What do we mean by Chaturmaas? This is a period of four months namely Ashadh, Shravan, Bhadarvo and Aaso (monsoon period). It starts on Devshayani Ekadashi in the month of Ashadh and ends on Prabodhini Ekadashi in the month of Kartik.
The significance of Chaturmaas is to observe extra penance, engage in extra devotion aati and control over sense gratification etc. Shree Swaminarayan Bhagwan writes in the Shikshapatri :-
All my disciples shall take a vow to observe additional austerity during the four months of monsoon (beginning from the eleventh day of the bright half of Ashadsh month and ending on the twelfth day of the bright half of Kartik month ) and those who are unable to do so, may serve at least during the month of Shravan.
The following are the best methods of observances to be adopted and followed daily as rules:-
1. Reading religious scriptures
2. Listening to religiuos scriptures
3. Reciting songs in praise of his divine qualities
4. Performing Mahapuja of the Lord’s images
5. Chanting his Mantra
6. Reciting his hymns
7. Performing Pradikshana
8. Prostrating before God’s image.
Along with the observances of daily religious austerities, my disciples shall choose any one of the above methods as additional devotion practice during Chaturmaas and follow it daily with deep devotion (Shiktapatri shloka 76-78) & Satsangi Jivan; 2 : 41-43.
During the chaaturmaas period
In this auspicious period one should strive to perform good deeds. We are devotees of Lorf Shree Swaminarayan and He has ordered us to take up an extra niyam in the chaaturmaas period. You can take up any of the niyams listed below or others that you wish to take. Once you have decided on the niyam which you wish to follow you must then make a vow in-front of the Lord and/or Holy saints that I will follow this niyam during the chaaturmaas period:
Oh lord! (or Swami!)
Please give me strength and courage so that i may able to follow my chosen niyam. Confide in the saints of which niyam you are taking and request them to remind you frequently about your niyam. Oh Lord! with your grace,
- Chant 108 mantras every day.
- Sing Janmangal mantra once every day.
- Do maha pooja 11 times during chaatur maas and also encourage others to do it.
- Do 11 Pradikshna every day.
- Sing 1 Kirtan every day.
- Do 11 Danvats every day.
- Listen to Katha every morning and evening.
- Listen to Katha once a week.
- Sing Chesta every day.
- Read 1 Vachnamrut or 1 question at.
- Not eat a chosen saak during this period.
- Go Mandir everyday Sunday without fail.
- Go to Mandir to do 1 of the 5 aartis every day.
- Do divo and sing Dhun with the family in front of Lord.
- Fast on the special days during this period.
- Only eat once during Ekadashi.
- Not eat at all for 3 of the special Ekadashi.(asad sud, badhar sud, karthick sud)
- Donate everyday use items or money to Lord on full moon days.
- Say Lords name 11 times before I go to sleep.
- Say Jay Shree Swaminarayan when I receive a phone call.
- Say Jay Shree Swaminarayan to everyone I meet.
- Say Jay Shree Swaminarayan to any Satsangis without fail.
- Not eat or drink anything until I have completed my pooja.
- Only eat once every day during the month of Shravan.
- Complete at least 1 Holy Scripture during this period.
- Go to the Mandir and do Darshan on lord or do it over the internet or on your iPhone.