Blessings on Sakat Chauth
Sakat Chauth is dedicated to Goddess Sakat, and in honour of Her great compassion and to ensure that their children are always healthy, women worship Sakat and Lord Ganesha with full devotion and observe the tapas of fasting to keep both Sakat and Ganesha at the centre of their thoughts throughout the day.
Today, fasting has become a great trend around the world. In any bookstore you will find volumes of literature extolling one fast or another – juice fasts, water fasts, fruit fasts, and so on. Fasting is frequently heralded as the “miracle weight loss” for those who have tried all else without success.
However, while fasting is certainly of great health benefit, to define it merely as a type of “diet” is to undermine one of the oldest and most sacred spiritual practices. Fasting has been used for millennia by the rishis, saints and sages in order to purify their bodies, minds and souls and to bring every cell of their bodies into connection with the Divine.
We see that fasts have become merely routine for so many; the spiritual aspect has been lost in many cases. People observe fast because they’ve done it for years, or because their parents did it, or because they were instructed to do so. It is a rare and truly divine devotee who remembers, throughout the course of the day, that aspect of the divine for whom they are fasting.
Indian culture and Hindu tradition are meant to bring us into close contact with the Divine. They are meant to open up the infinite, glorious channel between us and God. These rituals were given to help us step out of the mundane world and re-realize our divine connection.
I heard a beautiful story of a great saint who could cure lepers of their oozing wounds. One day, a very sick man came to the saint and she carefully laid her hands over his gaping wounds, and they each instantaneously healed beneath the touch of her divine hands. However, when she sent him away, she had left one wound untreated. Her devotees questioned her, asking why. Since she clearly had the ability to cure all the wounds, why would she leave one bleeding? Her answer was beautifully apt. She said, “Because it is that one bleeding wound which will keep him calling out to God.”
Our lives are extremely busy and filled with so many small errands, appointments and pleasures that we rarely find the time to remember God. This is not wrong. It is human nature. We are very busy the rest of the time, and we mostly find ourselves turning to God when we need Him.
So, when our rishis and saints urged people to fast, part of the reason was to remember God. As we are hungry, we remember, “Oh, yes, today I am fasting.” This remembrance that we are fasting then makes us remember God. Even if we cannot take the day off work to sit in puja or meditation, the constant feeling of mild hunger in our bodies will still keep us connected to the reason for the fast, and thus we will be reminded of God throughout the day.
The ideal is to remember God all the time. The ideal is that He should be ever with us, ever such an integral part of our minute-to-minute, moment-to-moment existence that we never feel separate. That is the beauty of the fast – even unconsciously, you are reminded every moment of God.
With love and blessings.
In the service of God and humanity,
Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati