What is Kamika Ekadashi?
Maharaja Yudhisthira said, "0 Supreme Lord, I have heard from You the glories of fasting on Deva-sayani Ekadasi, which occurs during the light part of the month of Asadha. Now I would like to hear about the Ekadasi that occurs during the dark fortnight of the month of Sravana [JulyAugust]. 0 Govinda, please be merciful to me and explain its glories. 0 Vasudeva, I offer my humble obeisances unto You."
The Supreme Lord, Sri Krsna, replied, "0 king, please listen attentively as I describe the auspicious influence of this holy fast day, which removes all sins. Narada Muni once asked Lord Brahma about this same topic. '0 regent of all,' said Naradaji, '0 you who sit upon a lotus throne, please tell me the name of the Ekadasi that occurs during the dark fortnight of the month of Sravana. Please also tell me which Deity is worshiped on that holy day, the process one must follow to observe it, and the merit it awards.'
Lord Brahma replied, 'My dear son Narada, for the benefit of all humanity I shall happily tell you everything you wish to know, for just hearing the glories of Kamika Ekadasi bestows merit equal to that obtained by one who performs a horse sacrifice. Certainly, great merit is attained by one who worships, and who also meditates on the lotus feet of, four-armed Lord Gadadhara, who holds conch shell, disc, club and lotus in His hands and who is also known as Sridhara, Hari, Visnu, Madhava, and Madhusudana. And the blessings achieved by a person who worships Lord Visnu exclusively are far greater than those achieved by one who takes a sacred bath in the Ganges at Kasi [Varanasi], in the forest of Naimisaranya, or at Puskara, where I am worshiped.' But one who observes Kamika Ekadasi and also worships Lord Sri Krsna achieves greater merit than one who has darsana of Lord Kedaranatha in the Himalayas, or one who bathes at Kuruksetra during a solar eclipse, or one who donates the whole earth in charity,
including its forests and oceans, or one who bathes in the Gandaki River or Godavari River on a full moon day that falls on a Monday when Leo and Jupiter are conjoined.
Observing Kamika Ekadasi bestows the same merit as donating a milkcow and her calf, along with their feed. On this day, whoever worships Lord Sridhara-deva, Visnu, is glorified by the demigods, Gandharvas, Pannagas, and Nagas.
Those who are afraid of their past sins and completely immersed in sinful material life should observe this best of Ekadasis according to their ability and thus attain liberation. This Ekadasi is the purest of all days and the most powerful for removing sins. O Narada, Lord Sri Hari Himself once said about this Ekadasi, "One who fasts on Kamika Ekadasi attains much more merit than one who studies all the spiritual literatures.
Anyone who fasts on this particular day and remains awake through the night will never experience the anger of Yamaraja, death personified. Whoever observes Kamika Ekadasi will not have to suffer future births, and in the past many yogis who fasted on this day went to the spiritual world. One should therefore follow in their auspicious footsteps and strictly observe a fast on this Ekadasi.
Whoever worships Lord Hari with tulasi leaves is freed from all implication of sin.
Indeed, he lives untouched by sin, as the lotus leaf, although in the water,
is untouched by it. Whoever offers Sri Hari but a single leaf from a tulasi
tree attains as much merit as one who gives away in charity two hundred
grams of gold and eight hundred grams of silver. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is more pleased by one who offers Him a single tulasi leaf than by one who worships Him with pearls, rubies, topaz, diamonds, lapis lazuli, sapphires, gomeda stones, cat's eye gems, and coral. One who offers Lord Kesava newly grown manjaris from the sacred tulasi plant gets rid of all the sins he has committed during this or any other lifetime. Indeed, mere darsana of tulasi on Kamika Ekadasi removes all sins, and merely touching her and praying to her removes all kinds of disease. One who waters tulasi need never fear the lord of death, Yamaraja. One who plants or transplants tulasi will eventually reside with Lord Krsna in His own abode. To Srimati Tulasidevi, who awards liberation in devotional service, one should therefore daily offer one's full obeisances.
Even Citragupta, Yamaraja's secretary, cannot calculate the merit obtained by one who offers Srimati Tulasi-devi a perpetually burning ghee lamp. So dear is this sacred Ekadasi to the Supreme Personality of Godhead that all the forefathers of one who offers a bright ghee lamp to Lord Krsna on this day ascend to the heavenly planets and drink nectar there. Whoever offers either a ghee- or sesame-oil lamp to Sri Krsna on this day is freed from all his sins and enters the abode of Surya, the sungod, with a body as bright as ten million lamps.
"O Yudhisthira," Lord Sri Krsna concluded, "these were the words Lord Brahma spoke to Narada Muni concerning the incalculable glories of Kamika Ekadasi, which removes all sins. This sacred day nullifies even the sin of killing a brahmana or of killing an unborn child in the womb, and it promotes one to the spiritual world by making one supremely meritorious Whoever hears these glories of Kamika Ekadasi with faith becomes free of all sins and returns home, back to Visnu-loka. (the planet of Vishnu)"
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 Kamika Ekadashi in 2013?
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