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Nirjalā Ekādaśī

The description of Nirjalā ekādaśī which occurs during the month of May-June is found in Brahma-vaivarta Purāṇa in the conversation between Vyāsadeva and Bhīmasena.

Once Bhīmasena the younger brother of Yudhiṣṭhira asked the great sage Śrīla Vyāsadeva O most learned and worshipable grand father please hear my request, ‘my elder brother Yudhiṣṭhira, mother Kuntīdevī, brothers Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva and Draupadī do not eat anything on the day of ekādaśī. They, especially Yudhiṣṭhira always tells me that I should also fast on ekādaśī. But I always tell them though I know that to fast on ekādaśī is an injunction of the scriptures. Yet I can not bear my hunger therefore I am unable to fast. I can give in charity as per my capacity, I can worship Lord Keśava with proper rules and regulations, but I cannot fast. So please instruct me how can I obtain the result of ekādaśī with having to fast?

On hearing these words of Bhīmasena Śrī Vyāsadeva said, “O Bhīma! If you want to go to the heavenly planet and avoid the hellish planets, then you must refrain from eating on both the ekādaśīs of each month Bhīma said, “O great sage! It is impossible for me to
observe fast on 24 ekādaśīs every year as instructed by the Lord. What to speak of fasting day and night I can not even tolerate my hunger for a movement. The fire of hunger known as ‘vṛka’ is always present with in my stomach and it is extinguished only by voracious eating. But with great endeavor I can fast only one day in a year. Therefore please instruct me about a vow by duly following of which I can attain auspiciousness both in this life and next.”

Śrī Vyāsadeva said, “O King! You have already heard from me the about the Vedic religious principles and the duties of the human beings. But in this age of Kali every one is not capable of following those rules and regulations. Therefore I will tell you a sublime method by which you can achieve great results. This method is the essence of all the Purāṇas. Any one who observes the ekādaśīs of waning and waxing moons by fasting never goes to hell.”

Hearing Vyāsadeva’s words the strongest warrior Bhīmasena became frightened and shivered like a leaf on a Banyan tree and said, “O grandfather! Then what should I do? I am totally unable to fast twice a month throughout the year.

Therefore O my Lord! Kindly instruct me about observing one vow which awards the most amount of merit and following of which I can achieve all benefits.”

Then Śrī Vyāsadeva replied the ekādaśī which occurs during the waxing moon in the month of May-June during the sun’s presence in either Taurus or Gemini rāśi is called as Nirjalā ekādaśī.

One should observe total fast even from drinking water in this ekādaśī. On this day one should perform Ācamana for purification by drinking that amount of water in which a single mustered seed or a drop of gold can be immersed. One should place the said amount of water in his palm which he should form to resemble a cows ear. If one drinks more or less water than this then it will amount to drinking of wine.

One must not eat anything at all on this ekādaśī otherwise his vow will be broken. One should not drink even water from the movement of sunrise from the day of ekādaśī until the sunrise on the day of dvādaśī. In this way if one strictly observes this ekādaśī without drinking water then he can attain the results of observing all the ekādaśīs of the year.

In the early morning on the day of dvādaśī one should take bath and give gold and water in charity to the brāhmaṇas.
Thereafter the follower should gladly eat with the brāhmaṇas.

O Bhīmasena! Now please hear the about the piety one accumulated by observing this ekādaśī. By following this ekādaśī one can achieve the result of following all the ekādaśīs throughout the year. Once Lord Viṣṇu who holds a conch, a disc, a plough and a lotus flower in his hand told me that if a person gives up all varieties of religion and surrenders unto me and follows this Nirjalā ekādaśī which is very dear to me is certainly relieved from all sinful reactions.

One cannot achieve supreme destination by giving wealth in charity or attain any benefit by following smārta rules and regulations in the Kaliyuga.

In fact the Vedic religious principle have been extinct in this age of Kali which is polluted with various faults. O Son of Vāyu! What more can I tell you? Actually eating is prohibited on all the ekādaśīs and even the drinking of water is prohibited on Nirjalā ekādaśī.

By observing this ekādaśī one achieves the piety of visiting all the holy places. At the time of death such a person is not approached by the fierce looking Yamadūtas rather he is approached by the divine looking Viṣṇudūtas to be transferred to the abode of Viṣṇu.

If one gives water and cows in charity after observing this ekādaśī then he is freed from all his sinful activities.

When the other Pāṇḍavas heard about the glories of this ekādaśī they resolved to observe it since Bhīmasena began observing this Nirjalā ekādaśī from that day onward this ekādaśī became famous as Pāṇḍava Nirjalā or Bhīmasenī ekādaśī. By following this ekādaśī sinful activities as huge as Sumeru or Mandara Mountain are at once burnt to ashes.

O King! Lord Kṛṣṇa has declared that any pious activities such as taking bath in a holy place, giving in charity. Chanting
Vedic mantras and performing sacrifices are carried out on this Nirjalā ekādaśī day become inexhaustible.

One who reads or hears the glories of this ekādaśī with devotion goes back to the abode of Vaikuṇṭha. The result one attains by observing the vow of Amāvasyā conjoined with pratipadā and offering oblations to the forefathers during the solar eclipse is attained simply by hearing the glories of this ekādaśī.

Ekādaśī is the mother of Kṛṣṇa- Bhakti, love and affection. If you do not follow ekādaśī, Kṛṣṇa- Bhakti will never come.