The 11th lunar day of the bright fortnight in the month of Margasheersha is celebrated as 'Mokshada Ekadashi' (Margasheersha Shukla Ekadashi) or 'Gita Jayanti' in various parts of India. In Orissa and the south Indian states, it is known as Baikuntha Ekadashi. This day has been versed in scriptures as the day to worship the holy book, 'The Bhagavad Gita'. No other religion in the world dedicates a definite day to their holy book.
There is a reason behind celebrating this day as 'Gita Jayanti'. It is believed that on this very day Lord Krishna gave Arjuna the religious discourse, which is the basis of The Bhagwad Gita, when the later expressed his reluctance in going to the war between Kauravas and Pandavas.
Arjuna, the greatest warrior in Mahabharata, had taken a vow to fight against the Kauravas in the battlefield of Kurukshetra. But just before the war was about to begin, Arjuna asked Lord Krishna, who happened to be his charioteer, to place his chariot between the two vast armies.
'Senayorubhayormadhye Rathang Sthaapaya Mehchyuta,
Yavadetaan Nireekshehang Yoddhukaamaanavasthitaan;
Kairmayaa Saha Yoddhavyam Asminranasamudyame.'
''Oh Achyuta, please place my chariot between the two armies so that I can see the determined warriors present here.''
When Arjuna saw the faces of his kith and kin on the opposite side, he was struck by grief and despair and he refused to be a part of a war that would lead to the death of his near and dear ones. The 700 verses rendered by Lord Krishna, to dispel Arjuna's uncertainty, are known as 'The Bhagavad Gita'. It was the day of Margasheersha Shukla Ekadashi.
Thus was born the invaluable religious scripture, which is also the essence of the Upanishads that have 700 shlokas. A majority of these shlokas are the advice of Lord Krishna on how to live life. The Gita tells us how we should execute our duties, free of any desire or gainful motive, and without bothering about the consequences. Lord Krishna advised Arjuna to put sorrow and happiness, gain and loss, and victory and defeat on an equal footing and be 'sthitapragna'. One who sticks to such a lifestyle, can get rid of rebirth and attain final salvation. Hence, this Ekadashi has been named as Mokshadaa (giver of salvation) Ekadashi.
On the occasion of Mokshada Ekadashi, Lord Vishnu and the holy scripture 'The Bhagavad Gita' are worshipped. People observe fast on this day, read the holy book, and arrange for a get together where the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita are discussed with due devotion and solemnity.
This year, Mokshadaa Ekadashi falls on the 28th of November. Eating leaves and fruits of the Bel tree (Bilwa) is considered a must on this day.
With Ganesha's Grace
Dr Surendra Kapoor