What is Apara Ekadashi?
Yudhisthira Maharaja said, "0 Janardana, what is the name of the Ekadasi that occurs during the dark fortnight of the month of Vaishaka (Purnimant Jyestha)? I wish to hear the glories of this sacred day. Please narrate every thing to me."
Lord Sri Krsna said, "0 king, your inquiry is wonderful because the answer will benefit the whole human society. This Ekadasi is so sublime and meritorious that even the greatest sins can be erased by its potency. 0 great king, the name of this unlimitedly meritorious Ekadasi is Apara Ekadasi Whoever fasts on this holy day becomes famous all over the universe. The greatest sins are completely eradicated by observing Apara Ekadasi.
The merit attained by one who performs all of the following acts of piety is equal to the merit achieved by one who observes Apara Ekadasi. bathing three times a day in Puskara-ksetra during Kartika [OctoberNovember]; bathing at Prayag in the month of Magha [JanuaryFebruary] when the sun is in the Zodiac; rendering service to Lord shiva at Varanasi during Siva-ratri; offering oblations to one's forefathers at Gaya; bathing in the sacred Gautami River when Jupiter transits Leo; having darsana of Lord shiva at Kedaranatha; seeing Lord Badrinatha when the sun transits the sign of Aquarius; and bathing at the time of a solar eclipse at Kuruksetra and giving cows, elephants, and gold there in charity. All the merit one gets from performing these pious acts is gained by a person who observes the Apara Ekadasi fast. Also, the merit attained by one who donates a pregnant cow, along with gold and fertile land, is attained by one who fasts on this day.
In other words, Apara Ekadasi. is an axe that cuts down the fully matured tree of sinful deeds, it is a forest fire that burns sins as if they were firewood, it is the sun blazing before one's dark misdeeds, and it is a lion stalking the meek deer of impiety. Therefore, 0 Yudhisthira, whoever truly fears his past and present sins must observe Apara Ekadasi.
Therefore one must faithfully observe the sacred Apara Ekadasi. and worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Trivikrama. One who does so is freed of all his sins and promoted to the abode of Lord Visnu.
0 Bharata, for the benefit of all humanity I have thus described to you the importance of holy Apara Ekadasi. Anyone who hears or reads this description is certainly freed from all kinds of sins, 0 king.
Ekadasi (From Vaisnava text)
The importance of Ekadasi for worshippers of Sriman Narayana cannot be emphasized enough. Ekadasi is also called "Hari-Vasara" (Lord Hari's day).
All our elders have steadfastly observed the Ekadasi-Dwadasi vratam or "Upavasam" on this sacred day. Upa means near and Vasam means stay. Stay close to Hari contemplating on His kalyana gunas. This is the summum bonum of Ekadasi vratam.
Do we need to fast on Ekadasi
Since upavasam does not (directly) connote fasting, a question may be asked as to the need to fast on Ekadasi. Shastras give unequivocal answers. The following quotes from our shastras should clear any doubts in this regard:
ekAdashyAM tu yo bhuN^kte mohenAvR^itachetasaH |
shuklAyAmatha kR^ishhNAyAM nirayaM yAti sa dhruvam.h
One who eats on ekAdashI on account of an intellect clouded by delusion; be it the shukla- or the kR^ishhNa-paxa, (s) he goes to hell, this is certain.
ashhTavarshhAdhiko yastu ashItirnahi pUryate
yo bhuN^kte mAnavaH pApo vishhNorahani chAgate
One who is greater than eight years of age, but has indeed not completed eighty; the human who eats when Vishnu's day arrives, consumes verily sin itself.
In addition, several scientific findings go to prove the benefits of fasting on one's health. This should further reinforce one's determination to fast.
How to break your fast on Dwadasi
Timely breaking of the fast on Dwadasi is as important as observing the fast on Ekadasi. Normally, the fast must be broken before trayOdasi arrives. If there is insufficient time, the fasting can be broken with water. From the ShastrAs we find:
pArayitvodakenApi bhuJNjano naiva dushhyati |
ashitAnashitA yasmAdApo vidvadbhirIritAH |
aMbhasA kevalenaiva karishhye vratapAraNam.h
[If there is insufficient time] there is no flaw if water is consumed for pAraNe; for it is stated by the learned that water has the property that when consumed, it is still as if one has not consumed; thus, with only water, do I perform the ceremonial paraNe. If there is not enough time for a proper pAraNe, then the fast may be broken merely by sipping water; there is no flaw of multiple pAraNe-s on this account, as the wise have decreed that such a procedure does not count as multiple pAraNe-s. Having performed the ceremonial pAraNe in this manner, one may have a proper meal later, although the time later may not be appropriate for pAraNe itself.
dvAdashI na pramoktavyA yAvadAyuH pravartate |
archanIyo hR^ishhIkesho vishuddhenAntarAtmanA
The dvAdashI is not to be neglected, as long as life goes on; Hrshikesha is to be worshipped [for so long] with a clean psyche. Concerning the food for Dwadasi pAranE, one should avoid using anything related to plantains (vazhai kaay, ilai etc.), also avoid chilies and tamarind. One can substitute pepper for chilies and lemon or dry mango powder for tamarind. Include sundaikaay , nellikaay, and akathik keerai.
An Instance from the Life of Swami Desika
Swami Desikan, who we all know lived a full veda prayam, in his old age was observing Ekadasi vratam. The head priest of the Sri Ranganatha temple seeing swami in a very weak condition offered him the koil prasadam and told Swami that Lord Ranganatha Himself had ordered him to offer the prasadam. To this Swami replied that the Lord would not have said that and politely refused to partake the prasadam. Such was the steadfastness of our Acharya in observing the sastraic codes.
Ekadasi – Supreme of all Vratas
There is a saying that: " Na DwadasyAt param Vratam". Therefore observing the Ekadasi vratam is equivalent to performing many Yagnyas. Most of us are familiar with the story of Ambarisha. What's more, one becomes dear to our Lord Narayana.
ekAdashIsamutthena vahninA pAtakendhanam.h |
bhasmIbhavati rAjendra api janmashatodbhavam.h
With the ekAdashI as fire, and sin as fuel; [the latter] gets incinerated, O King, even if it be obtained of hundreds of lifetimes (From Bhaghavatam). Therefore, while other actions can bring some benefits, none of them quite matches up to the power of an ekAdashI in terms of removing the accumulation of sins, which brings one misery.
When is Apara Ekadashi in 2009?
When is Apara Ekadashi in 2008?
- USA, Canada, Europe, Africa, Gulf Countries, India, Srilanka, Bangladesh May 20th 2009
- Singapore, MalaysiaMay 20th 2009
- Japan, Australia, NewZeland, Fiji May 21st 2009
USA / Canada (Hawali, Alaska, Pacific Time Zones): Smarta: May 30th. Vaishnava: May 31st
USA / Canada (Mountain, Central, Eastern Time Zones): Smarta & Vaishnava: May 31st
Europe: Smarta & Vaishnava: May 31st
Gulf Countries: Smarta & Vaishnava: May 31st
India: Smarta & Vaishnava: May 31st
Bangla Desh / Burma/ Singapore: Smarta & Vaishnava: May 31st
Malayasia, Fiji, China, Australia, Fiji, Japan: Smarta & Vaishnava: May 31st
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