Saphala Ekadasi


Yudhisthira Maharaja said, “O Sri Krsna, what is the name of that Ekadasi that occurs during the dark fortnight of the month of Pausa (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 Janardana.”

The Supreme Personality of God Sri Krsna then replied, “O best of kings, because you desire to hear, I shall fully describe to you the glories of the Pausa-Krsna Ekadasi.

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

“O Yudhisthira, I urge you to hear with undivided intelligence the glories of Pausa-Krsna Ekadasi, which falls on a Dvadasi. As I explained previously, one should not differentiate among the many Ekadasis. O king, to benefit humanity at large I shall now describe to you the process of observing Pausa-Krsna Ekadasi.

“Pausa-Krsna Ekadasi is also known as Saphala Ekadasi. On this sacred day one should worship Lord Narayana, for He is its ruling Deity. One should do so by follow the previously described method of fasting. Just as among snakes Sesa-naga is the best, and among birds Garuḍa is the best, among sacrifices the Asvamedha-yajna is the best, among rivers Mother Ganga is the best, among gods Lord Visnu is best, and among two-legged beings the brahmanas are the best, so among all fasting days Ekadasi is by far the best. O foremost of kings who took your birth in the Bharata dynasty, whoever strictly observes Ekadasi becomes very dear to Me and indeed worshipable by Me in every way. Now listen as I describe the process for observing Saphala Ekadasi.

“On Saphala Ekadasi 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 jambira 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 Saphala Ekadasi 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 Narayana. 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 Saphala Ekadasi. 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 Ekadasi.

“Once there was a city called Campavati, which was ruled by the saintly King Mahismata. 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 Mahismata. Lumpaka also became very critical of the demi-gods, and the brahmanas, and every day he would go out of his way to blaspheme the Vaisnavas. At last King Mahishmata, 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 Vasudeva. 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 Saphala Ekadasi arrived. On the eve of the Ekadasi (Dasami) 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, Ekadasi, he could not awaken from his stupor.

“When midday of the Saphala Ekadasi 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 Sri 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, Madhusudana, had become pleased with Lumpaka‟s offering of forest fruits, and He accepted them. Lumpaka had unwittingly observed a full Ekadasi fast, and by the merit he reaped on that day he regained his kingdom with no further obstacles.

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

“As the sun beautifully rose in the sky on the day following Ekadasi, 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 Mahismata, by the mercy of Lord Vasudeva and the strength of the merit you acquired by observing Saphala Ekadasi, 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 Campavati. By the merit he had accrued by fasting on Saphala Ekadasi, 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 Mahismata, his humble obeisance and once more accepted his princely responsibilities. Seeing his son so decorated with Vaisnava ornaments and tilak King Mahismata gave him the kingdom, and Lumpaka ruled unopposed for many, many years. Whenever the Ekadasi came, he worshipped the Supreme Lord with great devotion. And by the mercy of Sri Krsna 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 Mahismata, 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 Sri Krsna.

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

Thus ends the Vrjavasi narration of the glories of Pausa-Krsna Ekadasi, or Saphala Ekadasi, from the Bhavisya-uttara Purana.

A transcript from the holy books.


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