We’ve been sending out these newsletters for two months now, and you’ve probably noticed by now that this tradition follows a lunar calendar.
While this is a much more intuitive and easeful way of marking the time, it’s certainly not the most accurate. Months in the lunar calendar only have 28 days. At the end of the year, what do you do with all those missing days?
In the Gregorian calendar, each year we’re left with some extra hours, and every four years we add them together and give ourselves a whole extra day – February 29. In this tradition, we take all those extra days, and every few years give ourselves a whole extra MONTH!
And in fact, we’re in that month right now. Leap months, called Adhika Māsa, are a curious time. They’re sort of an awkward in-between while we wait to get back on our regular schedule. You might have already felt its influence – nothing is wrong per se, but nothing is really moving, either. There’s the energetic sense of waiting in the air right now.
A common misunderstanding is that if we are aligned with the spiritual path, we will always experience perpetual and smooth movement and flow. However, this is not natural. In almost every organic process, there are times where things do not appear to be moving and nothing in particular is happening. This crucial time allows all the pieces to catch up and synchronize with each other. What appears to be an awkward pause is also part of the sacred and natural!
At Living Sanskrit, we had hoped to have our first online courses up by now. Through a series of events, we ended up having to switch over to a whole new software platform, and were recently informed that there’s two critical security bugs that will hopefully be repaired next week, at which point we can continue building the site. Until it’s fixed, all we can do right now is wait… and smile.
Why the smile? This news only confirmed our experience that this entire project is being closely guided by traditional wisdom. Full moons are generally auspicious for new beginnings. However, because Adhika Māsa is an in-between time where everything is catching up to the normal schedule, it is NOT ideal for new beginnings – personal or professional. So it’s just as well that we get to wait until the right time.
So what can we all do during this month? Slow down. Turn inwards. Learn to wait, and even enjoy the waiting. We can remember Lord Viṣṇu, who represents the sustaining power of the universe, and who IS the source and embodiment of dharma. Dharma is the sacred and natural order that holds the entire universe together. Whenever we experience things out of their natural order – we can ground ourselves by remembering the one who IS that order.
Practice: Honoring the Lord of Dharma
There are many forms and names of the Divine. During this time, it is traditional to turn our attention to dharma and its source and protector in the form of Lord Viṣṇu. Some regions worship Him during this time as Nārāyaṇa or as Kṛṣṇa, which is also appropriate.
You may want to perform any of the following suggested practices:
-Invoke His presence by singing His name through devotional songs or chants.
-Recite and/or study the Viṣṇu Sahasranāma, an ancient text that describes His thousand names and attributes.
-Perform pūjā, ritual worship, for Lord Viṣṇu. If you have Him represented in some form on your altar, a simple practice is to make offerings of flowers, flame, or incense.
-Read the Bhagavad Gita, the essential text on yoga and dharma.
-Repeat His mantra, either out loud or silently inside. A common one is Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya. [Note that mantras can not be learned from a book and certainly not an email newsletter. If you have not already chanted this before or received it from your spiritual teacher, we recommend that at minimum you first establish an inner relationship with the deity and ask for blessing and permission to recite the mantra.]
-Make extra time for meditation and spiritual practice this month. Keep your attention inwards as much as possible. Stay aligned with your dharma.