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25-Vrat Kathaa-Brihaspati

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Examples of Vrat Kathaa
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What is a Vrat Kathaa? A Mahaatmya (Mahaatmaa means a great soul; and Mahaatmya means description of one's greatness) is both a chronicle of something's greatness - thus Shani's Mahaatmya is "Shani's Greatness". There are many Mahaatmyas which are dedicated certain lunar months or lunar days or to each of the day of the week. Mahaatmyas ay be found in both prose and poetry, but they are meant to be related orally, whether they are told by a professional or by individual priest or devotee.

When a Mahaatmya is related to a vow, it is called Vrat Kathaa. It is normally recited as a part of vow. To read a Vrat Kathaa silently is good, to hear it recited is better but it is even better to cause others to hear it, because this helps you as well as thers too. This helps the tale also to propagate itself. Even an ordinary story may be promoted to the rank of Vrat Kathaa when it is recited with devotion, in public or private, by a professional or a devotee, on a holy day in a holy way. Both the teller and the listener of the Vrat Kathaa receive benefit there from. Ritual perfection is much less a requisite for a Vrat Kathaa than it is for a formal. In some cases of extremity a formal vow is not even necessary for a Vrat Kathaa.

Most people make tales into Vrat Kathaa in a more formal way, usually either fasting or eating once only and trying to observe total purity of mind, speech and action all day long. After cleaning the place where the rituals have to be performed, they install the image of the appropriate Graha. Then they worship the image and request him to come to be worshipped and remain there to personally hear the recitation of the tale. After the worship is over, the final offering is made which has been held in the hand during the period of recitation of the tale, near the image of the Graha. After the recitation of the tale, a Prasaad is distributed. Prasaad is normally one of the foods ruled by the Graha in question, but a poor can use whatever he can, including roasted Chanaa and Gud (or sugar). Thus this process is repeated every week.

Vrat Kathaa, performed at home for an audience of family members and neighbors, are usually performed by women for the purpose of safeguarding their husband and families.

Annapoornaa (Vrat Kathaa on Friday) - In Banaaras, Annapoornaa is sometimes worshipped for a Friday vow with the story of Dhananjaya who lived in Banaaras with his wife Sulakshanaa. Once Sulakshanaa advised her husband to exert himself spiritually. So he worshipped Shiv Jee fasting from food and water for three days. At the end of the third day Shiv Jee whispered in his ears "Annapoornaa, Annapoornaa, Annapoornaa". The man asked the meaning of this word from some learned people, the Braahman thinking of its literal meaning (Annapoorn = full of food) said to him - "Since you have not taken food for three days, so this seems your hunger speaking, so you go and eat food."

But Dhananjaya's wife knew that it was not his hunger, but was some Mantra. So she advised him to go for worship again until he got an answer. This led Dhananjaya to meet a group of damsels who were repeating Annapoornaa. So he asked them what did it mean. They explained Annapoornaa's vow to him. So he started this vow and his prosperity increased multifold. He became so prosperous that he decided to marry a second wife. His second wife interrupted his Saadhanaa which created problems in his life, so he returned to his first wife and they lived together for many years.

Mangaliyaa (Vrat Kathaa on Tuesday) - Tuesday vow is for Mars and often focus on protection from Mars, because Mars is the causer and the ruler of fire. There was a woman who had an only son in her last days of life. She named him Mangaliyaa, because he was born on Mangal (Tuesday). One day Mangal Devtaa came to her in the form of wandering person to test her. When he asked for alms, she said she would give him whatever he asked for. He asked "Are you sure? If I ask something, will you give me?" She agreed. He asked her to bring her son to him, he wanted to cook his food on his back.

Although she was stuck, but since she had promised him, she brought her son to him. She watched as the boy lay down and Mangal Dev put firewood on his back and lit it. After his food was cooked Mangal Dev asked the woman to call her son to eat. She said - "What are you saying? Can such miracle occur? You eat your food and go." He said - "Just call the boy." When she called "Mangaliyaa", the boy got up and came to her as she stammered in amazement.

Budh (Wednesday) Vow (Vrat Kathaa on Wednesday) - One Wednesday (for Mercury) vow story goes like this - "Once a newly married man Raamoo went to visit his father-in-law to bring his wife back o his own house after the traditional waiting period. They welcomed Raamoo very well and showed their hospitality. After spending several days he asked his father-in-law permission to go back to his house. His father-in-law said - "Today is Wednesday, Women should not go to their in-law's house today. You may go tomorrow instead." But Raamoo was a stubborn man. Although his father-in-law pleaded him several times but he refused to stay back. Father sent his daughter to her in-law's house with a heavy heart.

After a few hours of journey on the road, Raamoo's wife felt thirsty and asked for some water. Raamoo stopped at the next well to fill a pot for her, but when he was coming back he found another man in the vehicle with his wife. This other man was in his image only and was wearing the same clothes as his own. Since both claimed to be Raamoo an argument arose and a crowd  gathered around. Everybody asked the girl "who is your husband?", but the girl could not answer as she could not identify who was her husband.

The then the King's soldiers arrived there but they also could not identify the real Raamoo so they decided to arrest real Raamoo who was still carrying the water pot. Raamoo got frightened seeing this and he started praying God. Suddenly there came a voice from the sky - "This is all Budh's (Mercury) illusion. This mix up occurred because this man insisted upon traveling with his wife on Wednesday. So worship Budh now for relief." Raamoo promptly prayed Budh and the imposter disappeared. After that both Raamoo and his wife observed Budh's day.

Brihaspati (Thursday) Vow - Golden Barley and Golden Basket
Another Story of Brihaspati Jee

This Thursday story illustrates how important is to strictly follow a vow's conditions if you hope to change your fate: There lived a Braahman who was miserably poor because his wife had very dirty habits of eating leftovers first thing in the morning and only after that she worshipped God. After many years of remaining childless, the couple somehow got a daughter who used to worship Vishnu every day and Brihaspati every Thursday since she was very young. Her devotion gave her the ability that she would scatter barley on the road in the morning, during the day it would turn into gold and when she came back from her school in the evening, she would collect it.

One day when she was separating the barley from the husk, her father said - "To winnow the barley you need a golden basket." Next Thursday she said to God - "If my vow is true, give me a golden winnowing basket." and when she came back home in the evening, she found a golden basket.

Next day that country's Prince saw her winnowing from a golden basket. He became enchanted seeing her. He came back to his palace and excused himself for illness. His mother got worried hearing about his illness, so she asked - "What medicine can cure you?" He told her the story of the girl he saw and told her that he wanted to marry her. The King sent for that girl and married her to the Prince.

After the girl went away, the Braahman became poor as before. Finally he approached his daughter for her help. She said - "If you send mother here, I will tell her what to do." So her father sent her mother to her. She said to her mother - "Mother, If you will perform ritual worship every morning paying careful attention to purity, all will be well." But her mother did not listen to her and did as usual eating leftovers first thing in the morning.

Then the girl asked her father to shut her up in a room overnight. The next morning, the girl had her mother bathed and made her perform her worship before having any breakfast. This procedure so much improved her mother's power of discrimination that she began to observe Brihaspati's vow. Later they became rich and lived happily.

Ravi (Sun) Vow - The Guilty Neighbor

This particular story is useful for blinds and lepers. A woman's devotion to Sooya Dev inadvertently helped her out both for herself and the King : There was an old woman who used to observe Sunday vow through which she became very prosperous. She used to smear her house with fresh cow dung, cook food, offer it to Bhagavaan Soorya Dev and then ate it herself. Seeing her rich, her neighbor got very envious. She thought that her prosperity was due to using her cow's dung, so she tied her cow inside her house so that the old woman could not take her cow's dung. Next Sunday when she could not collect any cow dung, she could not worship Soorya Dev properly, because she could not plaster her floor with fresh cow dung, and she could not cook fresh food and thus could not offer anything to Soorya Dev. And when she did not offer anything to Devtaa, she herself also could not eat anything the whole day. That night she went to bed stricken by hunger and thirst and sick with worry.

In the dream she saw Bhagavaan Soorya Dev asked her the cause of her misery. She said "I am sorry for this interruption of the worship. I could not get fresh cow dung, so I could not cook food, so I could not offer you food, and me too, I am also hungry." Hearing this Soorya Dev gave her a cow. He said that he was very happy with her devotion and the way she was observing the vow and promised her that her descendants will always be rich and never feel the shortage of money. Next morning when she arose she found a cow tied in her courtyard and recalled the dream. She fulfilled all her needs. When the neighbor saw the cow outside her house, she was very surprised to see the cow in that old woman's courtyard and she was struck dumb when she saw the cow lifting her tail nd giving gold from her bowels instead of cow dung. So the neighbor exchanged her own cow dung with the old woman's gold and the old woman could not even know about it.

When Soorya Dev saw that old woman was still poor, he thought "What is this? How it can be that my cow is not giving her gold?" and he understood the situation. He created a terrible wind storm that fell old trees on the ground. Seeing this the old woman took her cow inside and tied her there, and next morning the cow presented with some gold cow dung. Seeing this the woman got very happy and she kept the cow inside all the time.

Now the neighbor could not steal the golden dung because of the old woman's carefulness, her greed compelled her to take it by hook or crook. So she went to the King and said to him - "O King, My old neighbor has a gold-shitting cow. If Your Majesty can take it for himself, it will be useful for all the people of the country." The King also got greedy so he ordered his soldiers to bring that cow to him. They brought the cow to the King, and the King gave it to a cowherd and warned him not to remove her dung.

That night the King could not sleep well. Next day when he went to the cow to collect gold, he found nothing other than the normal cow dung. Seeing this the King filled with rage and he sent for the old woman. He asked her - "Doesn't your cow give golden dung? That is why I got her here, then why she is not giving that?" The old woman told him the whole story. He got convinced and said - "Forgive me, O Mother. I stole the cow out of ignorance. Your neighbor is guilty, she will be punished." Then he ordered the whole country to perform the Sunday vow and as a result of that he conquered his enemies in all directions.



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Created by Sushma Gupta on 8/9/2008
Updated on 04/07/12