Founder Acharya: His Divine Grace Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness
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Pandava Nirjala Ekadashi
Once the pandav Bhima requested Sri Krishna to find a solution to his dilemma, upon which Krishna asked him what it was about. Bhima, the voracious eater, explained to Krishna that despite his sincere attempts it was very difficult for him to follow Ekadashi as mentioned in the scriptures.
According to the scriptures, one should follow Ekadashi with great reverence, not eating or drinking anything for the entire day and completely engaging one’s senses in the various limbs of Bhakti. Sri Ambarish maharaj, following the highest standards mentioned in the shastras, would control his eating the day before ekadashi, fast from all food and water on the holy day of Ekadashi and eat only once on dwadashi tithi, the next day of ekadashi, while at all times engaging in the service of the Lord and controlling the senses and their functions. However, for bhima, fasting from all food and water on Ekadashi was proving to be very difficult and therefore he requested the Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna to mercifully find a solution to his predicament.
Understanding the situation and being merciful upon Bhima, the Lord allowed him to eat fruits and roots on all the Ekadashis except one. He told Bhima to follow the Shukla paksha Ekadashi in the month of Jyeshta without eating or drinking anything at all. In this way, he was allowed to eat phalahar, fruits and roots, on all other ekadashis except this one Ekadashi which later on became famous as Pandav Nirjala Ekadashi. In today’s day and age, when the living entities are not capable of following Ekadashi according to the highest of standards mentioned in the scriptures and therefore partake fruits and roots to maintain their physical well being, one should at least follow this Ekadashi without eating or drinking anything and thus hope to receive the blessings of the Lord. The true success, however, of any austerity is in chanting the holy names of the Lord, and therefore, while fasting for Nirjala ekadashi, one should engage in the chanting of the most purifying holy names of Sri Krishna.