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Read also  How to do Ekaadashee Vrat?     List of Ekaadashee

Vaikunth Ekaadashee is an important festival dedicated to Lord Vishnu in the Tamil month of Margazhi (December-January) Shukla Paksh and in Telugu Calendar during the same period in Pushya Shukla Paksh. In North India, it falls in the Krishn Paksh in Vaishaakh month. In South India, Vaikunth Ekaadashee is also known as Mokshadaa Ekaadashee. In Kerala, it is known as Swarg Vathil (Swarg Vaahee) Ekaadashee.

Vaikunth Ekaadashee festival is of great significance at the Tirupati Balaji Temple, Srirangam Sri Ranganaath Temple and at the Bhadraachalam Temple. It is one of the most auspicious days in Lord Vishnu Temples in South India. The significance of Vaikunth Ekaadashee can be traced back to the Padm Puraan. The Puraan indicates that Vishnu took the form of "Ekaadashee" – female energy – to kill demon Mur. This happened during the Tamil month of Margazhi. Impressed by ‘Ekaadashee,’ Vishnu told her that whoever worships him on this day will reach ‘Vaikunth Lok’ (Heaven). It is widely believed that the gates to the Heaven open - the Gate of Vaikunth - on the Vaikunth Ekaadashee day. This is the passage encircling the innermost sanctum of the Lord. Scores of devotees queue up to pass through the Gate of Vaikunth in the temples.

Significance of Vaikunth Ekaadashee
The significance of Vaikunth Ekadashee can be traced back to Padm Puraan, 5/4.
(1) According to this Puraan, the Devtaa unable to bear the tyranny of the demon Mur approached Shiv, who directed them to Vishnu. A battle ensued between Vishnu and Mur. Vishnu realized that a new weapon was needed to kill Mur Daitya. In order to create a new weapon, Vishnu went to a cave called Sinhaavatee in Badrik Aashram. But, Mur came to know that Vishnu is creating a new weapon to kill him, so, Mur tried to kill Vishnu when He was asleep. At that time a female energy emerged from Vishnu and burnt Mur to ashes with just one look. Vishnu named the female energy 'Ekaadashee' and asked her to ask for a boon. Ekaadashee, requested Vishnu, that people who observed a fast on that day should be released from their sins and Karm. From then on, this Ekaadashee is observed as "Vaikunth Ekaadashee".

(2) All Devtaa pay their homage to Lord Vishnu every year on this day, and Vishnu comes out of Vaikunth Lok to accept their homage.
(3) On this day, the Vaikunth Dwaar or "The Gates of Heaven" are kept open.
(4) It is believed that, Bhagavad Geetaa was told to Arjun by Bhagvaan Krishn on ths day at the beginning of Kuru Kshetra War.
(5) Amrit emerged from Ksheer Saagar during Saagar Mathan (churning of the ocean) happened on this day.
(6) Those who die on this day are freed from the rounds of birth and death and they directly reach Vaikunth (the abode of Vishnu).

Legend of Suketu
Suketu was the ruler of the city of Bhadraavatee. Shaivyaa was his wife. The couple were childless. Unhappy and sad with this, the couple decided to leave their kingdom and go into the forests. The royal couple handed over the affairs of the kingdom to a trusted minister and left to the forest.  At one point of time, they even considered committing suicide but withdrew considering it to be cowardice. One day, the couple heard Vaidik chants and moved towards that direction. They saw a few sages praying to Lord Vishnu on the bank of a lotus pond. After the recital, the couple came to know about the Ekaadashee fast and upon observing it with utmost devotion, they were blessed with a son.

How to Observe Vaikunth Ekaadashee?
Vaikunth Ekaadashee, or Mukti Ekaadashee, is the most important of the 24 Ekadashi observed in both North and South India. Fasting and all night prayer dedicated to Lord Vishnu is the main observance of the day. Like all Ekaadashee days, devotees fast on this day and observe vigil the whole night. Some people indulge in meditation, Jap and singing of Hari Keertan. Rice is avoided during Ekaadashee days as it is believed that the demon Mur finds a dwelling place in the rice eaten on Ekaadashee day.

Ekaadashee is mentioned in a number of Puraan. It is especially associated with Lord Vishnu and "Haribhakti Vilas" talks in detail about its importance. Today, in Hindu religion Ekaadashee means a day to fast. It falls on the 11th day of every lunar fortnight and thus there are two Ekaadashee every month. It is also known as "Hari-vaasar" or "Hari Din". Several Puraan including Padm Puraan and Skand Puraan detail about the significance of Ekaadashee.

How to observe ‘Ekaadashee’ is clearly mentioned in ‘Hari-vaasar.’ In modern day, many people will find it difficult to observe it in its entire strictness. But there are a large number of people who observe it. And there are numerous observations on what food one can have? There are also regional variations to the way in which the Ekaadashee is observed.

The preparation starts on Dashamee day – a day before Ekaadashee. The person observing this Ekaadashee should wake up early in the morning on Dashamee day and should take bath and perform other daily routines. The person should mentally prepare for the Ekaadashee. He/ she should only have one meal on the Dashamee day and should avoid salt, alcohol, non-vegetarian food and sex. Some Puraan say that ‘Daal’ (pulses) and ‘honey’ should also be avoided on Dashamee day.

The next day, that is the Ekaadashee day, is meant for total fasting. Praying to Vishnu is the order of the day. Some people avoid sleep during Ekaadashee night and they hear religious discourses and perform "Aaratee". But many people today will not be able to stay awake the entire night due to work pressure etc.

The next day on Dwaadashee – the same routine which was followed on Dashamee, should be repeated. Overeating should be avoided on Dwaadashee day. Puraan state that one should not take pride in observing Ekaadashee. The food on Dwaadashee should be cooked in one’s own house.

Take a picture or photo or idol of Lord Vishnu, fruits, Tulasee leaves, Betel leaves (optional), Betel nuts, (optional), yellow bananas, unbroken coconut (optional) for Poojaa.

How to Break Fast
Wake up early in the morning. Take bath and offer prayers. You can perform a simple Poojaa to Lord Vishnu at home by offering fruits and Tulasee leaves, light the lamp and prayer or meditate for few minutes – or the normal ritual you do daily. Only difference is that today it is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. If there is a Vishnu temple nearby visit the temple and witness morning Poojaa and rituals. Complete fast or Upavaas by eating in the evening of the day, fasting for 24 hours. It is believed that a partial or total abstinence from food on Ekaadashee is rewarded with bliss. Do not eat food made from rice on Ekaadashee. If you have any health problem or are taking medicines, please consult your doctor before deciding on fasting.

You can also opt for a partial fast by avoiding food made of rice, because it is believed that Mur Raakshas lives in rice. It is said that the sweat that fell down from the head of Brahmaa Jee assumed the form of a demon and he asked the Lord to provide him an abode to  dwell. Brahmaa Jee said to the demon to go and dwell in the rice particles eaten by men on Ekaadashee day and become worms in their stomach. For this reason rice is prohibited on Ekadashi.

Take a bath in the evening too. Repeat the morning Poojaa to Vishnu in the evening. Visit Vishnu temple and witness the evening Poojaa and rituals. "Vishnu Ashtottar", "Vishnu Sahastranaam" or simple Chanting of – "Om Namo Naaraayanaaya". Staunch devotees who observe Vaikunth Ekaadashee fasting do not sleep on the day. They spend the whole night at Vishnu temples or by singing prayers or listening stories dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Next day morning (Dwaadashee), break the fast  after taking bath. Offer prayers to Lord Vishnu by lighting a lamp and then break the fast.

It is good to go on fast once in a while as it recuperates the body. Ekaadashee observance cleans our body and the digestive organs get much needed rest. Those people suffering from ailments and on medications should take the advice of a doctor before fasting. Never torture your body in the name of religion. There is nothing wrong in having fruits or milk in the day time. And you can bring a certain amount of flexibility in the way it is observed.


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Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/06
Updated on 02/19/13