Today (Sunday, 4th December 2022) is kaishika ekadasi. Ekadasi (ekadasa is number eleven in Sanskrit language) is the 11th day of the bright (Shukla paksha) and black fortnight (krishna paksha) and it is a common practice to fast on all the ekadasis. Kaishika ekadasi is the ekadasi on the bright fortnight of the month Krittika and is revered as a special day amongst all the 24 ekadasis in a year. Why is this day so special and why is this called Kaishika ekadasis? Kaishika is the name of a raga in music and why is the name of a raga given to this ekadasi. There is an interesting story behind the special day and an insightful learning from that story.
Holy Songs of Nam-Paduvan
Once there lived a man at Thirukkurungudi (a village near Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu). He was fondly called Nampaduvan. He was born in a lower caste family. He was very pious and deeply devoted to Lord Sriman Narayana. He used to fast during every Ekadasi day. Getting up very early next morning, he used to go to the vicinity of the vishnu temple in that village with his veena in his hands and sing songs in praise of the Lord going around the temple as they were not allowed inside the temple during those days.
Once during the month of Krittika on a bright fortnight Dwadasi i.e the 12th day, he walked to the temple early in the morning as usual with veena in his hands. On the way a Brahmarakshasa (A Brahmarakshasa is a ghost of a Brahmin who committed grave sins during his lifetime) stopped him and expressed his desire to eat him up. Nampaduvan prayed to the Brahmarakshasa to spare some time so that he may go to the temple and sing the songs and return so that he can complete his commitment to the Lord. But the Rakshasa was not ready to grant his request as he feared that it was a false pretense. Nampaduvan made 18 oaths to the effect that he would certainly return after worshipping the Lord.
The Brahmarakshas became pleased by all these promises and saluted Nampaduvan and bade him farewell so that he may fulfill his vow and come back to him.
Accordingly, Nampaduvan went to the temple and sang the songs with even more dedication and love. Lord Nambi (presiding deity of Thirukurungudi), pleased with his resolve to fulfil his commitments shifted the flagpost little so that Nampaduvan can worship the Lord from outside (The flagstaff, dhwajasthamba, in this temple can be seen not in line with the murthis even now). Having completed his vow pertaining to Ekadasi vradham (i.e. spending sleepless night and praying to Lord Narayan in the dawn before breaking the fast) Nampaduvan surrendered to the Lord. After that, he walked towards the forest where he met the Rakshas with great speed.
On his way a person met him and questioned him “Where are you going with such speed?” Nampaduvan replied in a sweet manner – “I am going to a BrahmaRakshas. If I don’t find him where I met him before, I will go in search of him and offer my body as food for him.”
That man desired to test his resolve and said “There stands a Rakshasa by birth. He is not righteous minded like Vibeeshana, but a worst criminal. You cannot escape from his cruel clutches, as he is a cannibal. Don’t go to that way.” But Nampaduvan refused to listen to him and was adamant in keeping up his promise. That stranger, who obstructed him and advised him, was none other than the Lord
Nampaduvan found BrahmaRakshas at the same place and offered his body to him. The rakshsh was taken aback by his resolve to honor his promise and narrated his previous life history. He was a brahmin by name Somasarma in his former birth and took birth as a rakshah because of misdeeds in his previous birth.
Having given a detailed account of his previous life the Rakshasa knelt before Nampaduvan to grant him the merit of all the song that he sang in praise of the Lord for a long time so that he can be liberated. Nampaduvan refused sternly. Finally, being moved by pity he granted him the merit (Punya) of one song, which he sang that day morning which was in the raga “Kaishika”. The Brahmarakshah got liberated because of that grant, greatness of that song. Later he was born in a family of Vaishnava and at the end of the birth he reached abode of the Lord, Sri Vaikundam.
Give commitments and live up to the commitments whatever it takes to honor your commitments. Honoring your commitments gives you the confidence to perform even better, grow even higher. Try giving commitments, doable commitments and live up to your commitments.
Not just to others. Give commitment to yourself and live up to the commitment given.
You will rise in your own eyes when you set commitments to yourself and honor those commitments. How to grow in your own eyes? In the next episode of ‘Monday Musings’.
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