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Mauni amavasya: The day of practising silence

Mauni amavasya: The day of practising silence
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The amavasya of Magh month is known as the Mauni amavasya. The day is also celebrated as the birthday of Manu rishi. It is believed, Lord Brahma gave origination to Maharaja Manu and queen Shatrupa. Hence, this day is considered as the beginning of the universe creation.

The fifteenth day of the dark fortnight of Magha is well known as Mauni amavasya. The Magha is considered as religiously most sacred among other Indian months. The word Mauni means silence, on this day complete silence is observed. If this date falls on Monday, then its auspiciousness increases all the more. This is also the day of a dip in the holy Ganga.

In the year 2014, Mauni amavasya will be celebrated on 30 January. On this day, Sun and Moon enter into Capricorn sign because of the transit. The significance of this amavasya increases when the yoga for Capricorn, Sun and Moon is formed. Taking bath in holy rivers on this day is believed to give fruitful results.

According to some scholar, Maun Vrat should be observed on this day. Maun (silent) Vrat means to control all our senses. People take the resolution of Maun Vrat for a day, or a month, or for one year. It depends on a person for how long he wants to observe silence. Taking bath in holy rivers, along with fasting is considered very auspicious. Hence, it is believed that a person should observe Maun Vrat and then have a bath. After completing the bath etc. A person observing Maun fast should go to a peaceful place and perform mediation. This purifies the mind of an individual. The soul gets connected with Lord. On the day of Mauni amavasya, a person can perform homas, donations etc after bathing and meditations. It is believed that by doing so the sins are removed and people get relief from enemies. On Mauni amavasya, bathing in holy rivers give virtues that are obtained by performing hundred thousand Rajasuya yagna. Its benefits are equal to Ashwamedha yagya.

The Amavasya and Purnima of Magh month celebrated as a festival on this day. The places where Amrit was dropped, during Samudra Manthan between gods and demons are considered sacred for having bath.

On this day a person should avoid performing  wrong works and try to make his mind strong. He should focus on activities that can help him to keep his mind peaceful and make the body strong.
After this, person should worship Brahma Dev and perform the Gayatri japa. Donations should be done with faith and chanting of mantra. The donations include giving of cow, gold, clothes, bed and other useful things.

Like Kartik bathing, Magha bathing is also highly rewarding, and so, many aspirants live on the banks of Ganga throughout the month and daily enjoy bathing in the sacred river. The month long bathing and fasting end with the observance of Mauni amavasya. On Mauni amavasya, Lord Vishnu is worshipped and the peepal tree is circumambulated. In the Bhavad Gita, Lord Krishna has said ‘Among the trees, I am aswattha’. Aswattha or peepal (ficus religiosa) is a holy tree.

The observance of piety and devotion on this day at Prayag, where the Ganga, the Yamuna, and the Saraswati confluent, is highly meritorious. Aspirants come and live here for a full month and practice prescribed rituals and ceremonial sacrifice. This is known as ‘Kalpa-vas’. Through the whole month there are religious discourses such as kirtan, bhajan and satsang. The aspirants take full advantage of all these. They take a simple one meal a day or eat only fruit and drink some milk. Brahmins and others deserving persons are given gifts, food, raiment, in charity. Thus, they earn a lot of spiritual merit by practising religious ceremonies.

Apart from its festive and religious import, Mauni amavasya is a call of the inner self, of the need for initiating an inner ‘dialogue’ with oneself, of the need to start the spiritual journey. Swami Sivananda sees the vow of silence as one of the basic spiritual disciplines for the evolution of the ‘divine life’ of man, starting with the mauna of speech which will lead to mauna of mind. Mauni Amavasya is an opportune time to learn to control the vikshepa, freeing ourselves of distractions so that we can focus within.

In all religious spiritual traditions whether Christian, Hindu, Islamic or Buddhist, the voluntary act of non-speaking is an integral part of religion, being practiced in the form of silent retreats, vows of silence or silent prayer. Mauna is described by Adi Shankaracharya as one of the three essential attributes of a Sanyasi along with balya or childlike state and panditya or wisdom. Both Acharya Vinoba Bhave and Mahatma Gandhi observed periods of silence in their spiritual practice. Vinoba Bhave even observed a year long silence in the year 1974-75. Mauna is a state beyond speech and thought, it is ‘living without the ego-sense’. Mauna is not different from the classic definition of Yoga as given in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras: ‘Yogas citta vritti nirodha’ – ‘Yoga is the cessation of mental fluctuations.’

The legend has it that after creating the devas, asurs, pitras etc, Lord Brahma was completely exhausted and decided to take a break.

He sat ruminating about the direction his work had taken till now, when suddenly, from his body, emerged a creature who looked a lot like him.

This was the first man, Swayambhu Manu (born-on-his-own) who was born with the Kaya of his father Brahma (ka-Brahma, ya-form). Interestingly, the same incident is noted in Bible as - ‘Man was created in the image of his maker!’
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