Vrat (Fasting)A devotion to the lord
- No form of asceticism is superior to fasting – Mahabharata
- By doing fasting mind becomes introversive, sight turns clean and body remains light – Kaka Kalelkar
- Fasting is the most effective technique of curing all diseases. – Dr. Adolf Mayer
- Fasting has unlimited power in it because psychological strength works behind it. Fasting can be done by the powerful people not by the weak. – M.K. Gandhi
- Any work done without faith is an evil. That work neither turns out to be beneficial in this world nor in the next world after death – Srimadbhagvadgita
- Fasting is the best solution to get rid of sexuality and lust – Srimadbhagvadgita
In Hindu mythology several fasts have been recommended with the objective of accomplishment of various tasks. These fasts cover all aspects of life including health, wealth, property, issues, love life, marital bliss, destiny, profession, inflow of money, eradication of sins, overcoming obstacles, attainment of all round prosperity, material comforts and spiritual success and so on and the list of objectives is comprehensive. In this section we have incorporated all types of fasts (Vratas) by observing which one can gratify his or her ambitions. We are giving the method of observing the fasts to cater the needs of readers. Vrata/ Fasting/Upvas work on the same principle the soul of which is self-control and for attaining that the entrance gate is control over temptation of taste.
The Sanskrit word for fast is ‘upa-vaas’, which means staying close to God. The original concept of fasting entailed a deviation from the normal life style and devoting one day to introspection. The fasting person was supposed to distance himself from the trivia of day to day life and think only about God. As any worldly pleasure would distract him from this purpose, he was supposed to follow a simple routine. Hence, rich food was avoided and a simple diet was taken to sustain the body. The intention was neither to starve the body nor to indulge it.
There are several interesting, mythological and historical stories behind Indian fasts which are matchless examples of our culture and rituals. On the day of fasting one should practice Bramhcharya (to stay away from sexuality and greed), self-control, solitude, silence and introspection. Fasting has been acknowledged in all religions all over the world. Fasting is the act of willingly abstaining from some or all food and in some cases drink, for a period of time. Depending on the tradition, fasting practices may forbid sexual intercourse, masturbation, as well as refraining from eating certain types or groups of food (eg. Meat). Medical fasting can be a way to promote detoxification.
Fasting is worshipped and admired in all religions all over the world because of its manifold benefits. In this section we shall be describing the significance and method of observing various important fasts along with Mantra, Vrata Katha and Aarti in Indian tradition.
Fasting for religious and spiritual reasons has been a part of human custom since pre-history. It is mentioned in the Bible, in both the Old and New Testament, in the Mahabharata, in the Upanishads and in the Qurans. In the Bahai Faith, fasting is observed from sunrise to sunset during the Bahai month of Ala ( March 2 to March 20). Buddhist monks and nuns following the Vinaya ruler commonly do not eat each day after the noon meal, though many orders do not enforce this. This is not considered a fast, but rather a disciplined regime aiding in meditation. In Islam, fasting for a month is an obligatory practice during the holy month of Ramjan from dawn till sunset. In Jainism fasting is done to decrease desire and passion. Self-starvation by fasting is known as Sallekhana and is supposed to help shed Karma according to Jain philosophy. Fasting for Jews means completely abstaining from food and drink, including water, tasting food, taking medication or even brushing teeth is forbidden. Observant Jews fast on six days of the year.
In nature cure, one of the very important tools for health and disease cure is fasting. Many people are learning the trick of curing their colds, headache, nervous spells and other acute troubles by missing a few meals or taking a short fast. It is the simplest and the most efficient way of relieving the overloaded and food poisoned system. Some doctors believe that pure water fasting can not only detoxify cells and rejuvenate organs, but can actually cure such diseases and conditions as cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes, colitis, psoriasis, lapis and some other autoimmune disorders when combined with a healthy diet. They believe that Fasting is Nature’s Restorer’. Many therapies, like Ayurveda and homeopath, acknowledge the importance of diet in the treatment of illness, and impose restrictions on beverages such as tea and coffee, and some non- vegetarian items. Nature cure, or naturotherapy, is virtually founded on the food principle, and considers fasting an imperative in the cure of chronic ailments. In natural medicine, fasting is seen as a way of cleansing the body of toxins, dead or diseased tissues, and giving the gastro-intestinal system a rest. Such fasts consist of either water only, or fruit and vegetable juices.