The last 5 days of the month of Karttika are traditionally known as the Bhishma Panchaka or the Vishnu Panchaka. Grandfather Bhisma fasted for these five days, preparing to give up his life. In the Hari Bhakti Vilasa, it is said that if one is capable, one should observe fasting from certain foodstuffs on the Bhishma-panchaka for the pleasure of the Lord. "The fast should begin by remembering Bhismadeva on the Ekadasi day and should end on Purnima [the full moon]. The Padma Purana say that one pleases the Lord and makes spiritual advancement by such austerities.
It is recommended to do full fast on Ekadasi and then the following four days fruits and roots fasting or five-day fruits and roots fasting. This five day fast is difficult for those people who are not serious in Bhakti. If someone observes this fast, he is considered to have observed all other fasts, because it is greatly meritorious and frees one from great sins. Therefore, everyone should make a great endeavor to fast on these last five days of Bhismadeva
Devotees can choose whichever level of fasting as is convenient to them. It should not disturb their normal devotional service(s) and daily sadhana.
NOTE: On dwadasi, during the parama time, break your fast with one grain of rice and then continue to observe Bhishma Pancak fasting.
One can eat products of the cow for each day:
- First day: Cow dung (Gomaya)
- Second day: Cow urine (Go-mutra)
- Third day: Cow milk (Kshiira)
- Fourth day: Cow yoghurt (Dahi)
- Fifth day: All products of the cow mixed (Panchagavya)
Level -2 (Devotees normally observes this type of fasting)
If one can't follow Level-1, then please take fruits and roots.
- Fruits: Apple, orange, cheeku, pear, ripe banana
- Boiled potatoes, Tapioca, raw banana and sweet potato can be taken.
- We can use sea salt for taste.
- Pepper, lemon, ginger.
- Cashew nuts (PLAIN), almonds, peanuts, raisins, dates can be taken.
- Coconut water and grated coconut can be taken.
- Fruits with lots of seeds to be avoided like guava, pomegranate, cucumber etc.
- Milk and milk products (dairy) to be avoided.
- No oil, ghee
If one can't follow Level 2, one can take "Havishya“.
Ingredients for Havishya as mentioned in Sri Hari-bhakti-vilasa (13.10-13)
- Aatap rice
- Ghee from cow
- ‘Saindhava’ salt (salt from ocean)
- Milk from cow
- Milk with cream
- Ripe banana
- Fruits (Skanda Puraana, Naagara Khanda says they must be with a small seed or with few seeds only)
- Ikshu-dravya or sugarcane derivatives (other than gur or molasses)
- No oil
The following ingredients are normally part of Havishya but have to be avoided in the month of Kaartika:
- Mung dal
- Til oil
- Daily one should take bath in Ganges or a holy river or sprinkle Ganga water or chant "Ganga! Ganga! Ganga!"
- Then offer tarpana 3 times for bhismadeva by chanting the following mantra
om vaiyaghra padya gotraya
samkrti pravaraya ca
arghyam dadami bhismaya
om bhismah santanavo birah
Devotees may offer the following flowers to the deity
(Mental offering, in case actual flower is not available)
Day 1 Padma (lotus) flowers to the feet of the Lord
Day 2 Bilva (wood-apple) leaves of the thigh of the Lord
Day 3 Gandha (scents) to the navel of the Lord
Day 4 Java flower to the shoulders of the Lord
Day 5 Malati flower to the head (siro-desa) of the Lord
When there is a overlap of days then the flowers for both days can be offered in the same day.
Cut and mix fruits like apple, banana, plums, pears, chikoos etc. Add some cashew nuts and chopped dates.
Potato/Sweet potato stew
Cube the potatoes, boil with water, ginger and salt. Add coconut milk towards the end.
Potato finger chips
Boil potatoes, peel them and slice them in the shape of finger chips. Add salt and either bake them or air fry them in an airfryer till it hardens a bit and changes colour.
Raw Banana finger Chips
Slice raw bananas like finger chip, mix with salt and pepper and bake it till it gets cooked.
Yummy baked Sweet potato, potato or tapioca
Bake these vegetables whole and unpeeled in the oven till the skin looks wrinkled and the vegetable looks cooked. Peel them and cut them into big chunks and add salt. Can also sprinkle roasted peanut powder.
Raw Banana Sabji
Halve the raw banana lengthwise. Then chop them with a quarter inch thickness. Mix with salt and steam it in the cooker. Do not pressure cook it. Squeeze a little lemon. Add a lot of coconut and mix it all together.
Potato/ Sweet potato Patties
Boil potato / Sweet potato. Mash it and add salt, a tbsp of grated ginger, roasted and powdered peanut powder (2 tbsps for ½ kg of potatoes). Divide them into tomato sized balls and flatten them on the tava. Roast them till they darken in shade and look a little hard from the outside. Serve with Date chutney
Roast peanuts and grind it with coconut, ginger, salt, a date to taste, and lemon juice.
Dates chutney Grind dates, lemon and salt ground together
- Orange, lemon and Mosambi juices
- Tender coconut water
- Blend bananas, apple, chikoo/dates together and run it through a mixer till it is pureed. Smoothie is ready!
Blend dates and broken nuts and make them into lemon sized balls. Carry them with you for quick energy that lasts for some time.
Roast some peanuts, cashew or almonds and add salt to them.