Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja said, “O Lord, You have so nicely explained the glories of the auspicious Saphalā Ekādaśī which occurs during the dark fortnight of the month of Pauṣa [December-January]. Now please be merciful to me and explain the Ekādaśī of the light fortnight of this month. What is its name, and what Deity should be worshiped on that sacred day? O Puruṣottama, O Hṛṣikeśa, please also tell me how You can be pleased on this day.”
Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa replied, “O king, for the benefit of all humanity I shall tell you how to observe fasting on Pauṣa-śukla Ekādaśī.
“As I previously explained, everyone should observe the rules and regulations of Ekādaśī to the best of his ability. This injunction also applies to the Ekādaśī named Putradā, which destroys all sins and elevates one to the spiritual abode. Śrī Nārāyaṇa, the Supreme Lord and original personality, is the worshipable Deity of this Ekādaśī, and for His faithful devotee He happily fulfills all desires and awards full perfection. Thus among all the animate and inanimate beings in the three worlds, there is no better personality than Lord Nārāyaṇa.
“O king, now I will narrate to you the history of Putradā Ekādaśī, which removes all kinds of sins and makes one famous and learned.
“There was once a kingdom named Bhadrāvati, which was ruled by King Suketumān. His queen was the famous Śaibyā. Because he had no son, he spent a long time in anxiety, thinking, ‘If I have no son, who will carry on my dynasty?’ In this way the king meditated in a religious attitude for a long time, thinking, ‘Where should I go? What should I do? How can I get a son?’ King Suketumān could find no happiness anywhere in his kingdom, even in his own palace, and soon he was spending more and more time inside his wife’s palace, gloomily thinking only of how he could get a son.
“Thus both King Suketumān and Queen Śaibyā were in great distress. Even when they offered tarpaṇa [oblations of water to their forefathers], their mutual misery made them think that it was as undrinkable as boiling water. They thought that they would have no descendants to offer tarpaṇa to them when they died. The king and queen were especially upset to learn that their forefathers were worried that soon there would be no one to offer them tarpaṇa.
“After learning of their forefathers’ unhappiness, the king and queen became more and more miserable, and neither ministers, friends, nor even loved ones could cheer them up. To the king, his elephants and horses and infantry were no solace, and at last he became practically inert and helpless.
“The king thought, ‘It is said that without a son, marriage is wasted. Indeed, for a family man with no son, both his heart and his splendid house remain vacant and miserable. Bereft of a son, a man cannot liquidate the debt he owes his forefathers, the demigods, and other human beings. Therefore every married man should endeavor to beget a son; thus he will become famous within this world and at last attain the auspicious celestial realms. A son is proof of the pious activities a man performed in his past one hundred lifetimes, and such a person achieves a long duration of life in this world, along with good health and great wealth. Possessing sons and grandsons in this life proves that one has worshiped Lord Viṣṇu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, in the past. The great blessings of sons, wealth, and sharp intelligence can be achieved only by worshiping the Supreme Lord, Śrī Kṛṣṇa That is my opinion.’
“Thinking thus, the king had no peace. He remained in anxiety day and night, from morning to evening, and from the time he lay down to sleep at night until the sun rose in the morning, his dreams were equally full of great anxiety. Suffering such constant anxiety and apprehension, King Suketumān decided to end his misery by committing suicide. But he realized that suicide throws a person into hellish conditions of rebirth, and so he abandoned that idea. Seeing that he was gradually destroying himself by his all-consuming anxiety over the lack of a son, the king at last mounted his horse and left for the dense forest alone. No one, not even the priests and brāhmaṇas of the palace, knew where he had gone.
“In that forest, which was filled with deer and birds and other animals, King Suketumān wandered aimlessly, noting all the different kinds of trees and shrubs, such as the fig, bel fruit, date, palm, jackfruit, bakula, saptaparṇā, tinduka, and tilaka, as well as the śāla, tāla, tamāla, saralā, hiṇgoṭā, arjuna, labherā, baheḍā, sallaki, karondā, paṭala, khaira, śāka, and palāśa trees. All were beautifully decorated with fruits and flowers. He saw deer, tigers, wild boar, lions, monkeys, snakes, huge bull elephants in rut, cow elephants with their calves, and four-tusked elephants with their mates close by. There were cows, jackals, rabbits, leopards, and hippopotamuses. Beholding all these animals accompanied by their mates and offspring, the king remembered his own menagerie, especially his palace elephants, and became so sad that he absentmindedly wandered into their very midst.
“Suddenly the king heard a jackal howl in the distance. Startled, he began wandering about, looking around in all directions. Soon it was midday, and the king started to tire. He was tormented by hunger and thirst. He thought, ‘What sinful deed could I possibly have done so that I am now forced to suffer like this, with my throat parched and burning? I have pleased the demigods with numerous fire sacrifices and abundant devotional worship. I have given many gifts and delicious sweets in charity to all the worthy brāhmaṇas. And I have taken care of my subjects as though they were my very own children. Why am I suffering so? What unknown sins have come to torment me in this dreadful way?’
“Absorbed in these thoughts, King Suketumān struggled forward, and eventually, due to his pious credit, he came upon a beautiful pond that resembled the famous Lake Mānasarovara. It was filled with aquatics, including crocodiles and many varieties of fish, and graced with lilies. Beautiful lotuses had opened to the sun, and swans, cranes, and ducks swam happily in its waters. Nearby were many attractive āśramas, where there resided many saints and sages who could fulfill the desires of anyone. Indeed, they wished everyone well. When the king saw all this, his right arm and eye began to quiver, a sign that something auspicious was about to happen.
“As the king dismounted his horse and stood before the sages, who sat on the shore of the pond, he saw that they were chanting the holy names of God on japa beads. The king paid his obeisances and, joining his palms, glorified them. He was overjoyed to be in their presence. Observing the respect the king offered them, the sages said, ‘We are very pleased with you, O king. Kindly tell us why you have come here. What is on your mind? Please tell us what you desire.’
“The king replied, ‘O great sages, who are you? What are your names, O auspicious saints? Why have you come to this beautiful place? Please tell me everything.’
“The sages replied, ‘O king, we are the Viśvedevas; we have come here to this lovely pond to bathe. The month of Māgha will be here in five days, and today is the famous Putradā Ekādaśī. One who desires a son should strictly observe this Ekādaśī.’
“The king said, ‘I have tried so hard to have a son. If you great sages are pleased with me, kindly grant me a good son.’
” ‘The very meaning of Putradā,’ the sages replied, ‘is “giver of a son.” So please observe a complete fast on this Ekādaśī day. If you do, then by our blessings–and by the mercy of Lord Keśava–you will surely obtain a son.’
“On the advice of the Viśvedevas, the king observed the auspicious fast day of Putradā Ekādaśī according to all the established rules and regulations, and on Dvādaśī, after breaking his fast, he paid his obeisances again and again to them all.
“Soon after Suketumān returned to his palace, Queen Śaibyā became pregnant, and exactly as the Viśvedeva sages had predicted, a bright-faced, beautiful son was born to them. In due course he became famous as a heroic prince, and the king gladly pleased his noble son by making him his successor. The son of Suketumān took care of his subjects very conscientiously, just as if they were his own children.
“In conclusion, O Yudhiṣṭhira, one who wishes to fulfill his desires should strictly observe Putradā Ekādaśī. While on this planet, one who strictly observes this Ekādaśī will surely obtain a son, and after death he will achieve liberation. Anyone who even reads or hears the glories of Putradā Ekādaśī obtains the merit earned by performing a horse sacrifice. It is to benefit all humanity that I have explained all this to you.”
[Ekādaśī, The Day of Lord Hari, by Śrī Kṛṣṇa Balarām Swāmījī, KBS0105]