In the Satya-yuga there once lived an amazing fearsome demon called Mura. Always very angry, he terrified all the demigods, defeating even Indra, the king of heaven; Vivasvan, the sun-god; the eight Vasus; Lord Brahma; Vayu, the wind-god; and Agni, the fire-god. With his terrible power he brought them all under his control. Then the demigods approached Lord Visnu, and prayed to Him for help. Hearing the prayers and request from Indra, Lord Visnu became very angry and said: “O powerful demigods, all together you may now advance on Mura’s capital city of Candravati.” Encouraged thus, the assembled demigods proceeded to Candravati with Lord Hari leading the way. Then there was a big fight between the soldiers of Mura and the demigods. Many hundreds of demons were killed by the Lord’s hand. At last the chief demon, Mura, began fighting with the Lord, first with weapons, then with bare hands. The Lord wrested with Mura for one thousand celestial years and then, apparently fatigued, left for Badarika-asrama. There He entered a very beautiful cave, named Himavati, to rest. The demon followed Him into the cave, and, seeing Him asleep, started thinking within his heart: “Today I will kill this slayer of all demons, Hari.” While the wicked demon Mura was making plans in this way, from Lord Visnu’s body there manifested a young girl who had a very bright complexion. Mura saw that she was equipped with various brilliant weapons and was ready to fight. Challenged by that female to do battle, Mura prepared himself and then fought with her, but he became very astonished when he saw that she fought with him without cessation. The king of demons then said: “Who has created this angry, fearsome girl who is fighting me so powerfully, just like a thunderbolt falling upon me?” After saying this, the demon continued to fight with the girl. Suddenly that effulgent goddess shattered all of Mura’s weapons and in a moment deprived him of his chariot. He ran toward her to attack her with his bare hands, but when she saw him coming she angrily cut off his head. Thus the demon at once fell to the ground and went to the abode of Yamaraja. Then the Supreme Lord woke up and saw the dead demon before Him, as well as the maiden bowing down to Him with joined palms. The Lord, being pleased with the girl, offered to give her a boon. The maiden said: “O Lord, if You are pleased with me and wish to give me a boon, then give me the power to deliver from the greatest sins that person who fasts on this day. I wish that half the pious credit obtained by one who fasts will acrue to one who eats only in the evening [abstaining from grains and beans], and that half of *this* pious credit will be earned by one who eats only at midday. Also, one who strictly observes a complete fast on my appearance day, with controlled senses, goes to the abode of Lord Visnu for one billion kalpas after he has enjoyed all kinds of pleasures in this world. This is the boon I desire to attain by Your mercy, my Lord. O Lord, whether a person observes complete fasting, eats only in the evening, or eats only at midday, please grant him a religious attitude, wealth, and at last liberation.” The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: “O most pious lady, what you have requested is granted. All My devotees in this world will surely fast on your day, and thus they will become famous throughout the three worlds and finally come and stay with Me in My abode. Because you, My transcendental potency, have appeared on the eleventh day of the waning moon, let your name be Ekadasi. If a person fasts on Ekadasi, I will burn up all his sins and bestow upon him My transcendental abode.”
Prabhupada’s Lectures, Srimad-Bhagavatam 1969.
So, paravare brahmani dharmato vrataih. So one should execute Krsna consciousness, dharmato, in right path, and vrataih. Bhajante mam drdha-vratah. Just like today,# ekadasi-vrata. Vrataih. This ekadasi-vrata is required. Just see. Here it is that You have performed all the vratas.’ The purpose of ekadasi-vrata is that today we should not eat much usual food, grains. The actual prescription is fasting. Nirjala ekadasi. Nirjala means there are many devotees who does not take even water. Water, drinking water, according to sastra, it is taking food… It is drinking of food or no food. We can take both ways. So sometimes drinking of water is excused as upavasa also. But there are many devotees who even…, drink even a drop of water. Whole day and night they fast and observed ekadasi-vrata. And the night is called harivasa. Harivasa means the whole night they would chant Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama… This is called vrata. Drdha-vrata. Drdha-vrata.Drdha means very firm, steady. Krsna is so kind that He has given us so many concession. But we should be… Because there are some concession, better we should not take advantage of the concession, but we should be very steady and strong in our conviction and perform devotional service strictly. That is nice. Vrataih. Srimad-Bhagavatam Canto 9: Chapter Four, Text 29 PURPORT To observe Ekadasi-vrata and Dvadasi-vrata means to please the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Those interested in advancing in Krsna consciousness must observe Ekadasi-vrata regularly. The Story of Ekadasi (This article was originally written in 1956 by Sri Navincandra Cakravarti, a disciple of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura and in 1979 translated into English by Vyenkata dasa brahmacari.) Many devotees are very inquisitive about the appearance of Sri Ekadasi and about her special characteristics. Therefore I am presenting this description from the fourteenth chapter of the Padma Purana, from the section entitled “Kriya-sagara-sara.” Once the great sage Jaimini Rsi said to his spiritual master Srila Vyasadeva, “Oh Gurudeva! Previously, by your mercy, you described to me the history of the glories of the Ganga river, the benefits of worshipping Vishnu, the giving of grains in charity, the giving of water in charity, and the magnanimity of drinking the water that has washed the feet of the brahmanas. O best of the sages, Sri Gurudeva, now, with great enthusiasm, I desire to hear the benefits of fasting on Ekadasi and the appearance of Ekadasi. kasmad ekadasi jata tasyah ko va vidhir dvija kada va kriyate kim va phalam kim va vadasva me ka va pujyatama tatra devata sad-gunarnava akurvatah syat ko dosa etan me vaktum arhasi “Oh Gurudeva! When did Ekadasi take birth and from whom did she appear? What are the rules of fasting on the Ekadasi? Please describe the benefits of following this vow and when it should be followed. Who is the utmost worshippable presiding deity of Sri Ekadasi? What are the faults in not following Ekadasi properly? Please bestow your mercy upon me and tell about these subjects, as you are the only personality able to do so.” Srila Vyasadeva, upon hearing this enquiry of Jaimini Rsi, became situated in transcendental bliss. “Oh brahmana sage Jaimini! The results of following Ekadasi can only be perfectly described by the Supreme Lord, Narayana, because Sri Narayana is the only personality capable of describing them in full. But I will give a very brief description in answer to your question.” “At the beginning of the material creation, the Supreme Lord created the moving and nonmoving living entities within this world made of five gross material elements. Simultaneously, for the purpose of punishing the humans beings, He created a personality whose form was the embodiment of sin (Papapurusha). The different limbs of this personality were constructed of the various sinful activities. His head was made of the sin of murdering a brahmana, his two eyes were the form of the sin of drinking intoxicants, his mouth was made of the sin of stealing gold, his ears were the form of the sin of having illicit connection with the spiritual master’s wife, his nose of the sin of killing one’s wife, his arms the form of the sin of killing a cow, his neck made of the sin of stealing accumulated wealth, his chest of the sin of abortion, his lower chest of the sin of having sex with another’s wife, his stomach of the sin of killing one’s relatives, his navel of the sin of killing those who are dependent on him, his waist of the sin of self appraisal, his thighs of the sin of offending the guru, his genital of the sin of selling one’s daughter, his buttocks of the sin of telling confidential matters, his feet of the sin of killing one’s father, and his hair the form of lesser, less severe sinful activities. In this way, a horrible personality embodying all the sinful activities and vices was created. His bodily colour is black, and his eyes are yellow. He inflicts extreme misery upon sinful persons.” “The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Vishnu, upon seeing this personality of sin, began to think to Himself as follows: ‘I am the creator of the miseries and happiness for the living entities. I am their master because I have created this personality of sin, who gives distress to all dishonest, deceitful, and sinful persons. Now I must create someone who will control this personality.’ At this time Sri Bhagavan created the personality known as Yamaraj and the different hellish planetary systems. Those living entities who are very sinful will be sent after death to Yamaraj, who will in turn, according to their sins, send them to a hellish region to suffer. “After these adjustments had been made, the Supreme Lord, who is the giver of distress and happiness to the living entities, went to the house of Yamaraj, with the help of Garuda, the king of birds. When Yamaraj saw that Lord Vishnu had arrived, he immediately washed His feet and made an offering unto Him. He then had Him sit upon a golden throne. The Supreme Lord, Vishnu, became seated on the throne, Where upon He heard very loud crying sounds coming from the southern direction. He became surprised by this and thus enquired from Yamaraj, ‘From where is this loud crying coming?’ “Yamaraj in reply said, ‘Oh Deva! The different living entities of the earthly planetary systems have fallen into the hellish regions. They are suffering extremely for their misdeeds. The horrible crying is because of suffering from the inflictions of their past bad karma (actions).’ “After hearing this the Supreme Lord, Vishnu, went to the hellish region to the south. When the inhabitants saw who had come they began to cry even louder. The heart of the Supreme Lord, Vishnu, became filled with compassion. Lord Vishnu thought to Himself, ‘I have created all this progeny, and it is because of Me that they are suffering.'” Srila Vyasadeva continued: “Oh Jaimini, just listen to what the Supreme Lord did next. etac canyac ca viprarse vicintya karunamayah babhuva sahasa tatra svayam ekadasi tithih ‘After the merciful Supreme Lord thought over what He had previously considered, He suddenly manifested from His own form the deity of the lunar day Ekadasi.’ Afterwards the different sinful living entities began to follow the vow of Ekadasi and were then elevated quickly to the abode of Vaikuntha. Oh my child Jaimini, therefore the lunar day of Ekadasi is the selfsame form of the Supreme Lord, Vishnu, and the Supersoul within the heart of the living entities. Sri Ekadasi is the utmost pios activity and is situated as the haed among all vows. “Following the ascension of Sri Ekadasi, that personality who is the form of the sinful activity gradually saw the influence she had. He approached Lord Vishnu with doubts in his heart and began offering many prayers, whereupon Lord Vishnu became very pleased and said, ‘ I have become very pleased by your nice offerings. What boon is it that you want?’ “The Papapurusha replied, ‘I am your created progeny, and it is through me that you wanted distress given to the living entities who are very sinful. But now, by the influence of Sri Ekadasi, I have become all but destroyed. Oh Prabhu! After I die all of Your parts and parcels who have accepted material bodies will become liberated and therefore return to the abode of Vaikuntha. If this liberation of all living entities takes place, then who will carry on Your activities? There will be no one to enact the pastimes in the earthly planetary systems! Oh Keshava! If You want these eternal pastimes to carry on, then You please save me from the fear of Ekadasi. No type of pious activity can bind me. But Ekadasi only, being Your own manifested form, can impede me. Out of fear of Sri Ekadasi I have fled and taken shelter of men; animals; insects; hills; trees; moving and nonmoving living entities; rivers; oceans; forests; heavenly, earthly, and hellish planetary systems; demigods; and the Gandarvas. I cannot find a place where I can be free from fear of Sri Ekadasi. Oh my Master! I am a product of Your creation, so therefore very mercifully direct me to a place where I can reside fearlessly.’ Srila Vyasadeva then said to Jaimini, “After saying this, the embodiment of all sinful activities (Papapurusha) fell down at the feet of the Supreme Lord, Vishnu, who is the destroyer of all miseries and began to cry. “After this, Lord Vishnu, observing the condition of the Papapurusha with laughter, began to speak thus: ‘Oh Papapurusha! Rise up! Don’t lament any longer. Just listen, and I’ll tell you where you can stay on the auspicious lunar day of Ekadasi. On the day of Ekadasi, which is the benefactor of the three worlds, you can take shelter of foodstuff in the form of grains. There is no reason to worry about this any more, because My form as Sri Ekadasi Devi will no longer impede you.’ After giving direction to the Papapurusha, the Supreme Lord, Vishnu, disappeared and the Papapurusha returned to the performance of his own activities. “Therefore those persons who are serious about the ultimate benefit for the soul will never eat grains on the Ekadasi tithi. According to the instructions of Lord Vishnu, every kind of sinful activity that can be found in the material world takes its residence in this place of foodstuff (grain). Whoever follows Ekadasi is freed from all sins and never enters into hellish regions. If one doesn’t follow Ekadasi because of illusion, he is still considered the utmost sinner. For every mouthful of grain that is eaten by a resident of the earthly region, one receives the effect of kiling millions of brahmanas. It is definately necessary that one give up eating grains on Ekadasi. I very strongly say again and again, ‘On Ekadasi, don’t eat grains, don’t eat grains, don’t eat grains!’ Whether one be a ksatriya, vaisya, shudra, or of any family, he should follow the lunar day of Ekadasi. From this the perfection of varna and ashram will be attained. Especially since even if one by trickery follows Ekadasi, all of his sin become destroyed and he very easily attains the supreme goal, the abode of Vaikuntha.”