Ashada Ekadasi, also known as Maha Ekadasi, Padma Ekadasi and Devpodhi Ekadasi is observed on the 11th lunar day of Indian month, Ashada.
This day is especially significant to the Vaishnava community, as Lord Vishnu enters into Yoganidra on this day, at the Ksheer Sagara, Ocean of Milk.
Lord Vishnu in Ksheer Sagara
This Ekadasi is of great importance at the Vitthala temple in Maharashtra. People from all walks of life from many parts of Maharashtra and other parts of India too, converge in Pandharpur today for a nightful of singing prayers to Lord Vishnu.
One of the most popular forms of Vishnu worshipped in the Maratha land is that of Vithoba or Vitthala. The most famous temple for Vithoba is in Pandharpur. Pandharpur has thus been one of the main religious sites of Maratha land since ancient times.
Lord Vitthala at Pandharpur Temple
Vitta means “brick”. When Vishnu appeared in front of His devotee, His devotee was busy caring for His parents. He offered Vishnu a brick and asked Him to wait on it till he could return after tending to his parents. Vishnu stood on the brick and the whole moment was frozen in stone as an idol.
Devotee offering brick to Lord Vishnu
Vithoba, Vitthala is the name given to Vishnu standing on a brick waiting for His sincere devotee to return.
In the famous Aarti of Vitthala in Marathi, it is said that the Lord has been standing for 28 life spans, waiting for His devotee.
Pilgrims from Pandharpur have travelled far and wide from Kashi to Rameshwaram spreading this story of the devoutness of God to His devotee. Note, it is devoutness of God to devotee too and not just devoutness of the devotee to God alone.
Such a message is singular to Indian thought where it is not for the devotee to fear God but to realize divinity and live with the divine forces in a state of togetherness and mutual reverence for each other.