Vijaya Ekadashi-The Ekadashi of Victory
Vijaya Ekadashi occurs on the eleventh day of Krishna Paksha (the dark fortnight) of the month of Falgun (February-March). ‘Vijaya’ means ‘victory’. The significance of this Ekadashi vrat is inherent in its name. The story of Krishna Paksha’s ‘Vijaya’ Ekadashi vrat in the month of Falgun is described in the Skandapurana.
Actually, Ekadashi is considered as a holy date of fasting according to Hindu religion. It occurs on the eleventh day of every lunar fortnight. So there are two Ekadashi days (the eleventh days of bright and dark fortnights of the moon) in a month and twenty-four Ekadashi days in each calendar year. However, in the lunar leap year, two additional Ekadashi days occur. The importance of observing Ekadashi vrats has been given in various Sanatan Hindu scriptures. Each Ekadashi vrat has particular benefits and blessings that a devotee can attain by the observance of the day properly. So Vijaya Ekadashi vrat has its particular significance.
Lord Krishna narrated the significance of Vijaya Ekadashi vrat to king Yudhisthara. Yudhisthira said- “O Krishna! Please describe in detail the Ekadashi of Krishna Paksha (the dark fortnight) in the month of Falgun (February-March).” Lord Krishna said- “O Maharaj! the Ekadashi that occurs in the Krishna Paksha (the dark fortnight) of Falgun (February-March) is known as Vijaya.”
The story of Vijaya Ekadashi vrat is associated with the Ramayana. In the Treta Yuga, Sri Ramchandra, the fourth incarnation of Lord Vishnu, went to the forest for 14 years. He lived in the Panchavati forest with his consort, Sita Devi and brother, Lakshmana. At that time, Ravana, the king of Lanka, kidnapped Sita Devi. Ramachandra traveled around in search of Sita. Then he met the dying Jatayu, a divine bird. Jatayu informed Ramachandra about all the incidents of the kidnapping of Sita and died. Then Ramachandra befriended the monkey king, Sugriva to rescue Sita Devi.
By the grace of Sri Ramachandra, Hanuman went to Lanka. On his return he explained to Sri Ramachandra all the events of Lanka. Hearing Hanuman’s words, Ramchandra went to the beach on the advice of Sugriva. Seeing that rough sea, he said to Lakshmana, “O Lakshmana, I cannot find any way to cross this deep sea. What can I do now?”
Lakshmana replied, “O Purushottam, omniscient Adideva, what can I say you about this? However, a sage named Bakadalbhya lives on this island. His ashram (hermitage) is four miles away from here. O Raghav, please ask that ancient sage the way.”
Hearing the beautiful words of Lakshmana, they reached the ashram of that sage. Lord Ramachandra bowed to that sage. The sage came to know Sri Ramachandra as an incarnation of the Supreme Godhead. He asked happily, “O Ramachandra, why have you come to me, please tell me.”
Sri Ramachandra said, “O sage, by your grace I have come to this beach with the army. Our main objective is to conquer Lanka of Ravana. We pray for your grace to know the way so that we can cross this terrible sea.” The sage said to Ramachandra with a happy heart, O Rama, I’ll tell you the significance of the best vrat so that you can fulfill your desire. You will surely be able to cross the sea with the army after observing the Ekadashi vrat called Vijaya Ekadashi vrat of Krishna Paksha (the dark fortnight) in the month of Falgun. Listen to the rules of this vrat. To achieve victory, worship Narayana with absolute devotion with flowers, tulsi, incense-lamp offerings, etc. and spend all day in chanting the name of Hari. Awaken at night and keep the unbroken ghee lamp lit. After performing the puja, you will give it up. Then you will donate that idol to a Vedic Brahmin. The effect of this vrat will surely bring you victory.”
Sri Ramachandra, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, did just as the sage, Bakadalbhya instructed, and thus He conquered all demoniac forces.
Similarly, anyone who observes Vijaya Ekadashi vrat in this way will always be victorious in this material world, and after leaving this world he will reside forever in the kingdom of God.
Once Narada Muni wanted to know about Vijaya Ekadashi vrat from Lord Brahma. Then Lord Brahma said to him, `My dear son, this oldest of fasting days is pure, and all the sins of one who fasts on this Ekadashi and hears its sublime glories are eradicated. I have never revealed this to anyone until today, but you can understand beyond any doubt that this Ekadashi bestows the result indicated by its name (Vijaya).
On Vijaya Ekadashi, devotees get up early in the morning and after taking a bath, worship and offer prayers to Lord Vishnu. To worship Lord Vishnu on Vijaya Ekadashi devotees place the Sapta paddy on an altar. They also put an urn of water on the altar decorated with mango and Ashoka leaves and offer Tulsi leaves, incense sticks, betel nuts, and coconut to the idol of the deity. They even prepare a special bhog to please Lord Vishnu. Like every other puja, rituals are done and devotees recite the Vijaya Ekadashi Vrat Katha and perform the god’s arti and light a lamp of ghee to mark the end of the Vijaya Ekadashi fast.
Vijaya Ekadashi parana should be done following the parana vidhi (rules) of other Ekadashi vrats. Parana means breaking the fast of Ekadashi. Ekadashi parana is observed after sunrise on the next day after Ekadashi fasting. If Dwadashi Tithi does not end before sunrise, then one should do Parana within Dwadashi. Not doing Parana within Dwadashi Tithi is similar to an offence.
Ekadashi Parana should not be done during Hari Vasara. A devotee should wait till the end of Hari Vasara. The first one fourth duration of the Dwadashi is called Hari Vasara. The best time to break the fast is Pratahkal (morning). One should avoid breaking the fast during Madhyahna (noon). If for some reason one cannot break the fast in the Pratahkal (morning), it should be done after Madhyahna (noon).