Srila Giri Maharaja “I Stand Corrected?”

Date: 8/27/23

Dear Saraswat Putra,

Thank you for your comment — “as far as i know the calendar has never had any chatermas , ect, dates 1981 — 2023.” — which has helped me to notice at least one error in the latest calendar we produced. I will immediately try to see that all errors in our calendar referring to Chaturmasya are corrected before the beginning of the second month.

Your statement is not wrong, but I think I am correct to note the beginning and end dates of each month of Chaturmasya based on the following quotation (highlighting added) originally posted on the website and which may be found at: Chaturmasya.

All glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga


Here at Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math the devotees begin Chaturmasya on purnima (the full moon day). The following is a section about Chaturmasya by Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in his edition of Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, (Madhya-lila 4.169):


At the end of summer Madhavendra Puri returned to Jagannatha Puri, where he remained with great pleasure during the whole period of Chaturmasya.


The Chaturmasya period begins in the month of Asadha (June-July) from the day of Ekadasi called Sayana-ekadasi, in the fortnight of the waxing moon. The period ends in the month of Karttika (October-November) on the Ekadasi day known as Utthana-ekadasi, in the fortnight of the waxing moon. This four-month period is known as Chaturmasya. Some Vaisnavas also observe it from the full-moon day of Asadha until the full-moon day of Karttika. That is also a period of four months. This period, calculated by the lunar months, is called Chaturmasya, but others also observe Chaturmasya according to the solar month from Sravana to Karttika. The whole period, either lunar or solar, takes place during the rainy season. Chaturmasya should be observed by all sections of the population. It does not matter whether one is a grihastha or a sannyasi. The observance is obligatory for all ashramas. The real purpose behind the vow taken during these four months is to minimize the quantity of sense gratification. This is not very difficult. In the month of Sravana one should not eat spinach, in the month of Bhadra one should not eat yogurt, and in the month of Asvina one should not drink milk. One should not eat fish or other nonvegetarian food during the month of Kartika. A nonvegetarian diet means fish and meat. Similarly, masura dal and urad dal are also considered nonvegetarian. These two dals contain a great amount of protein, and food rich in protein is considered nonvegetarian. On the whole, during the four-month period of Chaturmasya one should practise giving up all food intended for sense enjoyment.

Each of the four months of Chaturmasya require us to abstain from a different type of food during that month. Without knowing the beginning and end points of those months we would not know when to abstain from what. For that reason I have always included the beginning and end dates for each of the four months of Chaturmasya when preparing my calendar.

I have followed this practice since the early 70’s after accepting Srila Prabhupada Swami Maharaja as my guru. Later, during my time spent with Srila Sridhara Maharaja (from 1981 onwards) in his Navadwipa SCS Math, my recollection is that he also observed — and expected his followers to observe — Chaturmasya as described in the Purport above.

After receiving your email I looked through several years of calendars for examples to use that would prove your statement (“the calendar has never had any chatermas , ect, dates 1981 —2023”) to be wrong. I was astonished — and remain so — to find you were correct. I don’t have any calendars from the 80’s or 90’s readily available to refer to. So, if they showed the beginning and end of each of the four months I cannot prove it. I only remember I have always observed the appropriate fast for each of those months for as long as I can remember and assumed everyone else was doing the same since this was expected of us by our gurus.

You may correct me if I’m wrong but it seems Srila Sridhara Maharaja observed the months of Chaturmasy based on the Purnimas whereas ISKCON does not. Thus, there is at least one error in our calendar as it shows the second month of Chaturmasya beginning the day before the purnima (calculated for our NJ Math) instead of the day of purnima. This is likely due to our using ISKCON’s calendar calculator for determining the dates for the Chaturmasya months and neglecting to move the beginning of the month to the purnima. Additionally, there is one modification to following the Chaturmasya fasts I recall hearing from Srila Sridhara Maharaja: for those who may find it difficult to observe the different fasts for an entire month they may do so for at least the first three days of the month. He also said Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakura exempted from the fast bhoga that was donated or grew within the Math compound. I think the Maha Prasada of the Deities was also exempted and it seems reasonable to believe it should be.

It’s not pleasant to learn something I’ve believed for many years (the ”SCS Math Navadwipa” calendar notes the beginning and end dates for each of the individual months of Chaturmasya) was wrong. But in this case I think even though I was wrong I was right to believe we should all be following the fasts designated for each of the four months of Chaturmasya and it is useful to have a calendar that helps us do that.

Again I thank you for your comment which turned my attention to a more careful examination of the matters regarding the observance of Chaturmasya. If you have any further comments I hope you will not hesitate to forward them to me.


Swami B.K. Giri