Special implication of Ekadashi Vrata-the legend of King Rukmangada

As the ‘Purvi Bhag’ of Narada Purana was concluded in the form of Questions of Narada Maharshi and Replies from Sanaka Kumara brothers, the narration by Suta Muni to the Sages headed by Shounaka Muni was successfully terminated. Then Maharshi Vasishtha took over the narration of ‘Uttari Bhag’of the Purana, as was stated by Maharshi Narada-the author of the Purana. Maharshi Vasishtha underlined the special connotation of Ekadashi Vrata to King Mandhata of Ikshavaku Clan and the ancestor of Lord Shi Rama.

As Ekadashi was stated to be the Special Day of Vishnu, observance of ‘Upavasa’, ‘Puja’and ‘Vrata’ on this day ought to be a pre-requisite to qualify the abolition of all the sins of a devotee. In fact, the advantage of performing the Vrata in full faith and high dedication as prescribed would secure the fruits of executing several Ashwamedha and Rajasuya Yagas, besides avoiding Yama Darshana! It is neither the Sacred Ganga, Gaya, Kashi, Pushkar, Kurukshetra, Narmada, Devika, Yamuna and Chandrabhaga that are stated to be more momentous than the Vrata. To signify the import of the Vrata, the Story of King Rukmangada was mentioned; he was in the habit of publicising through announcements on elephant tops the fact that the specific day was that of Ekadashi Vrata and all the citizens must observe fast, Puja, and penances as presribed. The annoucement was to alert that all the citizens in the age groups between eight and eighty five years ought to observe the fast and puja on that day and whosoever ate food and did not worship Vishnu would be liable for heavy punishment. Thus since a law was enforced, most of the citizens made a bee-line to Vishnu-dham and Lord Yama Dharma Raja became free and Chitragupta was jobless, as the paths leading to Yamaloka which were oherwise over-crowded had very few sinners in thin streams. Maharshi Narada made a visit to Yama loka and enquired of Dharma Raja as to why the hells which were highly noisy and bristling with tremendous activity became suddenly quiet and motionless! Dharma Raja informed Narada that King Rukmangada enforced ‘Upavas’ and Puja on Ekadashi days extended to Dwadashis also.

As prompted by Narada, Dharma Raja accompaied by Chitragupta reached Lord Brahma and complained that King Rukmangada was creating obstacles in the discharge of their duties and as per the Book of Insructions in Naraka, those who did not discharge their responsibilities even receiving their remunerations and enjoying the benefits of their postings would become worms; those officials who were corrupt and negligent of duties would suffer in Narakas for hundred ‘Kalpas’of time; those who perform a deed by cheating the Master would serve as mice in the house of the Master; and those officials who misuse the services of subrdinates for their own personal benefit would become cats.

In the background of the Rule Book, King Rukmangada was placing hardship in the discharge of the duties of the Officials; so complained Dharma Raja and Chitragupta. Lord Brahma replied that after all even by saying one word of ‘Hari’by the tip of a person’s tongue, the Punya accrued would surpass that of Tirtha Yatras to Kurushetra and Kasi; if a person had done the Ekadasha Vrat then ‘Yagna Phalas’ would be surely accrued and as such the actions taken by King Rukmanda were worthy of emulation, but not of condemnation.Yama Raja too was basically agreeable, as Narayana Himself involved in this case.

To overcome this peculiar situation of encouraging King Rukamanda’s efforts to popularise the ‘Ekadasha Vrata’ and at the same time ensure that Dharma Raja’s duties are not stalled, Brahma created a charming woman called ‘Mohini’ who enticed the King Rukmangada while seated near a famous Shiva Linga on top of Mandarachala in the Kingdom, singing a highly enchanting lyric. The King who excelled in Vishnu’s worship and even succeeded that the out flow of his citizens to Vaikuntha far exceeded to that of Yamaloka asked his son Dharmanga to share the responsibilities of Kingship, but tutored him well in following the principles of Dharma, especially in performing the Ekadasha Vrata.

He however conceded that there could be exceptions to observe the Vrata such as expectant mothers, Kumari Kanyas, persons suffering from diseases or with disturbed minds due to reasons beyond their control. Meanwhile, with the arrival of Mohini on the scene, King Rukmanga lost control of his senses and decided to marry her at any cost. She agreed but said that although she might not ask for anything including his entire Kingdom, the only condition however was that what ever she might ask for must be instantly agreed to by him.The King stated that he would never disagree to whatever she desired and as he belonged to the illustrious Ikshvaku Vamsa he would never lie in his life time. Mohini asserted that she was the daughter of Brahma and would not like to be wedded without ‘Veda Sakshi’. On way to his Capital along with Mohini, a lizard came under the feet of the horse on which the King and Mohini were seated.

The lizard was crushed and was about to die but talked in a female human voice and requested the King to bestow the ‘Punya’ that he earned from the Vijaya Dwadashi Vrata as earned by him recently so that she could attain Salvation; Mohini did not like the entire incident and asked the King to travel forthwith without wasting time; the merciful King ignored Mohini’s wish and donated the Punya of the Dwadashi Vrata to the lizard; the latter narrated the account of her previous birth and used ‘Vashikarana Mantra’ so that her husband was under thumb always and hence her birth as a lizard yet with the memory of her previous life. On reaching his Palace, the son Dharmanga welcomed the new couple who were married, and openy conveyed his request to the father’s earlier wives including his mother that whatever was instructed by Mohini should be considered as the King’s personal instructions.

But, there were quite a few personal insinuations that Mohini subjected to the King to show him down but he suffered. Both the Prince Dharmanga and his mother cooperated with Mohini whole-heartedly since they did not desire to hurt the King. But the blow came when Mohini insisted that the King should not fast on Ekadashi days! The King begged Mohini not to insist to do so since he observed the Vrata all though his life and in fact enforced a law among his subjects who adopted the habit through the entire Kingdom.

There are so many sins like ‘sambhog’on Amavasya, hair-cut on Chaturdashi and use of oil on Shashthi which are balanced by fasting on Ekadashi; giving wrong evidences, cheating the management of Establishments being served, obstructing wedding proposals of unmarried Kanyas, ingratitude, breaking promises of charity to Brahmanas, ‘Manikut’ or selling fake jewellery against market prices, ‘Tulakut’ or incorrect use of ‘Sensitive Balances’ while selling material, ‘Kanyakut’ or arranging a blemished girl, etc. are too excused by Ekadashi fasting.

But Mohini was unconvinced and insisted against Ekadashi Vrata and blamed the King to break the promises to her at their wedding time. She even argued with several Brahmanas and Rishis like Gautam that only Sanyasis or widows are justified to undertake fastings on Ekadashi. King Rukmangada’s senior wife Sandhyavali too tried to convince Mohini not to insist on husband’s observing Eakadasi Vrata / taking food against his wishes and cited the examples of ‘Pativratas’. In turn, Mohini asked Sandhyavali that in case the King did not agree to observe the Ekadashi Upavas, then she (Sandhyavali) might as well ask the King to lift his sword to cut the Prince Dharmangada’s head and throw into her (Mohini’s) lap! The son Dharmangada happily agreed to the proposal of getting killed rather than letting his father down and forcing him to break the Ekadashi Vrata. As the King was rather prepared to cut his own son’s head, Mohini became unconsious. Just at that time, Bhagavan Vishnu appeared and bestowed Vaikuntha not only to the King, but to the Prince and the Queen Sandhyavali for their firm convictions and steadfastness to cling to Virtues as great and memorable examples to the world thus vindicating the magnitude and high value of the Ekadashi Vrata to the posterity.

The hapless woman Mohini when regained consciousness found the dead bodies of the King, Sandhyavali and Dharmangada and was totally shocked and almost deranged, even as the Purohit of Rukmangada sprinkled water from his vessel and cursed her that she would be burnt into ashes. Vayu Deva refused to take away her soul which when reached on the path of heavens and even hells, her entry was denied. Her tormented soul was refused entry into the Patala and other lower lokas too. Finally, the Raja Purohit of Lord Brahma, called Vasudeva, took pity on the devastated, shamefully shaken and highly repentant soul of Mohini, revived her human form and sought to provide a fresh lease of life as a part of reformation process by describing the ‘Mahimas’ of the soul purifying Ganga ‘Snaan’ and observance of ‘Nakta Vratas’, Shiva Pujas, Shivaradhana on successive Purnima and Amavasya fastings, and Tirtha Yatras to Gaya for Pindadaanas for five days, Avamukti Kshetra, Purushottama Kshetra in Utkala Desha for darshan of Bhagavan Krishna, Balarama and Subhadra, darshanas of Bhagavan Nrisimha, Sweta Madhava, Matsya Madhava, Kalpa Vriksha, Prayaga Kshetra, Kuru Kshetra, Ganga Dwara (Hari Dwara), Badarikashrama, Siddhanatha Kamakshi, Prabhasa Kshetra, Pushkara, Panchavati, Pubdaripura, Gokarna, Lakshmanachala, Setu Kshetra, Narmada, Avanti, Mathura and Brindavana; ultimately Mohini having performed different kinds of ‘Prayaschittas’(atonements), performed ‘Mantra Yukta Yamuna Pravesha’ or dissolution into the Holy River of Yamuna along with appropriate recitation of Mantras.Such was the story of belittling Ekadashi Vrata!

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