Nirjala / Bheem Ekadashi
Yudhishthira said, “O Lord! Please describe the Ekadashi that falls in the bright fortnight of the month of Jyeshtha.”
Lord Krishna said, “O King! Righteousness personified Vyasji, the son of Satyawati, will enlighten you about this Ekadashi, for he is well versed in the philosophical essence of all the scriptures and is a master of the Vedas and Vedangas.”
Then Vedavyasji said, “One should not take food on both Ekadashi days of a month. On Dvadashi, one should sanctify oneself by taking a bath and then worship Lord Vishnu with flowers. Then one should complete one’s daily routine and take food, but only after offering food to Brahmins first. O King! Even during the impurity period caused by a birth or death in the family, one should desist from taking meals on the day of Ekadashi.”
Upon hearing these words Bhimasena said, “Please listen to me O Supremely wise Grandsire! King Yudhishthira, revered mother Kunti, Draupadi, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva never take meals on the day of Ekadashi. They also exhort me to abstain from taking food but I tell them that I cannot control my hunger.”
On hearing the words of Bhimasena Vyasji said, “If you desire to attain heaven, and consider hell to be corrupted then you should not eat on the Ekadashi of either fortnight.”
Bhimasena said, “Grandsire! I am telling you the truth. The fact is that I am unable to observe even a partial fast by taking only a single meal in a day. Pray how can I observe a complete fast? There is a fire in my stomach called ‘Vrika’, which cannot be pacified unless I eat to my heart’s content. Therefore, O Great among sages! I can observe only one fast in a year. Tell me about one such vrata that will entitle me to heaven and ensure my well-being. I promise to observe that fast meticulously.
Vyasji said, “Bhima! In the month of Jyeshtha, when the Sun is in the Taurus or Gemini constellation observe the vrata of the Ekadashi falling in the bright fortnight without even drinking water. You can take water into the mouth only for rinsing or doing achamana. Any other intake of water should not be resorted to for that breaks the fast. From sunrise on Ekadashi to sunrise of the next day if one does not take water, only then the observance of the vrata is considered to be complete. On the Dvadashi day, after taking a bath, one should donate water and gold to Brahmins in the prescribed manner. Thus having completed all concerning rituals, the self-restrained man should take food with the Brahmins. Undoubtedly indeed, the merits one attains by observing the vrata of Nirjala Ekadashi is equivalent to the merits attained by observing fasts on all Ekadashis of the year. Lord Keshava, who holds the conch, disk and club, had told me, “If a man takes refuge in me renouncing all else, and also observes a fast on Ekadashis, he is delivered from all sins.”
One who observes the vrata of Ekadashi does not have to face the dark-complexioned, gigantic and fierce messengers of Lord Yama, who hold staffs and nooses. Instead, this devout Vaishanva is finally escorted to the abode of Lord Vishnu by His yellow-clad, Sudarshana chakra-wielding gentle messengers who move with the speed of mind. Therefore, by all means, observe a complete fast and worship Lord Vishnu on the day of Nirjala Ekadashi. Men of women, even if they have incurred mountainous sins, are absolved from their evil deeds by observing the vrata of Nirjala Ekadashi. One who observes the vow of not taking water on that day, is entitled to great merits. It is said that such a person attains merits equivalent to donating tens of millions of gold coins for every three-hour period of the day. Whatever virtuous deeds such as holy bath, charity, jap, homa, etc. one performs on this day bestows imperishable merits upon him. This has been declared by Lord Krishna Himself. One who meticulously observes a fast on Nirjala Ekadashi in the prescribed manner attains the position of Lord Vishnu’s devotee. He who takes food on an Ekadashi day, in effect, eats sin. He is like a chandal in this world and is relegated to a lower world after death.
Those who observe a fast and engage in charities on the Ekadashi falling in the bright fortnight of Jyeshtha, attain the Supreme state of salvation. Even those sinners, such as the killer of a Brahmin, a drunkard, a thief or one who opposes the Guru, will be delivered from all sins if they observe a fast on this Ekadashi day.
O Son of Kunti! Now I will tell you about the special virtuous deeds and charities ordained for the faithful devotees on Nirjala Ekadashi. On this day, one should worship Lord Vishnu, Who lies in the water; and donate a cow. Brahmins should be thoroughly propitiated with money and varieties of sweetmeats. This surely pleases the Brahmins and once the Brahmins are pleased, Lord Vishnu blesses one with salvation. Those who observe the vrata of Nirjala Ekadashi by keeping their desires under control, observing self-restraint, engaging in charity and remaining awake at night, reserve a place in Lord Vishnu’s abode not only for themselves, but also for their past hundred generations along with a hundred generations of the future. On Nirjala Ekadashi, one should donate grains, clothes, cows, water, beds beautiful asanas, kamandalu and umbrellas. One who donates shoes to an excellent Brahmin – a worthy recipient, goes to heaven in a golden aircraft. One who listens to the glory of this Ekadashi with devotion, or relates it to others, will go to heaven. The fruits that one attains by offering shraaddha to the manes at the time of a solar eclipse on a New Moon day, which coincides with the fourteenth lunar day, are obtained by listening to this narration as well. Firstly, one should clean one’s mouth and then take this vow, ‘To please Lord Vishnu, I shall observe a complete fast and renounce even water except for achamanaon this Ekadashi day.’ Lord Vishnu should be worshipped on the Dvadashi day with incense, dhoops, flowers and beautiful clothes in the prescribed manner. Thereafter with a resolve to donate a pitcher full of water, one should chant the following mantra,
देवदेव ह्रषीकेश संसारार्णवतारक ।
उदकुम्भप्रदानेन नय मां परमां गतिम्॥
‘O God of gods! O Lord Vishnu! You deliver men from the bondage of this word. Pray kindly lead me to salvation upon donating this water-filled pitcher.’
O Bhimasena! On the day of this auspicious Ekadashi which falls in the bright half of Jyeshtha one should fast without even drinking water and donate sugar and pitchers filled with water to virtuous Brahmins. This enables one to attain proximity to Lord Vishnu and experience Bliss. Thereafter on Dvadashi day, one should feed the Brahmins first and then take food. One, who observes the vrata meticulously in the above manner on this sin-destroying Ekadashi, has all his sins and ailments destroyed and attains emancipation.”
After listening to the virtues of Nirjala Ekadashi, Bhimasena also started observing the vrata on this auspicious Ekadashi.
Experience a life full of bliss free from, diseases, sorrow and sin.
Caution: Diabetics, old and weak men should desist from the Nirjala (going without water) fast.*