"Pandarapura vemba dodda shahara,
Alli Vithobha yemba obba Sashukara
Vithobha eruvudu nadi teera
Alli Pandari bhajaneya vyapara
Jai jai vittala panduranga..
Jai hari Vittala Panduranga"..
Goes the Kananda Bhajan on Vittala Panduranga...
I was wondering how I missed a post on Aashada Ekadashi on my blog post.
Here comes one. I have post one on Vaikuntha Ekadashi. So is also Aashada Ekadashi which is of great reference.
Ekadashi, Triyodashi, Amavasya (New Moon Day), Pournima (Full Moon Day), are of great significance to Indians. Each Ekadashi, Triyodashi, Amavasya (New Moon Day), Pournima (Full Moon Day), is given a specific name which again has a legend or a story behind its naming.
Ekadashi meaning is “eleven tithi”- is the eleventh day of each of the two lunar phases which occur in a Hindu calendar month. A month is divided into two phases called Paksha. - the Śukla Paksha is the period of 15 days from new moon day to full moon day. Or to say the period from brightening moon also known as the waxing phase. The Kṛiṣhṇa Paksha is the period of 15 days from full moon day to new moon day or the period of the fading moon also known as the waning phase.
According to Hinduism and Jainism, Ekadashi –i.e., the eleventh day is considered more auspicious for spiritual advancement day. It is usually observed as “Upvasa” a Sanskrit word – “UP” meaning near and “VASA” meaning to sit or reside. Kindly don’t pronounce it as English word “UP”.
Now the questions arises sit or reside before whom?
Before the Almighty-in any form and be engaged in spiritual meditation. It is kind a day-off from all the activities like-cooking, cleaning, eating, washing, talking or chattering and so on.
One day to devote ourselves completely in meditation for betterment and spiritual advancement.
The Upvasa is wrongly translated as fasting in English meaning no eating or partaking food. Again on Ekadashi day variety of food preparation takes place maybe in the form of fruit salads, cooking or eating of special kinds of grains, milk and so on.
The right way of abstinence starts from previous day i.e., tenth day called Dashami afternoon meal marks as a closure of kitchen chores. From tenth day afternoon to before dawn of Dwadashi day i.e., twelfth day. On twelfth day the special prescribed food has to taken before the sun rise and then not to eat or sleep the whole day. This would amount to around 36 hours without food or water. So following thus, twice a month amounts to staying without food or water for three to three and half days. This again as a scientific reason which benefits our body.
What would a person do on Ekadashi day?
Person is expected to devote totally in the spiritual activities-like participating in Sath sangh bhajan, recitation of Sahasranamas, meditation, Japa and not to indulge in unnecessary gossip.
However, there is an ample of exemptions for not taking food on Ekadashi day. People who are sick, have health issues, or are pregnant women, children below the age of 8-10 years are exempted. Again, there is relaxation of consuming one meal instead of three meals. In real sense, observing Ekadashi is not strictly imposed one and all. It is left to the individual.
There are usually Twenty-Four Ekadashis in a calendar year. During Leap year there are two extra Ekadashis. Leap year in Indian calendar is the year which has an extra Lunar month called Adhika Māsa, it occurs every third year.
Each Ekadashi has a unique name, significance and is associated to either any avataras (incarnation) of the Almighty or any specific incident/person/deity from the Puraṇas or Itihasas. Here are the names of Twenty Four Ekadash is in year:-
Chaitra Maasa- Begins in March -April
Kṛiṣhṇa Pakhaa - Papavimocanī Ekadashi
Śukla Pakshaa - Kamada Ekadashi
Vaishakha Maasa – Begins in April- May
Kṛiṣhṇa Paksha - Varuthini Ekadashi
Śukla Paksha - Mohini Ekadashi
Jyeṣṭha Maasa –Begins in May -June
Krishna Paksha- Apara Ekadashi
Shukla Paksha- Nirjala or Bhima Ekadashi
Aashada Maasa- June-July
Krishna Paksha- Yogini Ekadashi
Shukla Paksha- Devsayani Ekadashi
Shravaṇa Maasa –July-August
Krishna Paksha- Kamika Ekadashi
Shukla Paksha- Putrada Ekadashi
Krishna Paksha- Ananda Ekadashi
Shukla Paksha- Parshva Ekadashi
Krishna Paksha- Iṅdira Ekadashi
Shukla Paksha- Papakuṅsa Ekadashi
Kartika Maasa- October-November
Krishna Paksha- Rama Ekadashi
Shukla Paksha- Prabodhini or Devuthani Ekadashi
Margashirṣa Maasa – November-December
Krishna Paksha- Vaikunta or Trikoti Ekadashi or Mukkoti Ekadashi
Shukla Paksha- Mokṣada Ekadashi
Krishna Paksha- Saphala Ekadashi
Shukla Paksha- Putrada Ekadashi
Magha Maasa- January-February
Krishna Paksha- Shata Tila Ekadashi
Shukla Paksha- Bhaimi or Jaya Ekadashi
Phalguna Maasa – February-March
Krishna Paksha- Utpanna Ekadashi
Shukla Paksha- Amalaki Ekadashi
Aashada Ekadashi, also spelt as Aashadhi Ekadashi, is the most important Ekadasi observed as first Ekadashi of the year. In Telugu it is called as “Toli Ekadashi”. It falls on eleventh day in bright half of Ashada Maasa (June-July).
Pandarpur Yatra culminates on Aashada Ekadasi and is of great importance in Maharashtra State, India.
This Aashada Ekadashi is of especial reference to the Varkari community in Western India. It is 11th day of the first half of Aashada and on this day the Varkaris, having pilgrimage for weeks from their homes to reach holy Pandharpur, gather at dawn for darshan of their beloved Vitthal Panduranga-a form of Vishnu.
Pandharpur is a well known pilgrimage town on the banks of Chandrabhaga River in Solāpur district, Maharashtra, India. It is also known as the Southern Kashi of India and Kuldaivat of Maharashtra State. It is located at a distance of 72 kms by road from Solapur District headquarters. The Pandharpur Railway Station falls on the Miraj-Kurduwadi-Latur railway track.
Pandharpur, like several holy sites across India, is essentially a nucleus of energy. It is a place where the Supreme Consciousness was invited to appear in the human form. There are many miraculous stories of Vittala Panduranga who disguised as commoner lived and helped his devotees. There are strong beliefs among the commoner of Vittala entering the devotee’s home, like a family member would.
Legend Story behind Aashada Ekadashi
Pundalik was such a devotee and he had tremendous Trust and Love for the Almighty. As per the orders from Almighty, he performed all his duties in daily life with complete devotion. His old parents, who had brought him up well and guided him in youth now only, expected a few small services in their old age, like a little oil massage or pressing their feet, just so that they could sleep well.
One night, exactly at the time he offered his services to his parents, Vittal also known as Vitoba or Krishna appeared the form of a farmer, directly into the room. He had a worker’s blue-black skin and said to Pundalik, “Since you constantly keep me in your mind and also satisfy your Karma Yog, I decided to come over and meet you.”
Pundalik simply replied, “At the moment, until I complete my duties, I cannot be with you’, and in that simple room, he placed a brick near the Almighty to give Him a place and said, “Please wait upon this brick until I am done.”
Then the Almighty stood upon the brick, his hands upon either side of his waist in a posture of waiting. In Marathi, a brick is called vit and the Vittala became, ‘the Almighty who paused upon the brick’ i.e. Vithala.
The concept of Almighty standing upon this brick is interesting.
Spiritual Scholars opine that this brick symbolizes a single cell in the body, just like it is a single cell in a building. As a good brick needs to be made of good quality earth, mixed with the water of devotion and fired by the heat of Karma Yog, as every cell needs to get purified. All our negativeness called doshas, bad gunas and tamas can be crushed just like grains of earth. Then you add to them the water of devotion and give them shape of the brick or cell through the fire of Karma Yog i.e. the heat of the hard work done to fulfill our duties. On such a brick or cell, through continuous longing and chanting, embed the name of Supreme. Thus did Pundalik invite the Supreme into his home, his family and in each cell.
These qualities define the Varkari community, followers of that Vithala. They choose to do simple jobs but are hard working.. They have a tradition of tremendous devotion expressed through constant nama-japa and giving all the credit for their work to Him through a rich tradition of community songs and verses as well as devotional songs.
All of this is done to keep inviting the Supreme back to Pandharpur and meet him on Ashada Ekadashi. As hundreds of thousands of Varkar is take to the streets to walk to Pandharpur in time for the tithi they meet and enlarge their circles. They walk together and sing together in massive groups of people. The idea is to accommodate everyone they meet on the way, and slowly include the world in one circle on the way to meet their Lord. They sing simple mantras like ‘Vithala-Vithala’ or ‘Pandurang Hari’ and their devotional songs are full of great advice on how best to go through life, both materially and spiritually. They learn and remind each other, and finally make their way to Vithala.
The great saints of Maharashtra, Saint Dnyaneshwar from the 13th century and Saint Tukaram from the 16th century were the main visionaries who showed the community these simple ways to invite Almighty’s Grace into their lives. Many pilgrims begin from Alandi, Shree Dnyaneshwar’s town, or Dehu, where Shree Tukaram lived. Some come from very far away and could take 3-4 weeks. They walk with minimal luggage and on the way are served food and water by hundreds of people who support them. They pass the time singing away and reach on the night before Ekadashi. Their entire lives, work and devotion comes full circle when on the glorious morning, the Lord comes to meet them. Saint Tukaram has clearly stated in one of his ‘Abhangas’ about Vithala and the PandharpurYatra - ‘Vaikunthpeethaalegharaa’ i.e. the Lord has come into our homes over here and even that he has seen the Almighty in human form with a luminous glory. The peeth, or seat, to invite the Lord to come to you is the brick or cell of the body. Every cell of your body can become a seat for the Supreme. This is a result of when one is able to instill Trust in Almighty deeply into the body for the performance of one’s everyday duties. When they follow this principle in life, then during this journey, or vaari, the pilgrims come into the highest spiritual joy, which reaches its climax when they all see their Lord together.