The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Importance of Ekadashi Vrata which is chapter 231 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 two hundred thirty-first chapter of the Tirtha-mahatmya of the Nagara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 231 - Importance of Ekādaśī Vrata

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Sūta said:

1-3. After gaining control over the kingdom of the three worlds by chance, he commanded the entire universe (with certain do’s and don’t’s).

He had a thousand times more of strength, vitality, courage and fury than that of Andhaka. He was highly hideous and horrible.

No man on the earth was to perform Yajña, Homa and Jāpa, (This order he promulgated) after being convinced that the Daityas were well-established in the position of the Suras.

4. There were a few devout fellows. Whenever they wanted to perform holy rites, Homa or Japa in order to propitiate the Devas, they did so after resorting to a secret place.

5. Then, the Daityas staying in Svarga, became deprived of shares in the Yajñas. They became highly suspicious on account of the shares received from human beings.

6. Thereupon, the Dānava became extremely furious. He sent efficient secret agents to the mortal world and ordered them:

7. “Whoever performs Yajña, Homa or Dāna on the earth for Devas and whoever among Devas accepts it, should be killed by you all unhesitatingly. That is my order.”

8. On hearing his order, the extremely powerful Dānavas went to the earth and moved round secretly.

9. If they found anyone engaged in Japa, Homa and Svādhyāya (self-study and chanting of the Vedas), they killed him with sharp swords,

10. In the meantime, an excellent sage Sāṅkṛti hid himself in the Gartā (chasm) where, O Brāhmaṇas, penance had been formerly performed by Vṛka. He performed the penance secretly.

11. On seeing him ensconced in the cave and performing penance, they rebuked him and spoke harsh words.

12-13. O excellent Brāhmaṇas, they saw a four-armed idol of Vāsudeva installed in front of him and adored with scents and flowers. Thereupon, they angrily raised the weapons and struck him. They were unable to kill him, because he was enveloped (and protected) by the refulgence of Viṣṇu. Even their bright weapons became entirely blunted.

14. They were disgusted and ashamed due to this discomfiture and conveyed the information to Vṛka, the leader of the Dānavas:

15-17. “O highly esteemed one, in the holy spot of Hāṭakeśvara, a certain Brāhmaṇa had placed the image of Viṣṇu in front of him and was performing penance. It is the place where penance has been performed by you out of fear of all the Heaven-dwellers. Stealthily hiding himself from us, he performs a similar penance. On account of this, when we struck him, all the weapons became blunted. So, do what is proper here.”

18. On hearing their words Vṛka became furious. He hurriedly went to the place where Sāṅkṛti was present.

19. After going there, he threw the image of Viṣṇu out of the pit very far off and rebuked him repeatedly.

20-21. He kicked him with his right foot and then with the left one. Then he said to him: “You should be killed by me because you secretly worship my enemy Janārdana. Therefore, I will kill you.” After saying thus the Lord of Daityas struck him with a sword.

22. Though his sword was very sharp, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, the moment it was employed (struck) on his body, it split into a hundred pieces.

23. Thereupon, Sāṅkṛti became furious and cursed him:

24. “O sinful one, since I have been kicked by you with the feet, therefore those two feet will fall off instantly on the ground.”

Sūta said:

25. As soon as this was uttered by him, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, the feet fell on the ground like five-hooded serpents.

26. At the same time, there was a great commotion among the soldiers and Vṛka as well as among the women in particular.

27. On coming to know that he had become lame Devas came to the top of Meru and killed his attendants.

28-29a. The Daityas who survived the slaughter went into the nether worlds. Vṛka who had become, lame remained steadfastly engaged in his penance.

He was attended upon by all the women of his household. He was extremely grief-stricken and miserable.

29b. Indra regained his kingdom with all the thorns (enemies) exterminated.

30. Thereupon, holy rites were revived on the surface of the earth.

31. After the lapse of a long period of time, Pitāmaha became pleased with him. O excellent Brāhmaṇas, he came into the Gartā and spoke:

32. “O Vṛka, O dear one, I am pleased with you. O devotee of excellent holy rites, choose your boon. I shall certainly grant it even if it be a rare one.”

Vṛka said:

33. O Lord, if you are pleased with me, if a boon has to be granted to me, then, O Lord Brahmā, grant me the gift of feet so that, with your favour, my lameness may be cured.

34-35. On hearing it, the Lotus-born One, summoned Sāṅkṛti there and said to him in conciliatory terms: “O excellent Brāhmaṇa, do that unto this Vṛka whereby his lameness disappears. Do this at my behest.”

Sāṅkṛti said:

36. O Pitāmaha, falsehood has never been uttered by me before, even in a joke. It is known to you, O Lord of the chiefs of Devas, How can I then do it?

Brahmā said:

37. This Vṛka, the most excellent one among Daityas, is always devoted to me. You are my grandson and a favourite of mine always. Therefore, I request you:

38. Of course, O excellent sage, I am not able to nullify (make false) your statement.

Sāṅkṛti said:

39. This Daitya is an extremely wicked soul. He has established himself contrary to the interests of Devas. He is (more so) in the case of the noble-souled Vāsudeva, my preceptor.

40. This sinner and defiler of Brāhmaṇas deserves the state of lameness in general because he has inordinate strength and is free from death and old age.

41. O Lord, it was you who have made him so formerly. If he regains the feet, he will destroy (kill) the entire world including Devas Asuras and human beings.

42. Hence let him remain in the same form. It does not behove you to worry over it, since, O Lord, you have to think about the three worlds.

Brahmā said.:

43. At the advent of rainy season, it is not proper to undertake a campaign of victory on the part of a victorious warrior in particular, except in the case of onset of winter and summer.

44. Hence, if he were to be endowed with feet during the four months of rainy season and also made unapproachable to all the worlds, he may very well carry on his activities patiently.

45. So, let Vṛka, the most excellent one among Dānavas, be endowed with feet whereby, O Brāhmaṇa, the welfare of Devas and Brāhmaṇas may take place (unfettered).

46. If this arrangement is followed, O Brāhmaṇa, your word will not become falsified. Nor will his penance become futile.

Sūta said:

47. “So may it be”, said the noble-souled Sāṅkṛti. When he said so, the feet came out afresh from his body.

48. Again the hideous Dānava became lame, O excellent Brāhmaṇas and remained in the Gartā.

49. For those eight months he remains there extremely miserable along with his wives and kinsmen. He could not do anything excepting the recollection of his great enmity with the Devas day and night.

50. During the remaining four months he angrily came out and inflicted injuries on the Devas including Indra and human beings.

51-52. He used to destroy all the sacred place. He used to molest the womenfolk of the Devas, all the parks, houses and cities during the four months.

53. Thereupon, the Devas approached Janārdana, the Lord of Devas, who permanently lay down on his couch of Śeṣa in the Ocean of Milk.

54. They stayed near him for the duration of the four rainy months. For the remaining eight months they went back to heaven without the least trace of fear.

55. (Their only respite was) when the extremely terrible Daitya became lame.

Once the king of Devas, the most excellent one among Suras, said to Bṛhaspati towards the close of Āṣāḍha. He was then extremely distressed:

56. “O venerable preceptor, that month in the rainy season has arrived instilling fear into us. It is now that the demon Vṛka will descend on us after regaining his pair of feet.

57. So we have to go perforce to the Milk Ocean, the abode of Keśava. Let it not be that we continue to be distressed and stay as dependents of others.

58. We are compelled to leave our abodes, beds, seats, diverse kinds of vehicles and many other favoured objects in the house.

59. Hence, O excellent one among the sages, tell us some Vrata, Niyama or Homa.

60. Thereby we will have our beds not bereft of our spouses. Thereby we will not be compelled to leave our abodes.

61. I am utterly disgusted, O excellent one among chiefs of Brāhmaṇas, with the repeated loss of my position whenever the rainy season sets in every year.

62. I will have to sleep again on the bare ground for the four months without my wife. I will have to observe celibacy and remain dejected due to fright.”

63. On hearing the words of (Indra) who was distressed due to fear, Bṛhaspati meditated for a long time and said to Lord Śatakratu (Indra):

64. “There is a Vrata named Aśūnyaśayana [aśūnyaśayanam][1] (‘the bed that is not vacant’) on a par with a great penance. Perform it with concentration for propitiating Viṣṇu.

65. You should perform it at the Milk Ocean when Viṣṇu, the slayer of Madhu, is present. He, the Lord who lies down in water, who is the source of origin of the universe, will grant you what is beneficial to you.

66. With his favour, O Vāsava, your bed shall not be vacant. There shall not be any break (in staying) in the house. All enemies will be destroyed.”

Sūta said:

67. When that Vrata named Aśūnyaśayana was duly performed, Lord Viṣṇu became pleased. Then he said to the Lord of Devas.

68. “O Śakra of excellent holy rites, welfare unto you. Choose your boon. I am pleased with this Vrata performed during the four months. Hence, O Lord of Devas, request for what had been in you mind forever.”

Indra said:

69. You too very well know how disconcerted I have been made by the evil-minded leader of Dānavas named Vṛka.

70. My rule over the three worlds extends only to eight months in every year. He comes down upon me during the remaining four months.

71. Having realized this and taking pity on me, O most excellent one among the Suras, do something whereby my rule shall be a perpetual one.

Viṣṇu said:

72. He has been made by the Lotus-born One, one without old age and death. Therefore, when he continues to live, how can you maintain your rule?

73. Still, O Lord of Devas, I shall render the greatest benefit unto you.

74-75. For four months I shall leave the Milk Ocean, go to the holy spot named Hāṭakeśvara and shall assiduously lie down over the demon, in the company of goddess Lakṣmi [Lakṣmī?]. I shall make him incapable of moving.

76. O thousand-eyed One, afflicted with my weight he will never move away from that spot. This beneficial activity should always be carried out by me for your sake every year.

77. Hence, do go now and rule over the heavenly kingdom free from thorns (enemies). At the advent of the rainy season, you should not be afraid at all on this account.

78. O Lord of Devas, if any one devoutly adores me as lying down there, by means of this Vrata, I will grant him everything he desires.

Sūta said:

79. After saying thus, Hṛṣīkeśa dismissed Śatakratu now completely rid of all his fear, so that he could work for the prosperity of his kingdom.

80. Thereafter, for ever, on the eleventh day in the bright half of Āṣāḍha, the Lord himself comes to the holy spot Hāṭakeśvara.

81. Then he assiduously lies down on Vṛka. Overwhelmed thus by him (the Lord), he (the demon) could not even move.

82-83. Afflicted thus with the weight of the Lord he became well-nigh dead. On the eleventh lunar day in the bright half of the month of Kārttika, Viṣṇu wakes up and proceeds back to the Milk Ocean. As a result of the curse of Sāṅkṛti, Vṛka invariably became lame.

84. Thus Hari never left his bed for those four months, because he was afraid of (the misdeeds of) that wicked-souled Dānava, the Lord of Asuras.

85. Then all the holy Yajña rites are not performed by men because Lord puruṣa, Yajña, being asleep, does not partake of his share.

86. Besides Yajñas, all auspicious ceremonies beginning with the gift of virgins (i.e. marriages) and Cūḍākaraṇa (Ton-sure ceremony) are also not performed.

87. Excepting Annaprāśana (first feeding of food to the baby) and Sīmantonnayana (the ceremony during the sixth or eighth month of pregnancy) all other rites, O Brāhmaṇas, if performed when the Lord of the universe is asleep, will become futile.

88. All the Vratas and Niyamas a man does, when the Lord of the chiefs of Devas is asleep, shall be useless.

89. Hence in order to propitiate that Lord while Janārdana is asleep, men should assiduously abstain from Vratas.

90. Whatever excellent rite is performed on the eleventh day after Hari rises up from his bed, shall have everlasting benefit.

91. Of what avail is much talk? Hari lying down on the Daitya, becomes highly pleased with the Vrata performed by men.

92-94. Thus Lord Janārdana who is asleep said: “If a man takes cereal food on that day (i.e. eleventh day) he becomes a sinner. He may suffer from fever or excruciating pain. Hence a sensible man should abstain from food assiduously on the Harivāsara (Ekādaśī) day on the other occasions also. Why then should he take food on the day when he goes to sleep and on the day when he wakes up?

Sūta said:

95-96. Thus everything that I have been asked, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, as to why Janārdana lies down in the holy spot of Hāṭakeśvara for four months after leaving the Milk Ocean, has been narrated by me to you all. Now listen to the benefit that will come to one when the Lord is propitiated.

97. The man who observes the Vrata and worships that Lord for the four rainy months, goes where that Lord is well established.

98. If a person adores the Lotus-eyed Lord there when asleep, of what avail are the many gifts given, Vratas performed and fasts undertaken?

Footnotes and references:


Cf. HD V. i, p. 264.

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