By Swami Harshananda
Adityavrata literally means ‘vrata to please Āditya’.
A brahmacārin (celibate student) living in the house of the ācārya (preceptor) had to observe several vratas (religious observances) as a part of the student life. Whenever the study of new sections of the Vedas had to be commenced he had to prepare himself physically and mentally for the same. For instance the followers of Sāmaveda were required to perform five vratas before studying its several sections :
- Jyeṣṭhasāma vratas.
Adityavrata was considered as optional by some authorities, whereas the other vratas were compulsory. It had to be performed before beginning the study of the śukriya section (last part of the Āraṇyaka) of the Sāmaveda.
Before beginning the vrata, nāndī-mukha-śrāddha had to be performed and upanayana sanskāra had to be undergone once again, followed by ājyahoma (offering ghee into the fire) with Āditya mantras. During the period of the vrata which lasted for a year, the brahmacārin had to wear only one cloth and avoid taking protection against the sun’s rays by contrivances like umbrella. Of course, taking shelter in the house or under trees was allowed. Also, he was prohibited from entering into more than knee-deep water, for bath. The vrata had to be concluded with offering caru (porridge of unpounded rice) to Indra, repeating the ājyahoma and gifting a cow to the ācārya (preceptor).
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore