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Vishnu is the central and major deity of the trinity – Brahma (creator), Vishnu (preserver), Shiva (destroyer). Vishnu is the preserver or sustainer and for all practical purposes he is deemed to be omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient.
The name Vishnu means the “pervader”. He is the inner center, the nucleus, the cohesive point through which everything exists. According to scriptures, he is known by innumerable names and the verses are famous as Vishnu Sahasranama. The two most common representations of Vishnu show him
Either sleeping over the waves of the ocean on the coils of the serpent-deity
Standing on waves with four hands – each hand holding one of his four chief attributes.
His lower right hand represents the revolving or creative tendency. This hand holds conch, symbol of the five elements ( panchajanyam). When blown, it produces a sound that is associated with the primeval sound from which creation developed.
His upper right hand represents the cohesive tendency. This holds the discus ( sudarshana chakra) or the wheel. This has six spokes and symbolizes six-petalled lotus.
It represents the limitless controlling of all the six seasons and is the fearful weapon that severes the head if demons.
The upper left hand represents the tendency towards dispersion and liberation. This holds the lotus, symbol of the causal power of illusion from which the universe rises.
This lotus is called Padma. It is the symbol of purity and represents the unfolding of creation.It is the truth from which emerged the rules of conduct and knowledge.
The lower left hand holds Gada ( Mace), the symbol of primeval knowledge . It represents the notion of individual existence. This is named Kaumodaki and is the elemental force from which all physical and mental powers are derived.
Vishnu’s preserving, restoring and protecting powers have been manifest on earth in a variety of forms called Avatars or incarnations which are ten in number.
In all pictures Vishnu is shown blue-skinned and seen in rich ornaments and regal garments. His consort Lakshmi ( Sri) is the goddess of wealth and fortune. His place of abode is known as Vaikunta and his vehicle is Garuda, a giant-sized eagle, which is often shown as a winged, human-shaped figure having a beak-like nose. He is the infinite ocean from which the world emerges. Hence his symbol is water (Nara) and he himself is called “Narayana”- the one who dwells upon the waters.
Thus, Lord Vishnu has
First His formless aspect as the supreme
His cosmic form as the Creator and Sustainer of the world
His third aspect is as a particular incarnation
And, fourthly,His form, as chosen by the devotee for worship.
You wrote all about the various forms of Devi and her vahanas and symbols. That was enriching, I didn't even know a fraction of it. And now, it is about Vishnu. It was very enriching to read about the Lord.
So Chithra, what exactly is the significance of this Vaikunta Ekadasi? Also, why is it often referred to as "Mukkoti" ( three kotis) Ekadasi?
Many years ago, I was in India at this time and went to a temple where the crowds were thronging as all wanted to enter under this gate, which was representative of Vaikunta Dwaram ...I guess. What is its significance?
My friend had told me about this and may be I will get to go to the temple tomorrow ( your today is our tomorrow!). If I really do, then I will deem it as my 'punya' !
Have a lovely Ekadasi day.
I collected the following points from various sites on the net
Vaikunta Ekadasi is an important festival dedicated to Lord Vishnu in the Tamil month Today is Vaikunta Ekadasi. Ekadasi means 'the eleventh' in Sanskrit and refers to the eleventh day of a fortnight belonging to a lunar month. Falling in the moon's waxing phase in the month of Dhanurmasa (December-January), Ekadasi is synonymous with fasting and abstinence. The Dhanurmasa sukla paksha ekadasi is called Vaikunta Ekadasi.
Vaikunda Ekadesi festival is of great significance at the <?XML:NAMESPACE PREFIX = ST1 /><ST1:PLACE><ST1:PLACENAME>Tirupati</ST1:PLACENAME> <ST1:PLACENAME>Balaji</ST1:PLACENAME> <ST1:PLACETYPE>Temple</ST1:PLACETYPE></ST1:PLACE>, <ST1:PLACE><ST1:PLACENAME>Srirangam Sri</ST1:PLACENAME> <ST1:PLACENAME>Ranganatha</ST1:PLACENAME> <ST1:PLACETYPE>Temple</ST1:PLACETYPE></ST1:PLACE> and at the <ST1:PLACE><ST1:PLACENAME>Bhadrachalam</ST1:PLACENAME> <ST1:PLACETYPE>Temple</ST1:PLACETYPE></ST1:PLACE>. In Kerala, it is known as Swarga Vathil Ekadashi.
The significance of Vaikunta Ekadasi can be traced back to the Padma Purana. The Purana indicates that Lord Vishnu took the form of ‘Ekadasi’ – female energy – to kill demon Muran. This happened during the month of Margazhi. Impressed by ‘Ekadasi,’ Lord Vishnu told her that worships him on this day will reach ‘Vaikunta’ (heaven).
Like all Ekadasi days, devotees fast on this day and observe vigil the whole night. Some people indulge in meditation, Japa and singing of Hari Kirtan. Rice is avoided during ekadashi days as it is believed that the demon Mura finds a dwelling in the rice eaten on Ekadasi day.
Some schools of thought believe that Sri Krishna gave the Gitopadesam to Arjuna on the day of Vaikunta Ekadasi.
For the Vaishnavas, it is a very holy day and should be ideally spent in fasting, prayer and meditation.
It is widely believed that the gates to the heaven open - the Gate of Vaikuntha - on the Vaikunta Ekadasi day. It is one of the most auspicious days in Lord Vishnu Temples in <ST1:PLACE>South India</ST1:PLACE>.
The ‘Vaikunta Dwaram’ or ‘the gate to the heaven’ is opened on this day. This is the passage encircling the innermost sanctum of the Lord. Scores of devotees queue up to pass through the Gate of Vaikunta in the temples.
While Vaikunta Ekadasi is observed in all Vaishnava temples, the day is very special at the Sri Ranganatha temple at Srirangam in Tamil Nadu. On this auspicious day, Lord Ranganatha in all His glory and resplendence enters the Parama Padha Vaasal (the gateway to salvation) at the sacred precincts of the temple at Srirangam, and showers His blessings and grace on mankind.
Last edited by Chitvish; 21st December 2007 at 05:54 AM.
My dear Chithra,
It is only now that I checked and noted your reply to my query.
As usual, you make a thorough job of whatever you attempt and thanks to you, I enjoyed reading all that information and am a little wiser:)
Yes, I went to this Ranganatha temple that was close to my parents' home in Bangalore where people were queued up to pass through the Vaikunta Dwaram and had the blessings of the Lord to do so. Was many years ago...
Hope I can make it to the temple today.
It was a nice write up.As usually you have done ur job 101%.Unfortunately i was unable to fast today or go to temple due to work load in office.The fotos of Lord Vishnu posted by you was my swarga vasal tharisanam(virtual i shud say).
Thanks for the posting and for the foto.
I am joining you here after a longgggg time. I did not know the significance of the symbols, it was very enriching and enlightening. I enjoyed reading every bit of it, and it transported back to my home in Trichy.
I remember the special buses that would start running from the previous evening sporting the banner "Vaikunta Ekadasi Special" and almost all the buses would make a trip to Srirangam. People would start queueing to go through the "Swarga Vaasal" from the previous day evening itself. We had to be satisfied with watching the live proceedings on TV and make a trip to SriRangam later before Margazhi ends.
Like Kamla mentioned, I had the fortune of going thru Swarga Vaasal in Bangalore in Sarakki Layout, where they had a makeshift Swarga Vaasal and we queued up with my foster family who were staunch Hebbar Iyengars. So that was quite an experience with "Govinda Govinda" cries in the air. Nothing can beat that atmosphere in India.
Thanks soo much for enlivening those memories again in us.
Happy Vaikunta Ekadasi!!
sending feedback !
Just kidding !!
Living just 1 km from triplicane, I have never seen the swarga vasal in Sri Parthasarathy kovil.
My "family" does not like crowd, if I can give that as a reason ! Ofcourse, there was a live relay on the TV.
Last edited by Chitvish; 21st December 2007 at 05:54 AM.
That was a timely post...! It makes me nostalgic about stepping on the Swarga vaasal in Perumal temples growing up. One of my mom's cousins who lives in Srirangam will step on the Swarga vasal many times in the day. It used to be fun going to temple with her as she knows every nook and corner and was extremely smart about which queue moves faster...!
Today reminiscing your 'Fasting according to Hindu culture' and am planning on a fruit diet. It is almost half a day and have been successful so far...!