The Ekadashi date falling on the Krishna Pakchya of the month of Bhadra is called Aja Ekadashi. The glory of this date was told to King Yudhisthira by Lord Krishna himself at the end of the Dwapar era. Ekadashi is the most beloved date of Lord Bishnu. Therefore, the exceptional devotion of Lord Hrishikesh is performed on Ekadashi throughout the year.
On Ekadashi Tithi, when one observes the worshiping, serving, fasting, and meditating of the Lord of the universe, Shri Hari the God resides in the human mind and the human mind receives a special kind of spiritual energy. Spiritual energy is obtained only by the grace of God. A special practice is required to obtain God’s grace. A person who practices in this way is healthy, long-lived, has a sharp memory and is quick-witted. The inherent wisdom of one’s mind can remove all the obstacles occurring in the future time. One’s family becomes happy. And, it is found in the scriptures that mention one will reside in the heavens after death.
The four months from Ashad Shukla Ekadasi when Shri Hari goes to sleep till his awakening on Kartik Shukla Ekadashi is called Chaturmas. It is believed that by constantly worshiping God for these four months, all sins are destroyed and God’s blessings and mercy are obtained.
There are special rules for Ekadashi fasting. The importance of fasting is specially mentioned in this fast. In order to concentrate one’s mind on devotion to God and to control the senses, there is a provision to fast completely as much as possible but if it is not possible to observe a complete fast one can observe it by eating fruits only.
Lord Hrishikesh is pleased to observe the fast performed in a methodical manner without any bias and all the desires of the fasting person are fulfilled. According to the Bhavishya Puran, those who fast during Chaturmas by contemplating Lord Narayana, after death, board the plane as bright as the sun and live happily ever after in Bishnu lok until the great flood.
The context of Aja Ekadashi
According to the mythological context, calming the curiosity of Kuntiputra (son of Kunti) Maharaja Yudhisthira, Lord Krishna explained the greatness of Aja Ekadashi and the method of fasting. God tells: Ekadashi is the date of eradication of all kinds of sins. The person who worships Lord Rishikesh on this day gets happiness in this world and even in the life hereafter. Now listen to its story:
In ancient times there was a virtuous, majestic, and Chakravarti (supreme) king named Harishchandra. Due to the effect of accumulated karma of his previous life, once a situation arose that he had to give up all his kingdom and wealth. In a very difficult situation, he had to sell his wife, son, and himself and become a slave. That virtuous king became a slave of a Chandal (outcast). He used to collect taxes on clothes worn by the chandals taken from the corpses while observing his true and loyal vows of fasting. Even though he became a slave because of his previous Karma he kept on doing good deeds, but the king gradually began to drown in the sea of anxiety. He was worried about where to go now and what to do to save himself and his family.
After spending many years like this, one day the sage Gautam comes before the king. The king saw the sage, bowed down, and told all his stories to sage Gautam. After hearing all this, sage Gautam said, “O Rajan, by your luck, exactly seven days after today, Ekadashi named Aja of Bhadra Krishna Pakchya will come. You should observe the fast accordingly.” The virtuous effect of this fast will destroy all your sins. After giving this advice to the king, the sage became introspective and disappeared. Following the sage’s words, the king fasted and stayed awake on Aja Ekadashi. And, by the effect of that fast, all the sins of the king were destroyed.
Then there was the sound of many instruments in heaven, and flowers began to fall. King Harishchandra saw his dead son alive and his wife wearing clothes and clad in jewelry. Due to the effect of the fast, the king regained his former kingdom. And, finally, he went to heaven with his family.
Lord Krishna tells: O Rajan, all this happened due to the influence of Aja Ekadashi. Therefore, all the sorrows, sufferings, and sins of the people who stay awake all night by fasting methodically, are destroyed, and eventually, they become partakers of heaven. Just listening to the story of this Ekadashi, one gets the fruit of Ashwamegha Yagya.
…यद्दुःखं बहुभिर्वर्षैर्भोक्तव्यं तत्क्षयो भवेत् ।
…इद्रिग्विधं व्रतं राजन् ये कुर्वन्ति द्विजोत्तमा ।।
सर्वपापविनिर्मुक्तस्त्रिदिवं यान्ति ते ध्रुवम् ।
पठनाच्छ्रवणाद्राजन्नश्वमेधफलं लभेत् ।।
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