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Please find here the glories of the following Ekadasis:
Sri Yudhisthira Maharaja said, “O Janardana, what is the name of the Ekadasi that occurs during the light fortnight of the month of Vaisakha (April-May)? What is the process for observing it properly? Kindly narrate all of these details to me.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna replied, “O blessed son of Dharma, what Vasistha Muni once told to Lord Ramacandra I shall now describe to you. Please hear Me attentively.
“Lord Ramacandra asked Vasistha Muni, ‘O great sage, I would like to hear about the best of all fasting days that day which destroys all kinds of sins and sorrows. I have suffered long enough in separation from My dear Sita, and so I wish to hear from you about how My suffering can be ended.’
“The sage Vasistha replied, ‘O Lord Rama, O You whose intelligence is so keen, simply by remembering Your name one can cross the ocean of the material world. You have questioned me in order to benefit all of humanity and fulfil everyone’s desires. I shall now describe that day of fasting which purifies the whole world.
‘O Rama, that day is known as Vaisakha-sukla Ekadasi, which falls on Dvadasi. It removes all sins and is famous as Mohini Ekadasi.
Truly, O dear Rama, the merit of this Ekadasi frees the fortunate soul who observes it from the network of illusion. Therefore, if You want to relieve Your suffering(s), observe this auspicious Ekadasi perfectly, for it removes all obstacles from ones path and relieves the greatest miseries. Kindly listen as I describe its glories, because for one who even just hears about this auspicious Ekadasi, the greatest sins are nullified.
‘On the banks of the Sarasvati River there was once a beautiful city named Bhadravati, which was ruled by King Dyutiman. O Rama, that steadfast, truthful, and highly intelligent king was born in the dynasty of the Moon (Chandra-vamsa). In his kingdom was a merchant named Dhanapala, who possessed a great deal of wealth of food grains and money. He was also very pious. Dhanapala arranged for lakes to be dug, sacrificial arenas to be erected, and beautiful gardens to be cultivated for the benefit of all the citizens of Bhadravati. He was an excellent devotee of Lord Vishnu and had five sons: Sumana, Dyutiman, Medhavi, Sukriti, and Dhrishthabuddhi.
‘Unfortunately, his son Dhrishthabuddhi always engaged in greatly sinful activities, such as sleeping with prostitutes and associating with similar degraded persons. He enjoyed illicit sex, gambling, and many other varieties of acts aimed at gratifying the senses. He disrespected the demigods (devas), the brahmins, the forefathers and other elders of the community, as well as his family’s guests.
The evil-hearted Dhrishthabuddhi spent up his father’s wealth indiscriminately, always feasting on untouchable foods and drinking alcohol to excess.
‘One day Dhanapala kicked Dhristhabuddhi out of the house after he saw him walking along the road arm-in-arm with a known prostitute. From then on all Dhristhabuddhi’s relatives were highly critical of him and distanced themselves from him also. After he had sold all of his inherited ornaments and become destitute, the prostitute also abandoned him and insulted him because of his poverty.
‘Dhristhabuddhi was now full of anxiety, and also hungry. He thought, “What should I do ? Where should I go ? How can I maintain myself ? He then began to steal. The king’s constables arrested him, but when they learned who it was, and that his father was the famous Dhanapala, they released him. He was caught and released in this way many times. But at last, sick of his arrogance and total disrespect for others, and their property, the ill-mannered Dhristhabuddhi was apprehended, handcuffed, and then beaten. After whipping him, the king’s marshals warned him, “O evil minded one, there is no place for you in this kingdom.
‘However, Dhristhabuddhi was freed from his tribulation by his father and immediately thereafter entered the dense forest. He wandered here and there, hungry and thirsty and suffering greatly. Eventually he began killing the jungle animals, the lions, deer, boars, and even wolves for food. Always ready in his hand was his bow, always on his shoulder was his quiver full of arrows.
He also killed many birds, such as chakoras, peacocks, kankas, doves and pigeons. He unhesitatingly slaughtered many species of birds and animals to maintain his sinful way of life, the sinful results accumulating more and more each day. On account of his previous sins, he was now immersed in an ocean of great sin that was so relentless that it appeared that he could not get out.
‘Dhristhabuddhi was always miserable and anxious, but one day, during the month of Vaisakha, by the force of some of his past merit he chanced upon the sacred asramaof Kaundinya Muni. The great sage had just finished bathing in the Ganges River, and water was dripping from him still. Dhristhabuddhi had the great good fortune to touch some of those droplets of water that were falling from the great sage’s wet clothing. Instantly Dhristhabuddhi was freed of his ignorance, and his sinful reactions were reduced.
Offering his humble obeisances to Kaundinya Muni, Dhristhabuddhi prayed to him with joined palms: “O great brahmana, please describe to me some of the atonement I may perform without too much endeavour. I have committed so many sins in my life, and these have now made me very poor.
‘The great rishi replied, “O son, listen with great attention, for by hearing me your life will change, and you will become free of all your remaining sins. In the light fortnight of this very month, Vaisakha (April-May) there occurs the sacred Mohinii Ekadasi, which has the power to nullify sins as vast and weighty as Mount Sumeru. If you follow my advice and faithfully observe a fast on this Ekadasi, which is so dear to Lord Hari, you will be freed from all the sinful reactions of many, many births.
‘Hearing these words with great joy, Dhristhabuddhi promised to observe a fast on Mohini Ekadasi according to the sage’s instructions and direction. O best of kings, O Ramacandra Bhagavan, by fasting completely on Mohini Ekadasi, the once sinful Dhristhabuddhi, the prodigal son of the merchant Dhanapala, became sinless. Afterwards he achieved a beautiful transcendental form and, free at last of all obstacles, rode upon the carrier of Lord Vishnu, Garuda, to the Supreme abode of the Lord.
‘O Ramachandra, the fast day of Mohini Ekadasi removes the darkest illusory attachments to material existence. There is thus no better fast day in all the three worlds than this.’
Lord Sri Krishna concluded, “And so, O Yudhishthira, there is no place of pilgrimage, no sacrifice, and no charity that can bestow merit equal to even one sixteenth of the merit a faithful devotee of Mine obtains by observing the Mohini Ekadasi. And He who hears and studies the glories of Mohini Ekadasi achieves the merit of giving away one thousand cows in charity.
Thus ends the narration of the glories of Vaisakha-sukla Ekadasi, or Mohini Ekadasi, from the Kurma Purana.
NOTE: If the holy fast falls on Dvadasi, it is still called Ekadasi in the Vedic literature. Furthermore, in Garuda Purana(1.125.6), Lord Brahma states to Narada Muni: “O brahmana, this fast should be observed when there is a full Ekadasi, a mixture of Ekadasi and Dvadasi, or a mixture of three (Ekadasi, Dvadasi, and Trayodasi) but never on the day when there is a mixture of Dasami and Ekadasi.”This is also upheld in the Hari Bhakti Vilas, Vaisnava smriti-sastra, and upheld by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada in his Navadvip Panjikaintroduction.
Sri Yudhishthira Maharaja said, “O Janardana, what is the name of the Ekadasi that occurs during the dark fortnight 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, “O 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.
“O 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.
O 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 varnaor asrama(an unqualified man’s posing as abrahmana, 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 ksatriya-dharmaand flee the battlefield go to a ferocious hell. But, O Yudhishthira, even such a fallen ksatriya, 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, O 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 Siva at Varanasi (Benares) during Siva-ratri; offering oblations to one’s forefathers at Gaya; bathing in the sacred Gautami River when Jupiter transits Leo (Simha); having darsanaof Lord Siva at Kedarnatha; seeing Lord Badrinatha when the Sun transits the sign of Aquarius (Kumbha); and bathing at the time of a solar eclipse at Kuruksetra 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, O 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.
O 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, O best of saintly kings, Yudhishthira. Thus ends the narration of the glories of Jyeshtha-krishna Ekadasi, or Apara Ekadasi, from the Brahmanda Purana.
- Pushkara-kshetra, in western India, is the only place on Earth where a bona fide temple of Lord Brahma is to be found.
2. The Vedas declare, narah budbuda samah: “The human form of life is like a bubble in water”.
In water, many bubbles form and then suddenly burst a few seconds later. Thus if a person does not utilize his rare human body to serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna, his life has no more value or permanence than a bubble in water. Therefore, as the Lord herein recommends, we should serve Him by fasting on Hari-vasara, or Ekadasi.
In this regard, Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada writes in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (2.14, purport): “The great ocean of material nature is tossing with the waves of time, and the so-called living conditioned are something like foaming bubbles, which appear before us as bodily self, wife, children, society, countrymen, etc. Due to a lack of knowledge of self, we become victimized by the force of ignorance and thus spoil the valuable energy of human life in a vain search after permanent living conditions, which are impossible in this material world.”
Pandava Nirjala Ekadasi
During the hottest season (northern hemisphere), if one can perform upavasawithout water one is performing a great feat. One may take only caranamrtaand acamanawater. Bhima requested one vrataday by which he could obtain the fruits of all the other days of vrata that he was incapable of observing. Vyasadeva advised him to follow this difficult vrata.
One should worship the Lord in the evening by bathing him in milk. On the dvadasi one should give full pots of water to brahmanas and feed them before breaking one’s fast. (Haribhakti-vilasa15/25 from Padma Purana, Vyasadeva speaks to Bhimasena)
O son, Lord Kesava, Who holds the club, disk, conch and lotus flower in His hand, personally told me that all of the merit achieved by fasting on whatever Ekadasis fall in one year can be attained by fasting on this one Ekadasi (nirjala Ekadasi). Of this, there is no doubt. (Haribhakti-vilasa15/33 from Padma Purana, Vyasadeva speaks to Bhimasena). Anyone who does not fast on this particular Ekadasi (Nirjala Ekadasi), they should be understood to be sinful, corrupted and suicidal person without a doubt.
The Story of Pandava Nirjala Ekadasi: Once Bhimasena, the younger brother of Maharaja Yudhisthira, asked the great sage Srila Vyasadeva, the grandfather of the Pandavas, if it is possible to return to the spiritual world without having observed all the rules and regulations of the Ekadasi fasts. Bhimasena then spoke as follows, “Oh greatly intelligent and learned grandfather, my brother Yudhisthira, my dear mother Kunti, and my beloved wife Draupadi, as well as Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva, fast completely on each Ekadasi and strictly follow all the rules, guidelines and regulative injunctions of that sacred day. Being very religious, they always tell me that I should also fast on that day too. But, Oh learned grandfather, I tell them that I cannot live without eating, because as the son of Vayudeva – Samanaprana, (the digestive air) hunger is unbearable to me. I can give widely in charity and worship Lord Kesava properly with all manner of wonderful upacaras(items), but I cannot be asked to fast on Ekadasi.
Please tell me how I can obtain the same merits result without fasting.” Hearing these words, the grandsire of Bhima, Srila Vyasadeva said, “If you want to go to the heavenly planets and avoid the hellish planets, you should indeed observe a fast on both the light and dark Ekadasis.” Bhima replied, “Oh great saintly intelligent grandfather, please listen to my plea. Oh greatest of munis, since I cannot live if I eat only once in a day, how can I possibly live if I fast completely? Within my stomach burns a special fire named Vrika, the fire of digestion. Agni the fire-god, descends from Lord Vishnu through Brahma, from Brahma to Angirasa, from Angirasa to Brihaspathi, and from Brihaspathi to Samyu, who was Agni’s father. He is the gatekeeper in charge of Nairritti, the south-eastern direction. He is one of the eight material elements, and Parikshit Maharaja, he is very expert at examining things. He examined Maharaja Sibi once by turning into a dove. (For further information on this incident see Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada’s Srimad-Bhagavatamcommentary to 1.12.20.)
Agni is divided into three categories; Davagni, the fire in wood, Jatharagni, the fire in the digestion in the stomach, and Vadavagni, the fire that creates fog when hot and cold streams mix in for example the ocean. Another name for the fire of digestion is Vrika. It is this powerful fire that resided in Bhima’s stomach. Only when I eat to my full satisfaction does the fire in my stomach become satisfied. Oh great sage, I might possibly be able to fast only once, so I beg that you tell me of an Ekadasi that is worthy of my fasting and that includes all other Ekadasis. I shall faithfully observe that fast and hopefully still become eligible for liberation’s release.” Srila Vyasadeva replied, O king, you have heard from me about the various kinds of occupational duties, such as elaborate Vedic ceremonies and pujas. In the Kali-yuga, however, no one will be able to observe all these occupational & functional duties properly. I shall therefore tell you how, at practically no expense, one can endure some small austerity and achieve the greatest benefit and resultant happiness. The essence of what is written in the Vedic literatures known as thePuranasis that one should not eat on either the dark or light fortnight Ekadasis.” As stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam(Mahabhagavata Puranam) 12:13:12 and 15, the Bhagavata Puranais itself the essence or cream of all Vedanta philosophy (sara-vedanta-saram), and the Srimad-Bhagavatam’sunequivocal message is that of full surrender to Lord Sri Krishna and the rendering of loving devotional service to Him.
Observing Ekadasi strictly is a great aid in that process, and here Srila Vyasadeva is simply stressing to Bhima the importance of the Ekadasi vratam. ”One who fasts on Ekadasis saved from going to the hellish planets.” Hearing Srila Vyasadeva’s words, the son of Vayu, Bhimasena, the strongest of all warriors, became frightened and began to shake like a leaf on a banyan tree in a strong wind. The frightened Bhimasena then said, “O grandfather, what should I do? I am completely unable and ill equipped to fast twice in a month throughout the year! Please tell me of the one fasting day that will bestow the greatest benefit upon me!” Vyasadeva replied, “Without drinking even water, you should fast on the Ekadasi that occurs during the light fortnight of the month of Jyeshtha (May-June) when the sun travels in the sign of Taurus (Vrishabh) and Gemini (Mithun), According to learned personalities, on this day one may bathe and perform Achamana for pratiprokshana, purification. But while performing Acamanaone may drink only that amount of water equal to a drop of gold, or that amount it takes to immerse a single mustard seed. Only this amount of water should be placed in the right palm for sipping, which one should form to resemble a cow’s ear. If one drinks more water than this, he might as well have drunk wine despite the soaring heat of summer (in the northern hemisphere and cold in the southern hemisphere). One must certainly not eat anything, for if he does so he breaks his fast. This rigid fast is in effect from sunrise on the Ekadasi day to sunrise on the Dvadashi day. If a person endeavours to observe this great fast very strictly, he easily achieves the result of observing all twenty-four other Ekadasi fasts throughout the entire year.
On Dvadashi the devotee should bathe early in the morning. Then, according to the prescribed rules, guidelines and regulative injunctions, and of course depending on his ability, he should give some gold and water to worthy brahmanas. Finally, he should cheerfully honour prasadamwith a branmana. O Bhimasena, one who can fast on this special Ekadasi in this manner reaps the benefit of having fasted on every Ekadasi during the year. There is no doubt of this, nor should there be. O Bhima, now hear the specific merit one gets by fasting on this Ekadasi. The Supreme Lord Kesava, who holds a conch, discus, club and lotus, personally told me, `Everyone should take shelter of Me and follow My instructions.’ Then He told me that one who fasts on this Ekadasi, without taking even drinking water or eating, becomes free of all sinful reactions, and that one who observes the difficult nirjalafast on Jyeshtha-shukla Ekadasi truly reaps the benefit of all other Ekadasi fasts. ”O Bhimasena, in the Kali-yuga, the age of quarrel and hypocrisy, when all the principles of the Vedas will have been destroyed or greatly minimised, and when there will be no proper charity or observance of the ancient Vedik principles and ceremonies, how will there be any means of purifying the self? But there is the opportunity to fast on Ekadasi and become free of all one’s past sins. ”O son of Vayu, what more can I say to you? You should not eat during the Ekadasis that occur during the dark and light fortnights, and you should even give up drinking water (nir = no jala= water) on the particularly auspicious Ekadasi day of Jyeshtha-shukla Ekadasi. O Vrikodara (voracious eater), whoever fasts on this Ekadasi receives the merits of bathing in all the places of pilgrimage, giving all kinds of charities to worthy persons, and fasting on all the dark and light Ekadasis throughout the year, in one go. Of this there is no doubt. O tiger among men, whoever fasts on this Ekadasi truly becomes a great person and achieves all manner of opulence and wealth, grains, strength, and health. And at the fearful moment of death, the terrible Yamadutas, whose complexions are yellow and black and who brandish huge maces and twirl mystic pasha ropes in the air for binding their victims, will refuse to approach him. Rather, such a faithful soul will at once be taken to the supreme abode of Lord Vishnu by the Vishnu-dutas, whose transcendentally beautiful forms are clothed in gorgeous yellowish garments and who each hold a disk, club, conch and lotus in their four hands, resembling Lord Vishnu. It is to gain all these benefits that one should certainly fast on this very auspicious and important Ekadasi, even from water.” When the other Pandavas heard about the benefits to be gained by following Jyeshtha-shukla Ekadasi, they resolved to observe it exactly as their grandfather Srila Vyasadeva had explained it to their brother, Bhimasena. All the Pandavas observed it by refraining from eating or drinking anything, and thus this day is also known as Pandava Nirjala Dvadasi (technically it is a Maha-Dvadashi). Srila Vyasadeva continued, O Bhimasena, therefore you should observe this important fast to remove all your past sinful reactions. You should pray to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Sri Krishna in this way making your sankalpa declaration, `O Lord of all the devas (demigods), O Supreme Personality of Godhead, today I shall observe Ekadasi without taking any water. O unlimited Anantadeva, I shall break fast on the next day, Dvadasi.’ Thereafter, to remove all his sins, the devotee should honour this Ekadasi fast with full faith in the Lord and with full control over his senses. Whether his sins are equal in volume to Mount Sumeru or to Mandarachala Hill, if he or she observes this Ekadasi, the sins that have been accumulated all become nullified and are burned to ashes. Such is the great power of this Ekadasi. O best of human beings, although a person should also give water and cows in charity during this Ekadasi, if for some reason or other he cannot, then he should give a qualified brahmanasome cloth or a pot filled with water. Indeed, the merit achieved by giving water alone equals that gained by giving gold ten million times a day. ”O Bhima, Lord Sri Krishna has said that whoever observes this Ekadasi should take a Holy bath, give charity to a worthy person, chant the Lord’s Holy names on a japa-mala, and perform some kind of recommended sacrifice, for by doing these things on this day one receives imperishable benefits. There is no need to perform any other kind of religious duty. Observance of this Ekadasi fast alone promotes one to the supreme abode of Sri Vishnu. O best of the Kurus, if one donates gold, cloth, or anything else on this day, the merit one obtains is imperishable.
“Remember, whosoever eats any grains on Ekadasi becomes contaminated by sin and verily eats only sin. In effect, he has already become a dog-eater, and after death he suffers a hellish existence. But he who observes this sacred Jyeshtha-shukla Ekadasi and gives something in charity certainly achieves liberation from the cycle of repeated birth and death and attains to the supreme abode. Observing this Ekadasi, which is merged with Dvadasi, frees one from the horrible sin of killing a brahmana, drinking liquor and wine, becoming envious of one’s spiritual master and ignoring his instructions, and continually telling lies. ”Furthermore, O best of beings (Jivottama), any man or woman who observes this fast properly and worships the Supreme Lord Jalsayi (He who sleeps on the water), and who on the next day satisfies a qualified brahmanawith nice sweets and a donation of cows and money – such a person certainly pleases the Supreme Lord Vasudeva, so much so that one hundred previous generations in his family undoubtedly go to the Supreme Lord’s abode, even though they may have been very sinful, of bad character, and guilty of suicide, etc. Indeed, one who observes this amazing Ekadasi rides on a glorious celestial airplane (vimana) to the Lord’s abode. ”One who on this day gives a brahmanaa water pot, an umbrella, or shoes surely goes to the heavenly planets. Indeed, he who simply hears these glories also attains to the transcendental abode of the Supreme Lord, Sri Vishnu. Whoever performs the sraddhaceremony to the forefathers on the dark-moon day called amavasya, particularly if it occurs at the time of a solar eclipse undoubtedly achieves great merit. But this same merit is achieved by him who simply hears this sacred narration – so powerful and so dear to the Lord is this Ekadasi. One should clean his teeth properly and, without eating or drinking, observe this Ekadasi to please the Supreme Lord, Kesava. On the day after Ekadasi one should worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His form as Trivikrama by offering Him water, flowers, incense, and a brightly burning lamp. Then the devotee should pray from the heart, ‘O God of gods, O deliverer of everyone, O Hrisikesha, master of the senses, kindly bestow upon me the gift of liberation, though I can offer you nothing greater than this humble pot filled with water.’ Then the devotee should donate the water pot to a brahmana. ”O Bhimasena, after this Ekadasi fast and donating the recommended items according to his ability, the devotee should feed brahmanasand thereafter honour prasadamsilently.” Srila Vyasadeva concluded, “I strongly urge you to fast on this auspicious, purifying, sin-devouring Dvadasi in just the way I have outlined. Thus you will be completely freed of all sins and reach the supreme abode.” Thus ends the narration of the glories of Jyeshtha-shukla Ekadasi, or Bhimaseni-nirjala Ekadasi, from the Brahma-vaivarta Purana.
Yudhisthira Maharaja said, “O Supreme Lord, I have heard the glories of the Nirjala Ekadasi, which occurs during the light fortnight of the month of Jyeshtha (May – June). Now I wish to hear from You about the suddhaEkadasi that occurs during the dark fortnight of the month of Ashadha (June – July). Kindly describe to me all about it in detail, O killer of the Madhu demon (Madhusudana).”
The Supreme Lord, Sri Krishna, then replied, “O king, I shall indeed tell you about the best of all fasting days, the Ekadasi that comes during the dark part of the month of Ashadha. Famous as Yogini Ekadasi, it removes all kinds of sinful reactions and awards supreme liberation. “O best of kings, this Ekadasi delivers people who are drowning in the vast ocean of material existence and transports them to the shore of the spiritual world. In all the three worlds, it is the chief of all sacred fasting days. I shall now reveal this truth to you by narrating a history recounted in the Puranas.
“The king of Alakapuri – Kuvera, the treasurer of the devas (demigods) – was a steadfast devotee of lord Shiva. He employed a servant named Hemamali as his personal gardener. Hemamali, a Yaksha like Kuvera, was very lustfully attracted to his gorgeous wife, Swarupavatii, who had large, enchanting eyes. Hemamali’s daily duty was to visit Manasarovara Lake and bring back flowers for his master, Kuvera, with which he would use them in the puja offerings to lord Shiva. One day, after picking the flowers, Hemamali went to his wife instead of returning directly to his master and fulfilling his duty by bringing the flowers for the puja. Absorbed in loving affairs of a bodily nature with his wife, he forgot to return to the abode of Kuvera.
“O king, while Hemamali was enjoying with his wife, Kuvera had begun the worship of lord Shiva as normal in his palace and soon discovered that there were no flowers ready to be offered in the midday puja. The lack of such an important item (upacara) angered the great Koshad-yaksha (treasurer of the devas) even more, and he asked a Yaksa messenger, ‘Why has dirty-hearted Hemamali not come with the daily offering of flowers? Go find out the exact reason and report back to me in person with your findings.’ The Yaksha returned and told Kuvera, ‘O dear lord, Hemamali has become lost in freely enjoying coitus with his wife.’
“Kuvera became extremely angry when he heard this and at once summoned lowly Hemamali before him. Knowing that he had been remiss and dawdling in his duty and exposed as meditating on his wife’s body, Hemamali approached his master in great fear. The gardener first paid his obeisances and then stood before his lord, whose eyes had become red with anger and whose lips trembled in rage. So enraged, Kuvera cried out to Hemamali, ‘O you sinful rascal! O destroyer of religious principles! You are a walking offense to the devas! I therefore curse you to suffer from white leprosy and to become separated from your beloved wife! Only great suffering is deservedly yours! O lowborn fool, leave this place immediately and betake yourself to the lower planets to suffer!’
“And so Hemamali fell at once from grace in Alakapuri and became ill with the terrible affliction of white leprosy. He awoke in a dense and fearful forest, where there was nothing to eat or drink. Thus he passed his days in misery, unable to sleep at night due to pain. He suffered in both winter and summer season, but because he continued to worship lord Shiva himself with faith, his consciousness remained purely fixed and steady. Although implicated by great sin and its attendant reactions, he remembered his past life because of his piety.
“After wandering for some time here and there, over mountains and across plains, Hemamali eventually came upon the vast expanse of the Himalayan mountain ranges. There he had the wonderful good fortune to come in contact with the great saintly soul Markandeya Rishi, the best of ascetics, whose duration of life it is said, extends to seven of the days of Brahma.
“Markandeya Rishi was seated peacefully at his asrama, looking as effulgent as a second Brahma. Hemamali, feeling very sinful, stood at a distance from the magnificent sage and offered his humble obeisances and choice prayers. Always interested in the welfare of others, Markandeya Rishi saw the leper and called him near, “O you, what sort of sinful deeds have you done to earn this dreadful affliction?’
“Hearing this, Hemamali painfully and ashamed replied, ‘Dear sir, I am a Yaksha servant of lord Kuvera, and my name is Hemamali.
It was my daily service to pick the flowers from the Manasarovara lake for my master’s worship of lord Shiva, but one day I was negligent and was late in returning with the offering because I had become overwhelmed with lusty passion for enjoying bodily pleasures with my wife. When my master discovered why I was late, he cursed me in great anger to be as I am before you.
Thus I am now bereft of my home, my wife, and my service. But fortunately I have come upon you, and now I hope to receive from you an auspicious benediction, for I know that devotees such as you are as merciful as the Supreme Lord (Bhakta Vatsala) and always carry the interest of others uppermost in their hearts. That is their – your nature. O best of sages, please help me!’
“Soft-hearted Markandeya Rishi replied, ‘Because you have told me the truth, I shall tell you about a fast day that will benefit you greatly. If you fast on the Ekadasi that comes during the dark fortnight of the month of Asadha, you will surely be freed of this terrible curse.’
Hemamali fell to the ground in complete gratitude and offered him his humble obeisances again and again. But Markandeya Rishi stood there and lifted poor Hemamali to his feet, filling him with inexpressible happiness.
“Thus, as the sage had instructed him, Hemamali dutifully observed the Ekadasi fast, and by its influence he again became a handsome Yaksha. Then he returned home, where he lived very happily with his wife.”
Lord Sri Krishna concluded, “So, you can readily see, O Yudhishthira that fasting on Yogini Ekadasi is very powerful and auspicious.
Whatever merit one obtains by feeding eighty-eight thousand brahmins is also obtained simply by observing a strict fast on Yogini Ekadasi. For one who fasts on this sacred Ekadasi, she (Ekadasi Devi) destroys heaps of past sinful reactions and makes him most pious. O King, thus I have explained to you the purity of Yogini Ekadasi.”
Thus ends the narration of the glories of Ashadha-krishna Ekadasi, or Yogini Ekadasi, from the Brahma-vaivarta Purana.
The saintly king Yudhishthira Maharaja said, “O Keshava, what is the name of that Ekadasi that occurs during the light fortnight of the month of Ashadha (June – July)? Who is the worshipable Deity for the auspicious day, and what is the process for observing this event?
Lord Krishna replied, “O caretaker of this Earthly planet, I shall gladly tell you a wonderful historical event that the deva lord Brahma once narrated to his son Narada Muni. One day Narada Muni asked his father, ‘What is the name of the Ekadasii that comes during the light part of the month of Asadha’, much as you did? Kindly tell me how I should observe this Ekadasi and thus please the Supreme Lord, Sri Vishnu.’ Lord Brahma replied, ‘O great saintly orator, O best of all sages, O 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-sukla Ekadasi.
‘Fasting on this Ekadasi purifies one of all sins and fulfils all ones desires. Therefore, whoever neglects to observe this sacred fast day is a good candidate for entering into hell. Asadha-sukla Ekadasi is also famous as Padma Ekadasi. Just to please the Supreme Lord Hrisikesa, the master of the senses, one should fast on this day. Listen carefully, O Narada, 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.
‘O son, there was once a saintly king in the Surya Vamsa (Sun dynasty) 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, ‘O 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 lustre, 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-narayana, 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. ‘O 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. O 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 (or head of the country) 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 brahmanas
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, “O 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 fulfils his occupational duties, and only twice-born Brahmins are allowed to perform Vedic austerities and penances.
Although this is a standard, O lion among kings, there is one sudra(uninitiated, untrained person) 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 labourer 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, “O king, you should observe a fast on the Ekadasi that occurs during the light fortnight of the month of Asadha. 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. O 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 brahmanas, ksatriyas, vaisyasand sudrasin 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 Hrisikesa, the master of the senses, all the subjects of King Mandhata became extremely happy and prosperous.
Therefore, O 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. O 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 (demigods). 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 (October – November), because the devas (demigods), being asleep, cannot be invited to the sacrificial arena and because the Sun is traveling along its southern course (dakshinayanam).
“Lord Krishna continued, “O lion among kings, Yudhisthira Maharaja, whoever wants liberation should regularly observe a fast on this Ekadasi which is also the day when the Caturmasya fast begins.
Thus ends the narration of the glories of the Asadha-sukla Ekadasi – also known as Padma Ekadasi or Deva-sayani Ekadasi – from the Bhavisya-uttara Purana.
The saintly king Yudhisthira Maharaja said, “O Supreme Lord, I have heard from You the glories of fasting on Deva-sayani Ekadasi, which occurs during the light fortnight of the month of Ashadha. Now I would like to hear from You the glories of the Ekadasi that occurs during the dark fortnight of the month of Sravana (July -August). O Govindadeva, please be merciful to me and explain its glories. O Supreme Vasudeva, I offer my most humble obeisances unto You.”
The Supreme Lord, Sri Krishna, replied, “O King, please listen attentively as I describe the auspicious influence of this Holy fast (vrata) day, which removes all sins. Narada Muni once asked Lord Brahma about this same topic. ‘O regent of all beings,’ said Naradaji, ‘O you who sit upon a water born lotus throne, please tell me the name of the Ekadasi that occurs during the dark fortnight of the sacred month of Sravana. Please also tell me which Deity is to be worshipped on that Holy day, the process one must follow to observe it, and the merit it awards.’
Lord Brahma replied, ‘My dear son Narada, for the benefit of all humanity I shall happily tell you everything you wish to know, for just hearing the glories of the Kamika Ekadasi bestows merit equal to that obtained by one who performs a horse sacrifice. Certainly, great merit is attained by one who worships, and who also meditates on the lotus feet of the four-armed Lord Gadadhara, who holds conch shell, disc, club and lotus in His hands and who is also known as Sridhara, Hari, Vishnu, Madhava, and Madhusudana. And the blessings achieved by such a person / devotee, who worships Lord Vishnu exclusively are far greater than those achieved by one who takes a sacred bath in the Ganges at Kasi (Varanasi), in the forest of Naimisaranya, or at Pushkara, which is the only place on the planet where I am formally worshipped.
But one who observes this Kamika Ekadasi and also worships Lord Sri Krishna achieves greater merit than one who has darshan of Lord Kedaranatha in the Himalayas, or one who bathes at Kuruksetra during a solar eclipse, or one who donates the whole Earth in charity, including its forests and oceans, or one who bathes in the Gandaki River (where the sacred Saligrams are found) or the Godavari River on a full moon (purnima) day that falls on a Monday when Leo (simha) and Jupiter (guru) are conjoined (conjunct).
‘Observing Kamika Ekadasi bestows the same merit as donating a milk-cow and her auspicious calf, along with their feed. On this all-auspicious day, whosoever worships Lord Sri Sridhara-deva, Vishnu, is glorified by all the devas, Gandharvas, Pannagas, and Nagas. Those who are afraid of their past sins and completely immersed in sinful materialistic life should at least observe this best of Ekadasis according to their ability and thus attain liberation. This Ekadasi is the purest of all days and the most powerful for removing sins of the native.
O Naradaji, Lord Sri Hari Himself once said about this Ekadasi, “One who fasts on Kamika Ekadasi attains much more merit than one who studies all the spiritual literatures. Anyone who fasts on this particular day remains awake throughout the night will never experience the anger of Yamaraja, the king of death personified. It has been seen that whoever observes Kamika Ekadasi will not have to suffer future births, and in the past too, many Yogis of devotion who fasted on this day went to the spiritual world. One should therefore follow in their auspicious footsteps and strictly observe a fast on this most auspicious of Ekadasis.
‘Whosoever worships Lord Sri Hari with tulasileaves is freed from all implication of sin. Indeed, he lives untouched by sin, as the lotus leaf, although in the water, is untouched by it. Whosoever offers Lord Sri Hari but a single leaf from the sacred tulasitree (occillium basilcum sanctum) attains as much merit as one who gives away in charity two hundred grams of gold and eight hundred grams of silver. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is more pleased by one who offers Him a single tulasileaf than by one who worships Him with pearls, rubies, topaz, diamonds, lapis lazuli, sapphires, gomedastones, cat’s eye gems, and coral.
One who offers Lord Keshava newly grown manjaribuds from the tulasi plant gets rid of all the sins he has committed during this or any other lifetime. Indeed, mere darsanaof Tulasi on Kamika Ekadasi removes all sins, and merely touching her and praying to her removes all kinds of disease. One who waters Tulasi-devi need never fear the Lord of death, Yamaraja. One who plants or transplants Tulasi on this days will eventually reside with Lord Sri Krishna in His own abode. To Srimati Tulasi-devi, who awards liberation in devotional service, one should therefore daily offer one’s full obeisances.
‘Even Citragupta, Yamaraja’s secretary, cannot calculate the merit obtained by one who offers Srimati Tulasi-devi a perpetually burning ghee lamp. So dear is this sacred Ekadasi to the Supreme Personality of Godhead that all the forefathers of one who offers a bright ghee lamp to Lord Sri Krishna on this day ascend to the heavenly planets and drink the celestial nectar there. Whoever offers a ghee or sesame oil lamp to Sri Krishna on this day is freed from all his sins and enters the abode of Surya, the Sun-god, with a body as bright as ten million lamps. This Ekadasi is so powerful that if one who is unable to fast simply follows the practices as mentioned herein, s/he is elevated to the heavenly planets, along with all their forefathers.
‘O Maharaja Yudhisthira, Lord Shri Krishna concluded, “…these were the words of prajapathiBrahma to his son Narada Muni concerning the incalculable glories of this Kamika Ekadasi, which removes all sins. This sacred day nullifies even the sin of killing a brahmanaor the sin of killing an unborn child in the womb, and it promotes one to the spiritual world by making one supremely meritorious. One who kills the innocent, i.e., a brahmana, a child in the womb, a pious and spotless woman, etc., and then later hears about the glories of Kamika Ekadasi will be relieved of the reaction to one’s sins. However, one should notthink beforehand that one can kill a Brahmin or other innocent folk and then go unpunished simply by hearing of this Ekadasi. Such knowing commission of sin is an abomination. Whosoever hears these glories of the Kamika Ekadasi with faith becomes free of all sins and returns home, back to Godhead – Vishnu-loka, Vaikuntha.
Thus ends the narration of the glories of the Sravana-krsna Ekadasi, or Kamika Ekadasi, from the Brahma-Vaivarta Purana.
Yudhisthira Maharaja said, “O Madhusudana, O 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 Sravana (July-August).”
The Supreme Lord, Krishna, replied, “Yes, O 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. Puis the name of a particular hell, and trameans ‘to deliver.’ Thus the word putrameans ‘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, Canakya 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, tranquillity 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 endeavour to develop this quality.
Here Canakya 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. O 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 brahmanaadvisers 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 kalpapassed, 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 brahmanaadvisers 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, O 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, O exalted sage, to ask for your help in solving a very serious problem. O 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, O 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 darsana. 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 travelled 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, ‘O 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 Sravana. 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 Sravana 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 Sravana 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 Sravana-sukla Ekadasi, or Putrada Ekadasi, from the Bhavishya Purana.
Yudhisthira Maharaja said, “O Janardana, protector of all living entities, please tell me the name of the Ekadasii that occurs during the dark fortnight of the month of Bhadrapada (August-September).”
The Supreme Lord, Krishna, then replied, “O King, hear me attentively. The name of this sin-removing, sacred Ekadasi is Aja. Any person who fasts completely on this day and worships Hrisikesa, 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. O 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 Hariscandra, who was the emperor of the world and a person of great truth and integrity. His wife’s name was Candramati, and he had a son named Lohit Asva. By the force of destiny, however, Hariscandra 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 brahmanasjust to help others.’ Hariscandra 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 Hariscandra and instructed him on the process of fasting for purification.
“Gautama Muni said, ‘O 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. O Hariscandra, 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 for their vision.
“King Hariscandra followed Gautama Muni’s instructions concerning fasting on the sacred day of Aja Ekadasi. O Maharaja Yudhisthira, because the king fasted on that day, the reactions to his previous sins were completely destroyed at once. O lion among kings, just see the influence of this Ekadasi fast! It immediately vanquishes whatever miseries one maybe suffering as a result of past karmic sinful activities.
Thus all Hariscandra’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 (demigods)began beating on their celestial kettledrums and showering down flowers upon Hariscandra, his queen, and their son. By the blessings of the Ekadasi fast, he regained his kingdom without difficulty. Moreover, when King Hariscandra left the planet, his relatives and all his subjects too, went with him to the spiritual world.
“O 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.”