Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja said, “O Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, O glorious son of Vasudeva, please be merciful to me and describe the Ekādaśī that occurs during the dark fortnight of the month of Phālguna [February-March].”
Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa replied, “O Yudhiṣṭhira, O king of kings, gladly shall I tell you about this great fast, known as Vijayā Ekādaśī. Whoever observes it certainly achieves success both in this life and the next. All the sins of one who fasts on this Ekādaśī and hears its sublime glories are eradicated.
“Nārada Muni once asked Lord Brahmā, who sits on a lotus, about Vijayā Ekādaśī. Nārada said, `O best of the demigods, kindly tell me the merit one can achieve by faithfully observing Vijayā Ekādaśī.
“Nārada’s great father replied, `My dear son, this oldest of fasting days is pure, and it nullifies all sins. I have never revealed this to anyone until today, but you can understand beyond any doubt that this Ekādaśī bestows the result indicated by its name. [Vijayā means “victory.”]
“`When Lord Rāma was exiled to the forest for fourteen years, He, goddess Sītā, and His divine brother Lakṣmaṇa stayed at Pañcavaṭi as mendicants. Sītā was kidnapped by Rāvaṇa, and Rāma seemingly became bewildered by distress. While searching for His beloved consort, the Lord came upon the dying Jaṭāyu and thereafter killed His enemy Kabandha. The great devotee-vulture Jaṭāyu returned to Vaikuṇṭha after telling Rāma how His dear Sītā had been abducted by Rāvaṇa.
“Later, Rāma and Sugrīva, the king of the monkeys, became friends.’ Together they amassed a grand army of monkeys and bears and sent Hanumānji to Śrī Laṇkā, where he was able to see Jānaki, Sītā-devī, in an aśoka garden. He delivered Rāma’s message to her and then returned to Rāma with her message to Him, thus rendering great service to the Supreme Lord.
“`With the help of Sugrīva, Lord Rāma proceeded toward Śrī Laṇkā. Upon arriving at the shore of the ocean with the army of monkeys, He could understand that the water was uncommonly deep. Thus He said to Lakṣmaṇa, “O son of Sumitrā, how can we earn enough merit to be able to cross this vast ocean, the unfathomable abode of Varuṇa? I can see no easy way to cross it, teeming as it is with sharks and other ferocious fish.”
“‘Lakṣmaṇa replied, “O best of all beings, O origin of all Gods, O primal personality, the great sage Bakadālbhya lives on an island just four miles from here. O Rāghava, he has seen many Brahmās come and go, so aged and wise is he. Let us ask him how we can safely reach our goal.”
“So Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa proceeded to the humble āśrama of the incomparable Bakadālbhya Muni. Approaching him, the two Lords paid Their respectful obeisances to him as if he were a second Viṣṇu. Bakadālbhya could understand, however, that Rāma was actually the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who for His own reasons had appeared on earth as a human being.
“O Rāma,” said Bakadālbhya, “O best of human beings, why have You come to my lowly abode?”
“`The Lord replied, “O great, twice-born brāhmaṇa, I have come here to the ocean shore with My phalanx of monkeys and bears in order to cross the sea and conquer Laṇkā and its demon horde. O greatest of sages, please be merciful to Me and tell Me how I can cross this vast ocean. That is why I have come to you today.”
“The sage said, “O Lord Rāma, I shall tell you of the most exalted of all fasts, observing which You will surely conquer Rāvaṇa and be eternally glorified. Kindly listen with full attention.
“On the day before Ekādaśī, fashion a waterpot of gold or silver, or even of copper. Even clay will do if these metals are unavailable. Fill the pot with pure water and then decorate it nicely with mango leaves. Cover it and place it near a holy altar upon a mound of seven grains. Now take Your morning bath, decorate the waterpot with flower garlands and sandalwood paste, and in the concave lid atop the pot place barley, pomegranate, and coconut. Now with great love and devotion worship the waterpot-deity and offer Him incense, sandalwood paste, flowers, a ghee lamp, and a plate of sumptuous food. Remain awake that night beside this sacred pot. On top of the lid filled with barley, etc., place a golden mūrtī of Lord Nārāyaṇa.
“When Ekādaśī dawns, take your morning bath and then decorate the waterpot with fine sandalwood paste and garlands. Then worship the pot with first-class incense, sandalwood paste, and a ghee lamp, and also devotedly place many kinds of cooked food, pomegranate, and coconut before the waterpot. Then remain awake over night.
“”`When Dvādaśī dawns, take the waterpot to the bank of a holy river, or even to the shore of a small pond. After worshiping it properly, O King of kings, offer it with all the aforementioned ingredients to a pure brāhmaṇa expert in the Vedic science. If You and Your military commanders observe Vijayā Ekādaśī in this way, You will surely be victorious in every way.”
“`Lord Rāmacandra, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, did just as Bakadālbhya Muni instructed, and thus He conquered all demoniac forces. Similarly, anyone who observes Vijayā Ekādaśī in this way will always be victorious in this mortal world, and after leaving this world he will reside forever in the kingdom of God.
`O Nārada, my son, from this history you can understand why one should observe this Ekādaśī fast properly, strictly following the rules and regulations. This fast is powerful enough to eradicate all one’s sinful reactions, even the most abominable ones.’
Śrī Kṛṣṇa concluded, “O Yudhiṣṭhira, anyone who reads or hears this history will attain the same great merit as that earned by performing a horse sacrifice.”
[Ekādaśī, The Day of Lord Hari, by Śrī Kṛṣṇa Balarām Swāmījī, KBS0035]