Monday, June 22, 2015

Significance of Ashadhi Ekadashi




Ashadi Ekadashi is of great significance to the Bhakti cult in Maharashtra. Sant Tukaram and Sant Jnaneshwar two of the great Bhakti exponents in Maharashtra reached the abode of Lord Vitthal in Pandharpur on Ashadi Ekadasi. They had set out on foot around fifteen days before the auspicious day from their villages. Sant Tukaram started from Dehu village near Pune and Sant Jnaneshwar from Alandi. They walked on foot singing the praise of Lord Vithal and reached the shrine on the auspicious day for the darshan of the Lord. In memory of this pilgrimage, Maharashtrians undertake Dindi Yatra or Pandharpur Yatra by foot to the Pandarpur shrine of Vitthala. The devotees are known Varkaris and they go in a procession carrying the ‘palki’ of Sant Tukaram and Sant Jnaneshwar.

Significance of Ashadhi Ekadashi

Ashadhi Ekadashi is also known as Shayani Ekadashi (lit. "sleeping eleventh") or Maha-ekadashi or Prathama-ekadashi or Padma Ekadashi is the eleventh lunar day of the bright fortnight (Shukla paksha) of the Hindu month of Ashadha . Thus it is also known as Ashadhi. This holy day is of special significance to Vaishnavas, followers of Hindu preserver god Vishnu. On this day idols of Vishnu and Lakshmi are worshipped, the entire night is spent singing prayers, and devotees keep fast and take vows on this day, to be observed during the entire chaturmas, the holy four month period of rainy season. These may include, giving up a food item or fasting on every Ekadashi day.
It is believed that Vishnu falls asleep (called - Yoga-Nidra) in Ksheersagar - cosmic ocean of milk - on Shesha nāga, the cosmic serpent. Thus the day is also called Dev-Shayani Ekadashi (lit. "god-sleeping eleventh") or Hari-shayani Ekadashi (lit. "Vishnu-sleeping eleventh") or Shayana Ekadashi. Vishnu finally awakens from his slumber four months later on Prabodhini Ekadashi - eleventh day of bright fortnight in the Hindu month Kartik (October-November). This period is known as Chaturmas (lit. "four months") and coincides with the rainy season. Thus, Shayani Ekadashi is the beginning of Chaturmas. Devotees start observing the Chaturmas vrata to please Vishnu on this day.
A fast is observed on Shayani Ekadashi. The fast demands abstainance from all grains, beans, cereals, certain vegetables like onions and certain spices and all kinds of eggs and non-veg.


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