The Indian tradition is based on the movement of the Sun and Moon in the sky. Timekeeping relies on the Panchang, which is a lunar-solar calendar. This means it’s based on the movements of both the Sun and Moon.
A lunar month lasts for 29.53 days, a lunar year or Chandravarsha lasts for 254.36 days, and a solar year lasts for 365 days. Therefore, there is a difference of 11 days between these lunar and solar years every year. Over three years, this difference accumulates to 30 days. Hence, after every three years, an extra lunar month is added. Specifically, after 32 months, 16 days, and 8 hours, an extra month is added, which is referred to as an Adhik Maas or Malamas.
During this month, there is no solar transit, which means the sun does not change its zodiac sign. Therefore, this month is considered inauspicious for conducting sacred rituals. The Padma Purana and Malamasa Mahatmya state:
अयं तु अधिकमासः अस्ति व्यपेत रवि असंक्रमः ।
मलिनो अयम् अनर्हो अस्ति शुभकर्मणि सर्वदा ॥
– पद्मपुराण , मलमासमाहात्मय
Even though during the Adhik Masa, we do not perform any auspicious activities such as weddings, housewarming ceremonies, buying new vehicles or homes, etc. God gave his name to this extra month and scriptures said that the qualities of God are found in this Malamasa, and the Purushottama Mahatmya confirms this with the following verse:
अस्मै समर्पिताः सर्वे ये गुणा मयि संस्थिताः ।
पुरुषोत्तमेति यन्नाम प्रथितं लोकवेदयोः ॥
– पुरुषोत्तममास माहात्म्य
The word Purushottam has a significant meaning. It is commonly understood to mean ‘the best person,’ which refers to God. However, another meaning is ‘a person who embodies the best qualities.’
Now, this name given for a time frame or a month which means a month that is capable of developing our best qualities, and which can be helpful in our self-development, reflection, or soul purpose is called ‘Purushottam Maas’.
This month provides an opportunity for us to become the best version of ourselves. Uttam means best, and Purush means self, thus the first benefit of Purushottam is that the energy pattern of the cosmos during this month is such that we can attain excellence.
The Purushottam month also works in another way, which is to create balance. This month is designed to balance the Solar and Lunar year, so the energy of this month is all about balance. Balancing what? Well, the Sun is known as the Atma (Soul), and the Moon is known as the Man (Mind). This month can help recalibrate our mind and align it with our soul purpose.
Therefore, this is the month for balancing our mind, body, and soul. Another balance during this month is the balance between Efforts (Drisht) and Luck (Adrisht). Adhik Maas is the time to bring about changes in our destiny through conscious efforts. Devi Bhagavat states that the inauspicious phase of planets that influence unexpected results can be corrected 10 times more efficiently during this month.
Mahabharata also mentions that when the Pandavas lost everything in the game of dice, they spent time in the forest with Lord Krishna’s arrival. They asked Lord Krishna what they should do to reduce their difficulties, and in his dislike or little Leela of anger, Lord Krishna replied that the Purushottam Maas was created to reduce difficulties for the next three years. If you do not make use of this month, then you add to your own suffering.
In conclusion, Purushottam Maas is an auspicious month that helps us to restore balance in our lives and make conscious efforts towards our destiny.
तद् वियोग परि क्लिष्टै: न ज्ञातः पुरुषोत्तमः ।
युष्याभि किं प्रकर्तव्यम् अदृष्टम् अवलम्ब्यताम् ॥
– श्रीकृष्ण भगवान, महाभारत
So the best time to eliminate misfortunes written in our destiny is Adhik Maas. Not only does this month help eliminate misery, but it is also the best time to earn merit( punya) or perform good deeds for future peace, happiness, and prosperity. Brihat Narad Purana states that just as sowing a single seed in the field produces hundreds of grains, similar to this, performing virtuous deeds during Purushottam Maas yields countless times more results.
सीता निक्षिप्त बीजा निवर्धन्ते कोटिशो यथा ।
तथा कोटिगुणं पुण्यं कृतं मे पुरुषोत्तमे ॥
– बृहत् नारदपुराण
After understanding the importance of this month, a question arises about what to do for soul upliftment or spiritual growth if we cannot perform any auspicious activities during this time. According to Narad Purana.
व्यजतोऽपि कृते तस्मिन् मासे पुरुषोत्तमे ।
उपवासेन दानेन स्नाने च जपादिना ॥
during Purushottam Maas, fasting, charity, bathing, mantra recitation, meditation, or any virtuous activity done with or without knowledge yields extensive positive Karma, destroys the sins of many lifetimes, and multiplies merit manifold times.
It is necessary to understand this verse in detail. Firstly, it is stated that there are no particular methods to follow while performing these activities. One should perform these actions, whether done intentionally or unintentionally. The most important aspect is to avoid any restrictions or rules on how to perform these activities during this month and perform them with any excuse. Keep this in mind while performing virtuous deeds during Purushottam Maas.
The first remedy given is – Upvas or fasting.
It is emphasized that fasting is essential for the body, mind, and senses’ restraint. Fasting means refraining from food or eating once a day. Remember, the importance here is the sense of purification. Anshan or hunger strike and fasting are different. Sense purification is crucial here. Another meaning of fasting is sitting with a guru in a meditative state and listening to their teachings.
After this, it is mentioned to perform charity, which can be as simple as doing a kind gesture to make someone happy, helping someone physically, or giving compliments. Purification of wealth is also crucial here.
The next step is cleanliness – personal hygiene and purity of the body. Snana or bathing means going to specific places like the Ganges or Manasarovar for spiritual cleansing.
Lastly, it is recommended to perform mental activities like mantra recitation and meditation. Chanting mantras purifies the mind, and meditation purifies the intellect and soul.
In short, performing these four activities during Adhik Maas, or the extra month, creates a balance between the mind (moon) and soul (sun) and eliminates past and future obstacles caused by bad karma. Following any practice, be it the ones mentioned above or others like mindfulness, meditation, or chanting, during this unique month a cosmic energy that is available during this month can enhance our overall wellbeing, bringing us closer to our best selves. With this auspicious wish, I end.