Chaitra Shukla Paksh.. Mar - Apr
Sri SUta Ji said, "Oh sages, let me offer my humble and respectful obeisances unto the Supreme Lord Hari, Bhagavan Sri Krishna, the son of Devaki and Vasudeva, by whose mercy I can describe the fast day that removes all kinds of sins. It was to the devoted Yudhisthira that Lord Krishna glorified the twenty-four primary EkAdasiis, which destroy sin, and now I shall recount one of those narrations to you. Great-learned sages have selected these twenty-four narrations from the eighteen PurANas, for they are truly sublime.
Yudhishthira MahArAja said, 'Oh Lord Krishna, Oh VAsudeva, please accept my humble obeisances. Please describe to me the EkAdasii that occurs during the light part of the month of Chaitra [March-April]. What is its name, and what are its glories?'
Lord Sri Krishna replied, 'Oh Yudhishthira, please listen to Me attentively as I relate the ancient history of this sacred EkAdasii, a history Vasishtha Muni once related to King Dilipa, the great-grandfather of Lord RAmachandra.
King Dilipa asked the great sage Vasishtha, "Oh wise brAhmana, I wish to hear about the EkAdasii that comes during the light part of the month of Chaitra. Please describe it to me."
Vasishtha Muni replied, "Oh king, your inquiry is glories. Gladly shall I tell you what you wish to know. The EkAdasii that occurs during the light fortnight of Chaitra is named KAmadA EkAdasii. It consumes all sins, as a forest fire consumes a supply of dry firewood. It is very purifying, and it bestows the highest merit upon one who faithfully observes it. Oh king, now hear an ancient history which is so meritorious that it removes all one's sins simply by being heard.
Once, long ago, there existed a city-state named Ratnapura, which was decorated with gold and jewels and in which sharp-fanged snakes would enjoy intoxication. King Pundarika was the ruler of this most beautiful kingdom, which numbered many Gandharvas, Kinnaras, and ApsarAs among its citizens.
Among the Gandharvas were Lalita and his wife LalitA, who was an especially lovely dancer. These two were intensely attracted to each other, and their home was full of great wealth and fine food. LalitA loved her husband dearly, and likewise he constantly thought of her within his heart.
Once, at the court of King Pundarika, many Gandharvas were dancing and Lalita was singing alone, without his wife. He could not help thinking about her as he sang, and because of this distraction he lost track of the song's meter and melody. Indeed, Lalita sang the ending of his song improperly, and one of the envious snakes who was in attendance at the king's court complained to the king that Lalita was absorbed in thinking of his wife instead of his sovereign. the king became furious upon hearing this, and his eyes turned crimson with rage. Suddenly he shouted, 'Oh foolish knave, because you were lustfully thinking of a woman instead of reverently thinking of your king as you performed your court duties, I curse you to at once become a cannibal!
Oh king, Lalita immediately became a fearful cannibal, a great man-eating demon whose appearance terrified everyone. His arms were eight miles long, his mouth was as big as a huge cave, his eyes were as awesome as the sun and moon, his nostrils resembled enormous pits in the earth, his neck was a veritable mountain, his hips were four miles wide, and his gigantic body stood a full sixty-four miles high. Thus poor Lalita, the loving Gandharva singer, had to suffer the reaction of his offense against King Pundarika.
Seeing her husband suffering as a horrible cannibal, LalitA became overwhelmed with grief. She thought, 'Now that my dear husband is suffering the effects of the kings' curse, what is to be my lot? What should I do? Where should I go?' In this way LalitA grieved day and night. Instead of enjoying life as a Gandharvas wife, she had to wander everywhere in the thick jungle with her monstrous husband, who had fallen completely under the spell of the king's curse and was wholly engaged in terrible sinful activities. He wandered fitfully across forbidding region, a once-beautiful Gandharva now reduced to the ghastly behaviour of a man-eater. Utterly distraught to see her dear husband suffer so much in his dreadful condition, LalitA began to cry as she followed his mad journeying.
By good fortune, however, LalitA came upon the sage Shringi one day. He was sitting on the peak of the famous VindhyAchala Hill. Approaching him, she immediately offered the ascetic her respectful obeisances. The sage noticed her bowing down before him and said, 'Oh most beautiful one, who are you? Whose daughter are you, and why have you come here? Please tell me everything in truth.
LalitA replied, 'Oh great age, I am the daughter of the great Gandharva ViradhanvA, and my name is LalitA. I roam the forests and plains with my dear husband, whom King Pundarika has cursed to become a man-eating demon. Oh brAhmana, I am greatly aggrieved to see his ferocious form and terribly sinful activities. Oh master, please tell me how I can perform some act of atonement on behalf of my husband. What pious act can I perform to free him from this demonic form, Oh best of brAhmanas?
‘The sage replied, 'Oh heavenly maiden, there is an EkAdasii named KAmadA that occurs in the light fortnight of the month of Chaitra. It is coming up soon. Whoever fasts on this day has all his desires fulfilled. If you observe this EkAdasii fast according to its rules and regulations and give the merit you thus earn to your husband, he will be freed from the curse at once.' LalitA was overjoyed to hear these words from the sage.
Lalita faithfully observed the fast of KAmadA EkAdasii according to the instructions of the sage Shringi, and on DvAdasi she appeared before him and the Deity of Lord VAsudeva and said, 'I have faithfully observed the fast of KAmadA EkAdasii. By the merit earned through my observance of this fast, let my husband be free from the curse that has turned him into a demoniac cannibal. May the merit I have gained thus free him from misery.'
As soon as LalitA finished speaking, her husband, who stood nearby, was at once freed from the king's curse. He immediately regained his original form as the Gandharva Lalita, a handsome heavenly singer adorned with many beautiful ornaments. Now, with his wife LalitA, he could enjoy even more opulence than before. All this was accomplished by the power and glory of KAmadA EkAdasii. At last the Gandharva couple boarded a celestial airplane and ascended to heaven.
Lord Sri Krishna continued, 'Oh Yudhishthira, best of kings, anyone who hears this wonderful narration should certainly observe holy KAmadA EkAdasii to the best of his ability, such great merit does it bestow upon the faithful devotee. I have therefore described its glories to you for the benefit of all humanity.
There is no better EkAdasii than KAmadA EkAdasii. It can eradicate even the sin of killing a brAhmana, and it also nullifies demoniac curses and cleanses the consciousness. In all the three worlds, among movable and immovable living entities, there is no better day'
युधिष्ठिर ने पूछा: वासुदेव ! आपको नमस्कार है ! कृपया आप यह बताइये कि चैत्र शुक्लपक्ष में किस नाम की एकादशी होती है?
भगवान श्रीकृष्ण बोले: राजन् ! एकाग्रचित्त होकर यह पुरातन कथा सुनो, जिसे वशिष्ठजी ने राजा दिलीप के पूछने पर कहा था ।
वशिष्ठजी बोले: राजन् ! चैत्र शुक्लपक्ष में ‘कामदा’ नाम की एकादशी होती है । वह परम पुण्यमयी है । पापरुपी ईँधन के लिए तो वह दावानल ही है ।
प्राचीन काल की बात है: नागपुर नाम का एक सुन्दर नगर था, जहाँ सोने के महल बने हुए थे । उस नगर में पुण्डरीक आदि महा भयंकर नाग निवास करते थे । पुण्डरीक नाम का नाग उन दिनों वहाँ राज्य करता था । गन्धर्व, किन्नर और अप्सराएँ भी उस नगरी का सेवन करती थीं । वहाँ एक श्रेष्ठ अप्सरा थी, जिसका नाम ललिता था । उसके साथ ललित नामवाला गन्धर्व भी था । वे दोनों पति पत्नी के रुप में रहते थे । दोनों ही परस्पर काम से पीड़ित रहा करते थे । ललिता के हृदय में सदा पति की ही मूर्ति बसी रहती थी और ललित के हृदय में सुन्दरी ललिता का नित्य निवास था ।
एक दिन की बात है । नागराज पुण्डरीक राजसभा में बैठकर मनोरंजन कर रहा था । उस समय ललित का गान हो रहा था किन्तु उसके साथ उसकी प्यारी ललिता नहीं थी । गाते-गाते उसे ललिता का स्मरण हो आया । अत: उसके पैरों की गति रुक गयी और जीभ लड़खड़ाने लगी ।
नागों में श्रेष्ठ कर्कोटक को ललित के मन का सन्ताप ज्ञात हो गया, अत: उसने राजा पुण्डरीक को उसके पैरों की गति रुकने और गान में त्रुटि होने की बात बता दी । कर्कोटक की बात सुनकर नागराज पुण्डरीक की आँखे क्रोध से लाल हो गयीं । उसने गाते हुए कामातुर ललित को शाप दिया : ‘दुर्बुद्धे ! तू मेरे सामने गान करते समय भी पत्नी के वशीभूत हो गया, इसलिए राक्षस हो जा ।’
महाराज पुण्डरीक के इतना कहते ही वह गन्धर्व राक्षस हो गया । भयंकर मुख, विकराल आँखें और देखनेमात्र से भय उपजानेवाला रुप - ऐसा राक्षस होकर वह कर्म का फल भोगने लगा ।
ललिता अपने पति की विकराल आकृति देख मन ही मन बहुत चिन्तित हुई । भारी दु:ख से वह कष्ट पाने लगी । सोचने लगी: ‘क्या करुँ? कहाँ जाऊँ? मेरे पति पाप से कष्ट पा रहे हैं…’
वह रोती हुई घने जंगलों में पति के पीछे-पीछे घूमने लगी । वन में उसे एक सुन्दर आश्रम दिखायी दिया, जहाँ एक मुनि शान्त बैठे हुए थे । किसी भी प्राणी के साथ उनका वैर विरोध नहीं था । ललिता शीघ्रता के साथ वहाँ गयी और मुनि को प्रणाम करके उनके सामने खड़ी हुई । मुनि बड़े दयालु थे । उस दु:खिनी को देखकर वे इस प्रकार बोले : ‘शुभे ! तुम कौन हो ? कहाँ से यहाँ आयी हो? मेरे सामने सच-सच बताओ ।’
ललिता ने कहा: महामुने ! वीरधन्वा नामवाले एक गन्धर्व हैं । मैं उन्हीं महात्मा की पुत्री हूँ । मेरा नाम ललिता है । मेरे स्वामी अपने पाप दोष के कारण राक्षस हो गये हैं । उनकी यह अवस्था देखकर मुझे चैन नहीं है । ब्रह्मन् ! इस समय मेरा जो कर्त्तव्य हो, वह बताइये । विप्रवर! जिस पुण्य के द्वारा मेरे पति राक्षसभाव से छुटकारा पा जायें, उसका उपदेश कीजिये ।
ॠषि बोले: भद्रे ! इस समय चैत्र मास के शुक्लपक्ष की ‘कामदा’ नामक एकादशी तिथि है, जो सब पापों को हरनेवाली और उत्तम है । तुम उसीका विधिपूर्वक व्रत करो और इस व्रत का जो पुण्य हो, उसे अपने स्वामी को दे डालो । पुण्य देने पर क्षणभर में ही उसके शाप का दोष दूर हो जायेगा ।
राजन् ! मुनि का यह वचन सुनकर ललिता को बड़ा हर्ष हुआ । उसने एकादशी को उपवास करके द्वादशी के दिन उन ब्रह्मर्षि के समीप ही भगवान वासुदेव के (श्रीविग्रह के) समक्ष अपने पति के उद्धार के लिए यह वचन कहा: ‘मैंने जो यह ‘कामदा एकादशी’ का उपवास व्रत किया है, उसके पुण्य के प्रभाव से मेरे पति का राक्षसभाव दूर हो जाय ।’
वशिष्ठजी कहते हैं: ललिता के इतना कहते ही उसी क्षण ललित का पाप दूर हो गया । उसने दिव्य देह धारण कर लिया । राक्षसभाव चला गया और पुन: गन्धर्वत्व की प्राप्ति हुई ।
नृपश्रेष्ठ ! वे दोनों पति पत्नी ‘कामदा’ के प्रभाव से पहले की अपेक्षा भी अधिक सुन्दर रुप धारण करके विमान पर आरुढ़ होकर अत्यन्त शोभा पाने लगे । यह जानकर इस एकादशी के व्रत का यत्नपूर्वक पालन करना चाहिए ।
मैंने लोगों के हित के लिए तुम्हारे सामने इस व्रत का वर्णन किया है । ‘कामदा एकादशी’ ब्रह्महत्या आदि पापों तथा पिशाचत्व आदि दोषों का नाश करनेवाली है । राजन् ! इसके पढ़ने और सुनने से वाजपेय यज्ञ का फल मिलता है