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Kaishika Ekadasi - Article by Sri U Ve Elayavalli Bhuvarahachariar S

Posted by: "TCA Venkatesan" vtca@yahoo.com vtca
Date: Wed Dec 10, 2008 10:26 am ((PST))

Sri: | Srimathe Ramanujaya Nama:
Special Significance of Kaishika Ekadasi
By Sri U.Ve. Mahavidhwan Elayavilli Srinivasa Bhuvarahachariar Swami
M.A (Retd) Prof of Sanskrit, Alwar Thirunagari

Srimate Ramanujaya Namah
Srimate Baladhanvi Mahagurave Namaha
Srimad Varvara Munaye Namah

In our Sri Vaishnava Sampradaya every Ekadasi (the 11th day of bright
& black fortnight) has a special name. Accordingly during the Krittika
month, the Ekadasi during the bright fortnight is called Kaishika
Ekadasi (today some use the term Koushika Ekadasi, which is wrong;
Sage Vishwamitra has nothing to do with this Ekadasi). Kaishika is a
raga in music. How is this raga related with this Ekadasi will become
clear in the course of this article.

Sri Varaha Puranam has this episode in its body. Once upon a time the
earth got submerged in water. Lord Sriman Narayana assumed the garb of
a wild boar and without hesitation entered the muddy water and brought out the
earth from the deluge. Sri Bhoomi Piratti, who is the presiding deity, was very
much upset by this tragic event. She was consoled and comforted by Lord Sriman
Narayana, keeping Her on His lap. At that time she was very much worried about Her
children on the earth. Their sufferings gave Her great sorrow and She very much
desired to know a means (Upaya) for their deliverance from the worldly bondage.
The Lord narrated the episode that took place in the village Thirukkurungudi near
Thirunelveli in South India and assured Her that the soul means of salvation is
singing His glory (Gana Rupa Upayam).

The story is as follows: Once there lived a man at Thirukkurungudi. He was fondly
called �Nampaduvan� (We do not know his Original name). He was born in a Chandala
family who were known for their merciless nature and activities. But quite
contrary to his family behavior he was very pious and deeply devoted to Lord
Sriman Narayana. He used to fast during every Ekadasi day. Getting up very early
in the morning on the next day he used to go to the vicinity of the temple with
his veena in his hands and remaining at a distance from the temple as per the
prescription of the shastras he used to sing songs in praise of the Lord going
around the temple.

Once during the month of Krittika on a bright fortnight Dwadasi i.e the 12th day,
he went to the temple early in the morning as usual. On the way he was met by a
Brahma Rakshasa who was very hungry and who therefore expressed his desire to eat
him up. Nampaduvan was very happy to offer his body for the food of Brahma
Rakshasa. That was because his suffering in this world would come to an end and he
would reach the abode of the Lord. But he prayed to the Brahma Rakshasa to spare
some time so that he may go to the temple and sing the songs and return. But the
Rakshasa was not ready to grant his request, as he would never return having made
this false excuse. But Nampaduvan made 18 oaths to the effect that he would
certainly return.

If I do not return as per my promise let me get the sin of a man who is a liar.
Let me get the sin of a person who commits adultery, if I don�t return. While
eating in the company of a person if a man differentiates in menu (i.e. serving
inferior or less quantity of food to the guest), he gets a great sin (Papam). Let
me get that sin, if I don�t return. If a man donates a piece of an earth to a
Brahmin and takes it back after some time he will certainly accrue sin. Let me get
that sin, if I don�t return.

If a man enjoys the company of a woman during her youthful age and subsequently
rejects her when she becomes old he is sure to get sin. Let me get that sin, if I
don�t return. Having performed ablution rite (Tharpanam) on Amavasya day and then
recourse (sexual relationship) to his wife the same day, he will entertain great
sin. Let me get that sin, if I don�t return. Having dined delicious dishes in the
house of a host and then if a person showers heaps of abuse on his host, he is
sure to meet with great sin. Let me get that sin, if I don�t return. A man makes a
solemn promise that he would give away his young daughter in marriage to a youth
but later on breaks his promise, which would entertain sin. Let me get that sin,
if I don�t return.

A man is prohibited from eating without taking bath on Shashti (the sixth day of
both fortnight), Ashtami (the eighth day), Chaturdashi (the fourteenth day) and
Amavasya (the fifteenth day of bright fortnight). Let me get that sin, if I don�t
return. A man promises to donate something to another man but he doesn�t keep up
his promise. Let me get the sin of breach of promise if I fail to come back. If a
person tries to allure the wife of a friend who has helped him in manifold ways,
he is sure of reaching hell. I will get that sin, if I fail to return. If a
person, afflicted by lust, enjoys the company of his revered teacher�s wife who is
responsible for his salvation; and so also the company of the wife of a king who
endows all worldly pleasure to him - he will be the worst sinner. I will suffer
that sin by not keeping up my promise.

A man marries two girls without being impartial to both of them. If he evinces
greater pleasure in the company of one rejecting the other, he is sure to accrue
very great sin. Let me get that sin, if I don�t keep up my promise. If a man
divorces his wife who is very chaste and has no one to care for her, he will
become a sinner. Let me be equated to him for not returning. If a man causes
obstruction to the cattle that are afflicted very much by thirst to drink water,
he will get a sin. Let me also get that sin by breaking your faith in me.

Killing a Brahmin, addiction to liquor, stealing gold, breaking a vow are all
considered to be heinous crimes. Severe punishments are prescribed for a sinner,
who commits all these crimes. Let me suffer all these punishments in case I fail
to get back to you. If some people worship only other deities and not Sri Vasudeva
who is easily accessible to His votaries and is Omnipresent, they will get a great
sin. Let me get that sin, if I do not return. Sriman Narayana is the supreme
deity. He is the inner soul for all created beings, both sentient and insentient.
He is worshipped by all karmas (i.e. by all holy rites prescribed by the
Shastras). He is to be meditated by all who are desirous of liberation. He alone
has the ability to grant salvation. He is to be reached by all the liberated
souls. Having understood the supreme qualities of the Lord, if a man equates Him
to all other angels who are bound by karma, He will be born in this world again
and again. Let me get that sin, by breach of this promise.

Note: All these promises did not convince or satisfy the Brahma Rakshasa, but the
18th one totally convinced him about the certainty of Nampaduvan�s return. We
therefore have to understand that the last sin is the greatest sin of all sins.
Hence it is to be meticulously avoided.

The Brahma Rakshas became pleased by all these promises and saluted Nampaduvan and
bade him farewell so that he may fulfill his vow and come back to him.

Accordingly Nampaduvan went to the neighborhood of the temple and sang the songs
as usual. Afterwards the day dawned. Having completed the vow pertaining to
Ekadasi (i.e. spending sleepless night) Nampaduvan surrendered to the Lord. With
great speed, he returned to the Rakshas as his heart was filled up with pleasure
owing to his desertion of his body, which was inimical to his attaining salvation.

On his way a person met him. That man questioned him �Hello, where are you going
with such speed?� Nampaduvan replied him in a sweet manner � �I am going to
Brahma Rakshas. If I don�t find him there, where I met him before and departed
having made several promises, I will go in search of him and offer my body as food
for him.�

That man desired to test his mind on hearing his steadfast resolve. He said "There
stands a Rakshasa by birth. He is not righteous minded like Vibeeshana, but a
worst criminal. You cannot escape from his cruel clutches, as he is a cannibal.
Don�t go to that strong devil." Though exhorted by that man, Nampaduvan refused to
listen to him and was very adamant in keeping up his promise. That stranger, who
obstructed him and advised him, was none other than Sri Varaha (the Lord Himself).
Nampaduvan found Brahma Rakshas at the same place and offered his body as a
carcass (meat) for him, but the Rakshas, remembering his previous birth did not
accept it. He narrated his previous life history. He was a Brahmin by name
Somasarma in his former birth. While performing a sacrifice, he committed all
sorts of blunder, as he was niggardly. Moreover a fatal disease in the course of
performing sacrifice afflicted him. The result was his birth as Brahma Rakshasa.

Having given a detailed account of his previous life the Rakshasa knelt before
Nampaduvan to grant him the merit of all these songs that he sang in praise of the
Lord for a long time but the songster refused sternly. Finally being moved by pity
he granted him the merit (Punya) of one song, which he sang that day morning which
was in the raga named �Kaishika�. The Brahma Rakshas was relieved of his bond.
Later he was born in a family of Vaishnava and at the end of the birth he reached
Vaikunta.

This is the story narrated by Sri Varaha Perumal to Sri Bhoomi Devi. The whole
episode as found in �Sri Varaha Puranam�, is taken up by Sri Parasara Bhattar for
an elaborate commentary in Tamil. Every year the whole episode with all Sanskrit
shlokas and commentary of Sri Bhattar is read out in all the Vishnu temples
especially at Thirukkurungudi where the event actually took place. This is enacted
on the stage even today. Those who take part in the festival or who hear the
episode will be rid of their sins. Hence I gave this story in an abridged version.

What do we understand from this episode? Somasarma though a Brahmin became a
Rakshasa, but Nampaduvan though a Chandala was able to expiate him of all his
sins. Hence caste is not a criterion for us to salute a person. His deep devotion
to the Lord, knowledge of the Lord and a total renunciation of all worldly
pleasures are very important criteria. The caste is physical. It does not belong
to the soul. Hence Nampaduvan was elevated to the highest order. In case of such
holy men of that high order, consideration of the caste is an offence.

They are equal to Nithyasooris. Hence our Acharyas equate Nampaduvan with
Vishwamitra, Sri Vishnuchitta and ThondarAdiPodi Azhwar, all of whom sang divine
songs in order to wake up the Lord (Thiruppalliyezhuchchi). The Lord (Sri Varaha)
also showered on him love and affection and called him Nampaduvan (My Singer). Let
us therefore be very careful in not committing Bhaagavata Apachara. This is what
we learn from Kaishika Puranam.

Azhvar Emberumanar Jeeyar Thiruvadigale Sharanam