Adhik Maas
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       =======  Understanding Hinduism  =======

Adhik-Maas (Extra Lunar Month)
Contributed by Acharya Satyam Sharma Shastri
Montagne-Blanche Village, Mauritius

Astronomy

The lunar calendar adds one extra month every third year. This extra month is known by various names: Adhik Maas, Mal Maas, Purushottam Maas, Malimmacha. This is the thirteenth month of the lunar calendar.

Just as there is the lunar year with the extra month (Adhik Maas), so is there a lunar year with a diminished or reduced month, with only eleven months in the year. The lunar year comprising of eleven months only is very rare indeed. It occurs once in 140 years or once in 190 years. But the extra month or Adhik Maas comes every third year. Adhik Maas adopts the name of the month that follows adhik Maas.

Whenever Sankranti does not fall within one month then Adhik Maas occurs. When there are two Sankrantis within one month then it becomes the lunar year with one reduced month (11 months in the year).

Vasishtha Siddhanta (the treatise of Vasishtha) mentions that Adhik Maas or the extra lunar month occurs after every 32 months, 16 days and 8 Ghadis (a Ghadi is a period of 24 minutes and 60 Ghadis equal 24 hours).

It is a fact that the solar year is made up of 365 days and about 06 minutes and the lunar year is made up of 354 days. Thus both the solar and the lunar years have gaps of 11 days, 1 hour, 31 minutes and 12 seconds. As this gap increases each year, it approximates in three years to one month.

[Note: The moon takes about 27.3 days to make one complete orbit around the earth. The earth orbits around the sun once every 365.2422 days (= earth’s orbital speed of 29.79 km per second). The earth and the moon in 27.3 days have moved as a system about 1/12 of the ways around the sun. This means that from one full moon to the next full moon, the moon must travel 2.2 extra days before it appears full. This is due to the curve of the earth’s orbit around the sun. The moon is still making one complete orbit (circle) in 27.3 days. But to line up with the earth and sun to become a full moon again it takes 29.531 days.

29.531 day Lunar months = 354.372 days per lunar year. Thus we arrive at a difference of 10.87 days a year between a lunar year and a solar year of 365.2422 days per year.]

 
Religious significance of Adhik Maas

Regarding Adhik Maas (Mal Maas) Hemadri says that Mal Maas Vrat (Adhik Maaas Vrat) is capable of washing away all the sins of people (who observe the Vrat). During this month mukta, nakta, fasting etc are undertaken and garments etc. are distributed to charities. A beautiful story relates to how, in ancient times, through the observance of Mal Maas Vrat, king Nahush was released from all bondage and acquired the throne of Indra (the ruler of gods in heaven).

It is written in the Devi Bhagavat that charitable and meritorious acts and fastings etc. carried out during this Mal Maas (Adhik Maas), inevitably produce results. Just as atomic sized contents within a seed produce a giant and long living Banyan tree, so in the same manner even a little charitable act done during Mal Maas (Adhik Maas) produces big results.

As mentioned before, Mal Maas or Adhik Maas is also known as Purushottama Maas. There is a nice story about this. According to the lunar year, there were only 12 months. Each of the twelve months was assigned to 12 gods. So that the lunar and the solar years do not get out of step with days and seasons, the far-sighted Rishi-Munis calculated and facilitated Adhik Maas (extra month) and shown its importance. But one problem still remained. Each of the 12 months was assigned to 12 different gods. But the 13th extra month was not assigned to any god. Adhik Maas (Mal Maas) felt sadness and approached Lord Vishnu and said that no god was assigned to him (Adhik Maas) and for that reason he was called Mal Maas or Malimmucha. Adhik Maas further spoke to Lord Vishnu: ‘ I am filled with anxiety and I have therefore come to seek your refuge and help.’

Lord Vishnu took pity on him. The Lord (Vishnu) agreed and assigned Adhik Maas to Himself and gave the name Purushottama Maas to this month. Lord Vishnu also said that acquisition of merits during other months through good deeds, japa, austerities etc can be acquired by japa, austerities etc. carried out within this one month. Since then it is known as the Purushottama Maas and acquired greater significance than the other months.

In a book called Purushottama Granth can be found many aspects of the special religious significance of this month. Many people read or listen to this book during Purushottama Maas (Adhik Maas). By reading and listening, high merits are acquired. There are lots of lovely stories connected with the special significance of this month.

It is written in the Bhavishyottar Purana that fasting or eating once a day should commence on the first day of the bright fortnight (Shukla Paksha) and end on the last day of the dark fortnight (Krishna Paksha). According to ability, distribute to charities and do good deeds.

Adhik Maas

The Puranas also sing high praises about Adhik Maas and indicate Puja, readings of scriptures etc. during Adhik Maas. Selfless actions, without the expectations of results, are to be performed during Adhik Maas. Mal Maas (Adhik Maas) is the month for Vishnu puja. The recitation of Srimad Bhagavat Purana and of the Bhagavad Gita during this month produce top meritorious results. In addition to singing and listening to the praises of the Lord (Vishnu), undertake Adhik Maas Vrat also. This Vrat is to begin from the first day and ends on the last day of Adhik Maas. Waking up during the hours of Brahma Muhurta (between 4 am and 6 am), after ablutions, place a murti of Radha-Krisha or Lakshmi-Narayana and perform Sodashopachara puja. If there is a temple nearby then perform puja of whatever deities are usually worshipped therein. During the entire month of Mal Maas Vrat eat Sattvic food (vegetarian meals, milk, fruits, nuts, grains, vegetables). One meal at night is recommended.

It is written in the Bhavishyottar Purana that Sri Krishna Himself has said regarding Adhik Maas Vrat that by carrying out the Vrat with the sole aim of worshipping God, through fasting, cleanliness, charity, puja etc. merits are acquired which produce unfailing results and all sorts of calamities are overcome.
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