Varuthini Ekadasi is a holy day on which Hindus observe vrat and worship Bhagawan Vishnu as Vamana, his fifth avatar. It is also known as Baruthini Ekadasi and falls on the 11th day of Krishna Paksh in the Chaitra maas or Vaishaka, depending on the calendar that is followed. In North India, the Purnimant Hindu calendar is followed and Varuthuni Ekadasi falls in Vaishaka, while in South India, the Amavasyat Hindu calendar is followed, and Varithuni Ekadasi falls in Chaitra maas. As per the Gregorian calendar, it occurs in April or May every year.
Varuthini Ekadasi is devoted to worship and fasting in the name of Vamana avatar of Bhagawan Vishnu. In Sanskrit language, ‘Varuthini’ means the one who is iron-clad or armoured. People who observe vrat on this day, are thus protected from evils and bad temptations, and blessed with good fate and happiness in life. As per the North Indian Purnimant calendar, it falls in Krishna paksha of vaishakha and as per the south Indian Amasyavant calendar, it falls during Krishna paksha of chaitra masam. Ekadasi Parana is necessary to do before sunrise of the next day of Dwadashi. Not breaking the fast or doing Parana within the Dwadashi tithi, is considered a sin. One should also not break the fast, during Hari Vasara (first one-fourth duration of Dwadashi tithi) and Madhyana. One should do the Parana only during Pratahkal or after Madhyana. Sometimes Ekadasi fasting is observed on two days, one day for family members and the other day is dedicated to saints, sanyasis, and whoever wants to attend salvation.
DEITIES ASSOCIATED WITH THE FESTIVAL:
Customarily a whole day of fasting is observed on this day along with worship of Bhagawan Vishnu.
ORIGIN AND SIGNIFICANCE:
As per the Puranas, initially Brahma ji had four heads. He then created a daughter and named her Shatarupa. She was very beautiful and full of divine grace. Seeing her beauty, Brahma got attracted towards her and started following her. In order to evade her eyes, she goes above him. Thus, he developed a fifth head. When Bhagawan Shiva got to know about it, he was infuriated and severed his fifth head, for getting infatuated towards his own daughter. Brahma ji cursed Shiv ji out of anger. But, Bhagawan Shiva got freed from this curse by observing a vrat on the 11th day of Krishna Paksh in Vaisakh. From that time onwards, the vrat is being observed as a way to liberation from sins.
Another legend goes that, once, there was a king named Dhundhumara of the Ikshvaku dynasty. He was a cruel king and had a lot of misdeeds in his account. He was cursed by Bhagawan Shiva for his wrong deeds. He then performed the vrat of Varuthini Ekadasi and got rid of all his sins.
Bhavishya Purana explains the significance of Varuthini Ekadasi as a reliever from sins and cycle of birth and death. It is narrated by Shri Krishna to Pandava Yudhishtir in Bhavishya purana. By observing vrat of Varunithi Ekadasi, a person could get rid of his bad luck, misfortunes, get free from the cycle of birth and death and can get assurance of prosperity in the present and future births. The Highest benefit of vrat is achieved when we share its knowledge and significance to others. This pleases our ancestors and deities we worship. Donations of horse, cow, land, elephant, sesame, food grains and gold on this day, are highly beneficial and help to achieve superior benefits. It is known that observing this fast and following all rituals with discipline, gives fruits equivalent to a thousand penances. Kanyadaan or giving away a daughter, is considered to be the greatest daan. Observing this vrat reaps benefits equivalent to a hundred kanyadaan.
CUSTOMS, TRADITIONS AND RITUALS:
- Worshippers observe a strict fast on this day, and some observe nirjala vrat, in which consumption of water is also prohibited. One must eat only one meal on the day before Ekadasi, that is Dashi, continue vrat on Ekadasi and break the fast on the day after Ekadasi, that is Dwadashi, on sunrise.
- Even if one does not observe fast, he should at least not eat rice, chickpea, black gram, lentils, betel nut, honey and non-veg food on this day.
- Vamana avatar of Shri Hari is worshipped on this day and special puja arrangements are made with some specific rules and standards.
- One must avoid routine activities like applying oil, shaving, cutting hair etc. on this day.
- Spend more time in reading and reciting Vishnu bhajans, mantras and Vishnu Shastranaam in honour of Bhagawan Vishnu.
- Offering donations on this day brings charm and best luck in one’s life, especially donation of cow, horse, elephant, gold, grains to Brahmin is considered to be of utmost importance.
PUJA VIDHI AND KATHA:
- On the day of Varuthini Ekadasi, one should get up early in the morning and take a holy dip in the river of Ganga, Yamuna, Cauvery, Narmada or Godavari. If it’s not possible to take a bath in any of these holy rivers, one can also put some drops of Ganga water in the bath water.
- Wear clean clothes after bathing.
- Make a bhog or special food like halwa or kheer.
- In the worship place of your home, ignite a ghee/mustard/sesame lamp.
- Start worshipping Bhagawan Vishnu murti by chanting the mantra “Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya”, and offer him water, flowers, dhoop, incense, natural perfume, ghee lamp and bhog.
- Offer Tamboolam consisting of Paan, supari, coconut, sandalwood, turmeric, akshat and dakshina.
- Read Varuthini Ekadasi vrat katha, Vishnu Shastranaam, Bhagwad Geeta and do the Sri Hari Jaapa.
- Perform charity of essentials to Brahmin.
- In the evening, worship Bhagawan Vishnu with flowers, fruits, dhoop, ghee lamp, incense and bhog of dry fruits.
- Finally complete the puja by performing Aarti.
Few things which are strictly prohibited on this day are indulgence in gambling, sexual activity, drinking, lust, wrong thoughts, anger and also one should avoid brushing of teeth, shaving, oiling, cutting or trimming of hair on this day. Devotees should not sleep in noon or night of vrat day and should spend their time in reciting bhajans and reading Bhagavat Gita and Vishnu Sahasranamam. After the sunrise of Dwadashi, donate food to Brahmin and then break the vrat.
SHRI VISHNU MANTRAS:
Vishnu Moola Mantra:
Om Namo Narayana |
Om Namoh Bhagavate Vasudevaya ||
Vishnu Gayatri Mantra:
Om Shri Vishnave cha Vidmahe Vasudevaya Dimahi |
Tanno Vishnu Prachodayat ||
Once, Dharmaraj Yudhishthira, the eldest of Pandava brothers, asked Shri Krishna about the origin of Varuthini vrat. Shri Krishna explained that there was a king named Mandhata who ruled a dynasty near to Narmada river Banks. He was kind-hearted and spiritually devoted. Once he was meditating in the jungle, when suddenly, a wild bear tried to attack him. Mandhata did not want his meditation activity to get disrupted and he continued praying to Bhagawan Vishnu. Shri Hari got happy with his devotion and saved him from the wild bear by killing it with the Sudarshan chakra. Mandhata was very sad knowing that despite being kind and sympathetic to everyone, he was attacked by a bear. He asked Vishnu about the reason and Shri Vishnu explained that it was due to the karmas of his previous birth. He suggested Mandhata to visit Mathura and perform Varuthini Ekadasi vrat to get freedom from the sins of his past lives.
CELEBRATIONS ACROSS THE COUNTRY:
Varuthini Ekadasi is celebrated across the country during the dark half of the lunar calendar in the chaitra or vaisakha month. Vishnu ji, especially in his fifth avatar, Vamana, is worshipped in all the Vaishnava temples, on this day. People celebrate the festival by following a long day fast starting from sunset of Dashi till sunrise of Dwadashi. Donations and many charitable actions are done to please the ancestors of the family.
BENEFITS OF CELEBRATING THE FESTIVAL:
The main benefit of celebrating Varuthini Ekadasi is that, one who follows this vrat, will be secured from all the bad situations and will get free from the cycle of birth and death and attain Moksha (salvation). It brings good luck and fortune. The most important benefit of donation on this day is that it equals 100 kanyadan, which is the biggest daan. Varuthini Ekadasi gives countless benefits to its observer.