T his year in Sridhama Mayapur between the 16th of May and the 13th of June, the resident devotees will make their way to the temple each evening through the summer heat for an opportunity that only comes once every three years. At the temple, the twilight will be illuminated by hundreds of handheld lamps moving in circular motions as they are offered to the Deities by the devotees. Simultaneously, songs written by the Vaishnava acharyas in glorification of Radha and Krishna will be sung.
An observer will notice other changes in the usual activities of Māyāpur’s residents during the period of time between the 16th of May and the 13th of June. Many will take on vratas, or vows, for this month. These vratas generally involve restriction of material activities and an increase in spiritual activity. For example, some devotees will bathe in the sacred Ganges River every day. Some will eat only havishya, a simple preparation of unspiced, boiled rice and dahl. Many will increase the amount of japa they chant and the time they spend reading Srila Prabhupada’s books. The devotees make a concerted effort to increase the performance of sadhu-seva or serving the devotees, and hearing and chanting by assembling together for the performance of Hari-bhajan, or glorification of Lord Hari and His associates.
Starting on the 16th of May and ending on the 13th of June 2018, the month of Purusottama takes place. This month is an unusual one, for it does not come every year. Every three years or so when the full moon occurs twice in less than 29 solar days, the extra or leap month of Purusottama occurs. This month is also known as Adhik mas or Adhimasa.
This month is especially dear to Lord Krishna and the performance of spiritual activities during this month is extra potent. The glories of this month are described in the Skanda Purana, the Padma Purana, and the Naradiya Purana. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has also described the glories of this month.
However, this month was not always considered auspicious. The history and glories of Purusottama month are described in the 31st chapter of the Naradiya Purana, and there it is explained that Purusottama month used to be known as malamasa, or the impure month. Because no holy days occur during this irregular month, the people of the world used to consider it to be useless and inauspicious. The personification of this month was upset by this. She went to the Lord to explain her difficult situation to Him, and the Lord took pity on her and showed her His mercy.
The Lord stated:
“Just as I am celebrated in this world by the name Purusottama, similarly, this Adhimasa too will be renowned in the world by the name Purusottama. Now I offer all My qualities to this month. Becoming like Me, from today onwards this Adhimasa is the monarch of all the other months, and is the most worshipable and most adored in the world.
“All other months are sakama, that is, they will grant worldly desires. This month, however, is niskama. Those who worship this month, either without any desires (akama) or with all types of desires, will have all their karmas burnt. Then they will achieve Me.
“My bhaktas sometimes commit offenses, but in this Purusottama month, they will be protected from committing any offense. In this adhimasa, those greatly foolish persons who neglect to perform auspicious activities, such as japa, giving in charity, visiting and bathing at the holy places, and who are envious of the dvijas (brahmanas) are deemed wicked, unfortunate and living at the cost of others. Thus, they will not attain a scent of happiness, even in their dreams. Conversely, those who are filled with bhakti will take advantage of this Purusottama month to perform arcana to Me. After enjoying worldly happiness, such as wealth, sons and so on, they will eventually attain residence in Goloka.”
There are many recommendations in the scriptures for how Purusottama month should be observed. Some of the main recommendations are as follows:
– Devotees should worship the Deity or picture of Radha Krishna.
– Every day, devotees should offer a ghee lamp to Sri Sri Radha and Krishna.
– Devotees should increase their reading of Srimad Bhagavatam and Bhagavad-gita. Especially, Chapter Fifteen of Bhagavad-gita, “Purusottama-yoga, the Yoga of the Supreme Person,” should be read.
– Devotees should give in charity to qualified brahmanas, serve the cows, and distribute prasadam.
– Devotees should bathe in holy rivers and associate with saintly devotees.
The Lord provides many opportunities for the fallen souls to easily attain Him, and the benefits derived from observing Purusottama month are an example of this. Whether one observes this month while residing in a holy dhama like Māyāpur, at any temple around the world, or in one’s own home, immense benefit can be obtained.