Bhishma Ekadashi is ascribed to Sri Maha Vishnu.
Bhishma Ekadashi occurs in the Magha month both Amanta and Purnimanta Calendars.
Bhishma Ekadashi is the eleventh day from the new moon day (Shukla Paksha Ekadashi). In the year 2021, it occurs on Tuesday, 23rd February 2021. The duration of the Ekadashi Tithi has to be ascertained from the applicable regional calendar.
As believed, if this Ekadashi falls on a Thursday, it is considered auspicious.
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Bhishma Ekadashi – Significance
Bhishma Ekadashi is the important day in the period attributed to Bhishma (Bhishma panchak vrat period). It commences after Ratha Sapthami. The beginning day is called Bhishma Ashtami. The ending day is called Bhishma Dwadashi. Some persons observe Vrat for the five days.
The fourth day is Bhishma Ekadashi. Bhishma is said to have attained moksha on this day.
Bhishma, the doyen in the Kaurava clan, had the boon to decide the day of his death. This boon was granted by his father Shantanu as Bhishma promised never to aspire for the throne. He also vowed to never marry.
During Maha Bharatha war, Bhishma was helping the Kauravas to progress. However, in order to weaken the side of Kauravas, Lord Sri Krishna made a plan. He had asked Shikandi to turn against Bhishma.
Due to his previous promises, Bhishma could not fight back Shikandi. He had dropped his weapons. Sri Krishna had ordained that Arjun shall beat Bhishma with arrows.
Weakened, Bhishma knew that his end was approaching. As he had the boon to decide the date, he wished to wait till Uttrayana period.
As he was fond of Arjun and his valour, he had asked Arjun to make him a bed of arrows (ampa shayya). Arjun had let out a stream of arrows which flew like Ganga river.
The place is called Baan Ganga temple and it exists in Kurukshetra, Haryana, India.
Bhishma laid himself on the bed of arrows. When he felt thirsty, he asked Arjun for water. Arjun immediately hit the ground with another arrow. The water gushed out. It is believed that Maa Ganga, the mother of Bhishma had come to quench the thirst of her son.
This place Bhishma Kund also exists in Kurukshetra.
Sri Vishnu Sahasra Namam
He attained Salvation after reciting Sri Vishnu Sahasra Namam on this day.
Bhishma Ekadashi Vrat – Rituals
The general rituals followed for Ekadashi Vrats is 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. Pujas are done with tulsi leaves. Slokas or stotras of Sri Maha Vishnu are recited with devotion.
-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.
Apart from the above, specially for Bhishma Ekadashi,
-Recitation of Sri Vishnu Sahasra Namam is done.
-The Bhakts wear yellow coloured / shaded dresses.
-The prasadam for Neivedyam is made in yellow colour.
-Yellow colour bananas are offered to cows.
Bhishma Ekadashi – other names
The other names given for this Ekadashi are
The next day, the Dwadashi day is called as Bhishma Dwadashi. It is also called as Govind Dwadashi / Magh Shukla Dwadashi.
It is believed that on this day, Pandavas had performed the last rites of Bhishma.
Both Bhishma Ekadashi and Bhishma Dwadashi are combined for observation of fasting. Recitation of Sri Vishnu Sahasra Namam and doing puja to Sri Maha Vishnu with Tulsi leaves are considered to be beneficial on this day as well.
Making daan / donation to the poor and the needy is also considered auspicious.
Om Namo Bhagavathe Vasudevaya!!!
त्वमेव माता च पिता त्वमेव
त्वमेव बन्धुश्च सखा त्वमेव ।
त्वमेव विद्या द्रविणम् त्वमेव
त्वमेव सर्वम् मम देव देव ॥
tvameva matha cha pitha tvameva
tvameva bandhuzcha sakhaa tvameva
tvameva vidyaa draviNam tvameva
tvameva sarvam mama deva deva
Lord Maha Vishnu! You are my mother; You are my father; You are my relative; You are my friend; You are my knowledge and education; You are my wealth; You are my everything; You are my God.
Om Namo Narayanaya Namaha!!!
The rest of the Ekadashi Vrats shall be dealt with in the subsequent articles of the series.