Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja said, “O Vāsudeva, I offer my most humble obeisances unto You. Please now describe to me the Ekādaśī of the dark fortnight of the month of Vaisākha (April-May), including its specific merits and influence.”
Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa replied, “O King, in this world and the next, the most auspicious and magnanimous Ekādaśī is Varūthinī Ekādaśī, which occurs during the dark fortnight of the month of Vaisākha. Whosoever observes a complete fast on this sacred day has his sins completely removed, obtains continuous happiness, and achieves all good fortune. Fasting on Varūthinī Ekādaśī makes even an unfortunate woman fortunate. Upon anyone who observes it, this Ekādaśī bestows material enjoyment in this life and liberation after the death of this present body. It destroys the sins of all and saves people from the miseries of repeated rebirth.
“By observing this Ekādaśī properly, King Māndhātā was liberated. Many other kings also benefited from observing it – kings such as Mahārāja Dhundhumāra, in the Ikṣvāku dynasty, who became free from leprosy resulting from the curse that Lord Śiva had imposed upon him as a punishment. Whatever merit one obtains by performing austerities and penances for ten thousand years is achieved by a person who observes Varūthinī Ekādaśī. The merit one achieves by donating a great amount of gold during a solar eclipse at Kurukṣetra is gained by one who observes this one Ekādaśī with love and devotion, and certainly attains his goals in this life and the next. In short, this Ekādaśī is pure and very enlivening and the destroyer of all sins.
“Better than giving horses in charity is giving elephants, and better than giving elephants is giving land. But better still than giving land is the giving of sesame seeds, and better than that is giving of gold. Still better than giving gold is giving food grains – for all the forefathers, demigods (devas), and human beings become satisfied by eating grains. Thus there is no better gift of charity than this in the past, present or future. Yet learned scholars have declared that giving away a young maiden in marriage to a worthy person is equal to giving away food grains in charity. Moreover, Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of God, has said that giving cows in charity is equal to giving food grains. Still better than all these charities is teaching spiritual knowledge to the ignorant. Yet all the merits one can attain by performing all these acts of charity are attained by one who fasts on the Varūthinī Ekādaśī.”
“One who lives off the wealth of his daughters suffers a hellish condition until the inundation of the entire universe, O Bhārata. Therefore one should be especially careful not to use the wealth of his daughter. O best of kings, any householder who takes his daughter‟s wealth out of greed, who tries to sell his daughter, or who takes money from the man to whom he has given his daughter in marriage – such a householder becomes a lowly cat in his next life. Therefore it is said that whoever, as a sacred act of charity, gives away in marriage a maiden decorated with various ornaments, and who also gives a dowry with her, obtains merit that cannot be described even by Citragupta, the chief secretary of Yamarāja in the heavenly planets. That very same merit, however, can be easily achieved by one who fasts on the Varūthinī Ekādaśī.
“The following things should be given up on the Daśamī, the day before the Ekādaśī: eating on bell-metal plates, eating any kind of urad-dāl, eating red-lentils, eating chick peas, eating kondo, eating spinach, eating honey, eating in another person‟s house/home, eating more than once and sex.
“On the Ekādaśī itself one should give up the following: gambling, sports, sleeping during the daytime, betal nuts and its leaf, brushing one‟s teeth, spreading rumours, faultfinding, talking to the spiritually fallen, anger, and lying. On the Dvādaśī the day after Ekādaśī, one should give up the following: eating on bell-metal plates, eating urad-dāl, red-lentils, or honey, lying, strenuous exercise or labour, eating more than once, any sexual activity, shaving the body, face or head, smearing oils on one‟s body, and eating in another‟s home.”
Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa continued, “Whoever observes the Varūthinī Ekādaśī in this way becomes free from all sinful reactions and returns to the eternal, spiritual abode. One who worships Lord Janārdana on this Ekādaśī by staying awake throughout the entire night, also becomes free from all his previous sins and attains to the spiritual abode. Therefore, O king, he who is frightened of his accumulated sins and their attendant reactions, and thus of death itself, must observe Varūthinī Ekādaśī by fasting very strictly. Finally, O noble Yudhiṣṭhira, he who hears or reads this glorification of the sacred Varūthinī Ekādaśī obtains the merit earned by donating one thousand cows in charity, and at last he returns home, to the abode of Lord Viṣṇu.”
[Ekadasi, The Day of Lord Hari, by Sri Krsna Balaram Swamiji, KBS0116]