Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja said, “O Janārdana, what is the name of the Ekādaśī that occurs during the light fortnight of the month of Vaisākha [April-May] ? What is the process for observing it properly? Kindly narrate all this to me.

Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa replied, “O blessed son of Dharma, what Vasiṣṭha Muni once told Lord Rāmacandra I shall now describe to you. Please hear Me attentively.

“Lord Rāmacandra asked Vasiṣṭha Muni, ‘O great sage, I would like to hear about the best of all fasting days—that day which destroys all kinds of sins and sorrows. I have suffered long enough in separation from My dear Sitā, and so I wish to hear from you about how My suffering can be ended.’

“The sage Vasiṣṭha replied, ‘O Lord Rāma, O You whose intelligence is so keen, simply by remembering Your name one can cross the ocean of this material world. You have questioned me in order to benefit all of humanity and fulfill everyone’s desires. I shall now describe that day of fasting which purifies the whole world.

‘O Rāma, that day is Vaisākha-śukla Ekādaśī, which falls on Dvādaśī. It removes all sins and is famous as Mohinī Ekādaśī. Truly, O Rāma, the merit of this Ekādaśī frees the fortunate soul who observes it from the network of illusion. Therefore, if You want to relieve Your suffering, observe this auspicious Ekādaśī perfectly, for it removes all obstacles from one’s path and relieves the greatest miseries. Kindly listen as I describe its glories, because for one who even just hears about this auspicious Ekādaśī, the greatest sins are nullified.

‘On the banks of the Sarasvatī River there was once a beautiful city named Bhadrāvati, which was ruled by King Dyutīmān. O Rāma, that steadfast, truthful, and highly intelligent king was born in the dynasty of the moon. In his kingdom was a merchant named Dhanapāla, who possessed a great wealth of food grains and money. He was also very pious. Dhanapāla arranged for lakes to be dug, sacrificial arenas to be erected, and beautiful gardens to be cultivated for the benefit of all the citizens of Bhadrāvati. He was an excellent devotee of Viṣṇu and had five sons: Sumāna, Dyutīmān, Medhāvī, Sukṛtī and Dhṛṣṭhabuddhī.

‘Unfortunately, his son Dhṛṣṭhabuddhī always engaged in greatly sinful activities, such as sleeping with prostitutes and associating with degraded persons. He enjoyed illicit sex, gambling, and many other varieties of sense gratification. He disrespected the demigods, brāhmaṇas; the forefathers and other elders; and his family’s guests. The evil-hearted Dhṛṣṭhabuddhī spent his father’s wealth indiscriminately, always feasting on untouchable foods and drinking wine to excess.

‘One day Dhanapāla kicked Dhṛṣṭhabuddhī out of the house after he saw him walking along the road arm-in-arm with a known prostitute. From then on all Dhṛṣṭhabuddhī’s relatives were highly critical of him and distanced themselves from him. After he had sold his ornaments and become destitute, the prostitutes also abandoned him and insulted him because of his poverty.

“ ‘Dhṛṣṭhabuddhī was now full of anxiety, and also hungry. He thought, “What should I do? Where should I go? How can I maintain myself? He then began to steal. The king’s constables arrested him, but when they learned that his father was the famous Dhanapāla, they released him. He was caught and released many times. But at last, the ill-mannered Dhṛṣṭhabuddhī was apprehended, handcuffed, and then beaten. After whipping him, the king’s marshals warned him, “O evil one, there is no place for you here.

‘However, Dhṛṣṭhabuddhī was freed from his tribulation by his father and immediately thereafter entered the dense forest. He wandered here and there, hungry and thirsty and suffering greatly. Eventually he began killing lions, deer, boars, and wolves for food. Always ready in his hand was his bow, always on his shoulder his quiver full of sharp arrows. He also killed many birds, such as cakoras, peacocks, kaṅkas, doves and pigeons. He unhesitatingly slaughtered many species of birds and animals, and thus his sins mounted day to day. On account of his previous sins, he was now immersed in an ocean of great sin.

“ ‘Dhṛṣṭhabuddhī was always miserable and anxious, but one day, during the month of Vaisākha, by the force of some of his past merit he chanced upon the sacred āśrama of Kauṇḍinya Muni. The great sage had just finished bathing in the Ganges River, and water was dripping from him. Dhṛṣṭhabuddhī had the great good fortune to touch some of those drops falling from the sage’s clothes. Instantly Dhṛṣṭhabuddhī was freed of ignorance, and his sinful reactions were reduced. Offering his humble obeisances to Kauṇḍinya Muni, Dhṛṣṭhabuddhī prayed to him with joined palms: “O great brāhmaṇa, please describe some of the atonement I may perform without too much endeavour. I have committed so many sins in my life, and these have now made me very poor.

“ ‘The great ṛṣi replied, “O son, listen with great attention, for by hearing me you will become free of all your remaining sins. In the light fortnight of this month, Vaisākha there occurs the sacred Mohinī Ekādaśī, which has the power to nullify sins as vast and weighty as Mount Sumeru. If you follow my advice and faithfully observe a fast on this Ekādaśī, which is so dear to Lord Hari, you will be freed from all the sinful reactions of many, many births.

“ ‘Hearing these words with great joy, Dhṛṣṭhabuddhī promised to observe a fast on Mohinī Ekādaśī according to the sage’s instructions. O best of kings, O Rāma, by fasting completely on Mohinī Ekādaśī, the once-sinful Dhṛṣṭhabuddhī, the prodigal son of the merchant Dhanapāla, became sinless. Afterward he achieved a beautiful transcendental form and, free at last of all obstacles, rode upon Garuḍa, the carrier of Viṣṇu, to the Lord’s Supreme abode.

“ ‘O Rāma, the fast day of Mohinī Ekādaśī removes the darkest illusory attachments to material existence. There is thus no better fast day in all the three worlds.’ ”

Lord Kṛṣṇa concluded, “And so, O Yudhiṣṭhira, there is no place of pilgrimage, no sacrifice, and no charity that can bestow merit equal to even one sixteenth of the merit a faithful devotee of Mine obtains by observing Mohinī Ekādaśī. And He who hears and studies the glories of Mohinī Ekādaśī achieves the merit of giving away one thousand cows in charity.

Thus ends the narration of the glories of Vaisākha-śukla Ekādaśī, or Mohinī Ekādaśī, from the Kūrma Purāṇa.

[Ekādaśī, The Day of Lord Hari, by Śrī Kṛṣṇa Balarām Swāmījī, KBS0123]