Nīrjalā Ekādaśī

  • Don’t drink—but give—the gift of water today!

⚪ ShriHari Mandir (Porbandar) is celebrating Nīrjalā Ekādaśī fast on Monday, 21st June, 2021.

⚪ This fast is observed on the eleventh day of the first fortnight (Śukla pakṣa) of the hot month of ‘Jyeṣṭha’.

⚪ When Dharmarāja Śrī Yudhiṣṭhira Māhārāja asks Lord Janārdana (remover of the suffering of people due to illusion) to explain the significance of this Ekādaśī Kathā;

⚪ Śrī Krṣṇa declares that the significance of this specific Ekādaśī Vrata Kathā shall this time be narrated by son of Mother Satyavati (matriarch of the Kuru lineage), none other than Mahāṛṣi Veda Vyāsajī—an expert scholar of all the scriptures, Vedās and Limbs of Vedas (six auxiliary texts).

⚪ Mahāṛṣi Vyāsajī was present in the assembly, and He then explains the importance of observing a fast in both the waxing (Śukla) and waning (Krṣṇa) periods of the lunar month.

⚪These stipulations stated by Veda Vyāsajī regarding the Ekādaśī fast to Śrī Yudhiṣṭhira Māhārāja and all of the Pāndavās, are worth noting for all!
– One should not intake food (besides falāhāra—fruits, milk, nuts, etc) on the eleventh day (Ekādaśī) of both fortnights of all months.
– On the twelfth day of the fortnight (Dvādaśī), one should first bathe, worship Śrī Krṣṇa with flowers, finish one’s daily worship, invite and feed Brāhmaṇas, and then break one’s fast.
– One should not intake food even if observing the period of sūtaka (a period in which one is ordinarily excused from observing Vedic worship) due to the death or birth of a family member on this Ekādaśī.

⚪ Upon hearing the various regulated practices (nīyama) of an Ekādaśī fast, Śrī Bhīmasena honestly professes (to his grand-father Vyāsa) that he is simply unable to tolerate hunger due to the fire named ‘Vṛka’ which resides in his stomach, which is only pacified after consuming copious amounts of food!
▪️One name of Bhīmasena is ‘Vṛkodara’, (one who has the voracious digestive fire known as vṛka in his belly) as seen on the battlefield of Kurukṣetra ‘bhīma-karmā vṛkodaraḥ’ BG 1.15

⚪Unlike his eldest brother and King Yuddhiṣṭira, Mother Kuntī, wife Draupadi and noble younger brothers Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva, Bhīma finds himself unable to observe the sacred fast of Ekādaśī. ‘How am I supposed to not eat any meal for an entire day when I am unable to fast for the length of a day, even after consuming one meal in a day?’

⚪ Śrī Bhīmasena asks Mahāṛṣi Vyāsajī to advise him of just one single fast, which he could observe just once a year, by which he too would be able to participate and reap all meritorious fruits! In response, Mahāṛṣi Vyāsajī narrates the significance of the fast in month of Jyeṣṭha, specifically the Nīrjalā Ekādaśī fast.

⚪ How to observe this Nīrjalā Ekādaśī fast?
◽On the day of Nīrjalā Ekādaśī one should:
– Forbear to observe this fast with regulated practice (nīyama) of abstaining from food and even water from Sunrise of this Ekādaṣī until sunrise of the next day!
– The only intake of water permitted on on this day is either to wash the mouth whilst brushing one’s teeth, or a purificatory sip of water before performing a yajñá or pūja. Any water consumed other than this can break this fast.

⚪ Only by knowing thirst can one fully appreciate the significance of giving life-giving water in charity.
▪️This abstinence from both food and water, leads to curbing the cravings of the tongue which lead one to complete victory—

tāvaj jitendriyo na syād
vijitānyendriyaḥ pumān
na jayed rasanaṁ yāvaj
jitaṁ sarvaṁ jite rase
SB 11.8.21

Although one may conquer all of the other senses, as long as the tongue is not conquered it cannot be said that one has controlled his senses. However, if one is able to control the tongue, then one is understood to be in full control of all the senses.

◽On the day after Nīrjalā Ekādaśī (Dvādaśī):
– After bathing in the early morning, one should worship Lord Viṣṇu (who resides upon water) with flowers and adorn Him with beautiful clothes.
– During this fast, there is special significance in taking a mental resolve (saṅkalpa) to please Lord Keṣava by observing this fast and giving a vessel of water in charity to obtain the supreme abode.

The prayer to say whilst offering water in charity is-:

देवदेव हृषिकेश संसारार्णवतारक ।
उदकुम्भ प्रदानेन नय मां परमां गतिम् ।।
devadeva hṛṣikeśa saṃsārārṇavatāraka ।
udakumbha pradānena naya māṃ paramāṃ gatim ।।

‘The One who keeps us afloat in this material world (saṃsāra), Oh Lord Hṛṣikeśa,
by performing charity of this vessel of water, help me attain the Supreme Abode.’
(Uttara Khaṇḍa | Padma Purāṇa)

– One should invite over and feed Brāhmaṇas with food and sweets, as well as offer them their due dakṣiṇā according to one’s abilities; and thereafter, should one sit to break one’s fast.
– A pleased Brāhmaṇa bestows ShriHari Bhagavāna’s blessings.
– One should perform charity of Gold and Water to Brāhmaṇas.

⚪ What is the fruit reaped from observing this Nīrjalā Ekādaśī fast?
One who observes this fast:
– Attains the fruit reaped from observing all Ekādaśī fasts from throughout the year!
– Will never have to face the giant, frightful and black messengers of the Lord of Death (Yamadūta).
– Is taken to the Lord’s abode by the yellow-clad Lord’s attendants!
– Mahāṛṣi Vyāsajī recounts that Śrī Krṣṇa, Himself, had assures him that one who leaves everything and seeks refuge in Him, by observing Ekādaśī fasts, gets freed of all their sins.
– Even the greatest of the greatest of sins get destroyed by observing this fast.
– For example, one who has killed a Brāhmaṇa (Brahmahatyā), gets freed of this sin, too.
– ‘One who bathes, performs charity and yajñá, chant’s the Lord’s name, and performs all such meritorious deeds on this day, bears long-lasting positive results that can never be undone,’ says Śrī Krṣṇa.
– One who performs charity during this fast, attains the Supreme position.
– One who listens to this Ekādaśī Kathā, reaps the fruit of one who offers oblations to their ancestors (pitṛ śrāddha) during a Solar Eclipse on the New Moon of the fourteenth day of the fortnight.

⚪ After listening to the significance of this Ekādaśī Kathā, Śrī Bhīmasena, takes a mental resolve (saṅkalpa) to observe this Ekādaśī fast without water, every year.

⚪ Since then, this Nīrjalā Ekādaśī is also known as ‘Pāṇḍava Dvādaśī’, and especially, ‘Bhīma Ekādaśī’.

⚪ Nīrjalā Ekādaśī teaches us how there is an equal importance in renunciation (tyāga), as well as in performing charity (dāna). When one performs charity of a vessel of water to a Brāhmaṇa whilst personally abstaining from water, one realises the real value of water being gifted, and thus, reaps the real fruit of performing this charity—becoming dear to the Lord who abides in all hearts.

⚪ One who devotedly listens to or describes the significance of this Ekādaśī Kathā, attains Heaven.

🌐 Stay tuned to know more about the respective significance of, rituals involved in, and fruits reaped from, each Ekādaśī Kathā!

#Did-You-Know—“There is no such place or time where or in which God is not present. The curtain of delusion is the cause for forgetfulness of God. Fasts such as Ekādaśī are a means to live with special alertness, with the confidence that ‘Wherever I am, I am in God’s sight,’” tweets @PPBhaishri.

#FunFact—There are two Ekādaśīs in every month; falling on the eleventh day of every lunar fortnight. These are the days that the digestive system is the weakest, due to the placement of the moon, and thus, the self-restraint exercised in genuine fasting is seen to have physical, mental as well as spiritual benefits.

Nirjala Ekadashi Vrat Katha | Sandipani Vidyaniketan | Why Fast, You Ask?

#PuraanPrasaad by Rishi Shri Dhavalbhai Joshi

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