Ekaadasi is the 11th lunar day (thithi) of Hindu calendar that occurs twice in a lunar month both in Sukla paksha (bright fortnight) as well as in Krishna paksha (dark fortnight). That means we get two Ekaadasi days in a lunar month and in a year there will be 24 Ekaadasi days; sometimes even more whenever there is Adhika maasam as per lunar calendar. Ekaadasi is the most favourite day of Lord Vishnu and that’s why it is also known as Hari-Dina the day dedicated to Lord Sri Hari (Vishnu). Ekaadasi has attained lot of prominence in Hindu religion as it is the most sacred day prescribed for worshiping Lord Vishnu. We find devout Hindus observe fasting on Ekaadasi and spend the whole day in spiritual pursuits. It is said that there is no austerity that is equivalent to Ekaadasi Vratha in terms of merits. Including Padma Purana several sacred scripts have eulogized the significance and merits of Ekaadasi Vratha. It is said that,
“na Gaayathraya para manthra; na Mathru para dhaivatham,
na Kaasya param theertham; na Ekadasya samam vratham”
That means, there is no manthra that is superior to Gaayathri manthra; there is no Daivam (Deity) superior to Mother; there is no sacred theertha (pilgrimage) better than Kaasi; and there is no Vratha (austerity) that is more meritorious than that of Ekaadasi Vratha.
Significance of Vaikunta Ekaadasi…
Ekaadasi that occurs in sukla paksha (bright fortnight) of the lunar Month either Margasira maasam or Pushya maasam coinciding with sacred solar month Dhanurmasam is reckoned as Vaikunta Ekaadasi. Though all Ekaadasi days are equal in merits, Vaikunta Ekaadasi has attained lot of prominence in terms of spirituality as it occurs during Dhanurmasam before the onset of Uttaraayana. If it occurs in Margasira maasam it is also known as Mokshada Ekaadasi (capable of bestowing salvation) and if it occurs in Pushya maasam it is also called as Puthrada Ekaadasi (capable of bestowing progeny).
According to Padma Purana, Ekaadasi is depicted as the female energy of Lord Vishnu who, in the form of a damsel manifested on this day; killed the demon Mura and protected the Indraadi Devathas. Pleased by the act of His fcmale energy Lord Vishnu named her as Ekaadasi. He also gave her a boon that whoever worship Ekaadasi and observe fasting on this day would reach His abode Vaikunta and his doors would be open for such people.
Vaikunta is one of the several thousand names of Lord Vishnu. Vaikunta is His abode. It is the place where He resides along with his consort Goddess Lakshmi Devi resting on Aadisesha. It is also known as Paramapadam the supreme abode and the most coveted place. It is the sacred abode where every soul would be longing to go and stay eternally. Nearest reference to Vaikunta we find in Sri Vishnu Sahasranama Stothram sloka # 44 which reads as follows…
Vaikuntah Purushah Praanah Praanadah Pranavah Prithuh
Hiranyagarbhah Shatrughno Vyaapto VaayurAdhokshajah
According to one’s sampradaya one may chose any of the Vishnu related prayers like Vishnu Sahasranama Stothram; Sahasra Naamaavali, Vishnu Ashtottara Naamaavali, Purusha Sooktha, Vishnu Sooktha, Narayana Upanishad, Sree Sooktha, Lakshmi Ashtottara etc. Those who cannot read them can chant at least, Om! Namo! Naaraayanaaya; Om! Namo! Bhagavathe Vaasudevaaya; Om! Namo! Venkatesaaya; or chant Sri Raama Naama or Naama Thraya Japam (Achyutaaya Namah-Anantaaya Namah-Govindaaya Namah); Harey Raama-Harey Krishna manthra as many number of times as possible.
Information credit: Sri Bhargava Sarma