Shivaratri Fast

Hindu Fasts: The King Of All Vows

Said The God Of Fire:

Now I shall describe the process of practising
the king of all the Vratas, viz the vow of Bhishma
Panchakam, which should be practised on the day
of the eleventh phase of the Moon’s increase in the
month of Karticka. The penitent should observe a
vow of silence on the occasion, bathe thrice every
day and perform such a rite of ablution for the five
successive days from the day of the first observance
of the vow, and offer libations of water to the gods
and his departed manes, containing the seeds’ of five
different sorts of Vrihi and sessamum orientale.

The rite of ablution should be done unto the image
of the god Hari, with the composition known as the
Panchagavya and the Panchamrita. The body of the
idol should be smeared with sandal-paste etc., and
crystals of scented gum resin soaked in clarified butter,
should be burnt before it. Day and night, and lamps
should be kept lighted before the image, and obla-
tions of sweetened porridge should be offered to the
god whom it represents. The Vrati should repeat hundred
and eight times the Mantra, running as “Obeisance to the god Vasudeva,” and cast into the sacrificial fire,
an equal number of libations of clarified butter, containing
seeds of Vrihi and sessamum, by repeating the six-
lettered Mantra of the god, followed by the term of
obeisance (Svaha). On the first day of its observ-
ance, the feet of the god should be worshipped with
lotuses, the regions of his thighs and keen-joints on
the second day, with the leaves of a Bel tree; the
umbilical region on the third day with Bhringaraja;
with the flowers of Vana and Java and the leaves of
a Bel tree on the fourth, and with the Malati flowers
on the fifth day.

The penitent should sleep on the bare floor during the continuance of the Vratra, and take cowdung,
the urine of a cow, curd, milk and the composition
known as the Panchagavya, respectively on the first
(Ekadashi), second, third, fourth, and the fifth day
of its observance. He should break his fast in the
night of the following full moon, whereby be would
be liberated from the trammels of life, after a happy
and prosperous career on earth. The Vrata is named
after the hero (Bhisma) who practised it in the by-
gone age, and attained the god Hari through its merit.
The supreme Brahma is to be worshipped in all the
Vratas, which has the observance of a fast as its
essential condition.

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