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Religious Fasts

(This story is connected with Thursday Fast. Devotees listen this story before breaking their fast. They also worship Vrihaspati Mahadeva or Jupiter. They wear yellow clothes and shower yellow flowers. Meals with yellow colour are preferred. Women worship the banana tree and water it. Food items are made with yellow-coloured cow's ghee.)

Once there was a rich man. He had a big palace. His wife was always busy with household matters.

One day a sadhu came to his house. The rich man was away.
His wife was busy with some work. The sadhu said, "0, kind lady, I am hungry. Will you give me something to eat?"

The lady said, "Today is Thursday. I am busy cleaning my courtyard. Come on some other day when I am free."

The sadhu went away empty-handed. He visited her house again on another day and said, "0, kind lady, I am hungry. Will you give me something to eat?" The lady was a miser. She said, "I am arranging bath for my grandson. I am not free. Come on some other day."

The sadhu again went away empty-handed. He visited her house again for the third time. She repeated her words and said, "You always visit when I am busy. You are not a wise sadhu."

The sadhu said humbly, "Will you give me something to eat if you are free on some day?"

The lady answered, "I will definitely give you something to eat if I am free. The problem with me is that I am never free. Is there some way out for me? Tell me the way."

The sadhu smiled and said, "Yes, there is a way out." "What's it?" asked the lady.

The sadhu said, "Get up late on every Thursday morning. Do not clean your kitchen before cooking meals. Put the cooked meals behind the hearth. Wash your hair and clothes on every Thursday. Ask your husband to get himself shaved on this day."

The sadhu disappeared and the lady followed his instructions. The rich man's family became poorer and poorer. They could hardly afford meals for one time.

The sadhu came again and said, "0, kind lady, I am hungry. Will you give me something to eat?" The lady said, "I am very poor these days. I have nothing to spare for you. I have nothing to do throughout the day".

"But when I visited you last, you were very busy. You gave me nothing to eat under the pretext that you would give me something when you were not busy. Today you are free, still you are not giving me anything. I doubt your intentions," said the sadhu and he disappeared.

The lady said to her husband, "We are in great difficulty. Think of something for the livelihood."

The man said, "It is better to beg outside one's land rather than take resort to robbery or stealing. I shall go to some far off place for business."

The lady agreed. Before departure, the man advised his wife, saying, "Always keep the water pitcher full of water. It should never be empty. Let the hearth-fire burn day and night. It should never be put out."

And with these words, the businessman left his house. The lady tried to follow her husband's advice.

Incidentally, one day the hearth-fire got extinguished. The lady felt sorry and asked her maid to go to the neighborhood and fetch some charcoal fire. The maid went to the neighbourhood but returned very late. The lady said, "Why are you so late? I have been waiting for you all along."

The maid begged pardon and said, "Our neighbour is a rich lady. She keeps fast on every Thursday and listens to Thursday's story. I joined her and listened to the story. Please excuse me for being late."

The lady said, "I also used to keep fast on Thursdays. We, too, were very rich those days. Hence onward, I shall also observe this fast."

The lady observed Thursday fast continuously for seven weeks. She wore yellow saree, took some gram pulse on her palm and listened to the story of Vrihaspati. Vrihaspati was pleased with her devotion. He appeared before her as a sadhu and said, "Lord Vrihaspati wants to oblige you. You can ask for any favour."

The lady said, "I am very poor. Let our wealth and property be restored to us."

The sadhu said, "Let it be!" and he disappeared immediately.

The lady continued with the Thursday fasts for another seven weeks. The sadhu again appeared on the seventh Thursday and said, "0, gentle devotee, Lord Vrihaspati is pleased with your devotion. He wants to oblige you. You can ask for any other favour. He will fulfil your desire."

The lady said, "Lord Vrihaspati has restored our wealth and property. But these possessions are useless without my husband."

The sadhu said, "Your husband will return soon" and he disappeared. The businessman had a dream. Some sadhu said to him, "You are rich now. Your wife is waiting for your happy return." The businessman woke up and decided to return home. He was at a far off place and it took him a couple of months to reach home.

When the businessman neared his village, he enquired about his wife's well-being from women fetching water from the village well. One of them said, "Your wife is enjoying a happy and rich life. A sadhu visits her house every Thursday. He is very kind to her."

The businessman got suspicious about his wife's fidelity. Incidentally, it was Thursday. He thought of keeping a watch on her. When he reached his house, a sadhu came out of the door. The businessman caught hold of him and said, "Who are you? Why do you visit my wife in my absence? I will kill you."

The sadhu said nothing but simply smiled. In the meanwhile, his wife also came out and said, "Please do not kill him. He has helped me during our days of trial."

The businessman got more suspicious. He pulled out his sword and attacked the sadhu. To his great surprise, his sword turned into a wooden one. For a few seconds, he stood bemused, but soon realised his mistake. He fell on the sadhu's feet and begged his pardon. He also came to know that the sadhu was no one else but Lord Vrihaspati himself.

Thereafter, the husband and wife observed Thursday fast regularly and for a long time lived a happy life.

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