation with the partner on Tuesday, not cutting hairs on Tuesday and/or Thursday, not eating cereals once in a weak on the day of observing fast and not eating rice on Ekadashi. Restrains help in maintaining spiritual discipline.

Diwali is celebrated on the day of Amavasya but the festival is symbolized by inner happiness, lighting or Purnima.

Moon in mythology is symbolized by cool positive thoughts. Normally on the day of Amavasya one encounters negatives thoughts and on the day of Purnima positive thoughts.

Diwali is the only day in a year where one experiences positive thoughts on the day of Amavasya, hence some people believes Diwali symbolizes Diwali with inner Purnima and out Amavasya.

Diwali celebrations also coincide with the terminal phase of Chaturmas, the four months of negative state of mind.

The purification process in Chaturmas starts with 1st Navratre falling on Amavasya. During these nine days one undergoes mind, body and soul detoxification by not thinking negative, doing positive things and acquiring soul based knowledge.

The mind, body detoxification during Navratre ends with killing of Tamas (Kumbhakarna), Rajas (Meghnath) and ego (Ravan) and of consciousness (Rama) over the evil.

These benefits do not lead to inner Moksha or happiness until 20 days, the day of Diwali. In order to continue getting benefits of Navratre one needs to fast with positive state of mind every fourth day till Diwali.

On Sharad Purnima, the fast involves thinking positive with a cool mind to get health benefits. Four days later, on Karvachauth again, one fasts and worships the Moon with positive thoughts and acquires longevity benefits. Four days later on Ahoi Ashtami again, one worships the moon and the stars with positive thoughts and acquires fertility benefits. On the day of Dhanteras one acquires a win over the fear of death (Yama). On this day, the fast involves deeper meditation (Samudra manthan) to get all the benefits of Samadhi.

At the end of the meditation in the state of Samadhi, one gets in touch with the consciousness or the God, the insight gets illuminated and a person experiences bliss, a state of ecstasy of inner happiness and that is what is called experiencing inner Purnima on the day of outer Amavasya and the festival is celebrated as Diwali.

Let us all worship this Diwali as a state of positive mental state. This one month of purification of thoughts helps one in combating the depression phase seen in winter.

Diwali is the only Amavasya where one does not do Shraadh pooja.  On Diwali Amavasya (falling in Chaturmas) one is allowed to start any new project. Even deaths on this Amavasya are considered auspicious (unlike on other Amavasya days).