Maharaja Yudhisthira said, “O Supreme Lord, I have heard from You the glories of fasting on Deva-sayani Ekadasi, which occurs during the light part of the month of Asadha. Now I would like to hear about the Ekadasi that occurs during the dark fortnight of the month of Sravana [JulyAugust]. O Govinda, please be merciful to me and explain its glories. O Vasudeva, I offer my humble obeisances unto You.”
The Supreme Lord, Sri Krsna, replied, “O king, please listen attentively as I describe the auspicious influence of this holy fast day, which removes all sins. Narada Muni once asked Lord Brahma about this same topic. ‘O regent of all,’ said Naradaji, ‘O you who sit upon a lotus throne, please tell me the name of the Ekadasi that occurs during the dark fortnight of the month of Sravana. Please also tell me which Deity is worshiped on that holy day, the process one must follow to observe it, and the merit it awards.’
“Lord Brahma replied, ‘My dear son Narada, for the benefit of all humanity I shall happily tell you everything you wish to know, for just hearing the glories of Kamika Ekadasi bestows merit equal to that obtained by one who performs a horse sacrifice. Certainly, great merit is attained by one who worships, and who also meditates on the lotus feet of, four-armed Lord Gadadhara, who holds conch shell, disc, club and lotus in His hands and who is also known as Sridhara, Hari, Visnu, Madhava, and Madhusudana. And the blessings achieved by a person who worships Lord Visnu exclusively are far greater than those achieved by one who takes a sacred bath in the Ganges at Kasi [Varanasi], in the forest of Naimisaranya, or at Puskara, where I am worshiped.’ But one who observes Kamika Ekadasi and also worships Lord Sri Krsna achieves greater merit than one who has darsana of Lord Kedaranatha in the Himalayas, or one who bathes at Kuruksetra during a solar eclipse, or one who donates the whole earth in charity, including its forests and oceans, or one who bathes in the Gandaki River or Godavari River on a full moon day that falls on a Monday when Leo and Jupiter are conjoined.
“Observing Kamika Ekadasi bestows the same merit as donating a milkcow and her calf, along with their feed. On this day, whoever worships Lord Sridhara-deva, Visnu, is glorified by the demigods, Gandharvas, Pannagas, and Nagas.
“Those who are afraid of their past sins and completely immersed in sinful material life should observe this best of Ekadasis according to their ability and thus attain liberation. This Ekadasi is the purest of all days and the most powerful for removing sins. O Narada, Lord Sri Hari Himself once said about this Ekadasi, “One who fasts on Kamika Ekadasi attains much more merit than one who studies all the spiritual literatures.”
“Anyone who fasts on this particular day and remains awake through the night will never experience the anger of Yamaraja, death personified. Whoever observes Kamika Ekadasi will not have to suffer future births, and in the past many yogis who fasted on this day went to the spiritual world. One should therefore follow in their auspicious footsteps and strictly observe a fast on this Ekadasi.
“Whoever worships Lord Hari with tulasi leaves is freed from all implication of sin. Indeed, he lives untouched by sin, as the lotus leaf, although in the water, is untouched by it. Whoever offers Sri Hari but a single leaf from a tulasi tree attains as much merit as one who gives away in charity two hundred grams of gold and eight hundred grams of silver. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is more pleased by one who offers Him a single tulasi leaf than by one who worships Him with pearls, rubies, topaz, diamonds, lapis lazuli, sapphires, gomeda stones, cat’s eye gems, and coral. One who offers Lord Kesava newly grown manjaris from the sacred tulasi plant gets rid of all the sins he has committed during this or any other lifetime. Indeed, mere darsana of tulasi on Kamika Ekadasi removes all sins, and merely touching her and praying to her removes all kinds of disease. One who waters tulasi need never fear the lord of death, Yamaraja. One who plants or transplants tulasi will eventually reside with Lord Krsna in His own abode. To Srimati Tulasidevi, who awards liberation in devotional service, one should therefore daily offer one’s full obeisances.
“Even Citragupta, Yamaraja’s secretary, cannot calculate the merit obtained by one who offers Srimati Tulasi-devi a perpetually burning ghee lamp. So dear is this sacred Ekadasi to the Supreme Personality of Godhead that all the forefathers of one who offers a bright ghee lamp to Lord Krsna on this day ascend to the heavenly planets and drink nectar there. Whoever offers either a ghee- or sesame-oil lamp to Sri Krsna on this day is freed from all his sins and enters the abode of Surya, the sungod, with a body as bright as ten million lamps.
“O Yudhisthira,” Lord Sri Krsna concluded, “these were the words Lord Brahma spoke to Narada Muni concerning the incalculable glories of Kamika Ekadasi, which removes all sins. This sacred day nullifies even the sin of killing a brahmana or of killing an unborn child in the womb, and it promotes one to the spiritual world by making one supremely meritorious Whoever hears these glories of Kamika Ekadasi with faith becomes free of all sins and returns home, back to Visnu-loka. (the planet of Vishnu)”
[Ekadasi, The Day of Lord Hari, by Sri Krsna Balaram Swamiji, KBS0147]