Timings for the Solar Eclipse on 21 June 2020:
वेध / सुतक- starts at 10.01 pm on Saturday 20 June 2020.
Actual Eclipse - starts at 10.01am on Sunday 21 June 2020.
Peak Eclipse - - 11.38 am
मोक्ष - - END of Eclipse - 1.38pm on Sunday 21 June 2020.
Tips to follow:
1) On Saturday June 21, before 10 pm, put kusha grass blades in all your stored grains, pickles and all dry foodstuff like dry fruits, biscuits, papad etc. Tie kusha grass on all windows of the house and at the main entrance of the house. Cover all your fruits with kusha grass and put kusha in all drinking water pots. Kusha grass prevents all ill-effects of the eclipse. It was created by Varahadeva’s hair when it fell on earth after He shook his body after coming out of the ocean. Black teel grew where the water from His body fell.
2) Try and clear all stale or preserved food from the refrigerator. Do not keep any spoilt, decomposed or putrified food in the house or refrigerator.
3) Cook simple Prasad on Saturday evening, 20 June, so that it is digested easily and quickly.
4) Eat that as a full meal -- best at 6 pm on 20 June OR latest before 10pm.
Why is it best at 6 pm?
Because it will be out of your stomach and digested by 10 pm. If you eat it at 9.30 pm or so, then there will be food in stomach when sutak starts at 10 pm.
But it's your choice.
5) All the cooked food has to be consumed before 10 pm and all remaining food has to be thrown away as it gets contaminated.
6) One should not eat or drink anything or pass urine or stool after this, till the eclipse is over. (10 pm on Saturday to 1.38 pm on Sunday 21 June). This is the most ideal time period.
7) Sick people, invalids, patients with chronic illness, pregnant ladies, children and aged people can eat latest at 4.45 am on Sunday 21 June and not after that.
8) Ideally one should stay awake during the eclipse time (from 10.01 am to 1.38 pm ) on 21 June, Sunday.
9) One should not sleep during the actual eclipse time, nor perform any materialistic activity like watching TV, having sex, gossiping or any other sinful activity. One should not go out on roads or into public areas during the eclipse time. One should not look at the sky and see the eclipsed moon or sun. This is very inauspicious for all -- for whom the eclipse is favourable or unfavorable from the Rashi point of view.
10) Take a head bath before 10 am on Sunday and sitting on a clean aasan in a clean place, do Mantra-Japa or perform kirtan of the holy names or hear katha of the Supreme Lord, alone or preferably in the company of devotees till 1.38 pm.
In the last 20-30 minutes, just before the eclipse ends, offer tarpana with black teel, (seasame seeds) and water, to the forefathers, taking specific names of the individuals. Take one small plate with black teel, take one flat plate and one achaman patra with achaman spoon. Offer a few seeds of black teel and pour some water through the achaman patra on those seeds in the flat plate taking names of ancestors.
Then at, or, after 1.38 pm, take head bath while taking the names of the rivers (Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswati, Godavari, Narmada, Sindhu, Kaveri and more) , with the clothes on and wear fresh dry clothes and give in charity.
If at 1.38 am, it is not possible to actually give charity, then take out the charity and keep it aside and deliver next morning.
11) If one feels very hungry during the eclipse -- in an uncontrollable way -- one can eat fruits previously covered by kusha grass. But it is best not to eat or drink anything and not to pass urine or stool during the actual eclipse period.
12) Charity should be given in the form of Gold, Silver, Money, cloth, scripture etc to qualified Brahmins, vaishnavas, Guru or for service to the cows and to poor people's food/treatment .
Charity given immediately after the grahan moksha after bath, yields maximum benefit. So at least take out your charity in the name of the desired recipient at this time and keep it aside .
13) Pregnant ladies should remain indoors surrounded by loving, caring and praying relatives/devotees after sunset. After taking bath, wearing clean clothes, they should cover their pregnant abdomen fully with kusha grass OR tulsi leaves and lie down, covering their full body with a clean bedsheet. Others should keep chanting or perform kirtan next to the pregnant lady OR she should hear a pre-recorded kirtan or recorded harikatha. Small children should be covered with kusha grass around their neck, on the head or in their dress pockets and go to sleep chanting the holy names and remembering the Lord on Saturday 20 June.
14 ) Any activity done during Grahana/Eclipse time yield results that are millions of times more than usual. If one does mantra-japa, hears harikatha, hari kirtan, gives charity -- it will be rewarded by millions of times as compared to other times. Similarly sinful activities done during an eclipse will attract millions of times more reactions than at other times.
For people performing bhakti, grahana period is millions of times more auspicious than at other times. For people performing sinful activities, the grahana period is likewise millions of times more inauspicious than at other times. The choice is ours: to make it auspicious or inauspicious. For this reason , eclipse period is called पुण्य काळ.
15) Eating flesh, drinking wine, taking intoxicants, gambling, sex, telling lies, causing any kind of harm to any living entity during the time of Sutak till the end of eclipse, is very harmful to the well-being of the soul.
16) Those who have to leave home and go to office or have to do some important unavoidable work during actual eclipse time, option 1: Reach that place or office before actual eclipse time begins and leave that place only after eclipse period ends.
If this is not all possible, option 2: Leave home looking down to the earth, not looking at the sky, being exposed to open atmosphere for minimum time and reach your destination and come back only after eclipse ends.
Wish you all the best with sincere prayers, to make the best out of this grahana period.
V G Shanbhag is the Deputy Director, Spiritual Care Training and Education, Bhaktivedanta Hospital and Research Institute.
All views expressed in this article are his own.