Yudhisthira Maharaja said, “O Janardana, O protector of all beings, what is the name of the Ekadasi that occurs during the dark fortnight of the month of Kartika [October-November]? Please impart this sacred knowledge to me.”
The Supreme Lord, Sri Krsna, replied, “O lion among kings, please listen: The Ekadasi that occurs during the dark part of the month of Kartika is called Rama Ekadasi. It is most auspicious, for it at once eradicates the greatest sins and awards passage to the spiritual abode. I shall narrate its history and glories to you.
“There once lived a famous king named Mucukunda, who was friendly with Lord Indra, the king of heaven, as well as with Yamaraja, Varuna, and Vibhisana, the demon Ravana’s pious brother. Mucukunda always spoke the truth and constantly rendered devotional service to Me. Because he ruled according to religious principles, there were no disturbances in his kingdom.
“Mucukunda’s daughter was named Candrabhaga, after a sacred river, and the king’ gave her in marriage to Sobhana, the son of Candrasena. One day, Sobhana visited his father-in-law’s palace on the auspicious Ekadasi day. This visit made Sobhana’s wife, Candrabhaga, quite anxious, for she knew that her husband was physically very weak and unable to bear the austerity of a day-long fast. She said to him, ‘My father is very strict about following Ekadasi On Dasami, the day before Ekadasi he strikes a large kettledrum and announces, “Nobody should eat on Ekadasi, the day of Lord Hari!”‘
“When Sobhana heard the sound of the kettledrum, he said to his wife, ‘O beautiful one, what am I to do now? Please tell me how I can save my life and obey your father’s strictures at the same time!’
“Candrabhaga replied, ‘My dear husband, in my father’s house nobodynot even the elephants and horses, what to speak of human beings-eats on Ekadasi. Indeed, none of the animals are given their ration of grains, leaves, or straw-or even water!-on Ekadasi, the day of Lord Hari. So how can you escape fasting? My beloved, if you must eat something, then you should leave here at once. Now, with firm conviction decide what to do.’
“Prince Sobhana replied, ‘I have decided to fast on the sacred Ekadasi. day. Whatever my fate is, it will surely come to pass.’
“Deciding thus, Sobhana attempted to fast on that Ekadasi, but he became unbearably disturbed with excessive hunger and thirst. Eventually the sun set in the west, and the arrival of the auspicious night made all the Vaisnavas very happy. O Yudhisthira, all the devotees enjoyed worshiping Lord Hari and remaining awake through the night, but to Prince Sobhana that night became absolutely unbearable. Indeed, when the sun rose on Dvadasi, Sobhana was dead.
“King Mucukunda observed his son-in-law’s funeral, ordering a large stack of wood assembled for the fire, but he instructed his daughter Candrabhaga not to join her husband on the funeral pyre. Thus Candrabhaga, after performing all the purificatory processes honoring her deceased husband, continued to live in her father’s house.”
Lord Krsna continued, “O best of the kings, even though Sobhana died because of observing Rama Ekadasi. the merit he accrued enabled him, after death, to become the ruler of a kingdom high on the peak of Mandaracala Mountain. This kingdom was like a city of the demigods: very lustrous, with unlimited jewels set in the walls of its buildings. The pillars were made of rubies, and gold inlaid with diamonds shone everywhere. As King Sobhana sat upon a throne beneath a pure white canopy, servants fanned him with yak-tail whisks. A stunning crown rested upon his head, beautiful earrings adorned his ears, a necklace graced his throat, and bejeweled armlets and bracelets encircled his arms. He was served by Gandharvas [heaven’s best singers] and Apsaras [celestial dancers]. Verily, he resembled a second Indra.
“One day, a brahmana named Somasarma, who lived in Mucukunda’s kingdom, happened upon Sobhana’s kingdom while traveling to various places of pilgrimage. The brahmana saw Sobhana in all his resplendent glory and thought he might be the son-in-law of his own king, Mucukunda. When Sobhana saw the brahmana approaching, he immediately rose from his throne and welcomed him. After Sobhana had paid his respectful obeisances, he asked the brahmana about his wellbeing and about the health and welfare of his (Sobhana’s) father-in-law, his wife, and all the residents of the city.
“Somasarma replied, ‘O king, all the subjects are well in your father-inlaw’s kingdom, and Candrabhaga and your other family members are also quite well. Peace and prosperity reign throughout the land. But, O king, I am astonished to find you here! Please tell me about yourself. Nobody has ever seen such a beautiful city as this! Kindly tell me how you obtained it.’
“King Sobhana said, ‘Because I observed Ram& Ekadasi, I was given this splendid city to rule. But for all its grandeur, it is only temporary. I beg you to do something to correct this deficiency. You see, this is only an ephemeral city. How may I make its beauties and glories permanent? Kindly instruct me.’
“The brahmana asked, ‘Why is this kingdom unstable, and how will it become stable? Please fully explain this to me, and I shall try to help you.’
“Sobhana answered, ‘Because I fasted on Ekadasi without any faith, this kingdom is impermanent. Now hear how it can become permanent. Please return to Candrabhaga, the beautiful daughter of King Mucukunda, and tell her what you have seen and understood about this place and about me. Surely, if you tell her this, my city will soon become permanent.’
“Thus the brahmana returned to his city and related the entire episode to Candrabhaga, who was both surprised and overjoyed to hear this news. She said, ‘O brahmana, is this a dream you have seen, or is it actually a fact?’
“Somasarma replied, ‘O princess, I have indeed seen your late husband face to face in that wonderful kingdom, which resembles one of the demigods’ realms. But he says that his entire kingdom is unstable and could vanish into thin air at any moment. Therefore he hopes you can find a way to make it permanent.’
“Candrabhaga said, ‘O sage among the brdhmanas, please take me to my husband at once, for I greatly desire to see him again! Surely I shall make his kingdom permanent with the merit I have acquired by fasting on every Ekadasi throughout my life. Please reunite us once again. It is said that one who reunites separated people obtains very great merit.’
“The brahmana Somasarma then led Candrabhaga to Sobhana’s effulgent kingdom. Before reaching it, however, they stopped at the foot of Mount Mandaracala, at the sacred asrama of Vamadeva. Upon hearing their story, Vamadeva chanted hymns from the Vedas and sprinkled holy water on Candrabhaga. By the influence of that great risi’s rites, the merit she had accrued by fasting for so many Ekadasis made her body transcendental. Ecstatic, her eyes beaming in wonder, Candrabhaga continued her journey.
“When Sobhana saw his wife approaching him high on Mandaracala Mountain, he was overwhelmed with joy and called out to her in great happiness. After she arrived, he seated her on his left, and she said to him, ‘O dearest one, please listen as I tell you something that will benefit you greatly. Since I was eight years old I have fasted regularly and faithfully on every Ekadasi. If I transfer to you all the merit I have thus accumulated, your kingdom will surely become permanent, and its prosperity will grow and grow until the coming of the great inundation!”‘
Lord Krsna continued, “O Yudhisthira, in this way Candrabhaga, who was beautifully decorated with the finest ornaments and had an exquisite transcendental body, at last enjoyed peace and happiness with her husband. By the potency of Rama Ekadasi, Sobhana found his kingdom on the peaks of Mandaracala Hill able to fulfill all his desires and bestow upon him everlasting happiness, like that achieved from the Kama-dhenu cow.
“O greatest of kings, I have thus narrated to you the glories of Rama Ekadasi. “Anyone who observes sacred Ekadasi during both the light and the dark fortnight of each month is undoubtedly freed from the reactions to the sin of killing a brahmanas One should not differentiate between the Ekadasis of the light and the dark part of the month. As we have seen, both can award pleasure in this world and liberate even the most sinful and fallen souls. Just as black cows and white cows give milk of equal quality, the Ekadasis of the dark fortnight and the light fortnight award the same high degree of merit and eventually liberate one from the cycle of birth and death. Anyone who simply hears the glories of this sacred day, Rama Ekadasi, is freed from all kinds of sin and attains the supreme abode of Lord Visnu.”
[Ekadasi, The Day of Lord Hari, by Sri Krsna Balaram Swamiji, KBS0109]