One of the important fasting day for Vaishnavites, the Vaishnava Nirjala Ekadashi is observed on the ‘ekadashi’ (11th day) of the Shukla Paksha (the waxing phase of moon) during the month of ‘Trivikrama’ in the Vaishnava calendar. This ekadashi is also known as ‘Pandava Nirjala Ekadashi’, ‘Pandava Ekadashi’ or ‘Bhimseni Ekadashi’ owing to the historic linkage with Prince Bhimsen, one of the five Pandava brothers. In the Hindu calendar, Vaishnava Nirjala Ekadashi, falls during the ‘Jyestha’ month that is considered to be the hottest month of the year. ‘Nirjala’ in Hindi signifies ‘without water’ and fasting without taking a drop of water during this time of the year (during the months of May-June in the Gregorian calendar) is austere and tough. Hence this ekadashi observance is believed to be very sacred and rewarding.
There is no Vaishnava Nirjala Ekadashi in 2020
Rituals during Vaishnava Nirjala Ekadashi:
- Fasting on Vaishnava Nirjala Ekadashi is difficult from other ekadashi vrats as in this ekadashi, besides abstaining from food, not a single drop of water should be taken all day. During the hot Indian summer month, observing this water-less fast is extremely difficult and therefore deemed as pious austerity.
- The fast on Vaishnava Nirjala Ekadashi extends for a period of 24 hours from the dawn of ekadashi till the sunrise of ‘dwadashi’ (12th day). However some devotees owing to health limitations observe this vrat from sunrise to sunset of the ekadashi. The rituals for this fast starts from the ‘dashami’ (10th day). The observer of this vrat performs ‘Sandhyavandanam’ (evening prayer) and consumes only one meal (without rice) on the previous day. While performing the evening puja rituals, in taking tiny drops of water during the ‘Achamana’ ritual is permitted. But taking water beyond the specified quantity is equivalent to breaking of the fast.
- The observer of this sacred vrat aims for spiritual enlightenment. Lord Vishnu is worshipped on this day with full devotion and enthusiasm. The idol of the lord is bathed with ‘Panchamrita’ and adorned with beautiful clothes and jewelry. Devotees worship Sri Hari Vishnu with flowers, Tulsi leaves and incense sticks. The observer of this vrat must not sleep all night and perform a ‘jagaran’ by chanting bhajans and Vedic mantras in praise of Lord Vishnu. The fast of Vaishnava Nirjala Ekadashi’ ends on ‘dwadashi’ morning by taking the ‘Charnamrita’.
- Charity is another important ritual on Vaishnava Nirjala Ekadashi. Offering clothes, food, water in a pitcher and other living essentials to the Brahmins and the needy is considered to be very rewarding on this day.
Significance of Vaishnava Nirjala Ekadashi:
The virtues of the Vaishnava Nirjala Ekadashi can be read in Hindu scriptures like ‘Brahma Vaivarta Purana’. It is mentioned that the merits of this particular ekadashi is equivalent to the combined benefits of the other 23 ekadashis mentioned in the Vaishnava and Hindu calendar. One who successfully completes the Vaishnava Nirjala Ekadashi vrat receives the favour of Lord Vishnu in the form of prosperity, contentment and forgiveness of all sins. After living a successful life, the person is straight away taken to the heavenly abode of Lord Vishnu, ‘Vaikuntha’, after his/her death. Of all the ekadashis, the Vaishnava Nirjala Ekadashi is considered to be very important and pious for Hare Krishna followers, in particular.