Eating grains on Janmastami
By Payonidhi das
Unfortunately some devotees and dear friends have not understood that one should not eat grains on Janmastami and on other apperance days, now this has never seen to be a problem in Europe to understand. But here in the US we have seen this, is a practice in some temples. Srila Prabhupada has clearly stated ekadasi prasadam is to be served on Gaura Purnima and Janmastami, but some devotees seem to either ignore these instructions to not know the proper standard.
Srila Prabhupada has clearly stated not to eat grains on Janmastami and Gaura Purnima, that the temple management at however chooses to serve grains to the devotees too is a serious mistake based on Srila Prabhupada’s instructions and that of scripture, I at least want to warn devotees as I have done before to please not eat grains on Janmastami and Gaura Purnima:
Srila Prabhupadas has clearly stated:
“So far the Advent Day of Lord Caitanya is concerned, I have written a full suggestion to Montreal, in which the main points are that we should all observe strict fasting up till moonrise, and at that time, an offering is made to Lord Caitanya of Ekadasi foods, fruits, peanuts, milk, and so forth. Then, on the next day, Friday the 15th, a full-scale feast is held to celebrate His Advent Day. On the 14th, chanting, reading of Srila Bhaktivinode’s book, Life and Precepts and Caitanya Caritamrta, Introduction to Bhagavatam, may be held all the day in the Temple.” (San Francisco, written 12th March 1968 letter to Balai)
“Lord Caitanya’s Appearance day falls on March 22 (1970), that is on a Sunday. The devotees should fast until evening, when there is a ceremony and offering of a small amount of Ekadasi preparations. The next day, the devotees should celebrate amongst themselves with a small scale feast. You may hold the celebration open to the public on the following Sunday. The preparation to be offered specially on this occasion is bhuni kichri: Fry equal parts dal and rice in ghee and massala. Add two times water as dal and rice, and add vegetables (if you use more ghee, use less water). Cook it until it is dried and the rice is soft.”(Letter to Krishna dasa. 18th February 1970. Los Angeles.)
“P. S. No feasting in the evening of Caitanya’s birthday. Fasting all day till evening moon rise. Then take Prasadam like Ekadasi. Next day you can have full swing feasting. On the birthday if can take a procession of Kirtana on the street it is very nice.” (Post Script to Letter to Rayarama dasa. September. Unknown place unknown date Ref: 91-05-14.)
Adjusting the program for preaching (feasting):
“You can take quotations from the above mentioned books, and have discussions. Fasting should be continued up to evening, then you may have food like on Ekadasi, fruits, milk, etc. On the next day you may observe festival. Janardana consulted me and said he thinks Sunday feasting would be best, so you may do that if you like. Or you may do both days, as you feel best.”(Letter to Mahapurush. 7th March 1968.
Regarding Gaura Purnima)
“We performed Lord Caitanya’s Birthday ceremony, not very gorgeously, but amongst ourselves, and Govinda dasi cooked very nice Ekadasi foodstuffs. The next day I expected some big ceremony but it couldn’t be performed. (Letter to Purusottam. 6th March 1969. Hawaii)
For example, the scriptures state fasting from all grains and beans on Janmastami should be followed the same way one follows Ekadasi. Srila Sanatana Goswami supports this statement in his Digdarshini Tika where he states, “Just as one follows the rules of fasting on each Ekadasi, the same rules should be followed for fasting on Janmastami.”
In the Bhavisya Uttara Purana, Vyasadeva quotes Lord Krsna instructing King Yudhisthira thus, “Everyone past the age of eight, whether they be Brahmana, Ksatriya, Vaisya, Sudra, woman, widow, or following a different faith, have to fast on My appearance day.”
The Skanda Purana states, “All sages and saintly kings like King Prahlada have fasted on Lord Krsna’s appearance day, year after year.”
The Agni Purana states, “When the Rohini constellation was present on Janmastami day, all learned sages from the time of Satyayuga, Tretayuga and Dvaparayuga, had fasted on Janamastami day to please Lord Krsna.”
In the Brahma Purana it is stated, “For those who properly fast on the correct Janmastami day, Kaliyuga cannot influence them.”
In order to please Lord Krsna, one must fast from grains and beans throughout the entire day and night of Janmastami, until the proper break-fast time arrives. Only then one should accept prasad consisting of grains and beans. As stated by Lord Brahma in the Brahma Purana, “When the Janmastami tithi and its Rohini Naksatra ends (next morning), then only one should consume grains to break the fast.”
The Yagnavalkya Smruti supports Lord Brahma’s statement, stating the following, “Only when both–the tithi and the–Naksatra timings of Janmastami have ended, then only one should break ones fast. There is no other way than this.”
In the Vayu Purana it is stated, “If one desires to become free from all sin, he or she should accept some rice Mahaprasada of Lord Jagannatha (or other grains of Mahaprasadam) on the day after Janmastami day.”
Lord Brahma instructs Narada in the Visnu Rahasya, “Anyone who eats grains on Janmastami day becomes filled with all categories of sin performed in the three worlds, and takes birth as a snake in the forest.”
Based on what instruction of Srila Prabhupada is grains even served to guests on Janmastami? But my main concern is that devotee don’t eat grains on Janmastami as it is highly inauspicious.
Hita Harivamsa who was a disciple of Srila Gopala Bhatta Goswami was rejected by him as he refused to
fast on Ekadasi and Janmastami from grains, we surely should not follow this line of the sahajiyas and due to ignorance eat grains on Janmastami, the result will be very bad.
His grace Deenabhandhu Prabhu made a comment also that other vaisnava groups will see this as a deviation in ISKCON if eating grains on Janmastami is permitted, I surely agree.
But the real concern is for those devotees that eat grains on Janmastami.
Please stop eating grains and feeding devotees grains on Janmastami
Vows, Worship, and Fasting on Sri Janmastami
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 manvantar.
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.
45 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.
Nectar from Hari Bhakti Vilas Tika Dikdarshini Tika of Sanatan Goswami and Gopal Bhatta Goswami on Janmastami:
BHADRE BHAGAVATO JANMA DINE KARYO MAHOTSAVAH VISESENA MAHA PUJAM VRATA PURNENA VAISNAVAIH
(HARI BHAKTI VILASA 15/246 from KALIKA PURANA Vyasadeva speaks)
One should perform a festival on the birthday of Lord Hari, which falls in Bhadrapada (August – September) month. It is the duty of all Vaisnavas to fast on these days and to do specific great worship of the Supreme Lord.
PRAHLADA ADAIS CA BHUPALAIH KRTA JANMASTAMI SUBHA SRADDHAYA PARAYA VISNOH PRITAYE KRSNA VALLABHA PRAJAPATY ARKSA SAMYUKTA SRAVANASYA ASITA ASTAMI VARSE VARSE TU KARTAVYA TUSTY ARTHAM CAKRA-PANINAH
(HARI BHAKTI VILASA 15/267,268 from SKANDA PURANA)
Great kings such as Prahlada had fasted on the most dear of day of Lord Sri Krsna named Janmastami, the birthday of Lord Krsna, to develop intense love for Krsna. One should certainly fast on such an auspicious day of Lord Krsna’s birth named Krsnastami every year to please Lord Sri Krsna Who holds a disk in His hand.
YE NA KURVANTI JANANTAH KRSNA JANMA ASTAMI VRATAM TE BHAVANTI MAHA PRAJNA VYALA MAHATI KANANE
(HARI BHAKTI VILASA 15/275 from SKANDA PURANA)
Oh greatly intelligent, any person, even with knowledge of Krsna’s birthday
(Janmastami), who does not fast, he takes his next birth as a snake in a thick forest.
SAMPARKEN API YAH KURYAT KASCIT JANMASTAMI VRATAM VISNU LOKAM AVAPNOTI SO’PI PARTHA NA SAMSAYAH
(HARI BHAKTI VILASA 15/295 from SKANDA PURANA)
If someone fasts on Janmastami day, with devotion, he attains the abode of Lord Sri Visnu.
TASYAM VISNU TITHAU KECID DHANYAH KALIYUGE JANAH YE’BHYARCAYANTI DEVESAM JAGRATAH SAMUPOSITAH
(HARI BHAKTI VILASA 15/307 from BRAHMA PURANA Suta Gosvami speaks)
This day (Janmastami day) removes all kinds of sins. Specifically in Kali-yuga, if someone fasts on this day, remains awake overnight and worships Lord Sri Hari properly, those people are worshipable.
IDAM EVA PARAM SREYA IDAM EVA PARANTAPAH IDAM EVA PARO DHARMO YAD VISNU VRATA DHARANAM
(HARI BHAKTI VILASA 15/312 from BRAHMA PURANA)
Fasting on the day of Lord Hari is the most auspicious thing, the topmost austerity and the topmost meritorious action.
SAMPURNA CA ARDHARATRE TU ROHINI YADI LABHYATE KARTAVYA SA PRAYATNENA PURVA VIDDHAM VIVARJAYET
(HARI BHAKTI VILASA 15/370 from YAJNAVALKYA SMRTI)
If on the eighth day of the dark fortnight at midnight there is Rohini constellation, on that day one should fast, but if it is combined with the seventh day, it should be given up in all circumstances.
DVAU BHUTA SARGAU LOKE’SMIN DAIVA ASURA EVA CA VISNU-BHAKTI PARO DAIVA ASURAS TAD VIPARYAYAH
(HARI BHAKTI VILASA 15/396 from AGNI PURANA and VISNU DHARMA)
There are two kinds of living entities created. One is divine and the other is demonic. The devotees of the Supreme Lord Visnu are said to be divine personalities. Those who are not His devotees are addressed as demonic.
I hope this standard set by Srila Prabhupada can be instituted even by GBC law as mandatory for all ISKCON temples, I know some devotees do not agree with this but how can they disagree with Srila Prabhupada and Krsna and the statements of sastra on this issue?