[ From the Padma Purana, Uttara-khanda, Chapter 38 ]

Mahadeva said:

1. O son, on one occasion I had gone into the proximity of (i.e. to) Vishnu. There I first asked (Him) about the importance of Dvadashi, having heard which all sages having enjoyed pleasures went to heaven.

Naarada said:

2. O Mahadeva, of what kind would be the great (vow of the) Mahadvadashi? O lord, O ruler of all, what kind of fruit (would one get) by observing it.

Shiva said:

3-17a. O brahmana, this Ekadashi gives the fruit (in the form) of great religious merit. It should be observed by the best sages when it is in conjunction with (certain) constellations. Jaya, Vijaya, Jayanti and Papanashini — all these destroy sins. They should be observed by those who desire (certain) fruits. When, in the bright half (of the month), the star Punarvasu (i.e. the seventh lunar mansion) appears on the Ekadashi day, that is called Jaya, and it is the best of days. Having observed a fast on that day a man is freed from a sin. There is no doubt about this. When, in the bright half (of the month), the star Shravana (i.e. the twenty-second lunar mansion) appears on the Dvadashi day, that is called Vijaya and it is the best of days. Gift given on that day becomes thousandfold (in religious merit); so also food given to brahmanas (becomes like that). In the same way a sacrifice (performed) or a fast (observed on that day) gives more than a thousandfold fruit. When on the Dvadashi in the bright half Rohinii (i.e. the fourth lunar mansion) appears, that is called Jayanti. That day removes also sins. Vishnu worshipped on that day certainly washes sins, small or great, committed during (previous) seven existences. When on the Dvadashi in the bright half Pushya (i.e. the eighth lunar mansion) appears, then that will be the very meritorious Papanashini. (The religious merit of him) who every day gives a prastha of sesamum-seeds (to a brahmana) for the (whole) year, and (the religious merit of him) who observes a fast on that day (i.e. on the Papanashini) are said to be equal. Vishnu, the Lord of all, the Lord of the world, being pleased, appears actually (i.e. in person) only, and endless fruit is said (to be obtained by him who observes a fast) on that (day). Vishnu who was won over and worshipped on that (day) by Sagara, Kakutstha and Nahusha, gave (them) everything on the earth. There is no doubt that he (who observes a fast on that day) is freed from the sin due to speech, mental sin or especially bodily sin committed during the seven (previous) existences. A man having fasted on that (Papanashini) alone, which is joined with the star Pushya, obtains the fruit of (having fasted on) a thousand Ekadashis. Whatever like a bath, (giving a) gift, muttering (of hymns), a sacrifice, self-study, worship of a deity, is done on that day is said to give an inexhaustible fruit.

17b-18. Therefore, those who desire the fruit (like salvation) should observe (a fast on) this (day) carefully. When Yudhishthira had the ablution after the fifth horse-sacrifice, he, the religious- minded one, asked Krishna, the scion of the Yadu family:

Yudhishthira said:

19. O Lord, O Janardana, tell me all that, viz. what religious merit or what fruit (is obtained) by observing a fast on eating only at night or eating once (a day).

The Lord said:

20-27a. In the cold season, when the auspicious month of Margashirsha has come, a man should fast on that Dvadashi which (comes) in the dark half, O son of Prithaa (i.e. O son of Kunti, O Yudhishthira). Knowing what ‘nakta’ is, a man, with a pure heart and of a firm vow, eating (only) once on the tenth, and being controlled, (should eat) during the eighth part of the day when the Sun is feeble (i.e. is setting). That should be known as ‘nakta’. ‘Nakta’ is not eating only at night. Nakta is enjoined for a householder before the stars appear (in the sky). The nakta for an ascetic is eating only in the eighth part of the day. Eating at night is prohibited for him. Then, O Yudhishthira, he who has taken the vow, should make the religious observance in the morning, so also in the mid-day, and being pure, should bathe. Bathing in a temporary well is the lowest; bathing in a well is of a middling quality. Bathing in a tank is excellent. Bathing in a river is still better. O Yudhishthira, the sin and the religious merit are equal when a bath is taken in the water where living beings are troubled. Bathing at home is excellent, and the water should purify (him). Therefore, O best (or eldest) of the Pandavas, a man should bathe in his house.

27b-32. (At that time he should pray) ‘O you earth, that are stepped over by horses, gone over by chariots and by Vishnu, remove the sin that has been collected by me in (my) former (existence)’. He should give up anger and greed. He should think of one thing only, and be of a firm vow. He should not talk to a Shuudra, so also to heretics, so also to those given to lying, so also to those who censure brahmanas, and to others of bad behavior, to those who take away others’ wealth, and to those who are adulterers. Having worshipped Vishnu, he should make articles of food offered; and with a devoted mind he should offer lights in the house. O Partha, on that day he should avoid sleep and sexual union. He should pass the entire day in recreation by means of sacred texts.

33-39. O best king, he, being full of devotion, should keep awake during the night, should give presents to brahmanas, and should, after having saluted them, apologize to them. He should get observed (i.e. observe) the Ekadashi (vow) during the bright half as during the dark half (of the month). He should not differentiate between (the two Ekadashis). Listen to the fruit of (i.e. obtained by) him who does like this. A man, after bathing at Shamkhoddhaara and after seeing (the image of) God Vishnu, does not deserve (i.e. obtain) even the sixteenth part (of the merit) of fasting on an Ekadashi day. O best king, a man who gives four lakhs (of coins) on the days of the passage of the Sun from one Zodiacal sign to another, does not deserve (i.e. obtain) even the sixteenth part (of the merit) of fasting on an Ekadashi day. Indeed he who observes a fast on an Ekadashi day, gets the same fruit as the religious merit that is due to (the bath) during the lunar eclipse or the solar eclipse at the holy place Prabhaasa. Rebirth is not had by him after he has drunk water at Kedara. Tn the same way, O Yudhishthira, it removes staying in a womb.

40-48. The religious merit that he who observes a fast on an Ekadashi day gets, is a hundredfold more than the fruit that he would get from a horse-sacrifice on the earth. The reli- gious merit of him who fasts on an Ekadashi day is a hundred times more that the religious merit he would obtain by giving a thousand cows to (a brahmana) who has mastered the Vedas. Those who fast on the Ekadashi day are equal to those in whose bodies live the three deities Brahmaa, Vishnu and Shiva. Those who are devotees (of Vishnu) and who worship Vishnu, are those who perform virtuous deeds. So also the religious merit of (i.e. due to) the vow of Ekadashi cannot be counted. This would be its religious merit which is difficult to be obtained even by demigods. Half the religious merit of this is obtained even through eating at night only. Men would have half the religious merit of this through eating once (a day). Sacred places, gifts, restraints roar till that time till a living being (i.e. a human being) would not fast on a day dear to Vishnu. Therefore, O best Pandava, observe this vow. O Pandava, I do not know the quantity of religious merit (about) which you are asking me. O Pandava, I have narrated to you the excellent vow, which should be kept secret. Even the performance of a thousand sacrifices is not equal to the Ekadashi (vow).

Yudhishthira said:

49. O God, how has this auspicious Ekadashi day come up? How is it pure in the universe and how is it dear to demigods?

The Lord said:

50-54. O Partha, formerly in the Krita-age there was a demon by name Mura. He was very wonderful, very fierce and caused fear to all demigods. O king, even Indra, and so also other demigods were vanquished by that death(-like), great, wicked demon. Driven out of the heaven they roamed on the earth. With uncertainty and full of fear, all of them went to Mahadeva, and Indra told everything to the great lord (i.e. Shiva). (He said) “O great god, the demigods fallen from the heaven are roam- ing on the earth and they who are staying among the mortals, do not shine (at all). O god, tell me the remedy. What course do (i.e. should) the demigods follow?”

Mahadeva said:

55-58. O You best among demigods, O lord of demigods, go there where He, the eagle-bannered (God), the Lord of the world, the protector, and the best resort dwells. O best among demigods, He will protect you. 0 Yudhishthira, on having heard the words of the lord, the very intelligent king of the demigods went there along with the demigods. Seeing God, the Disc-holder (i.e. Vishnu) sleeping in the water, Indra joined the palms of his hands, uttered (this hymn of praise):

Indra said:

59-65. Salutation to You, O Lord of the demigods, O You who are saluted by demigods and demons, O You enemy of the demons, O You lotus-eyed one, O Madhusudana, protect us. O Lord of the world, all demigods frightened by the demon (Mura) have come to seek Your refuge. O You to whom Your devotees are dear, protect me. O Lord of demigods, protect us; O Janardana, protect us, protect us. O You lotus-eyed one, O You destroyer of the demons, protect us. We all have approached You. You alone are our refuge, O Lord. O Lord, help the demigods who have sought your shelter. O God, You are the master; You are the intellect; You are the agent; You are the cause. You are the mother of all the people. You are the father of the world. O holy one, O Lord of demigods, O You who love those who seek your shelter; the demigods that are frightened, have sought your refuge. O Lord, all the demigods have been vanquished. All of them have been expelled from heaven by the very fierce and very vigorous demon named Mura. Hearing the words of Indra, Vishnu said (these words):

66. “O Indra, of what kind is the demon? Of what form is he? Of what kind is his might? Where is the place of that wicked one? What is his strength? What is his valour? What is precious about him? 0 you very intelligent one, tell me (that).”

Indra said:

67-75. O Lord of demigods, formerly there was a very fierce, great demon named Talajangha (who was) born in the family of Brahma. His son, the demon Mura, was well-known. He was very mighty, very powerful and fearful to demigods. (There was) a city by name Chandravati. He lived in that place. He vanquished all demigods, and expelled them from heaven. He installed another Indra (as the chief of demigods), so also (another) Vayu and (another) Agni. He fashioned other (i.e. new) Moon and Sun, so also Vayu and Varuna. He took possession of everything. O Janardana, (this is) the truth, (the only) truth. He made the world of demigods bereft of all holy places. Hearing these words of him (i.e. of Indra), the angry Vishnu (said): “I shall kill the wicked demon, fearful to the demigods.” Then God, along with (other) demigods went to the city of Chandravati. The demigods saw the demon roaring repeatedly. He vanquished all demigods. They went in the ten directions. Seeing Vishnu the demon said: “Wait, wait.” The Lord, with his eyes red due to anger, said to him:

76-84. “O demon, O you of a bad conduct, see (the power of) my arm.” Then all the wicked demons that were before him were struck by Vishnu with divine arrows. They were overcome with fear. O Pandava, Krishna (i.e. Vishnu) discharged His disc against the forces of the demon. Hundreds (of demons) were cut off by it, and many died. Only one demon fought there repeatedly. He made all the demigods flee and vanquished Vishnu [1]. Then (of him who was) vanquished by the demon, a close fight with the demon took place. He fought that close fight for a thousand divine years. Vishnu became thoughtful. All demigods had fled. Vishnu was vanquished. He went to Badarikaashrama. There was a cave named Simhavatii. Vishnu slept there (i.e. in it). O Paan- dava, it was twelve yojanas (in length) and had one door (only). He entered it and slept (there). The demon was bent on killing Him. He was tired due to that great battle, (and had slept there) through His divine power. The demon pursued him. He then entered that cave. Seeing Him (i.e. seeing Vishnu) asleep there, the demon was delighted. Thinking Vishnu to have been vanquish- ed like this and to have been entered (i.e. overpowered) by fear, (he thought) ‘I shall undoubtedly kill him, the cause of fear to the demons.’

85-90. O Yudhishthira, then a maiden came out of Vishnu’s body. She was beautiful, very auspicious, and had divine missles and weapons. She, of a great might and valour, came up from a portion of His lustre. O Dhananjaya, she was seen by that lord of demons, Mura by name. He directed a fight there. The maiden also had asked for it. The maiden skilled in all (kinds of) battle, fought there. The great demon by name Mura was reduced to ash due to (her) humkaara sound. When the demon was killed, God (Vishnu) woke up. Seeing the demon fallen (dead) He was amazed: ‘who has killed this fierce and very cruel enemy of me? (That person) has done a very ferocious deed through compassion for me.’

The maiden said:

91-93a. He having conquered demigods, gandharvas, yakshas and goblins, so also Indra and others, expelled them from heaven. I saw Vishnu asleep, and Mura had pursued him. (I thought) ‘He will destroy the three worlds when Vishnu is asleep.’ Hearing those words of her, Vishnu, spoke (these) words: “How is it that you vanquished him too who had defeated me?”

Ekadashi said:

93b. O Lord, due to Your favour I killed the great demon.

The Lord said:

94. In the three worlds sages and demigods are delighted. O auspicious one, tell me what you like in your mind (i.e. what your mind likes). There is no doubt that I shall give it even if it is very difficult to be obtained by demigods.

Ekadashi said:

95-96. If, you are pleased, O Lord, and if you have told the truth, O Janardana, I desire one boon in (i.e. from) my heart, O Lord of the world. O Lord of demigods, I shall ask for what is desired by me. O Lord, O master of the world, if (your offer is) true, then give me three utterances (i.e. repeat your offer thrice).

The Lord said:

97. O you of a good vow, I have certainly spoken the truth, I have made three utterances (i.e. I have repeated my promise three times). Now there would be no absence of pro- mise (i.e. the promise will not be false).

Ekadashi said:

98-101. O Lord of demigods, do for me what is proper in the three worlds, in the four ages and everywhere in the three worlds. Through your favour I shall be the chief of all sacred places, the destroyer of all difficulties, and one who brings about all (kinds of) well-being. If, O Lord, you are pleased with me, then, may they who through devotion (for me) and devotion for you, fast on my day, have all (kinds) of well-being. O Vishnu, give wealth, righteousness and salvation to him who observes a fast or a nakta or who eats once a day (on the day sacred to me).

Vishnu said:

102-110. O auspicious one, all that you say will take place. O good one, you will grant all desires. (This will) not be otherwise. My devotees who in the world will observe the Ekadashi vow and worship me in Kaartika will undoubtedly obtain salvation. O lord, the Ekadashi is famous in the four ages and the three worlds. I look upon you as a power. The third, the eighth, the ninth, the fourteenth, and especially this eleventh are dear to Vishnu. (A man who observes the Ekadashi vow gets) religious merit more than (obtained) from all the sacred places. This is true, undoubtedly true. He gave this vow to her repeating it thrice. There was no doubt about it. The Ekadashi of a great vow became glad and strong. ‘You will kill his (i.e. the obser- ver’s) enemy. You will give him the highest position. You, giving (all kinds of) welfare, will remove all difficulties. O Yudhishthira, the Ekadashi of both the fortnights is equal (in merit) and is auspicious. A man should not differentiate between the bright and the dark (Ekadashi of the bright half and that of the dark half). He should devoutly listen to (pious accounts) by day or at night. For both the fortnights the same day (i.e. Ekadashi) would be the full (day). At the sunrise the Ekadashi day is little (i.e. is in a small part). At the end of the vow is the Trayodashi (i.e. the thirteenth day).

111-114a. In between (the two) there is the full Dvadashi (i.e. the twelfth day). Thus that (Ekadashi-vow) which touches (these) three (days) is dear to Vishnu. If a man fasts on one (Ekadashi he would get the) fruit of (having observed) a thousand Ekadashis. This would be thousandfold if the fast is broken on Dvadashi. Ashtami, Ekadashi, Shashthi, Tritiya and Chaturdashi, mixed with the previous day, should not be observed (as fast days). A man should observe (a fast on any one of these) when mixed with the next day. If the Ekadashi lasts for a day and night and would continue for a ghatika in the (next) morning, that day should be avoided. That Ekadashi, along with Dvadashi, should be fasted on.

114b-118. Thus, I have told you about the Ekadashi falling in both the fortnights. There is no doubt that a man should observe a fast on the Ekadashi day. They (i.e. who observe this fast) go to the place of Vishnu where the eagle-bannered (God Vishnu) dwells. Those men who are absorbed in devotion for Vishnu are blessed in the world. That man who would at all times recite the importance of the Ekadashi(-vow), obtains the religious merit which is the fruit (of the gift) of a thousand cows. There is no doubt that those who devoutly listen to it by day or at night are freed from the sins of killing a brahmana etc. O best king, the (exposition of) the significance of the Gita is not equal to devotion to Vishnu. There is no other vow like that of the Ekadashi, that destroys sins.