The lunar year is shorter than its solar counterpart since Chandra completes his round of twelve signs of the zodiac in only 354.37 days. Hence there is a discrepancy in time between the longer solar year and the shorter lunar year by approximately ten days. To amend this difference in the two calendars, an intercalary month is added about every three years called Purushottama, or Adika-masa.

It is stated in Sri Surya Siddhanta that in one mahayuga there are 1, 593, 336 extra months and 51, 840, 000 solar months. Therefore, there is one extra month after every 32 months, 16 days and 4 hours of the solar calendar.

From the perspective of paramartha-sastra, adhikamasa is superior and advantageous for Hari-bhajana

On the other hand, the most worshipable paramartha-sastra acclaims adhikamasa as the most outstanding month for transcendental activities. Since life in this world is temporary, it is not proper to spend any part of one’s life meaninglessly. It is imperative for the jiva to remain continuously engaged in hari-bhajana at every moment. Thus, the adhikamasa, which comes every third year, may also become useful for hari-bhajana. This is indeed the deep meaning of paramartha-sastras. Even though karmis perceive this month to be devoid of all auspicious activities, for the deliverance of all the jivas, paramartha sastra, on the other hand, has ascertained that period as the most conducive for hari-bhajana. Srimad Golokanatha Himself has ascertained that this month is the best of all. It is superior even to the greatly pious months of Karttika, Magha and Vaisakha. In this month, one should perform arcana of Sri Sri Radha-Krishna with special rules, or moods, for bhajana and thereby attain all types of perfection.

The history and glories of adhikamasa and how it received the name Purushottama

The glories of adhikamasa are mentioned in the thirty-first chapter of the Naradiya Purana. Adhikamasa considered the sovereignty of the twelve months and saw that he was being slighted. He went to Vaikuntha and related his dilemma to Sri Narayana. Out of compassion, Vaikuntha-pati took Adhikamasa with Him and appeared before Sri Krishna in Goloka. After hearing about the distress of malamasa (the impure month), Sri Krishna’s heart melted and He spoke thus:

aham etair yatha loke prathitah purushottamah

tathayam api lokesu prathitah purushottamah

asmai samarpitah sarve ye gunamayi samsthitah

mat-sadrsyam-upagamya masanamadhipo bhavet

jagat-pujyo jagat-vandyo maso ayam tu bhavisyati

sarve masah sakamas ca niskamo ayam maya krtah

akamah sarvakamo va yo adhikamasam prapujayet

karmani bhasmasat krtva mam evaisyaty asamsayam

kadacin-mama bhaktanamaparadheti ganyate

purushottama-bhaktanam naparadhah kadacana

ya etasmin-maha mudha japa-danadi-varjitah

sat-karma-snana-rahita deva-tirtha-dvija-dvisah

jayante durbhaga dustah para-bhagyopajivanah

na kadacit sukham tesam svapne api sasa-srngavat

yenahamarcito bhaktya mase asmin purusottame dhana-putra-sukham bhunktva pascad-goloka-vasabhak

‘‘He Ramapati! Just as I am celebrated in this world by the name Purushottama, similarly, this Adhikamasa too will be renowned in the world by the name Purushottama. Now I offer all My qualities to this month. Becoming like Me, from today onwards, this Adhikamasa is the monarch of all the other months, and is the most worshipable and most adored in the world. All other months are sakama, that is, they will grant worldly desires. This month, however, is niskama. Those who worship this month, either without any desires (akama) or with all types of desires, will have all their karmas burnt. Then they will achieve Me. My bhaktas sometimes commit offenses, but in this Purushottama month, they will be protected from committing any offense. In this adhikamasa, those greatly foolish persons who neglect to perform auspicious activities, such as japa, giving in charity, visiting and bathing at the holy places, and who are envious of the dvijas (brahmanas) are deemed wicked, unfortunate and living at the cost of others. Thus, they will not attain a scent of happiness, even in their dreams. Conversely, those who are filled with bhakti will take advantage of this Purushottama month to perform arcana to Me. After enjoying worldly happiness, such as wealth, sons and so on, they will eventually attain residence in Goloka.”

The glories of Purushottama month in the context of Draupadi’s history

Many episodes from the Puranas are narrated in the context of the glories of Purushottama month. One such example is Draupadi. In her previous life, she was the daughter of Medha Rsi. Even after hearing of the glories of Purushottama month from Durvasa Rsi, she neglected to observe that month. As a result, she attained many sufferings in that life and became the wife of five husbands in her birth as Draupadi. During their exile, the Pandavas followed Sri Krishna’s instructions to observe Purushottama-masa-vrata and thus crossed over all their sufferings. As it is said:

evam sarvesu tirthesu bhramantah pandunandanah

purushottama-masadya-vratam cerur vidhanatah

tadante rajyam atulam avapur gata-kantakam

purne caturdase varse sri krsna-krpaya mune

‘‘He Muni! During the period of their exile, the Pandavas traveled throughout all the holy places, and by the mercy of Sri Krishna they observed Sri Purushottama vrata with all rules and regulations. As a result of this they completed their fourteen years of exile without any obstacles and at the end attained an unparalleled kingdom.”

The account of King Drdhadhanva as spoken by Valmiki regarding Purushottama Vrata

Purushottama-masa is glorified in the account of King Drdhadhanva’s previous birth. At Badarikasrama, Narada heard the procedure of the vrata from Narayana Rsi, which Valmiki Muni then related to King Dridhadhanva in answer to the king’s questions. Just as the rules of ahanika (gayatri mantras) for brahmanas are ascertained in dharma-sastras, similarly, the obligatory activities for one observing Purushottama vrata are also delineated, beginning from the brahma-muhurta hour.

Rules for bathing in the month of Sri Purushottama
Regarding the rules for bathing during Purushottama month, it is said:

samudraga nadi-snanam-uttamam parikirtitam

vapi-kupa-tadagesu madhyamam kathitam budhaih

grhe snanam tu samanyam grhasthasya prakirtitam

‘‘There are three types of baths as declared by the wise. Bath in the rivers which meet the ocean is the topmost. Bath in lakes, ponds and wells is the second best, and bath in one’s home is an ordinary bath.”

For one who is observing Sri Purushottama vrata, after taking bath he should observe the following:

sapavitrena hastena kuryad acamana-kriyam

acamya tilakam kuryad-gopi-candana-mrt-snaya

urddhvapundra mrjum saumyam dandakaram prakalpayet

sankha-cakradikam dharyam gopi-candana-mrtsnaya

‘‘After bathing one should perform acamana with clean hands. One should then make paste of gopicandana clay and wear simple, beautiful, straight urddhvapundra tilaka on his forehead and the marks of conch, disc and so on, on his body.”

The exclusive worship of Sri Sri Radha-Krishna is Obligatory in Purushottama month

The worship of Sri Krishna is the obligatory activity of Purushottama month.

purushottama-masasya daivatam purushottamah

tasmat sampujayed bhaktya sraddhaya purushottamam

Valmiki said, He Drdhadhanva! Purushottama Sri Krishna is the presiding deity of the Puroshottama month. Therefore, being filled with bhakti-sraddha, you should worship Purushottama Sri Krishna with sixteen types of paraphernalia every day of this month. As it is said: sodasopacarais ca pujayet purusottam.‘‘The worship of the divine couple Sri Sri Radha-Krishna is indeed obligatory in Purushottama masa.”

agaccha deva devesa sri krsna purushottama

radhaya sahitas catra grhana pujanam mama

Activities forbidden in the month of Purushottama All the rules and regulations regarding Sri Purushottama vrata, which we have presented above from these sastras, should be followed by religiously devoted persons of all the varnas (castes). The Naradiya Purana concludes by saying that in the holy place of Naimisaranya, Sri Suta Gosvami spoke to the assembled devotees as follows:

bharate janurasadya purusottam-uttamam

na sevante na srnvanti grhasakta naradhamah

gatagatam bhajante ‘tra durbhaga janmajanmani

putra-mitra-kalatrapta-viyogad duhkha bhaginah

asmin mase dvija srestha nasacchastrany udaharet

na svapet para-sayayam nalapet vitatham kvacit

parapavadan na krayan na kathancit kadacana

parannanca na bhunjita na kurvita parakriyam

‘‘Even after taking birth in India, those who are the lowest of mankind remain attached to household life and never hear the glories of Sri Purushottama vrata; nor do they observe it. Such unfortunate persons undergo the suffering of repeated birth and death and the distress inflicted by the separation from sons, friends, wife and other relatives.

‘‘O best of the dvijas! In this Purushottama month, one should not uselessly discuss worldly literature or mundane poetry. One should not sleep on the bed of others nor indulge in discussions of worldly sense enjoyment. One should not criticize others, eat foodstuffs cooked by others, or perform activities prescribed for others.

The obligatory activities in the Purushottama month

vittasathyam akurvano danam dadhyad dvijataye

vidyamane dhane sathyam kurvano rauravam vrajet

dine dine dvijendraya dattva bhojanam-uttamam

divasasyastame bhage vrati bhojanam acaret

indradyumnah satadyumno yauvanasvo bhagirathah

purushottamam aradhya yayur bhagavadantikam

tasmat sarva prayatnena samsevya purushottamah

sarva sadhanatah sresthah sarvartha phala-dayakah

govardhana-dharam vande gopalam gopa-rupinam

gokulotsavam-isanam govindam gopika-priyam*

kaundinyena pura proktam imam mantram punah punah

japan-masam nayed bhaktya purushottamam-apnuyat

dhyayen-navaghana-syamam dvibhujam muralidharam

lasat pita-patam ramyam sa-radham purosottamam

dhyayam dhyayam nayen-masam pujayan purushottamam

evam yah kurute bhaktya svabhistam sarvam apnuyat

‘‘Giving up miserliness, one should give in charity to the brahmanas. If a person remains miserly even though he has wealth, his miserliness will be the cause of his going to Raurava (one type of hell). Every day one should feed the Vaisnavas and brahmanas with the best foodstuffs. A person who is following the vows should take his food in the eighth part of the day. Indradyumna, Satadyumna, Yauvanasva and Bhagiratha attained samipya, close association of Bhagavan by worshiping the Purushottama month. One should perform service to Purushottama with all of one’s endeavors. Such service to Purushottama is superior to all types of sadhana and fulfills all variety of desires. In a previous age, Kaundinya Muni repeatedly chanted the mantra

“govardhana-dharam vande gopalam gopa-rupinam
  gokulotsavam-isanam govindam gopika-priyam “.*

 By chanting this mantra with devotion during Sri Purushottama month, one will attain Sri Purushottama Himself. One should devote Purushottama month to constantly meditating upon nava-ghana dvibhuja muralidhara pitambara Sri Krishna with Sri Radha. Those who do this with devotion will have all their cherished desires fulfilled.”

* I worship the lifter of Govardhana, Gopala, who has the form of a gopa. He is the festival of Gokula (gokula-utsava), the Supreme Controller of all (isvara), and He is Govinda the beloved of the gopis (gopika-priyam).

The observance for transcendentalists – svanistha, paranistha and nirapeksa

There are three types of transcendentalists: svanistha – those who are steadfast in their personal vows; paranisthita – those who are steadfast in following the vows set forth by their respective acaryas; and nirpeksa – those who are indifferent to the above two types of steadfastness.* All the activities mentioned above for Purushottama month are prescribed for svanistha transcendentalists. Paranisthita bhaktas are eligible to observe Purushottama vrata according to the rules and instructions of Karttika vrata prescribed by their respective acaryas. Nirapeksa bhaktas repect this sacred month by daily honoring sri bhagavat prasad with one-pointed attention, following some routine for sravana and kirtana of sri harinama according to their capacity.

* Svanistha and paranisthita bhaktas are generally householders and nirapeksa bhaktas are renunciates.

The following statement from Visnu Rahasya, which is the topmost instruction of Sri Hari-bhakti-vilasa, recommends:

indriyarthesv-asaktanam sadaiva vimala matih
paritosayate visnum nopavaso jitatmanah

‘‘Those whose intelligence has been purified by bhakti are detached from the inclination for sense enjoyment. The intelligence of such persons is naturally pure; therefore, they are jitatma, they have conquered their minds. It is by their innate bhakti, rather than by upavasa (fasting) and other such activities, that they have purified their minds and are thus able to please Sri Krishna at all times.”

The innate ruci (inclination) and obligatory activities of ekantika bhaktas

Therefore, Srila Sanatana Gosvami has concluded his book Sri Hari-bhakti-vilasa by presenting the following statements for one-pointed devotees:

evam ekantinam prayah kirtanam smaranam prabhoh
kurvatam param-pritya krtyam-anyan na rocate
bhavena kenacit presthah sri murter-anghri sevane
syad icchyaisam svatantrena sva-rasanaiva tad-vidhih
vihitesv eva nityesu pravartante svayam hite
ityady ekantinam bhati mahatmyam likhitam hi tat

“Ekantika bhaktas (one-pointed devotees) of Sri Krishna consider sri krsna-smarana and sri krsna-kirtana alone to be the most fulfilling and valued activities. Generally, they do not engage in any other angas of bhakti besides these two, which they cultivate with great love and affection. Their eagerness for these angas is so strong that no other activity can captivate their taste. They develop an intense desire to serve the lotus feet of Sri Krishna in a specific mood. Therefore, they render service to the lotus feet of Sri Krishna with moods which are favorable to their own rasa, along with some independence (to give up the injunctions which are unfavorable to their cultivation). This alone is their vidhi. The ekantika bhaktas are not bound to follow all the rules and regulations which have been prescribed by the rsis. The moods of the ekantika bhakta’s inborn, natural disposition generally remain prominent. This is their glory.”

Adhikamasa is dear to bhaktas

As there is no disturbance from the karma-kanda in this month.

The bhaktas observe Sri Purusottma month according to their respective adhikara; this means according to the distinctions of the moods of svanistha, paranisthita and ekantika bhaktas. Bhagavan Vrajanatha Sri Krishna is the sovereign of this month; therefore, adhikamasa is dear to every bhakta. This is because, incidentally, in this month no disturbance from the karma-kanda can come to obstruct the performance of one’s bhakti.

Austerity performed during kartik mass gives 1000 times benefit and austerity performed during Purushottama mass is gives 1000 times the benefit of kartik mass.

How to follow the Purushottama Vrata? (Note : health should not be compromised for austerity)

  1. Chant Hare Krsna Mahamantra and meditate on Krsna’s forms, qualities and pastimes. Daily chant extra rounds: 20, 24, 32 or 64 rounds or as many extra rounds as possible.

2) Keep celibacy for one month. (Sleep on the floor – optional)

3) Bathe daily before sunrise (best in a holy place, or at least 3 days in a month)

4) Eat on leaf plates sitting on the floor (optional).

5) No cooking in oil or rubbing of oil on your body. (optional)

6) No eating or rubbing of mustard oil. (optional)

7) Diets: eat satvik food only. Best to eat once (optional) a day after sunrise or noon.

8) No cutting of hair or nails. (optional)

9) Take a vow to remain peaceful and truthful throughout the month.

10) Be careful not to blaspheme any devotees, brahmanas, saints, cows, sastras or people who follow this vrata.

11) Daily offer dandavats to Bhagavan Sri Krsna and the Vaishnava.

12) Daily offer Aratika and perform Parikrama around Tulasi Devi.

13) Daily perform parikrama around the temple (4 times).

14) Daily offer ghee lamp to Radha-Krsna Deities or picture.

15) Daily offer Radha-Krsna Deities or picture roses, lotus flowers and Tulasi leaves.  You can also worship Salagrama sila by offering 100,000 tulasi leaves(in the entire month) and achieve unlimited merit beyond the powers of Brahma to describe.

16) Try your best to please Radha and Krsna by performing devotional austerities according to your abilities.

17) Daily read Srimad Bhagavatam, especially Lord Brahma’s prayers to Krishna (Canto 10, Chapter 14), and Bhagavad-gita (Chapter 15).

18) Give charity as per your capacity to temples, brahmanas and gau sevak(cow care taker).

19) Recommended to daily chant Sri Jagannathastakam, Sri Cauragraganya-purusastakam, Sri Nanda-Nandanastakam, Jaya Radha Madhava, and other Radha-Krsna bhajanas and prayers.

You can also chant Kaundinya Muni’s mantra which is

“govardhana-dharam vande gopalam gopa-rupinam
  gokulotsavam-isanam govindam gopika-priyam “

3 times each in the morning, afternoon and evening or as many times as possible.

20) Bhaktivinoda Thakura: Perform the Nirapeksa Vrata, which means 30 days of concentrated, one-pointed worship and service to Radha-Govinda by hearing, chanting, remembering Their divine names, forms, qualities, pastimes. All day and night, hear about Bhagavan Sri Krsna, chant the Hare Krsna Mahamantra, take only mahaprasada.

One who observes Purusottama Month with faith and devotion will be happy in this life and go back home, back to Godhead to serve Radha-Govinda eternally in Goloka Vrndavana at the end of his life.