The eleventh day of first fortnight in Pushya Masam in South India is celebrated as Vaikuntha Ekadashi. Vaikuntha is abode of Lord Sri Maha Vishnu, whose north doors are opened on this day making it “Vaikuntha Ekadashi”.
Lord Vishnu goes into Yoga Nidra, the yogic sleep on first Ekadashi of Aashaadha month (Rainy season) as per Telugu calendar. He opens His eyes on Kartheeka First Ekadashi, which is called Prabodha Ekadashi, then on First Ekadashi of Aashwayuja Masam, He changes His position to other side, which is, hence called Parivarthana (change) Ekadashi. The Lord wakes up in Pushya (part of Marga Sheersha days) and called Utthaana Ekadashi.
All the Gods and Angels move on to Vaikuntha to have Darshan of Vishnu, the moment he gets up and opens North Door. This is celebrated all over India in Vishnu temples where northern doors are opened in the early hours and Lord Vishnu gives Darsham. Scholars say that it is important for devotees to be visible for Lord Vishnu and not the otherway, that devotees looking at Him. It is believed that if the God looks at you after getting up it is auspicious for them.
When Sun enters the orbit of Dhanush Raasi, the Dhanurmasam begins and before He moves into Makara (which is celebrated as Makara Sankranthi) arrives Ekadashi (11th day). It is also called Mukkoti Ekadashi, because of the devotee performs Ekadashi Vratam on this day, it will be equal to 3 crore performances, chanting or Japa of Narayana Mantra also gets increased by 3 crore times. Another school believes Mukkoti name came because the 3 crore Gods travel to Vaikuntham on this day.Generally on 14th or 15th of January, the Sun enters Makara Rashi, indicating start of Uttarayanam from Dakshinayam. The Sun moves on to norther side in space.
Indra’s arrogance and curse
Because of arrogance of Indra, who refused to accept special garland given by Durvasa Muni, all the Gods were cursed by him to deprive of all wealth. Even Lord Vishnu loses Lakshmi. To regain the lost wealth, Vishnu suggests churning of Milk Ocean with Mandhara Hill using Vasuki, the divine snake as rope, to be pulled by both Angels and Demons on two sides. Vishnu protects Mandhara hill from sinking, by lifting it on His back in Tortoise form (Koormavathara). During the churning several wonderful things come out of Ocean, including Haalahalam, dreadful Poison, which Lord Shiva accepts to hold it in his throat, without swallowing it. He becomes Neela Kantha with this adventure to protect whole creation from getting destroyed by the Poison. Then the Moon and Lakshmi were churned out. Goddess Maha Lakshmi choses Lord Vishnu as her husband, which process restores the wealth of all Gods. Thereafter another story follows where Lord Vishnu takes form of beautiful damsel to prevent evil people Demons to have control of Amrith – the nectar, the ultimate object of Milk Ocean Churning. It is believed that Poison and Amrith have born on this day.
In Kerala this day is called swargavathil Ekadashi, where Narayana (Vishnu) gives darshan from Ksheerabdi (Milk Ocean).
According to yet another story, King Vaikhanasa performs Ekadashi Vrat to relieve his father from the Hell and send him to Heaven. It is believed that those who do not take food, but spend entire day and night in worship of Vishnu on this day will have direct entry into Vaikuntham.
What is Vaikuntham?
Kuntham in Sanskrit means destruction, problem, hurdle, tensions and dangers. Only place in the entire Universe where there is no Kuntham is called Vaikuntham, where the time does not operate. The lapse of time causes the death of all creation at one point of time or not everywhere. This will not happen in Vaikuntham, the abode of Lord Maha Vishnu.
Bhagavadgeetha was told on this day
It is also believed that Lord Krishna revealed the philosophy in the form of Bhagavadgeetha, the Song of God, to Arjuna, the principal warrior of Kurukshetra war in Mahabharatha.
Krishna kills Muraasura
Muraasura is a demon who gains more powers with the boons given by Brahma, after pleased with his penance. Muraasura drives out Devathas from their Amaravati and perpetuates atrocities continuously. The Angels go to Ksheerabdi, waits at VaikunthaDwara, and when Lord Vishnu wakes up and opens northern door, begs Him to rescue them from the misdeeds of Muraasura. Lord Vishnu when he descended on earth as Krishna, destroys Muraasuraa’s army, but demon could not be killed. Muraasurahides himself in the ocean. Somehow Muraasurawas lured to reach the cave in which Krishna was resting. The cave is called Hymavathi located near Badarikashramam (Badrinath). When Muraasura tries to kill Krishna while asleep, a high-powered woman appears and kills the demon.It is said that She is none other than Durga form of Shakti. On the day Muraasura was killed, Vaikuntha Ekadashi is celebrated.
Hell goes empty
When lakhs of devotees perform Ekadashi vratam and attain liberation, the Hell becomes empty and Paradise is overcrowded. And the representative Sin asks Vishnu to provide a space for him to survive. The legend says that Krishna asked the Sin-man to reside in Rice or other pulses and whoever eats them on Vaikuntha Ekadashi would go to Hell. Thus, the condition of fasting without taking any food on this day became mandatory. The scholars say the people should do fasting once at least in fifteen days to get rid of toxins and cleanse the body machine. The entire story is aimed at diverting the people to good things and praying the God. There will be 24 to 26 Ekadashis in every year for people to fast. If they fast on Mukkoti Ekadashi at least, it will amount to fasting on all Ekadashis, as per a belief.
There is another story which was narrated by Krishna to Yudhistir. Mahijit King of Mahishmathi could not beget a child which means none succeeds him to take care of kingdom. All his efforts and vratas failed. A saint, Lomesh looks into his past deeds and tells him that he drove away a cow and calf drinking water from a pond and then he quenched his thirst. This sin made him to suffer in next birth. The Rishi advises him to observe Ekadashi vrata on Vaikuntha Ekadashi. The King and queen perform it as per all the norms and blessed with a son to continue the kingdom. Because of this, it is called Putrada Ekadashi, i.e., means to get the progeny.