Vaikuntha Ekadashi- Spiritual Significance
Ekadashi, the 11th day of the waxing or waning moon is considered as one of the important days by all devotees of Krishna. Lord Krishna is very pleased with one who fasts on this day. In general, the devotees fast completely on this day and many do not drink even a drop of water. This austerity is taken up by devotees of the Lord to please Him. Acharyas - great spiritual teachers have recommended that if one is unable observe a complete fast he should at least fast from grains and partake only fruits, milk and root preparations on every Ekadashi. It is said that by fasting on this day and remembering the pastimes of Lord Krishna, all of one’s sins are eradicated and one is purified.
The month of Margasirsha (Dec-Jan) also known as Dhanur Masa is of great importance to the devotees of Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita – ‘masanam margasirso ham’ - of the months, I am Margasirsa. The Ekadashi, 11th day of the waxing moon of Maragasirsa masa is popularly known as Vaikuntha Ekadashi. This Ekadashi acquires significance because the great devotee Nammalwar, who come in the disciplic succession of Sri Ramanuja, went back to home, back to Godhead on this day. Lord Vishnu, the Lord of Vaikuntha was at the door of Vaikuntha to receive His unalloyed devotee. To commemorate this great event, generally all Vishnu temples create a Vaikuntha Dwara - a special entrance - in the temple and the utsava deities of the temple are installed near the dwara. It is said that anyone who passes through the Vaikuntha dwara is guaranteed to go back to home, back to Godhead.Apart from this, Vaikuntha Ekadashi is the day on which the epic churning of the ocean of milk was completed by the demons and demigods and the proverbial nectar obtained. It was also on this day that Lord Krishna spoke the Bhagavad-gita to Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra.
Vaikuntha Ekadashi Preparations at ISKCON Bangalore
Vaikuntha Ekadashi is always celebrated in a very special way in the Sri Radha Krishna Mandir at ISKCON Bangalore. This year the festival will be celebrated at two venues- The Hare Krishna Hill, in Rajajinagar and at Vaikuntha Hill which is off Kanakapura main road. The Deities of Their Lordships Sri Krishna, Rukmini and Satyabhama along with the Deity of Srila Prabhupada will be taken to the Vaikuntha Hill from the Srinivasa Govinda temple on Hare Krishna hill. Devotees offer their obeisance and render various services to Their Lordships in the Vaikunta hill on December 16.On Vaikuntha Ekadashi, it is very auspicious to receive the dharshan of Their Lordships before devotees begin their day. Many devotees throng to the temple to be blessed with the dharshan of Lord Srinivasa Govinda and to pass through the Vaikuntha Dwara.
Services offered to the Lord begin very early on Vaikuntha Ekadashi. The first seva offered to Lord Srinivasa Govinda Is the Suprabhata Seva which commences at 3:00 am. Devotees indulge in spiritual elation as they sing the suprabhata to wake Their Lordship up. A special arati follows the suprabhata seva. At 3:45 am, an elaborate abhisheka is performed on the moohlavar Deity at the Srinivasa Govinda temple. The abhisheka is very special as The Deity is bathed with panchamruta, Panchagavya, herbal extracts, scented water, exotic fruit juices, flowers etc. The abhisheka is performed once in a year only on the occasion of Vaikunta Ekadashi.
At 5:00 am, Sri Radha Krishna Chandra adorned in Lakshmi alankara and Anantashayana alankara respectively are taken around in a procession in a pallaki. Various sevas are offered to Their Lordships during the pallaki utsava.
As the Pallaki utsava concludes, at 5:45 am Their Lordships are accommodated on the Vaikuntha Dwara. Devotees sing kirtans and bhajans for the pleasure of Their Lordships and the Vaikuntha Dwara will be opened. Devotees enter the temple through the Vaikuntha Dwara following Srila Prabhupada who is the first to enter. The Dwara will be opened for public by 8:00 am.
Among several sevas which will be performed to The Lord, the Nijapada darshana seva and tomala seva are the most significant ones. The Nijapada darshana seva is performed once annually on Vaikuntha Ekadashi where sevakartas get to receive dharshan of the Lotus Feet of Lord Srinivasa Govinda after the abhisheka.
Deities of Sri Krishna Balaram also receive the Pushpanjali Seva. Devotees and pilgrims visiting the temple can wish to participate and perform various other sevas including ‘Vaikuntha Dwara’ seva, performed at the Vaikuntha Dwara where a special arati is offered to Their Lordships, Sri Radha Krishna Chandra on behalf of the sevakartas.
‘Laksharchana seva’ where 40 devotees chant the Krishna ashtotara names summing the total chants to over one lakh names of Lord Krishna, ‘Kunkumarchana seva’ where devotees chant the names of Lakshmi Devi and offer kumkum(vermillion) to The Lotus Feet. Vaikunta Ekadashi Udayasthama seva where sevakartas sponsor all the sevas offered to The Deities throughout the day. On the Vaikunta Dwara, along with Deities of Sri Radha Krishna-chandra donning the Anantashayana and Lakshmi Devi alankara, the other Deities residing are Brahma and His eternal consort Saraswati Devi, Lord Shiva and His eternal consort Parwati Devi and the four Kumaras.