The vrat-katha ritual liberates devotees from worries, sorrows and the cycle of rebirth, writes SATISH KUMAR MATHUR
Satyanarayana Puja, also known as Satyanarayana Vrat-Katha, is a popular religious ritual to seek Vishnu’s blessings for prosperity, happiness and universal well-being. Satyanarayana, an avatar of Vishnu, is the embodiment of sat, truth of existence; chit, universal wisdom, and ananda, bliss. He is transcendental, eternal and universal consciousness. He fulfils the desires of his devotees who worship Him with sacrifice and pure devotion. Vrat is an inevitable prerequisite for performing Satyanarayana Katha.
Vrat means vow or a firm determination to serve God with devotion and pure mind, free from vasanas, desires and negativities. During the puja, kathas, stories are narrated to highlight the importance of virtuous conduct and spiritual merit.
Explaining the significance of the vrat-katha to Sage Narada, Vishnu said that it liberates a devotee from sins attributed to his karmas in Kali Yuga; alleviates sufferings, and leads him to the path of moksha. Vrat can be performed on any day with purity in thoughts, words and action, followed by offering of food and charity to the needy. Charity, done with nishkama karma, desireless action, is bound to spread love, harmony and joy.
Power of thought: Thought energy, emanating from pure consciousness, creates its own field that influences the environment and the minds of human beings. Positive benign thoughts remove hurdles and help us achieve success in our endeavours. When devotee Shatanand vowed to perform Satyanarayana Puja, positive energy was released that helped him collect more alms. Similarly, a woodcutter’s profits rose fourfold on the day he vowed to perform the vratkatha. It is said that once you vow to perform a divine task, it gets accomplished through God’s grace.
Vaish, a businessman suffered for not performing the Satyanarayana Puja that he had promised to do for having been blessed with an offspring. So years later, during one of his business trips, Vaish was arrested for no fault of his. While in prison, he had a harrowing experience and his family also suffered. When his wife Lilavati performed the puja, Vishnu appeared in the king’s dream and asked him to free Vaish from confinement.
When God, in the guise of a sadhu, asked Vaish what was loaded in his boat, Vaish lied to him and said his boat was laden with leaves. The sadhu said, “It may be true as you said,” and disappeared. When Vaish found that his boat was actually filled with leaves instead of consignment, he began to cry and repent.
His wise son-in-law sensed that it was the curse of the sadhu. So, they searched him out and sought forgiveness. Vaish promised Vishnu that he will never speak a lie and will perform the puja regularly.
Prasadam, consecrated food: One of the kathas tells us that it is mandatory to partake the prasadam at the end of puja, and also share it with all participants, friends and relatives.
Food offered to God raises the collective consciousness of the environment. Prasadam is sacrosanct. It is a token of God’s grace, love, peace, kindness and blessings. The usual prasadam ingredients like fruits, milk, honey, ghee, sugar and wheat flour provide nutrition to the body.
King Tungadhwaja’s wealth was destroyed when he earned God’s wrath for refusing to partake of the prasadam offered by the cowherds in the jungle where he strayed while hunting. When he returned to his palace, he found there was some trouble there; the king remembered his omission. He immediately rushed to the forest where the cowherds had assembled, paid his obeisance to God and partook of the prasadam. On his return, he found normalcy restored in the palace.
At the end of the Satyanarayana Puja, Sage Sootji, disciple of Veda Vyasa, informed the 88,000 sages who had gathered at Nemisharayana, on the banks of the Gomti River, that all the aforementioned devotees passed their life in worship and vrat for Vishnu, rigidly followed yama and niyama, and ultimately attained salvation.
They achieved eminent positions in their next birth before going to Vaikuntha. It is believed that in Kali Yuga, the puja liberates devotees from worries, sorrows and the cycle of rebirth.
It is said that the puja should be performed every month in the presence of family members and friends, so that the positive vibrations inspire them to inculcate good values for universal wellbeing and radiate purity and peace to reduce their bad karmas.