Story Behind Importance of Jaya Ekadashi•
Posted on February 15 2022
Jaya Ekadashi is celebrated in the Hindu calendar month of Magha in the Shukla paksha. Although this day is considered to be an auspicious day among Hindus, its auspiciousness is enhanced if the day falls on a Thursday. The Jaya Ekadashi celebrations are marked by observance of a vrat or fast in dedication to Lord Vishnu, The Preserver among the Trinity. Devotees of the lord believe that observing this fast will help them to be relieved of all their sins and gain moksha or salvation.
According to Hindu mythology, Bhishma of Mahabharata fame was given the choice to decide on the day he wished to depart for the celestial abode. It was on Jaya Ekadashi that he decided to relieve himself of his mortal body after narrating the Vishnu Sahasranama to Yudhishtir, the eldest of the Pandavas. As a result, this day is also known as Bhishma Ekadashi in his honour. It was Sri Krishna who explained the significance of this day to the Pandava prince.
Read on to know the interesting story behind the significance of Jaya Ekadashi.
Once Lord Indra was enjoying a dance performance by several apsaras including Pushpavati in his court. They were dance to a song being sung by Malyavan, the son of the court musician Chitrasen who was also in the court at that time. Mayalvan and Pushpavati fell in love at the first sight and could not stop looking at each other. This affected their performance and the god was angry with both of them. As a result, the lord cursed them to become pishachas and sent them out of heaven to earth.
They roamed around and aimlessly and finally reached the Himalayas on Jaya Ekadashi day. It was quite cold at the summit and both of them could not sleep. They also had to spend the entire day and night without anything to eat or drink that day. They had unknowingly undergone such a hardship on a day that was a favourite of Lord Vishnu who had declared that who maintained a fast on Jaya Ekadashi would attain one step closer to moksha. When they woke up the next day, the couple found that they were relieved of their curse and had attained their heavenly form. Mayalvan and Pushpavati then returned to Indra Loka and explained the significance of Jaya Ekadashi to Lord Indra who blessed them with a happy life.
Devotees commence Jaya Ekadashi rituals with an early morning bath. They avoid applying oil on their head and body on this day. After their bath, they decorate the idol of Lord Vishnu and light a lamp along with dhoop or incense sticks in front of Him. They also offer Him seasame seeds, sandalwood paste and fruits and do a Vishnu puja. The followers proceed to chant prayers in honour of the lord with a devout mind followed by reading the story associated with Ekadashi vrat with equal devotion.
The lord’s followers generally follow a rigid fast by abstaining from water and food the whole day after sunrise. They also stay awake overnight singing the lord’s bhajans and/or reciting the Narayan Stotra and Vishnu Sahasranama. Elders and others who are not able to observe this stringent fast but want to be a part of the fasting have some milk and fruits just once in the day. Pulses, grains and meat are avoided at any cost.
The fast is broken on the next day of Jaya Ekadashi that is known as Dwadashi. This occasion is called parana and is done early morning after sunrise. Some devotees break their fast by offering food as dakshina to a brahmin. If this is not possible, they end their fast by drinking some tulsi water.
It is very important to keep the mind free of negative emotions or feelings like revenge, greed or anger when observing the vrat. The vrat is done with the intention of purifying the observer’s body and soul and guide him/her towards the path of moksha. The effect of the vrat is said to be so powerful that it can set the devotee free of any sin he/she has committed. According to devotees who fast with full fervour, the benefits of the vrat are much more than those associated with pilgrimages to religious destinations, carrying out various yagnas and/or engaging in charity.
The fast helps devotees to emerge victorious over their enemies and overcome their financial difficulties. The vrat also guides them towards fulfilment of their desires.