Today is Indira Ekadasi and the following is the narration:
Yudhishthira Maharaj said, "Oh Madhusudana, Oh killer of the Madhu demon, what is the name of the Ekadasi that occurs during the dark fortnight (krishna paksha) of the month of Ashwin (September-October)? Please describe its glories to me."
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Sri Krishna then replied, "This Holy day is called Indira Ekadasi. If a person fasts on this day, all his sins are eradicated and his forefathers who have fallen into hell are liberated. Oh best of kings, one who simply hears about this sacred Ekadasi achieves the great merit earned by performing a horse sacrifice.
In the Satya-yuga there lived a king named Indrasena, who was so powerful that he destroyed all his enemies. His kingdom was called Mahishmati-puri. The glorious and highly religious King Indrasena took good care of his subjects, and therefore he was rich in gold, grains, sons, and grandsons. He was greatly devoted to Lord Sri Vishnu as well. He especially enjoyed chanting My name, calling out 'Govinda! Govinda!' In this way King Indrasena systematically dedicated himself to pure spiritual life and spent much time meditating on the Absolute Truth.
One day, as King Indrasena happily and peacefully presided over his assembly, the perfect orator, Sri Narada Muni, was seen descending. White as a conch, shining like the moon, like a jasmine flower, like a lightening bolt, Narada Muni descending from the sky. He is decorated with matted locks of reddish hair. The king offered Devarishi Narada, the saint among the devas, great respect by greeting him with joined palms, inviting him into the palace, offering him a comfortable seat, washing his feet, and speaking sweat words of welcome. Then Narada Muni said to Maharaj Indrasena, 'Oh king, are the seven limbs of your kingdom prospering?'
The seven limbs of a king's domain being; the king's well being himself, his ministers, his treasury, his military forces, his allies, the brahmanas, the sacrifices performed in his kingdom, and the needs of the king's subjects. 'Is your mind absorbed in thinking of how you can properly perform your occupational duty? Are you becoming more and more devoted and dedicated to the service of the Supreme Lord, Sri Vishnu?'
"The king replied, 'By your kind grace, Oh greatest of sages, everything is quite well. Today, just by your presence all the sacrifices in my kingdom are successful ! Please show me mercy and explain the reason for your kind visit here.'
"Sri Narada, the sage among the devas, then said, 'Oh lion among kings, listen to my astonishing words.
When I descended from Brahmaloka to Yamaloka, Lord Yamaraja praised me very graciously and offered me an excellent seat. As I glorified his truthfulness and wonderful service to the Supreme Lord, I noticed your father in Yamaraja's assembly. Though he had been very religious, because he broke an Ekadasi fast prematurely, he had to go to the Yamaloka. Your father gave me a message for you. He said, "In Mahishmati lives a king named Indrasena. Please tell him about my situation here - that because of my past sinful deeds I have somehow been forced to reside in Yamaraja's kingdom. Please give him this message from me: 'Oh son, kindly observe the coming Indira Ekadasi and give much in charity so I can go upward to heaven.' "
Philosophically we can understand that every living entity is an individual, and individually everyone has to practice Krishna consciousness to traverse back to home, back to Godhead. As stated in Garuda Purana, someone who is suffering in hell cannot practice Krishna consciousness, because this requires some mental peace, which the reactionary tortures of hell make impossible. If a relative of a sinner suffering in hell gives some charity in the name of the sinner, he can leave hell and enter the heavenly planets. But if the sinner's relative observes this Ekadasi fast for his suffering kinsman, the kinsman goes directly to the spiritual world, as stated in this narration based on Brahma-vaivarta Puranam.
"Narada continued, 'Just to deliver this message, Oh king, have I come to you. You should help your father by observing the fast of Indira Ekadasi. By the merit you gain, your father will go to heaven.'
"King Indrasena asked, 'Oh great Naradji, please be merciful and tell me specifically how to observe a fast on Indira Ekadasi, and also tell me during what month and on what day it occurs.'
"Narada Muni replied, 'Oh king, please listen as I describe to you the full process of observing the Indira Ekadasi. This Ekadasi occurs during the dark fortnight of the month of Ashwin. On the Dashami tithi, the day before Ekadasi, rise early in the morning, take bath, and then do some service for God with full faith. At noon, bathe again in running water and then offer oblations to your forefathers with faith and devotion. Be sure not to eat more than once on this day and at night sleep on the floor.
"When you awaken on Ekadasi morning, cleanse your mouth and teeth thoroughly and then with deep devotion for the Lord take this sacred vow: 'Today I shall fast completely and give up all kinds of sense enjoyment. Oh lotus-eyed Supreme Personality of Godhead, Oh infallible one, please give me shelter at Your lotus feet." At noon, stand before the sacred form of the Sri Shaligram Shila and worship Him faithfully, following all the rules and regulations; then offer oblations of ghee into the sacred fire, and tarpana directed to help your forefathers. Next, feed qualified Brahmins and offer them some charity according to your means. Now take the food pindas you offered to your forefathers, smell it, and then offer it to a cow. Next, worship Lord Hrishikesha with incense and flowers, and finally, remain awake all night near the Deity of Lord Sri Keshava.”
"Early in the morning of the next day, Dvadasi tithi, worship Sri Hari with great devotion and invite Brahmin devotees to a sumptuous feast. Then feed you relatives, and finally take your meal in silence.
Oh king, if you strictly observe a fast on Indira Ekadasi in this way, with controlled senses, your father will surely be elevated to the abode of Lord Vishnu.' After saying this, Devarishi Narada immediately disappeared from the scene to bless someone else with his presence.
"King Indrasena followed the great saint's instructions perfectly, observing the fast in the association of his relatives and servants. As he broke his fast on the Dvadasi tithi, flowers fell from the sky. The merit that Indrasena maharaj earned by observing this fast released his father from the kingdom of Yamaraja and caused him to attain a completely spiritual body.
Indeed, Indrasena saw him rising to the abode of Lord Hari on the back of Garuda Vahan.
Indrasena himself was able to rule his kingdom without any obstacles, and in time when he handed over the kingdom to his son, he also went to the spiritual realm of Vaikuntha.
"Oh Yudhishthira, these are the glories of the Indira Ekadasi, which occurs during the dark fortnight of the month of Ashwin. Whoever hears or reads this narration certainly enjoys life in this world, is freed of all reactions to his past sins, and at the time of death returns home, back to Godhead, where he lives eternally."
Thus ends the narration of the glories of Ashwin-krishna Ekadasi, or Indira Ekadasi, taken from the Brahma-vaivarta Purana.
Tomorrow is Pavitropana Ekadasi (based on Vaishnava Calendar calculated for Toronto time) and tomorrow also marks the start of Jhulana Yatra.
Below are the glories of tomorrow's ekadasi...
Shri Yudhisthira Maharaja said, "Oh Madhusudana, Oh killer of the Madhu demon, please be merciful to me and describe to me the Ekadasi that occurs during the light fortnight of the month of Shravana (July-August)." The Supreme Lord, Sri Krishna, replied, "Yes, Oh king, I shall happily narrate its glories to you, for just by hearing about this sacred Ekadasi one attains the merit of performing a horse sacrifice. "At the dawn of Dvarpara-yuga there lived a king by the name of Mahijita, who ruled the kingdom of Mahismati-puri. Because he had no son, his entire kingdom seemed utterly cheerless to him. A married man who has no son gains no happiness in this life or the next. The Sanskrit word for 'son' is putra. Pu is the name of a particular hell, and tra means 'to deliver.' Thus the word putra means 'a person who delivers one from the hell named Pu.' Therefore every married man should produce at least one son and train him properly; then the father will be delivered from a hellish condition of life. But this injunction does not apply to the serious devotees of Lord Vishnu or Krishna, for the Lord becomes their son, father, and mother.
Furthermore, Chanakya Pandita says,
satyam mata pita jnanam
dharmo bhrata daya sakha
santih patni ksama putrah
sadete mama vandhavah
"Truth is my mother, knowledge is my father, my occupational duty is my brother, kindness is my friend, tranquility is my wife, and forgiveness is my son. These six are my family members." Among the twenty-six leading qualities of a devotee of the Lord, forgiveness is the topmost. Therefore devotees should make an extra endeavor to develop this quality. Here Chanakya says "forgiveness is my son," and thus a devotee of the Lord, even though he may be on the path of renunciation, may observe this Ekadasi and pray to attain this kind of "son." For a long time this king tried very hard to obtain an heir, but to no avail. Seeing his years advancing ever onwards, King Mahijita became increasingly anxious.
One day he told an assembly of his advisers: 'I have committed no sin in this life, and there is no ill-gotten wealth in my treasury. I have never usurped the offerings to the demigods or brahmanas. When I waged war and conquered kingdoms, I followed the rules and regulations of the military art, and I have protected my subjects as if they were my own children. I punished even my own relatives if they broke the law, and if my enemy was gentle and religious I welcomed him. Oh twice-born souls, although I am a religious and faithful follower of the Vedic standards, still my home is without a son. Kindly tell me the reason for this.' "Hearing this, the king's brahmana advisers discussed the subject among themselves, and with the aim of benefiting the king they visited the various ashrams of the great sages. At last they came upon a sage who was austere, pure, and self-satisfied, and who was strictly observing a vow of fasting. His senses were completely under control, he had conquered his anger, and he was expert at performing his occupational duty. Indeed, this great sage was expert in all the conclusions of the Vedas, and he had extended his life span to that of Lord Brahma himself. His name was Lomasa Rishi, and he knew part, present, and future. After each kalpa passed, one hair would fall out of his body (One kalpa, or twelve hours of Lord Brahma, equals 4,320,000,000 years). All the king's brahmana advisers very happily approached him one by one to offer their humble respects.
"Captivated by this great soul, King Mahijita's advisers offered obeisances to him and said very respectfully, 'Only because of our great good fortune, Oh sage, have we been allowed to see you.' "Lomasa Rishi saw them bowing down to him and replied, 'Kindly let me know why you have come here. Why are you praising me? I must do all I can to solve your problems, for sages like me have only one interest: to help others. Do not doubt this.'
Lomasa Rishi had all good qualities because he was a devotee of the Lord. As stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (5:18:12),
yasyasti bhaktir bhagavaty akinchana
sarvair gunais tatra samasate surah
harav abhaktasya kuto mahad-guna
manorathenasati dhavato bahih
"In one who has unflinching devotional service to Krishna, all the good qualities of Krishna and the demigods are consistently manifest. However, he who has no devotion to the Supreme Personality of Godhead has no good qualifications because he is engaged by mental concoction in material existence, which is the external feature of the Lord."
"The king's representatives said, 'We have come to you, Oh exalted sage, to ask for your help in solving a very serious problem. Oh sage, you are like Lord Brahma. Indeed, there is no better sage in the entire world. Our king, Mahijita, is without a son, though he has sustained and protected us as if we were his sons. Seeing him so unhappy on account of being sonless, we have become very sad, Oh sage, and therefore we have entered the forest to perform severe austerities. By our good fortune we happened upon you. Everyone's desires and activities become successful just by your darshan. Thus we humbly ask that you tell us how our kind king can obtain a son.'
"Hearing their sincere plea, Lomasa Rishi absorbed himself in deep meditation for a moment and at once understood the king's previous life. Then he said, 'Your ruler was a merchant in his past life, and feeling his wealth insufficient, he committed sinful deeds. He traveled to many villages to trade his goods. Once, at noon on the day after the Ekadasi that comes during the light fortnight of the month of Jyeshtha (Trivikrama - May-June), he became thirsty while traveling from place to place. He came upon a beautiful pond on the outskirts of a village, but just as he was about to drink at the pond a cow arrived there with her new-born calf. These two creatures were also very thirsty because of the heat, but when the cow and calf started to drink, the merchant rudely shoved them aside and selfishly slaked his own thirst. This offense against a cow and her calf has resulted in your king's being without a son now. But the good deeds he performed in his previous life have given him rulership over an undisturbed kingdom.'
"Hearing this, the king's advisers replied, 'Oh renowned rishi, we have heard that the Vedas say one can nullify the effects of one's past sins by acquiring merit. Be so kind as to give us some instruction by which our king's sins can be destroyed; please give him your mercy so that a prince will take birth in his family.'
"Lomasa Rishi said, 'There is an Ekadasi called Putrada, which comes during the light fortnight of the month of Shravana. On this day all of you, including your king, should fast and stay awake all night, strictly following the rules and regulations. Then you should give the king whatever merit you gain by this fast. If you follow these instructions of mine, he will surely be blessed with a fine son.'
"All the king's advisers became very pleased to hear these words from Lomasa Rishi, and they all offered him their grateful obeisances. Then, their eyes bright with happiness, they returned home.
"When the month of Shravana arrived, the king's advisers remembered the advice of Lomasa Rishi, and under their direction all the citizens of Mahismati-puri, as well as the king, fasted on Ekadasi. And on the next day, Dvadasi, the citizens dutifully offered their accrued merit to him. By the strength of all this merit, the queen became pregnant and eventually gave birth to a most beautiful son.
"O Yudhisthira," Lord Krishna concluded, "the Ekadasi that comes during the light fortnight of the month of Shravana has thus rightfully become famous as Putrada ["bestower of a son"]. Whoever desires happiness in this world and the next should certainly fast from all grains and legumes on this holy day. Indeed, whoever simply hears the glories of Putrada Ekadasi becomes completely free of all sins, is blessed with a good son, and surely ascends to heaven after death."
Thus ends the narration of the glories of Shravana-sukla Ekadasi, or Putrada Ekadasi, from the Bhavishya Purana.
Tomorrow is Sayana Ekadasi (calculations based on Vaishnava calendar for Toronto, Canada). Every ekadasi is a time for more service and tomorrow some of us have the pleasure of doing Harinam Sankirtan with book distribution at a nearby city. 40 or so devotees marching up and down the street with Mahaprabhu's love and Srila Prabhupada's books. What a nice way to honour ekadasi. Below are the glorifications of Sayana Ekadasi
The saintly king Yudhishthira Maharaj said, "Oh Keshava, what is the name of that Ekadasi that occurs during the light fortnight of the month of Ashadha?
Who is the worshipable Deity for the auspicious day, and what is the process for observing this event?
Lord Sri Krishna replied, "Oh caretaker of this Earthly planet, I shall gladly tell you a wonderful historical event that the deva lord Brahma once narrated to his son Narad Muni.
"One day Narad Muni asked his father, 'What is the name of the Ekadasi that comes during the light part of the month of Ashadha', much as you did?
Kindly tell me how I should observe this Ekadasi and thus please the Supreme Lord, Sri Vishnu.'
"Lord Brahma replied, 'Oh great saintly orator, O best of all sages, Oh purest devotee of Lord Vishnu, your question is as usual excellent for all mankind.
There is nothing better than Ekadasi, the day of Lord Sri Hari, in this or any other world.
It nullifies even the worst sins if observed properly.
For this reason I shall tell you about this Ashadha-shukla Ekadasi.
'Fasting on this Ekadasi purifies one of all sins and fulfills all ones desires.
Therefore, whoever neglects to observe this sacred fast day is a good candidate for entering into hell. Ashadha-shukla Ekadasi is also famous as Padma Ekadasi.
Just to please the Supreme Lord Hrishikesha, the master of the senses, one should fast on this day.
Listen carefully, Oh Narad, as I relate to you a wonderful historical event that was recorded in the scriptures regarding this Ekadasi.
Just hearing this account destroys all kinds of sins, along with all obstacles on the path to spiritual perfection.
'Oh son, there was once a saintly king in the Surya Vamsha whose name was Mandhata.
Because he always stood up for the truth, he was appointed emperor.
He took care of his subjects as though they were his very own family members and children.
On account of his piety and great religiosity, there was no pestilence, drought, or disease of any kind in his entire kingdom.
All his subjects were not only free of all kinds of disturbances but also were very wealthy.
The king's own treasury was free of any ill-gotten moneys, and thus he ruled happily for many years.
'Once, however, because of some sin in his kingdom, there was a drought for three years.
The subjects found themselves beset by famine also.
The lack of food grains made it impossible for them to perform the prescribed Vedic sacrifices, offer oblations of ghee to their forefathers and to the devas, engage in any ritualistic worship, or even study the Vedic literatures.
Finally, they all came before their beloved king in a great assembly and addressed him thus, 'Oh king, you always see to our welfare, so we humbly beg your assistance now.
Everyone and everything in this world needs water.
Without water, almost everything is rendered useless or dead.
The Vedas call water nara, and because the Supreme Personality of Godhead sleeps upon water, His another name is Narayana.
God makes His own abode on water and takes His rest there.
It is said that three things cannot exist without water; pearls, human beings, and flour.
The essential quality of a pearl is its luster, and that is due to water.
The essence of a man is his semen, whose main constituent is water.
And without water, flour cannot be made into dough and then be cooked into various forms of bread, offered and eaten.
Sometimes water is called jala-narayaaa, the Supreme Lord in the form of this life sustaining substance - water.
In His form as the clouds, the Supreme Lord is present throughout the sky and pours forth rains, from which grow the grains that maintain every living entity.
' "Oh king, the severe drought has caused a great lack of valuable grains; thus we are all miserable, and the population is decreasing as people die off or leave your kingdom.
Oh best ruler on Earth, please find some solutions to this problem and bring us to peace and prosperity once again.
'The king replied, "You speak the truth, for grains are like Brahman, the Absolute Truth, who lives within grains and thereby sustains all beings.
Indeed, it is because of grains that the entire world lives.
Now, why is there a terrible drought in our kingdom?
The Holy Scriptures discuss this subject very thoroughly.
If a king is irreligious, both he and his subjects suffer.
I have meditated upon the cause of our problem for a long time, but after searching my past and present character I can honestly say that I find no sin.
Still, for the good of all you subjects, I shall try to remedy the situation.
Thinking in this way, King Mandhata assembled his army and entourage.
Paid his obeisances to me, and then entered the forest.
He wandered here and there, seeking great sages in their Ashrams and inquiring about how to resolve the crisis in his kingdom.
At last he came upon the ashram of one of my other sons, Angira Muni, whose effulgence lit up all directions.
Seated in his hermitage, Angira looked like a second Brahma.
King Mandhata was very pleased to see that exalted sages, whose senses were completely under control. The king immediately dismounted his horse and offered his respectful obeisances at the lotus feet of Angira Muni.
Then the king joined his palms and prayed for the Muni's blessings.
That saintly person reciprocated by blessing the king with sacred mantras; then he asked him about the welfare of the seven limbs of his kingdom.
The seven limbs of a king's domain are
1. the king himself;
2. the ministers;
3. his treasury;
4. his military forces;
5. his allies;
6. the brahmins;
7. the sacrificial performances performed in the kingdom and the needs of the subjects under his care.
'After telling the sage how the seven limbs of his kingdom were situated, King Mandhata asked the sage about his own situation, and if he was happy.
Then Angira Muni asked the king why he had undertaken such a difficult journey into the forest, and the king told him of the affliction his kingdom was suffering.
The king said, "Oh great sage, I am ruling and maintaining my kingdom while following the Vedic injunctions, and thus I do not know the reason for the drought.
To solve this mystery, I have approached you for help.
Please help me relieve the suffering of my subjects.
'Angira Rishi said to the king, 'The present age, Satya yuga, is the best of all ages, for in this age Dharma stands on all four legs (Truthfulness, Austerity, Mercy, and Cleanliness).
In this age everyone respects Brahmins as the topmost members of society.
Also, everyone fulfills his occupational duties, and only twice-born Brahmins are allowed to perform Vedic austerities and penances.
Although this is a standard, Oh lion among kings, there is one shudra who is unlawfully performing the rites of austerity and penance in your kingdom.
This is why there is no rain in your land.
You should therefore punish this laborer with death, for by so doing you will remove the contamination inflicted by his actions and restore peace to your subjects.
'The king then replied, "How can I kill an offense-less performer of austerity and sacrifice?
Please give me some spiritual solution.
'The great sage Angira Muni then said, "Oh king, you should observe a fast on the Ekadasi that occurs during the light fortnight of the month of Ashadha.
This auspicious day is named Padma Ekadasi, and by its influence plentiful rains and thus grains and other foodstuffs will surely return to your kingdom.
This Ekadasi bestows perfection upon its faithful observers, removes all kinds of bad elements, and destroys all obstacles on the path to perfection.
Oh king, you, your relatives, and your subjects should all observe this sacred Ekadasi fast.
Then everything in your kingdom will undoubtedly return to normal.
Upon hearing these words, the king offered his obeisances and then returned to his palace.
When the Padma Ekadasi arrived, King Mandhata assembled all the Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and shudras in his kingdom and instructed them to strictly observe this important fast day.
After they had observed it, the rains fell, just as the sage had predicted, and in due course of time there were abundant crops and a rich harvest of grain.
By the mercy of the Supreme Lord Hrishikesha, the master of the senses, all the subjects of King Mandhata became extremely happy and prosperous.
Therefore, Oh Narada, everyone should observe this Ekadasi fast very strictly, for it bestows all kinds of happiness, as well as ultimate liberation, upon the faithful devotee.'
Lord Sri Krishna concluded, "My dear Yudhishthira, Padma Ekadasi is so powerful that one who simply reads or hears its glories becomes completely sinless.
Oh Pandava, one who wishes to please Me should strictly observe this Ekadasi, which is also known as Deva-sayani Ekadasi.
Deva-sayani, or Vishnu-sayani, indicates the day when Lord Vishnu goes to sleep with all the devas.
It is said that after this day one should not perform any new auspicious ceremonies until Devotthani Ekadasi, which occurs during the month of Kartika, because the devas, being asleep, cannot be invited to the sacrificial arena and because the Sun is traveling along its Southern course (Dakshinayanam).
"Lord Sri Krishna continued, "Oh lion among kings, Yudhishthira Maharaj, whoever wants liberation should regularly observe a fast on this Ekadasi which is also the day when the Chaturmasya fast begins.
Thus ends the narration of the glories of the Ashadha-shukla Ekadasi - also known as Padma Ekadasi or Deva-sayani Ekadasi - from the Bhavishya-uttara Purana.
Sri Yudhishthira Maharaj said, "Oh Janardana, what is the name of the Ekadasi that occurs during the dark fortnight (krishna paksha) of the month of Jyeshtha (May-June)? I wish to hear from You the glories of this sacred day of Hari. Please narrate everything to me" Lord Sri Krishna said, "Oh king, your inquiry is wonderful because the answer will benefit the whole human society. This Ekadasi is so sublime and meritorious that even the greatest sins can be erased by its purity.
"Oh great saintly king, the name of this unlimitedly meritorious Ekadasi is Apara Ekadasi. Whoever fasts on this holy day becomes famous all over the universe. Even such sins as killing a brahmana, a cow, or an embryo; blasphemy; or having sex with another man's wife are completely eradicated by observing Apara Ekadasi.
Oh king people who bear false witness are most sinful. A person who falsely or sarcastically glorifies another; one who cheats while weighing something on a scale; one who fails to execute the duties of his varna or Ashrama (an unqualified man's posing as a brahmin, for example, or a person's reciting the Vedas wrongly); one who invents his own scriptures; one who cheats others; one who is a charlatan astrologer, a cheating accountant, or a false Ayurvedic doctor. All these are surely as bad as persons who bears false witness, and they are all destined for hellish punishments. But simply by observing Apara Ekadasi, all such sinners become completely free of their sinful reactions.
Warriors who fall from their kshatriya-dharma and flee the battlefield go to a ferocious hell. But, Oh Yudhishthira, even such a fallen kshatriya, if he observes fasting on the Apara Ekadasi, is freed of that great sinful reaction and goes to heaven. That disciple is the greatest sinner who, after receiving a proper spiritual education from his spiritual master, turns around and blasphemes him. Such a so-called disciple suffers unlimitedly. But even he, rascal though he be, if he simply observes Apara Ekadasi, can attain to the spiritual world.
Listen, Oh king, as I describe to you further glories of this amazing Ekadasi. The merit attained by one who performs all of the following acts of piety is equal to the merit achieved by one who observes Apara Ekadasi: bathing three times daily in Pushkara-kshetra during Kartika (October-November); bathing at Prayag in the month of Magh (January-February) when the sun is in the zodiac of Capricorn; rendering service to Lord Shiva at Varanasi (Benares) during Shiva-ratri; offering oblations to one's forefathers at Gaya; bathing in the sacred Gautami River when Jupiter transits Leo (Simha); having darshan of Lord Shiva at Kedarnatha; seeing Lord Badrinath when the Sun transits the sign of Aquarius (Kumbha); and bathing at the time of a solar eclipse at Kurukshetra and giving cows, elephants, and gold there in charity. All the merit one gets from performing these pious acts is gained by a person who observes the Apara Ekadasi fast. Also, the merit attained by one who donates a pregnant cow, along with gold and fertile land, is attained by one who fasts on this day.
In other words, Apara Ekadasi is an axe that cuts down the fully matured forest full of trees of sinful deeds, it is a forest fire that burns sins as if they were kindling firewood, it is the sun blazing before one's dark misdeeds, and it is a lion stalking the meek deer of impiety. Therefore, Oh Yudhishthira, whoever truly fears his past and present sins must observe Apara Ekadasi very strictly. One who does not observe this fast must be born again in the material world, like one bubble among millions in a huge body of water, or like a small ant among all other species. Therefore one must faithfully observe the sacred Apara Ekadasi and worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Trivikrama. One who does so is freed of all his sins and promoted to the abode of Lord Vishnu.
Oh Bharata, for the benefit of all humanity I have thus described to you this the importance of the holy Apara Ekadasi. Anyone who hears or reads this description is certainly freed from all kinds of sins, oh best of saintly kings, Yudhishthira. Thus ends the narration of the glories of Jyeshtha-krishna Ekadasi, or Apara Ekadasi, from the Brahmanda Purana.
Please worship Lord Janardana
Today is Varuthini Ekadasi in our location (variant dates may apply in other parts of the world). Hopefully everyone remembered today's Ekadasi. Here goes the story behind Varuthini Ekadasi.
Sri Yudhisthira Maharaj said, “Oh Vasudeva, I offer my most humble obeisances unto You. Please now describe to me the Ekadasi of the dark fortnight of the month of Vaisakha, including its specific merits and influence.”
Lord Sri Krishna replied, “Oh King, in this world and the next, the most auspicious and magnanimous Ekadasi is Varuthini Ekadasi, which occurs during the dark fortnight of the month of Vaisakha.
Whosoever observes a complete fast on this sacred day has his sins completely removed, obtains continuous happiness, and achieves all good fortune.
Fasting on Varuthini Ekadasi makes even an unfortunate woman fortunate. Upon anyone who observes it, this Ekadasi bestows material enjoyment in this life and liberation after the death of this present body. It destroys the sins of all and saves people from the miseries of repeated rebirth.
“By observing this Ekadasi properly, King Mandhata was liberated. Many other kings also benefited from observing it – kings such as Maharaja Dhundhumara, in the Ikshvaku dynasty, who became free from leprosy resulting from the curse that Lord Shiva had imposed upon him as a punishment.
Whatever merit one obtains by performing austerities and penances for ten thousand years is achieved by a person who observes Varuthini Ekadasi.
The merit one achieves by donating a great amount of gold during a solar eclipse at Kurukshetra is gained by one who observes this one Ekadasi with love and devotion, and certainly attains his goals in this life and the next. In short, this Ekadasi is pure and very enlivening and the destroyer of all sins.
“Better than giving horses in charity is giving elephants, and better than giving elephants is giving land. But better still than giving land is the giving of sesame seeds, and better than that is giving of gold. Still better than giving gold is giving food grains - for all the forefathers, demigods, and human beings become satisfied by eating grains. Thus there is no better gift of charity than this in the past, present or future.”
“Yet learned scholars have declared that giving away a young maiden in marriage to a worthy person is equal to giving away food grains in charity. Moreover, Lord Sri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, has said that giving cows in charity is equal to giving food grains. Still better than all these charities is teaching spiritual knowledge to the ignorant. Yet all the merits one can attain by performing all these acts of charity are attained by one who fasts on the Varuthini Ekadasi.”
“One who lives off the wealth of his daughters suffers a hellish condition until the inundation of the entire universe, Oh Bharata. Therefore one should be especially careful not to use the wealth of his daughter. Oh best of kings, any householder who takes his daughter’s wealth out of greed, who tries to sell his daughter, or who takes money from the man to whom he has given his daughter in marriage – such a householder becomes a lowly cat in his next life. Therefore it is said that whoever, as a sacred act of charity, gives away in marriage a maiden decorated with various ornaments, and who also gives a dowry with her, obtains merit that cannot be described even by Chitragupta, the chief secretary of Yamaraja in the heavenly planets. That very same merit, however, can be easily achieved by one who fasts on the Varuthini Ekadasi.
“The following things should be given up on the Dashami, (the tenth phase of the Moon), the day before the Ekadasi: eating on bell-metal plates, eating any kind of urid-dahl, eating red-lentils, eating chick-peas, eating kondo, eating spinach, eating honey, eating in another person’s house/home, eating more than once, and participating in sex of any kind.
“On the Ekadasi itself one should give up the following: gambling, sports, sleeping during the daytime, betal nuts and its leaf, brushing one’s teeth, spreading rumours, faultfinding, talking to the spiritually fallen, anger, and lying.
“On the Dwadasi the day after Ekadasi (the twelfth phase of the Moon), one should give up the following: eating on bell-metal plates, eating urid-dahl, red-lentils, or honey, lying, strenuous exercise or labour, eating more than once, any sexual activity, shaving the body, face or head, smearing oils on one’s body, and eating in another’s home.”
Lord Sri Krishna continued, “Whoever observes the Varuthini Ekadasi in this way becomes free from all sinful reactions and returns to the eternal, spiritual abode. One who worships Lord Janardana (Krishna) on this Ekadasi by staying awake throughout the entire night, also becomes free from all his previous sins and attains to the spiritual abode. Therefore, Oh king, he who is frightened of his accumulated sins and their attendant reactions, and thus of death itself, must observe Varuthini Ekadasi by fasting very strictly.
“Finally, Oh noble Yudhisthira, he who hears or reads this glorification of the sacred Varuthini Ekadasi obtains the merit earned by donating one thousand cows in charity, and at last he returns home, to the Supreme abode of Lord Vishnu in the Vaikunthas.”
Yudhisthira Maharaj said, “Oh Lord Sri Krishna, O glorious son of Vasudeva, please be merciful to me and describe the Ekadasi that occurs during the dark fortnight of the month of Phalguna.”
Lord Sri Krishna replied, “Oh Yudhisthira, Oh king of kings, gladly I shall tell you about this great fast, known as Vijaya Ekadasi. Whoever observes it certainly achieves success in this life and the next. All the sins of one who fasts on this Ekadasi and hears its sublime glories are eradicated. “Narada Muni once asked Lord Brahma, who sits on a lotus flower about the Vijaya Ekadasi. Sri Narada said, ‘Oh best of all the demigods, kindly tell me the merit one can achieve by faithfully observing Vijaya Ekadasi.’
Narada’s great father then replied, ‘My dear son, this oldest of fasting days is pure, and it nullifies all sins. I have never revealed this to anyone until today, but you can understand beyond any doubt that this Ekadasi bestows the result indicated by its name.
When Lord Rama was exiled to the forest for fourteen years, He, Srimati Sita devi, and His divine brother Lakshmana stayed at Panchavati as mendicants. Mother Sita was then kidnapped by the demon Ravana, and Lord Rama seemingly became bewildered like an ordinary man by distress. While searching for His beloved consort, the Lord came upon the dying Jatayu and thereafter killed His enemy Kabandha. The great devotee-vulture Jatayu returned to Vaikuntha after telling Rama how His dear Sita had been abducted by Ravana. Later, Lord Rama and Sugriva, the king of the monkeys, became friends. Together they amassed a grand army of monkeys and bears and sent Hanumanji his minister to Sri Lanka, where he was able to see Srimati Sita devi in an Ashoka grove garden. He delivered Lord Rama’s message and showed the ring proving his authenticity for rendering such great service to the Supreme Lord Sri Rama.
With the help of Sugriva, Lord Rama proceeded toward Sri Lanka. Upon arriving at the shore of the ocean with the army of monkeys, He could understand that the water was uncommonly deep and hostile. Thus He said to Lakshmana, “Oh son of Sumitra, how can We earn enough merit to be able to cross this vast ocean, the unfathomable abode of Varuna deva? I can see no easy way to cross it, teeming as it is with sharks and other ferocious aquatics.” Lakshmana replied, “Oh best of all beings, Oh origin of all the devas, Oh primal personality, the great sage Bakadalbhya lives on an island just four miles from here. Oh Raghava, he has seen many Brahmas come and go, so aged and wise is he. Let us go to him, take his darshan and ask him how We can safely reach Our goal.”
So Rama and Lakshmana proceeded to the humble Ashrama of the incomparable Bakadalbhya Muni. Approaching him, the two Lords paid Their respectful obeisances to him as if he were a second Vishnu. BakadAlbhya could immediately understand, however, that Sri Rama was actually the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who for His own reasons had appeared on the Earth and was enacting just like a human being.
“Rama", said Bakadalbhya, “Oh best of the human beings, why have You come to my lowly abode?” The Lord replied, “Oh great, twice born brahmin, I have come here to the ocean shore with My phalanx of monkey and bear warriors in order to cross the sea and conquer LankA and its demon horde headed by Ravana. Oh greatest of sages, please be merciful unto Me and please tell Me how I can cross this vast ocean. That is why I have come to your Ashrama today.”
The sage said, “Oh Lord Sri Rama, I shall tell you of the most exalted of all fasts, observing which You will surely conquer Ravana and be eternally glorified. Kindly now listen with full attention. “On the day before Ekadasi, fashion a water pot of gold or silver, or even copper. Even clay will do if these metals are unavailable. Fill the pot with pure water and then decorate it nicely with mango leaves. Cover it and place it near a holy altar upon a mound of seven grains (the seven grains are barley, wheat, rice, corn, chickpeas, kukani, and dahl or peas). Now take Your morning bath, decorate the water pot with flower garlands and sandalwood paste, and in the concave lid atop the pot place there the barley, pomegranate, and coconut. Now with great love and devotion worship the water pot Deity form and offer Him incense, sandalwood paste, flowers, a ghee lamp, and a plate of sumptuous foods. Remain there awake that night beside this sacred pot. On top of the lid filled with grains, place a golden murthy of Lord Sri Narayana.
“When Ekadasi dawns, take Your morning bath and then decorate the water pot with fine sandalwood paste and garlands. Then worship the pot again with incense, lamps, sandalwood paste and flowers dipped in sandalwood paste, and then devoutly place many kinds of cooked food, pomegranate, and coconut before the water pot. Then remain awake over night. “When the Dwadasi dawns, take the water pot to the bank of a holy river, or even to the shore of a small pond. After worshipping it again properly, Oh King of kings, offer it with all the aforementioned ingredients to a pure hearted brahmin, expert in the Vedic sciences. If You and Your military commanders observe the Vijaya Ekadasi in this way, You will surely be victorious in every way.”
Lord Sri Ramachandra, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, did just as Bakadalbhya Muni instructed, and thus He conquered all demoniac forces.
Similarly, anyone who observes the Vijaya Ekadasi in this way will always be victorious in this mortal world, and after leaving this world he/she will reside forever in the anxiety free realm of the Kingdom of God known as the Vaikunthas.”
“Oh Narada, my son, from this history you can understand why one should observe this Ekadasi fast properly, strictly following the rules and regulations. This fast is powerful enough to eradicate all one’s sinful reactions, even the most abominable ones.”
Thus ends the narration of the glories of Phalguna-krsna Ekadasi or Vijaya Ekdasi, from the Skanda Purana.
These stories have been sourced and summarized from the book, "Ekadasi: The Day of Lord Hari" by HH Krishna Balaram Swami. Bhaktivedanta Institute Press.
Ekadasi days are especially important in our traditon and each Ekadasi has a different scriptural reference, vedic story and meaning. The universal concept of an Ekadasi day is for us to increase our service to Krishna and with sincerity to try to increase our devotion to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
[As a note all our festival and ekadasi dates are listed based on the Vaishnava Calendar calculations for our location in Toronto and in some instances there is a 1 day difference on select Ekadasi's and festivals based on localized Vaishnava calendar calculations.]
Sri Daalbhya Rishi said to Palastya Muni, "When the spirit soul comes in contact with the material energy, he immediately begins to perform sinful activities, such as stealing, killing, and illicit sex. He may even perform many other terrible deeds, such as killing a brahmin. Oh purest of personalities, please tell me how these unfortunate souls may escape the punishment of being sent to hellish regions of creation. Kindly inform me how, by giving even a little in charity, one may be easily released from the reactions of his sins." Pulastya Muni replied, "Oh fortunate one, you have asked me an important and confidential question, which not even Brahmaa, Vishnu, Shiva or Indra has ever asked. Please listen very carefully to my answer.
"With the arrival of the month of Magh (January - February), one should bathe, carefully control his senses by giving up lust, anger, pride, jealousy, faultfinding, and greed, and meditate on the Supreme Personality of Godhead Lord Sri Krishna. One should then gather up some cow dung before it touches the ground and, after mixing it with sesame seeds and cotton, form 108 balls. This should be done on the day when the constellation of Purva-ashadha nakshatra arrives. then one should follow the rules and regulations of Sri Ekaadasii, which I shall now explain to you.
"After bathing, the person who intends to observe Ekaadasii should worship the Supreme Lord. While praying to Lord Sri Krishna by chanting His holy name, he should promise to observe the Ekaadasii fast. He should remain awake overnight and perform a homa (fire sacrifice). Then the devotee should perform an Arati ceremony for the pleasure of the Lord - Who holds a conch, disk, club, and so on in His hands - offering Him sandalwood paste to his feet, incense, camphor, a bright ghee lamp, and delicious food preparations. Next the devotee should offer the 108 balls of cow dung, sesame seeds, and cotton wool into the sacred fire whilst chanting such holy names of the Lord as Purusha sukta, and other names. Throughout the whole day and night he should also observe the standard Ekaadasii vrata (fast, which in this case is a fast from all kinds of grains and beans). On this occasion one should offer the Lord pumpkin, coconut, and guava. If these items are unavailable, betel nut may be substituted.
"The devotee should pray to Lord Sri Janardana, the benefactor of all living beings, in this way; 'Oh Lord Sri Krishna, You are the most merciful Personality of Godhead and the giver of liberation to all fallen souls. Oh Lord, we have fallen into the ocean of material existence. Please be kind to us. Oh lotus-eyed divinity, please accept our most humble, affectionate and respectful obeisances. Oh protector of the entire world, we offer You our humble respects again and again. Oh Supreme Spirit, Oh Supreme One, Oh source of all our forefathers, may You and Your eternal consort, Srimati Laxmi-devi, please accept these humble offerings.'
"The devotee should then try to please a qualified brahmin with a warm welcome, a pot full of water (purna kumbha), an umbrella, a pair of shoes, and clothes (cloth - dhoti, and anga vaastra), requesting him at the same time to bestow his blessings, by which one may develop unalloyed love for Lord Sri Krishna. According to one's ability, one may also donate a black cow to such a brahmin, particularly to one who is very well versed in all the injunctions of the Vedic scriptures. One should also offer him a pot full of sesame seeds.
"Oh exalted Daalbhya Muni, black sesame seeds are especially suitable for formal worship and fire sacrifices while white or brown ones are meant to be eaten by a qualified brahmin. One who can arrange to give both kinds of sesame seeds (black and white or brown) especially on this Sat-tilaa Ekaadasii day will be promoted to at least the heavenly planets after leaving this present body, for as many thousands of years as the number of seeds that would be produced if the seeds he donated were sown in the ground and grew into mature, seed bearing plants.
"On this Ekaadasii a faithful person should (1) bathe in the water mixed with sesame seeds, (2) rub sesame seed paste on his body, (3) offer sesame seeds into the fire in sacrifice, (4) eat sesame seeds, (5) give sesame seeds away in charity, (6) accept charitable gifts of sesame seeds. These are the six (sat) ways in which sesame seeds (tilaa) are utilised for spiritual purification on this Ekaadasii. Therefore it is called Sat-tilaa Ekaadasii.
"The great Devarishi Naarad Muni once asked the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna, 'Oh mighty armed Lord, Oh You who are so affectionate to Your loving devotees, please accept my most humble obeisances. Oh Yaadava, kindly tell me the result one obtains by observing Sat-tilaa Ekaadasii.'
"Lord Sri Krishna replied, 'Oh best of the twice born brahmins, I shall narrate to you an account of an incident I personally witnessed. Long ago on earth there lived an old female brahmini who worshipped Me every day with controlled senses. She very faithfully observed many a fast, especially on special days honouring Me (My various appearance days Janmaasthami, Rama-navami, Vaman Dwadasi, Nrisimha Chaturdasi, Varaha Dwadasi, Gaura Purnima, etc. - Calendar) and served Me with full devotion, devoid of any personal motive. Her rigorous fasting made her quite weak and thin. She gave charity to brahmanas and to young maidens (kanyas), and even planned to give away her house in charity. Oh best of the brahmanas although this spiritually minded woman gave charitable donations to worthy people, the odd feature of her austerity was that she never gave food to brahmanas or the devas (demigods).
"'I began to reflect on this curious omission: "This fine woman has purified herself by fasting on all the auspicious occasions and by offering Me strict devotional worship. Therefore she certainly has become eligible to enter My personal abode, which is unattainable by ordinary persons." So I came down to this planet to examine her, disguising Myself as a follower of Lord Shiva's, complete with a garland of skulls draped around My neck and a begging pot (kumandalu) in My hand.
"'As I approached her, she said toMe, "Oh respectful one, tell me truthfully why You have come before me."
"'I replied, "Oh beautiful one, I have come to get some sacred alms from you" - whereupon she angrily threw a dense lump of mud into My begging pot! Oh Naarada Muni I simply turned around and went back to My personal abode, astonished at this fine brahmani's peculiar mixture of great magnanimity and stinginess.
"'At last this austere lady reached the spiritual world in her self-same body, so great were her efforts at fasting and charity. And because she had indeed offered Me a lump of mud, I transformed that mud into a beautiful home. However, Oh Naradaji, this particular house was just like that mud completely devoid of any edible grains, as well as any furniture or ornamentation, and when she entered it she found only an empty structure. She therefore approached Me and said with great anger, "I have fasted repeatedly on so many auspicious occasions, making my body weak and thin. I have worshipped You and prayed to You in so many different ways for You are truly the master and protector of all the universes. Yet despite all this there is no food or wealth to be seen in my new home, Oh Janardana, please tell me. Why is this?"
"'I replied, "Please return to your house. Sometime later the wives of the devas (demigods) will pay you a visit out of curiosity to see the new arrival, but do not open your door until they have described to you the glories and importance of Sat-tilaa Ekaadasii."
"'Hearing this, she returned to her house. Eventually the devas' wives arrived there and in unison said, "Oh beautiful one, we have come to have your darshan. Oh auspicious one, please open the doorto your house and let us see you.
"'The lady replied, "Oh most dear ones, if you want me to open this door, you will have to describe to me the merit one obtains by observing the sacred fast of Sat-tilaa Ekaadasii." But to this request, not even one of the wives responded.
"'Later, however, they returned to the house, and one of the wives nicely explained the sublime nature of this sacred Ekaadasii. And when the lady at last opened her door, they saw that she was neither a demigoddess, a Gandharvi, a she-demon, nor even a Naga-patni. She was simply an ordinary human lady.
"'From then on the lady observed Sat-tilaa Ekaadasii, which awards ALL material enjoyment and liberation at the same time, as it has been described to her. And she finally received the beautiful furnishings and grains she had expected for her home. Moreover, her once ordinary material body was transformed into a beautiful spiritual form made of sac-cid-ananda (eternality, knowledge,and bliss), with a fine complexion. So, by the mercy and grace of Sat-tilaa Ekaadasii, both the lady and her new home in the spiritual world were at last radiantly splendid and lustrous with gold, silver, jewels, and diamonds.
"'Oh Naradaji, a person should not ostentatiously observe Ekaadasii out of greed, with the hope of attaining wealth dishonestly. Selflessly, he should simply donate sesame seed, clothes, and food according to his capacity, for by doing so he will achieve good health and exalted spiritual consciousness, birth after birth. Ultimately, he will begiven release from the bonds of this world (liberation) and admittance into the Lord's supreme abode will be his to enjoy. That is my opinion, Oh best of the demigods deva-rishis).'
"Oh Daalbhya Muni," Pulastya Rishi concluded, "one who properly observes this wonderful Sat-tilaa Ekaadasii with great faith become free from all kinds of poverty - spiritual, mental, physical, social, and intellectual - as well as all kinds of ill luck and evil omens (sakuna). Indeed, following this Ekaadasii fast by donating, sacrificing, or eating sesame seeds frees one of all past sin, without a doubt. One need not wonder how this happens. The rare soul who properly performs these acts of charity in the right devotional mood, following the Vedic injunctions, will become utterly free of all sinful reactions and go back to Godhead, back home to the spiritual world."
Thus ends the narration of the glories of Magh-krishna Ekaadasii, or Sat-tilaa Ekaadasii,
from the sacred Bhavishya-uttara Purana of Srila Krishna Dwaipayana Vyaasa.
These stories have been summarised from the celebrated book, "Ekadasi: The Day of Lord Hari" 1986. HH Krishna Balaram Swami. Bhaktivedanta Institute Press.
The pious and saintly Yudhisthira Maharaj asks the Lord, "Now please be merciful to me and explain to me the details of the Ekaadasi that occurs in the light fortnight of this month. What is its name, and what Deity is to be worshipped on that sacred day? Oh Purushottama, Oh Hrishikesha, please also tell me how You can be pleased on this day?
Lord Sri Krishna then replied, “Oh saintly king, for the benefit of all humanity I shall now tell you how to observe fasting on the Pausha-shukla Ekaadasi. As previously explained, everyone should observe the rules and regulations of the Ekadasi vrata, to the very best of their ability. This injunction also applies to the Ekadasi named Putradaa, which destroys all sins and elevates one to the spiritual abode. The Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Narayana, the original personality, is the worshippable Deity of the Ekadasi, and for His faithful devotees He happily fulfills all desires and awards full perfection. Thus among all the animate and inanimate beings in the three worlds, there is no better personality than Lord Narayana.
“Oh King, now I shall narrate to you the history of Putradaa Ekadasi, which removes all kinds of sins and makes one famous and learned. “There was once a kingdom named Bhadraavati, which was ruled by King Suketumaan. His queen was the famous Shaibyaa. Because he had no son, he spent a long time in anxiety, thinking, ‘If I have no son, who will carry on my dynasty?’ In this way the king meditated in a religious attitude for a very long time, thinking, ‘Where should I go? What should I do? How can I get a pious son? In this way King Suketumaan could find no happiness anywhere in his kingdom, even in his own palace, and soon he was spending more and more time inside his wife’s palace, gloomily thinking only of how he could get a son. “Thus both King Suketumaan and Queen Shaibyaa were in great distress. Even when they offered tarpana, their mutual misery made them think that it was as undrinkable as boiling water. They thus thought that they would have no descendants to offer tarpana to them when they died and thus become lost souls. The king and queen were especially upset to learn that their forefathers were worried that soon there would be no one to offer them tarpana also. “After learning of their forefathers unhappiness, the king and queen became more and more miserable, and neither ministers, nor friends, nor even loved ones could cheer them up. To the king, his elephants and horses and infantry were no solace, and at last he became practically inert and helpless.
“The king thought to himself, ‘It is said that without a son, marriage is wasted. Indeed, for a family man with no son, both his heart and his splendid house remain vacant and miserable. Bereft of a son, a man cannot liquidate the debts that he owes his forefathers, the demigods and to other human beings. Therefore every married man should endeavour to beget a son; thus he will become famous within this world and at last attain the auspicious celestial realms. A son is proof of the pious activities a man performed in his past one hundred lifetimes, and such a person achieve a long duration of life in this world, along with good health and great wealth. Possessing sons and grandsons in this lifetime proves that one has worshipped Lord Vishnu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, in the past. The great blessing of sons, wealth, and sharp intelligence can be achieved only by worshipping the Supreme Lord, Shri Krishna. That is my opinion.’ “Thinking thus, the king had no peace. He remained in anxiety day and night, from morning to evening, and from the time he lay down to sleep at night until the sun rose in the morning, his dreams were equally full of great anxiety. Suffering such constant anxiety and apprehension, King Suketumaan decided to end his misery by committing suicide. But he realized that suicide throws a person into hellish conditions of rebirth, and so he abandoned that idea.
Seeing that he was gradually destroying himself by his all consuming anxiety over the lack of a son, the king at last mounted his horse and left for the dense forest alone. No one, not even the priests and brahmins of the palace, knew where he had gone. “In that forest, which was filled with deer and birds and other animals, King Suketumaan wandered aimlessly, noting all the different kinds of trees and shrubs, such as the fig, bel fruit, date palm, jackfruit, bakula, saptaparnaa, tinduka, and tilaka, as well as the shala, taala, tamaala, saralaa, hingotaa, arjuna, labheraa, bahedaa, sallaki, karondaa, patala, khaira, shaka, and palaasha trees. All were beautifully decorated with fruits and flowers. He saw deer, tigers, wild boar, lions, monkeys, snakes, huge bull elephants in a rut, cow elephants with their calves, and four tusked elephants with their mates close by. There were cows, jackals, rabbits, leopards, and hippopotamuses. Beholding all these animals accompanied by their mates and offspring, the king remembered his own menagerie, especially his palace elephants, and became so sad that he absentmindedly wandered into their very midst.
“Suddenly the king heard a jackal howl in the distance. Startled, he began wandering about, looking around in all directions. Soon it was midday, and the king started to tire. He was tormented by hunger and thirst also. He thought, ‘What sinful deed could possibly have done so that I am now forced to suffer like this, with my throat parched and burning, and my stomach empty and rumbling? I have pleased the demigods with numerous fire sacrifices and abundant devotional worship. I have given many gifts and delicious sweets in charity to all the worthy brahmins too. And I have taken care of my subjects as though they were my very own children. Why then am I suffering so? What unknown sins have come to bear fruit and torment me in this dreadful way?’
“Absorbed in these thoughts, King Suketumaan struggled forward, and eventually, due to his pious credits, he came upon a beautiful lotus bearing pond that resembled the famous Lake Maanasarova. It was filled with aquatics, including crocodiles and many varieties of fish, and graced with varieties of lilies and lotuses. The beautiful lotuses had opened to the Sun, and swans, cranes and ducks swam happily in its waters. Nearby were many attractive ashramas, where there resided many saints and sages who could fulfill the desires of anyone. Indeed, they wished everyone well. When the king saw all this, his right arm and right eye began to quiver, a sakuna sign (for a male) that something auspicious was about to happen.
“As the king dismounted his horse and stood before the sages, who sat on the shore of the pond, he saw that they were chanting the holy names of God on japa beads. The king paid his obeisances and, joining his palms, addressed them with glorified praises. Observing the respect the king offered them, the sages said, ‘We are very pleased with you, Oh king. Kindly tell us why you have come here. What is on your mind? Please inform us what is your heart’s desire.’ “The king replied, ‘Oh great sages, who are you? What are your names, surely your presence reveals that you are auspicious saints? Why have you come to this beautiful place? Please tell me everything.’
“The sages replied, ‘Oh king, we are known as the ten Vishvadevas (the sons of Vishva; Vasu, Satya, Kratu, Daksha, Kaala, Kaama, Dhriti, Pururavaa, Maadrava, and Kuru). We have come here to this very lovely pond to bathe. The month of Magha (Madhava mase) will soon be here in five days, and today is the famous Putrada Ekadasi. One who desires a son should strictly observe this particular Ekadasi.’ “The king said, ‘I have tried so hard to have a son. If you great sages are pleased with me, kindly grant the boon of having a good son’
“ ‘The very meaning of Putradaa,’ the sages replied, ‘…is “giver of a putra, pious son.” So please observe a complete fast on this Ekadasi day. If you do so, then by our blessing – and by the mercy of Lord Sri Keshava invested in us – surely you will obtain a son.’
“On the advice of the Vishvadevas, the king observed the auspicious fast day of Putrada Ekadasi according to the established rules and regulations, and on the Dvaadasi, after breaking his fast, he paid obeisances again and again to all of them.
“Soon after Suketumaan returned to his palace and united with his queen. Queen Shaibya immediately became pregnant, and exactly as the Vishvadevas had predicted, a bright faced, beautiful son was born to them. In due course of time he became famous as an heroic prince, and the king gladly pleased his noble son by making him his successor. The son of Suketumaan took care of his subjects very conscientiously, just as if they were his own children.
“In conclusion, Oh Yudhisthira, one who wises to fulfill his desires should strictly observe Putrada Ekadasi. While on this planet, one who strictly observes this Ekadasi will surely obtain a son, and after death he will achieve liberation. Anyone who even reads or hears the glories of Putrada Ekaadasi obtains the merit earned by performing a sacrifice. It is to benefit all humanity that I have explained all this to you.”
Thus ends the narration of the glories of Pausha-shukla Ekaadasii, or Putrada Ekadasi, from the Bhavishya Purana of Veda Vyaasadeva.
This story has been summarized from the celebrated book, "Ekadasi: The Day of Lord Hari" 1986. HH Krishna Balaram Swami. Bhaktivedanta Institute Press
Sri Yudhishthira Maharaja asked of Lord Sri Krishna, "What is the name of that Ekadasi that occurs during the light fortnight (shukla paksha) of the month of Bhadrapada? Who is the worshipable Deity for this Ekadasi, and what merit does one attain in observing it? Kindly reveal all of this to me my Lord."
The Supreme Personality of Godhead Lord Sri Krishna addressed His devoted Yudhishthira as follows, "This Ekadasi, Oh Yudhishthira, is called Vamana Ekadasi, and it bestows upon those who observe it both great merit and ultimate liberation from material bondage. Therefore, because it removes all one's sinful reactions, it is also called Jayanti Ekadasi. Just hearing of its glories frees one from all his past misdeeds. So auspicious is this fast that observing it bestows the same merit as that earned by performing a horse sacrifice. There is no better Ekadasi than this, because it awards liberation so easily. Thus if one truly desires freedom from the punishing material world, one should fast on Vamana Ekadasi.
"While observing this holy fast, a Vaishnava should lovingly worship the Supreme Lord in His form as Vamandev, the dwarf incarnation, whose eyes are like lotus petals. By doing so, he worships all other Deities as well, including Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, and at death he undoubtedly goes to that abode of Sri Hari. In all the three worlds there is no fast that is more important to observe. The reason this Ekadasi is so auspicious is that it celebrates the day when the sleeping Lord Vishnu turns over on His other side; thus it is also known as Parivartinii Ekadasi."
Maharaja Yudhishthira then asked of the Lord, "Oh Janardana, please clear up a question I have. How is it that the Supreme Lord sleeps and then turns over on His side? Oh Lord, when You are asleep what happens to all the other living entities? Please also tell me how You bound the king of the demons, Bali Daityaraj (Bali Maharaja), as well as how one may please the brahmanas. How does one observe Chaturmasya, which You mention in the Chaturmasya-mahatmya of the Bhavishya Purana? Kindly be merciful to me and answer these questions."
The Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna replied, "Oh Yudhishthira, lion among Kings, I will gladly narrate to you an historical event that, simply by hearing, eradicates all one's sinful reactions. "In the TretA-yuga there once was a king of the name Bali. Though born in a family dynasty of demons (daityas), he was very devoted to Me. He sang many Vedic hymns to Me and performed the homa rituals (fire sacrifices) just to satisfy Me. He respected the twice-born brahmins and engaged them in performing sacrifices daily. This great soul had a quarrel with Indra, however, and eventually defeated him in battle. Bali took over his entire celestial kingdom, which I Myself had given to Indra. Therefore Indra and all the other devas (demigods), along with many great sages, approached Me and complained about Bali Maharaja. Bowing their heads to the ground and offering many sacred prayers from the Vedas, they worshipped Me along with their spiritual master, Brihaspati. Thus I agreed to appear on their behalf as a dwarf Vamanadev, My fifth incarnation."
King Yudhishthira further enquired, "Oh Lord, how was it possible for You to conquer such a powerful demon, and only by coming in the form of a dwarf brahmin? Please explain this clearly, for I am Your faithful devotee." The Supreme Lord, Sri Krishna replied, "Though a dwarf, I was a brahmana, and I approached that pious king Bali to ask him for alms in the form of land. I said, 'Oh Daityraj Bali, please give Me just three steps of land in charity. Such a small piece of land will be good as all the three worlds for Me.' Bali agreed to grant My request without lengthy consideration. But as soon as he vowed to give Me the land, My body began to expand into a gigantic transcendental form. I covered the entire Earth with My feet, all the Bhuvarloka with My thighs, the Swarga heavens with My waist, Maharloka with My stomach, Janaloka with My chest, Tapoloka with My neck, and Satyaloka with My head and face. I covered the entire material creation. Indeed, all the planets of the universe, including the Sun and the Moon, were encompassed by My gigantic form."
"Seeing this astonishing pastime of Mine, all the demigods, including Indra and Shesha, the king of the snakes, began to sing Vedic hymns and offer prayers to Me. Then I took Bali by the hand and said to him, 'Oh sinless one, I have covered the whole Earth with one step and all the heavenly planets with the second. Now where shall I place My foot to measure the third step of land you promised Me?'
"Upon hearing this, Bali Maharaja bowed down in humility and offered Me his head to place My third step. Oh Yudhishthira, I placed My foot on his head and sent him all the way to Patalaloka. Seeing him thus humbled, I became very pleased and told Bali that henceforth I would permanently reside in his palace. Thereafter, on Parivartinii Ekadasi, which occurs during the light part of the month of Bhadra (August-September), Bali, the son of Virochana, grandson of Prahlad, installed a Deity form of Me in his residence. "Oh king, until Haribodhini Ekadasi, which occurs during the light part of the month of Kartika, I continue to sleep in the ocean of milk. The merit one accumulates during this period is particularly powerful. One should therefore observe Parivartini Ekadasi carefully. Indeed, it is especially purifying and thus cleanses one of all sinful reactions.
On this day the faithful devotee should worship Lord Trivikrama, Vamanadeva, who is the supreme father, because on this day I turn over to sleep on My other side. "If possible, on this day one should give a qualified person some yogurt mixed with rice, as well as some silver, and then remain awake throughout the night. This simple observance will free one of all material conditioning. One who observes this sacred Parivartinii Ekadasi in the way I have described will surely attain all kinds of happiness in this world and the kingdom of God in the hereafter. One who simply hears this narration with devotion will go to the abode of the demigods and shine there like the Moon itself, so powerful is observance of this Ekadasi. Indeed, this observance is as powerful as the performance of a thousand horse sacrifices."
Thus ends the narration of the glories of Parivartini Ekadasi, or Vamana Ekadasi, which occurs during the light part of the month of Bhadrapada, from the Brahma-vaivarta Pura
Today is Ekadasi. It is actually Parsva Ekadasi. However before posting the glories of today's ekasasi, we want to post the glories of Annada ekadasi which took place a fortnight ago. During that week we did not have time to post however to "catch up" and maintain the archive of all the ekadasis that come up during the year, we still wanted to honour Annada Ekadasi by posting the glories of this particular ekadasi...
Sri Yudhisthira Maharaja said, "Oh Janardana, protector of all living entities, please tell me the name of the Ekadasi that occurs during the dark fortnight of the month of Bhadrapada (August-September)."
The Supreme Lord, Sri Krishna, then replied, "Oh King, hear Me attentively. The name of this sin-removing, sacred Ekadasi is Aja. Any person who fasts completely on this day and worships Hrishikesha, the master of the senses, becomes free of all reactions to his sins. Even one who simply hears about this Ekadasi is freed from his past sins. Oh King, there is no better day than this in all the earthly and heavenly worlds. This is true without a doubt.
"There once lived a famous king named Harishchandra, who was the emperor of the world and a person of great truth and integrity. His wife's name was Chandramati, and he had a son named Lohitashva. By the force of destiny, however, Harishchandra lost his great kingdom and sold his wife and son. The pious king himself became a menial servant of a dog-eater, who made him guard a crematorium. Yet even while doing such menial service, he did not forsake his truthfulness and good character, just as soma-rasa, even when mixed with some other liquid, does not lose its ability to bestow immortality.
"The king passed many years in this condition. Then one day he sadly thought, 'What shall I do? Where shall I go? How can I be delivered from this plight?' In this way he drowned in an ocean of anxiety and sorrow.
"One day a great sage happened by, and when the king saw him he happily thought, 'Ah, Lord Brahma has created brahmins just to help others.' Harishchandra paid his respectful obeisances to the sage, whose name was Gautama Muni. With joined palms the king stood before Gautama Muni and narrated his pitiful story. Gautama Muni was astonished to hear the king's tale of woe. He thought, 'How has this mighty king been reduced to collecting clothes from the dead?' Gautama Muni became very much compassionate toward Harishchandra and instructed him on the process of fasting for purification.
"Gautama Muni said, 'Oh king, during the dark fortnight of the month of Bhadrapada there occurs an especially meritorious Ekadasi named Aja (Annada), which removes all sins. Indeed, this Ekadasi is so auspicious that if you simply fast on that day and perform no other austerity, all your sins will be nullified. By your good fortune it is coming in just seven days. So I urge you to fast on this day and remain awake through the night. If you do so, all the reactions of your past sins will come to an end. Oh Harishchandra, I have come here because of your past pious deeds. Now, all good fortune to you in the future!' So saying, the great sage Sri Gautama Muni immediately disappeared from his vision.
"King Harishchandra followed Gautama Muni's instructions concerning fasting on the sacred day of Aja Ekadasi. Oh Maharaja Yudhisthira, because the king fasted on that day, the reactions to his previous sins were completely destroyed at once. Oh lion among kings, just see the influence of this Ekadasi fast! It immediately vanquishes whatever miseries one may be suffering as a result of past karmic sinful activities.
Thus all Harishchandra's miseries were relieved. Just by the power of this wonderful Ekadasi, he was reunited with his wife and son, who had died but were now revived. In the heavenly regions the devas began beating on their celestial kettledrums and showering down flowers upon Harishchandra, his queen, and their son. By the blessings of the Ekadasi fast, he regained his kingdom without difficulty. Moreover, when King Harishchandra left the planet, his relatives and all his subjects too, went with him to the spiritual world.
"Oh Pandava, whoever fasts on Aja Ekadasi is surely freed from all his sins and ascends to the spiritual world. And whosoever hears and studies the glories of this Ekadasi achieves the merit gained by performing a horse sacrifice."
Thus ends the narration of the glories of Bhadrapada-krishna Ekadasi, or Aja Ekadasi, from the Brahma-vaivarta Purana.