Tridandisvami Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja
[Purusottama Month comes every two years and eight months, in the leap-year. This year, Purusottama Month begins on August 18th (see calendar). You will find a list of the foodstuffs that are prohibited for this month at the bottom of this lecture. This lecture was given by Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja three leap-years ago, at the beginning of his Hari-katha festival in Badger, California, in 1999:]
This is Purusottama Month. Krsna is Purusottama, the Supreme Person, and therefore this month is actually Krsna’s month. Among all the incarnations, Krsna Himself is Purusottama. Therefore, this month is also supreme among all months, as is the month of Kartika. We are also so fortunate to be here in New Vraja, very near to Giriraja-Govardhana. Syama-Kunda and Radha-kunda are also here. All the pastime places of Vrndavana are here, as Vrndavana itself has manifested here. Peacocks are dancing, and so much is reminding us of Sri Vrndavana-dhama.
In India we observe this Purusottama Month in the presence of Purusottama, in His own place, Nilacala, at Jagannath Puri [Purusottama-ksetra]. Devotees spend one month there, observing certain rules and regulations and rising early in the morning at 4:00 AM. Those who want krsna-bhakti, and those who want to observe this Purusottama month, maintain many rules from the beginning of the month.
In India we do not shave, but I am not telling you what to do; it depends on you. Here in the West it is not so strict, because Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja has given some concession to Western devotees. You can follow by always hearing hari-katha and by observing those regulations which you can easily maintain. At least try to wake up very early in the morning, put on tilaka, and perform all sandhya practices [spiritual duties of early morning, noon, and early evening; particularly early morning] If the diksa-mantras have been given to you, then this should be done with all faith and honor.
You should also observe the arati ceremony. You can either perform it yourself, or come here, where we have a temple in Nirguna Prabhu's house and mangala-arati is performed. If the devotees live very far away, they can do arati where they reside. After arati some kirtanas should be performed, as we do here: guru-vandana (prayers), guru-parampara vandana, vaisnava-vandana, and gaura-nityananda vandana, like hari haraye namah krsna yadavaya namah, yadavaya madhavaya kesavaya namah, and then Radha-Krsna vandana. Make arrangements, in the morning or evening, to sing “Jaya radha jaya krsna jaya vrndavana…”, and at the same time perform tulasi-parikrama. Wherever you are, offer some water to Tulasi, even one or two drops, and do tulasi-parikrama and kirtana daily.
Without the mercy of Tulasi, Vrnda-devi, you cannot enter the realm of pure bhakti. This is true for both Vrnda-devi and Yogamaya. Yogamaya arranges all the pastimes of Krsna, Mahaprabhu and so on. In Navadvipa she is Prauddha Yogamaya, and in Vraja, Yogamaya Purnamasi. The Lord’s amorous pastimes in the secluded groves of Vrndavana are especially arranged by Srimati Vrnda-devi. In fact, Vrndavana is named after her. Without the mercy of Vrnda-devi, you cannot enter the realm of service to Sri Sri Radha-Krsna, neither can you enter Vrndavana. Even if you are outwardly in Vrndavana, you may still be in the net of maya. If you want to actually be in Vrndavana, you will have to receive the mercy of Vrnda-devi. Therefore perform parikrama to her form as Tulasi, at least in this month.
Offer all bhoga to Radha-Krsna, Mahaprabhu or your Thakurji. Then, at the time of honoring maha-prasada, recite the jaya-dhvani prayers and:
bhai re! sarira avidya-jala, jadendriya tahe kala,
jive phele visaya-sagare
ta’ra madhye jihva ati, lobhamaya sudurmati,
ta’ke jeta kathina samsare (1)
krsna bada dayamaya, karibare jihva jaya,
sva-prasada-anna dila bhai
sei annamrta pao, radha-krsna-guna gao,
preme daka caitanya-nitai (2)
[“O Brother, this material body is a lump of ignorance, and the senses are a network of paths leading to death. We have fallen into this ocean of material sense enjoyment. Of all the senses the tongue is the most difficult to control and is always very greedy to taste things. But Krsna is so merciful that He gives us His prasada, the remnants from His own mouth, to help us conquer the tongue. This prasada is full of nectar. Take this prasada and glorify Radha and Krsna. With love call for the help of Caitanya and Nitai.” (Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura)]
You should not ‘take’ maha-prasada, and you should not ‘eat’ maha-prasada. You should try to serve it. You should not ‘chant’ harinama; you should serve harinama. You should not ‘hear’ hari-katha, but you should serve hari-katha with your ears. Never go to ‘see’ the Deities. Instead you should think, “I’m going before the Deity so that He may see me.” You cannot see the Deities, but you can pray, “Oh, please see me. Please give me Your mercy. I cannot see You. With these eyes I see You as a statue made of stone, gold, copper or brass.” Krsna is not like this, and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is not like this. Therefore, try to follow these rules and regulations so that this month will be successful.
On Sunday we will make a festival for Giriraja-Govardhana. From today, try to prepare some offerings. Some dry preparations can be made beforehand, and at least 360 preparations should be made. Also, all devotees coming from far away should be hosted with gentle, sweet words. Try to look after their problems – very politely and with sweet words.
Fasting from eggplant, tomatoes, loki, parmal, urad dhal, honey, sesame seeds, mustard seeds and mustard oil for 1 month. In other words, the prohibited foods are the same for Kartik month and Purusottama month.
Yogurt, which is prohibited for this second month of Caturmasya, can be taken in this Purusottama month. This second month of Caturmasya resumes when Purusottama month ends, and again fast from yogurt until the third month of Caturmasya.
Check the calendar to see when Purusottama month ends for your city (just like Ekadasi is different for different cities in the world):