A Narration from Scriptural References
Varuthini Ekadasi falls in the dark fortnight (Krishna paksha) of the month of Vaisakha. This year it falls on Tuesday, 3rd of May 2016.
The story of Varuthini Ekadasi is related in the Bhavishya Purana.
King Yudhisthira inquired from Lord Krishna, “O Vasudeva! I offer my humble obeisances unto You. Kindly describe to me the merits and influence of the Ekadasi that falls on the dark fortnight (krishnapaksha) of the month of Vaisakha (April-May).”
Sri Krishna replied, “O King, Varuthini Ekadasi is most auspicious. It eradicates the sins of those who observe a complete fast on this sacred day. Such persons obtain continuous happiness, and achieve all good fortune.Especially, fasting on this daybrings good fortune to unfortunate women. It bestows material enjoyment in this life and liberation at death.“
Lord Krishna sited some historical references, “By observing this Ekadasi diligently, King Mandhata was liberated.Many other kings such as Maharaja Dhundhumara, in the Ikshvaku dynasty, who became free from leprosy resulting from the curse of Lord Shiva, also benefited from observing it.”
Lord Krishna explained further glories of Varuthini Ekadasi, “Whatever merit one obtains by performing austerities and penances for ten thousand years is achieved by a person who observes Varuthini Ekadasi . The merit one achieves by donating a great amount of gold during a solar eclipse at Kurukshetra is gained by one who observes this one Ekadasi with love and devotion, and certainly attains his goals in this life and the next.”
Scripture recommend charity (dana) as a purifying duty. In the Bhagavad-Gita it is stated,
“Acts of sacrifice, charity and penance are not to be given up but should be performed. Indeed, sacrifice, charity and penance purify even the great souls.”
Excerpt From: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. “Bhagavad-gita As It Is – Macmillan 1972 Edition” 18.5
Lord Krishna described the glory of Varuthini Ekadasi in terms of charity, “Better than giving horses in charity is giving elephants, and better than giving elephants is giving land.Better still is the giving sesame seeds for fire-sacrifice, and better than that is giving gold.Still better is offering food grains to forefathers, demigods, and humans.Offering of food grains has been considered the greatest charity.Yet learned scholars have declared that giving away a young maiden in marriage to a worthy person is equal to giving away food grains in charity.Giving cows in charity is equal to giving food grains.Better than all these charities is the charity of giving spiritual knowledge to the ignorant.But, by fasting on the day of Varuthini Ekadasi one attains the great merits obtained by performing all these charitable acts.”
Lord Krishna then described the benefits of Varuthini Ekadasi in terms of Karmic consequences. He said, “One who lives off the wealth of his daughters suffers a hellish condition until the inundation of the entire universe, Oh Bharata, one should be especially careful not to use the wealth of his daughter. O best of kings, any householder who takes his daughter’s wealth out of greed, who tries to sell his daughter, or who takes money from the man to whom he has given his daughter in marriage such a householder becomes a lowly cat in his next life. Therefore it is said that whoever, as a sacred act of charity, gives away in marriage a maiden decorated with various ornaments, and who also gives a dowry with her, obtains merit that cannot be described even by Chitragupta, the chief secretary of Yamaraja in the heavenly planets. That very same merit, however, can be easily achieved by one who fasts on the Varuthini Ekadasi .”
There are some unique observances recommend by Lord Krishna in the Bhavishya Purana for Varuthini Ekadasi,
The following things should be avoided on the Dashami, (the tenth phase of the Moon), the day prior to Ekadasi:
- Eating on bell-metal plates.
- Eating preparations made of urad-dal,
- Eating red-lentils, chickpeas, spinach or honey.
- Eating in another person’s home
- Eating more than once.
In addition to these on the day of Varuthini Ekadasi itself one should completely avoid the following:
- Sleeping during the day
- Betel nuts and Betel leaf,
- Brushing teeth,
- Spreading rumours
- Talking to the spiritually fallen,
On the Dwadasi(the twelfth phase of the Moon), the day after Ekadasi, one should avoid the following:
- Eating on bell-metal plates,
- Eatingurad-dal, red-lentils, or honey
- Strenuous exercise or labour,
- Eating more than once
- Any sexual activity
- Shaving the body, face or head,
- Smearing oils on one’s body
- Eating in another’s home.
Lord Sri Krishna said to King Yudhishthira, “Whoever observes Varuthini Ekadasi in this way becomes free from all sinful reactions and returns to the eternal, spiritual abode.One who worships Lord Janardana (Krishna) on this Ekadasi by staying awake throughout the entire night also becomes free from all his previous sins and attains to the spiritual abode.Therefore, O king, he who fears his accumulated sins, their attendant reactions, and death itself, must observe Varuthini Ekadasi by fasting very strictly.”
Lord Krishna concluded, “Finally, O noble Yudhisthira, he who hears or reads this glorification of the sacred Varuthini Ekadasi obtains the merit earned by donating one thousand cows in charity, and at last he returns home, to the Supreme abode of Lord Vishnu in the Vaikunthas.”
His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has given some simple principles for observing all Ekadasis
“One should observe fasting on Ekadasi day, the eleventh day after the full moon and the eleventh day after the new moon, when no grains, cereals or beans are eaten. Simple vegetables and milk are taken in moderate amounts, and chanting of Hare Krishna, reading Scripture, etc. is increased.”
Excerpt From: His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. “Teachings of Lord Chaitanya.” Part I, Chapter 12
“In the Bhakti-sandarbha, by Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī, there is a quotation from the Skanda Purāṇa admonishing that a person who eats grains on Ekādaśī becomes a murderer of his mother, father, brother and spiritual master, and even if he is elevated to a Vaikuṇṭha planet, he falls down. On Ekādaśī, everything is cooked for Viṣṇu, including regular grains and dal, but it is enjoined that a Vaiṣṇava should not even take viṣṇu-prasāda on Ekādaśī. It is said that a Vaiṣṇava does not accept anything eatable that is not offered to Lord Viṣṇu, but on Ekādaśī a Vaiṣṇava should not touch even mahā-prasāda offered to Viṣṇu, although such prasāda may be kept for being eaten the next day. It is strictly forbidden for one to accept any kind of grain on Ekādaśī, even if it is offered to Lord Viṣṇu.”
Excerpt From: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. “Sri Caitanya-caritamrta – 1975 Edition” Adi 15.9 Purport
Ekadasi is a powerful opportunity for us, the souls trapped in material existence, to perform recommended austerities and make our way back to our original home in the spiritual sky. The spiritual atmosphere is infused with selfless devotional feelings of the pure souls for Lord Krishna and His devotees. Enlightened humans should make best use of the opportunity to invigorate in themselves, this pure Vaikuntha consciousness transcendental to the debilitating impurities of the material atmosphere.