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Home » Religion - Purana & Ithihas - Narada Purana Story about Ekadasi Fasting, involving Yama Dharmaraja!
A story from Narada Purana
By Gopala Krishnan (AGM BSNL Trivandrum retd)
How Important is Ekadasi, its signifincance & How one gets Salvation - Moksha by fasting on Ekadasy day!
1. Yama Dharma Raja and Chitragupta keep seated with saddened looks
Reason was nothing else. For a long time there is no soul in Yamaloka. All the hells became devoid of sinful beings. The frightening, thorn-filled pathway leading to Yama Dharma Raja's hall was empty of all beings.
Yama Dharma Raja and Chithraguptha were worried how they could simply take payments with out doing any job. If a single soul would have arrived they could have got a sigh of relief at least.
2. King Rukmangada and Ekadasi Vratha
In the earth king Rukmangada was ruling .His queen was Sandhya vali. His son crowned as junior prince was Dharmangada.
Rukmangada was very specific that all praja should observe Ekadasi Vratha. On account of this every body met with death had his reserved seat in the straight flight to Vaikunda from Earth. Even there was no transit at Devaloka. This was the reason for the sadness of Yama Dharma Raja and his assistant Chitragupta.
It was a standing rule in the kingdom of Rukmangada that all citizens observe Ekadasi vow without fail. When Ekadashi arrived the king would despatch his soldiers and Brahmins to all parts of the kingdom. They would go out with elephants bearing great drums that were beaten with a thunderous sound. The royal messengers would then loudly declare, oTomorrow is the day of Sri Maha Vishnu. If any foolish person over the age of eight and under eighty-five takes food grains, he or she will be punished severely.
Everyone had given up all religious rituals except the vow of Ekadashi. They made no offerings to their ancestors, nor gave charitable gifts, visited pilgrimage sites or performed any other rite. They simply fasted on Sri Maha Vishnu's day and thereby achieved all success in life.
3. Sage Narada overview situation
In the course of his cosmic travels the sage Narada observed that heaven and hell had become empty. He made a visit to Yama Dharma Raja to understand his future plan if any or as usual to propose a troublesome one.
Yama Dharma Raja discussed situation with sage Narada. Yama Dharma Raja told the sage about Rukmangada's edict regarding Ekadashi. oChitragupta and the other writers are taking rest and I sit here like a wooden deer. I have lost all desire for my post as the world's guardian.�
Yama Dharma Raja informed Narada that he intended to visit Brahma, the lord of all the gods. oI shall apprise him of my plight and seek his assistance. Soon I shall be the sole resident of hell. Narada made a big laugh at Yama Dharma Raja's last remark like all of us. Narada understood Yama Dharma Raja is already decided on his visit.
4. Yama Dharma Raja goes to meet Brahma with Narada and Chitragupta
Yama Dharma Raja rose from his throne and departed for Brahma's planet. He ordered Chitragupta to follow with the sage. As such behind him followed both Narada and Chitragupta.
Like a bashful bride Yama Dharma Raja entered in amongst all these beings and went before Lord Brahma with head bent, looking down at the floor.
What is this? How is the son of the Sun god here? He is never idle even for a moment. How too is his clerk Chitragupta present here? He has no seconds to leave the record book. He is empty handed here. Every body present wondered.
5. Yama Dharma Raja describe the situation to Brahma
Yama Dharma Raja fell flat before Brahma, like a tree cut at its root and practically unconscious. The powerful wind-god Vayu raised him up sprinkled water on his face. He was present in the Brahma sabha among others. Chithra guptha assisted him. Vayu pacified him and said, Who has attacked you? How have you been displaced from your kingdom and sent here? Tell us everything.
Yama Dharma Raja looked up and addressed Brahma in a voice choked with tears. I have today been overpowered by King Rukmangada.
On the mention of Rukmangada's name a murmur went around the assembly. His fame had reached to Brahma's abode also. Yama Dharma Raja described how the people had abandoned all other religious practices except the Ekadashi vow.
He sadly intimated "the dead go without fail to Vaikuntha, taking with them their fathers, grandfathers, mother's fathers and three full generations of ancestors. Even those already in hell were quickly released and on account of this his palace make a barren look.
Yama Dharma Raja begged Brahma to take action. Otherwise everyone in the whole world would be transported to Vaikuntha thanks to Rukmangada.
6. Brahma create junior Satrupa
The four-headed Brahma smiled down at Yama Dharma Raja. It is no wonder that all men are bypassing you to reach Sri Maha Vishnu's abode. No matter how sinful, if one remembers the Lord's name at death he is liberated from the bondage of worldly existence. What wonder is there then that one gets liberation by fasting on Sri Maha Vishnu' day?
I may be able to help you with the devotees of Shiva or Surya or my own devotees, but never with those of Hari. He is the Lord of all.
Brahma again said, I do not know if I can assist you. It may even destroy my own body if I try. My very post as Brahma has been earned by associating with Sri Maha Vishnu's devotees.
Yama Dharma Raja was disconsolate. He felt unable to return to his post. Yama Dharma Raja pleaded oI cannot discharge my duty while Rukmangada rules over the world. If you can somehow shake him from his courageous resolve I shall feel that all my ends are achieved.
Brahma sat in meditation for some moments. Suddenly from out of his form there appeared a celestial maiden of resplendent beauty. She marvelled Satrupa. Brahma told her she is Mohini.
She glanced about here and there enchanting all who saw her. Everyone in the assembly gazed at her with unblinking eyes, but Brahma closed his own eyes and endeavoured strongly to control his mind. He did not want to create a scene as in the case of Satrupa and well remembered his loss of 5th head.
Brahma took courage and opened his eyes to speak with the girl. oFair complexioned lady, I have mentally created you in order to madden men's minds.
The maiden bowed to Brahma and said, Surely it is so. Just see the entire universe bewildered and falling into senselessness simply upon seeing me. Even among yogis and sages there is no man who will not be agitated when his eyes fall upon me.
7. Brahma commands Mohini.
She asked Brahma to command her. Tell me who I should delude and consider it done. Even a stone will become infatuated upon seeing me, what then of a man?
Brahma smiled. You have spoken the truth. There is nothing you cannot achieve. You are attracting even my mind despite my steadying it with the perfect knowledge. Upon seeing you the very universe has become motionless.
Brahma instructed her to go to the earth and appear before Rukmangada. She would find him on Mount Mandara. There you should wait, playing upon your flute and singing. Enchanted by that song king Rugmangada will come to you, most beautiful one, desiring your hand. Then you must make a request of him.
8. Brahma's instructions to Mohini
Brahma instructed Mohini to accept the king's proposal of marriage, but only on condition that he promised to do whatever she asked of him. "He will not refuse and when the time is right.
Brahma told her that she should then ask Rukmangada to give up fasting and practising severe vows on Ekadashi, telling him that it is a hindrance to their relationship.
Brahma also told her about the king's son, Dharmangada. He surpassed even his illustrious father. The prince had conquered the entire universe, bringing all beings under his father's sway. He is dearer to Rukmangada than his own life.
Brahma continued, "Dear Lady, if the king refuses your request to give up his vows on Ekadashi then you should ask for Dharmangada's head."
Brahma told her to set off on her mission. As she left he thought with in his mind "Either the king shall abide her by desire and the people will again approach Yama Dharma Raja, or he will slay his son and go with him to Sri Maha Vishnu's immortal abode."
Brahma was not sure to give a positive reply to Yama Dharma Raja. Mohini departed and Yama Dharma Raja felt sure his problem would soon be solved though Brahma did not say any thing else. Yama Dharma Raja had a personal experience in this case. That story of Yama Dharma Raja and his human wife we will read later.
9. Rukmangada desire to go over to Mandara Mountains
On earth King Rukmangada called for his son Dharmangada. He said, "I have discharged my duties as king. All men are attaining salvation and the earth prospers. I wish now to go to Mandara Mountain and enjoy some rest in that celestial region.
The king entrusted the kingdom to him and Dharmangada replied, "Enjoy whatever pleasures you desire. Surely I shall bear the heavy burden of your kingdom, ensuring that all your edicts are kept. No other holy virtue appeals to me other than following your directives. The prince bowed and touched his father's feet.
10. Dharmangada refresh orders
Dharmangada summoned the leading citizens and said, "While I hold the rod of justice even Yama Dharma Raja cannot be the chastiser. Always do your duty and remember Lord Sri Maha Vishnu. Do not take food on Sri Maha Vishnu's day. In this way be happy in this life and go to Vaikuntha after death."
The prince ruled the kingdom exactly as his father had done. A steady stream of souls continued to rise up to Vaikuntha, while Yama Dharma Raja waited patiently for Mohini to exert her irresistible charms on Rukmangada.
11. Rukmangada starts to Mandara Mountains
The king took leave from his queen Sandhyavali. The queen requested non-violance from the king while in the forest. He said, "I have no desire to slay animals. My wish is only to protect the sages in the forest and to get their holy company. Hunting is merely a pretext for me."
"We ride for Mandara Mountain." He told soldiers following him. Spurring on his horse, Rukmangada went at such a speed that no one could keep pace with him.
It was a four or five-day ride to Mandara Mountain but the king arrived there within a single day. Brahma knowing the pathetic condition of Yama Dharma Raja made his horse runs like a super fast train. He reached a beautiful hermitage at the foot of the mountain, which abounded in flowering and fruit-laden trees.
12. Rukmangada goes to hermitage of sage Vamadeva
He went into the hermitage and saw the lustrous sage Vamadeva who was surrounded by thousands of disciples. The sage resembled a blazing fire covered by countless sparks and Rukmangada immediately fell flat before him.
Vamadeva offered blessings and said to his disciples, "Here is the Emperor Rukmangada. Offer him due respects." After worships sage Vamadeva told him "I think it is I who am blessed by your presence. You are a highly praiseworthy Vaishnava. What other king on earth could vanquish Yama Dharma Raja and lead the entire world to Vaikuntha? The path to hell is empty and desolate as a result of your great deeds."
Vamadeva praised the king at length. Rukmangada was a rare soul, a great exemplar among monarchs. As desired by the king his past story was told to the king.
The sage Vamadeva blessed the king and told him to go to wherever pleased him. Rukmangada bowed before the sage and took his leave, riding out toward the great Mandara hill.
13. King Rukmangada meet Mohini
The king dismounted from his horse and made his way up the mountain, his mind intoxicated by the sights and sounds around him. As he went higher he became aware of a divine voice singing a bewitching song entering a delightful bower he saw that all creatures there were motionless, enchanted by the music.
In the centre of the bower sat Mohini, her lustrous beauty appearing to illuminate the whole region. As she played upon her lute she glanced up shyly at the king and quickly looked down again. She was worshipping a Shiva-lingam.
Getting to his feet he approached Mohini, who threw him sidelong glances. She stopped singing and smiled at the king. Shaking off the bees that were attracted by the fragrance of her breath, she stood up to greet him. Mesmerised by her graceful movements, he stood staring as she spoke to him.
14. Mohini welcome king Rukmangada
Mohini said, "Mohini understood the kings feelings at once . Welcome, king. Know me to be under your control. I am willing to become your partner. After giving me what I desire you may accept me as yours."
Mohini spoke in a soft voice. "My dear king, I do not wish for the earth or all its treasures. You, who are famous for your truthfulness, need only promise to carry out my desire at the time when I choose to ask."
15. Rukmangadha marry Mohini Gandharva way
The king's eyes expanded in delight. "Consider it done, most beautiful maiden. Never have I uttered a lie, even in jest."
He solemnly held out his right hand. "I have come here only for your sake, great king. Born of the god Brahma, I heard of your fame and glory in his mansion. Immediately I came here, forsaking even the gods."
Accepting her hand and marrying her according to the Gandharva rite, by a simple exchange of garlands, he asked her where she wished to go?
16. Rukmangada arrive with Mohini in kingdom
"I am happy here in the mountains, but it is always the wife's duty to accompany and serve her husband. His house, even if full of misery, is preferable to heaven for a chaste wife."
Rukmangada then set off toward to his kingdom with her. In the city Dharmangada saw the sky becoming brighter from the north and realised that his father was approaching.
Turning to his ministers he said, "Just see how the firmament glows with radiant light. I think my father returns. Let us go to greet him.
17. Prince Dharmangada welcome Chithi
They walked two miles out of the city to a flower filled garden where Rukmangada and his new wife descended. As soon as the king dismounted Dharmangada bowed to his feet. Beaming in delight Rukmangada lifted him up and embraced him.
"Dear son, I hope you are protecting the citizens well and punishing your enemies. I trust also that the Brahmins and cows are all well maintained and that the kingdom is flourishing. I hope too that no one takes food on Ekadashi.
Looking at Mohini, whom his father had helped dismount, Dharmangada said, "Who is this lady with the lustre of ten thousand suns?
Rukmangada told his son how he had found Mohini on Mount Mandara. I have made her a promise and offered her my right hand. Accept her as your chithi."
Dharmangada at once bowed at Mohini's feet and said, "Chithi, I am your son, servant and slave. Be pleased to favour me with your blessings. By his mother's grace the son can obtain the earth itself."
Rukmangada asked his son to look after Mohini chithi and retired for some rest. Kneeling before her he personally washed her feet and then sprinkled the water on his head. The prince had many divine ornaments brought from the higher planets These he gave to Mohini while shedding tears of delight.
18. Dharmangada advice his amma to accept new chithi
Within the inner quarters of Rukmangada's palace Sandhyavali sat alone. She scratched at the ground with her foot and sighed repeatedly.
Dharmangada went to her and said "Dear mother, please come and greet Mohini chithi. She who is loved by father must surely be a highly respectable person for us. Please give up all jealousy and serve chithi". To reconcile to it Dharmangada told his amma many stories
19. Sandhyavali accept Mohini as 2nd queen
The queen went to the kitchen and by merely glancing at the pots and utensils she produced a meal replete with the six types of taste. She personally served it to Mohini.
Sandhyavali smiled and offered her respect to Mohini with folded palms. "It is my pleasure to please you, who are so dear to my husband."
Mohini laughed and said, "Oh, you are Dharmangada's mother. I did not recognise you and surely did not expect you to serve me. Indeed, I am your servant. Take it from me" These words from Mohini took all hatreds from her mind fully
20. Mohini feels a pang of remorse
Mohini looked at the prince, who kept his head down as he slowly fanned her. She felt a pang of remorse. How could she perpetrate the act asked of her by Brahma? This boy was without doubt a saint and wished her only well. But perhaps she would not need to make her terrible demand of the king. Perhaps he would simply agree to eat on Ekadashi. She thought about poor Yama Dharma Raja waiting for the positive results of her. She asked Dharmangada to get his father.
21. Rukmangada arrives and compromise with other Queens
Rukmangada was in deep sleep after the lightening journey on horse. He came as requested by the son. Mohini intimated him that she wanted to live with him with permission of other co-queens.
Dharmangada pleaded to other chithies regarding the father's desire to live with new Chithi. Dharmangada pleaded, "My dear mothers, if you will not agree to this then I shall drink poison and cast off this body. I cannot live if my father is not happy.
Finally all of hem consented Rukmangada to live with Mohini
22. Mohini live happily far away with King Rukmangada
Alone with Mohini, King Rukmangada was hardly aware of the passage of time. King asked what were her wishes to carry out once. But Mohini smiled. "I am happy with you. Perhaps in future I shall ask something of you."
Rukmangada too smiled, oblivious to his impending destruction. Eight years passed as if they were as many months. All the while Rukmangada fasted for Ekadasi and Mohini did not murmur a word. She was waiting for the proper time.
23. King Dharmangada get married
During the ninth year Dharmangada went out and conquered in battle five Vidyadharas, powerful celestials who had come to the Malaya Mountain
He helped Varuna and in return Varuna offered a beautiful virgin girl to Dharmangada to become his wife, whom he on return introduced to his father. He requested for his blessings.
Rukmangada gave much of the wealth to his son and had the court Brahmins arrange for his marriage. After this Dharmangada continued to rule over the kingdom while his father stayed with Mohini.
24. Mohini object Karthika fast
But when the holy month known as Kartikka arrived the king asked her to allow him to observe a sacred vow for its duration. Rukmangada said, "Many years we have been together and I have neglected the Kartikka vow, not wishing to upset you. I wish now to follow it for the full month. Pray grant me permission."
Mohini was not happy with this request. "Surely the Kartikka vow is greatly virtuous, but its observance by kings is not recommended by any sacred text. It is meant only for Brahmins. The duty of kings is only to protect the people and give charity at all times."
Mohini asked Rukmangada not to observe the vow. "I will not be able to stand your separation for a month. Please do not abandon my request."
25. Sandhyavali observe Karthika Vrata for Rukmangada
Rukmangada called for Sandhyavali. She prayed, "My lord, how may I serve you?" She smiled and awaited his order. Rukmangada went on, "I desire to follow the Kartikka vow, but this daughter of Brahma prevents me. Therefore I wish that you observe it on my behalf."
26. Mohini gives a pose to Rukmangada
The king said to Mohini "I desire only to please you. At your behest I have forsaken even my duty."
Mohini said, "Dear lord, knowing of your loving attitude and wanting only to be with you I have left heaven, forsaking even the immortals. Leaving off the gods, Gandharvas, Yakshas, Rakshasas and Danavas I came to you on the Mandara Mountain."
27. Rukmangada wants to perform Ekadasi vrata
But as the sun rose the following day the sound of drums was heard, followed by the loud voice of a royal messenger declaring that the next day was Ekadashi Gentle lady, the day of Hari, so destructive of sin, dawns tomorrow. Forgive me but I must observe restraint. Sandhyavali already observes the Kartikka penance for me, but this vow I must perform as usual." The king asked Mohini to join him in its observance
28. Mohini ask Rukmangada to full fill the promises
Mohini in turn said to Rukmangada and said -"Kindly fulfil the promise you made to me when we first met now."
During all the previous years of their being together Mohini had not said anything as the king observed Ekadashi. He had left her for three days and observed fasting. But now she felt the time had come to carry out Lord Brahma's order. Rukmangada's attachment for her was complete. Surely he would not refuse. She thought about her father Brahma and poor Yama Dharma Raja waiting for her action and there was nothing justice to think for her.
The king said, "Ask anything. I will carry out your wish whatever it may be. Have no fear." Rukmangada smiled, but as Mohini spoke in reply his smile quickly faded.
29. Mohini ask Rukmangada to break Ekadasi vrata
"Dear king, I ask that you stay with me tomorrow and take your meals as normal. I desire only this. Please grant this wish."
She advocated her stand "I have heard from sages that the Ekadashi vow need not be observed by kings. There will not be any sin for you if you take food and enjoy with me. Only this will please me." Mohini added- if the king did not satisfy her wish she would not stay with him any longer. "I shall not touch your body which will be contaminated with the sin of falsehood."
30. Gautama advocate Mohini's stand
Mohini called a leading Brahmin Gauthama. Gautama said, "Understand king, that your vow of fasting is whimsical and not according to the Vedas. Kings must always bear arms and be ready for battle. The austerities you accept are meant for other orders of life." Gautama exhorted the king to eat and cautioned him that he should not ignore the advice of the Brahmins. "That will only lead you into sin and degradation."
Rukmangada's lips trembled in anger. By exerting great self-control he spoke in measured tones. "Great sages, hear my words. There is certainly support in scripture for my fasting." Rukmangada knew he had the support of other Vaishnava Brahmins and could understand that Gautama and his followers belonged to a different school of thought.
The king said, "I will not abandon my vow even if urged by the Devas, Gandharvas, Danavas, Siddhas, Rakshasas, or even Lord Shiva. The sun may cease to shine, the oceans dry up and the Himalayas crumble, but Rukmangada will not break his vow."
31. Mohini gets ready for break of
Mohini face turned red as the king spoke. Mohini said, now you demur. I am no longer yours and you are not mine. I must find another protector."Mohini stood up at once and began to leave, accompanied by Gautama and the other Brahmins.
32. Dharmangada hears Mohini
But as Mohini was about to exit from the chamber, Dharmangada arrived there. He bowed at the feet of his father and Mohini. Dearest mother, whatever you say I shall do. Stay here and be peaceful."
Mohini said in short- "Your father is not keeping his promise. He is a liar " Dharmangada replied. "How can my father be false while I live? Everything is established on his truth. Hell has been emptied and the abode of Yama Dharma Raja made void by his great virtue."
Mohini took Dharmangada to his father. She said. "Ask your father of his intentions, dear son."
Dharmangada said, " Appa- Chithi claims you are a liar. I cannot believe it. What is it she wants that you cannot give?
Rukmangada said, "My son, let my fame perish, let me called a liar and even fall into a terrible hell, but I will not take food on Hari's day. That is what Mohini desires. Therefore let her go to her father's abode.
Dharmangada looked at Mohini, who sat silently with a firm expression. He understood she would not relent, any more than his father would break his vow.
33. Sandhyavali advocate for Rukmangada
Dharmangada felt perhaps his mother Sandhyavali could help resolve the situation. He called for his mother. When she arrived he said. "Dear Amma please try to make an agreement between Mohini chithi and Appa after describing the situation. He my father's truth must be preserved without his taking food grains on Hari's day."
Turning to Mohini, Sandhyavali said, "Gentle lady, please be gracious. Do not ask for that which should not be given. When our husband offered you his hand he was overcome by passion and not thinking rightly. He would otherwise have stipulated that you couldn't ask this. Pray for some other boon."
Sandhyavali cited Vedic evidence to the effect that a woman who causes her husband to commit sin falls into a condition of terrible suffering. "It is for this reason I am advising you"
34. Mohini accepts Sandhyavali and asks for new boon
Mohini glanced at Rukmangada and then said to Sandhyavali, "My senior sister well advised me. If the king will not eat on Hari's day then let something else be I ask be given. I do not wish to do anything that will give pain. Some divine force urges me to speak so."
Mohini looked up into her co-wife's face and said, "What I will say now will take away your life along with that of our husband. It will destroy my religious merits and attract the condemnation of all men.
Sandhyavali said, "Tell me. What can you say that will cause my sorrow? How will defending my husband's truthfulness cause me misery?"
Mohini said. " If your husband will not take food on Hari's day then let him take his sword and cut off the beautiful head of Dharmangada, letting it fall on my lap."
35. Sandhyavali agrees for Killing Dharmangada
For some moments Sandhyavali stared in silence at Mohini. She then smiled and gently said, "By no means should the Ekadashi vow be broken. Sons, brothers, friends and loved ones are persons we contact in this world, but Ekadashi is the means to attain eternal happiness. Therefore have faith in my words. I shall do as you say."
Sandhyavali clasped her husband's feet and said. "My lord, this Mohini cannot be dissuaded from her purpose. Either you must take food on Sri Maha Vishnu's day or strike down your son. There is no third alternative."
Sandhyavali could hardly contemplate the prospect of Dharmangada's death. What greater pain was there for a mother than to lose a son? But she put all affection out of her mind. To preserve truth was the highest virtue. She exhorted her husband to kill the prince.
36. Rukmangada Laments in his predicament
The king began to lament that he had ever gone to Mandara Mountain in the first place. He would never have met Mohini. "Surely she is Death personified meant only to destroy Dharmangada and myself."
I can neither break the Ekadashi vow nor slay my son. I beg you ask for some other boon."
Rukmangada repeatedly beseeched Mohini to show leniency. Why was she so insistent?
Mohini shook her head. "I do not wish for his death. He is not my enemy. All I ask is that you take food on Ekadashi. Why do you lament so? It is within your power to save your son. You only have to adhere to truth and keep your word."
37. Dharmangada prepares for his death
Dharmangada then stepped forward. He took out his gleaming blue sword and placed it before the king. Kneeling before him the prince said, "Hear me king, make your words true and kill me. Do not hesitate. The soul should be saved even at the cost of wealth, wives or sons."
As the sword was held over the prince's neck many omens were seen. Mohini breathed deep sighs. Her mission was a failure. She would be hated throughout the world. Seeing the sword raised above the prince's neck she fell down in a swoon.
38. Lord Sri Maha Vishnu and Brahma appear on the scene
Suddenly the whole area was brilliantly illuminated. Everyone looked upward and saw what appeared to be a second sun descending from the sky. It was Lord Sri Maha Vishnu mounted on the back of his great eagle carrier Garuda. He came to the king and caught him by the hand. "I am pleased. I am delighted. Lord of the people, I am taking you now to my abode along with your wife and son." A shower of flowers fell from the sky and the gods beat heavenly drums. Rukmangada departed to heaven with queen and son along with Lord Sri Maha Vishnu.
39. Brahma revive Mohini and take her back
Lord Brahma revived Mohini and consoled her. "Dear lady, rise up. Your husband's glories are proven. I just made a test and you were a catalyst. Brahma took Mohini with him he gave her a place to reside in the heavens where she remains to this day.
40. Dharmaraja resume duties and Chithra guptha get busied
With the departure of the king Rukmangada and his son Dharmangada gradually the observance of Ekadashi vrata started diminishing and men again went to Yama Dharma Raja, who continued his service to Sri Maha Vishnu with great pleasure.
Please click here to read about the importance of Ekadashi Fasting, Scientific & religious meanings.
Ekadasi Fastings: Medical & Religious significance.
Why not other days ? Why only on Ekadasi ? Significance of Ekadasi
by TRS IYENGAR
From time immemorial, Srivaishnavites have been observing fasts twice a month on Ekadasi days. This fasting is, in general, for everyone. Ekadasi is the 11th day in the moon cycle, i.e. from the new moon day and also from the full moon day.
It is a proven scientific matter, that the air pressure in the atmosphere rapidly changes in the surroundings on a full moon day or on the new moon day. The Sun-Moon-Earth combinations in the orbital path, when distances itself at every particular interval (i.e. every 24 hours of for every full circle the Earth rotates). When it occurs, accordingly the pressure in the atmosphere too changes drastically and varies from day to day.
One can observe this from the increasing high tidal waves in the ocean. On any given New Moon day or Amavasya the pressure increases in the ocean and the tidal waves are very rough and high. But from the immediate next day onwards, the pressure recedes gradually thus improving that the atmospheric pressure too reduces. So, particularly on the 11th day from New Moon or Full Moon days, the pressure is some what very light or nil.
If one has to go with an empty stomach on any other day, the atmospheric pressures will put on him or her more strain wherein on the Ekadasi day, the problem is minimal or nil. So the body never takes the pain while we cleanse the bowel system and thus refreshing the whole body mechanism - specifically the liver/stomach/bowel and the system movements.
But on the immediate next day (called as Dwadasi or Dvadasi - i.e. 12th day from Full Moon/New Moon), to avoid any pressure on the body system, Srivaishnavites used to eat food in the morning as early as possible. Thus avoiding any system trouble or collapse. This breaking fast on the 12th day is known as ParaNai amongst Srivaishnavas. So it is advisable to observe fasting only on the Ekadashi day and to give scope for refreshing the body mechanism; this fasting day is also very conducive to concentrate onf meditation and prayers. But one must eat food immediately in the next early morning to avoid any complications. As the atmospheric pressure builds up faster and doubles on the 12th day from Amavasya / Poornima days, it is strongly recommended to consume food on the Dwadasi day in the early morning.
Nowadays, people also fast these days for health reasons; because fasting helps in the detoxification of the body. Everyone wants to look good and fit these days. As such, you will find many youngsters in India fasting. In medical context, fasting refers to the state achieved after digestion of a meal. A number of metabolic adjustments occur during fasting and many medical diagnostic tests for blood sugar, cholesterol levels are standardized to fasting conditions. Thus fasting has medical reasons coated with religious significance in India.
Those who observe Fasting on Ekadasi days are keeping fittest health, cleansing their bowel system and mostly free from frequent ailments. Also, those who are the Bhakta's of Lord Krishna, observing fasting on Ekadasi days, have lot more mental peace, by way of self realization and inner soul! That reflects them to more and more devote to the spiritual path! Yes, this sort of penance also give them a more stronger feeling towards spirituality, thus making them pure in body and mind.
Now, let us see the other scientific facts concerning the 11th day from Full Moon & New Moon. In the Indian Vedic system, there are different methods to calculate a month. Once such is counting from the new moon day known as Amavasya. The well knownFrom the new moon day till the Full moon day it is called as Sukla Paksham or waxing moon; from the full moon day till next Amavasya/new moon day, it is known as Krishna Paksham or the waning moon. In the celestial phenomena, the Earth as well as moon raises and settles at the same time on Amavasya and from the next day to Amavasya, moon is moving about 12 degree distance from the solar path; on the Ekadasi day, i.e. 11th day from full moon the Moon stays at a distance of about 135 degrees in the solar path that causes lesser grativation force and thus causing lesser atmospheric pressure. Thus fasting on an Ekadasi day will not affect the body system as also hungry feelings too minimum to some extent.
न गायथ्रिया पर मन्थर; ना मात् पर दैवथम् ।
न गङ्कास्य परमम् थीर्तम् , ना ऎकादस्या: समम् व्रतम् ॥
Na GaayathryA para manthra: Na MAthu para dhaivatham
Na GangAsyA: paramam theertham Na EkAdasyA : samam vratham.
ந காயத்ரீயா பர மந்த்ர: ந மாத்ரூணாம் பர தைவதம் |
ந் கங்காஸ்ய: பரமம் தீர்த்தம், ந ஏகாதஸ்யா: சமம் வ்ரதம் !!
The rough translation is: There is no mantra superior to the Gayatri mantra, There is no god superior to the Mother, There is no water more purifying or superior than River Ganges. And finally, there is
no fast/ austerities (vradham) more sacred or superior than the Ekadasi.
There is an interesting story in the Narada Purana involving the Mohini, the Manasa puthri (desired daughter of) Brahma with King Rugmangatha. It is an interesting one which
emphasises the significance as well as importance of fasting on an Ekadasi day. Please click here to read the story.
Ekadasi Recipes for peace, Devotion and health
Ekadasi day for Sri Vaisnava tradition differs from other Sections. (You can view the exact Srivaishnava Ekadasi days at: the Festival & Important days Chart given in another page). Though normally it is on the eleventh day of both the waxing and waning moon, i.e..11th day from Amavasya and Poornima (Amavasai & Pournami) which falls twice in a month. The very purpose of the fast being to minimize bodily activities and increase in activities of devotion, prayer and peace, observers either abstain from food completely but only to intake Milk, fruits, water and some milk product or avoid all grains and beans from their meals on that day of Ekadasi Fasting. Light meals of fruits, milk products, vegetables, nuts and various non-cereal flours, fruits like banana, are eaten by those not undertaking a total fast. On Ekadasi, Srivaishnava meals usually include wide varieties of tasty but without delivering the heavy bog-down feeling experienced after eating the same size meals cooked with grains and pulses. Apart from cleansing one's body bi-monthly, this is an opportunity to become more absorbed in glorifying the Supreme Lord, Sriman Narayana. Ekadasi is also an excellent time to purify the body, mind and thoughts!.
In general, no onion & Garlic are consumed by Srivaishnava. In addition, they avoid using cream, and heavy fat items on their fasting days of Eakadasi. Different varieties of tasty items are prepared, depending on their individual taste. But none of the items contain any heavy stuff to make you heavy or bulgy. In case of persons unable to fast whole day, they are recommended to take Idli, Dosa but they take it only half of their quota to avoid heaviness in their body.
Following are the items best recommended to consume on the Fasting day of Ekadasi that includes light refreshments, beverage, milk products, vegetables, fruits: Lemon, Banana, Grape, Pineapple, range, all varieties of Dry fruits, Buttermilk, Milk, cereals, Broken rice, Rava, & Yogurt.