Today is Vijaya Ekadasi. Sastra, the Guruvarga, Acarya, and the Vaisnavas distribute many transcendental jewels to the residents of this world. Only very lucky people can accept, receive, and collect these transcendental jewels. These jewels contain priceless instructions that on properly being followed will lead to the sadhaka quickly attaining everlasting benefit. Anybody who engages in austerities, in tapa and japa, may attain their desired fruit of liberation in due course of time; but this is not possible in Kali Yuga.
Pracinanan bhajanam atulam duskaramsrnvato me—in previous times, the Rsis and Maharsis engaged in such excruciating austerities! They performed such strong austerities; these austerities cannot be replicated in Kali Yuga. Mostly, the so-called sadhus of Kali Yuga who are conditioned souls always engage themselves in having buildings and houses built them. They amass much property for their own enjoyment. They will then claim to perform bhajan inside these buildings. Before, they left everything and entered the forest, or went to a hill-station, a place near a waterfall, or they may have even entered a cave. Tolerating the scorching heat of the summer and the biting cold of the winter, they resided in these places in a carefree manner.
But now, equipped with all modern amenities, they claim to perform sadhana. They now have all forms of enjoyment and recreation present with them. They unconditionally gifted themselves with these facilities on the pretext of gifting them to God. But, the real sadhus remain unaffected by these conveniences and facilities; they have no relation, connection, and attachment to them. They are nirapeksa; they are neutral. They unconditionally offer all they possess to the lotus feet of the Lord. Mahaprabhu has said:
Nirapeksa na hoilo dharma raksa na jaya
The sadhus have everything, but they are never attached to anything they possess. Everything they have is meant for the service of the Lord; for the service of the Guruvarga. They are of the conviction, “What we possess is not meant for us.” How can this position of complete surrender come? How is it possible to achieve this mood? Srila Prabhupada Sarasvati Thakura has kindly arranged for a solution to this situation. He has made this position accessible to all conditioned souls. He has also managed for all forms of help to the conditioned souls. He arranged for all the souls to engage in Nama-sankirtan and bhajan throughout the day. Conversely, from morning to evening, the hapless conditioned souls cannot complete chanting even sixteen rounds. They chant Guru-mantra haphazardly, according to their discretion. They cannot offer their puspanjali and obeisances to Tulasi-devi; they cannot perform her arati and parikrama also. It is impossible for them to respect any Vaisnavas. Why? The parents offer their children all kinds toys to play with. Similarly, Maya-devi has offered many instruments and toys to the conditioned souls. All detrimental influences are present in Maya-devi presentations.
But, by accepting her real mercy, then despite being surrounded by her alluring presentations, the sincere devotees will be disconnected from her overwhelming influence and all of their attachment and connection will be directed towards God. The nirapeksa devotees are very serious, lucky, and fortunate. They are the most serious people in this world. Though they may have everything; except for Krsna and His service, they have nothing. Is something better than nothing? No! They only possess the wealth of service to Krsna, hence, they are called sadhus. They are attached and engaged to pracinanan bhajanam atulam duskaramsrnvato me.
Maharaja Ambarish was the emperor of an unparalleled kingdom. He would carefully respect all Rsis, Maharsis, and Brahmarsis. The Brahmins and Sadhus were the objects of his highest respect. What does a King or a Raja mean? Rajate, Virajate, Sobhate, and Aradhadate are some of the qualifications of a bona fide King. Maharaja Ambrarish conquered and won everyone’s hearts. He was the object of everyone’s love and affection. He would respect and honor everyone. By his love, he controlled all his citizens. Everyone had a place for him in their hearts. In the midst of his learned advisors in the royal assembly, Maharaja Ambarisa asked them a question.
He asked, “How can I conquer over influences that are detrimental to the cultivation of the devotional service to the Lord? How will God be happy? Please tell me how I can make God happy. I wish to know of a serious program that pleases the Lord.”
The advisors replied:
sevanam bhaktir ucyate
They said, “Maharaja, there is only one way to please the Lord. Sarvopadhi-vinirmuktam—adhi, vyadhi, upadhi-giving up all forms of mundane designations, one must continually be engaged in the devotional service of the Lord.”
Pratisthasa dhrsta svapaca-ramani me hrdi natet…
The advisors said, “Maharaja, you have eleven senses gifted to you by God. You must engage your eleven senses in the service of Hrsikesa. Hrisikena-Hrisikesa, your senses must be absorbed in the service of the Lord, who is the master of the senses. Maharaja, then you will naturally and automatically conquer over everything. The senses will not disturb and defeat you. When they are offered to God, when they partake of God’s prasadam and blessings, then as a result, they will never be against you. Subsequently, you will be victorious in every respect.”
Maharaja Ambarish asked, “But, who will help me? In this world, who is kind to me? Will any Rishi-Maharshi or Tapasvi be merciful to me? Will any Yogi, Brahmin, or Sadhu be favorable to me? Will they help me engage my senses continuously in the service of the Lord? Who will take responsibility for me?”
Then the Maharaja’s advisors who were all exalted Rishi-Maharshis, contemplated and discussed among themselves on what would be the best course of action. They realized that fulfilling Maharaja Ambarish’s desire was no easy task. When a baby is born, it has many desires. To fulfill the baby’s desires, the parents of the baby, the grandparents of the baby, the neighbors, children, district magistrate, ministers, and indeed, the entire government tries again and again to fulfill the baby’s desire. But, despite their relentless efforts, the baby is not happy. The baby’s wants only increase every passing day. The baby’s senses are very disturbed. On being offered something, the baby will cry and ask for more. The baby is never happy and pleased.
Similarly, every conditioned soul is as restless as a baby. How can the senses of the conditioned souls be controlled by them? How can they offer their senses in the service of the Lord? How can they have them engaged continually in the service of the Lord? Who has the power to control the senses? With this objective in mind, the Rsi-Maharsis intently discussed among themselves.
After due deliberation, they told Maharaja Ambarish, “Maharaja, there is one way, which will fulfill your desire. What is that most precious way? Do you know the glories of Ekadasi-devi, Gyarasi-devi? Out of His causeless compassion, God kindly sent Ekadasi-devi. This Devi is Dutamana, Prakasamana, she is very effulgent and helpful. Her magnanimity knows no limits. She has manifested from the Lord’s own eleven senses. She gives power and potency to the senses of those jivas who are favorably inclined to the devotional service of the Lord. Thus, she actively engages them in the devotional service of the Lord. By her blessings, they are connected to the service of the Lord. She awakens their dormant relationship with the Lord. Ekadasi-devi empowers the jivas; under her protection, the jivas will never be weak and disturbed. They will not run away and become lost within the vastness of this world.”
Greatly happy, Maharaja Ambarish asked, “Then how can I please her?”
“Pleasing Ekadasi-devi is no difficult task. Every fifteen days, on Krsna-paksa or Sukla-paksa, Ekadasi-devi appears. You should respect her in the same way you respect Rsi-Maharsis and Brahmarsis. Everyone is pleased by you, therefore, you must also become the object of Ekadasi-devi’s affection.”
“How can I respect Ekadasi-devi?”
The Rsis replied, “On the day of Dasami, you must feed your senses and body consisting of the five elements—earth, water, fire, sky, and ether, only once. Thus, on the day of Dasami, feed your body only a little. Water and fruits should be taken in a manner that would subdue the effects of the five elements. By avoiding grains and taking only fruits and roots, you will be humble. Avoid food predominated by the modes of passion and ignorance; you must only take food marked by the mode of goodness. Otherwise, you may take only water, milk, and milk preparations. You must be vigilant and take only a little of this food; you must honor prasad only once on this day.
On the next day, which is Ekadasi, you must not serve your senses. You must completely abstain from giving them any form of nourishment. You must not facilitate their search for sense-objects. Even a drop of water must be avoided on this day. What should you give them? You need to only offer your eleven senses in the service of Ekadasi-devi. She will engage you in the service of the Lord. She will have you completely engaged in following the limbs of devotion. She will always help you. Then you will never be restless.
Also, on the next day, which is Dvadasi, you must break your fast by honoring caranamrita. After drinking caranamrita, you may take fruits and roots. For these three continuous days, you must be careful to completely avoid grains and other preparations. Instead, offer the ingredients to Brahmins and Rsi-Maharsis. After offering the ingredients to God, you should offer them to the Brahmins and Rsi-Maharsis. You mustn’t be complacent and make a stock of all the ingredients you have. You should diligently offer all the food you have to these noble men. By these actions, you will accrue great benefit Maharaja. You will be victorious in all your endeavors. As well as being famous and powerful, more importantly, you will also be humble and sweet. You will be helpful to everybody. You will not be defeated by any foes. The influence of certain planets and the positioning of stars will have no effect on you. Sani, Mangala, Rahu, Ketu, Graha, and Naksatra; none of these fearsome personalities will disturb you. Indeed, everyone will be afraid of you. By looking at you, they will be pure. Why? Because your senses have been offered in God’s service; they are now God’s property and not yours.”
Maharaja Ambarish arranged a meeting for the proper observance of Ekadasi. On Dasami, he would travel from Hastinapura to Mathura. He would have his entourage assemble on the bank of the Yamuna. He would invite all the Brahmarsi-Maharsis, and they would recite the Veda-Vedanta, Sastra, Upanisads, Bhagavat, Puranas, Ramayana, and the various scriptures. They also started a fire-yajna and had everyone participate in Nama-sankirtan. Their program of following Dasami, the day preceding Ekadasi, ran successfully.
On the day of Ekadasi, they observed a nirjala fast. They stayed awake the whole night and only drank the Bhagavat rasa of Maha-sankirtan. They only drank this rasa. They slighted the taste of other rasas. The only predominating thought of their mind was, “How can I offer myself to the lotus feet of Ekadasi-devi? She purifies and cleanses my senses of all contamination. She gives my senses the qualification for the service of the Lord.” Everyone patiently waited for her mercy.
Everyone knows the pastime of Ambarish Maharaja and Durvasi Rsi as explained in the Srimad Bhagavatham. Durvasa Rsi showed us how humble and qualified Maharaja Ambarish was. Maharaja Ambarish followed all the teachings of the Rsis and Maharsis.
Sukadeva Gosvami told Maharaja Pariksita, “Maharaja, someone may be a King, or may claim to be a higher authority; but if they are unable to conquer their senses, they are useless. The agitation caused by the onset of anger, thirst, desire, lust, and other impediments will burn like a raging conflagration within one’s heart. They will defeat and smash one. Therefore, you must realize how Ambarish Maharaja used all his senses in the service of the Lord.”
Sukadeva Gosvami then spoke the celebrated sloka that aptly describes Ambarish Maharaja’s service:
sa vai manah krishna-padaravindayor
karau harer mandira-marjanadishu
ghranam ca tat-pada-saroja-saurabhe
srimat-tulasya rasanam tad-arpite
padau hareh kshetra-padanusarpane
kamam ca dasye na tu kama-kamyaya
Sukadeva Gosvami said, “Maharaja Pariksit, Ambarish Maharaja’s mind always dwelled near the lotus feet of Krsna. Hari, Guru and Vaisnavas were the only objects of his remembrance. He would always seek their foot dust. The foot dust of God and His devotees bestow great mercy. This combined mercy made Ambarish Maharaja’s mind and body constantly engaged in God’s service. He would think about them throughout the twenty four hours of the day; he did not give a chance for his mind to wander even for a minute. Vacamsi vaikuntha-gunanuvarnane—he would only speak about God’s glories and specialties. He would never speak gramya-vartha or gramya-katha; he would never speak inappropriately or hear the useless talk of the village folk.
Srutim cakaracyuta-sat-kathodaye—he would only give aural reception to the special glories of God. With his eyes, he would only the see deity of the Lord. What is an extended form of God’s deity? All the Vaisnava-Bhaktas. One must never look at another soul as the object of his enjoyment. By looking at another person as the object of his enjoyment, one will think, “How beautiful her cheek is! Such beautiful lips, long eyes, and breasts!” Thinking in such a manner, the conditioned soul will be engrossed in the mentality of being an enjoyer, like how the birds and animals are. Conversely, the materially enamored soul must only look at God’s deities. Looking at such unprecedented and unparalleled beauty, the soul will think, “How did God manifest Himself in such unmatched deity form?” The soul will then only carry this form of the Lord in his mind and heart. The Lord manifests Himself in many deity forms for the benefit of all the souls. As well as accepting this form of the Lord, they must also accept Tulasi-devi, Ganga-devi, Yamuna-devi, Rsis, Maharsis, Brahmarsis, and Tapasvis in their hearts. These personalities are also to be worshiped along with the deity form of the Lord.
The devotees in particular must accept these personalities in their hearts; they must make a room and place for them. No one else should enter and acquire the devotees’ hearts. Tad-bhrtya-gatra-sparse nga-sangamam—Ambarish Maharaja would fall the at the feet of a devotee and touch his feet. He would then place the devotee’s feet on his head and chest. He would smear the dust of the lotus feet of the devotees all over his body.
Padau hareh ksetra-padanusarpane — he engaged his feet in going on parikrama. Karau harer mandira-marjanadisu—with his own hands, Ambarish Maharaja would clean the Hari-mandira, the temple. Did he restrict himself to only cleaning the temple? No, he would also sweep all the pathways of the holy dhama. He would then smear cow dung on all places and purify the environment.
Srimat-tulasya rasanam tad-arpite — he would only engage his tongue in tasting Tulasi, cararanmrita, and Mahaprasad. He would never engage his tongue in tasting unoffered food. But, on the day of Ekadasi, he would avoid even Tulasi and caranamrita. Siro hrsikesa-padabhivandane—he always bowed his head before the Lord, the master of all senses. We often decorate our heads with turbans, crowns, and other showy displays, but if the head is not offered to the Lord—is not made to bow before the Lord, then the head is just added weight to the dead body. Ambarish Maharaja would repeatedly offer pranama to the Lord. What is the benefit in offering pranama, obeisance? By offering pranama, the soul is showered with blessings. But, nothing can come without bowing one’s head before the Lord.
Thus, empowered by Guru and Vaisnavas’ order, Maharaja Ambarish engaged all his eleven senses in the service of the Lord and His dear potency, Ekadasi-devi. Pleased by how Maharaja Ambarish unconditionally offered himself to her, Ekadasi-devi thought, “Maharaja has given his everything to me. I have engaged his every offering in the service of the Lord.”
To corroborate Maharaja Ambarish’s service to the Lord and Ekadasi-devi, the pastime between Durvasa Rsi and him manifested. On the night of Ekadasi, Maharaja Ambarish engaged in kirtana and managed for the completion of a yajna. He had everyone engaged in Nama-sankirtanam. At dawn, on the following day of Dvadasi, Prasadam was arranged for everyone. After Ekadasi was properly observed, all the Rsi-Maharsis, and the King and his citizens readied themselves to break the fast at the appropriate time. On the day of Dvadasi, after sunrise, there was only a minute’s time to break the fast. Before the time for paran had arrived, the Rsi-Maharsis performed an abhiseka, arati, and puspanjali. They chanted Naam and mantras. After all these ceremonies were completed, they became ready to partake of some Prasad as paran when the time to break the fast would come. What is paran? It is a mark of respect for Ekadas-devi when she leaves at a suitable time.
The devotee should pray and request to Ekadasi-devi for her causeless help. With folded hands, he should say, “Devi, you are going now. But, you must give me a little of God’s Mahaprasadam before you leave. This will be my protection for the next day fifteen days, after which you will appear. Otherwise, my tongue is very tricky. The tongue tastes everything it can find from here and there. It accepts many detestable foodstuffs. Therefore, you must please help me!” This signifies the action of paran.
After Ekadasi-devi left, the time for paran arrived. Durvasa Rsi’s arrival coincided exactly at the minute of breaking the fast. Maharsi Durvasa said, “Maharaja Ambarish, I have arrived. I am very hungry; you must arrange Prasad for me.”
The King replied, “Yes Maharaja, I will do so.”
“But first, I will go and bathe in the Yamuna. Upon my return, we will honor Prasad.”
But, it seemed that after Durvasa Rsi left to bathe in the Yamuna, he forgot how the King and all his citizens were anxious to break the fast. Why did he forget? He forgot because he is always engaged in service of the Lord. People think, “Sadhus have no business?” But the sadhus have many businesses to tend to for the entire day. Durvasa Rsi now became absorbed in remembering God and His lila. After some time had passed, he thought, “I must return quickly now, as I have promised to do so.” But by the time Durvasa Rsi had decided to return, the time for breaking the fast was passing. Ambarish Maharaja asked for the counsel of the Rsi-Maharsis and Vaisnavas on what would be the best of course of action in Maharsi Durvasa’s prolonged absence.
They said, “Maharaja, honoring caranamrita is not the same as honoring Mahaprasad consisting of grains. Also, by honoring caranamrita, you can break your fast and complete the observance of Ekadasi-devi’s appearance, by taking paran. Otherwise, you mustn’t bind Ekadasi and delay her departure. When she leaves, you must offer pranama and honor caranamrita. And when the Maharsi comes, you can feed him.” But, as you heard yesterday, Maharsi Durvasa was known for his temper. His desire is not fixed, what he would intend to do would change at a moment’s notice; such was his unpredictability. He was an uncontrolled person. Out of his raging anger, he killed his two wives by burning them to ashes. He would burn a person to his death if the person was guilty of a little mistake; or he would even kill them by his raging temper, even if the person was not guilty of any mistake. Everyone was afraid of his mystic prowess. There was no guarantee of what he would do or where he would go.
Infuriated, he reached the palace of Maharaja Ambarish. Greatly angered, he told Maharaja Ambarish, “You are a Ksatriya! A family man! You invite Rsi-Maharsis, but you dare to eat before they have eaten! You wish to give your remnants to me! Don’t you know who I am! You think, “I follow vrata and tapa; I am now great. I am a higher authority.’ You have disobeyed me. Now see the fruit of your transgression!”
Durvasa Rsi then broke one of his dreadlocks and threw it in the King’s direction. Maharaja Ambarish did not utter a word in his defense. Why? He has completely offered himself to the Lord. He thought, “If the Lord desire, He can protect me or let me be killed. It is His choice.”
One fiery demoness, Krtya emerged from the dreadlock. What is the nature of fire-ladies? If I speak on this, the ladies will say, “He is only insulting me.” But I am not insulting ladies. This is not a mere story or history. Cruelty and humility are present everywhere. Why don’t you take the side of humility? Why do you arrest yourself with anger? Why do you disturb yourselves by repeatedly being scorched by this dreadful anger-fire? This can only mean that you have a desire to accept anger. Why not accept good things instead of this frightful anger-fire? You come and complain to me.
You say, “Why are you always insulting ladies?”
Are Baba! This demon-lady Krtya-Raksasi, had a form composed of terrible anger. She ran to attack Maharaja Ambarish. She shouted out, “Maharaja, you think your senses are strong! You dare disobey sadhus! Now I will give you a presentation. Look at me!” Screeching, she ran towards the King intending to burn him to ashes. But her anger-fire was cooled. If fire emanates within the ocean or ice, it is immediately dissipated by water in its liquid or solid form from all four sides.
Krtya-Raksasi came near Ambarisha Maharaja, but to her dismay, she saw a greater source of fire dazzling before her. This fiery luminous source hovered over the King, protecting him from the demoness. Cakra Sudarsana immediately arrived for the protection of Ambarish Maharaja. How? Santa chale sira chakra dharaya—Sadhus, godly people, God’s representatives and followers are always protected by Sudarsana Cakra. In Sudarsana Cakra’s presence, Krtya-Raksasi became powerless; she became useless. How long can tapa, japa, and brahma-sakti work? After killing the demoness, Cakra Sudarsana went after Durvasa Maharsi. Durvasa Maharsi was afraid for the first time in his life; he was never previously afraid in his life. He was always fearless for he had brahma-sakti. But, he lost his brahma-sakti. Therefore, he was afraid.
Seeing Sudarsana approach him, Durvasa thought, “Sudarsana is going to kill me!” His fearless stance now changed to one of complete fear; he did wrong. Without any consideration of one’s advancement in Bhakti, he tried to punish and torture Maharaja Ambarish. He hated the King for his apparent breach of conduct. Durvasa Rsi thought, “I am great. I can do anything I wish.” But he didn’t know how great Maharaja Ambarish was.
Durvasa Rsi didn’t possess the power of proper judgment. The power of proper judgment lied with a superior authority. Sudarsana went after Durvasa Rsi, but Sudarsana had no desire to kill the Maharsi. Sudarsana wanted to speak some sense into Durvasa Rsi, but he was terrified to speak to Cakra Sudarsana. For instance, sadhus come to the house of a householder. But, the householder locks the door and runs hither and tither. He thinks, “The sadhus have come to take something away from me!”
He shouts, “There is nobody here! There is nobody here!”
Durvasa Rsi was not afraid of meeting death. Rather, he was afraid of the offense he had committed. He knew that Sudarsana had come to rectify this offense. Once, Durvasa Rsi went to meet Yudhistira Maharaja and his family, when they resided in the forest on being exiled from their kingdom. After everyone had finished eating, Yudhisthira Maharaja said, “Draupadi, Durvasa has come. You must feed him and his disciples. Otherwise, he will curse us.”
Draupadi replied, “I have already eaten! I have cleaned the pot and kept it aside. I was unaware of the arrival of Durvasa Rsi and his disciples. This is a cause of great worry.”
Draupadi then called for Krsna. Krsna immediately came before Draupadi and said, “I am hungry! Please give Me something!”
“Prabhu! Why are You teasing me? I have already finished eating. The Aksaya Patra doesn’t yield any food after I have eaten. Therefore, there is nothing.”
“You have the pot with you?”
“You offer Prasad to Me every day.”
“You offer Tulasi every day to Me.”
“Yes. Without Tulasi, I cannot offer any food to You.”
“If you have offered Tulasi, then the Tulasi leaf is definitely waiting for Me.”
Draupadi said, “Today, Bhima was very hungry. So, I cooked a hot preparation and I placed the Tulasi leaf on the side. I did not directly place the leaf in the preparation. I also did the same for milk and other preparations; I placed the Tulasi leaf on the side of all these preparations.”
Because Draupadi had left the Tulasi leaf on the side of the Aksaya Patra pot, it remained there. She had already cleaned the pot, but the leaf of Tulasi still clung to the side of the pot. She immediately brought the pot to Krsna and Krsna scraped the Tulasi leaf from the pot by His nails. He ate the leaf and said, “Trpto’smi.”
Meanwhile, Durvasa Rsi and his disciples had gone for a bath. Therefore, Yudhisthira Maharaja sent Bhima to request Durvasa Rsi and his disciples to come for prasadam. As soon as Krsna had eaten the Tulasi leaf, Durvasa Rsi and his thousands of disciples belched; their stomachs were now full. Hence, when Durvasa looked at Bhima coming with his mace, he grew anxious. Durvasa thought, “If I don’t honor his request for prasadam, he will beat and kill me!” Why was he afraid? If you disturb someone unnecessarily, punishment will come. Who are you to disturb? Hence, a big punishment will come.
There was a lot of air in Durvasa’s stomach; his stomach became floppy. He was unable to breathe. Seeing Bhima, he ran along with his disciples; only to never return. Indeed, he never returned.
Being afraid of being punished by Sudarsana Cakra, Durvasa fled to Brahmaloka, Sivaloka, and finally reached Visnuloka. Brahma, Siva, and Visnu told Durvasa of how they are unable to protect him. Why did they not offer him protection?
Lord Visnu told Durvasa Rsi, “If a thorn has pierced your feet, how do you expect it to emerge from your head? Go and beg forgiveness from Ambarish Maharaja himself. By offending and disobeying him, you have offended Ekadasi-devi herself. Ekadasi-devi and her followers protect devotees like Ambarish Maharaja. What can I possibly do? Hence, go and beg forgiveness from him.”
When Durvasa Rsi fled to the different planets in an effort to seek shelter, an entire year passed. When Durvasa Rsi returned to the place he had committed an offense, he was surprised to see that Ambarish Maharaja stood at the same spot with folded hands. Ambarish Maharaja prayed to Sudarsana Cakra with Sudarsana-stuti. The Bhagavatham mentions these prayers. Being pacified by Maharaja Ambarish’s prayers, Sudarsana returned to Vaikuntha. When Maharsi Durvasa approached Maharaja Ambarish, the King offered his sastang dandavat pranama to the sage.
The King said with great humility, “I have disturbed you. Please excuse and forgive me.”
Durvasa didn’t pray to Ambarish Maharaja, but Ambarish Maharaja offered his heartfelt prayers. These are the rules of sadhus. The sadhus always think, “I am disturbing the people around me.” But, the Rsis don’t think as such. They feel repentant, but how can they express their repentance? Durvasa Rsi returned to seek the shelter of Maharaja Ambarish; this was enough. There was no need for him to be punished now. Then Ambarish Maharaja fed the sage.
By this history, we can see how Ekadasi-devi protects her dependents. Ambarish Maharaja now was victorious in all respects. Hence, this Ekadasi is called Vijaya Ekadasi. Ekadasi-devi protects everybody; but we must seriously follow her appearance. If on the day of Ekadasi, you don’t engage yourself in harinama-sankirtana, harikatha, parikrama, darsana, cooking; and instead, you lay down and sleep the entire day, then you must know that you live the life of an ajgar, a python. You will sleep like Kumbakarna. Samadhi—samadau na vidyate. You will not follow any vidhi or niseda; you will only be in samadhi. You will attain a snake body if you are not careful in properly following Ekadasi. Otherwise, you may even torture someone who is sincerely following Ekadasi. What will be the result of such actions? Then you will attain the body of a pig. You will then share the remains of human waste with your fellow family members. Your nature would have degraded to such an extent that with your piglets, you will eat hot stool cakes. Why? Pigs consider these cakes very tasteful. They like the color and smell of this cake. This cake is of varying colors.
So, if you are not careful, you may attain the nature of such animals. You must follow the rules and regulations of Ekadasi-devi’s appearance. You must follow the injunctions of the sastras and the instructions of the Guruvarga. By following their instructions, you will not come across any problems. You will be ensured of all protection.
After describing the character of Maharaja Ambarish, Sukadeva Gosvami told Pariksit Maharaja, “Pariksit, you are also a King. You cannot win over yourself or control yourself without following Ekadasi. You may think that being a King and a higher authority, you can accrue spiritual merit by yourself; but know that this is impossible. You will suffer and be punished life after life if you have uncontrolled senses. Offer your senses to Ekadasi-devi; she will clean and purify them. She will then use them for God’s service. As a result, your senses will never be your enemy, they will never turn against you. Your senses will not be independent and they will not disturb you. They will always be your helpful friends. You will not be confined to having only one friend; you will have eleven friends. Being backed by your purified senses, you will be strong. But if you try purifying your senses by your own self, then you will surely be defeated by them. Will your mind disturb you? No, your mind will never be restless.
kshinoty abhadrani ca sam tanoti
sattvasya suddhim paramatma-bhaktim
jnanam ca vijnana-viraga-yuktam
Sattvasya suddhim — how will the heart be clean? By following vairagya-murti, vairagya-vidya, the heart will be cleansed. By having anuraga for the Bhakti and the Supreme Soul, all knowledge will be realized in the heart. Bhakti-devi, Ekadasi-devi, give everything. They not only treat the souls of their spiritual maladies, and provide protection for them; they make the heart of one to melt in transcendental love. After some days, an Ekadasi called Rama-Ekadasi will come. On that Ekadasi, the daughter of a King called Rama, would follow Ekadasi with great eagerness. Her father married her when she came of age. On the day of Ekadasi, her husband told her, “I am very sick. I can’t follow Ekadasi. I will die if I follow Ekadasi.”
The King said, “You may die, no harm. But on the day of Ekadasi, you must not take even a drop of water! Why do you live in my kingdom if you cannot follow Ekadasi?”
Now, Rama’s husband was sick; he would neither eat or drink. On the next day, on Dvadasi, he passed away when the time for paran came. Rama became a widow. According to the rules of Sanatana-dharma, she could not marry anyone else. Rama was a young lady.
Narada Rsi came and told Rama, “Your husband is waiting for you!”
“Where?” Rama asked with great happiness.
“In Rama-Vaikunta. God gave you a Vaikunta-puram. Your husband is waiting for you.”
After one year, this Ekadasi came again, and like all Ekadasis, Rama followed this Ekadasi earnestly. Then a vimana, a transcendental airplane came that had her husband seated on it. Rama sat alongside her husband on the vimana and headed to Rama-Vaikunta.
So, people think, “I will die if I follow Ekadasi! Or else I will be weak and sick.” But these worries are only products of mental speculation. It is impossible that one will die by following Ekadasi. Instead, great power will come by following Ekadasi. The magnitude of this power is unlimited! This power bestowed is not little. But by following other vratas that consist of chanting certain mantras and following austerities, you will be weak and sick. But you will never be weak and tired by following Ekadasi. It is impossible to say otherwise. On the day of Ekadasi-devi’s appearance, you must engage your eleven senses in the service of Bhakti-devi. You must offer yourself to her.
Somebody may ask, “Why is there no deity of Ekadasi-devi? Krsna has deities, Jagannatha has deities, and the other expansions and demigods also have deities; but why doesn’t Ekadasi-devi have a deity?”
In Jagganatha Puri, behind the Jagganatha temple, the sevaks have tied and bound the deity of Ekadasi-devi. Her deity is upside down. Why is this so? In Srimad Bhagavad-Gita, Krsna describes a banyan tree, which has its roots projecting upwards and branches extending down to the earth. Why? The roots collect Bhagavat-prema and the branches bear many fruits and flowers of this Bhagavat-prema that are distributed to everyone. Hence, Ekadasi-devi has descended from the transcendental world to this material world to give Bhagavat-prema to everybody. But the sevaks of the Jagannatha temple give a different explanation.
They say, “No, no! By not honoring Jagganatha prasadam even on the day of Ekadasi, you will be punished.”
But they don’t know the real glories of Ekadasi-devi. In the Jagganatha temple, the deity of Ekadasi-devi is located near the deity of Nrsinghadeva. Ekadasi-devi has manifested from the Lord’s own form. She has descended from Goloka-Vrndavan, Vaikunta-puram to this material world just so she can deliver the conditioned souls from their shackled existence. She will help the jivas who sincerely follow Ekadasi. She has promised to do so. But, by not following Ekadasi, or following Ekadasi according to one’s own whims or choice will not do. This complacency will not complete the proper observance of Ekadasi. Gradually practice the proper, appropriate observance of Ekadasi. Even if it is not possible to properly follow Ekadasi on one day, then on that day you make take some fruits and roots. But, you must take only a little; you must not eat the whole day.
The Guruvarga tell us, “If it is not possible to follow a complete fast on Ekadasi, then at least, follow a complete fast until 12’o clock. You can take some water and some appropriate food afterwards. If possible, you may fast for twelve hours or up until the evening.”
When I meet new people, I tell them, “You can eat fruits and roots ten times; but you must follow Ekadasi. You must not eat grains.”
By gradual practice, we will perfect our proper observance of Ekadasi. Srila Gurudeva started phalahara mostly for the Western devotees. Before, he wouldn’t allow the consumption of any fruits or roots. Previously, after Gaura-arati, only some devotees would take a little prasadam. They would take a potato and a little yoghurt. Or they would just take just yoghurt mixed with lemon juice. Bas! They would only honor a little prasadam. Taking fruits was a farfetched dream, so was milk. On seeing milk, the devotees would think, “Where did this milk come from? Did it descend from heaven or Vaikunta?”
The brahmacaris would never think about honoring any prasad on Ekadasi. They wouldn’t honor even one drop. For festivals like Janmastami, Radhastami, and Annakut-Mahotsav, some quantity of milk would come. How austere it was during those times! But now, everything is easy. God, Maya-devi, and Kali Maharaja have arranged everything for sadhus. Kali Maharaja proclaims, “I am giving many free things. I will see how you will follow vrata by accepting these gifts.” Pure ghee and other items will try to allure you on the day of Ekadasi. In Western countries, buckwheat is also available. Many various types of non-grain food is available. Fruit salad, pakoda, puris, halava, kheer, burfi, and many preparations are made on Ekadasi. Kali Maharaja gives various kinds of gifts. He checks to see who controls their tongue, eyes, body, and senses. Those who control the urges of the senses and body are very lucky and fortunate.
Here is one brahmacari-Suryakantha Prabhu, he does a nirjala fast for the complete day and night. He stays awake the whole night, chanting and serving. He has no problem. He is above Kali Maharaja’s influence. Many devotees are not attached to accepting the gifts and presentations of Kali Maharaja. They are serious; their sadhana is truthful. They are sastra’s proper followers; they will obtain a fruitful result. Srila Gurudeva would always tell us many glories of Ekadasi-devi. Despite being more than 90 years old, Pujyapad Bhakti Pramod Puri Gosvami Maharaja would observe a nirjala Ekadasi; he would completely abstain from even taking a drop of water. I have personally seen how he would observe nirjala Ekadasi. He perfectly followed Ekadasi up and until his divine departure. He would stay awake the whole night and do kirtana. Akincan Krsnadas Babaji Maharaja would sometimes come to the Mathura temple; he would play on the mridanga and do kirtana for the complete night of Ekadasi. Otherwise, he would do kirtana with a pair of karatalas. He would always go to Imtitala and spend the entire night there, immersing himself in kirtana. He would stay in Vraja-mandala for six months and in Gaura-mandala for six months. After Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance, he wouldn’t stay in one place. He would go to different pastime places of his Lordships and perform kirtana there. He would go on pracara with Caitanya Gaudiya Math’s Acarya, Pujyapad Bhakti Dayita Madhav Gosvami Maharaja. He would also often go on pracara with my Parama Gurudeva.
Akincan Krsnadas Babaji Maharaja would thus spend one half of the year in Vraja-mandala, and the other half in Gaura-mandala. He would do kirtana in the temple of a Babaji, in a smarta’s house, indeed, he would go everywhere performing kirtana. He was ajata-shatru, he had no enemies. He would always smile. He would wear a shirt covered by a small blanket and he would wear a half dhoti. Having no money, he would go everywhere. He would travel on foot, or by the train and bus. He would only go on these conveyances if someone would pay for his fare; otherwise, he would be content travelling on foot. He would walk from Bengal to Govardhana and Vrndavan. From Vrndavan, he would go to Puri. Ajata-shatru, Akincana Krsnadas Gosvami Maharaja would go everywhere on foot. He had no problems. Everyone knew his glories and everybody respected him. Everyone would help and serve him. But, he would never accept anyone’s service. Many Acaryas and Vaisnavas of Srila Prabhupada Sarasvati Thakura’s dynasty were of this caliber. They are very serious devotees; therefore, our Bhagavat Gaudiya Parampara runs to this day. This line will never end. Even if only one person follows Suddha-bhakti in the entire world; he will protect our divine lineage. We should seek shelter at his lotus feet, then we will have no more problems in life.
But if nobody is serious in following, then the scope for major problems to arise will increase. Then there will only be utpat; devotees will only fight among themselves. They will fight like dogs. Dogs are very territorial in nature; if another dog enters its area, it will bark viciously and say, “Why did you come into my area? This is my area! This area is my brother’s area! You stay confined to your area!” By this territorial mentality, the conception of pure devotion is contaminated. By offering all your senses to Ekadasi-devi, you will be completely cleansed. You will be spotlessly pure and you will not be haunted by any inappropriate conceptions. You will not insult anyone or collect their faults; you will not have any time to engage yourself in criticizing others.
Therefore, all are very lucky to be observing Ekadasi-devi’s appearance day. Only in our sampradaya do devotees have the serious desire to follow Ekadasi. But now geographical locations are classifying Ekadasi into many categories, categories like—American Ekadasi, African Ekadasi, Italian Ekadasi, Chinese Ekadasi, but none of these countries have given the order. From Mayapur, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has given the order. Following in the footsteps of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, adhere to the rules and regulations and follow Ekadasi. The day that Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s followers follow Ekadasi in Mayapur should be followed as Ekadasi-devi’s appearance by the entire world. Indeed, the entire world should always follow in the footsteps of Mahaprabhu and His associates. Hence, the calendar of Mayapur must always be followed. Otherwise, having separate interests and apparent time zones will alter the pure appearance day of Ekadasi-devi. By constitutional nature, the jiva is Krsna’s das and not Maya-devi’s das. Now, all the jivas should become Mahaprabhu’s footstep followers. By following American rules and American time zone, many problems will arise. Do you think that Srila Svami Maharaja was less intelligent by following the Mayapur calendar? Do you think that Srila Prabhupada Sarasvati Thakura also didn’t know when Ekadasi-devi would appear? Unfortunately, the computer has become everyone’s guru and acarya.
The computer tells everyone, “Oh the time to follow Ekadasi is after one more hour that coincides with tomorrow. You must follow Ekadasi after three days, or four days, or after many days, but you must not follow today! Now you can go and die, for I don’t care.”
Hence, this computer-acarya gives the time for Ekadasi-devi’s appearance. But we ignore the fact that someone’s birth and death has already been charted according to the positioning of the stars. The birth and death of a person can be determined in a moment as it is. How? The sun’s rays radiate sunshine in all directions but your shadow is cast downwards. This can only mean that the sun is not waiting for you; he is coming down and giving you his darsana. The sun has already arisen. There is no difference between the sun calendar and the moon calendar. But your ideas are becoming newer at every moment. Baba! You consider the positioning of certain objects to determine if it is tomorrow or if the present day still hasn’t passed. But, the sun is immutable. If it is Sunday, 12th January in a place, then it is Sunday, 12th January at all places. It is not 13th January. But, now people claim to have big brains! They are now dividing and separating according to time zones and destroying everything!
If someone tells them that they need to correct themselves, they will become angry and say, “You are against me! You are my enemy! You are a dog that incessantly barks!”
But, they refuse to think rationally. I am anyhow the servant of the servant of Mahaprabhu’s servants; I am not Maya’s servant. Regardless of anything being right or wrong, I always follow Mahaprabhu. But now, many ‘judges’ give judgments. People are very skeptical about the sunrise and moonrise in different places. Does it mean that the sun will not rise if I stand still on the surface of the earth? Will the sun descend on the surface of the earth so you can see the sunrise ‘factually’? This computer program is wreaking havoc. But if you wish to follow according to your discretion, you may do so; but this is not my program. I will follow my own program. If you like you can follow my program or you may not follow. If today is Ekadasi, you can follow Ekadasi tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. Or better yet, you can follow Ekadasi every day. Srila Gaura Kisor Das Babaji Maharaja would continuously follow Ekadasi for fifteen days. What is the problem in continuously following Ekadasi? This is good. Don’t eat grains or drink water; by this fasting, you will quickly go to Vaikunta. But you must follow the process seriously.
You must always be of the firm conviction, “I am in Mahaprabhu’s line.” People have no idea that Mahaprabhu has Himself requested and begged everyone to follow Ekadasi. People don’t know of the glories of Ekadasi-devi. I am my Guru Maharaja’s foot step follower, I follow Ekadasi on the day he does. Time is not guru. If anyone understands the grave importance of this, they will seriously follow Ekadasi. Otherwise, you can do as you like. You can make your own choices. How does the Nimbarka sampradaya follow Ekadasi? They follow the tithi that comes after midnight. On the day of Trayodasi, they follow Ekadasi. Who chooses to fight with them?
Some smartas say, “You must only observe the moment of Ekadasi’s appearance and the moment of her disappearance.” This means that if Ekadasi appears in the morning, then they follow Ekadasi only for the duration of the morning, or if she appears in the evening, they only follow her appearance for the duration of the evening. For instance, Siva-ratri is going to come. This day is a Trayodasi. Caturdasi comes at eight in the night. Smartas say, “No! Tonight, when Caturdasi starts, Siva-ratri also starts. So, I will follow Caturdasi tonight and not tomorrow.”
But, the Vaisnava calendar is different. They follow the tithi after sunrise. Does the sun arise according to its own will or according to your own discretion? You will adamantly say, “No! The sun rises according to my time. I have thoroughly checked.” How can you check your own time? You are covered by the blanket for the whole day, immersed in your sleep, how can you possibly determine the sunrise? You are a resident of Prthivi-loka, so will the sun come near you and arise? No, the sun rises according to a predetermined time. It only rises at a fixed moment. This is not subject to your mental speculation. Many people have many ideas.
tarko ‘pratishthah srutayo vibhinna
nasav rishir yasya matam na bhinnam
Tarko ‘pratisthah—tarka, logic or specious arguments are fruitless. One person will say something and another will cut his arguments. Competitors will cut each other’s claims and understandings. These counter-arguments are always existent; they run non-stop. Dharma-tattva is very secret and hidden. Mahajana ye pade kare gaman, sei pada amar anusaran; mahajano yeno gatha sa pantha—but, who is a Mahajana? Personalities like Prahlada, Bhisma, Janaka Maharaja, Svayambhu, Narada, Sambhu, Kumara, Kapila, and Manu are not physically present now. Therefore, all should be appointed as followers of Mahaprabhu and hence, they will be with Him in Mayapur, Navadvipa-dhama. This is the culmination of all rules and regulations. Bas! This is enough for Kali Yuga. Otherwise, you can follow the time zones of America, Russia, Ukraine, Australia, and other countries. By following their time zones, you not will not encounter any problems and you will not be tensed. But, since you consider yourself to be the authority, you are responsible for your actions and resultant consequences. You will be held responsible for your actions as you don’t consider Mahaprabhu as your authority. Your judgments will determine what is right and wrong for you. The result will be specifically for you; no one will take responsibility for you. The responsibility lies with you—this is clear. You follow your own understandings, so why shouldn’t you be responsible for your actions?.
Sastras state that after sunrise certain duties must be observed. But what will a country like Norway do? In this country, the sun never rises during the winter and never sets during the summer. So, what will the residents of this county do? Can you give me an answer? In Norway, for six months, the sun never sets. How can the time of appearance for Ekadasi-devi be calculated for this country? In some places, the sun rises at 9:30, so how will Brahma-muhurta be observed? Srila Svami Maharaja therefore arranged for all temples to observe Mangala-arati at 4:30 in the morning. Why did he issue this common order to all? If the sun rises at 9:30, then when can Mangala-arati be observed? When will you observe Brahma-muhurta? Will you wait all day for Brahma-muhurta? You must realize that you possess a garbage brain. You don’t think about this! All the different countries have separate ideas and programs. If you go to Norway, you will see how the people there cover the room in black cloth and timely sleep. After waking, they duly head off for work. What can they do if the sun doesn’t set? In some places, the sun never rises; they are engulfed by complete darkness. Not only for six months, but they are covered by darkness for nine months! So what can the people of these places do? When will they observe Brahma-muhurta and Mangala-arati? Ask your computer for an answer! What answer will your computer give?
If I speak the truth, people say, “This is Premananda’s regulation! He has written his Padma-purana.” But, I don’t wish to fight. Try to understand what I intend to say. Don’t make a hodge-podge of rules and regulations. You must be serious and appointed! Our aim and object must be proper, then it is good. Otherwise, you may ask your computer-acarya; he will calculate the time from all places and determine the period of Brahma-muhurta. Therefore, Svami Maharaja arranged for the same rules to be followed everywhere. His temples in Bombay, Vrndavan, and other places followed the same regulations. For instance, in Puri, the sun rises early. But in Mathura-Vrndavan, the sun doesn’t rise as early as it does in Puri. The sun rises an hour late. So, will you observe Mangala-arati at 6:30 or 7 in the morning? No, you must not do this! All the sastras state that according to the eight periods of asta-prahar, the day is divided from 3’o clock to 6 in the morning. Then it is from 6 to 9 and so on. In Bhajana Rahasya; indeed, in all the books of our Guruvarga, the chart for the proper observance of the day has been stated and explained. Without the help of these books, how will you chant and engage in bhajan? Will you practice your devotional services according to the estimation of eternal time or according to mundane time? What are the proper rules for us? According to the time period of the eternal world, nisanta-lila and manasi-seva begins from Brahma-muhurta. Otherwise, will you wake at 9’o clock or 10’o clock and begin your remembrance of nisanta-lila? Will Krsna wait for you to arise from your bed? Baba! I cannot understand this mentality! Therefore, I will not talk anymore. But I will only follow one regulation, which is the only regulation I know of—my Guru Maharaja and Guruvarga’s instructions.
My Guru Maharaja would often tell me, “Mahajana ye pada kore gaman, se pada koribe anusaran.” Who gave this thilak, mala, sikha, and sutra? Srila Prabhupada himself gave it; all the devotees in Mahaprabhu’s line have given it. Anything they follow is my everything.
Okay, I don’t wish to fight or quarrel. But I wish that Ekadasi is followed properly; this is my desire. Then everyone will be greatly benefited. Otherwise, a big problem will come by not paying any attention to the instructions of the Guruvarga. As a result, the regulation of proper, complete observance of Ekadasi will be lost.
Haribol! Hare Krsna!
[CC-by-NDNC Bhakta Bandhav]