Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Longevity of Union

Today is the Hindu festival of Karwa Chauth in Northern parts of India. This is celebrated as Varalakshmi Vratham in South India on the last Friday of the bright fortnight of the moon in the month of Ashadha, also called Adi, which corresponds to the English months of July-August, when married women fast and offer puja for the longevity of their husbands.

The legend behind the festival is the story of Virvati.
Once there lived a pious woman named Virvati. She was the only sister of seven brothers and she was married to a prince. She used to fast for the welfare and long life of her husband on Karva Chauth.
Young Virvati was a weak and fragile woman and she could not bear hunger. But still she kept the fast. Virvati’s brothers did not like her suffering. But she was not ready to break the fast without watching the rising moon. Virvati’s brothers then thought of a plan to alleviate the pain of their sister. They decided to create the rising moon. For this they created a huge bonfire and put a big screen to make it look like the rising moon.
Virvati saw the fake rising moon created by her brothers and believed it to be the real moon and broke her fast. But before she could consume the entire food a messenger came with the news that her husband met with an accident and will die soon. Realizing her folly she sought the blessing of a old woman who foretold that she will not be widowed and tended to her husband for a year and nourished him back to full health.

For those discerning souls who want to know the deeper significance of this festival and the legend behind it, I dedicate this post. Marriage when viewed from a holistic dimension transcends all physical attributes that one experiences at the mind-body level. While the mind-body level is the platform on which the relationship starts and is very vital throughout one’s life, it is in the merging at the consciousness level that provides lasting peace and happiness. This is easily manifest in our experiences especially after a long term relationship of intense love for each other, how one can almost read the other’s thoughts or feel a pain when the loved one suffers. There can be other non local consciousness level experiences like telepathy or strong physical presence when separated from each other.

In this story of Virvati, there is a translation of the love, from that of the seven brothers for the only sister prior to her marriage, to a new level of love of greater intensity through the medium of her prince husband. Consciousness is created to flow towards its higher potentiality. The wedding of Virvati to the prince signifies this shift namely; brotherly to marital love, denoting a shift from a lower potentiality (non-creative)to a higher one (creative). The degradation or the reverse pull to a lower reality is denoted by the concern of the brothers and the fake reality that is created through the fake moon. The altruistic consciousness of Virvati is deluded through the manipulation of a self preserving act emanating from a lower level of consciousness. Ultimately the correction takes place through the medium of Divine grace and blessing and service to the higher self signified by the blessings of an older woman and the service Virvati renders to her true purpose of existence and perpetuation in the current reality.

While the festivity has its important social dimension, its spiritual dimension becomes important to those of us who can think and act beyond ritualistic faith. The fasting does nourish our body but the prayer for the longevity of the husband should be a prayer of longevity for creative potential of both husband and wife so that they can become highly realized consciousness in their purpose of creation and earthly union.

Love to you all


  1. Had I read the story without the insight of lower level and higher level conciousness,I would have naturally brushed it aside as gender stereotype.Now it does give a deeper dimension.Still the question remains, why it must the female and not the other way round.

  2. Subathra, thanks for your feedback. Most puranas have been written in a specific cultural context and at a certain period in social development. I would love to see the story rewritten for the current generation and a day when the husbands fast for their wives and pray for their longevity.