Lord Mahavishnu, is also called Vaikunthanatha, the Lord of Paradise. His heaven, Vaikuntha, is said to be on the slopes of world-mountain Mount Meru. It is his Parama Padam or Supreme Abode, said to have a circumference of 80,000 miles. It is made entirely of gold and precious jewels. The Ganges flows through it and the source of Ganges is in Vishnu’s foot. Vaukuntha is also known as Tiru Naadu or Tiru Paramapada.
Lord Vishnu reigns over Vaikuntha absolutely as Parama Pathanathan. He faces south in a seated posture a Vimana called Anantanga Vimana. Mother or thayar or Peris Pirattiaye. There are wonderful theerthas called Viraja Nadhi and Iramadha Pushkarini. Apparently, those getting access to Vaikuntha look likes devas and gods and carry godly attributes. No-one has returned to show proof of this. However, Vaishnavite literature such as ‘Soozh Vishumby Adimukil’ by Nammalwar, ‘Archi Radhi Gathi’ by Lokacharya and ‘Vaikuntha Gadyam’ by Ramanuja have some imaginative mapping of Vaikuntha.
RIGVEDA MANDALA 10: There are four suktas addressed to Indra Vaukuntha in the Rig Veda Mandala 10 but these hymns do not glorify Indra. Vaikuntha’ simply means ‘unhindered’, ‘unobstructed’. ‘Kintha’ means covering, obstruction, ignorance, sloth etc. So by implication, absence of any of these is termed Vaikuntha. It is a state of being in which one is free from any limitation or conditioning. Thus Vaikuntha is referred as Parama Padam.
KATHA UPANISHAD: When the five cognitive senses together with the mind cease from their normal activities and the intellect itself does not stir, that, they say, is the Highest State: 4.4.10. This concept of ‘state of being’ is supported by the Puranas.
Garuda Purana 1.236.12 states that ‘when all the desires within the heart are annulled one becomes liberated, undoubtedly, even while living’.
Parama Padam is explained in Vayu Purana 1:9:50-51 ‘That which is the Supreme State, Paramam Padam of Vishnu is pure, conscious, eternal, unborn, undecayable, inexhaustible, unmanifest, immutable, It is neither gross nor subtle, nor capable of being defined, to that ever immaculate Supreme State of Vishnu I bow’. Further in Vishnu Purana 1.2.16: What is beyond matter, spirit, manifestation, and time; that pure [state] which sages behold that is the supreme abode of Vishnu.
VAIKUNTHA GADYAM: In this text, Ramanujacharya elaborates that Narayana has a divine form, which is both pleasing and appropriate. His form is inconceivable, indescribable, divine, eternal and immaculate. Beyond the realms fourteen realms of the universe, there exists Parama Vyoman, the transcendental space which is not comprehended. This is Vaikuntham, the Divine Realm. But this is only a map to give some idea and not a terrain.
Vaikuntha is described as a divya loka, a divine land of bliss which does not come within comprehension or description even by gods or rishis. Its anda is covered by avaranas which are water, fire, wind, akasa, ahankara, mahath and avyaktha. Vaikuntha is eternal and does not change. As Prakriti Mandala, nothing is hidden.
Karma does not affect Vaikuntha and it is full of Nityas, eternally free souls who enjoy the company of Mahavishnu. As
Bhagavadanubhavam, they are there to enjoy the Lord’s company. Vaikuntha is supposed to be full of wealth with thousands of fortifications. This is used in case the Lord is to be protected and any possible danger. With wealth, the bhaktas march victoriously.
Lord Mahavishnu is supposed to be having a place of beauty of, full of beautiful kalpaka trees. He occupies the central area surrounded by innumerable gardens which are the playground for Vaikunthanatha and His consorts. It is vast and his hall of audience is studded with different varieties of gems, vichitra ratnamaye. It is a special hall - divya sthana mantape. It is bright and effulgent with innumerable pillars of precious stones. The floor is paved with varieties of precious gems. And Ramanucharya goes on and on with geographical and physical descriptions.
As to gardens, some are Mahavishnu exclusive. They are filled with sweet singing birds like parrots, cuckoos, white swans and colourful peacocks. The tanks, ponds and the lakes surrounding the divya mandapa are also beautiful. The steps leading to those water resources are studded with pearls, corals and other gems. Water in the tanks are amrit.
Mahavishnu is seated on Adisesha in the divya mandapa. The Mandapa gives great bliss. It is limitless; divine music by the humming of the bees which are happily sucking the honey from a variety of flowers. Ramanuja says that the gentle breeze which blows in that place is intoxicating with the fragrance gathered from chandan, ahil, karpoora and other divine flowers.
Consorts and attendants serving Vishnu are then described by Ramanuja. Mahalakshmi’s presence adds Her brilliance, illumination and gladdens Vaikuntha residents. She commands Adisesha, Vishvaksena to serve to Vishnu. The acharya then visualizes the Lord, His various aspects, the jewels that He is wearing etc. The Lord has two wide eyes which look like freshly blossomed lotus flowers. He resembles the clear blue cloud.
He is blemishless or athi nirmalya. He is very cool or athi seethalaya. He is young and delicate or athi komalaya, nitya youvanaya. He has the brilliance of a gem. His divine wonderful nature is beyond the comprehension of one's mind. He is an ocean of nectar. The face itself looks tender like a lotus which is about to blossom. His eyes also are like freshly blossomed lotus flowers - ambuja charulochanm. His raised eyebrows look like a tender creeper and it reflects His concern for the devotees.
The Lord has four arms which look like the branches of a kalpaka vruksha. His hands reach down upto the knees which is the lakshana of a Paramapurusha. His pink palms have beautiful lines - divyarekha alankruta. His fingers are adorned with valuable rings - divya anguliyaka virajitham. His feet resembles freshly blossomed lotuses. The Lord is wearing a beautiful crown. He is the unquestioned ultimate monarch. He is wearing a pendent on the top of the forehead - chuda, ear drops with the fish motif - mikara kundala, a neck band -graiveyaka, rows of chains hanging on the chest-hara, armbands -keyura, a circular band adorning the wrist –kataka. His looks grace the world.
These visions of the Lord has to be remembered every day at least once so as to sustain oneself. Narayana should be the only goal for bhaktas. They should offer service.When that offer of service is accepted by God - sweekrutah the result is removal of all worldly ills - samasta klesa apaham and conferring absolute supreme happiness and bliss -niruti saya sukhavaham. The contact with His feet makes one experience a joy as if one has had a dip in an ocean of nectar, every inch of one's body experience the joy and bliss.
VAIKUNTHA CHATURDASHI: This day is considered to be a holy day. Chaturdasi means 14, wherein Chatrur means four and Dasi means 10. Chaturdasi is the 14th Tithi of the waxing phase or waning phase of the moon. This is the day prior to Amavasya or new moon or full moon, Pournami. Vaikuntha Chaturdasi is held sacred by Shaivites and Vaishnavites.
SHIVA PURANA: Once on Chaturdasi, Vishnu went to the Kailash mountains to do penance. The devas requested help to annihilate demons and only Siva could assist in this. But even his tremendous penance was not enough to please Lord Shiva. Lord Vishnu then worshipped lord Shiva by chanting the mantras of Shiva Sahastranamavali. He also offered one thousand lotus flowers to lord Shiva in course of his worship. One day Shiva wanted to test the devotion of lord Vishnu. He stole one lotus flower from among the one thousand flowers. When lord Vishnu began his worship he found that there was one flower less.
To make up for this deficiency, he offered his one eye to lord Shiva - his eye which has been compared with a lotus flower. Lord Shiva was very mush impressed by his exceptional devotion. He appeared before Vishnu and asked him to demand any boon he wished. Mahavishnu requested a divine weapon to annihilate the demons. Lord Shiva gave him a sparkling Sudharshan Chakra with which the demon was killed. On the request of Lord Vishnu Lord Shiva established himself in the form of Harishwar Shivalinga.
VAUKUNTHA EKADASI: It is believed that if one observes Vaikunta Ekadasi then the gates to heaven is kept open for when that person's soul leaves the physical body. The soul ends its cycle of death and rebirth by attaining the ultimate salvation, free from this mortal coil. In total there are 24 Ekadasi or 11th Moons in a year and Vaikunta Ekadasi. It is the 11th Waxing Moon that falls in the Tamil month of Margazhi. Margazhi or the 'Twilight in Heaven' is seen as the time the gods rest and when we pray earnestly and sincerely, it has more effect on this month as the spiritual energy is much more accessible during this time.
Hara Hara Mahadeva.
(draft Gods, Goddesses, Minor Deities and Sages)
by Yogi Ananda Saraswathi