Vrindavan, 2016.01.08 (VT): Hundreds of Sri Vaishnava devotees stepped through the Vaikuntha Dwar in Rangaji Mandir on Sunday. The Vaikuntha Dwar, resembling the gateway to Vaikuntha, the abode of Lord Vishnu, opens once in a year on the occasion of the Vaikuntha Ekadashi.
It is believed that stepping through this door on this day allows devotees to attain Vaikuntha.
Vaikuntha Ekadashi was celebrated with great pomp, and Thakur Shri Rangnath ji used the Vaikuntha Dwar to step out from the sanctum sanctorum to give darshan to His beloved devotees.
The temple priests performed a special ceremony of worship, by placing the Lord on a palanquin and carried Him around the temple. A large number of devotees who enthusiastically waited since 4:00 a.m chanted in glorification of Shri Rangnath Bhagwan when the doors of Vaikuntha and the curtains were finally opened at 05:30. The Lord circumambulated the temple and the Brahmins followed Him chanting Veda-mantras.
According to the holy scriptures, anyone who has darshan of the Lord on Vaikuntha Ekadashi will have all his sins eradicated, be released from the repeated cycle of birth and death, and go to the Lord’s Abode to live eternally.
Speaking to Vrindavan Today, Acharya Naresh Narayan, a well-known scholar from the Ramanuja Sampradaya explained in detail the story behind this tradition.
“There was a great saint in South India 4,500 years ago. His name was Shri Shathkop Swami. He was a great devotee of Vishnu. He used to meditate under a tamarind tree in a place called Alwar Tiru. After meditating for several years, the time came when he was scheduled to attain Vaikuntha. Then the saint made a wish to hear the pastimes of Lord Rama and Krishna in detail.
“Pleased by the austerity performed by Shri Shatkop Swami, the Lord extended him ten more days time to live on the earth to hear the pastimes of the Lord. After that he entered Vaikuntha.” The ‘Vaikunthotsava’ is celebrated for ten days every year to commemorate the Shri Shatkop Swami’s entry to Vaikuntha.