How did the concept of fasting (vrat) came into being and evolved in Indian society?

Vrats are a significant part of the Hindu faith but how did fasting evolve in Indian society. Learn about the significance of Vrat.

Fasting has a great significance in Hindu religion. In Sanskrit, the word Fasting is termed as Vrat. Vrat literally means the vow that is taken by any devotee. It is a voluntary act that is done for a particular period to seek the blessings of the Lord. The whole process is like a religious resolve that is observed on auspicious day and time fixed as per the Hindu Panchang. 

A Vrat or vow can be anything. In Hindu scriptures, there is mention of different kinds of Vrat such as Maun Vrat, vow to abstain from speech or Nirjala Vrat, vow to abstain from food and water.  

Regarding the evolution of Vrats, Puranas are a valuable source. It mentions the stories that show the significance of fasting in devotees’ life. As Puranas are the earliest source to understand Hindu tradition, it can be said that the practice of fasting has been present since the ancient times. Later, people who read and followed the Puranas adapted the practice of vrats and made it popular in the natives through folktales.

Alternatively, in Hindu texts, Vrat is represented as a form of Penance. It signifies an act of conformity that follows specific rules of conduct as suggested by Sastras. Due to this reason, Saints and monks used to practice it as a form of worship. 

The main idea of Vrats has evolved from Maha Bhagwat Geetha Purana. On reading it you can find the mention that those who observe Ekadashi Vrat are saved by Lord Vishnu. From there, the people of ancient times began considering Vrats as an important practice to get forgiveness for their sins. 

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Moreover, the mention of Vrats in Ayurvedic scriptures made it more significant among the Indian culture. As per Ayurveda, Vrats detoxifies the body and improves the digestion and blood circulation. It enables your intuitive abilities and allows you to strike a perfect balance between mind and soul.

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