Vows, Worship, and Fasting on Sri Janmastami

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Sri Janmastami-vrata-pujopavasa-nirupana Chapter Eight:
Sri Brahma-vaivarta Purana Sri Narada said:
Now please tell me of the vow of Janmastami, which is the great vow of vows. Please tell me the result attained by following the ceremony of Jayanti-yoga.

O great sage, what sinful reaction does one meet by not following this vow or by eating on that day? What pious result does one attain by fasting on that day?

O Lord, please describe the result of following this vow, including the rules governing the day before the fast, and breaking the fast on the following day.

Sri Narayana Rsi said:
On the saptami (seventh day) and on the day after the fast (the navami or ninth day) one should eat havisya (rice and ghee) only. On the day of Janmastami (the eight day) one should rise at dawn.

O brahmana, one should rise early, bathe, perform his morning duties, and be determined to follow the vow and the fast for the pleasure of Lord Krishna.

O brahmana, by bathing and worshipping the Lord during the eight day (Janmastami) of the month of Bhadra (August-September) one attains the result of bathing and worshipping the Lord for a manvantara.

If on this day one offers only a little water to the pitas, he attains the result of performing sraddha at Gaya for a hundred years.

On that day, after bathing and performing his regular duties, a wise person should arrange for a maternity-room, place in it water, fire, and an iron sword, post guards,…… place many things there, place there an instrument for cutting the umbilical cord, have a midwife there,…

… place there, O Narada, sixteen articles for worshipping the Lord, eight fruits and candies,…

… the eight fruits and candies being jatiphala, kakkola, pomegranate, sriphala, coconut, jambira, kusmanda, and manohara,…

13 … and the sixteen articles for worship being a sitting place, garments, padya, madhuparka, arghya, water for achaman, water for bathing, a bed, fragrances, flowers, food-offerings, betel nuts, ointments, incense, lamps, and ornaments,…… wash his feet, put on clean clothes, perform acamana, say the word ‘svasti’, sit on the seat,…

… place a pot there, worship the five deities, invite Sri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, to appear there,…

… invite Vasudeva, Devaki, Yasoda, Nanda, Rohini, Balarama, Goddess Sasthi, Goddess Vasundhara,…

… Rohini, Brahma, Asthami, the Sthana-devata, Asvatthama, Bali, Hanuman, Vibhisana,…

… Krpacharya, Parasurama, Vyasadeva, and Markandeya and then meditate on Lord Krishna.

Then a wise person should place a flower to his head and meditate on the description of the Lord spoken in the Sama Veda. O Narada, please listen and I will tell you that description, which Lord Brahma told the Kumaras in ancient times.

I worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is an infant boy, who is splendid as a dark monsoon cloud, who is very handsome, whose lotus face is smiling, whom Brahma, Siva, Sesa and Yama glorified for how many days? Whom the kings of sages cannot approach in their meditations, whom the munis, siddhas, and sons of Manu cannot attain, whom the kings of the yogis cannot imagine in their thoughts, who is the greatest, who is without peer, who is all-seeing witness.

The follower of this vow should thus meditate on the Lord. Then, reciting mantras, he should offer the flower, and all the other articles to the Lord. Please hear these mantras.

Here are the mantras:
O Lord Krishna, please accept this all-beautiful jewel throne, wonderfully decorated with graceful and colorful pictures and designs.

O Lord Krishna, please accept these wonderful and colorful garments pure as fire and made by Visvakarma from threads of pure gold.

O Lord Krishna, please accept this golden pot filled with water to wash Your feet. Please accept this pure padya water and this beautiful flower.

O Lord Krishna, please accept these gold pots of honey, ghee, yoghurt, milk and sugar.

O Lord Krishna, please accept this durva grass, whole rice, white flower, clear water, sandal, aguru, and musk.

O Supreme Lord, please accept this clear, pure, sweet, scented achaman water.

O Lord Krishna, please accept this scented Vishnu-oil, amalaki paste, and bath water.

O Lord Krishna, please accept this beautiful bed made of the best of jewels and covered with exquisite cloth.

O Lord Krishna, please accept this scented paste made of musk the powdered tree-roots.

O Supreme Lord, please accept this fragrant flower so dear to all the demigods and grown from a blossoming tree.

O Lord Krishna, please accept this offering of ripe fruits, sugar-candy, svastika candy and other candies.

O Lord Krishna, please accept this laddu, modaka, ghee, milk, molasses, honey, fresh yoghurt, and buttermilk.

O Lord Krishna, please accept these betel nuts mixed with camphor and other things, which I offer to You with devotion.

O Supreme Lord, please accept this beautiful avir powder made with sandal, aguru, musk and kunkum.

O Lord Krishna, please accept this incense made by cooking the nectars of many trees, incense very dear to all the demigods.

O Lord Krishna, please accept this splendid and auspicious lamp that destroys the terrible blinding darkness.

O Lord Krishna, please accept this pure drinking-water scented with camphor and other fragrances, water that is the life of all living entities.

O Lord Krishna, as an ornament for Your transcendental body please accept this garland of many flowers on a fine thread.

O Supreme Lord, please accept these fruits, which are the seeds of trees, and which make one’s dynasty prosper.

In this way, at that place, one should offer many appropriate things to Lord Krishna.

The person following this vow should then devotedly worship the many deities there and then offer them all three palmfuls of flowers.

In this way one should worship Sunanda, Nanda, Kumuda, the gopas, the gopis, Sri Radha, Ganesha, Karttikeya, Brahma, Shiva, Parvati, Lakshmi, Sarasvati, the dik-palas, the planets, Sesa, Sudarsana, the liberated associates of the Lord, and all the demigods, and one should offer obeisances to them, falling to the ground like a stick. Then one should offer food and dakshina to the brahmanas.
Then the person following this Janmastami vow should hear the chapter of scripture describing Lord Krishna’s birth, and then he should, sitting on a seat of kusa grass, keep an all-night vigil.

At dawn he should perform his regular duties and then he should worship Lord Krishna. Then he should feed the brahmanas and then he should chant the glories of Lord Krishna.

49 Sri Narada said:
When a person follows the Janmastami vow, fasts, and keeps the all-night vigil, what result does he attain? What is the sin one commits by eating on this holy day? O best of the knowers of the Vedas, referring to the Vedas, Vedangas and ancient Samhitas, please, please describe this.

Sri Narayana Rsi said: If (in the dark fortnight of the month of Bhadra) even only a quarter of the astami is present at midnight, that day is considered Janmastami, the time when Lord Krishna was born.

Because it brings victory (jaya) and piety (punya), this day is called Jayanti. A wise person should fast, follow the Janmastami vow, and keep an all-night vigil on this day.

This is the most auspicious of all times. The demigods Brahma and knowers of the Vedas say this.

One who fasts, follows the Janmastami vow, and keeps an all-night vigil on this day becomes freed from the sins of ten million births. Of this there is no doubt.

One should not celebrate Janmastami on an astami mixed with the saptami. Even if the star Rohini (is conjoined with the moon) this astami is not considered Janmastami.

Lord Krishna, the son of Devaki, was born on an astami unmixed with the saptami, an astami when the star Rohini was conjoined with the moon.

When this most auspicious moment, an astami when the moon is conjoined with Rohini, is passed, a person who has followed the Janmastami vow should break his fast.

When the tithi of Janmastami is over, one should remember Lord Krishna, worship the devas and asuras, and break his fast. Breaking the fast in this way is very purifying and destroys all sins.

Breaking the fast in this way, an essential part of the fast, brings purification and the attainment of other results. The breaking of the fast should be performed during daytime.

Otherwise, if the fast is not broken during the daytime, the results of fasting, following the Janmastami vow, and breaking the fast are all destroyed.

One should not break the fast at night. The only exception is the Rohini-vrata, when the fast may be broken at night, but not at midnight. In the morning one should worship the brahmanas and demigods and then break the fast. All the saintly persons agree this is the best time to break the fast. Only in the Rohini-vrata is it not the best time.

If one follows the Janmastami vow on a Janmastami when Mercury is conjoined with the moon, he will never again enter a mother’s womb.

63. If on a certain Janmastami the navami begins at sunrise and the moon is conjoined with Mercury or the star Rohini, that Janmastami is very auspicious. Such a Janmastami occurs perhaps in a hundred years. One who follows the Janmastami vow on that day delivers ten million of his relatives. Lord Krishna is pleased with His devotees that observe the fast of Janmastami, even though, because of not having sufficient wealth, they cannot perform the Janmastami vow.

To one who follows the vow, worshipping the Lord with various articles and keeping an all-night vigil, Lord Krishna, the enemy of the demons, gives the result of following the Janmastami vow.

A person who observes Janmastami in a way appropriate to his financial means attains the proper result, but a wealthy person who does not observe Janmastami in a way appropriate to his wealth does not attain the same result.

A wise person should not break his fast during Janmastami or while the star Rohini is still conjoined with the moon. To do that is to destroy his past pious deeds and the transcendental result earned by fasting.

Breaking the fast during the tithi of Janmastami destroys one’s pious deeds eight times over, and breaking the fast while the star Rohini is conjoined with the moon destroys one’s pious deeds four times over.

Therefore one should be careful to break his fast when Janmastami and the star Rohini have passed.

O best of sages, when the tithi of Janmastami and the star Rohini both end at midnight, a person following the Janmastami vow should break his fast on the third day from Janmastami.

O Narada, one who eats during the midnight of Janmastami attains the sinful reaction of killing a brahmana.

On a pure Janmastami (not mixed with the saptami) one should not eat even fruit or betel nuts, or even drink water. Eating these is like eating stool or cow’s flesh, or like drinking urine. What, then, can be said of eating rice?

The wise say that night lasts for 9 hours and is bounded, at its beginning and end, by sunrise and sunset, which last for 48 minutes each.

A person who on a pure Janmastami (not mixed with the saptami) follows the Janmastami vow and keeps an all-night vigil becomes free from the sins of a hundred births. Of this there is no doubt.

A person who on a pure Janmastami (not mixed with the saptami) fasts but does not follow the Janmastami vow or keep the all-night vigil, attains the result of performing an asvamedha-yajna.

He is freed from the sins performed in the infancy, childhood, youth, and age of seven lifetimes.

One who eats on Lord Krishna’s birthday is lowest of mankind. His sinful reaction is like that of having raped his mother and murdered a hundred brahmanas.

His pious credits of ten million births are at once destroyed. He become impure. He becomes unfit to worship the demigods or the pitas.

At the end of his life he enters the hell called Kalasutra (the rope of time). As long as the sun and moon shine in the sky he is repeatedly (with constant new rebirths) devoured by giant worms with teeth sharp like spears.

When his time in hell is over he rises to the earth, where he repeatedly becomes a worm in stool for sixty thousand years.

Then he becomes a vulture for ten billion births, a pig for a hundred births, a dog for a hundred births, and a jackal for a hundred births.

Then he becomes a snake for seven births and then a row for seven births. Then he takes birth as a human being, where he is unable to speak and where he becomes a leper, always suffering.

Then he becomes a butcher and then a hunter of wild beasts. At the end he becomes a thief and a murderer, a man with no scruples.

Then he becomes a washerman, then an oil-merchant, and then a professional brahmana, always impure at heart.

If one is unable to fast he should feed a brahmana and give him charity equal to twice the value of the food.

Or, he should chant mantras to Goddess Lakshmi a thousand times, or he should practice pranayama twelve times.

Thus I have described, as I heard it from Yamaraja’s mouth, the fasting, vows and worship performed on Janmastami.

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