Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Vaikunta Ekadashi or Mukkoti Ekadashi; an auspicious day in South India

Vaikunta Ekadashi or Mukkoti Ekadashi is the Ekadashi that occurs in the Hindu calendar month of Marghazhi or Margashira or Margashirsha (corresponding to late December - January in English calendar). Vaishnavism (Worship of Lord Vishnu) culture believes that ‘Vaikunta Dwaram’ or ‘the gate to Lord's Inner Sanctum’ is opened on this day. The Margashirsha shukla paksha ekadashi in lunar calendar is known as a 'Mokshada Ekadashi'. People also know that as a vaikunta ekadashi. However vaikunta ekadashi in Sri Rangam Temple (Tamil Nadu) is in the solar margashira month (Margazhi).

Special prayers, yagyas, discourses and speeches are arranged at Vishnu temples across the world on this auspicious day.

According to Vishnu Purana, fasting on Vaikunta Ekadashi is equivalent to fasting on the remaining 23 Ekadashis of the (Hindu) year. However according to Vaishnava tradition fasting is mandatory on all Ekadashi of both Sukla paksha and Krishna paksha. Fasting on Ekadashi is considered holier than any other religious observation.

Lord opened the gate of Vaikuntam (his abode) for two demons in spite of they being against the Lord. They also asked for the boon that who ever listens to their story and see the image of Lord coming out of the door ( Dwar) called Vaikunth Dwar they reach Vaikunth as well! Temples all over the India makes a door kind of structure on this day for devotees to pass through that.

According to Padma Purana, the female energy of Lord Vishnu slayed demon Muran and protects `Devas'. Impressed by the act, Lord Vishnu names her as `Ekadashi' and gives her the boon that those who worship `Ekadashi' on the day of her victory over Muran would reach `Vaikunth' (His abode).

Vaikunta Ekadasi is one the important and auspicious days to the Hindus. It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It occurs in the Hindu calander, in the month of Margazi (Between December and January). Also called the 'Mukkoti Ekadasi', when observed, it bestows liberation from the cycle of birth and death.

The Legend

The significance of Vaikunta Ekadasi is mentioned in the 'Padma Purana'. As per the legend, the Devas unable to bear the tyranny of 'Muran', a demon, approached Lord Shiva, who directed them to Lord Vishnu. A battle ensued between Lord Vishnu and the demon and the Lord realised that a new weapon was needed to slay Muran.

In order to take rest and create a new weapon, the Lord retired to a cave called 'Himavati' in Badrikashrama. When Muran tried to slay the Lord, who was sleeping, the female energy that emerged from the Lord burnt him to ashes in one look. Lord Vishnu who was pleased, named the female energy 'Ekadasi' and asked her to claim a boon. Ekadasi, instead beseeched the Lord that people who observed a fast on that day should be redeemed of their sins. The Lord thus declared that people who observed a fast on that day and worshiped Ekadasi, would attain Vaikunta. Thus came into being the first Ekadasi, which was a Dhanurmasa sukla paksha ekadasi.

Vaikunta Ekadasi Fasting

Vaikunta Ekadasi Fasting is an important aspect of the dos associated with it. People fast the whole day and keep vigil.

Special prayers are offered to Lord Vishnu and devotees engage in Japa (Chanting of the Lord's name) and Dhyana (Meditation).

On 'Dasami', the previous day of the observance, devotees who take up Vaikunta Ekadasi fasting are to take only lunch. On Ekadasi, the next day, they have to maintain a complete fast and engage in prayers and meditation of the Lord. They are strictly prohibited from taking rice. That night, people keep vigil the whole night and visit the temple of Lord Vishnu, mostly in the wee hours of the morning.

On this day, the Vaikunta Dwaram or the Swarga Vaasal, 'The Gates of Heaven' are believed to be kept open. The area encircling the sanctum is referred to Swarga Vaasal and devotees throng to gain entry into the temple, to seek the Lord.

Vaikunta Ekadasi Significance

It is important to look at the significance of this auspicious day from the spiritual angle.

The demon Muran stands for the rajasic and tamasic qualities in people, which attributes to lust, passion, inertia, arrogance etc. When one conquers these tendencies, one attains the purity of mind, Sattva, indispensable for attaining moksha, liberation or realisation of the self.

For realising the self as pure awareness, purity of mind is required. Fasting helps to keep tendencies at bay, which could be triggered by intake of certain food. Keeping vigil in the night is symbolic of awareness, or being watchful of the contents of the mind. When the mind is looked at, it becomes still. To abide in the stillness is to attain freedom or peace, acquired through merging of the mind with the self. This is symbolic of the mind automatically being absorbed at the sight of the Lord after the arduous fast and vigil.

The belief that rice is prohibited, owing to the fact that Muran dwells in it, symbolically signifies the fact that eating of rice could get one feel heavy and hamper the vigil to be kept up. This signifies that entertaining negative tendencies could hamper one's progress towards awareness or consciousness.

Observance of the rituals on this auspicious day even without understanding its importance is beneficial. Hence the merits accrued through observing it with piety is believed to be immeasurable.

In Mahabarata, Bhagavad Gita - the conversation between at the beginning of Lord Krishna and Arjuna Kurukshetra War is said to have occurred on this day.

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam Vaikunta Ekadashi celebrations in Srirangam—foremost of Vaishanvite Shrines, lasts 21 days and is divided into two parts of pagal pathu (morning part) and Ira pathu (night part). Lord Vishnu as Lord Ranganatha is adorned is an armor of diamonds (rathnaangi) and is brought to the Thousand-Pillared Hall from the sanctum through the northern gate known as Paramapada Vasal, the gate to the heaven. This gate is opened once in a year, only on the Vaikunta Ekadashi day.

Tirumala Venkateswara Temple also has a similar concept. Thirumala has a special entrance called Vaikunta Dwaram that encircles the sanctum sanctorum. The dwaram (passage) is opened only on Vaikunta Ekadashi and it is believed that any person who passes through this `Vaikunta Dwaram' on this particular day attains salvation. The temple witnesses heavy inflow of pilgrims and dignitaries for Vaikunta Ekadashi.
Bookmark and Share

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails