Upavaasa is a term commonly used in many Indian languages. The term generally is understood as “fasting”. Apart from the common meaning, the word however has a wider scope in its definition –
The definition of Upavaasa is explained in the above verse. It means “To recover/detach from Paapa Karma or Vices and to dwell with or be connected with Gunaas or Virtues.And it does not mean the withering or shriveling up of the body “
Benefits of Upavaasa: Upavaasa is a method where one can achieve detoxification, mindfulness and self discipline or self control. The Indian culture clearly explains that during the days that we observe Upavaasa, we are restricted from doing certain activities and encouraged to follow certain activities. The activities during Upavaasa does not limit to eating habits but extends to other activities of the body and mind which reinforce physical, mental and spiritual well being.
During Upavaasa, one is supposed to engage in activities like Japa(chanting), Tapa(meditation), Eshwara Pranidhana(prayers), Daana(charity/donation) etc activities. The rationale is that these activities ease the mind and bring clarity on the purpose of living. These activities propel peace and a peaceful mind is better disposed to shred the vices and acquire the virtues. And a virtuous person is capable of making mindful choices and overcome the difficulties in life.
Diet restrictions is included in Upavaasa since the food consumed has a direct bearing on the body and mind. It is hence required that foods that have Satva guna attributions are to be consumed during Upavaasa. Satva guna yukta aahara(foods that are less spicy, made from vegetarian source and can include Moong dal Kichdi, fresh fruits etc.) is easy and light for digestion. Satva guna yukta ahaara also promotes Satvik behaviour i.e establishes a connect with ananda(happiness) and gnana(knowledge).
Obstacle/s to practice Upavaasa:Though a lot of us want to practice Upavaasa, we find it very difficult to exercise the same. The reason for this is explained by Charakaand other Ayurveda Acharyaas as roga pradurbhava(sickness).
These obstacle/s can be overcome by following the Swasthavritta principles (righteous application of Kaala – Time, Artha – Sense organs and Karma – activities)
Hence, Upavaasa marks as a special and auspicious occasion where the path to a resourceful mind and a resourceful body is taken under watchful aahar(diet), Vichara(thoughts) and kriya(actions).