Among 24 Ekadashis (11th day of Lunar Months) in the Hindu calendar, some of them are considered extremely important. Nirjala Ekadashi is one among them. It is observed on the 11th day (Ekadashi) of the Jyeshta Maasa (Month) in the Shukla Paksha (Waxing Phase of the moon). Nirjala Ekadashi is also known as Bhimasena Ekadashi, Pandava Ekadashi and Bhima Ekadashi. Like all Ekadashis, this Ekadashi is dedicated to worship of Bhagwan Vishnu.
The belief is that observing Nirajala Ekadashi Vrata (Nirjala – Without Water) reaps the benefits of observing all the 24 Ekadashi Vratas. Nirjala Upavasa Vrata is fasting where complete stringent fasting is observed, without consuming Water. This makes it even more taxing on the human body subjecting it to real penance as going waterless duing Jyeshta month (peak summer) is only for the strong-willed and true devotee. The legend has it that Bheemasena, the 2nd among the 5 Pandava brothers, who is a voracious eater, could not resist eating and hence never observe Ekadashi Upavasa while everyone else in the family were religiously going about fasting and other rituals related to it. He feels guilty that he is dishonouring Bhagwan Vishnu by not observing Ekadashi vrata and approaches Maharshi Veda Vyasa. He pleads “Everyone observes Ekadashi Vrata, but please tell me how to do it without fasting” Maharshi Veda Vyasa then advises him – just for a day in the whole year, on Jyeshta Shukla Ekadashi observe Upavasa without any Food and not even having a drop of water. If you do that, I bless you that benefits of observing all 24 Ekadashis will be bestowed on you. This will be true to every devotee who observes Nirajal Ekadashi”
It is pertitnent to note, Upavasa is not just about Fasting. Upavasa according to Charak Samhita, is giving up of anger etc. (grief, greed etc.) and following of truthfulness. It is said that “complete dissociation from sinful acts, association of virtuousness and/or good qualities or person of good qualities should be known as upavasa not just the emaciation of the body
It is believed Tulsi should not be picked on any Ekadashi, but since it is essential part of worship of Bhagwan Vishnu, a necessity on Ekadashi it is usually picked the previous day. Tulsi plants are also not watered on Ekadashi. It is because Tulsi, an ardent devotee of Vishnu will be observing Upavasa and also meditating and we are not to disturb Her during this time.
Vrat and Pooja Vidhana
Wake up early in the morning and have a water-only bath (no use of any shampoo or soap or any other such cosmetic products).
Ensure you don’t commit any act hereone that can be considered impure (in deed or thought)
Offer Puja to Bhagwan Vishnu and also pay your respects to Parents and other Elders, especially Guru
Chant Vishnu Sahasranama, Shri Rama Raksha Stotra, and Aranya Kanda of Srimad Ramayana
Do not consume any food, not even a drop of water (except for Achamya during Sandhya Vandane)
Continue the fasting until next day (Dwadashi) and do the Parana (breaking of fast at sunrise, ensure it is Dwadashi tithi)
Bhagirathi (another name for Ganga) Jayanti is celebrated on Dashami (10th Day) in the Shukhla Paksha (Waxing phase of the moon) during the Jyeshta maasa (month) of Hindu Calendar. It is to commemorates and express gratitude to Maa Ganga for descending down to earth for emacipation of mankind.
King Bhaigratha performs severe penance to bring Ganga from Heaven down to earth to liberate souls of 60,000 uncles who had committed sins and were burnt to ashes due to wrath of Kapila Maharshi. This is also the reason, to get liberated from cycles of births and deaths, every Hindu desires to be pass on on the banks of Ganga, get cremated and their ashes immersed in Maa Ganga.
The Legend – King Bhagiratha
According to Narada Purana, (Legend of Bhagiratha is found in many of them but Narada Purana is one of my favourite back story for Bhagirathi Jayanti), Iskshwaku Kula’s Maharaja Sagara had two wives, Keshini and Sumati. Each of these wives were given a boon to choose between One son who will be very pious, famous and Intelligent and the other option 60,000 sons. Sumati opts for the latter and these 60,000 sons were trouble makers and were a nuisance for everyone in Devaloka and Bhumi too. Kapila Maharshi then suggests King to conduct Ashwameda Yaga to divert the attention of all these spoilt children. A yaga where a horse is let loose to wander all over the place, traveling through all kingdoms. Anyone challenging the supremacy of the king stops the horse and has to overcome the King’s army in a battles. Maharaja Sagara’s children followed the horse to ensure all kings submit to supremacy of their father else they were subdued in the battle and forced to submit to the rule of Maharaja Sagara.
One night Indra from Devaloka steals the horse and ties it in Maharshi Kapila’s Ashram. Sagara’s children come in search of the horse and finding it in Maharshi’s Ashram thinking that he stole the horse, create a ruckus, abuses and assaults the Maharshi. Wrath of Maharshis whose penance is disturbs has no shielf and in anger Kapila Maharshi opens his eyes and reduces all these children to ashes.
Anshuman, Grandson of Maharaja comes and pleads for mercy from Maharshi, but Maharshi says, those dead cannot be brought back to life. However their souls can be liberated only when in future King Bhagiratha in your lineage bring Ganga from Heaven to Earth.
King Bhagiratha a pious, devoted King performs severe penances and observes austerities which pleases Maa Ganga. She concedes to his request but warns that here descent to earth would is such a great force that it would be impossible to sustain. As a solution, She asked him to pray and please Bhagwan Shiva, as no one except him would be able to sustain the force. King Bhagiratha once again begins his tapas for Shiva and finally Shiva agrees to let Ganga flow through his hair, tempering the forces of her descent to earth. Thus source of River Ganga is as Bhagirathi (meaning caused by Bhagiratha)
The exact place where Bhagirathi descends to earth is at Gomukh and it flows with same name until Devaprayag where it merges with Alakananda and flows as Maa Ganga. She flows into the plains and liberates 60,000 sons of Maharaja Sagara.
Ganga Dasara festival is celebrated for the 1st 10 days of Jyeshta month and it is believed that on the 10th day Maa Ganga touched the earth on Dashami of Jyeshta. A dip by a devotee in Maa Ganga on Bhagirathi Jayanti is believed to remove the devotee of all 10 sins
Ganga Dasara Since it is believed that Ganga took birth on Earth (descent to earth actually) on this day, She will be the focus of worship. It is said that indulging in Charity will bestow inexhaustible virtues and punya on the donors.
If you have a dip in Maa Ganga on this day, all 10 types of sins committed by us in 10 Janmas will be washed away. For people who are in Kashi, it is more beneficial if they can bathe in Dashashwamedha Ghat and then have Darshan of Mahadeva. In case devotees are not able to bathe in Ganga, the least is to go to a nearby River and have a dip. It is believed that chanting Ganga Dashahara Stotram 10 time while standing in Ganga would be extremely beneficial. While chanting Ganga Dashahara Stortram, take a sankalpa and pray that the 10 types of sins that could be committed by Body, Words and Mind are absolved, says Kashi Kanda of Skanda Purana.
Ganga Dashahara Stotram (I am told there is some more stanzas in some versions)
The Shukla Dashami of Jyeshta becomes even more pious for Ganga Dasara if Naksatra (Star) is Hasta Nakshatra and it is on a Mangalavara (Tuesday) and if 10 yogas confluence on the day. Maximum factors that confluence more the beneficial impact of the day. Please note all factor may not confluence.
Moon in Kanya Rashi
Surya in Vrishabha Rashi
10 Types of Sins Ganga Snana Absolves
Taking what is not deserved
Coveting other Women
Thought of usurping someone else’s belongings
If you have Ganga Jala (Water) from Kashi, Rishikesh, Hardwar or any other place, it is better to use it for Kalasha Sthapana and Avahana (invitation). With utmost devotion, pray to Maa Ganga and install the Kalasha with Ganga Jala in a clean place. In case it is not available, use any clean water for the same. It is believed that doing everything in counts of 10 is recommended: 10 dips in River, 10 types of Pushpa (flowers), 10 types of Patra (leaves), 10 types of fruits for Naivedya, Chanting of all stotrams 10 times, Anna-daana for 10 couples etc.
This is the 2nd part of the Two Part Article, the first part (Click on the link for the 1st Part) includes some information about 8th and 9th of the Shodasha (16) Samskaras (loosely the rites of passage in English) and also about the temple, Shri Kandaswamy Temple that we were blessed to visit for performing these Samskaras. The Second Part (this one) is a related temple, Arulmigu Baalambiga Sameta Kailasanathar Temple (Dedicated to Bhagwan Shiva) situated on the North Western side of the famous Shri Kandaswamy Temple.
This amazing temple is situated on top of Pranavamalai, Thiruporur the on Old Mahabalipuram Road, about 40 kms from Chennai and 10kms before Mahabalipuram. Click on this link Google map location of the Thiruporur Arulmigu Shri Kailasnathar Temple.
It is in this place that Murugan expounds meaning of Pranava (Om) to Agastya Muni. The very Pranava Principle itself worshipped Murugan in Thiruporur and took the form of a Hill, called Pranavamalai on which Shri Kailasanathar with His Consort, Shri Balambigai made their abode. Bhagwan Vishnu and Lakshmi who were cursed by Sage Kanva were redeemed of the curse after they worshipped Shiva as Vanmeeganathar in this temple. It is believed that Muruga Himself worshipped Arulmigu Vanmeeganathar (Shiva) and washed off his sins of killing Asura Shoorapadman (even if it were of Asuras, one accumulate sins).
Mahalakshmi took the form of a Neem tree and did penance for redemption due to curse of Sage Kanva. There is a temple of Ganapati below this tree and He is known as Vembadi Vinayagar here.
What is unique (and Unusual) to this temple pair is that Bhagwan Shiva’s abode is on top of a hill and his son, Murugan (as Shri Kandaswamy) is at the bottom. The Temple entrance is on the southern side of Main Deities (Kailasanathar and Balambigai) who are facing East and the Dwajasthamba and Nandi is on the Eastern side facing the Sanctum Sanctorum through a Window.
The abode of Srimad Chidambara Swamigal is on the Northern side of the Temple and there is a secret underground tunnel which is believed to divide into two paths midway, one leading to Chidamabara Swamigal’s Jeeva Samadhi and the other to Shri Kandaswamy Temple. Currently the tunnel is closed.
On the Koshta (outer wall around the garbhagriha or inner sanctum sanctorum) we can find Ganesha, Dhakshinamoorthy, Lingodhbavar, Brahma and Durga. The prakara has upadevalayas for Kasi Viswanatha, Shri Kalabhairava, Surya & Veerabadhra.
The lady selling Flowers and Bilva Patra, an old timer in this temple also said, “Not many know that we are supposed to visit Kailasanathar Temple, before visiting Shri Kandaswamy Temple. Many pilgrims skip this temple. A Pilgrimage to Thiruporur is never considered complete without visiting Kailasanathar and then Muruga Temple”