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Vrata
Vrata
is a Sanskrit
Sanskrit
word that means "vow, resolve, devotion",[1] and refers to pious observances such as fasting and pilgrimage (Tirtha) found in Indian religions such as Jainism
Jainism
and Hinduism.[2][3] It is commonly performed among women, and typically accompanied with prayers seeking health and happiness for her loved ones.[4][5][6] However, men also perform vrata.

Contents

1 Etymology 2 Hinduism

2.1 Reasons 2.2 Observances and practices 2.3 Types 2.4 Nirjala-vrata(nirjal vrat)

3 Jainism 4 See also 5 References

5.1 Bibliography

Etymology[edit] Vrata
Vrata
(Sanskrit: व्रत) means "vow, resolve, devotion",[1] and refers to the practice of austerity, particularly in matters related to foods and drinks by people in Hindu
Hindu
and Jaina culture, as part of a pious observance or prayers seeking health, fertility, long life or happiness for her loved ones.[4][7] Derived from the root ‘vr’ ("will, rule, restrain, conduct, choose, select"), the word is found over 200 times in the Rigveda.[1][8] It is also found in other Vedic literature including the Upanishads, but the context suggests that the meaning of the word in the Vedic era was not as a personal pious observance, and instead was related to ṛta and dharma, in the sense of inner principles and universal laws that keep order in the cosmos.[8] Every man's vocation, as in hymn 9.112.1 of the Rigveda, is called his Vrata. Thus, whatever profession one is devoted to, resolves to do his best in, is deemed Vrata
Vrata
in the Vedic literature.[9] The act of sacrifice, in another context such as in hymn 1.93.8 of the Rigveda, is also called a Vrata.[9]

Vrata: the vow

Be thou the wife at their sacrifices, strict in thy vows [vrata], and gifted with joy!

Kunti
Kunti
to Draupadi, Mahabharata
Mahabharata
1.191.5 Transl: Anne Pearson[10]

The post-Vedic texts use the term as a form of self-imposed restrictions on food and behavior, sometimes with a vow.[9][11] The concept evolves as a form of religious votive rite, personalized and interiorized, one that does not need a public ceremony or a private one, but that is privately observed.[7][12][2] Its meaning retains a sense of personal sacrifice (fast, or restricted diet), in exchange for hope, accompanied with a prayer to a personally defined or cherished divinity, and propelled by the wish for the well being of one's loved ones.[4][7][13] The Grihya-sutras (domestic life manuals), the Puranas
Puranas
and the epics describe the practice particularly in the context of Vedic students,[14] brahmins,[15] and women, as "devotion, solemn vow, holy practice, resolve, dedication".[1][5][13] Hinduism[edit]

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v t e

Vrata
Vrata
is a religious votive rite, a vow often involving abstinence from food, particularly common with women.[5][13] It may be accompanied with elaborate prayers, other rites such as charity or visit to a temple, sometimes observed during festivals or with sanskara (rite of passage) ceremonies. It is found in ancient Hindu texts such as the Vedas, but in a fluid context that is not in the sense of pious observances.[7][12][2] The Hindu
Hindu
Upanishads
Upanishads
conceptualize Vrata
Vrata
as an ethical and behavioral discipline process, one where food is respected, the needy helped, the stranger welcomed, the student carries on the pursuit of knowledge.[16] The Puranas
Puranas
link the practice to the empowering concept of Shakti
Shakti
of a woman, while the Dharmasastras
Dharmasastras
link the practice to one possible form of penance through the concept of Prāyaścitta
Prāyaścitta
for both men and women.[13] A vrata is a personal practice, typically involves no priest, but may involve personal prayer, chanting, reading of spiritual texts, social get together of friends and family, or silent meditation.[13] Reasons[edit] A Vrata
Vrata
may be motivated by many factors and is observed by both genders, but far more often by women.[4][5] The most common are temporal wishes, such as the speedy recovery of a sick child, success or happiness for a loved one, fertility, ward off negativity or dangers, make prayers and good wishes for someone departing for a distant place.[5] In the case of women, the prayers are usually on behalf of brother(s), children or husband, but sometimes for her own prosperity, mind-body balance and health.[13][17][18] Sociologists who have interviewed women who observe Vrata
Vrata
report that the practice is explained, according to Anne Pearson, as something that gives "peace of mind", that she has made an effort to the best of her abilities and out of duty towards those important to her in her life, she has a sense of contentment in her heart and intellect, and thus she feels she has achieved something.[19][17] It is also an expression of care and love, a reminder of ethical principles of the Hindu
Hindu
traditions.[20] A Vrata
Vrata
is sometimes a result of voluntary vow or part of practice by a brahmacharya (student) or grihastha (householders) that they feel as obligatory before or during certain spiritual or religious practice.[21] Utsavas, or religious festivals, share some elements with vratas, incorporating the practice of restraining food and similar austerity, as a part of the festive observance.[21] Some Vrats are for religious (dharma)[17] or soteriological goals (moksha), some are for nonreligious reasons, some celebration of one's cultural tradition, and others are a form of quid pro quo sacrifice to get or give divine help to someone.[22] Another reason for observing Vratas is the belief that they are a form of sorry, self-correction, penance and expiatory (prāyaścitta).[11] Vratas are discussed as a means to prāyaścitta in Dharmasastra texts.[23] Many prāyaścitta vratas in these texts suggest it include the feeding of "Brahmins, blind, poor and helpless", as well as other acts of charity.[24] However, a Vrata
Vrata
can consist of many different activities. Other examples of Vrata
Vrata
activity include fasting, burning incense sticks, prayers before a deity, meditating and such activities.[24] The śmrtis go into great detail on the subject of vratas, discussing even the details pertaining to what type of flowers should be used in worship.[25] Men and women, state the Dharmashastras and the Puranas, can expiate their sins through the use of vratas.[26] For prāyaścitta, the Vratas are the second most discussed method in the Puranas, after the Tirtha.[27] Observances and practices[edit]

Vrata
Vrata
may be observed as a silent private rite, or be more elaborate with activities such as vrata mandalas design such as kolam, rangoli or mehndi.[28][13]

A Vrata
Vrata
is observed either as an independent private ritual at a date of one's choice, as part of a particular ceremony such as wedding, or as a part of a major festival such as Diwali
Diwali
(Lakshmi, festival of lights), Shivaratri
Shivaratri
(Shiva), Navratri
Navratri
( Durga
Durga
or Rama), Ekadashi (Krishna, Vishnu
Vishnu
avatars).[29][30][31] A typical Vrata
Vrata
involves a fast for a fixed period of time, usually a full day, where either no food is eaten, or only one meal is eaten in the entire day, or only a certain food such as milk is consumed during the period of the Vrata.[32][33] Other observances include sleeping on the ground or a short sleep, or alternatively yoga with meditation, reading scripture and charitable giving (dāna).[31] Some Vratas are more elaborate, such as those associated with major feativals or tirtha or rite of passage ceremonies, involving weeks of preparation, the drawing of Vrata
Vrata
mandala from various colored grain flour, wall decoration, cleaning of the house, special bath and festive dress, charity, a visit to a Hindu
Hindu
temple for a darśana of the inner sanctum or puja within one's home.[28][13][34] In Nepal, Hindus visit Pashupatinatha temple for example, families light lamps on Balacaturdasi on a winter night and then set them afloat in Bagamati river next morning, followed by strewing grains for birds.[29] Kane lists hundreds of Vrata
Vrata
found in Hindu
Hindu
texts.[35] Types[edit] The puranas denote various types of vratas, such as,[citation needed]

‘kayika-vrata’. It is a vrata pertaining to the body. The stress is on physical austerity like fasting. ‘vachika-vrata’ or vrata pertaining to speech. Here much importance is given to speaking the truth and reciting the scriptures. ‘manasa-vrata’ or vrata pertaining to the mind. The emphasis here is on controlling the mind, by controlling the passions and prejudices that arise in it.

A vrata may also be classified by its time period, such as Vrata
Vrata
for a day is a dina-vrata, a paksha (week or fortnight) is a vaara-vrata or a paksha-vrata.[citation needed] Nirjala-vrata(nirjal vrat)[edit] It consists of complete fasting without drinking water. Hence, it is called Nirjala(Without water or waterless) vrata. Unlike normal(common) vratas in which consumption of fruits, juices, milk, water and sugar is allowed, the 'vrati' doesn't eat or drink anything at all (to purify their body). It is common in Hindu
Hindu
festivals such as Nirjala Ekadashi, and chhath.[36] Jainism[edit] Main article: Ethics of Jainism Five vrata-s (vows) are one of the codes of conduct for Jain householders.[37] These are similar to the Yamas
Yamas
of yoga, and include the vow of ahimsa, satya, asteya, brahmacharya and aparigraha.[38] Jainism
Jainism
also has seven supplementary vows, called the Shila-vratas, which suggest additional virtues.[39] Fasting
Fasting
is part of vrata observances in Jainism, and some involve congregational fasting at temples.[40] Vrata
Vrata
among Jaina women may involve complete or partial fasting on certain specific days; a pilgrimage or tirtha to a particular place or places, as well as virtuous actions to others.[41] Vrata
Vrata
is viewed as a form of austerity, with the power to remove karma from jiva (soul) and gain punya (merit).[42] See also[edit]

Vow of silence Novena

References[edit]

^ a b c d Monier Monier-Williams (1899), Sanskrit-English Dictionary, Oxford University Press, page 1042, Article on Vrata ^ a b c Ariel Glucklich 2008, pp. 139-140. ^ Jeffery D Long (2013). Jainism: An Introduction. I.B.Tauris. p. 206. ISBN 978-0-85771-392-6.  ^ a b c d Ariel Glucklich 2008, p. 139. ^ a b c d e Heather Elgood 2000, pp. 198-199. ^ Denise Cush, Catherine Robinson & Michael York 2012, p. 972. ^ a b c d Lynn Teskey Denton 2012, pp. 31-33. ^ a b Anne Mackenzie Pearson 1996, p. 45. ^ a b c Anne Mackenzie Pearson 1996, pp. 45-46. ^ Anne Mackenzie Pearson 1996, p. 53. ^ a b Kane 1958, pp. 28-29. ^ a b Anne Mackenzie Pearson 1996, pp. 46-47. ^ a b c d e f g h Denise Cush, Catherine Robinson & Michael York 2012, pp. 972-973. ^ Anne Mackenzie Pearson 1996, p. 48. ^ Anne Mackenzie Pearson 1996, pp. 50-52. ^ Anne Mackenzie Pearson 1996, p. 47. ^ a b c Mary McGee (1992). Julia Leslie, ed. Roles and Rituals for Hindu
Hindu
Women. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 79–80. ISBN 978-81-208-1036-5.  ^ Lynn Teskey Denton 2012, pp. 31-34. ^ Anne Mackenzie Pearson 1996, pp. 10, 102, 199, 217. ^ Anne Mackenzie Pearson 1996, pp. 5, 44, 198, 217. ^ a b Kane 1958, pp. 26-29. ^ Anne Mackenzie Pearson 1996, pp. 109, 195-197, 205, 220. ^ Kane 1958, p. 27. ^ a b Kane 1958, pp. 38-41. ^ Kane 1953, pp. 37-39, 57. ^ Kane 1958, pp. 51, 57. ^ Kane 1958, p. 57. ^ a b Ariel Glucklich 2008, p. 140. ^ a b Axel Michaels 2016, pp. 219-221. ^ Lindsey Harlan (1992). Religion and Rajput Women: The Ethic of Protection in Contemporary Narratives. University of California Press. pp. 45–46. ISBN 978-0-520-07339-5.  ^ a b Anne Mackenzie Pearson 1996, pp. 267-270. ^ Lindsey Harlan (1992). Religion and Rajput Women: The Ethic of Protection in Contemporary Narratives. University of California Press. p. 88. ISBN 978-0-520-07339-5.  ^ J. C. Heesterman (1993). The Broken World of Sacrifice: An Essay in Ancient Indian Ritual. University of Chicago Press. pp. 212–213. ISBN 978-0-226-32301-5.  ^ Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad; Ellison Banks Findly (1985). Women, Religion, and Social Change. State University of New York Press. pp. 205–206. ISBN 978-0-88706-069-4.  ^ Kane 1958, pp. 81-236, For a list see, pages 251-462. ^ "Nirjala Ekadashi 2017, Nirjala Ekadashi Vrat Katha, Puja Vidhi Date and Time – Nirjala Ekadashi". www.rudraksha-ratna.com. Retrieved 2017-10-26.  ^ Sangave 2001, p. 124. ^ Sangave 2001, p. 162. ^ Sangave 2001, pp. 162-163. ^ John E. Cort (2001). Jains in the World: Religious Values and Ideology in India. Oxford University Press. pp. 227 note 22. ISBN 978-0-19-803037-9.  ^ Natubhai Shah (1998). Jainism: The World of Conquerors. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 101–102. ISBN 978-81-208-1938-2.  ^ Kristi L. Wiley (2004). Historical Dictionary of Jainism. Scarecrow. pp. 85–86. ISBN 978-0-8108-5051-4. 

Bibliography[edit]

Denise Cush; Catherine Robinson; Michael York (2012). Encyclopedia of Hinduism. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-135-18978-5.  Lynn Teskey Denton (2012). Female Ascetics in Hinduism. State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-8462-3.  Sangave, Vilas Adinath (2001), Facets of Jainology: Selected Research Papers on Jain Society, Religion, and Culture, Mumbai: Popular Prakashan, ISBN 978-81-7154-839-2  Heather Elgood (2000). Hinduism
Hinduism
and the Religious Arts. Bloomsbury Academic. ISBN 978-0-304-70739-3.  Ariel Glucklich (2008). The Strides of Vishnu: Hindu
Hindu
Culture in Historical Perspective. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-531405-2.  Kane, P. V. (1953). History of Dharmaśāstra: Ancient and Medieval Religious and Civil Law in India. 4.  Kane, P. V. (1958). History of Dharmaśāstra: Ancient and Medieval Religious and Civil Law in India. 5, part 1.  Axel Michaels (2016). Homo Ritualis: Hindu
Hindu
Ritual and Its Significance for Ritual Theory. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-026263-1.  Anne Mackenzie Pearson (1996). Because It Gives Me Peace of Mind: Ritual Fasts in the Religious Lives of Hindu
Hindu
Women. State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-3038-5.  Verma, Manish (2000). Fasts and festivals of India. Diamond Pocket Books. ISBN 81-7182-076-X.  Dictionary of Hindu
Hindu
Lore and Legend (ISBN 0-500-51088-1) by Anna Dallapiccola Vrata: Sacred Vows and Traditional Fasts, by M.N. Dutt. Cosmo Publication, 2003. ISBN 81-292-0018-X

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