This article about Saphala Ekadashi Vrat is the first in the series of Ekadashi Vrats.Ekadashi Vrats are observed on the eleventh day from either the full moon day (Pournami) or the new moon day (Amavasya). The Vrats are ascribed to Lord Sri Maha Vishnu.
The eleventh day from Pournami is called Krishna Paksha Ekadashi. Shukla Paksha Ekadashi is the eleventh day from Amavasya.
In effect, there are 24 Ekadashis in a year. Each of the Ekadashi Vrats has a significant name. Some of the Ekadashi Vrats are observed with significant Dwadashi Vrats on the next day.
The ultimate Ekadashi Vrat is Sri Vaikunta Ekadashi and it shall be covered in the conclusion of the series.
Table of Contents
Ekadashi Vrats – General rituals
The rituals are common for all Ekadashi Vrats including Saphala Ekadashi
- 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.
Saphala Ekadashi day is the Krishna Paksha Ekadashi of Pausha month. This is also known as Puasha Krishna Ekadashi. (December – January).
The word ‘Saphala’ means ‘’abundant benefits’’.
Puranic reference on Saphala Ekadashi
As believed, as per Brahmanda Purana, Yudishtra and Lord Sri Krishna had a conversation about Saphala Ekadashi. As per that, observing Saphala Ekadashi is greater than doing 100 Rajasuya Yagnas or 1000 Ashwameda Yagnas.
The associated story
Lumpaka and his sins
Long back, a place named Champavati was ruled by the King Mahishmata. He was a great and noble King. He had four sons. The eldest was Lumpaka.
Lumpaka was a bad lot. He had indulged in many sinful activities. He was tyrannical to the devotees of Sri Vishnu. Gradually, due to his misdeeds, the King was losing the respect and wealth.
How Lumpaka was punished
So, the King expelled Lumpaka to the forest. None of the King’s relatives dared to support him.
Lumpaka was bewildered and felt bad. He had sinfully schemed to remain in the forest in day time and loot the city at night. He hunted the animals in the forest and was a thief in the city in the night.
Though the citizens spotted him, they did not report to the King out of fear. They thought that Lumpaka was doing all the sins due to the effect of karma of his previous births.
While in forest, Lumpaka used to stay under a banyan tree which was divine in nature. Of course, he was not aware of its divinity.
How Lumpaka turned good observing Saphala Ekadashi
The eve of Saphala Ekadashi, the previous day Dashami had arrived. That Dashami night, the cold was very severe. Lumpaka became sick. When Ekadashi time started during the next day, he found himself very weak.
He could not walk. He had severe hunger and thirst. As he could not move, he had to pick only the fruits which have fallen to the grounds for eating. Due to his immobility, he did not hunt any animal that day.
By the time of sunset, Lumpaka had lost his spirit. He was forlorn. He had kept the picked fruits at the bottom of the banyan tree. Crying and praying to Sri Vishnu, he asked for forgiveness for his sins. Offered the fruits as neivedyam. On the night of the Saphala Ekadashi also he was awake and kept crying for God’s mercy.
Without knowing himself, Lumpaka had observed Saphala Ekadashi Vrat. Sri Maha Vishnu was pleased with his prayers. On the dawn of Dwadashi, i.e., the next day, a horse had appeared beside Lumpaka.
How Lumpaka was rewarded for observing Saphala Ekadashi
A celestial voice told Lumpaka that he had observed the Saphala Ekadashi Vrat. Even if it was observed unknowingly, God had decided to give him the benefits. The voice urged him to mount the horse and reach the Kingdom.
Lumpaka arrived at the city adorned in the clothes of Vishnu-Bhakts. He was also sporting a tilak on his forehead. The King was pleased to see his changed and pious son.
Lumpaka was made the King of Champavati. He got married and was blessed with a son. At appropriate time, he had handed over the Kingdom to his son. Then he devoted himself fully to praying Lord Maha Vishnu.
Saphala Ekadashi Puja rituals
The basic rituals of Ekadashi Vrats are to be followed.
The following are to be offered to Sri Maha Vishnu in puja (according to availability):
-Jambira fruit (goose berry)
-Betal nuts and leaves
-Varieties of nuts
-Cloves and other aromatic spices
-Ghee lamps and incense sticks are to be lit.
As per the belief, praying to Sri Maha Vishnu with tulsi leaves and observing fasting on this day shall bring wellness and prosperity. Some people partake only fruits while some take the prasadam made for neivedyam.
It is also believed that the observation of this Vrat
-turns bad luck into fortune;
-the sins and their effects are alleviated; and
-bestows boons greater than the benefits of pilgrimage to holy places.
Even listening to the merits of Saphala Ekadashi bestows the same benefits as observing the Vrat.
Importance should be given to the sincere prayers to Sri Maha Vishnu.
Om Namo Bhagavathe Vasudevaya!!!
Rest of the Vrats shall be dealt with in the subsequent articles of the series.