In the rich spiritual traditions of Hinduism, a sacred occasion unfolds every three years, bringing an aura of sanctity and devotion in its wake. This special event, known as “Adhika Maas” or the Extra Month, adds a spiritually significant interval to the Hindu lunar calendar, turning it into a 13-month year. Marked by intensified spiritual practices, acts of benevolence, and reflection, Adhika Maas holds profound meaning for devotees, allowing them to deepen their faith and nurture their souls.
Rooted in the ancient Hindu texts and calendars, Adhika Maas carries forward the essence of spirituality, selflessness and introspection, just as it has for centuries.
The ebb and flow of time in the Hindu calendar usually consists of 12 months. However, the emergence of a 13th month every 3 years in the Hindu lunar calendar gives rise to Adhika Maas. This sacred addition presents devotees with an opportunity to intensify spiritual practices, connect deeper with the divine force, and accumulate spiritual merit through noble deeds. During this month, also known as Purushottam Maas, Lord Vishnu is worshiped more than ever before as the supreme being who transcends time and sustains the universe. The emergence of this auspicious month is considered profoundly significant in the Hindu tradition.
Adhika Maas allows devotees to break free from the cycle of mundane routine and immerse themselves fully in spiritual sadhana. It is seen as a period of great spiritual potency when one can dissolve ego, overcome negative karma, and realize the higher truths. The scriptures extol the glory of Adhika Maas as the month that can liberate one from the bonds of worldly life. Due to the additional duration, devotees get more time to engage in reciting holy mantras, singing bhajans, performing puja, undertaking pilgrimages, chanting Lord Vishnu's names, holding satsangs, and doing charitable works for the welfare of humanity.
The Hindu lunar calendar is based on the cycles of the moon and has 12 months amounting to 354 days in a year. However, a solar calendar year has 365 days. This creates a difference of 11 days between the two calendars each year.
To compensate for this difference, an extra month is inserted into the lunar calendar every 3 years. The calculations are based on the relative motions of the sun and moon and intricate astronomical parameters provided in ancient Hindu texts.
As per the calculations, when the sun does not transit into a new zodiac sign on a new moon, the month is repeated. The repeated month is termed Adhika Maas. The extra month realigns the lunar calendar with the tropical zodiac and seasons.
Adhika Maas can occur in any month of the Hindu calendar. However, it is most likely to occur between March and May. The complex rules ensure that important festivals and spiritual events occur during the appropriate seasons each year.
In this manner, Adhika Maas serves as a vital calibration tool for the Hindu lunar calendar, upholding the cosmic order and significance of sacred observances.
Adhika Maas encourages devotees to immerse themselves completely in spiritual practices and noble deeds. Hindu scriptures place great emphasis on deriving maximum punya or spiritual merit from each moment during this holy month.
Charity and Benevolence: One of the hallmarks of Adhika Maas is donations and charity work. Giving alms to the poor, supporting cow shelters, feeding the needy and making donations to temples and Brahmins become highly significant acts. By alleviating the suffering of others through charity, devotees also purify their own souls.
Fasting and Inner Cleansing: Observing fasting rituals is common during Adhika Maas. By abstaining from certain foods, devotees aim to detox and purify their bodies as well as sharpen their inner focus. Fasting disciplines both body and mind, allowing devotees to reconnect with their spiritual purpose.
Daily Rituals and Worship: Adhika Maas emphasizes increasing one’s daily spiritual rituals like puja, prayers, yoga, meditation and mantra chanting. Visiting temples and holy sites also holds spiritual importance. The month is also ideal for performing shradh rituals to pay homage to ancestors.
Certain guidelines serve as a moral compass for devotees to make the most of the sanctity of Adhika Maas:
Pause Material Pursuits: Worldly activities like initiating new property purchases, weddings and other materialistic pursuits are avoided during this month. This allows for a single-minded focus on spirituality.
Truth and Compassion: Adhere to non-violence in thought, word and action. Refrain from falsehoods, harming living beings and negative thoughts that pollute the mind.
Intensify Spiritual Efforts: Channel energies towards spiritual endeavors that bring one closer to the divine force.
The holy month is ideal for pursuing a diverse range of spiritual activities to immerse oneself fully in bhakti and jnana.
Reciting pastimes of Lord Krishna: Reading and listening to stories of Krishna’s divine exploits from the Puranas and Upanishads is considered highly auspicious. His life shows the path of dharma.
Study Scriptures: Deep study of holy texts like the Bhagavad Gita, Ramayana and Mahabharata provides answers about the meaning of life and the nature of the Divine.
Chanting Mantras: Chanting mantras like the Vishnu Sahasranama and Hare Krishna Mahamantra invokes divine vibrations and spiritualized the atmosphere.
Nurture Nature: Planting trees and caring for the environment reminds us of the interconnectedness of all life forms and our duty as custodians of the planet.
Serving Society: Donating books to schools, distributing food, blankets or medicines to the underprivileged makes Adhika Maas spiritually rewarding.
Every three years, the auspicious arrival of Adhika Maas opens up a gateway to enhanced spiritual progress. This sacred time grants Hindus an opportunity to reflect upon the purpose of life, show compassion towards fellow beings, renew their connection with God and accrue immense punya. By making the most of this spiritually charged period, devotees reorient their lives in alignment with dharma and divinity. Beyond its religious significance, Adhika Maas serves as a reminder of the sanctity of time itself and inspires human beings to elevate themselves.