Varuthinī Ekādaśī appears in the month of Vaiśākha, (April / May) during the dark fortnight. By Ekādaśī-devī’s help, the jīvas desire to progress in bhakti always increases.
A great problem arises by not seeking out the protection of Ekādaśī-devī. It is necessary to be under the shelter of Ekādaśī-devī’s lotus feet. Sincerely following Ekādaśī means to sincerely follow the rules and regulations of bhakti. Adherence to following Ekādaśī constitutes a very important rule, regulation, and principle of bhakti. To follow Ekādaśī signifies the proper observance of etiquette. But, rules, regulations, principles, and etiquette are not the same. Etiquette is composed of your habitual practice while principles are composed of the highest, strong authorized rules. By following the regulations of bhakti, you will duly regulate your life. It is necessary to follow the rules of bhakti. Those who cross over the erroneous conceptions of this world and factually take shelter of Ekādaśī-devī, will not have to face any more problems.
Unfortunately, not every person has taken shelter of Ekādaśī-devī. Even those who proclaim to have taken the shelter of Ekādaśī-devī would have done so in an artificial manner. Many people associate with Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, but if they are told something that is not in accordance with their vested interests, then as a result, they become angry and against. They then hate their well-wishers and will even be prepared to punish and torture them. This is not the proper mood of surrender. Therefore, it is necessary to follow rules, regulations, principles, and etiquette. Everybody must follow them; they apply to mahā-bhāgavatas, madhyama-adhikārīs, kaniṣṭha-adhikārīs, and to everyone. Mahāprabhu has Himself stated this. In hari-bhakti-vilāsa, all the rules and regulations have been clearly delineated. The principles and proper etiquette to be followed have also been explained in this book. Why are these rules necessary? If they are not applied in the devotee’s life, he will go the wrong way.
If Śrī Guru tries correcting the devotee, he will think, “They are against me! They don’t like me; they are my enemies. I trouble them with my presence. Except me, they don’t chastise anyone else. They don’t ban anyone else from running here and there. But, if I go outside, I am banned from doing so. I am being unjustly treated.”
The devotee is then beset with many problems. Ekādaśī-devī, Varuthinī, inculcates a strong desire in the devotee to properly follow all the rules, regulations, principles, and etiquette of bhakti.
vidhi-mārga-rata-jane svādhīnatā ratna-dāne
rāga-mārge korāna praveśa
rāga-vaśavartī haiyā pārakīya bhāvāśraye
labhe jīva kṛṣṇa-premāveśa
Firstly, one should follow vidhi-mārga consisting of rules, regulations, principles, and etiquette. By a proper serving tendency, they will be naturally followed. Then a devotee will constantly be afraid. He will anxiously think, “If I properly follow the rules and regulations, I will not lose my bhakti. I will not miss bhakti’s programs.” Why will the devotee be anxious? Only if he has love will he be careful to properly follow bhakti.
He will think, “If I don’t follow bhakti, I will go the wrong way. It will be impossible for me to return to the path of bhakti.” Therefore, the devotee will be strong.
On Varuthinī Ekādaśī, Ekādaśī-devī inspires the jīvas to sincerely follow the etiquette of bhakti. The English language, like any other language, has many components. There are nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, and adjectives. Without knowing what a noun is, how can you know what a pronoun is? If you are present in the classes where the language is taught, you will know everything. Otherwise, you will not understand anything. Similarly, if you are near Śrī Guru, everything will be right. But if you choose to leave the path of bhakti, how can you possibly be controlled by rules and regulations? Varuthinī Ekādaśī helps the souls to surrender and continuously inspires the jīvas to faithfully follow bhakti. This inspiration stems from God; this inspiration is not a curse, it is God’s mercy. The flow of bhakti that descends in a devotee’s heart from the heart of his guardian is called inspiration.
How does the transcendental program of bhakti run? In Vraja-maṇḍala, the Vrajavāsīs do not act independently of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī’s desire. Although Lalitā and Viśākhā are independent heroines, they never desire to act according to their own volition; they only act according to the wishes of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī. Sometimes, they even chastise and order Śrīmatī Rādhārānī; this is their service. This is called protection. But, ordinary people think, “Oh how can Lalitā-devī order Śrīmatī Rādhārānī? How can she break etiquette?” One must never think like this. To instruct Śrīmatī Rādhārānī is Lalitā-devī’s duty and service. She is more than Śrīmatī Rādhārānī’s guru and guardian. Sakhīs like her can instruct Rādhārānī in many ways but they never act against Her; they are very sweet and favorable. If someone who is jealous at heart is told to correct himself, then he will consider the advice given to him to be very painful.
Rādhārānī never becomes sad on being chastised by Lalitā-devī. These sweet exchanges are only present in services permeated with love. Without love, following rules and regulations becomes very painful. When someone who is accustomed to staying at home is told to stay in another room, he will become anxious. Although the room he originally stayed in was bound by four walls like his present room, he will repeatedly speak of his desire to return to his previous room. How can the aim and object of the jīvas be fixed? Ekādaśī-devī helps the jīvas by giving them the power and potency to cultivate bhakti, the ultimate goal of their lives.
The ṛṣis-maharṣis engage themselves in performing yajñas, vrata, dhyāna, tapa and many other programs. By following Ekādaśī, the ṛṣi-maharṣis offer the fruit of their vrata, dhyāna, tapa, and yajña to God. Then the fruits of their work is distributed to everyone. This is called a spiritual health care center.
You may think to engage yourself in performing tapa and japa for millions of lives to become strong, but realize that this is not possible. A farmer grows and cultivates many fruits and vegetables. If you have enough money you buy the fruits and vegetables from him and feed your family. A father buys many fruits and vegetables for his children. The consumer doesn’t farm and produce the fruits and vegetables; the farmer does it for him. The consumer then feeds his children who eat the fruits and vegetables from the comforts of their home. Similarly, Ekādaśī-devī collects the hearts of those who have surrendered to her on her appearance day. Ekādaśī-devī collects the love and offerings of the Guruvarga in particular, and the worship of the ṛṣi-maharṣis, brahmarṣis, tapasvīs, and tyāgis; what does she do after collecting the love and worship of the spiritualists? She distributes their love to her followers.
As a result, Ekādaśī-devī’s dependents think, “From where have I had this strength instilled in me? How do I feel so strong?” Then everything is favorable and sweet. Consequently, the body and mind will never be disturbed; they will never act against your wishes.
There was a ṛṣi who would always go to the bank of the Godāvarī and chant the holy name of God. He would tearfully pray and offer puṣpāñjali, tarpan, and perform yajña.
One day, God came and asked the ṛṣi, “Why are you performing such strong austerities?”
The ṛṣi replied, “I am doing so to protect myself. Otherwise, I will be cheated by māyā. She will give me a bribe and steal me. Then I will lose everything. Therefore, how can I always be attached to You if I act otherwise? By these austerities, I want to cross over this material world and never return. Hence, I wish to always reside with You.
“Therefore, I continuously practice performing these austerities. I perform them while I bathe, while I perform yajña and pūjā. Indeed, I remember You at all times.”
Lord Nārāyaṇa said, “It is not possible for you to achieve perfection this way.”
“Then what am I to do?”
“You must help all living entities. If you perform yajña, vrata, tapa, and japa for the betterment of your own self, you will never be successful. You must help all conditioned souls. On being helped, the conditioned souls will come to Me. They have forgotten Me and been distant from Me since time immemorial. I am not happy by seeing them suffer. Being selfish, you only think about yourself and you don’t concern yourself with the welfare of others.”
The ṛṣi said despondently, “If I try helping others, they will confine me to their affection. Being controlled by them, I will lose my heart. Then how can I hope to cross over this material existence and come to You and be with You? How will this ever be possible?”
Lord Nārāyaṇa replied, “Yes. This is possible. You will never forget Me even if you are disturbed by all sorts of problems and disturbances. You will always serve Me and be with Me. Your japa and tapa will always be helpful to everyone. Thus, you must concern yourself with the welfare of others.”
The ṛṣi gravely said, “Yes. You have opened my eyes by your words of wisdom.”
On being instructed by the Lord, the ṛṣi went and started to perform a yajña for the pleasure of the Lord. From then on, any activity he performed was for the satisfaction of the Lord. He started many transcendental programs for the welfare and benefit of the jīvas. God was very happy and pleased by his endeavors. The souls have lost their intelligence and memory since millions of lives. They follow naimitika-dharma and are hopelessly entrapped within the confines of māyā-devī. Rather than following Śrī Guru, they follow māyā-devī’s rules and regulations.
Hence, to aid the jīvas in their quest for eternal communion with the Lord, Ekādaśī-devī appears. She has appeared as Varuthinī-Ekādaśī to bestow the highest boons on the jīvas. She unconditionally gives her blessings and mercy to the conditioned souls.
In Vraja-bhūmi, all the śruti-cārī, smṛti-cārī, and upaniṣad-cārī gopīs took birth. Nanda Bābā and all the Vrajavāsīs would duly follow the ṛṣi-maharṣis and observe the day of Ekādaśī. On the day of Ekādaśī, many devotees become weak and tired from not drinking water and eating food. Then how can they chant? How will they do a yajña and offer puṣpāñjali? How will they absorb themselves in reading the Gītā, and Bhāgavatam? How will they hear from Veda, Vedānta and Upaniṣads? The devotees ponder on these services while they fast. They concern themselves with these worries.
The Vrajavāsīs came to Nanda Bābā and said, “Bābā, you tell us to fast on the day of Ekādaśī. We also have a lot of work to do. We have to take care of the cows; we have to feed them. We will not take any food on this day, but the cows must be fed. They have no intelligence; they must be taken care of. They wander in the forest. Hence, we have a lot of work to do, so how can we possibly follow Ekādaśī?”
Nanda Bābā replied, “The rules of the śāstras tell us to follow Ekādaśī. Our ācāryas, gurus also instruct us to follow this holy day.”
The Vrajavāsīs appealed to Nanda Baba, “Oh Nanda Baba, someone who has no work and is lazy and crazy can completely fast on this day. They will have no problems. But all of us are hard working. We go cow herding to the forest in the morning and return in the evening. We also have other work to tend to; we have much land to plough and cultivate. We have to collect our produce. After all, we have to maintain our families. We also have to take care of the animals; we have many services to perform. How will it be possible for us to follow Ekādaśī, when we are so tired and weak?”
Nanda Bābā said, “Yes, I will ask our guardians.”
Nanda Bābā then asked Śāṇḍilya Ṛṣi, Bhāgurī Ṛṣi, and other ṛṣi-maharṣis for their help. All the sages met with each other and relieved Nanda Bābā and the Vrajavāsīs from their worries. On listening to the Vrajavāsīs’ requests, the ṛṣis and maharṣis smiled.
They said, “We will directly call Ekādaśī-devī here. She will give us a pertinent solution.”
On being requested to descend, Ekādaśī-devī appeared within the midst of the Vrajavāsīs and the ṛṣis. She had a kamaṇḍalu in one hand and her other hand was upraised to bestow her blessings.
Ekādaśī-devī bestows her causeless mercy on the conditioned souls in many ways. For those who respect Ekādaśī-devī even a little and follow her appearance day, then Ekādaśī-devī will reciprocate with them by giving them her blessings a million fold. Being empowered by her, how can the conditioned souls be weak? On one side, we renounce and give some things up, we renounce māyā-devī’s property and gifts. We pay no heed to māyā-devī’s offerings and gifts. Hence, Ekādaśī-devī descends with many of God’s presentations for us. She will empower us by her blessings embodied in those presentations.
When the Vrajavāsīs prayed to Nanda Bābā for his assistance, he said, “A poor person leaves home and comes to the temple. Before he was a beggar, but now he is in the temple where everyone respects him and gives him everything. Now he is never short of anything.
One can be considered poor only if he hasn’t renounced his bad karma. Material prosperity doesn’t limit someone. Having renounced everything he came to the temple and hence he is not poor anymore. Similarly, one who renounces water, food, lodging, sleep, and other amenities for Ekādaśī-devī’s satisfaction, they will have many benedictions showered on them by her. Ekādaśī-devī will give them pure intelligence and knowledge. She will give them strength; so much so that they will never be affected by the pangs of hunger and thirst. She will inundate the devotee’s heart with aprākṛta-rasa.”
Being blessed by Ekādaśī-devī, a devotee will think, “When will Śukadeva Gosvāmī come and distribute rasa to me. I will drink this rasa to my heart’s satisfaction, in just the same way as Pariksita Mahārāja did. How will I drink this rasa when Śukadeva Gosvāmī is absent? By drinking this rasa, I will forget everything. I will then have no need of money, food, and sleep.”
Therefore, everyone should follow Ekādaśī-devī. She will instill transcendental strength in her followers. As a result, the devotees will be strong. They will have no taste for any preparations.
On Varuthinī Ekādaśī, the result of pure devotion is obtained. For the complete year, a student goes to school and prepares for his annual exams. His result is then obtained and he gets promoted to the next class. But, if you don’t follow the principles, rules, regulations, good etiquette, good character, and good nature because of being bribed by māyā or anyone else, then you will fail in your test of devotion.
Firstly, promise to yourself, “Except God and His family, I will have no relationship with anyone.”
Bhajana, nāma, kīrtana, mantra, and all the paraphernalia of the Lord must be the object of our highest respect. Even if no one likes you, you must respect everybody. You must not feel tension if anyone insults or abuses you. You must be of the conviction, “I will never distance myself from God for even a moment.” Just by you trying, Ekādaśī-devī will shower you with aprākṛta-rasa. Then you will understand the glories of Varuthinī Ekādaśī. You will be blessed and you will have the utmost respect for the Gītā, Bhāgavatam, Rāmāyaṇa, mahā-prasāda, Vaiṣṇavas, and bhaktas. You will not cheat people anymore for your own enjoyment. You will be fearless.
Caitanya Mahāprabhu following Ekādaśī
Once at the Jagannātha-vallabha gardens near the Guṇḍīcā Temple, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, who was accompanied by Vakreśvara Paṇḍita, Svarūpa Dāmodara and other devotees, ordered everyone to do hari-nāma-saṅkīrtana. Mahāprabhu said, “Today is Ekādaśī and we will respect her by engaging ourselves kṛṣṇa-kīrtana. Do not sleep. Engage in kṛṣṇa-kathā and chant harināma for the entire day and night. Everyone should perform Bhagavān’s nāma-kīrtana together and do nothing else. Abandon all other forms of activity. Today, do nothing but submit yourselves at the feet of Ekādaśī-devī. If you cannot join the saṅkīrtana then chant on your beads, and if you cannot chant on your beads then do daṇḍavat-pranāma repeatedly and chant Kṛṣṇa’s names. Chant the names of the dhāma and the names of the devotees. Do praṇāma to everyone and pray to them that you can properly follow Ekādaśī-devī. Speak to each other about the pastimes of Śrī Rāma and Śrī Kṛṣṇa.”
The devotees happily obeyed the Lord’s instruction. Everyone was blissfully engaged in chanting the holy name and offering prayers.
In Jagannātha Purī there is a rule that says that one must, out of respect, eat Jagannātha prasāda as soon as he receives it. Failing to do so is considered a great offense. Some paṇḍās who wanted to test Mahāprabhus faith in mahā-prasāda brought many nice preparations that had been offered to Jagannātha and presented it to Mahāprabhu and the devotees, aware that they were observing a fast for Ekādaśī. Following the guidance of Mahāprabhu, all the devotees there did daṇḍavat-pranāma to the mahā-prasāda, offered prayers to it, and did parikramā around it for the entire night, singing the holy names all the while. When morning came, Mahāprabhu and the devotees bathed in the ocean and then honored that mahā-prasāda. Mahāprabhu distributed the many delicious items, and ordered everyone there to do dvādaśī-pārana.
After pārana the devotees humbly inquired from Mahāprabhu, “We understand that on the day of Harivāsara we must leave everything, even sleeping and eating, to engage ourselves in hari-kīrtana the entire day. Here in Jagannātha Purī however, it seems that a dilemma could come in our paths. We have heard that if Jagannātha mahā-prasāda comes to us we must immediately accept it no matter what condition we may be in. Our scriptures, as well as our ācāryas like Śiva Ṭhākura and Śukadeva Gosvāmī, have extensively glorified Jagannātha mahā-prasāda and proclaimed that there is no greater thing in existence. We therefore beg you to bestow your causeless mercy upon us and reveal to us what we must do if the dilemma of receiving Jagannātha’s mahā-prasāda on Ekādaśī befalls us.”
Mahāprabhu replied, “Following Ekādaśī is the primary limb of bhakti. She is the mother of devotion. One must take shelter of Ekādaśī-devī. If you do not respect her you will be destroyed. No one has the strength to save you if you disrespect Ekādaśī-devī. When Ekādaśī-devī mercifully comes, you must respect her no matter what. You will get mahā-prasāda every day, but on the day of Ekādaśī do not take that mahā-prasāda. Take it the next day, in doing this there is no problem. Howevert on the day of Ekādaśī only take the rasa of kṛṣṇa-nāma, kṛṣṇa-kīrtana, kṛṣṇa-kathā, and remembrance of Kṛṣṇa. Drink only this rasa and do not take anything else.”
Devotees take Bhagavān’s prasāda every day. They do not accept anything without first offering to Bhagavān. However, when Ekādaśī-devī comes, for that day, the devotees do not take prasāda. They do so the next day, this is their rule.
There are three types of Ekādaśī. Some devotees observed Ekādaśi by refraining from both eating and drinking, or doing nirjala-vrata. Some follow nirāhāra, which means they drink some water but do not eat. Others accept anukalpa, or concessionary foodstuffs such as milk and fruits. To follow Ekādaśī in the purest way one must not eat or drink anything and stay awake the whole day and night doing kīrtana. The next morning, after giving donations to the brahmaṇas, he should break his fast and respect Jagannātha mahā-prasāda. In any of these methods, the goal should be to spend all of one’s time doing hari-kīrtana and hearing hari-kathā.
Some people see eating as the goal of their life and they think, “We live to eat! Nothing else is important.” If you ask them, “Why are you eating?” they will tell you, “So that we can eat more! We will live and we will eat. We will eat and enjoy. We will eat, pass, and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy.” Why do they think like this? This is what they have been taught by modern society. Their parents, brothers, sisters, and friends taught them that life is meant for enjoying the senses. But for how long can they enjoy? How long will this machine, this body, continue to work? The material body will fail them one day. What will they do then? They will go to the doctor, catch hold of the doctor’s feet, and beg to be saved but no one can save them.
Therefore, if you become absorbed, at least every fifteen days — on Ekādaśī, and you fast for Bhagavān then just see what will happen. The personality of sin, pāpa-puruṣa, will never touch you. However, if do not follow Ekādaśī then pāpa-puruṣa, who resides in grains on that day, will enter your body and will cause so much trouble.
We are great dacoits. We want to enjoy everything we see. At least follow this one day every fortnight. Follow vrata on Ekādaśi — make this promise for the pleasure of Kṛṣṇa. Say “Oh Lord, I offer this day to You. I will not eat anything.” We can see all fourteen days of the fortnight as our own, just give this one day for Kṛṣṇa.
Follow the limbs of bhakti and respect Ekādaśī-devī, then all good qualities will enter your heart and all forms of mercy will come to you. When you follow bhakti and respect Ekādaśī-devī you will have nothing to fear. Nothing can trouble you. Leave the association of wicked people and just follow Ekādaśī-vrata. Chant the holy names, do not have any relation with anyone. You came alone to this world, and you will leave this world alone. No one will share the fruits of your karma so why are you concerned about others? Just follow Ekādaśī-devī, then you will have no worries in life.
Follow at least one limb of bhakti. For example, just take mahā-prasāda. Even if you cannot do anything else in your life, no problem, just do this. If you neglect bhakti completely then no one will be able to save you. Therefore, follow the rules and regulations. Only those who are foolish and ignorant will not care to do so.
If you want to follow the limbs of bhakti then you must take shelter of Ekādaśī-devī and respect her properly. Other than the help of Ekādaśī-devī there is no other means to please Bhagavān. Follow Ekādaśī to please Kṛṣṇa, because she is the mother of devotion. She will rescue us all and protect us.