Donald Rumsfeld, the then US defense secretary had famously said in 2002, “There are known knowns – things we know we know; there are known unknowns – things we know we don’t know; and finally, there are unknown unknowns – things we don’t know we don’t know”. The Chhath Puja is one such ‘unknown unknowns’ many of us in our modern generations don’t know what we don’t know about it. However, its time to start knowing about Chhath and start observing it, if we didn’t do it till now – forget all boundaries of ethnicity, region, caste, creed, sect and faith, because it’s a festival for the essence and existence of your own life. Hence, pick your pen and tick the check box of Chhath among all the must-do things of your life.
There is something unknown about Chhath that connects each of its devotees to the festival in a mysterious way; maybe its in the flickering lights of Diyas lining the dusky riverside, or in the morning dew caressing your souls while you walk down the sacred ghats, or in the stillness of the dawn calming your senses with its compelling sacredness, or in the rainbow of colours that brightens the landscape through a holy mix of the humans with nature, or maybe its in the mystical melodies of Sharda Sinha, whose songs, over the years, have become synonymous with the holy occasion, a sort of its mellifluous alter ego.
Whatever may connect the devotees with the event, the fact is that Chhath is not only the most environment-friendly festival of India but is also the most scientific one. The scientific dimensions of this festivals are not properly studied and explored, though materials are available that throw light on the festival’s mysticism and help to de-mystify its rigorous rituals.
I went through the major festivals of India, whether it is Holi, Diwali, Eid, Bakrid, Christmas, Nauroz or Baishakhi and came round to the notion that though all these festivals are organized around the concept of religious devotion, purity and rituals, meant for peace, inner joy and community celebration, none of them contain methods for natural healing process of the body, mind and the soul the way Chhath does. That’s what makes Chhath not only a different festival but a must-do thing for everyone.
Apparently what emerges just as a worship of the Sun god and his wife Usha – the leitmotif in all the songs around the festival- the reality is that Chhath is traditionally organized around a scientific mechanism focusing on complete rejuvenation of the body, mind and soul through its meticulously planned rituals and processes. It not only activates the hidden energies of the mind and the body but also helps in detoxifying our existence by breaking the toxins accumulated in bodies over years of our chaotic living.
Sun is the source of all energy on the earth. Even the food that we eat, as a primary source of our energy, is also produced by the energy of the sun. Sun-ray is also believed to contain natural healing properties that not only provide vital nutrients for life but also heal many diseases. Thus, the festival, which is regarded as worship for the health, prosperity and all-round wellness, is basically organized around ideas of going back to the nature for drawing the original energy that sustains all forms of life and for rejuvenating the self. Once the self is rejuvenated through detoxification of the body and the mind, then wealth, happiness prosperity and well-beings follow in immeasurable bounties.
Among one of our various fallacies, is the belief that scientific facts are only those facts that fall in the realm of the known knowledge. As suggested above, there are many ‘unknown unknowns’, which might still fall within the ambit of the scientific rules. Chhath is one such ‘unknowns’ which, though mystic to us, had been fully understood by the wise men of our ancient society and they devised the rituals blending the Pranic and Yogic philosophies accordingly.
The Yogic philosophy believes that the human body is a very sophisticated energy conducting channel that receives electric energies of specific wave-lengths from the sun and radiates this ‘bio-electricity’ down the body to energies few specific energy centres, called ‘Chakras’ which energizes the body-mind complex. This process is described by experts as ‘Conscious Photoenergization Process’, which is nothing but a conscious cosmic solar energy inhalation technique. Hence, Chhath can be understood as a set of algorithms for a conscious cosmic solar energy inhalation technique, which can be further enhanced under specific circumstances. The rituals of Chhath is nothing else but preparing oneself to those specific circumstance.
Observing Chath, which elaborates a sequence of flow of bio-electricity to turn our bodies into powerhouses of energies, can be understood in following ways:
Cleanliness: It creates the right surroundings for a spiritual experience of the mind that sets the mood for the process of photoenerziation.
Fasting: It leads to purification of thoughts by eliminating the toxicity born of food, leading to enhanced concentration in the Vratis for the process.
Use of environmental-friendly materials for Pooja: It again purifies the ambiance by eliminating the chances of physical toxicity born as a result of use of non-biodegradable materials.
Carrying the Puja materials to Ghats by self: It’s a process of self-mortification through which the Vratis develop a sense of grit, determination and instinct by surrendering oneself completely in the devotion. It helps the Vratis in directing their physical powers to the divine cause.
Water-immersion: Immersing and standing in the navel-deep water prevents the leak of energy and helps the Pranic (psychic) energy move upwards the Sushumna, the central Nadi (psychic channel) of the living bodies.
Retinal action: Retina is a subtle photoelectric material that is known to emit energy when subjected to lights. By looking at the setting and the rising sun of certain wavelengths while standing in the water, the Vratis’s retina emits subtle energies that flow through the nerves attached to the brain and these bundles of photo-bio-electricity activate the pineal glands attached to the brain which is situated in close proximity of two other glands – pituitary and hypothalamus – which together forms the Triveni of glands. This flow of photo energy among the Triveni glands stabilizes and ensures uniform distribution of the Pranic energy, giving the Vratis a sense of peace and stability, leading to accumulation of high creative energy in them.
Cosmic powerhouse: This flow of energy along the Triveni glands and its further radiation down the line polarizes the spine of the Vratis whose body transform into a cosmic powerhouse of energy. It purifies and rejuvenates the gross (i.e. the 5 physical elements of earth, fire, water, air and sky) and the subtle (i.e. intelligence, mind and false-ego) energies that transforms the Vrati’s body and mind into a powerhouse of vigour, immunity and mental strength.
The above photoenergization process, through the conscious inhalation of cosmic energy, had been mastered by our ancient sages who practiced this process in deep jungles and mountains, creating and storing huge bundles of energy that helped them survive in the wilderness without food. After all, what we require for survival is energy, not food, which is a source of toxicity in the body.
The Imperial Medical College, London had declared in 1922 that solar energy is the ideal food for the mankind. But, the technique of its intake was not elaborated. Even Maharshi Yoganada in his book ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’ mentioned several Yogis who survived many days without food, and through interviews, he came to know that the secret behind that was solar energy whose intake they had mastered through undisclosed techniques. Chhath is one such technique.
Therefore, Chhath is nothing but a process of conscious cosmic energy inhalation technique under specific circumstances (rituals) that helps in achieving the goal of rejuvenation and detoxification of body and mind in a quick and better manner. Since, performed twice a year, this is advisable even for those who practice constant yoga and Pranayams techniques. Chhath will enhance the benefits many times.
The bottomline: go for your work-outs and sweat it out in the gym but you wouldn’t get the benefits as you’d do if you perform the Chhath puja. So, folks! Pack up your Armani and Oxfords, and you cool ladies! Slip your business suits in the cupboards for few days and put on the yellow dhotis for a 36-hour rejuvenation plan that would detoxify you body and mind like anything. All you need is a bit of grit and determination. Do it and you’ll feel good. Karke dekho, achha lagta hai. Don’t think it’s for those Biharis or the Poorvanchalis. It’s for YOU.
Do you have what it takes to be a Vrati?