Bhima was the Pandava brother with the most strength and appetite. He understood only logic and so once when no one could satiate his curiosity as to why one keeps an Ekadashi vrat, he went to the great sage Vyasadeva, the grandfather of the Pandavas to get some advice.
“Oh great and learned grandfather, my brother Yudhisthira, my dear mother Kunti, and my beloved wife Draupadi, as well as Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva, fast completely on each Ekadasi and strictly follow all the rules of that sacred day. Being very religious, they always tell me that I should also fast on that day too.
But, grandfather, I tell them that I cannot live without eating, because as the son of Vayudeva (the wind God), hunger is unbearable to me. I can give widely in charity and worship Lord Vishnu, but I cannot be asked to fast on Ekadasi."
Hearing these words, the grandsire of Bhima, started to narrate the story of Ekadahi.
"Bhima, I shall first tell you the origin of Ekadashi. Once there was a very powerful demon called Mur, who had defeated all devas and won over the Kingdom of Swarg (Dev Loka). The troubled Devtas then went to Lord Vishnu to seek his help and asked him to save them from the clutches of Mur. The all mighty, Lord Vishnu, declared war on Mur and fought in the battle alone. But to his surprise, all his weapons proved useless against Mur. He then began fighting with his bare hands, but his opposition was strong that the wrestling battle continued for a thousand celestial years. Tired of the long battle, Lord Vishnu decided to rest for a while. Mur was waiting for such an opportunity and cunningly went over to Lord Vishnu's place of rest to kill him in his sleep.
Just when Mur was about to strike the Lord, from his divine senses appeared a beautiful maiden. Mur got distracted by her beauty and she wasting no time, slayed the demon in a single strike.
When Lord Vishnu woke up, he was surprised to see the demon beheaded, the demon who had fought him mercilessly for years. He then turned towards the maiden, sitting beside his feet, her head bowed in reverence. He recognized her as Maha-Shakti and gave her the name of Ekadashi, as she appeared on the eleventh day of the waning moon. Pleased, he also offered her a boon, to which she requested the power to wash away the sins of any person who worshiped Lord Vishnu by fasting on the eleventh day of the moon"
Bhima who had been listening to the story intently replied with great angst, "Oh grandfather, please listen to my plea. Since I cannot live if I eat only once in a day, how can I possibly live if I fast completely?"
Unmoved, sage Vyasadeva continued listing the benefits of fasting on Ekadasi. Knowing Bhima would not be satisfied with just the religious aspect of Ekadashi, he also told him of the scientific importance. "The entire personality of a human being is said to be influenced by the planets and their movement. The mind’s presiding deity is the moon, hence the orbital relative movement of the moon with reference to other planets and ourselves influences the mind. There are certain centres called Chakras in the body which are energy centres; the moon is said to influence these centres which in turn influences the mind."
Bhima's interest piqued and he nodded alongside the wise words.
"The changing nature of the tides on the full moon and new moon days is a proof of the effect of the moon. There is an increase in atmospheric pressure in the oceans on the new moon day and hence the waves are very high and rough. As the pressure recedes from the next day, the waves also become calmer until the pressure is negligibly low on the 11th day from the new moon and full moon days. Thus Ekadashi, which literally mean the 11th day, is observed as a day of fasting not just to cleanse the mind but also the body"
"Oh grandfather, what should I do? I understand the importance now but I am completely unable and ill equipped to fast twice in a month throughout the year! Please tell me of the one fasting day that will bestow the greatest benefit upon me!” Bhima cried.
Vyasadeva replied with a smile, “Without drinking even water, if you fast on the Ekadasi that occurs during the light fortnight of the month of Jyeshtha (May-June) when the sun travels in the sign of Taurus (Vrishabh) and Gemini (Mithun), you will be able to achieve the purity of mind and soul. All your sins, even if they are equal in volume to the demon Mur, will be burned to ashes.
From then on, Bhima, the one who could not control his hunger, vowed to fast on Ekadashi and benefit from its supreme power.
If you want to read more of my short stories, click on the below image.
These short stories were developed during the A-Z challenge in 2014. Each story is based on 26 colours which commence with every letter of the alphabet from A to Z. The themes developed in these stories range from marital despair to urban city-life blues, from love to loss, from child abuse to infidelity, divorce, and much more.
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