Kaisika Ekadasi- significance

On this Kaisika Ekadesi day-Shri  Maadhava Kannan wrote this nice article..extracts are given below..

It has already been pointed out that the SrirAmAyaNa reference to ‘kAiSikam’ is
found in sundara-kANDam.

[1:174] *sEvitE vAri-dhArAbhi: pataGaiS-cha nishEvitE, charitE
kaiSikAchAryai: airAvata nishEvitE*

Two of Sri-rAmAyaNa commentators, Govindaraja and Ramanuja (?), explain
“kAiSikAchAryA:” as the celestial vidyAdharas like tumburu who are masters
of the rare melody (rAGa-viSEsha:) known as ‘kAiSikam’. [The succeeding
epithet “AirAvata-nishEvitE” does not have to do with Indra’s famed albino
elephant. The phrase paints a rainbow ~~ AirAvatam ~~ across the skies
which Hanuman was traversing.]
Hanuman flew in the skies which had a number of waterfalls, and various
birds frequented. where the great order of gods or preceptors who were expert in
singing the raga or svaras of kaisika cruised; where airavata or indra’s
elephant resorted to. Here ‘kaisika’ is already referred to as well known in
treta yuga as a special kind of singing or raga or svara

Nampaduvan refuses to part with any punyam and finally after listening to
the story of previous birth as a vile brahmin and death during a sacrifice
and consequent birth as a brahma rakshasa, nampaduvan’s heart softens and
offers to give the punyam of singing the last song. “yanmayA pashchimam
gItam svaram kaisika samjnakam; phalena tasya bhadram tE mokshayishyAmi
kilbishAt”. Here what he said is to be noted. He said that he sang a last
song with the svara named kaisika. This single song earned so much merit
as to release the brahma rakshasa from his mean life and send him to
heaven. Perhaps, to point out the significance of this song, the whole
episode was named as kaisika puranam..

We know that in music, kaisika is associated with the svara nishAda as
‘komala kaisiki nishAda and kaisiki nishAda’ which is a part of several
enchanting ragas as nathabhairavi, kharaharapriya, rathnangi etc, of which
bhairavi etc, are janyaragas. Perhaps one of these ragas was sung by
nampaduvan

Kaisika Ekadasi is a sacred day for the devotees of the Lord.
Devotees fast that day and listen to kaisika puranam. This Puranam is the 48th
chapter of Sri Varaha Puranam

One Kaisika Ekadasi day Sri Parasara Bhattar chanted the
Kaisiki Puranam before Lord Ranganatha (with his interpretations). Lord was
immensely pleased and this has become a tradition in Srirangam.
To this day the direct descendants of Sri Parasara Bhattar Swami
chant Kaisika Puranam on Kaisika Ekadasi day to the LORD at Srirangam

In the Varaha Puranam, Lord Vishnu tells the story to Mahalakshmi about how he adores being worshipped through dance and music.  Kaisiki Natakam, which is traced back to the 13th Century, tells the story of a lowborn “Chandala” called Nambaduvan who devotes one night every year, on Kaisiki Ekadesi, to singing the praises of Nambi Perumal. On that day one year, he was traveling to the temple when a Rakshasa (demon) stops him and demands his flesh.  After great persuasion, Nambaduvan tells the Rakshasa that he would return to be eaten by him after completing his annual offering of music to Nambi Perumal.  Convinced of the Chandala`s sincerity, the Rakshasa allows him to proceed   to the temple.  After singing all night in front of the Lord, Nambaduvan is on his way to the Rakshasa to fulfill his promise.  At that time, Lord Vishnu himself, in the guise of an old man, stops him and asks him to take another route, warning him of a dangerous Rakshasa who eats all in his path.  Nambaduvan refuses to break his promise and proceeds to meet his death.  When the Rakshasa meets him again, his mood has changed.  He now demands that Nambaduvan give over to him not his physical body but the Punyam (fruits of good deeds) he has acquired from his musical offerings to Nambi Perumal. Nambaduvan refuses and then is told that the Rakshasa is really a Brahmin who has attracted a curse because of his arrogance and who would be redeemed from the curse by a chandala. 

The story has an unusual element in that it points to the special place music and dance has in religious worship in temple societies of ancient times.  The divisions of caste and class were blurred when it came to the purity of a devotee’s intent. Similar to the practice connected with Vaikunta Ekadesi, devotees would fast and stay awake during the night of the Kaiska Ekadesi and listen to music and dance in praise of Nambi Perumal (the name given to Lord Vishnu in Thirukurungudi in Tirunelveli district of Tamilnadu).  This was an act of great piety.    

Kaisiki Natakam was performed in Thirukurungudi with great fanfare until 1955.  Due to scholars, as well as patrons like the late T.V. Sundaram Iyengar, thousands of devotees used to throng the massive temple in Thirukurungudi on the night of Kaisika Ekadesi every year.  After the demise of Sundaram Iyengar in 1955, the play, which used to extend for five hours past midnight, seemed to have lost its appeal, content and audience till it was reconstructed and revived recently.

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