[Advaita-l] Ekadashi Questions

Siva Senani Nori sivasenani at yahoo.com
Mon Mar 1 15:44:53 CST 2010

sarvebho namah


I have just started looking up matters related to tithis etc. and that too on my own with the aid of books and kosas only but not a guru in person. As such, what follows can only be taken at best as a pointer to where knowledge lies and at worst, as an attempt by a learner to present what has been grasped which is yet to be decided as proper or improper by the learned. All criticisms are welcome. 
To properly answer the question raised by Sri Sthanunathan, I will first introduce the authorities based on whom the attempt to resolve this question is made, namely the nirNayasindhu and the dharmsindhusaara. Then a brief description of the types of tithi would be given followed by broad rules for Smartas and Vaishnavas. Finally, the different types of Ekadasi would be given along with who is supposed to fast when. This is a lengthy post with more than 1750 words (6 to 10 minutes of reading time).
On Nirnayasindhu
From the prastaavana of Mahaamahopaadhyaaya Sri Pullela SriraamachandruDu to the Telugu translation of nirNayasindhu (my translation and summarisation):
“The works of dharmaSaastra deal with aacaara, vyavahaara and praayaSchitta extensively. However due to the large number of these dharmaSaastra works, it is difficult to consult every work in case of doubt regarding a particular aspect, more so as different smriti works may differ on the same points. To overcome this difficulty, some panDits compiled ‘nibandhas’ in which they examine various aspects of aacaara and praayaScitta in turn, quote from various dharmaSaastra works, reconcile the differences and arrive at a reasoned conclusion…. Amongst the nibandhas, one of the most acclaimed is nirNayasindhu composed by Kamalaakara Bhatta in the 17th century. In this the author quotes from about a hundred smriti works and three hundred nibandhas.”
While the author is modest in the introductory slokas about there being many such nibandha works (even Kaalidaasa appealed to critics to not dismiss his MaaLavikaagnimitram without due consideration just because it is by a new poet), the verse does show that there were indeed many such works at the time of its compilation:
santi yadyapi vidvaamsah tanninibandhaaScha koTeeSah|
tathaapyamushya vaidagdheem kecit vij~naatumeeSate ||
(There are as many nibandhas as there are Vidvaans, even so it is hoped that the excellence of this [book] would be appreciated to some extent). 
It can safely be said that the book exceeded the modest targets laid down by the author. Not only has the vaidagdhI of the book been much appreciated, it has outshone all other such nibandhas and seems to be only one consulted in modern times. Actually the most consulted ‘nibandha’ is the dharmasindhusaara, rather than the nirNayasindhu. Where nirNayasindhu is very comprehensive, the dharmasindhusaara is quite brief though it follows the same plan of nirNayasindhu – of having three parichchedas, the first dealing with deciding the dates of sankrantis, tithis and grahana and the rules of precedence amongst those; the second one with the important tithis in each month starting from caitra, how to determine the tithi for observance of vows and describes the vows to be observed; and the third one with the samskaaras like garbhadaana and others in the first part and with Sraadha and related matters in the latter part. On the strength of the example of
 the issue of ekaadaSee, one may say that the dharmasindhusaara has less of discussion and more of the conclusion with only the supporting moolavaakyaas presented. It may be that with the steady decline in observance of various rites, perhaps the conclusion was sufficient, and Kamalakara Bhatta’s word was good enough as the earlier generations had critically examined the pramaaNas quote by Kamalakara Bhatta. A critical study of both works and list of difference in conclusions reached by the authors might be beneficial to the pious practitioners of sanaatanadharma.
A tithi is one-thirtieth part of the lunar month. The lunar month varies with the average being about twenty nine and a half days. The actual duration of the tithi is the time the moon takes to gain 12 degrees in its revolution relative to the Sun and can start at any time and end at any time. While it is agreed that the maximum and minimum duration of different tithis vary, there are different opinions about the quantum of variance. For our purpose, it would suffice to note that the variance exceeds 10% of the day on the higher and lower sides.
A civil day, or a saavana day, is reckoned to be from sunrise to sunrise. The standard day has 60 ghaTikas. In modern units, a ghaTika is 24 minutes. Two ghaTikas constitute a muhUrta.
Tithi is of two types: Suddha and viddha. Suddha is that which extends from sunrise to the time of the rite – evening in case of saayamsandhya or midnight in case of Sivaraatri etc. Viddha is something which has a vedha, overlapping, by another tithi during the time from sunrise to the time of the rite. The general rule is that the tithi at the time of sunrise is taken to be the tithi for rest of the day. The dharmasindhusaara quotes a verse in support of this in 1-4 (first pariccheda, fourth uddeSah) but does not give the source:
yaam tithim samanupraapya udayam yaati bhaaskarah |
saa tithih sakalaa j~neyaa snaanadaanajapaadishu ||
(that tithi which the Sun obtains at rise is to be known as obtaining through out the day during snaana, daana, japa and other such rites)
Vedha, generally
Vedha is of two types: praatarvedha and saayamvedha. Generally speaking, if another tithi obtains within six ghaTikas after sunrise or within six ghaTikas before sunset, the tithi is said to be viddha. The vedha rules differ for different tithis.
In case of more than one tithi obtaining on a given civil or saavana day, what is known as yugmavaakyam determines what are good:
yugmaagni yugabhootaanaam shaNmunyoh vasurandhrayoh |
rudreNadvaadaSeeyuktaa caturdaSyaamca paurNimaa ||
pratipadyapyamaavaasyaa tithyoryugmam mahaaphalam |
etadvyastam mahaadosham hanti puNyam puraakritam ||
(the pairs of i) dviteeyaa and triteeyaa (agni), ii) caturthee (yuga) and pancamee (bhoota), iii) shashThee and saptamee (muni), iv) ashTamee (vasu) and navamee (randhra), v) ekaadaSee (rudra) and dvaadaSee, vi) caturdaSee and paurNimaa and vii) paaDyamee and amaavaasyaa give rise to great result; other pairs, to great defect which erode the merit acquired earlier). 
[This is from the nirNayasindhu (my copy makes it impossible to give any other reference but page numbers and they would be useless to the large non-Telugu readership - this is somewhere in the first few sections, in the one on tithi nirNaya, of the first pariccheda) without the original source. The same is referred to as 'yugmavaakyam' in a knowing way, in dharmasindhusaara.
The first six pairs in the above are to be taken only as those obtaining in the Suklapaksha.
Vedha for ekaadaSee is more intricate though the above principle holds true. ekaadaSee mixed with daSamee is prohibited. ekadaSee mixed with dvaadaSee is to be preferred in case a Suddha ekaadaSee is not to be found. Coming to the specific question, Feb 24th 2010 daSamee obtains till 9:56 am (in Eastern AP), that is for nearly 9 ghaTikas after sunrise at 6:29 am; on Feb 25th 2010, ekaadaSee obtains till 7:58 am, for nearly 4 ghaTikas after sunrise. So Feb 25th is to be observed as ekaadaSee for two reasons: a) for three ghaTikas after sunrise ekaadaSee obtains on 25th and daSamee on 24th, and b) ekaadaSee and dvaadaSee mix on 25th which is auspicious. In eastern AP, 25th indeed was marked as smaarta ekaadaSee. We arrive at the same conclusion even if we follow the more intricate rules.
VaishNavas (those belonging to families which traditionally took vaishNava deekshaa) reckon vedha at aruNodaya, which is four ghaTikas prior to sooryodaya, whereas smaartas reckon vedha at sooryodaya, the vedha being of six ghaTikas in case of ekaadaSee. Additionally there is a concept of aadhikyaa mentioned in the dharmasindhusaara. It is defined as ‘atraadhikyam sooryodayottarasattvam’, that which exists after sunrise. Four examples are given:
Example          1         2          3          4
daSamee          55        55        55        55
ekaadaSee       0.5       57        0.5       57
dvaadaSee       57        0.5       5          58 
All are Suddha reckoning vedha at aruNodaya (at 56 ghaTikas, 4 before sunrise). In the first example ekaadaSee ends just after sunrise, so ekaadaSee has aadhikya, but not dvaadaSee which ends just before sunrise; in the second ekaadaSee has no aadhikya ending just before sunrise but dvaadaSee has addhikya; in the third both end after sunrise and have aadhikya; and neither in fourth ending as both do just before sunrise. Though it is not stated explicitly, what is important for aadhikya seems to be when the tithi ends (otherwise every tithi would obtain for not a few hours after sunrise). In the above example, smaartas fast on ekaadaSee in all cases except the third, where both dvaadaSee and ekaadaSee have aadhikya. When both have aadhikyaa smaartaas also fast on the second day, dvaadaSee. VaishNavas fast on the second day in the first three cases as dvaadaSee or ekaadaSee have aadhikya. In the fourth case, since neither has aadhikya, they fast on the
 first day. Thus we see that when both ekaadaSee and dvaadaSee have aadhikya both smaartas and vaishNavas fast on the second day, and when neither has aadhikya both smaartas and vaishNavas fast on the first day.
Thereafter, eight more examples are given in the dharmasindhusaara pertaining to smaartas. The conclusion is given without entering into the same discussion as above.
Example          1          2          3          4          5          6          7          8
daSamee          57        4          57        2          58        1          57        2
ekaadaSee       0.5       2          0.5       3          59        58        58        59
dvaadaSee       58        58        4          4          0.5       0.5       59        55
V / S                Suddha    Viddha     Suddha    Viddha     Suddha    Viddha     Suddha    Viddha
Adhikya          Ekadasi    Ekadasi    Both         Both         Dvadasi   Dvadasi   None        None
Smarta fast.     First        First        Second   Second   First        Second   First        First
Vaish. fast       Second   Second   Second   Second   Second   Second   Second   Second
The dharmasindhusaara mentions that the eighteen varieties of ekaadaSee for vaishNavas and smaartas is to be referred elsewhere and that examples would only serve to create ‘vyaamoha’ amongst learners and are avoided.
Feb 25th is a Suddha ekaadaSee with clear ekaadaSee at sunrise and ekadaSee ending just after sunrise and thus has to be smaarta ekaadaSee. Since ekadaSee has aadhikyaa, vaishNavas ought to prefer dvaadaSee but since there is no dvaadaSee on 26th and since it mixes with trayodaSee, even the vaishNavas ought to prefer 25th.
Thus bereft of ‘vyaamoha’, one can but recite the eighteen types and not mention examples. The nirNayasindhu treats of not merely aadhikya, but also the case of oona and sama, lack and equality by way of definition. One does not know for certain as to how the sama has to be reckoned – whether exactly at the time of sunrise, or with addition or deletion of certain ghaTikas, or any other way. The eighteen types are arrived at by considering two types of Suddha and viddha; three types on the ekaadaSee being oona, sama or adhika; and another three types depending on dvaadaSee being oona, sama or adhika.
One does not attempt examples not being well-versed in these matters. These are discussed as fairly clear cases in the nirNayasindhu with the recommendation pertaining to most of the 36 cases. If interest persists, that would be compiled in a separate post.


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