The Indian year is divided into twelve months. Deriving its roots from the natural farming cycle, the days of the months follow the lunar cycle and hence fluctuate between 27-30 days. The lunar year consists of 354 solar days and solar year consists of 365 days. So there is a difference of 11 days between the lunar and solar years. Over the years, each lunar month starts earlier to the corresponding solar month. In every two or three solar years, the difference between the two calendars becomes a full month or around 29 days. Manual adjustment is made to bring the two years into line by adding an extra month every 2.5 - 3 years.
Vasishta Siddhanta, a treatise of Sage Vasishta, says that the Adhika Masa
occurs after every 32 months, 16 days and 8 Ghadis.
(Ghadi = 24 minutes)
As this additional month was added at various times of the year to achieve this, it could not be given a specific name associated with a season or a stellar system. It was hence termed as "Adhik-mas" i.e. "Extra-month". To give it some identification, Adhik-mas is always named after the month is precedes - eg the Adhik-mas before Jeth-mas will be called Adhik-Jeth-mas.
Each of the months has a presiding astral deity to signify which stellar system is associated with the Sun during that month. As Adhik-mas has no such association with a particular stellar system, it was associated with the universal deity - Lord Shri Purushottam. As with everything, the ancient sages understood the need of the masses for a convincing "story" to make this astrological point stick in the mind of the ordinary person.
They created a beautiful legend in which Adhik-mas was disowned by all the stellar deities and no one thought it auspicious. Feeling orphaned, it went to Lord Shri Vishnu for advise. Being the preserver of the universe, he was keen to make sure everyone worked happily in the overall scheme of things. Concerned that the correct revolution of months, seasons and years - central to the successful working of things - was maintained, He decided to resolve the matter and took the dis-satisfied month to Golok and requested Lord Shri Purushottamji to find a resolution. /font>
The Lord is forever compassionate. Being omnipresent and omnipotent, He permeates all and every thing in the universe. How can anyone feel orphaned when the universal spirit resided in that person ? To dispel the inferiority complex of the Adhik-mas, the Lord smiled, sat him upon His lap and said, "You are mine ! How can you possibly feel orphaned ? I declare that from hence, any good work carried out during your term will bear enduring fruit and will be of greater value than all works performed at other times of the year."
Overwhelmed by the Lord's kindness, Adhik-mas bowed before the Lord and said, "This is a boon beyond my reckoning ! I am forever grateful for your compassion. But, my Lord, the great men of learning have declared that during my term on the Earth, no formal ritual work may bear fruit and so no one will perform great sacrifices or commence on great penances during my term on the earth. What am I to do ? Though yours, am I to remain as the only month when all auspicious actions will cease ?"
The Lord is forever full of understanding and could empathise with Adhik-mas. The Lord of the universe than said, "I bless you as my own month. Whatever good deeds are done during your reign will outshine all other works done during all other months. Great works done with devotion during Adhik-mas will amass such great fruits that even the doors to Golok will open for the devote. Have no fear, amongst all the months, you shall reign as the supreme and shall be known by my own name as Purushottam-mas (month of Lord Shri Purushottam)."
Adhik-mas bowed low before the Lord and returned to the realm of the mortals with great joy. From that day onwards, everyone looks forward to the time when Adhik-mas comes around again and people can worship the Lord with great devotion, hoping to achieve that which would otherwise take several life times to achieve.
The story of Adhik-mas is embellished with testimonials of devotes who have achieved miraculous feats by performing devotions during this holy month. Adhik-mas has been praised by all the great sages and saints as this is one of the rare months when great devotion to the Lord can done without full regard for rituals and procedures. It is bhava (deep feelings / emotions) that counts and not procedures.
LLet us too pass this month in devotion to the Lord, for devotion (bhakti) is the surest route to salvation in this terrible age of Kali-yuga !.
Derived in parts from
Vallabh Parivar magazine and edited and added to by Bhagwat at Vijuben Hathi's request.
For more information - http://www.hindu-blog.com/2007/06/what-is-adhika-masa.html
© Bhagwat Shah
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