05.01.16 ۞ Saphalā Ekādaśī ۞

Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja said, “O Śrī Kṛṣṇa, what is the name of that Ekādaśī that occurs during the dark fortnight of the month of Pauṣa (December-January)? How is it observed, and which Deity is to be worshipped on that day? Please narrate these details to me fully, so that I may understand O Janārdana.” 

The Supreme Personality of God Śrī Kṛṣṇa then replied, “O best of kings, because you desire to hear, I shall fully describe to you the glories of the Pauṣa-kṛṣṇa Ekādaśī. 

“I do not become as pleased by sacrifice or charity as I do by My devotee's observance of a full fast on Ekādaśī. To the best of one‟s ability, therefore, one should fast on Ekādaśī, the day of Lord Hari. 

“O Yudhiṣṭhira, I urge you to hear with undivided intelligence the glories of Pauṣa-kṛṣṇa Ekādaśī, which falls on a Dvādasi. As I explained previously, one should not differentiate among the many Ekādaśīs. O king, to benefit humanity at large I shall now describe to you the process of observing Pauṣa-kṛṣṇa Ekādaśī. 

“Pauṣa-kṛṣṇa Ekādaśī is also known as Saphalā Ekādaśī. On this sacred day one should worship Lord Nārāyaṇa, for He is its ruling Deity. One should do so by follow the previously described method of fasting. Just as among snakes Śeṣa-nāga is the best, and among birds Garuḍa is the best, among sacrifices the Aśvamedha-yajña is the best, among rivers Mother Gangā is the best, among gods Lord Viṣṇu is best, and among two-legged beings the brāhmaṇas are the best, so among all fasting days Ekādaśī is by far the best. O foremost of kings who took your birth in the Bharata dynasty, whoever strictly observes Ekādaśī becomes very dear to Me and indeed worshipable by Me in every way. Now listen as I describe the process for observing Saphalā Ekādaśī. 

“On Saphalā Ekādaśī My devotee should worship Me by offering Me fresh fruits according to time, place and circumstance, and by meditating on Me as the all-auspicious Supreme Personality of God. He should offer Me jāmbīra fruit, pomegranate, betal, coconut, guava, varieties of nuts, cloves, mangoes, and different kinds of aromatic spices. He should also offer Me incense and bright ghee lamps, for such an offering of lamps on Saphalā Ekādaśī is especially glorious. The devotee should try to stay awake all night. 

“Now please hear with undivided attention as I tell you how much merit one gets if he fasts and remains awake throughout the entire night singing and chanting the glories of Nārāyaṇa. O best of kings, there is no sacrifice or pilgrimage that yields merit that is equal to or better than the merit one gains by fasting on this Saphalā Ekādaśī. Such fasting – particularly if one can remain awake and alert the entire night long – bestows the same merit upon the faithful devotee as the performance of austerity for five thousand earthly years. O lion among kings, please hear the glorious history of this Ekādaśī. 

“Once there was a city called Campāvati, which was ruled by the saintly King Māhiṣmata. He had four sons, the eldest of whom, Lumpaka, always engaged in very sinful activities – illicit sex with the wives of others, gambling, and continual association with known prostitutes. His evil deeds gradually reduced the wealth of his father, King Māhiṣmata. Lumpaka also became very critical of the demi-gods, and the brāhmaṇas, and every day he would go out of his way to blaspheme the Vaiṣṇavas. At last King Māhishmata, condition of his son, exiled him to the forest. Out of fear of the king, even compassionate relatives did not come to Lumpaka‟s defense, so angry was the king, and so sinful was this Lumpaka. 

“Bewildered in his exile, Lumpaka thought to himself, „My father has sent me away, and even my kinsmen do not raise any objection. What should I to do now?‟ He schemed sinfully and thought, „I shall sneak back to the city under cover of darkness and plunder its wealth. During the day I shall stay in the forest, and at night, I‟ll return to the city.‟ So thinking, Lumpaka entered the dark forest. He killed many animals by day, and by night he stole valuable items from the city. The city-dwellers apprehended him several times, but out of fear of the king they left him alone. They thought to themselves that it must have been the sins of his previous births that had made him lose his royal facilities and act so sinfully. 

“Though a meat-eater, Lumpaka would also eat fruits every day. He resided under an old banyan tree that happened to be very dear to Lord Vāsudeva. Indeed, many worshipped it as the demi-god of all the trees in the forest. In due course of time, while Lumpaka was doing so many sinful and condemnable activities, the Saphalā Ekādaśī arrived. On the eve of the Ekādaśī (Daśamī) Lumpaka had to pass the entire night without sleep because of the severe cold and his scanty bedclothes. The cold not only robbed him of all peace but almost killed him. By the time the sun rose, his teeth chattering and he was almost comatoseand during the morning of that day, Ekādaśī, he could not awaken from his stupor. 

“When midday of the Saphalā Ekādaśī arrived, the sinful Lumpaka finally came to and managed to rise up from his place under that banyan tree. But with every step he took, he stumbled to the ground. Like a lame man, he walked slowly and hesitantly, suffering greatly from hunger and thirst in the midst of the jungle. So weak was Lumpaka that he could not kill even a single animal that day. Instead, he was reduced to collecting whatever fruits had fallen to the ground. By the time he returned to the banyan tree, the sun had set. 

“Placing the fruits on the ground next to him, Lumpaka began to cry out, „O, woe is me ! What should I do? Dear father, what is to become of me? O Śrī Hari, please be merciful to me and accept these fruits as an offering!‟ Again he was forced to lie awake the whole night without sleep, but in the meantime the Supreme Personality of God, Madhusūdana, had become pleased with Lumpaka‟s offering of forest fruits, and He accepted them. Lumpaka had unwittingly observed a full Ekādaśī fast, and by the merit he reaped on that day he regained his kingdom with no further obstacles. 

“Listen, O Yudhiṣṭhira, to what happened to the son of King Māhiṣmata when but a fragment of the merit spouted up within his heart. 

“As the sun beautifully rose in the sky on the day following Ekādaśī, a handsome horse approached Lumpaka, and stood next to him. At the same time, a voice suddenly boomed out from the clear blue sky, „This horse is for you, Lumpaka! Mount it and ride swiftly out of this forest to greet you family! O son of King Māhiṣmata, by the mercy of Lord Vāsudeva and the strength of the merit you acquired by observing Saphalā Ekādaśī, your kingdom will be returned to you without any further hindrances. Such is the benefit you have gained by fasting on this most auspicious of days. Go now, to you father and enjoy your rightful place in the dynasty.‟

“Upon hearing these celestial words resounding from above, Lumpaka mounted the horse and rode back to the city of Campāvati. By the merit he had accrued by fasting on Saphalā Ekādaśī, he had become a handsome prince once more and was able to absorb his mind in the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of God, Hari. In other words, he had become My pure devotee.

“Lumpaka offered his father, King Māhiṣmata, his humble obeisances and once more accepted his princely responsibilities. Seeing his son so decorated with Vaiṣṇava ornaments and tilak King Māhiṣmata gave him the kingdom, and Lumpaka ruled unopposed for many, many years. Whenever the Ekādaśī came, he worshipped the Supreme Lord with great devotion. And by the mercy of Śrī Kṛṣṇa he obtained a beautiful wife and a fine son. In old age Lumpaka handed his kingdom over to his son – just as his own father, King Māhiṣmata, had handed it over to him-and went to the forest to serve the Supreme Lord with controlled mind and senses. Purified of all material desires, he left his body and returned back to home, back to God, attaining a place near the lotus feet of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa.

“O Yudhiṣṭhira, one who approaches Me as Lumpaka did will become completely free of lamentation and anxiety. Indeed, anyone who properly observes this glorious Saphalā Ekādaśī – even unknowingly, like Lumpaka – will become famous in this world. He will become perfectly liberated at death and return to Vaikuṇṭha. Of this there is no doubt. Moreover, one who simply hears the glories of Saphalā Ekādaśī obtains the same merit derived by one who performs a Rājasūrya-yajña, and at the very least he goes to heaven in his next birth.”

Thus ends the Vṛjavāsī narration of the glories of Pauṣa-kṛṣṇa Ekādaśī, or Saphalā Ekādaśī, from the Bhaviṣya-uttara Purāṇa.

Text taken from Ekādaśī - The Day of Lord Hari, Mahāmandelswar Mahant, Kṛṣṇa Balarām Swāmi