धर्मराज युधिष्ठिर जी ने भगवान श्री कृष्ण को कहा, हे जनार्दन! आप कृपा करके मुझे पौष माह के कृष्ण पक्ष की एकादशी के विषय में भी बतलाइये। इस एकादशी का क्या नाम है तथा इसके व्रत का क्या विधान है? इसकी विधि क्या है? इसका व्रत करने से किस फल की प्राप्ति होती है? कृपया यह सब विधानपूर्वक कहिए।
भगवान श्रीकृष्ण बोले: पौष माह के कृष्ण पक्ष मे आने वाली इस एकादशी को सफला एकादशी कहा जाता है। इस एकादशी के देवता श्रीनारायण हैं। विधिपूर्वक इस व्रत को करना चाहिए। जिस प्रकार नागों में शेषनाग, पक्षियों में गरुड़, सब ग्रहों में चंद्रमा, यज्ञों में अश्वमेध और देवताओं में भगवान विष्णु श्रेष्ठ हैं, उसी तरह सब व्रतों में एकादशी का व्रत श्रेष्ठ है। जो मनुष्य सदैव एकादशी का व्रत करते हैं, वे मुझे परम प्रिय हैं। इसका माहात्म्य मैं तुमसे कहता हूँ, ध्यानपूर्वक सुनो।
भक्तवत्सल भगवान श्रीकृष्ण कहने लगे कि धर्मराज, मैं तुम्हारे स्नेह के कारण तुमसे कहता हूँ कि एकादशी व्रत के अतिरिक्त मैं अधिक से अधिक दक्षिणा पाने वाले यज्ञ से भी प्रसन्न नहीं होता हूँ। अत: इसे अत्यंत भक्ति और श्रद्धा से युक्त होकर करें। हे राजन! द्वादशीयुक्त पौष कृष्ण एकादशी का माहात्म्य तुम एकाग्रचित्त होकर सुनो।
चम्पावती नगरी में एक महिष्मान नाम का राजा राज्य करता था। उसके चार पुत्र थे। उन सबमें लुम्पक नाम वाला बड़ा राजपुत्र महापापी था। वह पापी सदा परस्त्री और वेश्यागमन तथा दूसरे बुरे कामों में अपने पिता का धन नष्ट किया करता था। सदैव ही देवता, बाह्मण, वैष्णवों की निंदा किया करता था। जब राजा को अपने बड़े पुत्र के ऐसे कुकर्मों का पता चला तो उन्होंने उसे अपने राज्य से निकाल दिया। तब वह विचारने लगा कि कहाँ जाऊँ? क्या करूँ?
अंत में उसने चोरी करने का निश्चय किया। दिन में वह वन में रहता और रात्रि को अपने पिता की नगरी में चोरी करता तथा प्रजा को तंग करने और उन्हें मारने का कुकर्म करता। कुछ समय पश्चात सारी नगरी भयभीत हो गई। वह वन में रहकर पशु आदि को मारकर खाने लगा। नागरिक और राज्य के कर्मचारी उसे पकड़ लेते किंतु राजा के भय से छोड़ देते।
वन में एक अतिप्राचीन विशाल पीपल का वृक्ष था। लोग उसकी भगवान के समान पूजा करते थे। उसी वृक्ष के नीचे वह महापापी लुम्पक रहा करता था। इस वन को लोग देवताओं की क्रीड़ास्थली मानते थे। कुछ समय पश्चात पौष कृष्ण पक्ष की दशमी के दिन वह वस्त्रहीन होने के कारण शीत के चलते सारी रात्रि सो नहीं सका। उसके हाथ-पैर अकड़ गए।
सूर्योदय होते-होते वह मूर्छित हो गया। दूसरे दिन एकादशी को मध्याह्न के समय सूर्य की गर्मी पाकर उसकी मूर्छा दूर हुई। गिरता-पड़ता वह भोजन की तलाश में निकला। पशुओं को मारने में वह समर्थ नहीं था अत: पेड़ों के नीचे गिर हुए फल उठाकर वापस उसी पीपल वृक्ष के नीचे आ गया। उस समय तक भगवान सूर्य अस्त हो चुके थे। वृक्ष के नीचे फल रखकर कहने लगा- हे भगवन! अब आपके ही अर्पण है ये फल। आप ही तृप्त हो जाइए। उस रात्रि को दु:ख के कारण रात्रि को भी नींद नहीं आई।
उसके इस उपवास और जागरण से भगवान अत्यंत प्रसन्न हो गए और उसके सारे पाप नष्ट हो गए। दूसरे दिन प्रात: एक अतिसुंदर घोड़ा अनेक सुंदर वस्तुअओं से सजा हुआ उसके सामने आकर खड़ा हो गया। उसी समय आकाशवाणी हुई कि हे राजपुत्र! श्रीनारायण की कृपा से तेरे पाप नष्ट हो गए हैं। अब तू अपने पिता के पास जाकर राज्य प्राप्त कर। ऐसी वाणी सुनकर वह अत्यंत प्रसन्न हुआ और दिव्य वस्त्र धारण करके भगवान आपकी जय हो! कहकर अपने पिता के पास गया। उसके पिता ने प्रसन्न होकर उसे समस्त राज्य का भार सौंप दिया और स्वयं वन के रास्ते चल दिए।
अब लुम्पक शास्त्रानुसार राज्य करने लगा। उसके स्त्री, पुत्र आदि सारा कुटुम्ब भगवान नारायण का परम भक्त हो गया। वृद्ध होने पर वह भी अपने पुत्र को राज्य का भार सौंपकर वन में तपस्या करने चला गया और अंत समय में वैकुंठ को प्राप्त हुआ।
अत: जो मनुष्य इस परम पवित्र सफला एकादशी का व्रत करता है उसे अंत में मुक्ति मिलती है। जो नहीं करते वे पूँछ और सींगों से रहित पशुओं के समान हैं। इस सफला एकादशी के माहात्म्य को पढ़ने से अथवा श्रवण करने से मनुष्य को अश्वमेध यज्ञ का फल मिलता है।
Read in English
Yudhisthira Maharaj said, "O my Dear Lord Sri Krishna, what is the name of that Ekadasi that occurs during the dark fortnight of the month of Pausha (December-January)? How is it observed, and which Deity is to be worshipped on that sacred day? Please narrate these details to me fully, so that I may understand Oh Janardana."
The Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna then replied, "O best of kings, because you desire to hear, I shall fully describe to you the glories of the Pausha-krishna Ekadasi. "I do not become as pleased by sacrifice or charity as I do by My devotee's observance of a full fast on Ekadasi. To the best of one's ability, therefore, one should fast on Ekadasi, the day of Lord Hari. "O Yudhisthira, I urge you to hear with undivided intelligence the glories of Pausha-krishna Ekadasi, which falls on a Dwadasi. As I explained previously, one should not differentiate among the many Ekadasis. O king, to benefit humanity at large I shall now describe to you the process of observing Pausha-krishna Ekadasi.
"Pausha-krishna Ekadasi is also known as Saphalaa Ekadasi. On this sacred day one should worship Lord Narayana, for He is its ruling Deity. One should do so by follow the previously described method of fasting. Just as among snakes Shesha-naga is the best, and among birds Garuda is the best, among sacrifices the Ashvamedha-yajna is the best, among rivers Mother Ganges is the best, among gods Lord Vishnu is best, and among two-legged beings the brahmins are the best, so among all fasting days Ekadasi is by far the best. O foremost of kings who took your birth in the Bharata dynasty, whoever strictly observes Ekadasi becomes very dear to Me and indeed worshipable by Me in every way. Now please listen as I describe the process for observing Saphalaa Ekadasi.
On Saphalaa Ekadasi My devotee should worship Me by offering Me fresh fruits according to time, place and circumstance, and by meditating on Me as the all-auspicious Supreme Personality of Godhead. He should offer Me jaambira fruit, pomegranate, betal nuts and leaves, coconut, guava, varieties of nuts, cloves, mangoes, and different kinds of aromatic spices. He should also offer Me incense and bright ghee lamps, for such an offering of lamps on Saphalaa Ekadasi is especially glorious. The devotee should try to stay awake the Ekadasi night.
Now please hear with undivided attention as I tell you how much merit one gets if he fasts and remains awake throughout the entire night singing and chanting the glories of Narayana. O best of kings, there is no sacrifice or pilgrimage that yields merit that is equal to or better than the merit one gains by fasting on this Saphala Ekadasi. Such fasting - particularly if one can remain awake and alert the entire night long - bestows the same merit upon the faithful devotee as the performance of austerity for five thousand earthly years. O lion among kings, please hear from Me the glorious history that made this Divine Ekadasi famous.
Once there was a City called Champaavati, which was ruled by the saintly King Mahishmata. He had four sons, the eldest of whom, Lumpaka, always engaged in all manner of very sinful activities - illicit sexual encounters with the wives of others, gambling, and continual association with known prostitutes. His evil deeds gradually reduced the wealth of his father, King Mahishmata.
Lumpaka also became very critical of the numerous devas, the empowered universal attendants of the Lord, as well as toward the brahmins, and every day he would go out of his way to blaspheme the Vaishnavas. At last King Maahishmata, seeing the unrepentant brazen fallen condition of his son, exiled him to the forest. Out of fear of the king, even compassionate relatives didn't come to Lumpaka's defense, so angry was the king toward his son, and so sinful was this Lumpaka.
"Bewildered in his exile, the fallen and rejected Lumpaka thought to himself, 'My father has sent me away, and even my kinsmen do not raise but a finger in objection. What am I to do now?' He schemed sinfully and thought, 'I shall sneak back to the city under cover of darkness and plunder its wealth. During the day I shall stay in the forest, and as night returns, so shall I to the city.'
So thinking, the sinful Lumpaka entered the darkness of the forest. He killed many animals by day, and by night he stole all manner of valuable items from the city. The city-dwelling folk apprehended him several times, but out of fear of the king they left him alone. They thought to themselves that it must have been the accumulated sins of Lumpaka's previous births that had forced him to act in such a way that he lost his royal facilities and became to act so sinfully like a common selfish thief. "Though a meat-eater, Lumpaka would also eat fruits every day.
He resided under an old banyan tree that unknown to him happened to be very dear to Lord Vasudeva. Indeed, many worshipped as the demi-god (representative departmental head) of all the trees in the forest. In due course of time, while Lumpaka was doing so many sinful and condemnable activities, the Saphalaa Ekadasi arrived. On the eve of the Ekadasi (Dasami) Lumpaka had to pass the entire night without sleep because of severe cold that he felt due to his scanty bedclothes (bedding).
The cold not only robbed him of all peace but almost of his very life. By the time the sun rose, near dead, his teeth chattering and near comatose. In fact all that Ekadasi morning, he remained in that stupor and could not awaken out of his near comatose condition. "When midday of the Saphalaa Ekadasi arrived, the sinful Lumpaka finally came to and managed to rise up from his place under that banyan tree. But with every step he took, he stumbled and fell to the ground. Like a lame man, he walked slowly and hesitantly, suffering greatly from hunger and thirst in the midst of the jungle. So weak was Lumpaka that he couldn't even concentrate to nor muster strength to go and kill even a single animal that whole day. Instead, he was reduced to collecting whatever fruits had fallen to the ground of their own accord. By the time he returned to his banyan tree home, the sun had set.
Placing the fruits on the ground next to him (at the base of the sacred banyan tree), Lumpaka began to cry out, 'O, woe is me ! What should I do ? Dear father, what is to become of me? O Sri Hari, please be merciful to me and accept these fruits as an offering !' Again he was forced to lie awake the whole night without sleep, but in the meantime the all merciful Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Madhusudana, had become pleased with Lumpaka's humble offering of forest fruits, and He accepted them. Lumpaka had unwittingly observed a full Ekadasi fast, and by the merit he reaped on that day he regained his kingdom with no further obstacles. "Listen, O Yudhisthira, to what happened to the son of King Maahishmata when but a fragment of the merit spouted up within his heart. "As the Sun beautifully rose in the sky on the day following Ekadasi, a handsome horse approached Lumpaka as if seeking him out, and stood next to him.
At the same time, a voice suddenly boomed out from the clear blue sky saying, 'This horse is for you, Lumpaka! Mount it and ride swiftly out of this forest to greet you family! O son of King Maahishmata, by the mercy of the Supreme lord Vaasudeva and the strength of the merit you acquired by observing Saphalaa Ekadasi, your kingdom will be returned to you without any further hindrances. Such is the benefit you have gained by fasting on this most auspicious of days. Go now, to you father and enjoy your rightful place in the dynasty.'
Upon hearing these celestial words resounding from above, Lumpaka mounted the horse and rode back to the city of Champavati. By the merit he had accrued by fasting on Saphala Ekadasi, he had become a handsome prince once more and was able to absorb his mind in the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Hari. In other words, he had become My pure devotee.
"Lumpaka offered his father, King Mahishmata, his humble obeisances and once more accepted his princely responsibilities. Seeing his son so decorated with Vaishnava ornaments and tilak (udhvara pundra) King Mahishmata gave him the kingdom, and Lumpaka ruled unopposed for many, many years. Whenever the Ekadasi came, he worshipped the Supreme Lord Narayana with great devotion. And by the mercy of Sri Krishna he obtained a beautiful wife and a fine son. In old age Lumpaka handed his kingdom over to his son - just as his own father, King Maahishmata, had handed it over to him. Lumpaka then went to the forest to dedicate his concentrate attention to gratefully serve the Supreme Lord with controlled mind and senses.
Purified of all material desires, he left his old material body and returned back to home, back to Godhead, attaining a place near the lotus feet of his worshipful Lord, Sri Krishna. "O Yudhisthira, one who approaches Me as Lumpaka did will become completely free of lamentation and anxiety. Indeed, anyone who properly observes this glorious Saphalaa Ekadasi - even unknowingly, like Lumpaka - will become famous in this world. He will become perfectly liberated at death and return to the spiritual abode of Vaikuntha. Of this there is no doubt. Moreover, one who simply hears the glories of Saphala Ekadasi obtains the same merit derived by one who performs a Rajasurya-yajna, and at the very least he goes to heaven in his next birth, so where is the loss?"
Thus ends the narration of the glories of Pausha-krishna Ekadasi, or Saphala Ekadasi, from the Bhavishya-uttara Purana.