Devshayani Ekadashi

What is Devshayani Ekadashi

The eleventh day, in the full moon quarter of Ashadh month, is observed as Devshayani Ekadashi or Maha-Ekadashi. According to Hindu mythology, on this day, Lord Vishnu goes into a deep slumber or deep meditation. He wakes up after four months on Prabodhini Ekadashi day. Devshyani Ekadashi comes close on the heels of Puri's Jagannath RathYatra every year. 

The eleventh day of the bright half of Ashadh is also known as Padma Ekadashi. And It is also the beginning of Chaturmas ("chatur" means four, and "mas" means months).

Chaturmas is a collection of four auspicious months which are full of festivals and celebrations. Since these four months fall in the monsoon season, the atmosphere is dense with moisture, and bacterial activities are high. 

Therefore, it is advisable to follow strict rules of sleeping, eating, fasting and praying at this time. The four months in the Hindu calendar that make Chaturmas are AshadhShravan, Bhadarpada, and Ashwin

Significance of Devshayani Ekadashi

1). The Ekadashi puja assumes significance as Chaturmas or a holy period of four months in the Hindu calendar begins from this day. The four months of Chaturmas are Shravan, Bhadrapad, Ashwin, and Kartik and roughly correspond to July, August, September, and October.

2). Chaturmas heralds nearly all the major Hindu festivals like Janmashthami, Ganesh Chaturthi, Durga Puja, and Diwali.

3). By keeping a vrat or fast on Devshayani Ekadashi, a devotee seeks the blessings of Lord Vishnu for this life and beyond.

4). Those who wish to find salvation (or Moksha) by getting rid of the vicious cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, also pray to Lord Vishnu.

5). By sincerely observing a fast or vrat on this day, a devotee can seek attainment from the guilt of committing sins in this life and previous lives. 

6). Ekadashi is a time to introspect and realize one's human follies and seek divine guidance. Apart from cleansing the body, the vrat or fast also purifying the mind of negative and evil thoughts and emotions.

7). During the period of Chaturmas, one should observe asceticism, self-discipline, and avoid indulging in sensual pleasures. From Ekadashi day, a period of self-cleansing begins for both the mind and the body, which is indeed very beneficial.

Devshayani Ekadashi Vrat Katha or Story

Story 1:

One of the legends associated with Devshayani Ekadashi vrat dates back to Satyuga. There once lived a demon-king named Raja Bali, who was the grandson of Hari Bhakt Prahlad. He ruled the three worlds - the Devaloka, Prithviloka, and Patalaloka

After seeing him becoming invincible due to his great deeds, the Devas or Gods became worried. They rushed to Lord Vishnu and appealed to him to stop Bali from growing more powerful as he may usurp their authority. Therefore, to protect the gods or Devas, Lord Vishnu decided to take the Vamana Avatar.

Apart from being a just and able king, Raja Bali was also known for his philanthropic and generous nature and activities. Therefore, Lord Vishnu decided to seek alms from Bali in the disguise of a dwarf Brahmin boy. 

Disguised, Vishnu asked the king to give him three pieces of land that he would cover in just three steps. And Bali instantly agreed. However, Bali was unsuspicious that the boy was none other than Lord Vishnu himself. 

Soon after asking for three pieces of land, Vamana Avatar started to expand so big that his head touched the skies. The dwarf was now a giant. With one step, he covered the earth, and with another step, he covered the rest of the universe. And Bali, who by then had realized that it was Lord Vishnu himself, humbly surrendered. 

But the third step of the promise for the third piece of land remained. Therefore, Bali offered his head and asked Lord Vishnu to step on it, thereby completing his wish. Please with Bali's devotion and humbleness, the Lord took his third step on Bali's head.

However, before sending Bali to Patala Loka, Vishnu, pleased by the king's generosity, asked him to seek a boon. And the king made the most of it by telling Lord Vishnu to accompany him to the Patala Loka. Thus, the Lord decided to go to Patala Loka with Bali to honor his promise.

But the Lord's absence left the Devas or gods, and Mata Lakshmi worried. Hence to bring her husband back from the Patala Loka, the Goddess visited Patala Loka disguised as a poor woman seeking help from Bali. She tied a Rakhi to Bali's wrist and bonded with him like his sister. And eventually, she asked him to free her husband from the Patala Loka

Bali, who was known for his generosity, humbly accepted his defeat. Eventually, Lord Vishnu returned to his abode, Vaikuntha.

Story 2:

In the scripture of Bhavishyottara Purana, Lord Krishna narrates the significance of Shayani Ekadashi to Yudhishthira. Once Brahma, the creator-god, conveyed the importance of Ekadashi to his son Narada

As per the story, there once lived a great king named Mandata. The pious king's country had faced drought for three years, but the king was unable to find a solution to please the rain gods. Finally, sage Angiras advised the king to observe the vrat or vow of Dev-Shayani Ekadashi. On doing so, by the grace of Lord Vishnu, there was rain in the kingdom. And once again, Mandata was able to restore peace and prosperity to his country.

Preventions and Precautions during Chaturmas

1). Giving up one or more food items for four months.

2). Fast on every Ekadashi day during Chaturmas.

3). Abstinence from specific grains, beans, vegetables like onions/garlic/certain spices for four months.

4). Regular fasts, performing pooja, singing of Lord's glory, and Reciting hymns.

5). Prayers, meditation, introspection, and chanting.

6). Reading/listening to sacred texts and discourses on the life and teaching of the Lord. 

As per Bhavishyottara Purana:

  1. Vegetables should not be consumed during Shravan
  2. Yogurt should not be consumed during Bhadrapada
  3. Milk should not be consumed during Ashvin
  4. Pulse-beans should not be consumed during Kartik. 

As per Skanda Purana:

  1. Onion, garlic, and other additives should not be consumed during Chaturmas. 
  2. Brinjals, water-melon, radish, and sugar-cane should be abstained from consumption.