The glories of Margasirsa-krsna Ekadasi, or Utpanna Ekadasi, are related in the Bhavisya-uttara Purana in a conversation between Arjuna and Lord Krishna.
Arjuna, asked Lord Krishna, “O Janardana, what are the regulations for observing the various Ekadasi days? Kindly instruct me.”
Lord Krishna begins to Narrate
The Supreme Lord Krishna replied, “O Arjuna, in the beginning of winter, on the Ekadasi that occurs during the dark fortnight of the month of Margasirsha (November-December), a sincere spiritual practitioner should begin his practice of fasting on Ekadasi. On Dasami, the day before Ekadasi he should eat supper just before sunset.
“The next morning the devotee should vow to fast in accordance with the prescribed rules. At midday he should bathe in a river, lake or small pond. A bath in a river is most purifying. Bathing in a lake is less so. Bathing in a small pond is the least purifying. If a river, lake or pond is not at hand, he may bathe with well water.
Prayer to Mother Earth
“The devotee should chant this prayer containing the names of Mother Earth: ‘O Asvakrante! O Rathakrante! O Vishnukrante! O Vasundhare! O Mrttike! O Mother Earth! Kindly eradicate all the sins I have accumulated throughout my many past lives so that I may enter the sacred abode of the Supreme Lord.’ While chanting this prayer the devotee should smear mud over his body.
Persons to be Avoided
On the day of fasting the devotee should be careful not to speak to those fallen from religious duties, dog-eaters, thieves, or hypocrites. He should also avoid speaking with slanderers and blasphemers of demigods, Vedic literatures, or brahmanas. They should shun wicked personalities, such as those who have sex with forbidden women, known plunderers, or those who rob temples. If any such person is spoken to or even seen during Ekadasi, one must purify oneself by looking directly at the sun.
“Then the devotee should respectfully worship Lord Govinda with excellent food, flowers, and so forth. In his home he should offer the Lord a lamp in pure devotional consciousness. He should also avoid sleeping during the daytime and completely abstain from sex. Fasting from all food and water, he should joyfully sing the Lord’s glories and play musical instruments for His pleasure throughout the night. After remaining awake all night in pure consciousness, the worshipper should give charity to qualified brahmanas and offer his humble obeisances unto them, begging forgiveness for his offences.
Arjuna then asked, “O Lord, according to You, a thousand Vedic sacrifices do not equal even one Ekadasi fast. How can this be? How has Ekadasi become the most meritorious of all days?”
The Origin of Ekadasi
Lord Sri Krishna replied, “I will tell you why Ekadasi is the most purifying of all days. In the Satya-Yuga there once lived a fearsome demon called Mura. Always angry, he subjugated all the demigods, including Indra, the king of heaven; Vivasvan, the sun-god; the eight Vasus; Lord Brahma; Vayu. the wind-god; and Agni, the fire-god. With fierce power he brought them all under his control.
“Lord Indra then approached Lord Shiva for recourse to the situation and Lord Shiva directed them to Lord Vishnu, the protector of the surrendered.”
The Demigods Approach Lord Vishnu
Lord Krishna continued, “O Arjuna, winner of wealth, Lord Indra then proceeded with all the demigods to the place where Lord Jagannatha, the Lord of the universe, the protector of all souls, was resting. Seeing the Lord sleeping on the water, the demigods joined their palms and, led by Indra, recited the following prayers: ‘O Supreme Personality of Godhead, all obeisances to You. O Lord of lords, O You who are praised by the foremost demigods, O enemy of all demons, O lotus-eyed Lord, O Madhusudana (killer of the demon Madhu), please protect us. Afraid of the demon Mura, we seek your shelter.
“O Jagannatha, You are doer. You are the creator of everything. You are the mother and the father of all universes. You are also the maintainer, and destroyer of everything. You are the supreme refuge of all the demigods, and You alone can bring them peace. You are the earth, the sky, and the universal benefactor. You are Shiva, Brahma, and Vishnu, the maintainer of the three worlds. You are the sun, moon, and fire gods.
“You are the clarified butter, the oblation, the sacred fire, the mantras, the rituals, the priests, and the silent chanting of japa. You are the sacrifice itself and the enjoyer of its results. Nothing within the three worlds, moving or immobile, can exist independent of You. O Supreme Lord! You are the protector of those who take Your shelter. O supreme mystic, please protect us. Defeated by the demons, deprived of our positions and fallen from the heavenly realm, O Lord of the universe, we are now wandering about this earthly planet.’”
Lord Vishnu Responds
Lord Krsna continued, “Having heard Indra and the other demigods, Sri Vishnu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, replied, ‘What demon possesses such great powers of delusion that he has been able to defeat all the demigods? What is his name, and where does he live? Where does he get his strength and shelter? Tell Me everything, O Indra, and do not fear.’
“Lord Indra replied, ‘O Supreme Personality of Godhead! O Lord of lords! O One who vanquish the fear of Your pure devotees! O One who are kind to your faithful servants! There was once a powerful demon of the Brahma dynasty whose name was Nadijangha. He was extraordinarily fearsome and sworn to destroying the demigods. He begot an infamous son named Mura.
The Demon Mura
“‘Mura’s great capital city is Chandravati from where the evil and powerful demon has conquered the whole world and subjugated all the demigods, driving them out of their heavenly kingdom. He has assumed the roles of Indra, the king of heaven; Agni, the fire-god; Yama, the lord of death; Vayu, the wind-god; Isha, or Lord Shiva; Soma, the moon-god; Nairrti, the lord of the directions; and Pasi, or Varuna, the water-god. He is emanating light in the role of the sun god and has turned himself into the clouds as well. It is impossible for the demigods to defeat him. O Lord Vishnu, please kill this demon and bestow victory on us the demigods.’
“Hearing these words of Indra, Lord Janardana became very angry and said, ‘O powerful demigods, we will together attack Mura’s capital city Chandravati.’ Encouraged, the assembled demigods marched to Chandravati with Lord Hari leading the way.
The Fight between the Demons and Demigods
“When Mura saw the demigods, that big demon roared loudly amidst his countless associates with brilliantly shining weapons. The mighty demons powerfully assaulted the demigods, who abandoned the battlefield, fleeing in the ten directions. Seeing the Supreme Lord Hrsikesha, the master of the senses, the furious demons rushed toward Him with raised weapons. As they charged the Lord, He pierced their limbs with His sharp, poisonous arrows killing many hundreds of them.
“At last the Mura began personally fighting with the Lord. Using his mystic power Mura could neutralise all weapons the Supreme Lord Hrsikesa unleashed at him. The demon felt the strike of the weapons like the touch of flowers. When the Lord could not defeat the demon with various kinds of thrown and held weapons, He began fighting him with His bare hands.
The Lord Retreats
“The Lord wrestled Mura for one thousand celestial years and then, apparently fatigued, went away to Badarikashrama. There Lord Yogeshvara, the greatest of all yogis, the Lord of the universe, entered a very beautiful cave named Himavati to rest. O Dhananjaya, winner of wealth, the cave was ninety-six miles in diameter with only one entrance.” Lord Krishna then spoke as Vishnu, “I went there out of fear and to rest. There is no doubt about this, O son of Pandu, for the great fight made me very tired. The demon followed Me into that cave and, seeing Me asleep, thought within his heart, ‘Today I will kill this slayer of all demons, Hari.’
The Lord’s Potency
“While the wicked-minded Mura made his plans, from My body emerged a young girl with a bright complexion. O son of Pandu, Mura saw her equipped with brilliant weapons, ready to fight. Challenged by that girl to battle, Mura prepared himself and fought her. However he was astonished to see her fight him unflaggingly. The king of the demons exclaimed, ‘Who has created this angry, fearsome girl fighting me powerfully as a thunderbolt?’
“Presently the effulgent goddess shattered all of Mura’s weapons and in a moment deprived him of his chariot. He ran toward her attacking with his bare hands, but when she saw him coming she angrily cut off his head. The demon fell to the ground and the soul proceeded to the abode of Yamaraja. The remaining enemies of the Lord, fearful and helpless retreated to the subterranean region of Patala.
The Lord Blesses His Potency
“The Supreme Lord then awoke from His slumber and saw the demon’s dead body before Him. He also saw the maiden bowing before Him with folded palms. Expressing astonishment, the Lord of the universe said, ‘Who has killed this vicious demon? He easily defeated all the demigods, Gandharvas, and even Indra himself, along with Indra’s companions, the Maruts, and he also defeated the Nagas (snakes), the rulers of the lower planets. He even defeated Me, making Me hide in this cave out of fear. Who is the one who has so mercifully protected Me after I ran from the battlefield and slept in this cave?’
“The maiden said, ‘It is I who killed this demon after appearing from Your transcendental body. Indeed, O Lord Hari, when he saw You sleeping he wanted to kill You. Fathoming his intention, I killed this thorn on the side of the three worlds and freed the demigods from fear. I am Your great maha-sakti, Your internal potency, who strikes fear into the hearts of Your enemies. I have killed this universally dreadful demon to protect the three worlds.’ The Supreme Personality of Godhead said, ‘O sinless one, I am very satisfied to see that it is you who have killed this king of the demons. You have made the demigods happy, prosperous, and blissful. Because you have pleased all the demigods in the three worlds, I am very pleased with you. Ask for a boon, O auspicious one. I will grant it to you without a doubt, even if it is rare among the demigods.’
The Maiden’s Prayer
“The maiden said, ‘O Lord, if You are pleased with me, then please give me the power to deliver the person who fasts of this day from the greatest sins. I wish that half the pious credit obtained by one who fasts may accrue to the one who eats only in the evening or at midday. Also, may the one who strictly observes a complete fast on my appearance day, with controlled senses, go to the abode of Lord Vishnu for one billion kalpas after he having enjoyed all pleasures of this world. This is the boon I desire to attain by Your mercy, my Lord. O Lord Janardana! Whether a person observes complete fasting, eats only in the evening, or eats only at midday, please bless him with a religious attitude, wealth, and finally liberation.’
The Lord’s Blessing
“The Supreme Personality of Godhead said, ‘O most auspicious lady, I grant what you prayed for. My devotees will surely fast on your day, and will become famous throughout the three worlds. They will 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.
“A devotee of Lord Vishnu who day and night hears these all-auspicious topics concerning the Lord from the mouth of another devotee will be elevated to the Lord’s planet and reside there for ten million kalpas. And one who hears even one sentence about the glories of Ekadasi is freed from the reactions to such sins as killing a brahmana. There is no doubt about this. For all eternity there will be no better way of worshiping Lord Vishnu than observing a fast on Ekadasi.'”
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