Aja Ekadashi is the eleventh day from the Pournami day (Krishna Paksha Ekadashi) which occurs on the Krishna Paksha Ekadashi Tithi of the Shravan month as per Amantha and the Bhadrapadha month as per Purnimantha Calendars.
In the year 2021, it occurs on Thursday, 2nd September 2021 and Friday, 3rd September 2021. The exact duration of the Ekadashi Tithi has to be ascertained from the respective regional calendars.
This Vrat is also called as Anandha Ekadashi and Kaliyadalan Ekadashi.
As per Brahma Vavartha Purna, Lord Krishna had narrated the importance and significance of this Vrat to the King Yudhishtra.
The word “Aja” means “the one who is not born”. It is believed that the Emperor Harish Chandra had observed this Vrat and got back his son Lohidasa who was dead.
Emperor Harish Chandra was the embodiment of truth. He was the ruler of Ayodhya. He always stood for upholding the truth. Circumstances made him to sell his wife and son to keep the promise he had made.
He worked as the guard of cremation ground and was reporting to a chandal. Due to destiny, he had to witness the death of his own son and being sincere in duty, he had to demand the death duty from his wife for cremating the son.
All these events made him extremely sad. At that time, he met the Sage Gowthama and apprised him of his never-ending woes. Sage Gowthama had advised him to observe the Ekadashi Vrat on the Krishna Paksha Ekadashi of Bhadrapadha month. He also told him about the rituals to be followed.
Harish Chandra had duly observed the Vrat and did Puja to Sri Maha Vishnu with sincere devotion. Sri Vishnu was pleased with his prayers and granted him the boy Lohidasa alive. He also made Harish Chandra and his wife Chandra mathi to their original glory.
At the end, Harish Chandra had attained a place in Vaikunt.
Aja Ekadashi – rituals
The general rituals followed for Ekadashi Vrats are given below:
-The exact time of dawn of Ekadashi tithi is ascertained either from family elders / astrologers. It is mentioned in the Holy Almanac (Panchang) as well. Even daily Calendars provide the information.
-The idol or picture of Sri Vishnu is decorated with flowers. Incense sticks are burned. Diyas are lit with ghee. Pujas are done with tulsi leaves. Slokas or stotras of Sri Maha Vishnu including Sri Vishnu Sahasra Nama are recited with devotion. Srimad Bhagavad Gitaa is also recited.
-Especially for Aja Ekadashi, a Kalash is kept on a plate of rice at puja place. The mouth of the Kalash is covered with a red cloth. A small idol of Sri Vishnu is kept on the cloth and puja is done.
-The Vrat Katha is to be read and recited.
-At the end of the puja, aarti is done. Prasad is distributed to the family members.
-Devotees of Lord Maha Vishnu observe strict fasting from the dawn of Ekadashi.
-They do not sleep on the night of Ekadashi. At this time, tales of Sri Maha Vishnu are recited by the elders. Others listen to the stories.
-Various bhajans and kirtans are held.
-The fast shall continue till the sunrise of the next day, i.e., Dwadashi.
-Those devotees who cannot do fasting due to medical or other reasons can take sattvic food. Mostly prasadams and fruits are partaken.
-Making daan / donation to the needy on Ekadashi day is believed to please Sri Maha Vishnu.
-On Dwadashi day, unless it happens to be another Vrat day, a nutritious meal is partaken to balance the internal physical effects of fasting on the previous day. It is considered pious to forego eating of brinjal on Dwadashi day.
-Equals the virtuous benefits of conducting Ashwamedh Yagna
-Fulfillment of the wishes
-Happiness and prosperity
-Alleviation of sins
-Salvation and moksha to reach Vaikunt.
Importance should be given to the sincere prayers to Sri Maha Vishnu.
The synopsis of Kamada Ekadashi, Varuthini Ekadashi, Mohini Ekadashi, Apara Ekadashi, Nirjala Ekadashi, Yogini Ekadashi, Devshayani Ekadashi, Kamika Ekadashi and Sravana Putrata Ekadashi are narrated in the previous articles. The rest of the Ekadashi Vrats shall be dealt with in the subsequent articles of the series.