Importance of Kaisika Ekadasi by HH Swamiji

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This is a story of a devotee of Sriman Narayana. At Thirukurungudi, in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu Lord appears in four forms. The lord on the hillock is called Malaimel Nambi (mel in tamil means top, malai means mountain, Lord – the purna is called Nambi in Tamil). The Lord down the hill appears in 3 forms – one in sitting form (Erunda Nambi) , one in standing form (Ninna Nambi) and one in sleeping position (Kidanda Nambi). The temple is very old and dates back to 5000 years.

There lived a Haridas near Thirukungudi, born in a downtrodden family . Every day, he offered his songs with the accompaniment of his veena to the Lord as a service. Since his songs were only for Lord he was called “Nam Paduvan” “Our Singer”.

In the month of Karthika Sukla Ekadasi (the Ekadasi that falls before the full moon day), he started his journey to Thirukurungudi to offer his songs to the Lord. He stopped under a huge tree to take rest. Suddenly he was accosted by a Bramharakshasa. Haridasa was not afraid of the demon but pleaded to be freed so that he could sing songs before the Lord. The demon did not accept to free him.

Then, Nampaduvan made a list of promises. But the Bramharakshasa was not convinced. Finally, Nampaduvan declared, “If I fail to turn up, I will accept the punishment given to one who equates Srimannarayana with other jivas ”. The Brahmarakshasa was convinced and let Nampaduvan go.

Once he had finished singing, he returned to the tree to be eaten by the Brahmaraksha. But the Brahmarakshas realised that more than satisfying his hunger he should ask for the punyam Haridasa gained by singing songs.

Nampaduvan refused saying he did not sing for any punyam or papam but only sang as a service to Lord. The demon put forth various proposals but Nampaduvan plainly refused saying he did not offer his songs as a business to receive punyam.

During this discussion, the demon was released from the terrible body. In earlier birth he was a Vedic priest but due to lack of proper norms in chanting them, he became a Bramharakshasa. The demon gained a new divine form and blessed the Haridasa saying he would be known as Kaisika and the ekadasi will be named Kaisika ekadasi after the Kaisika note he used to sing songs to Lord.

This story is read with the meaning at Sri Vaishnava shrines. In Srirangam, on this day, the scholar from Parasara bhattar lineage recites the story of Kaisika from the puranas which runs to about 100 chapters. At the end of each chapter, Lord Ranganattha honors the scholar with a shawl. By the end of the narration, the scholar is covered with many shawls. After the recitation, temple honors are extended to the scholar. He is carried on the palanquin of Lord Ranganattha in a procession by the pattangas (carriers of palinquin of Lord Ranganattha) to home.

This practice was established by Ramanujacharya thousand years ago to show that a person can be a true devotee irrespective of his caste and social status and such a devotee is treated on par with Lord.

On this ekadasi, we must do upavasa – upa means ‘near’ and vasa means ‘to be’ – Upavasa means to be near God and be away from other things. On this day, we fast or restrict ourselves from eating more, focus on the Lord and spend time in sathsang. Let us spend our time in a divine way on this ekadasi and be blessed.

Jai Srimannarayana

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