Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Dev Shayani Ekadashi And Chaturmas

The words Dev Shayani denotes Dev as Lord Vishnu or Lord Narayan and Shayani denotes resting or sleeping. This auspicious Ekadashi day takes place in the month of Ashad/Ashadha (June-July) and also known as Ashadi Ekadashi or Padma Ekadashi.(This image is taken from a temple in Pokhara, Nepal)
Lord Vishnu commences His resting period from this day on Sheshnag, the thousand-headed serpant who afloats on the Ksheersagar, the cosmic ocean of milk. He prefers to rest on Sheshnag and not at His abode Vaikunta Lok.
In the Vedas, the water is known as Nara and the Supreme Personality of Godhead rests on it and so His another name is Narayan/ Narayana.
The Lord sleeps for the period of four months and awakens on Prabodini Ekadashi, Haribodhini, Devotthaani or Utthana Ekadashi in the month of Kartik (October-November). In these months, it said that one should refrain from performing any sacrificial pyres or Havan – Yajgna / Yagya and auspicious ceremonies because Lord Vishnu and all the demi-gods Devas are resting at this time. So they cannot be invited to partake in the celebrations. During this time, the Sun too changes its course and moves in the southern direction-Dakshinayanam. These four months of rest in the Hindu calendar are Shravan, Bhadrapad, Ashwin and Kartik.
Dev Shayani Ekadashi marks the beginning of Chaturmas/ Chaturmaas/ Chaturmasya / Chaturmasa. Chatur means four and Mas/ Maas/ Masya is known as months. There is a lot of significance of these four months.
Generations ago the learned sages, (Rishi and Muni) usually traveled to teach and create awareness among the people on Dharma and religious scriptures. They tried to simplify the teachings of the Vedas and Puranas so that their essence can be translated and imbibed by the downtrodden, common man. But on the commencement of Chaturmas, they stayed in one place.
They build small huts and gave their discources to those who came to their makeshift residence. The reason behind this is Chaturmas is the time when it is time for monsoon. The rain water rejuvenates nature. The insect world breeds in abundance. If the sages walk, they will unknowingly trample all the living creations and kill them. To avoid this sin, they remain in one venue for the entire rainy season.
People perform a lot of religious acts, penance and fasts (Vrata) during Chaturmas. Some people avoid eating leafy vegetables as there are insects and worms residing in them. They will not only kill them while cooking but also consume them, in turn polluting their own body and mind.
There are others who give up eating onions and garlic during this period as well, as they tend to stimulate the senses. Some eat one meal a day while others go on complete fast. Some give up meat eating and many other vices during this time. Thus various activities are done to please Lord Vishnu to free them from sins and grant them their materialistic wishes.
Dev Shayani Ekadashi or Ashadi Ekadashi marks the auspicious Pandharpur yatra or pilgrimage. This the day pilgrims see Lord Vithal in full glory.

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