This year, Purushottamas falls between 16th May and 13th June. This month is a particularly auspicious time to do parikrama and millions of devotees will travel to Braj to perform either the entire Braj Mandal parikrama, Mathura Parikrama, Vrindavan Parikrama or Govardhan Parikrama.
This extra month of the lunar calendar, which serves as a kind of leap month, occurs only once every three years. This is indeed a special time because this month is considered to be the best time to quickly make spiritual advancement.
Purushottama means, “the highest” or “the supreme soul”. Purushottama is a name that describes Lord Vishnu or Lord Krishna but Shri Krishna gave this name to Adhik Maas to show that this is the highest month.
During this time, many activities that would normally be auspicious (but take a lot of effort) are not recommended. During this time marriages, mundan (first head shaving of baby’s hair), and bhoomi pooja (ceremony on newly acquired land) are not carried out.
With most work not recommended, and with the natural slow down in most activities due to the heat, millions of devotees will take the opportunity to come to Braj to become absorbed in the spiritual bliss that cuts the sharp edge off the myriad of problems that we all face.
Due to being an inauspicious time for most purchases and ceremonies, Purushottamas used to be called Maal Mas (dirty month). Out of great mercy, Lord Vishnu gave the month the name Purushottamas and imbued the month with all the qualities of the Supreme Lord, making the month truly worthy of the name Purushottama (the best). Lord Vishnu ended the suffering of Adhik Mas through imbuing His name and qualities. This boon not only benefited Adhik Mas, but is a benefit for everyone because, now, once every three years, we get the chance to feel surrounded by Vishnu’s qualities and we get reminded that every second that passes is Vishnu’s time.
Preparations for the festival and expected influx of people wanting to take advantage of the spiritual power of Purushottamas have been underway for several weeks and, now, last minute preparations for the festival are moving ahead with full speed, despite the heat.
Embarking on a pilgrimage with the intention of receiving benefit in the material world is not recommended during Purushottamas. Pilgrimages/parikrama can only be undertaken for the purpose of increasing absorption in selfless devotional service i.e. Bhakti.
Purushottamas is also a good opportunity to focus on controlling diet by focusing on eating only Sattvic foods (vegetarian meals, milk, fruits, nuts, grains, vegetables). Those who have already managed to stick to a sattvic diet, may choose to take on a special fast, such as fasting from grains or only eating one meal per day.
In the Padma Purana the Supreme Lord Krishna states “All human beings should perform some devotional service in this Purushottama month by:
- Worshiping Me, (Shri Krishna) and by chanting My holy names.
- Study of Srimad Bhagavatam and Bhagavad-Gita, in particular Chapter Fifteen named Purushottama Yoga.
- Giving in charity.
- Offering ghee diya (lamp) daily unto Me."
The month of Purushottamas is a particularly auspicious time for giving charity. Just as some seasons are particularly good for planting trees, it is said that a small seed of charity given in Purushottamas will become a huge banyan tree of benefits for the giver and receivers.
Lord Vishnu says to Sh Garuda-ji in Garuda Purana, Preta Khanda, chapter 14, Verse 12, “With the food for the journey in the form of gifts offered to the deserving, one is able to travel with comfort on the Great Highway in the journey after death. Otherwise, the wretch undergoes great hardships on the way, without food to subsist on.”
So, even if we cannot escape having selfish motives, the Garuda Purana gives us a good reason to give charity, especially in the form of Prasad or food relief. Whatever is done during this month has extra benefits, so it would be wise to not miss the opportunity to render service.
Mathura authorities are working especially hard in the lead up to Purushottamas to assist pilgrims in their journey to Braj. During a meeting on 11th May, District Magistrate, Sarvagyaram Mishra instructed the different departments to work together. The DM instructed the Public Works Department, Water Corporation, Electricity department and contractors to coordinate the provision of services including: street cleaning, drinking water, toilets, electricity, CCTV, sound system, lost and found booths and health services.
The Railways Department is also organizing special services for pilgrims including extra trains and extra ticket counters. The Railways Department has also requested extra police officers to patrol trains.
The Senior Superintendent of Mathura police, Prabhakar Chaudhary, said that during Purushottamas, there will be increased security across Braj.