The Skanda Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words

This page describes The Story of Ekadashi which is chapter 11 of the English translation of the Skanda Purana, the largest of the eighteen Mahapuranas, preserving the ancient Indian society and Hindu traditions in an encyclopedic format, detailling on topics such as dharma (virtous lifestyle), cosmogony (creation of the universe), mythology (itihasa), genealogy (vamsha) etc. This is the eleventh chapter of the Margashirsha-mahatmya of the Vaishnava-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 11 - The Story of Ekādaśī

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Brahmā said:

1. O creator of living beings, O Lord, kindly narrate fully to me the greatness of Ekādaśī and the procedure pertaining to the idols.

Śrī Bhagavān said:

2. O tiger among Brāhmaṇas, listen to the story that is destructive of sins. On hearing it the (great) sins like Brāhmaṇa-slaughter etc. perish.

3-4a. There was a king in the city of Kāmpilya[1] known by the name Vīrabāhu. He was truthful in speech, had conquered anger. He had realized Brahman and was devoted to me. He was of good disposition. He was merciful. He was a strong handsome man.

4b-5a. He was ever devoted to the devotees of the Lord (Viṣṇu) and was always interested in stories about me and was always engaged in listening to the episodes about me.

5b-8. He was always fond of Jāgaraṇas (sacred vigils at night). He was a donor and a learned man. He had forbearance and valour. He had conquered his sense-organs. He was victorious and was fond of fighting battles. In prosperity he was on a par with Kubera. He was endowed with sons, cattle and wealth. He was devoted to his own wife.

His wife Kāntimatī was unrivalled on the earth in beauty. She was a highly chaste and faithful lady and was a great devotee of mine. The young king of large eyes enjoyed the earth in her company. Excepting me, O mighty one, he did not recognise another deity.

9. One day, O son, the great sage Bhāradvāja (? Bharadvāja) came to the abode of that noble-souled Vīrabāhu.

10-11. On seeing Bharadvāja, the great sage, who had come from far, the king himself welcomed him by offering Arghya duly. He himself offered him a seat. After bowing down to him with great devotion he stood in front of the excellent sage.

The king said:

12. Today my life has become fruitful. This is my most fruitful day. Today my kingdom has become fruitful. Today my abode has become fruitful.

13. O saintly Brāhmaṇa, Janārdana, the great Ātman, has become pleased with me, since you, an excellent Yogin, have come to my abode today.

14. I am rid of crores of sins, since I have been seen by you. My kingdom, prosperity, glory, elephants and horses have been dedicated to you.

15. You are a Vaīṣṇava, O excellent sage. There is nothing which I cannot give you. Even a Varāṭikā (cowrie, a small conch-shell, the smallest coin) given to a Vaiṣṇava becomes as big as Meru.

16. Brāhmaṇas have told me: “If an excellent Brāhmaṇa, a Vaiṣṇava, does not come to anyone’s house on a day, that day is futile unto him.”

17. This has been stated to me by Gārgya, Gautama and Sumantu that Vaiṣṇavas, whoever they may be, the devotees of Viṣṇu, are all Brāhmaṇas by caste.

18. Men who are not devotees of Hṛṣīkeśa are Piśācas (ghosts). Those who take food on Hari’s day Ekādaśī are tainted with great sins.

19. Through a single day of Hari (i.e. observing one day of Hari, the Ekādaśī day) is obtained what is stated by wise men as the fruit of (observing) thousands of Śiva-vratas[2] and crores of Saura Vratas or of Brahmā’s Vratas.

20. O Brāhmaṇa, as long as Dvādaśī (the twelfth lunar day) mostly liked by me does not arrive, the Tithis of Brahmā and Śaṅkara are boastful.

21. The power and lustre of the stars is only as long as the moon does not rise. The same is the case with the other Tithis, O great Brāhmaṇa, as long as Dvādaśī does not arrive.

22. This has been formerly stated in my presence by Nārada and Vasiṣṭha. O great sage, you are conversant with all the holy rites of Vaiṣṇavas.

Bhāradvāja said:

23. Well asked, O highly fortunate one, since you are a devotee of Viṣṇu. The earth that you protect, O king, is blessed. The subjects (governed by you) are good (blessed).

24. One shall not stay in that kingdom where the king is not a Vaiṣṇava. Better to stay in a forest or in a Tīrtha but not in a realm where there are no Vaiṣṇavas.

25. That realm where the king ruling the earth is a Bhāgavata (loyal devotee of the Lord) should be considered Vaikuṇṭha. That kingdom is devoid of sins.

26. A kingdom without Vaiṣṇavas is like the body without the eyes, or women without husband or Dvādaśī with Daśamī overlapping it.[3]

27. A kingdom without Vaiṣṇavas, O king, is like a son who does not feed and protect his parents or Dvādaśī overlapped by Daśamī.

28. A kingdom without Vaiṣṇavas is like a king not giving charitable gift, or like a Brāhmaṇa selling juices and beverages or Dvādaśī with Daśamī overlapping it,

29. A kingdom without Vaiṣṇavas is like an elephant without tusks or a bird without wings or Dvādaśī overlapped by Daśamī.

30. A kingdom without Vaiṣṇavas is as futile as using the Vedas etc. for monetary gifts or merit for worldly wealth or like Dvādaśī with Daśamī overlapping it.

31. A kingdom without Vaiṣṇavas is like Sandhyā (prayer at junctions of night and day) without Darbha grass, or Śrāddha without monetary gifts or Dvādaśī with Daśamī overlapping it.

32. A kingdom without Vaiṣṇavas is like a Śūdra with a tuft feeding himself on the milk of a tawny-coloured cow or Dvādaśī with Daśamī overlapping it.

33. A kingdom without Vaiṣṇavas is like a Śūdra who carnally approaches a Brāhmaṇa woman, or a person who destroys gold, or a person who defiles Dharma or Dvādaśī with Daśamī overlapping it.

34. A kingdom without Vaiṣṇavas is like felling of the trees of Han, Sun-god etc., O excellent one among men, or Dvādaśī with Daśamī overlapping it.

35. A kingdom without Vaiṣṇavas is like offering of Āhuti (oblations to gods) without Mantras or like milk of a cow with a dead calf or Dvādaśī with Daśamī overlapping it.

36. A kingdom without Vaiṣṇavas is like a widow with tresses of hair not removed[4] or like Vrata (without taking) holy bath or like Dvādaśī with Daśamī overlapping it.

37. He who is a devotee of the Slayer of Madhu is called a king by good people. His kingdom flourishes always. Along with his subjects he remains happy.

38. My sight is fruitful, O king, that you have been seen by me. Today my speech is fruitful because I converse with you.

39. Even if it is far off, one should go to that place if it is heard that a Vaiṣṇava is present there. By seeing him one will attain the merit that arises from a holy bath in a Tīrtha.

40. So, O king, you have been seen by me—you who are pure and engaged in devotion to Viṣṇu. Hail unto thee! I shall go now. Be happy, O king.

41. In the meantime, Bhāradvāja, the most excellent one among sages, the leader of all the Yogins, was bowed down to by the queen Kāntimatī.

42. (The sage blessed her:) “O beautiful lady, let there be absence of widowhood (May your husband be alive during your life time). Be loyal and devoted to your husband. O splendid lady, may your devotion to Keśava be always steady.”

43. Thereafter the king spoke to Bhāradvāja, the great sage, delighting him with his voice majestic like the thundering sound of clouds.

The king said:

44. O excellent sage, if you are kindly disposed towards me, say everything as to what I have done in the previous birth that my fortune has been large and flourishing?

45. How was this kingdom with all the enemies killed acquired by me? My son is very excellent with decent qualities and my wife is amiable and beautiful.

46. She always thinks about me. She likes me as though I am her very vital air. She meditates on Janārdana. Who am I, O sage? How did she (come to me)? What righteous action was performed by me?

47. What has been done by this lady of fascinating limbs, who is my wife? O sage, by what merit (have I acquired) this extremely rare fortune in the world of mortals?

48. All the kings are under my control. My valour is irresistible. My body is free from illness.

49-50a. O sage, none can bear my splendour like this praiseworthy (uncensured) lady. I wish to know today what meritorious deeds have been performed by me in the previous birth.

50b-51. On being asked thus by the king about his acts of the previous birth, the acts of his wife and the reason for his affluence, (the sage spent) some time in Yogic meditation. Then he came to know about this.

Bhāradvāja said:

52-54. O king, the act of the previous birth both of yours and those of your wife have been known. O saintly king, listen, I shall tell you.

Listen, O king, to everything about the Karma of which all these are the fruits.[5]

You were a Śūdra by caste. You were engaged in injuring animals. You were an atheist of vicious conduct. You used to violate the chastity of other men’s wives. You were ungrateful and rude. You were devoid of good behaviour.

55. This lady of large eyes was your wife in former birth too. Without you she did not have anything to do mentally, verbally and physically (with anything else).

36. Though you were of that (vicious) nature, she did not have any bad feelings towards you. She was loyal to you. She was of noble and exalted nature. She worshipped you constantly.

57. Since you committed evil actions you were forsaken by your friends and relatives. The wealth that had been acquired and accumulated by your ancestors dwindled.

58. When the wealth perished, O king, you expected better resuits (from other sources) but as a result of the previous Karmas even agricultural operations became fruitless.

59. Thereafter you were completely abandoned by your kinsmen as the wealth became exhausted. Though your resources dwindled, this chaste and beautiful lady did not leave you.

60. Thus frustrated in your hopes and ambitions you went to a solitary forest. After killing many animals, you sustained yourself.

61. O king, along with your wife you were thus engaged in sinful activities on the earth and many years elapsed in this manner.

62-63. One day, O king, an excellent Brāhmaṇa Devaśarmā, a great sage, lost his way. He was in a dilemma as to the directions. He was excessively afflicted with hunger and thirst. When the midday sun blazed, the sage who had lost his way, fell down in the middle of the forest, O king.

64-65. On seeing that unknown old Brāhmaṇa afflicted with misery, you pitied him. Grasping the hand of that Brāhmaṇa you raised him who was fallen to the ground. Then it was spoken by you: “O Brāhmaṇical sage! Be pleased and come to my hermitage.

66-70. There is a lake full of water and adorned with clusters of lotuses. (The banks) abound in excellent trees laden with nice and luscious fruits and fragrant flowers. Take your bath in the cool water and perform your daily routine of duties. O Brāhmaṇa, you can eat the fruit and drink the cool water. Guarded by me take rest peacefully. O eminent Brāhmaṇa, stay in my hermitage till you are fully contented. Get up, O excellent Brāhmaṇa. It behoves you to do this favour.”

On hearing the words of the Śūdra then, the Brāhmaṇa regained his consciousness. He caught hold of the hand of the Śūdra and went to the lake. O mighty one, he sat on the banks under the shade.

71. He took his holy bath duly and worshipped Keśava. After offering water libations to the manes and Devas, he drank the cool water.

72-74. Devaśarmā, an excellent Brāhmaṇa, took rest at the root of a tree. With great devotion, the Śūdra prostrated at the feet of the sage in the company of his wife. He then spoke to the sage: “You have come as our guest to uplift us both. O saintly Brāhmaṇa, by your sight our sin has perished. O my beloved, give this Brāhmaṇa tasty, tender and juicy fruits which are ripe and pleasing.”

The Brāhmaṇa said:

75. I do not know you. Tell me about your caste. O son, one should not take food from a completely unknown person even if he be a Brāhmaṇa.

The Śūdra said:

76-80. I am a Śūdra, O tiger among Brāhmaṇas. You need not have any suspicion at all, O Brāhmaṇa. I have been abandoned by my own kinsmen who are wicked and vicious.

While those two were conversing thus, fruits were offered to the Brāhmaṇa by the wife of the Śūdra. They were eaten by him. After drinking the cool water, the Brāhmaṇa became delighted in his mind. After getting pleasure (thereby), the sage took rest at the foot of the tree.

That Śūdra and his wife took their meal and returned (they said): “Welcome, O excellent sage. Where are you coming from? Why did you come to this desolate forest, O excellent Brāhmaṇa, to the forest full of danger from wicked wild animals, devoid of men, full of miseries and extremely terrible both by day and night?”

The Brāhmaṇa said:

81. I am a Brāhmaṇa, O noble one, on my way to Prayāga. As the way was unknown, I entered this terrible forest.

82-83. Due to the power of my merit, you have become my excellent kinsman. My life has been saved by you. Tell me what shall I do for you. Tell me first how you came to stay in this dreadful and lonely forest. Who are you? What is the reason? Tell me.

The Śūdra replied:

84-89. The city of Vidarbha is being protected by King Bhīmasena. My residence is in the great realm Mahārāṣṭra. I am a Śūdra of sinful activities. O excellent Brāhmaṇa, duties pertaining to my caste have been abandoned by me. I have been forsaken by my kinsmen. Hence I have come to the forest. I sustain myself along with my wife by killing animals everyday.

Now, O great sage, I have become completely disgusted with my sinful deeds. Be kind to me a bit, though I am sinful, O holy lord. O excellent Brāhmaṇa, it is due to my merit that you have come here. It behoves you to favour me with your advice so that my wife and I will not see Yama (the son of the Sun-god). I do not at all desire anything except Lord Janārdana. O excellent sage, bless me. Grant me this favour.

Bhāradvāja said:

90. On being requested and asked thus by that Śūdra with great devotion, Devaśarmā, the excellent Brāhmaṇa said these words laughingly:

Footnotes and references:


Kampil in Farrakhabad District of Uttar Pradesh.


This fanatic statement is against the syncretic trend and tolerant spirit of Purāṇas. For identity of Śiva and Viṣṇu vide VāP 1.25.14-29 and Kūrma 1.15.89-91.


The Twelfth Tithi (Dvādaśī) overlapped by the Tenth Tithi (Daśamī) is regarded inauspicious. The burden ‘dvādaśī daśamī-yuktā’ (Dvādaśī overlapped by Daśamī) in vv 26-36 strongly deprecates such a Dvādaśī.


Reference to the custom of widow-tonsure.


Karmavāda is a factor common to Brahmanism, Buddhism and Jainism. Hence re-birth as a motif is used by Buddhists and Jains in stories for propagation of their faiths (vide the Buddhist Jātaka stories). Here the same motif is used īo extol Ekādaśī Vrata in vv 52 ff of Ch. 11 and Ch. 12 and an atheist Śūdra is shown to have become a highly fortunate king like Vīrabāhu of Kāmpilya due to his observance of this Vrata.

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