This designation is given
to a period of one month from when the sun enters the Dhanur rashi (Sagitarius)
till the 14th of January.
The glory of this month has also been extolled in the Purushottam Samhita of the Panchratra shastra. In the period the sun shifts from the Dhanur rashi till Makar Sankranti, the Samhita advocates bhakti by celebrating Adhyayan, Mokshada and Vun Mahotsavs.
The month of Magshar is considered the morning period of the Devas and therefore sattvic. Therefore this festival boosts the sattvic attributes of aspirants.
This infuriated the demons and so they attacked the Lord. The ensuing battle lasted one and a half months. Finally, the Lord defeated the two, who then begged," Prabhu! Deliver us to your dham (abode)."
On the sud Ekadashi of Dhanurmaas, the Lord opened the northern door and delivered them to Vaikunth, transcending Satyalok. This pleased the two, who requested for a boon, "Take those who offer bhakti to you and observe Ekadashi in this month, to your abode through the northern door." The Lord agreed. Henceforth, a festival for Moksha is also celebrated on the Ekadashis in this month hence the name Mokshadotsav.
A divo of sarsav and sesame seed oil is lighted. A small murti of the Lord is then placed in a palanquin and devotionally taken on a procession circumambulating the mandir. He is then brought into the mandap (hall) through the northern door and placed on a seat. Pujan is offered using the 16 pujadravyas while chanting stotras. He is then placed in the palanquin. And after two circumambulations reinstalled in the mandir.
Through these 3 festivals, Dhanurmaas provides an opportunity to offer extra devotion to the Lord. Today, the 'Mokshadotsav' festival is celebrated by offering 'naivedya' (food).
The Vedas and other scriptures in the Adhyayan festival are today replaced by other books, texts, writing material and other objects such as toys and musical instruments.
This period is considered inauspicious (kamurta) for social activities. The rishis were aware that throughout the year, man is engrossed in mundane activities and therefore overcome by his 'swabhavas' - base instincts. Therefore they enjoined one month in which he would withdraw from his mundane activities to attain inner peace by engaging in devotional activities like: listening to spiritual discourses, singing kirtans and service, for bliss.
The 'Satsangijivanam' (4.59.1,2) elaborates how this festival should be celebrated.
It is also said that Lord
Krishna studied during this month. Vaishnav Sampradaya's scripture,
'Pushti Prakash Seva Pranaalika' elaborates the bhakti rituals during
this period. The Vaishnav pandits believe that, since the days are short
during this period, Lord Krishna had to take the cows to pasture early.
Therefore with this underlying sentiment, he is awakened earlier and
offered 'Rajbhog' so that he is not delayed in taking the cows. Additionally,
he is given a small bundle containing a variety of snacks. In Nathdwara
the Rajbhog arti is performed prior to sunrise. Excepting this, all
Vaishnav mandirs perform the Rajbhog before 7.30 a.m. In the Swaminarayan
Sampradaya every early morning it is a bhakti tradition for devotees
to flock to mandirs during Dhanurmaas to sing dhun between Mangala and
Shrungar artis. Many also bring freshly made sweets to offer to the
Lord which is then distributed to the devotees as prasad.
|| Dhanurmas | Photo Gallery ||
© 1999, Bochasanwasi Shree Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha, Swaminarayan Aksharpith