28.06.19 ۞ Yoginī Ekādaśī ۞

Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja said, "O Supreme Lord, I have heard the glories of the Nirjalā Ekādaśī, which occurs during the light fortnight of the month of Jyeṣṭha. Now I wish to hear from You about the Ekādaśī that occurs during the dark fortnight of the month of Āṣāḍha (June - July). Kindly describe to me all about it in detail, O killer of the Madhu demon." 

The Supreme Lord, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, then replied, "O king, I shall indeed tell you about the best of all fasting days, the Ekādaśī that comes during the dark part of the month of Āṣāḍha. Famous as Yoginī Ekādaśī, it removes all kinds of sinful reactions and awards supreme liberation. 

"O best of kings, this Ekādaśī 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 Purāṇas. 

"The king of Alakāpuri - Kuvera, the treasurer of the demigods - was a steadfast devotee of lord Śiva. He employed a servant named Hemamālī as his personal gardener. Hemamālī, a Yakṣa like Kuvera, was very lustfully attracted to his gorgeous wife, Swarūpavatī, who had large, enchanting eyes. 

" Hemamālī‟s daily duty was to visit Mānasarovara Lake and bring back flowers for his master, Kuvera, with which he would use them in the puja offerings to lord Śiva. One day, after picking the flowers, Hemamālī 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 Hemamālī was enjoying with his wife, Kuvera had begun the worship of lord Śiva as normal in his palace and soon discovered that there were no flowers ready to be offered in the midday pūjā. The lack of such an important item angered the great demigod even more, and he asked a Yakṣa messenger, „Why has dirty-hearted Hemamālī 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 Yakṣa returned and told Kuvera, „O dear lord, Hemamālī is freely enjoying sex with his wife.‟ 

"Kuvera became extremely angry when he heard this and at once summoned lowly Hemamālī before him. Knowing that he had been remiss and dawdling in his duty and exposed as meditating on his wife‟s body, Hemamālī 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 Hemamālī, „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 Hemamālī fell at once from grace in Alakāpurī 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 Śiva 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, Hemamālī eventually came upon the vast Himalayan mountain ranges. There he had the wonderful good fortune to come upon the great saint Mārkaṇḍeya Ṛṣi, the best of ascetics, whose duration of life it is said, extends to seven of the days of Brahmā. Mārkaṇḍeya Ṛṣi was seated peacefully at his āśrāma, looking as effulgent as a second Brahmā. Hemamālī, 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, Mārkaṇḍeya Ṛṣi saw the leper and called him near, "O you, what sort of sinful deeds have you done to earn this dreadful affliction?‟ 

"Hearing this, Hemamālī replied, „Dear sir, I am a Yakṣa servant of Lord Kuvera, and my name is Hemamālī. It was my daily service to pick the flowers from the Mānasarovara Lake for my master‟s worship of Lord Śiva, 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. 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 and always carry the interest of others uppermost in their hearts. That is their nature. O best of sages, please help me!‟ 

"Softhearted Mārkaṇḍeya Ṛṣi 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 Ekādaśī that comes during the dark fortnight of the month of Āṣāḍha, you will surely be freed of this terrible curse.‟ Upon hearing these blessed words from the renowned sage, Hemamālī fell to the ground in complete gratitude and offered him his humble obeisances again and again. But Mārkaṇḍeya Ṛṣi stood there and lifted Hemamālī up, filling him with inexpressible happiness. 

"Thus, as the sage had instructed him, Hemamālī dutifully observed the Ekādaśī fast, and by its influence he again became a handsome Yakṣa. Then he returned home, where he lived very happily with his wife." 

Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa concluded, "So, you can readily see, O Yudhiṣṭhira that fasting on Yoginī Ekādaśī is very powerful and auspicious. Whatever merit one obtains by feeding eighty-eight thousand pious brāhmaṇas is also obtained simply by observing a strict fast on Yoginī Ekādaśī. For one who fasts on this sacred Ekādaśī, she destroys heaps of past sinful reactions and makes him most pious. O King, thus I have explained to you the purity of Yoginī Ekādaśī." 

Thus ends the Vṛjavāsī narration of the glories of Āṣāḍha-kṛṣṇa Ekādaśī, or Yoginī Ekādaśī, from the Brahmā-vaivarta Purāṇa.