SHARAD PURNIMA - THE NIGHT OF NECTAR !
THE FESTIVAL OF SHARAD PURNIMA:
Sharad Purnima or Kojagari Purnima is a day of great significance for the Hindus. Sharad Purnima is the full moon day of the Hindu lunar month of Ashwin. It is also known as the Kaumudi celebration and it is believed that on this day the moon showers elixir or Amrit on Earth through its beams. Sharad Purnima ushers in the Sharad season according to the Hindu beliefs which marks the beginning of autumn. On the day of Sharad Purnima it is said that the moonlight has magical healing properties and that is why it is known to shower 'Amrit Varsha' (Elixir shower). The popular belief is that Sri Krishna, Radha and Gopis of Vrindavan performed Ras Lila on the day.
Interestingly, it is also believed to be the day on which Goddess Lakshmi is said to have been born. That is why in some parts of India, people worship Goddess Lakshmi on the day of Sharad Purnima which is also known as Kojagari Lakshmi puja. It is mainly celebrated by the Bengali community and also in a few other Eastern states of India. It is a custom to stay awake for the whole night on Sharad/ Kojagari Purnima to receive the blessings of Goddess Lakshmi.
There is also a close connection between the moon and the Sharad Purnima day – the moon is believed to be close to the earth on the day and it is believed that moon’s rays contain nourishing elements. People believe that as the moon is nearest to the earth on the day and as the moon’s rays has several curative properties it will be helpful to human beings. So people spend the evening under moonlight.
There is an Ayurvedic reason behind consuming rice flakes with cool milk on this night. Sharad ritu (season) consists of two months of overlapping seasons when the summer is about to end and the winter slowly starts. During Sharad the days are warm and nights start to become cooler. This is perfect season for Pitta prakop when pitta vitiates along with other two doshas. Consuming rice flakes with milk during night time is good remedy to pacify pitta.
On Sharad Purnima, the moon and the Earth are very close to each other. The rays of the moon have some healing properties which is said to nourish the body and soul of an individual. That is why food kept in the moonlight on Sharad Purnima is considered equal to Amrit (the immortal drink) or elixir. Hence, people in the Eastern regions follow a custom of preparing kheer and keeping it open under the moonlight throughout the night of Sharad Purnima. The next day it is consumed by all the members of the family as it becomes 'Amrit' according to local beliefs.
Also known as 'Kojaagari Punam,' the festival is celebrated on Aso sud 15 - Purnima. Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth moves around in the night sky, asking `Ko jaagarti' searching for people below who are awake. In Sanskrit, `Ko jaagarti' means, ' Who is awake?' And to those who are awake she gifts wealth.
Kojagari Lakshmi puja is celebrated by the Bengalis with great enthusiasm. Kojagari literally means who is awake? It is believed that Goddess Lakshmi comes down on Earth and visits every house to see who is awake at night to welcome Her. The women who fast and keep awake at night on Kojagari Purnima are blessed by the Goddess with wealth and prosperity. That is why most women of the Bengali households keep a fast on Kojagari Purnima and worship Goddess Lakshmi. The house is cleaned and beautiful 'Alpana' (rangoli) is made with rice paste along with the footprints of the Goddess. Food offerings are made in front of the idol. Some households also organise singing and bhajan programmes to keep awake at night.
SIGNIFICANCE OF SHARAD PURNIMA:
Sharad Poornima or Sharath Purnima is the full moon day in the month of October and is closely associated with Lord Krishna and Radha and Gopis. According to Srimad Bhagvad Purana, the famous Raas Lila of Lord Krishna with Radha and Gopis took place on the night of Sharad Poornima. In 2012, date of Sharad Poornima is October 29.
The showering of Bhakti Raas on the Sharad Poornima night by Krishna on Gopis and Radha has been a main theme for poets and philosophers and still continues to attract the fantasies of common man. The Sharad Poornima night is also seen as the night of love and couples come out at night to face the moon and express their love.
It is also said that the moon is close to the earth on the day and due to this the rays of the moon has several curative properties.
In some regions, Poha, puffed rice, and kheer, sweet, is prepared and left in the moonlight and is consumed later. In some areas, the full moon is not seen directly instead it seen on a vessel filled with boiling milk.
Sharad Poornima is of great significance in Mathura, Braj, Vrindavan and Nathdwara.
SHARAD PURNIMA KATHA AS PER SCRIPTURES:
This katha goes as follows;
According to Shreemad Bhagvad, once Kamdev took hold of all humans, devtaas, rishi muni, char achar, from all the three loks. Because of his victory over all, Kamdev was overcome with pride and became egoistic in his victory. On his way he met Narad Muni and challenged him,”Hey Narad Muni will you fight with me, its been a very long time I have not found anyone to fight with, looking at you I have this strong urge to fight, so please enter in war with me and fulfill my desire”.
Naradji replied, “Kaam Dev, I am but a sadhu, I am totally engrossed in Krishna bhakti I only talk and listen to Krishna leela, how will I fight”?
But Kaam Dev mad in his ego would not listen,”If you cannot wage a war with me tell me of one who can”. Naradji replied, “Okay I agree with this. In Vrindavan there is a child by the name of Krishn who is perfectly suited to fight you; you go to Vrindavan and fight with this child, He will fulfill your desire”. Kaam Dev replied, “Hey Muni, my force and power is so strong, Dev Daanav Rishi Muni even Brahmaji Himself cannot fight me, none have been able to defeat me; you talk about a human and that too a child; how do you think he is fit to fight me?”
Narad replied, “Have trust in my words, in the entire Brahmand if there is any one who can face you it is Krishn; if you defeat Him you will become unconquerable”.
Kaam Dev accepted this, bowed to Naradji and came down to Vrindavan looking for Shree Krishna.
During this time Krishna was at Banshivat playing His Bansuri under the Vat tree. “Child what is your name”, asked Kaam Dev.
“Krishn”, Thakurjee replied. Then I have reached the right place, Kaam Dev thought; “Krishna come fight with me”, he told Him.
Thakurjee replied, “War is always fought between equals; here I am an eleven year old child, you are an adult, war is not appropriate, the world will also not accept this”.
“Stop confusing me with your words, if Narad muni has sent me here you are the only one who can fight me, so accept my challenge and agree for a fight”, Kaam Dev replied.
“Okay” said Thakurjee, “If you do not agree then I am ready. War can be fought in two ways, either ‘Kila yudh’or ‘Maidan yudh’, choose what you want”.
“You first explain what each one means” said Kaam Dev.
'Kila yudh’ will happen when I am with Radha in Nikunj van; then you can aim all your five arrows at me, if my heart and mind wavers it will be your victory; if not you lose.
‘Maidan yudh’ will take place on Sharad Poornima night when I will playMaharaas with innumerable gopis, right here at Banshivat. Here also you can aim all your five arrows at me; if you are able to waver my mind and heart you win, if not you lose”
Here Kaam Dev thinks that yogis in total Samadhi states, rishis in deep tapasaya could not defeat his arrows; how will a mere child surrounded by many gopis be able to defeat him; so he chose the Sharad Poornima night. “I agree to themaidan yudh, I will now meet you here on the Sharad Poornima night”, so saying Kaam Dev disappeared.
Since the vastra haran leela, where Thakurjee stole the gopis clothes; allBrajbalas accepted Him as their Lord. All were in total devotion and love with God and wished to be with Him; now they began to worship Ma Kaatiyani.
After taking their snan in the sacred Yamunaji, during the month of Kartik they prayed to Her: Hey Ma, please let son of Nand be our husband.
Mata Kaatiyani heard their prayers, gave them darshan and said that on the Sharad Poornima night Thakurjee will fulfill all their desires. (Shreemad Bhagvad).
Finally the much awaited night in Ashwin Maas in the Sharad ritu arrived.
It is Sharad Poornima and it was a fragrant night. Without season bela, chameli, mallika etc fragrant flowers appeared and spread their scent all across Vrindavan. The Sharad bela felt like the Basant bela.
Chandradev spread its cool kiran lalima in all five directions. It looked as if the moon had decorated all directions in roli and kesar.. this night the lalima is akhand; it is poornima night, the entire van is filled with her komal loving, blessed rays and prakash.
Yogmaya was here in Thakurjee’s sewa; whatever bhao He developed in His heart, Yogmaya fulfilled with Her powers right here at Banshivat.
In this sumdhur bela, golden and beautiful, Thakurjee ShreeKrishn began playing His Bansuri below the Vat tree. His Bansuri spread music which gave bliss to all gopis and the total Brahmand; all became totally immersed in the magical divine moment. The bansuri vandan of this moment was one which increased devotion and bhao for Him and the longing to be with Him.
Even before this divine night Krishn had taken over the hearts and mind of all gopis; tonight He took control of their fear, sankoch, dharya, maryada etc. Hearing the magical call of Krishn’s flute today none could stop themselves; all ran towards the sound where Thakurjee waited for them.
On this night, Lord Krishna invited his faithful devotees, the Gopis of Vrindavan, to play the Maha Raas with him.
When they left their homes and arrived in Vrindavan, Shree Krishna welcomed them. Yet to further test their love for Him, he said: 'Women of character such as you, should not leave home to meet another man in the middle of the night!'
These words seared the Gopis' hearts. In extreme grief, they refused to move back and go home.
Pleased with such immense love for him, ShreeKrishn began the Maha Raas, by assuming as many Forms as there were Gopis.
At this point, the gopis became full of pride thinking that no ones devotion is higher than us, that is why the Lord favored us. Instead of accepting the Maha Raas as the Lord's grace and kripa, their ego disturbed their devotion. At this Krishn instantly vanished from the Raas mandal, to teach them a lesson in humility.
Now filled with remorse, the Gopis repented. Recalling Shree Krishn's divine leelas, they lamented their pangs of separation, and sang a song which came to be known as 'Viraha Geet':
Describing this leela in the Bhagvat (10/30/25), Shukdevji narrates to Raja Parikshit:
'O Parikshit! Of all nights, that night of Sharad Punam became the most resplendent. With the Gopis, Shree Krishn roamed the banks of the Yamunaji, as if imprisoning everyone in his leela.
This katha in the Shreemad Bhagvad continues how the Gopis begged Krishn and were sorrowful about their egoistic behaviour. Krishn had disappeared with Radha and when She also experienced pride and ego, Krishn disappeared from Her side also.
Finally it is all sorted out and the Maha raas begins.
At last came the night of Sharad Purnima and Sri Krishna played the flute. He infused the ‘क्लीं’seed-mantra into it. Only Lord Sri Krishna knows the art of infusing the ‘क्लीं’ seed-mantra. This seed word is extremely effective.
Though Sri Krishna is the Essence and substratum of all but when He has to do something then He has to depend upon Radha. Radha stands for the God’s essential power of bliss. She is the illusory power of God.
Lord said: “Dear Radha! You walk ahead. You be with Me. May you not feel that I have been captivated by the gopis (the cowherd girls). Now I have to give a battle to my son Kamadev who is so proud of his victory. So today I have to cross swords with him. Come Radhe!”
Lord Sri Krishna played the flute, infused the ‘कलीं’ seed-mantra. Thirty two ragas and sixty four riginis… the night of Sharad Purnima… gentle breeze is blowing. Lord is playing flute amidst sixteen thousand beauties along with Radha. Kamadev tried all his weapons but none of them worked.
Lord Krishna said: “ Kamadev! You are my son after all.”
The same Kamadev took birth from the womb of Rukmini begotten by Lord Sri Krishna. He was named Pradyumna.
The Death of all fated times, the substratum of all grounds, one who lends reality to passions like lust, anger, greed, attachment etc. and still transcends them all; one who sees such Lord Krishna with as much broad understanding and vision, to that degree his life gets filled with joy.
A small temple of Gopeshwar is also on one corner of the main court, inside the Banshivat parisar.
STORY OF LORD SHIVA AS A GOPI IN MAHA RAASLILA :
This is the varta about why this Shiv mandir is here:
When the sacred Maha Raas began, while in deep meditation on Kailash Parvat,Lord Shiva heard the mesmerizing dhwani of Krishna playing His divine flute. He told Parvati He was going to Prathvi lok to be a part of this divine happening.
He followed that transcendental sound until He came to Vrindavan, where Shree Krishna was getting ready to start the Maha raas with His gopis.
Desiring intensely to join the Maha raas, when He came to the entrance of the raas-sthali, He was stopped by Yogamaya, who told him, "Only gopis can enter here, no males except Thakurjee can be here at this time."
Being a male He first, was requested to take the form of a gopi, which onlyShree Yamunajee would be able to grant Him.
After bathing in the Yamunaji, Lord Shiva emerged from the river with the form of a beautiful Gopi.
Lord Shiva in His "Gopi Form" stood at one corner of the Raas sthali. Lord Shiva stood there and prayed to Shree Radha Krishna for getting prem-bhakti.
Then the raas started. Shree Krishn danced with all the gopis. He also danced with Lord Shiva who was disguised as a gopi.
As He entered the place, Krishna recognized Him instantly – hence gave Him the name of Gopeshwar. The story continues how Radha became angry; she accused Krishna of calling a new gopi by the name of Gopeshwar, which means – the Lord of gopis. All these years He had never ever called Radha by this name. Then Shyam had to explain the details to Her. “This is no ordinary gopi. He is Lord Shiv and He has come all the way to see the Maharaas leela with a pure and sattvik gopi bhao.
Since then, in His respect a mandir showing Shivji in the Gopi Form is there.
SHARAD PURNIMA VRAT KATHA:
Sharad Purnima is the full moon day in the month of Ashwin and some people keep fast on the day. People prepare Kheer (rice boiled in milk) under moonlight and it is consumed during midnight. A popular Kahani or story associated with Sharad Purnima is listened to on the day. The Sharad Poornima Vrat Katha narrates about the importance of fasting on the day and the benefits received from it.
One there lived two sisters. The elder sister was very pious and religious. She used to observe the Sharad Purnima Vrat with dedication. The younger sister was never interested in observing the vrat but used do some rituals for namesake and would end her fast by noon.
The elder sister had healthy and obedient children. But all the children of younger sister died on birth. The younger sister was very worried and once she approached a saint and narrated her problem.
The saint soon realized the problem – the younger sister has been observing vrats disinterestedly. The saint said that when you observe a vrat you should observe it properly or should not bother to observe it at all.
The younger sister realized her fault and observed the next Sharad Purnima vrat with devotion.
Soon she gave birth to a child but the child too died immediately after death. The younger sister then thought of a plan. She took the body of the dead child and covered it with a cloth and placed it on a chair. Now the baby with the cloth looked like cushion.
She then invited the elder sister to her home and asked her to sit on the chair on which the body of the baby was lying. As the elder sister bent down sit, the child started crying.The elder sister was surprised and scolded the younger sister for being careless.
The younger sister then told the elder sister that the baby had died on birth and it has to come to life by your touch – the power of Sharad Purnima Vrat is responsible for reviving the child. Soon the miracle happened in the house of spread around the kingdom and people started observing Sharad Purnima Vrat.
SPIRITUAL MESSAGE OF SHARAD PURNIMA:
The night of Sharad Purnima holds special significance. On this night the moon showers nectar through its rays. The moon in its full bloom and with all its parts showers the ambrosial rain in the form of cooling, nourishing energy and peace.
On this night the moon is very near to the earth and when its brilliant rays fall on the drinks and food items they are enriched with healthful elements so the person who eats that enjoys good health throughout the year.
From the spiritual point of view, moon signifies coolness. You may face any number of problems and troubles in the outward life but they should not cause any complaint in your heart. You should be so strong from within that the ordinary worldly troubles should not trouble you.