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EkAdaSI: TSSundara Rajan

From: usdeiva (
Date: Wed May 28 1997 - 17:10:19 PDT wrote:
> My thanks to those who clarified the question of tithi vs. nakshatra in SV
> tradition for me. Now, I have a somewhat related question: what importance
> is given to the observance of Ekadashi in Sri Vaishnavism? Is fasting,
> waking etc regarded as obligatory, and if so, do Sri Vaishnavas fast from
> all foods, or only from certain items, such as rice? And what is the special
> importance of Vaikuntha Ekadashi, to which I have heard many refer?
> As usual, many thanks in advance.
> Martin Gansten


>From T.S. Sundara Rajan, care Uchani Deivachilai, Memphis.

Re: Martin Gansten's query reg: EkAdaSI.

The most extensive theme-account of EkAdaSI is available 
in the padma purANam which (despite its own quota of 
visibly irrelevant and banal interpolations) could be 
termed as the most authentic vaishnava purANam, reckoned
as such after the vishNu p., varAha p., and bhAgavata p.

Being on a visit from Srirangam to Memphis, I do not 
readily have my copy of padma p. with me; hence write 
from memory.   

padma.p. devotes a chapter to each EkAdaSI of the year,
each of them bearing a distinct name.  (EkAdaSI, as is
well known, literally means the ordinal 'eleventh', and
stands for the corresponding day/date of the waxing/waning 
phase of the moon; this 'tithi' occurs twice in a month.)

Of all the formal 'vratam' prescribed, the EkAdaSI is the 
most cherished and exclusively vaishnava vratam.   The 
observance consists of fasting through the day and overnight 
vigil, dedicated throughout to devotional activity like 
reading the scriptures, telling the rosary, recitation of the 
'stotram'/'keertanam' etc.   [It is interesting that the
purANam prohibits the woman from fasting as such;  with the
exception that she may, with her husband's consent, fast for
half of the EkAdaSI day.]    The EkAdaSI is completed only 
with the pre-dawn bath the next morning (i.e. of the dvAdaSI) 
and breaking the fast (pAraNA) by imbibing 'tulasI' 
(ocimum sanctum) in holy water.

nArAyaNa bhaTTattiri's work, 'nArAyaNIyam', a marvellous
condensed retelling of SrImad-bhAgavatam, identifies
EkAdaSI inter alia eight objects/observances identified with 
deliverance and Grace, viz., (GanGa water, the celebrated 
krshna-arjuna dialogue bhagavad-GeetA, the GAyatrI mantram, 
the tulasI plant, the oordhva-puNDra mark drawn with Gopi 
sandal powder, the devotions offered in the SALagrAma 
(ammonite) stone, observance of the EkAdaSI vratam, 
recitation of the (sahasra-) nAma.   Even though a later-day 
(15th cent.?) work, 'nArAyaNIyam' has all the inspiration 
and verity of an authentic 'sAmpradAyika' work, and has the
status of good literature and a reliable religious document.

"GanGA GItA cha GAyatrI api cha tulasikA GopikA-chandanam tat
SALaGrAmAbhipoojA, para-purusha, tathaikAdaSee nAmavarNAh
EtAnyashtAn-ayatnAn-yayi kali-samayE tvat-prasAda-pravrddhyA
kshipram mukti-pradAnee-tyabhidadhu(h) rshayah tEshu mAm 

Of the EkAdaSI marking the annual calendar, the interval 
between the Sayana- and the utthAna- EkAdaSI represents the
span of yOGa-nidrA (cosmic slumber) of SrIman-nArAyaNa, and 
is observed as the chAtur-mAsyam (the Four Months) when the 
itinerant 'sannyAsI' should remain rooted in one place.   
These two EkAdaSI are observed with great rapture and devotion 
in panDharpur in mahArAshtra, the home of 'haridAsa' movement.

The utthAna E. is observed in SrIrangam and tirukkurunguDi
as 'kaiSika E.', named after a melody in which the hymn was
set for worship on this E. day.  This E. is two E. precedent
to the great vaikuNTha E.    The illustrative anecdote 
of kaisika E. is contained in the varAha purANam (which 
~~ unlike the other purANams recorded by SrI vEdavyAsa, and 
vishNu p. by his sire sri parASara ~~ has the status of 
bhagavacChAstram, being verily from the Lord himself).   
SrI parASara-bhaTTa had written the Sloka-wise tamizh 
paraphrase of the varAha p. anecdote, and this work is 
recited by the bhaTTa descendants before namperumAL in the 
arjuna-maNDapam on the midnight of kaiSika E.   The absolute 
tranquility of the midnight hour, the audience of devotees 
absorbing the enchantment of namperumAL's visage, and bhaTTar 
reading the kaiSika-purANam and the exalted tamizh paraphrase
out of the palm manuscript against the backdrop of the golden 
crest of Sriranga-praNavAkAra-vimAnam ~~ all these blend to 
produce the alchemy of an incomparable beatitude which is 
hard to describe in words.

It is, of course, tirukkurunguDi one thinks of to mention
the kaiSika E which is considered (in the 'sampradAyam')
to be dedicated to vaDivazhakia nambi, sundara-paripoorna-
perumAL of this divya-deSam.    The kaisika E anecdote is 
staged here as a play before perumAL.

The vaikunTha E. is the event and festival held to be most
precious in SrIrangam, and would constitute a full-book 
theme in itself. This E. is especially sacred and dear to the
vaishnava as marking the full recitation and glorification
of the AzhvAr aruLiccheyal (divya-prabandham) hymns.

The 3 important EkAdaSI were marked as follows over the last
3 years in the Srirangam kOyil vAkya-panchAngam:

samvatsaram. mAsam & tithi. Xian Y/M/D.   EkAdasI.
-----------  -------------  ----------    -------

ISvara.      dhanus 24.     1998 Jan 8.   VaikunTha/
             Vrschika 25.   1997 Dec 10.  utthAna/kaiSika.
             mithuna 32.    1997 July 16. Sayana.

dhAtr.       dhanus 5.      1996 Dec 20.  Vai/Bh.
             vrschika 6.    1996 Nov 21.  utthAna/kaiSika.
             kataka 11.     1996 Jly 26.  Sayana.

yuva.        dhanus 17.     1996 Jan 1.   Vai/Bh.
             vrschika 16.   1995 Dec 2.   utthAna/kaiSika.
             mithuna 25.    1995 Jly 9.   Sayana.