Wednesday, December 28, 2011

VAIKUNTHA EKAADASI


VAIKUNTHA EKAADASI


(January 2003)

 
Vaikuntha Ekaadasi occurs in "shukla paksha" (light fortnight,waxing moon) on the 11th day of the month of Margashirsha or (Margazhi in Tamil, Dhanurmasa) which occurs in December and sometimes in January). This Ekaadasi is considered the mother of all Ekaadasis, and observed by many, even by those who do not observe the monthly Ekaadasis. This occurs after the Uttaana Dwadasi which occurs during the "krishna paksha" (waning moon or dark part of the month) of Margashirsha, which was the day that Ekaadasi devi appeared from the body of Maha Vishnu to kill the demon Mura. This Ekaadasi day is considered most auspicious because this day is thrice blessed. According to the Hindu calendar "Tithi" is the period when the moon takes to increase its distance from the sun by twelve degrees. There are fifteen tithis in the shukla paksha (waxing period) culminating in the Poornima day (full-moon), and fifteen tithis in the krishna paksha (waning period) ending with the Amavaasya (new moon day). Every tithi has a special association in the worship of a particular deity. Chathurthi (4th day) is associated with Ganesha, Shashthi (6th day) is associated with Subramanya, Trayodasi (13thday) and Chathurdasi (14thday) are with Shiva and so on. Ekaadasi is associated with the worship of Vishnu.

 


 

In the Sri Rangam temple of Lord Sri Ranganatha this is a magnificent, annual event. Devotees from all over the world flock to this temple to participate in the opening of the Celestial doors at the temple on this day to symbolically enter the heaven. The ten days prior to Vaikuntha Ekaadasi is called Pagal Patthu (10 days of daylight), and the ten days after Vaikuntha Ekaadasi is called "Era Pathu" (10 days of nightly darkness). On the last day of the Pagal pathu, Lord Ranganatha gives darshan in the form of Mohini Avatar.

 

There are different beliefs and stories to describe the observance of this day. Some of those are reproduced below;

 


 

Vedavyasa's Brahmaanda purana records, that during the period of the Mahabaratha, King Yudhishtira asked Maha Vishnu about Vaikuntha Ekaadasi and this was his reply: There lived a king by the name of Vaikhaanasa in the beautiful city of Champakanagara. The king was tormented by a dream that he had which was of his dead father suffering torture at the hands of Yama. He wanted to remedy the pain of his father, so approached Parvata Muni, for the penance he could do to help his father. The father in his previous birth had indulged in sense gratification, at the denial of his wife, during some forbidden times, and was thus reaping the effects of his bad actions. As Parvata Muni instructed, King Vaikhaanasa observed the Vaikuntha Ekaadasi Vrata and gave up all of the acquired merits of this observance to his father. Thus, his father was able to reach the abode of the Almighty.

 

King Ambarisha was a great worshipper of Lord Vishnu and observed the Ekaadasi Vrata in earnest for a year and obtained the grace of Maha Vishnu. On one occasion he was forced to fast for 3 consecutive days as he did not see the sun rise. He was about to break his fast when Sage Durvaasa appeared as his guest. The king received him with due respect and requested him to partake in the meals. The sage agreed and went to take a bath in the river. Although the king patiently waited for a long time, the sage never returned. Time was running out: if the sage did not return before sunset, the king's ritual would be fruitless, and if he ate he would be showing disregard for the sage and also he feared the wrath of the famous Durvaasa. As a compromise the king drank a little water to serve both conditions. When Sage Durvaasa returned from his bath, he knew exactly what had happened and was angry. He tore a hair out of his skull and charged it to kill the king Ambarisha. The king was unperturbed as the Sudharshana chakra of Lord Vishnu obstructed the path of the hair of Durvaasa and reversed its course. It now followed the sage wherever he went and tried to destroy him. Sage Durvaasa approached Brahma and Siva but to no avail. Next he went to Lord Vishnu who said to him, "I am dependent on my devotees, my heart is in the possession of my devotees, go thou therefore to Ambarisha and beg for his pardon and thou shalt be saved". Ambarisha thereupon prayed to the charged hair to desist from its course of destruction and saved the sage, thus Druvaasa was saved and thesage thanked the king from the bottom of his heart.

 

The most auspicious event, according to the Padma puraana that occured on this day was the appearence of Maha Lakshmi in a golden color (Hiranya Varnaam Harineem,
Suvarna rajathastra-jam) and shinning in her innate glory like a cool moon (chandraam prabhasaam yaashaasaam jvalantheem), like a brilliant lightning bolt out of the sky, she incarnated in front of the Devaas ands Asuraas, making all directions shine in her glory, while they engaged in the churning of the Ocean of Milk to obtain "Amruta" (divine nectar). It is said that Bhagavaan Danvantri appeared thereafter with the Amurtha kalasam.

 

According to the Pancharathra Agamam, Narayana granted a boon to the two demons Lokan and Kantakan, that on this day (Dhanurmasa, Shukla paksha Ekaadasi day) all human beings, who enter the Northern gates, at any of His consecrated temples, on earth, will reach the abode of Sri Vaikuntham, after completing their life span on earth. Lokan and Kantakan were killed by Narayana and being recipients of His kindness entered Sri Vaikuntham through the Northern gates and served as Conch and Discus for the Lord. Thus, this Ekaadasi came to be known as "Moksha Ekaadasi". Symbolically in all South Indian temples, there is the "Vaikuntha Dwara" or the "Swarga Vaasal" (celestial doors) celebration. The deity of the temple is taken in procession around the "Praakaara" (outer limits) of the temple, and before this procession enters back into this door of the temple all those who come to witness, quickly enter into the temple through this "Vaikuntha Dwara", symbolic of entering the portals of heaven with God. It is believed that the gates of heaven are then closed and opened only after the Sankranti, when Uttaraayana Punya Kaala starts.

 
Spiritual significance of entering celestial doors is entering o into oneself to get to the stage of permanent happiness—Eternal Bliss. We experience entering into ourselves for a short while when we concentrate on the Lord in the Temple. Main goal in our life is to get permanent happiness which is achieved by going within oneself. This is experienced by all in their deep sleep state called Sushupti.

 

The Padma puraana also narrates that once when, Lord Vishnu was sleeping, a shakti (energy) in a female form called "Yoga Maaya" emanated from him, in order to destroy the demon Mura who was creating havoc in the world. This Shakti later returned back to Vishnu, when he was awake. As a form of appreciation for this work she was named Ekaadasi and the ritual was dedicated to her. Lord Krishna was thought to have expounded to Arjuna the essence of the Upanishads in the form of the Bagavadgeeta on this day and therefore this day is earmarked as Gita Jayanthi day.

 

Ekaadasi Vrata mainly consists of observing "Upavaasa" (Upa means near and Vaasa means live) literally means "living in the company or proximity" (of the Lord) and also observing a Vrata or vow in the form of self discipline. One of the prerequisites for living in the company of the Lord is that one's mind must be pure and be able to dwell on divine thoughts only. This is not possible when one allows one's mind to pursue sensual pleasures such as satisfying hunger and bodily needs. Human beings spend much time in procuring food, cooking, eating and digesting. Some food types make the mind dull and agitated. Hence on days of this nature some Hindus decide to save time and conserve energy by either eating simple foods or totally abstaining from food to keep the mind alert and pure. Therefore, on Ekaadasi Tithis (days) the practice of fasting, chanting prayers, singing spiritual kirtanaas (songs), listening to upanyaasaas (discourses) came into practice. Adi Shankara interprets fasting or voluntary denial of food to the body as not only abstaining from food that we eat but also refraining from worldly enjoyments that our senses crave for. Further, in his code, "Manu Smriti", the great Law giver, Manu prescribes fasting for the removal of five capital sins. Fasting has been highly praised and glorified in the puraanic literature. The following verse from Dharma Shastra tells what one needs to do on this day

 

"Ekaadasyaam tu Kartavyam Sarveshaam Bhojanam dwayam
Suddhopavaasaha pratamaha satkathaa sravanaam tathaa"

 

"Oh people, these two things that should be done on Ekaadasi day by all—first full
fasting then listening to sacred narrations from scriptures

 

Padma Puraana cites the name of tewnty four Ekaadasis that occur in a year of which the Vaikuntha Ekaadasi is important and is the foremost one. It also narrates stories of those who observed this ritual and benefited from it. It elaborates on the significance and importance of this day.

 

According to Dharmashastra, Ekaadasi fast should be observed by one who is between the age of eight and eighty years, and on the eleventh day of both the bright and dark half of the lunar cycle.

 

Yoga Saastra describes how we all have certain energy centers called "chakras" (wheel with a circular motion) in our bodies. The mind cannot concentrate when it is out of tune, but when it is in location, it finds it easy to contemplate. So the Ekaadasi day in both fortnights, is the occasion, when the mind finds itself in its place, (in the bright fortnight in the Ajna chakra and in the Anaahata chakra in the dark fortnight). Seekers and Yogis take advantage of these two days and try to practice deep meditation. It is advantageous to keep the body light and the stomach free from excessive metabolic activity on such days which is ideal for contemplation.

 

Vaikuntha Ekaadasi is also the day on which Sri Ramanujachaarya, the founder of the Vishistaadvaita philosophy, gave up his ghost after completing his task, as promised to his guru Yamunacharya on the latter's death bed. Sri Ramanujachaarya is believed to be the incarnation of Adishesha. It is also considered a memorial day for Sri Ramanuja.

 

Health effects of observing Ekaadasi Vrata (vow):

 
The stead-fast Ekaadasi observers usually do not eat or drink anything for 24 hours. They break the fast the next day (12th day) by taking a bath going to the temple and eating only certain food that are allowed to be eaten, and this Dwaadasi Paraayanam is done very early, the next morning after Ekaadasi after the sun rise. Some drink water and others observe a partial fast eating only fruits and drinking milk. In the modern days, people find it hard to completely fast, and so, they stay away from eating rice. As the story goes, the sweat that fell from Brahmaa's head assumed the form of a demon and said to the Lord "Oh Lord! Now give me an abode to dwell", for which Brahmaa replied "Oh demon, go and dwell in the rice particles eaten by men on Ekaadasi day and become worms in their stomach". For this reason people who observe this ritual Ekaadasi, which occurs fortnightly all through the calendar year, refrain from eating rice.

 

In the olden days it was a day of resting the body from the function of digestion. It gives the body a chance to flush out the bad toxins, salts, potassium and other chemicals that are held back when one eats continually, and also time to rest and recuperate. Many younger generation people are realizing the good effects of this kind of fasting and are beginning to observe it. On Vaikuntha Ekaadasi day observers go a step further and refrain from sleeping that whole night. To keep awake, they play spiritual games of snakes and ladders called Paramapada sopaanam, where, when one climbs the ladder one is said to climb towards heaven and when one is gobbled up by the snake, one is said to reach hell. This game reminds one that the path to Vaikuntha is long and winding and even if one reaches the celestial heights, he can come back to this earth if he fails to concentrate on Lord Narayana indicated by the longest snake in the paramapada path. In modern days, theatres also show continuous mythological movies so that if one decides to stay awake all night, he could do it watching spiritual stories. On this day people involve themselves in prayer chanting, listening to discourses (upanyaasams, kalakshepams), lectures and indulging mostly in spiritual, charitable, humanitarian activities, since selfless activities and worship are the requisites for purifying the devotees for the attainment of moksha at the feet of the Lord.

 


 

Thus, observing this ritual is an exalted and incomparable spiritual discipline and it is considered that no other ritual is equal to or as effective and powerful as Ekaadasi ritual for one's spiritual evolution and salvation.

 

"Na Gayatrayah Paramantrah Na Matuhu Para Daivatam |
Na Kaasyah Paramam Teertham Na Ekaadasyah Samam Vratam ||"

 

There is no mantra superior to Gayatri mantra, no God superior to mother and no pilgrimage place superior to Benares (Kasi); and there is no ritual which is equal to the Ekaadasi Vrata.

 

May we all observe this ritual and receive the blessings of Lord Ranganatha.

 

Contributions by N.R. Srinivasan and Kamala Raghunathan
Vaikhaanasa story: courtsey Sri Ranga Priya , Pomona temple NY, (Nov 2002 )
Mahalakshmi story: courtsey Sri Vaikunta Ekadasi Part-1 (Sadagopan)
Pagal patthu/Era Patthu: courtsey Bakti List Nov 1998
Lokan-Kantakan story: courtsey Sri Lakshmi Temple Boston, MA (Feb 2001)
The compiler  gratefully acknowledges information contained in Appendices from various Internet sources


 


APPENDIX I

Vaikunta Ekadashi: Heaven’s Doors Open Wide
Posted by Sanskriti Magazine | Sep 24, 2015 |  IndiaDivine.Org
To those with a pure heart, the gates of Vishnu’s spiritual world are always open. But on a precious few days, it is said, that passage is open to all, allowing devotees to more easily reach Vaikunta, the abode of Lord Vishnu, Supreme God to hundreds of millions of Hindus. This is the essence of Vaikunta Ekadashi, a festival marked by fasting, devotion and pilgrimage to famous temples, when devotees draws closer to God in a most personal way.
Who is Lord Vishnu?
In the Vaishnava sect of Hinduism Vishnu is the Supreme God, venerated as the allpervading essence of all beings, the master of time, the One who supports, sustains and governs the universe and all elements within it.
In the sacred Puranas, Vishnu is described as the color of dark blue clouds, having four arms, holding a lotus, mace, conch and a chakra. Through the ages, He manifests in several forms, or avatars, such as Sri Rama and Sri Krishna, to guide humans on the path of dharma. Vishnu’s constant companion is the Goddess Lakshmi. He represents the potential and She the wealth of potential brought to fruition.
What is Vaikunta Ekadashi?
Ekadashi is the eleventh lunar day of every fortnight. Of the two dozen ekadashis in a year, Vaikunta Ekadashi reigns supreme. It is known as Mokshada, “bestowing liberation.” On this day, the doors to Vishnu’s divine abode, called Vaikunta, are open wide to all who seek salvation, moksha.
This occurs in the bright fortnight of December/January, the Hindu month of Mrigashira. According to mythology, devas and demons churned the Ocean of Milk for 1,000 years and, amrita, the nectar of immortality, appeared on this day.
What do Hindus do on Vaikunta Ekadashi?
Devotees maintain a total or partial fast and observe mauna, silence, while remembering Vishnu in prayer. While many Hindus fast on all ekadashis, Vaikunta Ekadashi is observed with utmost diligence and self-restraint. A common observance is to consume only water or milk.
What are the Temple Observances?
Devotees flock to Vishnu shrines, especially famous ones such as the Venkateshwara temples in Tirupati and Pittsburg, and the Ranganathar temple in Srirangam. In Srirangam the festival spans 21 days divided into morning and night observances.
Lord Vishnu, adorned in diamond-studded armor, is brought to a 1,000-pillared hall through the northern gate, called swarga vaasal, “heaven’s entrance,” which is opened only this one time each year.
What Else is Celebrated Around This Time?
In the northern hemisphere, winter solstice occurs in this month, heralding longer, warmer days and agrarian prosperity. This transition to the year’s fortuitous half is celebrated with beautiful patterns, called rangoli, drawn with colored rice flour on the floor outside homes.
Hindus believe that at this time the divine celestials are most attentive to the pleas of mankind. Devotees rise early, perform ablutions and, throughout the month, visit temples with prayers in heart and gifts in hand.
What is the legend of Ekadashi?
In an ancient story, Ekadashi is a devi, or angel, born of Vishnu’s mind, a fierce defender of righteousness, a protectress of those in need. Strengthened by unfailing devotion to God Vishnu, she was feared by the forces of evil and ignorance. Vishnu offered her the boon of being rich, famous, powerful and beautiful in the world of mortals. But she declined, saying she wanted only to share her blessings with humans who fast and pray to Him on ekadashi.
Vishnu granted her wish, decreeing that anyone worshiping Him by fasting on the eleventh day of the moon would be allowed access through the celestial gates. In the epic Mahabharata, Lord Krishna relates Ekadashi’s story to King Yudhishthira, praising her and recommending fasting as an ancient and effective spiritual practice.
How is the fast broken? The Ekadashi
Fast is normally broken the next lunar day, dvadashi, by partaking of fruit, herbs and milk. The Indian gooseberry, amla, known as a wonder food, is eulogized in the Puranas as the ideal nourishment to jump-start the system after a fast.

APPENDIX II
Padma Purana on the Appearance of Ekadashi
Posted by The Editor | Apr 17, 2011 
Many devotees are very inquisitive about the appearance of Sri Ekadasi and about her special characteristics. Therefore I am presenting this description from the fourteenth chapter of the Padma Purana, from the section entitled “Kriya-sagara-sara”:
Once the great sage Jaimini Rishi said to his spiritual master Srila Vyasadeva, “Oh Gurudeva! Previously, by your mercy, you described to me the history of the glories of the Ganga river, the benefits of worshipping Vishnu, the giving of grains in charity, the giving of water in charity, and the magnanimity of drinking the water that has washed the feet of the brahmanas. O best of the sages, Sri Gurudeva, now, with great enthusiasm, I desire to hear the benefits of fasting on Ekadasi and the appearance of Ekadasi.”
kasmad ekadasi jata tasyah ko va vidhir dvija
kada va kriyate kim va phalam kim va vadasva me
ka va pujyatama tatra devata sad-gunarnava
akurvatah syat ko dosa etan me vaktum arhasi
“Oh Gurudeva! When did Ekadasi take birth and from whom did she appear? What are the rules of fasting on Ekadasi? Please describe the benefits of following this vow and when it should be followed. Who is the utmost worshipable presiding deity of Sri Ekadasi? What are the faults in not following Ekadasi properly? Please bestow your mercy upon me and tell about these subjects, as you are the only personality able to do so.”
Srila Vyasadeva, upon hearing this enquiry of Jaimini Rsi, became situated in transcendental bliss. “Oh brahmana sage Jaimini! The results of following Ekadasi can only be perfectly described by the Supreme Lord, Narayana, because Sri Narayana is the only personality capable of describing them in full. But I will give a very brief description in answer to your question.”
“At the beginning of the material creation, the Supreme Lord created the moving and non-moving living entities within this world made of five gross material elements. Simultaneously, for the purpose of punishing the humans beings, He created a personality whose form was the embodiment of sin (Papa Purusha). The different limbs of this personality were constructed of the various sinful activities. His head head was made of the sin of murdering a brahmana, his two eyes were the form of the sin of drinking intoxicants, his mouth was made of the sin of stealing gold, his ears were the form of the sin of having illicit connection with the spiritual master’s wife, his nose of the sin of killing one’s wife, his arms the form of the sin of killing a cow, his neck made of the sin of stealing accumulated wealth, his chest of the sin of abortion, his lower chest of the sin of having sex with another’s wife, his stomach of the sin of killing one’s relatives, his navel of the sin of killing those who are dependent on him, his waist of the sin of self appraisal, his thighs of the sin of offending the guru, his genital of the sin of selling one’s daughter, his buttocks of the sin of telling confidential matters, his feet of the sin of killing one’s father, and his hair the form of lesser, less severe sinful activities. In this way, a horrible personality embodying all the sinful activities and vices was created. His bodily colour is black, and his eyes are yellow. He inflicts extreme misery upon sinful persons.”
“The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Vishnu, upon seeing this personality of sin, began to think to Himself as follows: ‘I am the creator of the miseries and happiness for the living entities. I am their master because I have created this personality of sin, who gives distress to all dishonest, deceitful, and sinful persons. Now I must create someone who will control this personality.’ At this time Sri Bhagavan created the personality known as Yamaraj and the different hellish planetary systems. Those living entities who are very sinful will be sent after death to Yamaraj, who will in turn, according to their sins, send them to a hellish region to suffer.”
“After these adjustments had been made, the Supreme Lord, who is the giver of distress and happiness to the living entities, went to the house of Yamaraj, with the help of Garuda, the king of birds. When Yamaraj saw that Lord Vishnu had arrived, he immediately washed His feet and made an offering unto Him. He then had Him sit upon a golden throne. The Supreme Lord, Vishnu, became seated on the throne, whereupon He heard very loud crying sounds coming from the southern direction. He became surprised by this and thus enquired from Yamaraj, ‘From where is this loud crying coming?'”
“Yamaraj in reply said, ‘Oh Deva! The different living entities of the earthly planetary systems have fallen into the hellish regions. They are suffering extremely for their misdeeds. The horrible crying is because of suffering from the inflictions of their past bad karma (actions).'”
“After hearing this the Supreme Lord, Vishnu, went to the hellish region to the south. When the inhabitants saw who had come they began to cry even louder. The heart of the Supreme Lord, Vishnu, became filled with compassion. Lord Vishnu thought to Himself, ‘I have created all this progeny, and it is because of Me that they are suffering.'”
Srila Vyasadeva continued: “Oh Jaimini, just listen to what the Supreme Lord did next.
etac canyac ca viprarse
vicintya karunamayah
babhuva sahasa tatra
svayam ekadasi tithih
“After the merciful Supreme Lord thought over what He had previously considered, He suddenly manifested from His own form the deity of the lunar day Ekadasi. Afterwards the different sinful living entities began to follow the vow of Ekadasi and were then elevated quickly to the abode of Vaikuntha. Oh my child Jaimini, therefore the lunar day of Ekadasi is the selfsame form of the Supreme Lord, Vishnu, and the Supersoul within the heart of the living entities. Sri Ekadasi is the utmost pious activity and is situated as the head among all vows.”
“Following the ascension of Sri Ekadasi, that personality who is the form of the sinful activity gradually saw the influence she had. He approached Lord Vishnu with doubts in his heart and began offering many prayers, whereupon Lord Vishnu became very pleased and said, ‘ I have become very pleased by your nice offerings. What boon is it that you want?’
“The Papa Purusha replied, ‘I am your created progeny, and it is through me that you wanted distress given to the living entities who are very sinful. But now, by the influence of Sri Ekadasi, I have become all but destroyed. Oh master! After I die all of Your parts and parcels who have accepted material bodies will become liberated and therefore return to the abode of Vaikuntha. If this liberation of all living entities takes place, then who will carry on Your activities? There will be no one to enact the pastimes in the earthly planetary systems! Oh Keshava! If You want these eternal pastimes to carry on, then You please save me from the fear of Ekadasi. No type of pious activity can bind me. But Ekadasi only, being Your own manifested form, can impede me. Out of fear of Sri Ekadasi I have fled and taken shelter of men; animals; insects; hills; trees; moving and non-moving living entities; rivers; oceans; forests; heavenly, earthly, and hellish planetary systems; demigods; and the Gandarvas. I cannot find a place where I can be free from fear of Sri Ekadasi. Oh my Master! I am a product of Your creation, so therefore very mercifully direct me to a place where I can reside fearlessly.'”
Srila Vyasadeva then said to Jaimini, “After saying this, the embodiment of all sinful activities (Papa Purusha) fell down at the feet of the Supreme Lord, Vishnu, who is the destroyer of all miseries and began to cry.”
“After this, Lord Vishnu, observing the condition of the Papa Purusha with laughter, began to speak thus: ‘Oh Papa Purusha! Rise up! Don’t lament any longer. Just listen, and I’ll tell you where you can stay on the auspicious lunar day of Ekadasi. On the day of Ekadasi, which is the benefactor of the three worlds, you can take shelter of foodstuff in the form of grains. There is no reason to worry about this any more, because My form as Sri Ekadasi Devi will no longer impede you.’ After giving direction to the Papa Purusha, the Supreme Lord, Vishnu, disappeared and the Papa Purusha returned to the performance of his own activities.
“Therefore those persons who are serious about the ultimate benefit for the soul will never eat grains on the Ekadasi tithi. According to the instructions of Lord Vishnu, every kind of sinful activity that can be found in the material world takes its residence in this place of foodstuff (grain) on this day. Whoever follows Ekadasi is freed from all sins and never enters into hellish regions. If one doesn’t follow Ekadasi because of illusion, he is still considered the utmost sinner. For every mouthful of grain that is eaten by a resident of the earthly region, one receives the effect of killing millions of brahmanas. It is definitely necessary that one give up eating grains on Ekadasi. I very strongly say again and again, ‘On Ekadasi, don’t eat grains, don’t eat grains, don’t eat grains!’ Whether one be a Kshatriya, Vaisya, Sudra, or of any family, he should follow the lunar day of Ekadasi. From this the perfection of varna and ashram will be attained. Especially since even if one by trickery follows Ekadasi, all of his sins become destroyed and he very easily attains the supreme goal, the abode of Vaikuntha.”

APPENDIX  III
Margashirsha-Shukla Ekadasi or Mokshadaa Ekadasi

Mokshadaa Ekadasi is a very special Ekadasi in two regards; today was the all-auspicious day on which Lord Sri Krishna spoke the Srimad Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, at the place now known as Jyotisha Tirtha. Anyone who gifts a Bhagavad Gita away to a deserving person on this day is bestowed profuse blessings by the Sri Krishna Bhagawan.

The Ancient History of Mokshada Ekadasi from Brahmanda Purana:

Yudhishthira Maharaj said, O Vishnu, master of all, O delight of thethree worlds, O Lord of the entire Universe, O creator of the world, O oldest personality, O best of all beings, I offer my most respectful obeisances unto You.

"O Lord of Lords, for the benefit of all living entities, kindly answer  some questions that I have. What is the name of the Ekadasi that occurs during the light fortnight of the month of Margashirsha (November-December) and removes all sins? How does one observe it properly, and which Deity is worshipped on that holiest of days? O my Lord please explain  this to me in full."

Lord Sri Krishna replied, O dear Yudhishthira, your enquiry is very auspicious in itself and will bring you fame. Just as I previously explained to you about the dearest Utpannaa Maha-Dwadasi – which occurs the day when Ekadasi-devi appeared from my body to kill the demon Mura, and which benefits everything animate and inanimate in the three worlds - so I shall now relate to you regarding this Ekadasi that occurs during the light part of the month of Margashirsha. This Ekadasi is famous as Mokshadaa because it purifies the faithful devotee of all sinful reactions and bestows liberation upon him. The worshipful Deity of this all auspicious day is Lord Damodara. With full attention one should worship Him with incense, a ghee lamp, fragrant flowers, and Tulasi manjaris (buds).

O best of saintly kings, please listen as I narrate to you the ancient and auspicious history of this wonderful Ekadasi. Simply by hearing this  history one can attain the merit earned by performing a horse sacrifice. By the influence of this merit, one's forefathers, mothers, sons, and other relatives who have gone to hell can turn around and go to the heavenly kingdom. For this reason alone, O king, you should listen with rapt attention to this narration.

There once was a beautiful city named Champaka-nagar, which was decorated with devoted Vaishnavas. There the best of saintly kings Maharaj Vaikhaanasa, ruled over his subjects as if they were his very own dear sons and daughters. The Brahmins in that capital city were all experts in four kinds of Vedic knowledge. The king, while ruling properly, had a dream one night in which his father was seen to be suffering the pangs of hellish torture in one of the hellish planets ruled over by the Yamaraj. The king was overwhelmed with compassion for his father and shed tears. The next morning, Maharaj Vaikhaanasa described what he had seen in his dream to his council of twice born learned Brahmins.

O Brahmanas, the king addressed them, in a dream last night I saw my father suffering on a hellish planet. He was crying out in anguish, “O son, please deliver me from this torment of this hellish condition!”. Now I have no peace in my mind, and even this beautiful kingdom has become unbearable to me. Not even my horses, elephants, and chariots and my vast wealth in my treasury that formerly brought so much pleasure, gives me no pleasure at all.

Everything, O best of the Brahmins, even my own wife and sons, have become a source of unhappiness since I beheld my father suffering the tortures of that hellish condition so. Where can I go, and what can I do, O Brahmins, to alleviate this misery? My body is burning with fear and sorrow! Please tell me what kind of charity, what mode of fasting, what austerity, or what deep meditation, and in service upon which Deity I may have to perform to deliver my father from that agony and bestow upon liberation upon my forefathers. O best among the Brahmins, what is the use of one's being a powerful son if one's father must suffer on a hellish planet? Truly, such a son's life is utterly useless, to him and to his forefathers.

The twice born Brahmins replied, O king, in the mountainous forest not far from here is the ashram where a great saint Parvata Muni resides. Please go to him, for he is tri-kala-jnani (he knows the past, the present, and the future of everything) and can surely help you in your gaining relief from your misery.

Upon hearing this advice, the distressed king immediately set out on a journey to the ashram of the famous sage Parvata Muni. The ashram was indeed very big and housed many learned sages expert in chanting the sacred hymns of the four Vedas (Rig, Yajur, Sama, and Arthava). Approaching the holy ashram, the king beheld Parvata Muni seated among the assembly of sages adorned with hundreds of tilaks (from all the authorized sampradayas) like another Brahma or Vyaas.

Maharaj Vaikhaanasa offered his humble obeisance to the muni, bowing his head and then prostrating his entire body before him. After the king had seated himself among the assembly Parvata Muni asked him about the welfare of the seven limbs of his extensive kingdom (his ministers, his treasury, his military forces, his allies, the Brahmins, the sacrificial offerings performed, and the needs of his subjects). The muni also asked him if his kingdom was free of troubles and whether everyone was peaceful, happy and satisfied. To these inquiries the king replied, 'By your mercy O glorious and great sage, all seven limbs of my kingdom are doing very well. Yet there is a problem that has recently arisen, and to solve it I have come to you, O Brahman for your expert help and guidance.

Then Parvata Muni, the best of all sages, closed his eyes and meditated on the king's past, present and future. After a few moments he opened his eyes and said, 'Your father is suffering the results of committing a great sin, and I have discovered what it is. In his previous life he quarreled with his wife and forcibly enjoyed her sexually during her menstrual period. She tried to protest and resist his advances and even yelled out, someone please save me! Please, O husband, do not interrupt my monthly period in this way! Still he did not stop or leave her alone. It is on account of this grievous sin that your father now has fallen into such a hellish condition of suffering.

King Vaikhaanasa then said, O greatest among sages, by what process of fasting or charity may I liberate my dear father from such a condition? Please tell me how I can relieve and remove the burden of his sinful reactions, which are a great obstacle to his progress toward ultimate release (salvation - liberation - going back home).

Parvata Muni replied, during the light fortnight of the month of Margashirsha there occurs an Ekadasi called Mokshadaa. If you observe this sacred Ekadasi strictly, with a full fast, and give directly to your suffering father the merit you thus attain/obtain, he will be freed from his pain and instantly liberated.

Hearing this, Maharaj Vaikhaanasa profusely thanked the great sage and then returned to his palace to perform his vrata (austere rite). O Yudhishthira, when the light part of the month of Margashirsha at last arrived, Maharaj Vaikhaanasa faithfully waited for the Ekadasi tithi to arrive. He then perfectly and with full faith observed the Ekadasi fast with his wife, children, and other relatives. He dutifully gave the merit from this fast to his father, and as he made the offering, beautiful flower petals showered down from the devas who peered out from behind the clouds in the sky. The king's father was then praised by the messengers of the demigods (devas) and escorted to the celestial region. As he passed his son, as he traversed the lower to middle to higher planets, the father said to the king, 'My dear son, all auspiciousness unto you!

At last he reached the heavenly realm from where he can again with his newly acquired merit perform devotional service to Krishna or Vishnu and in due course return back to home back to Godhead. O son of Pandu, who so ever strictly observes the sacred Mokshadaa Ekadasi, following the established rules and regulations, achieves full and perfect liberation after death. There is no better fasting day than this Ekadasi of the light fortnight of the month of Margashirsha, O Yudhishthira, for it is a crystal-clear and sinless day. Whoever faithfully observes this Ekadasi fast, which is like chintaa-mani (a gem that yields all desires), obtains special merit that is very hard to calculate, for this day can elevate one from hellish life to the heavenly planets, and for one who observes Ekadasi for his own spiritual benefit, this elevates one to go back to Godhead, never to return to this material world.

Thus end the narration of the glories of Margashirsha-shukla Ekadasi or Mokshada Ekadasi, from the Brahmanda Purana.



Significance of the 24 different Ekadasis:
1. Putrada Ekadasi; There is a popular belief that married couples without children will be blessed with children if they observe Putrada Ekadasi.
 2. Shatilla Ekadasi: On this day, Til (sesame) is used in six ways. It is used in Ubtan, bathing, performing Havans, Tarpan, meal and donations.
3. Jaya Ekadasi: The greatness of this Ekadasi was narrated to Yudhishtira by Sri Krishna and is found in the Padma Purana and the Bhavisyothara Purana.
4. Vijaya Ekadasi: The major belief behind practicing this ritual is the observance of a vrat by Lord Ram before he headed towards crossing the ocean to reach Lanka and defeating Ravana.
5. Amalki Ekadasi: Dedicated to Amlaki or Gooseberry Tree, observance of this Ekadasi is believed to bring in great prosperity and benefits.
6. Papamochini Ekadasi: Observing a vrat on this day is highly significant as a sincere devotee can get rid of all his sins committed so far.
7. Kamda Ekadasi: A fast on this day will assist in getting rid of all sins and guilt that are a result of lust.
8. Varuthini Ekadasi: The vrat is a step towards a fortunate phase of life.
9. Mohini Ekadasi: Eliminates all sins and helps in leading a happy and prosperous life. Also, a person undergoing sadness is effectively able to overcome this sickness.
10. Apara Ekadasi: This vrat would help in eliminating their sins and henceforth, would finally assist them in attaining Moksha, or salvation.
11. Nirjala Ekadasi: It is the strictest fast among all the Ekadashis in the Hindu religion as one cannot even drink water while observing it.
12. Yogini Ekadasi: It is the most significant Ekadashi fast in order to get rid of various ailments and diseases.
13. Devshayani Ekadasi: It is believed that Lord Vishnu went into a deep sleep for the next four months beginning from this day.
14. Kamika Ekadasi: This vrat is considered highly significant and auspicious for performing good deeds and seeking blessings of the Lord.
15. Aja Ekadasi: This vrat eradicates all sinful and evil activities.
16. Parivartan Ekadasi: On this Ekadasi day Lord Vishnu who reclines on Aadishesha turns to another side and this turn is called as Parivarthan.
17. Indira Ekadasi: It is believed that observing this Ekadasi will help in removing the sins committed by oneself and one’s forefathers.
18. Pasankusa Ekadasi: One will be able to fulfill his dreams and observing it is equal to performing numerous yajnas and making several offerings.
19. Rama Ekadasi: Sins and evil deeds can be washed away by observing a vrat on this day.
20. Prabhodini Ekadasi: The Hindu devotees believe that Lord Vishnu woke up from his Yoga Nidra (cosmic sleep) on this day.
21. Utpanna Ekadasi: One can enjoy all kinds of comforts and gets the shelter of Lord Vishnu, after death.
22. Mokshada Ekadasi: helps in attaining Moksha, or liberation.
23. Saphala Ekadasi: Sins of many generations of a person are removed by observing the fast of Saphala Ekadasi.
24. Haribobhini (Devotthani) Ekadasi