Yudhisthira Maharaja said, “O Lord Sri Krsna, O glorious son of Vasudeva, please be merciful to me and describe the Ekadasi that occurs during the dark fortnight of the month of Phalguna [February?March].”
Lord Sri Krsna replied, “O Yudhisthira, O king of kings, gladly shall I tell you about this great fast, known as Vijaya Ekadasi. Whoever observes it certainly achieves success both in this life and the next. All the sins of one who fasts on this Ekadasi and hears its sublime glories are eradicated.
“Narada Muni once asked Lord Brahma, who sits on a lotus, about Vijaya Ekadasi. Narada said, `O best of the demigods, kindly tell me the merit one can achieve by faithfully observing Vijaya Ekadasi.
“Narada’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 Ekadasi bestows the result indicated by its name. [Vijaya means “victory.”]
“`When Lord Rama was exiled to the forest for fourteen years, He, goddess Sita, and His divine brother Laksmana stayed at Pancavati as mendicants. Sita was kidnapped by Ravana, and Rama seemingly became bewildered by distress. While searching for His beloved consort, the Lord came upon the dying Jatayu and thereafter killed His enemy Kabandha. The great devotee?vulture Jatayu returned to Vaikuntha after telling Rama how His dear Sita had been abducted by Ravana.
“Later, Rama and Sugriva, the king of the monkeys, became friends.’ Together they amassed a grand army of monkeys and bears and sent Hanumanji to Sri Lanka, where he was able to see Janaki, Sita?devi, in an asoka garden. He delivered Rama’s message to Her and then returned to Rama with Her message to Him, thus rendering great service to the Supreme Lord.
“`With the help of Sugriva, Lord Rama proceeded toward Sri Lanka. 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 Laksmana, “O son of Sumitra, how can We earn enough merit to be able to cross this vast ocean, the unfathomable abode of Varuna? I can see no easy way to cross it, teeming as it is with sharks and other ferocious fish.”
“‘Laksmana replied, “O best of all beings, O origin of all gods, O primal personality, the great sage Bakadalbhya lives on an island just four miles from here. O Raghava, he has seen many Brahmas come and go, so aged and wise is he. Let us ask him how We can safely reach Our goal.”
“So Rama and Laksmana proceeded to the humble asrama of the incomparable Bakadalbhya Muni. Approaching him, the two Lords paid Their respectful obeisances to him as if he were a second Visnu. Bakadalbhya could understand, however, that Rama was actually the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who for His own reasons had appeared on earth as a human being.
“O Rama,” said Bakadalbhya, “O best of human beings, why have You come to my lowly abode?”
“`The Lord replied, “O great, twice?born brahmana, I have come here to the ocean shore with My phalanx of monkeys and bears in order to cross the sea and conquer Lanka 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 Rama, I shall tell you of the most exalted of all fasts, observing which You will surely conquer Ravana and be eternally glorified. Kindly listen with full attention.
“On the day before Ekadasi, 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 murti of Lord Narayana.
“When Ekadasi 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 Dvadasi 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 brahmana expert in the Vedic science. If You and Your military commanders observe Vijaya Ekadasi in this way, You will surely be victorious in every way.”
“`Lord Ramacandra, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, did just as Bakadalbhya Muni instructed, and thus He conquered all demoniac forces. Similarly, anyone who observes Vijaya Ekadasi 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 Narada, my son, from this history you can understand why one should observe this Ekadasi 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.’
Sri Krsna concluded, “O Yudhisthira, anyone who reads or hears this history will attain the same great merit as that earned by performing a horse sacrifice.”
[Ekadasi, The Day of Lord Hari, by Mahamandaleshwar Mahant Krishna Balaram Swami]