The period from Pushya PoorNima (the full moon in the month of Pushya) to Maagha Poornima is the time most ideal for undertaking maagha snaana. This bath is very potent and can fetch a lot of benefits. It is best if the bath is completed before sunrise, when the stars are still twinkling, medium if it happens after the stars have vanished, and inferior if sun has risen. The procedure to be followed is as follows:
Chant the sankalpa (resolution) mantra :
maagha snaanamidam puNyam snaasyEham dEva maadhava |
tIrthasyaasya jalE nityamiti sankalpa chEtasi ||
माघस्नानमिदं पुण्यं स्नास्येऽहं देव माधव ।
तीर्थस्यास्य जले नित्यं इति संकल्प चेतसि ॥
Start the bath. During the bath, chant the following mantra
dukha daaridrya naashaaya shrIviShNOstOShaNaaya cha |
makarasthE ravou maaghE govindaachyuta maadhava |
snaanEnaanEna mE dEva yathOkta phAladO bhava ||
दुख दारिद्र्य नाशाय श्रीविष्णॊस्तॊषणाय च ।
मकरस्थॆ रवौ माघॆ गोविन्दाच्युत माधव ।
स्नानॆनानॆन मॆ दॆव यथॊक्त फलदॊ भव ॥
After the bath is over, offer an arghya to the Lord within the Sun with the following mantra
savitrE prasavitrE cha parandhaama jalE mama |
tvattEjasaa paribhraShTam paapam yaatu sahasradhaa ||
सवित्रॆ प्रसवित्रॆ च परन्धाम जलॆ मम ।
त्वत्तॆजसा परिभ्रष्टं पापं यातु सहस्रधा ॥
People who are eligible to offer tarpana to their ancestors should do so.
Since the weather is likely to be cold it is very tempting to warm oneself by sitting before a fire either before the bath or after it. This should not be done!
During maagha maasa, one should also attempt to donate things to deserving brahmins. The most appropriate items are firewood, rugs, blankets, bricks, footwear, warm clothes, food, golden items etc. One should also attempt to donate a mixture of sesame and sugar in the proportion of 3:1.
In the Vayu purAna, Chaturmukha Brahma outlines to Narada the benefits of maagha snaana as follows:
brahmagnam vaa pitRughnam vaa gOdhnam bhrUNahananam tatha |
trIghnam suraapam mitraghnam stEyinam gurutalpagam || 32 ||
EvamaadIni paapani kurvaaNamapi naarada |
praatah snaanam punaatIti maagho garjati garjati || 38 ||
The maagha maasa proclaims to the whole world that maagha snaana can cleanse us of grave sins like killing a brahmin, ones own parents, a cow, a woman, a friend and destroying a foetus. Also, it removes horrendous sins accumulated from acts like stealing, lusting after guru’s wife etc.
Whenever possible one should take baths taken in holy places like the banks of the ganga river, Pushakara, PrayAg, kurukshetra, danDa tIrtha (a famous stream that Acharya Madhva created with his danDa or stick). But what should one do if there is no river close by? One should look for alternatives like rivulets, streams or wells. If nothing is available then one should at least take a bath in one’s one home at the crack of dawn with the understanding that one is bathing in a holy spot and performing abhishekha to the Lord. Even this small token pleases the merciful Lord.
The last 3 days of maagha maasa are called antya puShkariNI. If taking a ceremonial bath on all days during maagha maasa is not possible, people should make an effort to at least do so during these 3 days. This does not mean that people who can easily take ceremonial baths (like those residing on the banks of rivers) can skip the remaining days and take a bath only on the last 3 days! Short-cuts and exceptions are provided by shAstras only to address extraordinary circumstances where it is humanly impossible for somebody to perform an action in the prescribed manner. If it is possible then it must be done! Puranas warn us that people who have the ability and opportunity to take ceremonial baths during maagha maasa but do not do so will become ghosts and remain like that until praLaya (the great deluge when the Universe is wiped out).
Let us all join together and perform this holy maagha snaana to cleanse ourselves of our sins and enhance our merits. Let us do so with the sole intention of pleasing the patron deity of maagha maasa Lord Madhava, who is enshrined in the heart of bharAti ramaNa mukhya-prANa, the inner controller of our beloved rAyaru.
- Compiled by : Raghunandana Sharma & Hunsur Sriprasad