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Story of Ambarīṣa Mahārāja
The ninth canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam describes the pastime in which Śrī Ambarīṣa Mahārāja, a pure devotee, strictly observed ekādaśī by not taking any food and then breaking the fast at the proper time. By honoring ekādaśī, Ambarīṣa Mahārāja was protected from the powerful curse of a brāhmaṇa.

Ambarīṣa Mahārāja was very fortunate. He was a great admirer of Bhagavān as well as a generous and virtuous soul.

Although he was the sovereign ruler of the Earth, he was not attached to his wealth and opulence. Rather, he was attached to Śrī Kṛṣṇa and His loving devotees. He always engaged his mind in thinking about the lotus feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa; his speech in glorifying the qualities of Bhagavān; his hands in cleaning the temple of Lord Hari; and his ears in hearing about the auspicious pastimes of Bhagavān Acyuta and His devotees.

One day he went to Madhuvana in Mathurā with his wife and accepted the regulative principle of observing ekādaśī which gives prominence to dvādaśī. To complete the vow in the next month of Kārtika, he fasted on three nights– the two nights before ekādaśī, and the night of ekādaśī. After taking bath in the Yamunā River, he lavishly worshiped Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa and gave his subjects cows, delicious bhagavat-prasāda (food offered to the Supreme Lord), and other types of charity.

When the time neared for him to end his fast, Durvāsā Ṛṣi, who has a very angry nature, arrived there. Durvāsā Ṛṣi was very proud of his austerities, his status as a brāhmaṇa, and his great mystic powers. The king greeted him and offered obeisances at his feet, and then requested that he accept food.

Durvāsā accepted the invitation, but before eating he went to the banks of the Yamunā River to bathe. He became fully absorbed in meditation on the Supreme Lord. On this particular day of dvādaśī, the period for breaking the fast was only a muhūrta(forty-eight minutes) and the time was running out. Ambarīṣa Mahārāja, who knew all religious principles, became concerned and discussed the situation with the brāhmaṇas. He concluded, “It is improper if a host eats a meal when his brāhmaṇa guest is not present, as well as if one does not break the fast during the period of dvādaśī. Therefore, I will break the fast by drinking the foot-bath water of the Deity
of Bhagavān.

The śrutis say that if one drinks such water, in one sense it is eating, and in another sense it is not eating.”

Considering this, Ambarīṣa Mahārāja broke his fast by drinking the foot-bath water of Bhagavān’s Deity, and then he waited for Durvāsā Ṛṣi to return. While taking bath, Durvāsā understood through mystic meditation (dhyāna-yoga) that the king had broken his fast by drinking holy water. He became very angry, and when he returned to the palace he said to the king, “You are an imposter! Bhagavān Himself respects the brāhmaṇas, but you have disrespected me. You thought that it would be suitable to drink water to end your fast while I was gone, but you did not consider that this would be an offense to a brāhmaṇa. I must punish you for this.”

Burning with anger, Durvāsā pulled out one of his dreadlocks and mystically conjured from it the demon Kṛtyā order to kill
Ambarīṣa Mahārāja. This demon, which resembled the flames at the time of the cosmic annihilation, moved quickly towards
Ambarīṣa Mahārāja with a sword in its hand.

Ambarīṣa Mahārāja did not move or attempt to save himself; he simply placed his palms together and remained peaceful. Śrī
Bhagavān, who is affectionate to His surrendered devotees and always protects them, immediately dispatched His Sudarśana-cakra to save Ambarīṣa Mahārāja, and the demon Kṛtyā was burned to ashes.

After destroying Kṛtyā, Sudarśana-cakra advanced towards Durvāsā. As he ran for his life, he could feel the heat of the cakra, but it did not burn him. Despite all of his efforts, Durvāsā could not evade the cakra, which continued to chase him. He ran all over the universe, including to the cave of Mount Sumeru, the planetary systems such as atala and vitala that are headed by the various lokapālas (rulers of the planets), and the heavenly realm. Wherever he went, the cakra, with its blinding effulgence, continued pursuing him.

Becoming desperate, he sought protection from Brahmā. Brahmā told him, “I do not have the authority to stop this cakra.”

Frustrated, Durvāsā left and went for help to Śaṅkara, who said, “I also cannot save you; only the owner of this cakra can protect you.”

Exhausted, Durvāsā went to the topmost abode of Vaikuṇṭha and fell at the feet of Śrī Bhagavān. Trembling, Durvāsā pleaded, “O Acyuta, O Ananta, O brahmaṇya-deva (Lord and benefactor of brāhmaṇas),O Prabhu, please save me from Your cakra!”

Śrī Bhagavān replied, “O brāhmaṇa, You addressed me as brahmaṇya-deva, but I am unable to protect you. I am dependent on My devotees (ahaṁ bhakta-parādhīno); they love Me very much, and I love them. I do not have even slight independence from them, so I cannot help you.” Durvāsā said, “O brahmaṇya-deva, I am a high-class brāhmaṇa, so why are You neglecting Me? You are indeed the
protector of brāhmaṇas.

Śrī Bhagavān replied, “You tried to burn and kill my devotee, and now you expect Me to protect you? How can I protect an enemy of My devotee? My devotees have given up attachment to their families and wealth. O brāhmaṇa, what have you given up for Me? You summoned Kṛtyā to kill Ambarīṣa, and now you are running all over the universe seeking help from Brahmā and Śiva.”

Durvāsā said, “If I have committed an offense to your devotee, this is also an offense to Your feet. Please forgive me.”

Śrī Bhagavān said, “If a thorn gets stuck in one’s foot, one cannot remove it from one’s head. You must go to Ambarīṣa
and ask him for forgiveness.”

Durvāsā replied, “You are finding fault with me, but what about Ambarīṣa? I was his guest but he took water before me, and in this way he disrespected me.”

Śrī Bhagavān said angrily, “Ambarīṣa was observing ekādaśī to please Me. He accepted caraṇāmṛta (foot-bath water from the Deity), which should not be considered as eating.”

Durvāsā asked, “What is more important—to break the ekādaśī fast on time, or to give proper respect to the brāhmaṇas?”
Agitated, Bhagavān replied, “Go and ask Ambarīṣa. You are ignorant of the truths of the religious scriptures. I do not have time to answer your foolish questions. Śrūti, which contains My words, says that drinking caraṇāmṛta can be considered as both taking a meal and not taking a meal.

According to this, Ambarīṣa respected both you and dvādaśī. Not knowing this, you became angry. Go to him; I cannot forgive you, but he will.”

After hearing Bhagavān’s order, Durvāsā, who was still feeling the heat of the Sudarśana–cakra, returned to the palace and said to Ambarīṣa Mahārāja, “O king, please protect me from the intolerable heat of this cakra.”

Mahārāja Ambarīṣa felt compassion for Durvāsā, and he began to glorify the cakra. Due to the prayers and glorification by Ambarīṣa Mahārāja, the cakra became pacified and withdrew. Relieved from fear of the cakra, Durvāsā becametranquil and began to praise Ambarīṣa Mahārāja, offering many blessings to him.

One year had elapsed from the time the Sudarśana-cakra began chasing Durvāsā to the time he returned to the palace. During that entire period, Ambarīṣa Mahārāja only drank water and hoped that Durvāsā would return unharmed. Now, the king fed Durvāsā a meal according to the religious principles, and Durvāsā was satisfied. After Durvāsā finished eating and left, the king ate his food remnants.

Ambarīṣa Mahārāja could understand that it was only due to the mercy of Bhagavān that Durvāsā experienced all this trouble, and
was then freed from it.

Durvāsā Ṛṣi contemplated, “Although I am a great brahmavādī brāhmaṇa1, Sudarśana-cakra chased me all over the universe. I could not save myself, nor could anyone else give me shelter. This certainly shows the power of the vow of ekādaśī.”Then Durvāsā went to Tapoloka to preach this truth.

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