Why is menarche celebrated?
The onset of menstruation, also known as menarche, is one of the most significant milestones in a woman’s life. Though the physiological aspects of menstruation are common across faiths, the social aspects vary. Many faiths across the world, celebrate the menarche in their own unique way.
Sanātan Dharma looks upon life as an opportunity to make all round efforts to realize God. With menarche, as ovulation begins, conception is now possible. From the perspective of Sanātan Dharma, conception is not just procreation. Conception is important because it gives a jīva an opportunity to take birth and make efforts to move towards Mokṣa. Celebration of menarche imparts a very positive perception of menstruation, and the inherent sense of responsibility towards moral conduct to the young girl.
How can women by avoiding cooking or touching food during menses benefit themselves and society?
Food and water are basic constituents that are absorbed and assimilated at the cellular level. That is why, it is very important that these two components be Sāttvik. During menses, the Raja subtle component in the woman increases. It gets transferred to the food through her touch, thus reducing its spiritual purity. This would affect the entire family adversely at the spiritual level. That is why scriptures advise menstruating women to keep away from cooking activities or touching food cooked for the family and store of water. This is similar to how we do not put salt in milk as this would alter the basic characteristic of the milk.
Subtle picture of food after being touched by a woman during menses
The true measure and analysis of what happens in the subtle (that which is beyond the comprehension of the five senses, mind and intellect) dimension can only be through the medium of the sixth sense. Refer to ‘Subtle picture of a woman during menses’ in the first part of this article. The following is a recreation of the subtle picture based on knowledge perceived by Mr. Nishad Deshmukh, a member of the spiritual research team of Maharshi Adhyatma Vishwavidyalay.
It is apparent from the subtle picture how and why the inherent Sattva component in the food is reduced after a menstruating woman touches it. As the food gets a covering of Raja-Tama and it gets charged with negative vibrations, divine energy (Śakti) and vital energy are unable to enter it. It is to prevent this loss of positivity in the food.
Universal aura scanner (UAS) of food and water before and after being touched by a woman during menses
In addition to the knowledge given in the scriptures and that perceived by seekers from our spiritual research team. A pilot study was conducted in the Spiritual Research Center of Maharshi Adhyatma Vishwavidyalay, Goa, on 5 lady subjects having menses using modern scientific equipment (UAS instrument) to study the effect of touch of a woman having menses on food and water. Refer to ‘Universal Aura Scanner study of a woman during menses’ from the first part of this article.
To begin with, we served food in a plate and water in a glass from the kitchen of the Āśram of Maharshi Adhyatma Vishwavidyalay for the first subject. Care was taken to ensure that the subject did not touch the food and water. We used the UAS to note the readings of the 2 types of negative energies and positive energy in both the food and water served to her. Then we asked the first subject with menses to touch the food in the plate and the glass of water. This contact was for a period of few seconds only. After she had touched the food and water, we repeated the above-mentioned UAS readings of both the food and water served to her. We repeated this for each of the remaining 4 subjects. Each subject was separately served the same food and water from the same kitchen. We then repeated the above experiment with the same subjects 15 days later, when the subjects were in their non-menses phase. The readings are given as under-
UAS readings for food and water touched by women in their non-menses period and during their menses
Conclusions of the experiment
Regarding subtle negative energies : It is our experience of the past 10 years with the Universal Aura Scanner that it is not uncommon to find subtle negative energies in inanimate objects or animate beings. This is because of the overwhelming rise in Raja-Tama in the present times. It is apparent form the above tables that both types of subtle negative energies were completely absent in food and water before being touched by the subjects during the experiments done in their non-menses period and also during their menses. This is because the food and water came from the kitchen of a highly Sāttvik Āśram, where many Saints reside and food is cooked entirely by seekers as their spiritual practice. However, subtle negative energies were found in very high proportion in both the food and water after the subjects touched them during their menses.
Regarding positive energy : It is our experience with UAS studies, that it is not necessary that positive energy be present in inanimate objects or animate beings. However, high positive energy was found in both food and water before the subjects touched them. The reason is the same as explained in the point above. This positive energy in both food and water increased when the seekers touched them during their non-menses period. This is a reflection of the high positive energy generated in them due to their spiritual practice. The exception to this was Subject no. 3, who is deeply affected by subtle negative energies. In her case, the positive energy was found to be marginally decreased after she touched the food and water. When these same seekers touched food and water from the same Āśram during their menses, the positivity in the food and water was completely wiped out in the case of 4 subjects and greatly reduced in the case of Subject no. 2. This study using a modern scientific equipment gives us an objective insight into the extent of detrimental effect of touching food and water by a woman during her menses.
That our sages perceived this more than 5000 years ago, before the advent of any kind of scientific measuring equipment bears ample testimony to their highly enlightened status! Not only this, they devised and implemented appropriate steps at basic day-to-day life activity level to prevent the adverse effect of menses from affecting the spiritual purity of the family.
How can women by refraining from spiritual activities such as pūjā or entering a temple during menses benefit themselves and society?
त्रिरात्रं रजस्वलाशुचिर्भवति । (वसिष्ठधर्मसूत्र ५.६)
A woman will be Ashuchi (spiritually impure) during three (days and) nights (during menstruation).
साध्वाचारा न तावत्स्याद्रजो यावत्प्रवर्तते । (अङ्गिरसस्मृति ३७)
Do not perform any spiritual activities like pūjā, visiting temple, etc. during menstruation.
Women being advised to refrain from spiritual activities during menses is perceived as discriminatory by the modern world. This is simply not so. Sanātan Dharma has prescribed this restriction from the perspective of preventing the woman from incurring harm at the spiritual level, which would affect her at the physical and mental level too. For being competent to perform spiritual activity, shaucha is required at the bodily, mind and prāṇa level. Just as strict hygiene is required to benefit from a surgical operation, so also shaucha is required to obtain benefit from spiritual activities.
Both men and women enter a state of ‘Ashaucha’at various times in their lives such as during birth or death in immediate family. Menses also bring about a state of ashaucha in a woman. How this happens at the level of various kośas is explained –
State of shaucha in women during menses
It is apparent from the above table how the woman becomes incompetent to perform spiritual activities as it is having adverse effect on her due to her ashaucha status during menses.
1.The purpose of any spiritual activity like a pūjā or Yajña is to make the prāṇa to rise upwards. This activates the Kundalini and makes it to rise. During menses, apāna vāyu is activated which moves in the downward direction to bring about excretion of menstrual tissues. So there is a conflict at prāṇa level. This causes an imbalance of dośas (namely Vāta, Pitta, Kapha) as per Ayurveda. This affects the woman at various levels.
2.Every temple has an idol in which prāṇpratiśṭha of that particular deity principle has been done. This means the deity principle has been invoked in the Idol. Hence, it is a place of high spiritual energy (Śakti). Being in a temple causes the prāṇa to rise in upward direction.
As a consequence of the above points 1 and 2,
1.A menstruating woman, in whom the apāna vāyu is activated, would be adversely affected by the upward movement of prāṇa resulting from any spiritual activity. This may not necessarily be apparent in the first instance, but repeated exposure during menses would affect the woman seriously.
2.However, as the adverse effect of spiritual activity on a menstruating woman happens at a subtle level, it may not be apparent to her. This is similar to the fact that most people are not able to perceive the adverse subtle effect of non-vegetarian food on them. Even if the adverse effect is immediately experienced, the woman may not connect the distress to the spiritual ritual or visiting a temple.
3.The Energy generated from spiritual activities is also diluted due to the influence of high Raja in the menstruating woman. The temple, the temple at home, pūjā, Yajñas etc. are sources of spiritual energy and Sattva subtle component. We as individuals and collectively as society benefit and in a way highly dependent on this source of Sattva for our day-to-day as well as overall long term well-being and success. By polluting these sources of spiritual energy and Sattva with the Raja in a menstruating woman, we are effectively destroying our basic sources of spiritual well-being.
How can we benefit from the advice of scriptures in our present lifestyle?
It has been prescribed from the perspective of the well-being of the woman as well as society at large. However, it could be difficult to follow it in the modern setup with nuclear families, especially where both spouses work outside home. We can still benefit from the advice by understanding the underlying science with an open mind. Based on this understanding, we can see what all we can do to limit the effect of the increased Raja in the woman during menses.
(1) One sound option is to focus on chanting as per our religion of birth or ‘ॐ नमो भगवते वासुदेवाय।’ as much as possible during menses, especially during activities affecting the whole family like cooking. This sattvikta increasing measure is an efficient way of reducing the effect of Raja.
(2) It is best to refrain from going to the temples or participating in rituals. We can get the daily pūjā at home done by other family members.
(3) The effect of increased Raja emitted from the woman during menses in the premises can be reduced by sprinkling gomutra with tulsi leaf on all days of the menses and after the 5th day head bath of the woman with menses. For best results, use of gomutra of desi cows, not jersey ones, is recommended.
(4) Having a head bath on the fifth day of menses and adding a few drops of gomutra to the water used for bathing as well as washing the clothes and bedding helps remove the Raja present in the body of the woman and her clothes.
(5) Just as Raja increases in a woman during menses, Raja-Tama increases in both men and women with thoughts of anger, greed, jealousy, lust, laziness, etc. However, most are not aware of this as we are not able to perceive the subtle vibrations which come with regular spiritual practice. Menses is clearly apparent, hence, there is opportunity to take precautionary measures. Chanting as a form of spiritual practice is an effective way for both men and women to minimize the ill-effects of Raja-Tama in our lives from all sources – physical, mental and spiritual. If you cannot practice the whole, practice at least as much as you can.
The Shrimad Bhagawadgītā (2.40) advises-
नेहाभिक्रमनाशोऽस्ति प्रत्यवायो न विद्यते |
स्वल्पमप्यस्य धर्मस्य त्रायते महतो भयात् ||
In this endeavor there is no loss or diminution, and a little advancement on this path can protect one from the most dangerous type of fear.
(Acknowledgement : Menstruation Practices in Hinduism : What & Why? – A Talk by Nithin Sridhar)