Vaikunta Ekadashi is the Shukla Paksha Ekadashi that occurs during the month of Dhanu in the Hindu calendar.
The Vaishnava sect believes that “Vaikunta Dwaram” or “the gate of the Lord’s inner sanctuary” is opened on this day. The Margashirsha Shukla Paksha Ekadashi in the lunar calendar is known as “Mokshada Ekadashi”. On this auspicious day, special prayers, yagnas, discourses and speeches are organized in the temples of Vishnu around the world. The Shaiva sect observes the day as Trikoti Ekadashi, a religious celebration where all the deities of the Hindu pantheon immediately pay homage to Lord Shiva.
Vaikuntha Ekadashi Traditional Story / Legend:
According to Vishnu Purana, fasting in Vaikuntha Ekadashi is equivalent to fasting in the remaining 23 Ekadashis of the year. However, according to the Vaishnava tradition, fasting is obligatory on all Ekadasi of Shukla paksha and Krishna paksha. Fasting on Ekadasi is considered holier than any other religious observation.
Vishnu opened the door of Vaikuntham for two demons despite being against him. They also asked for the blessing that anyone who listens to their story and sees the image of Vishnu coming out of the doors, called Vaikunth Dwar, also arrives in Vaikunth. The temples across India make a kind of door structure that day so that the devotees can walk through.
According to Padma Purana, Vishnu’s female energy has killed the Muran demon and protects the “Devas”. It happened on the eleventh day of the lunar month during the sun’s journey in the Dhanurrashi or Dhanu Rashi. Impressed by the act, Sri Vishnu names her “Ekadashi” and gives her the blessing that those who worship “Ekadashi” on the day of his victory over Muran will arrive at “Vaikunt” (His abode).
Vaikuntha Ekadashi is one of the important and auspicious days for Hindus. It is dedicated to Sri Vishnu. It occurs in the Hindu calendar, in the month of Margashirsha (between December and January). When observed, it releases the cycle of birth and death.
Vaikuntha Ekadashi Importance / Significance:
The importance of Vaikuntha Ekadashi is mentioned in Padma Purana. Legend says that the Devas, unable to resist the tyranny of “Muran”, a demon, approached Lord Shiva, who directed them to Sri Vishnu. There was a battle between Sri Vishnu and the demon and Sri Vishnu realized that a new weapon was needed to kill Muran. To rest and create a new weapon, Sri Vishnu retired to a cave for the goddess named Haimavati in Bhadrikashrama. When Muran tried to kill Sri Vishnu, who was sleeping, the female power that emerged from Sri Vishnu burned Muran with his eyes. Sri Vishnu, who was happy, named the goddess ‘Ekadashi’ and asked her to ask for a blessing. Ekadashi, on the other hand, begged Sri Vishnu that the people who observed the fast that day should be redeemed from their sins. Sri Vishnu thus declared that the people who observed the fast that day and worshiped Ekadasi, would reach Vaikuntha. Thus was born the first Ekadasi, which was a Dhanurmasa Shukla Paksha Ekadashi.
The Muran demon represents rajasic and tamasic qualities in people, attributed to lust, passion, inertia, arrogance, and so on. When one conquers these tendencies, one obtains the purity of the spirit, Satva, indispensable to reach the moksha, the liberation or the realization of the self. To realize the self as pure consciousness, mental purity is required. Fasting helps to keep the trends that could be triggered by the consumption of certain foods. Night watch is a symbol of awareness or attention to the content of the mind. When you look at the mind, it calms down. To remain calm means to attain freedom or peace, acquired by the fusion of the spirit with the self. It is a symbol that the mind is automatically absorbed by Vishnu after strenuous fasting and vigilance.
The belief that rice is forbidden, because Muran lives there, symbolically means that eating rice makes one feel heavy and hinders alertness. This means that entertaining negative tendencies could hinder progress towards consciousness or awareness. The observance of rituals on this auspicious day, even without understanding its importance, is beneficial. Therefore, it is believed that the accumulated merit in observing them with piety is immeasurable. In the Mahabharata, the Bhagavad Gita, the conversation between Krishna and Arjuna at the beginning of the Kurukshetra war would have taken place that day.
Vaikuntha Ekadashi Fasting:
The fast on Vaikuntha Ekadashi is an important aspect of those associated with it. People fast all day keep vigil. Special prayers are offered to Sri Vishnu and the devotees participate in Japa and Dhyana (meditation). On ‘Dashami’, the day before the celebration, the faithful who take Vaikuntha Ekadashi quickly take only their lunch. On Ekadashi, the next day, they should keep a fast pace and participate in prayers and meditation on Sri Vishnu. Taking rice is strictly forbidden. That night, people watch all night and visit the temple of Sri Vishnu, mainly in the early morning.
It is believed that on that day the Vaikuntha Dwaram or the Vaikuntha Vaasal, “The Vaikundam Gates”, remain open. The area surrounding the sacred place refers to Vaikuntha Vaasal and the faithful who enter the temple to seek Sri Vishnu.