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Glories of Utthana Ekadashi

This Ekadashi is known by three other names: Haribodhini, Prabodhini, and Devotthani Ekadashi. Falling in the shukla paksha (bright fortnight) of the sacred month of Kartika, it is the second Ekadashi of the month.

It is said that Lord Vishnu goes to rest for four months during the period known as Chaturmasya. Starting from Sayana Ekadashi, which is the first Ekadashi that falls in the month of Ashada rests and awaknes on the day of Kartika Shukla Ekadashi, which is why it is known as Utthana Ekadashi. The narration of Utthana Ekadashi is found in the Skanda Purana in a conversation between Lord Brahma and his son, the great sage Narada.

Lord Brahma said to Narada Muni, “Dear son, O best of the sages, I shall narrate to you the glories of Haribodhini Ekadashi, which eradicates all sins, awards great merit, and ultimately grants liberation to the wise who surrender to the Supreme Lord. “O best of the brahmanas, the merit of observing Haribodhini Ekadashi surpasses bathing in the Ganges. This Ekadashi, which occurs during the bright fortnight of the month of Kartika, is far more purifying than an ocean or lake bath at a place of pilgrimage. This sacred Ekadashi is more powerful than one thousand Asvamedha sacrifices and one hundred Rajasuya sacrifices in nullifying sin.”

Narada Muni inquired, “O father, please describe the relative merits of fasting completely on Ekadashi, eating supper, or eating once at midday.” Lord Brahma replied, “If a person eats once at midday on Ekadashi, the sins of his previous birth are erased, if he eats supper, the sins acquired during his previous two births are removed, and if he fasts completely, the sins accumulated during his pervious seven births are eradicated.

“O son, a strict observer of Haribodhini Ekadashi achieves things very rare within the three worlds. A person whose accumulated stack of sins is high as Mount Sumeru eliminates it by fasting on Papaharini (Haribodhini) Ekadashi. The sins of a thousand previous births are burned to ashes if one fasts aas well as stays awake throughout the Ekadashi night. A mountain of cotton can be burned to ashes if one lights a small fire in it. Similarly O Narada, a person who strictly observes this fast burns away large volumes of sin. Even a small amount of pious activity on this day, performed under proper rules and regulations, earns merit huge as Mount Sumeru; however not following the rules of the Scriptures, pious activity even as great as Mount Sumeru does not earn any merit.

“All holy places in the three worlds reside in the house of a person who fasts on this Ekadashi. Therefore, to please the Lord, who holds a disc in His hand, one should give up all engagements, and observe this Ekadashi fast in a mood of surrender to the Lord. One who fasts on Haribodhini Ekadashi is acknowledged as a wise man, a yogi, and an ascetic with true sense control. He knows how to enjoy this world properly and achieve liberation.

“This Ekadashi is very dear to Lord Vishnu, and thus is the very essence of religiosity. Even one observance of this great day bestows the highest reward in the three worlds. “O Naradaji, whoever fasts on this Ekadashi will definitely not enter another womb. For that great soul who honours this Ekadashi by fasting and remaining awake throughout the night, the Supreme Lord, Sri Govinda, personally terminates the sinful reactions he may have acquired by activities of mind, body, and words.

“O son, for anyone who bathes in a place of pilgrimage, gives charity, chants the holy names of the Supreme Lord, undergoes austerities, and performs sacrifices for Him on Haribodhini Ekadashi, the merit earned is imperishable. A devotee who worships Lord Madhava on this day with first-class paraphernalia is freed from sins of a hundred lifetimes. A person who observes this fast and worships Lord Vishnu properly is freed from great dangers.

“This Ekadashi fast pleases Lord Janardana so much that He takes the person who observes it back to His abode, and while going there the devotee illuminates the ten universal directions. Fasting on this Ekadashi is a thousand times better than giving charity on the day of the solar or lunar eclipse. O Naradaji, merit earned by bathing in a place of pilgrimage, performing sacrifices, and study of the Vedas is only one ten-millionth the merit earned fasting but once on Haribodhini Ekadashi. Conversely, merit acquired by pious activities is completely fruitless if one does not observe fast and worship Lord Vishnu on Ekadashi in the month of Kartika.

“On Haribodhini Ekadashi, philosophical discussion of Scriptures pleases Sri Vishnu more than large charity or costly sacrifices. Chanting or hearing descriptions of Lord Vishnu’s qualities and pastimes, even if half or quarter of a verse, earns one the merit of giving a hundred cows to a brahmana. O Narada, during the month of Kartika one should give up all kinds or ordinary duties and devote one’s full time and energy especially while fasting, to discuss the transcendental pastimes of the Supreme Lord. Such glorification of Sri Hari is so dear to the Lord, that it liberates a hundred previous generations. One who spends his time enjoying such discussions, especially in the month of Kartika, achieves the result of performing ten thousand fire sacrifices.”

“Thus I have narrated to you the process for observing Haribodhini Ekadasi. Someone who reads or hears about this achieves the merit earned by donating cows to a qualified brahmana.