[Excerpted from Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja's "Nectar
Sprinkles on Australia"]
Today is Ekadasi vrata. I think
that most of you have observed it. To observe Ekadasi fully,
like Ambarisa Maharaja, is very rare. He lived in Satya-yuga,
and he was so strong that he could have fasted without sleep,
standing on one leg, without even taking water or air. In
Kali-yuga we are neither strong nor advanced; but we are
fortunate. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has explained that on
Ekadasi, if we are hungry we may take some fruit juice, or milk.
We should not eat continually. It is not that we drink a litre
of one type of juice, and half an hour later another type of
juice, and again within half an hour we take boiled potatoes
and other vegetables, then a large drink of water, half a kilo
of paneer with sugar, and another half litre of rubari. We
should eat only as much as is needed to allay sleep and
Remaining awake day and night, we should
spend Ekadasi chanting and remembering Sri Krsna, as did
Ambarisa Maharaja. He was the emperor of the whole world, a
householder, and he was externally entangled in material
Durvasa Muni was a brahmana and a
realized yogi. He could curse someone to die, and also bring a
dead man back to life. He was a brahmarsi, a brahmavadi with
great powers. He thought: "I am born in a brahminical family and
am in the dynasty of Sankara. Therefore I am a manifestation of
Sankara. I am the son of Atri and Anasuya, who are highly
learned uttama Vaisnavas. My parents gave so many teachings to
Rama, and Sita-devi who is Laksmi Herself, when They both
visited my parent's cottage. I am the greatest man in this
world, and I am the most powerful." However, Durvasa Muni never
In Madhuvana, Mathura, Ambarisa
Maharaja observed Mahadvadasi, neither drinking water nor
sleeping. He absorbed himself day and night in chanting,
remembering, serving the Deities, and praying. The next day,
after worshipping Krsna, when he was ready to break his fast,
Durvasa Muni arrived at his palace. Durvasa was like a god, a
realized brahmavadi, but he had not observed Ekadasi. Ambarisa
Maharaja requested him to break Ekadasi, by taking Mahadvadasi
parana, after which he himself would honor prasada. Durvasa
Muni replied, "Yes, but first I will take bath nearby, in the
Yamuna River. I won't be very long."
He took so much
time, however, that only a few minutes were left before the
auspicious time for breaking Ekadasi would be over. Ambarisa
Maharaja wondered what to do. "A brahmana rsi, a siddha maha
yogi, has come to my door. He is not an ordinary person and I
should first respect him by offering him mahaprasada before I
myself take it. Otherwise I will be disobeying Indian culture,
and I may possibly go to hell. On the other hand, I must
observe my Ekadasi vrata, which is not a worldly activity. It is
transcendental, and if I fail to observe it by not taking
mahaprasada at the proper time, I may lose my bhakti. Should I
honor this brahmana, or honor bhakti?" After careful
consideration he chose to honor bhakti. "I cannot act against
bhakti in any way. Even if I lose some material prosperity or go
to hell, I will not disrespect Ekadasi. I will break it within
the prescribed time." He then drank a drop of water that had
been used in the worship of Sri Krsna (caranamrta).
one observes Ekadasi without taking juice or water, he can break
the fast by taking caranamrta. But if water, fruit, juice, milk
or vegetables have been taken, one will have to break it by
taking some grain; otherwise his Ekadasi is not complete.
Ambarisa Maharaja thought, "I have not taken even water during
my observance of Ekadasi, so I can take caranamrta. In this way,
because I will not have taken any grains, I will also be
respecting the brahmana."
After taking a drop of
caranamrta Durvasa Muni returned. "I know you. You are only a
so-called bhakta. I am a siddha brahmana. You know my parentage.
You know of my great powers, and yet you have dared to dishonor
me. I will immediately burn you to ashes." He took one jata
(dreadlock) from his hair, dashed it to the ground, and ordered
it to become a burning fire. The fire demon then ran towards
Ambarisa Maharaja in an attempt to burn him to ashes. At that
moment the Sudarsana cakra appeared. Krsna had ordered His
cakra to always protect the Vaisnavas, persons who have taken
shelter of Him; so Sudarsana burned the fiery demon to ashes
and then moved toward Durvasa Rsi, who fled, taking his legs on
his head 1, and cried, "Save me! Save me! Save me!"
When the fire demon approached Ambarisa Maharaja, the king
chanted and was fearless. He thought, "Whether I live or die
depends on Krsna." He depended fully on Krsna, and Sudarsana
cakra saved him.
Durvasa Muni, however, though a
powerful brahmana and realized yogi, feared death and fled. He
tried first to take shelter of his father, Lord Siva; but seeing
him approach, Lord Siva called, "Go from here! You are in this
predicament because you have dishonored a Vaisnava. I know how
influential Vaisnavas are, and I fear offending them. If I give
you shelter, Sudarsana will also attack me."
Muni then went to Lord Brahma, who also refused to help him.
After this he approached Lord Visnu and prayed, "O Visnu! O
Visnu! Save me from Your weapon.
I am taking shelter of
Lord Visnu said, "I am powerless to protect you.
I have no freedom. I am bound to My bhaktas. They have given
their hearts to Me, and I have given Mine to them. I am in no
way independent of My devotees."
sri bhagavan uvaca
hy asvatantra iva dvija
bhaktair bhakta jana-priyah
"The Supreme Personality of Godhead said to the brahmana: I am
completely under the control of My devotees. Indeed, I am not
at all independent. Because My devotees are completely devoid of
material desires, I sit only within the cores of their hearts.
What to speak of My devotee, even those who are devotees of My
devotee are very dear to Me." [Bhag. 9.4.63]
someone gets a thorn in his foot it cannot be removed from his
head. It must be removed from his foot. So Lord Visnu is
saying, "The Vaisnavas are everything to Me. It is My vow to
protect them. If you want to be saved, you must go to Ambarisa
Maharaja. Do not see him as a family man or a king. He is not an
ordinary person, he is My dear devotee.
Offer him your
obeisances. He is bhakta jana priya. Worldly persons tend to
think, 'I am so learned, rich, and powerful. These bogus
Vaisnavas are useless and only chant Hare Krsna.' But you,
Durvasa, should become a sincere Vaisnava. Then Krsna will
protect you and bestow upon you Krsna-prema."
since Durvasa Muni had begun fleeing from the Lord's weapon one
year earlier, Ambarisa Maharaja had not eaten anything.
When Durvasa Rsi finally came before Ambarisa Maharaja, the king
apologized to him with great humility. "I am nothing-not even a
devotee. I have disobeyed and dishonored you by breaking my
fast." Durvasa Muni fell flat at the lotus feet of Ambarisa
Maharaja, who then embraced him.
asked him to be merciful and honor mahaprasada. Durvasa
replied, "Please save me from the Sudarsana cakra. His heat is
burning me." Ambarisa then prayed, "O Prabhu, O Lord, if I have
ever performed devotional service to Krsna then please save this
brahmana." No sooner were these words spoken then the Sudarsana
cakra became cool and returned to Lord Visnu. Durvasa then
expressed his new realization that bhaktas are more powerful
than Krsna Himself. "Krsna has given all of His power to the
Vaisnavas. But they hide this and cheat others, presenting
themselves as fallen persons. Trnad api sunicena. Although they
are powerful, they are also dina hina (meek), being both
generous and polite."
Durvasa Rsi then gladly took
mahaprasada, after which Ambarisa Maharaja also honored prasada
along with his whole family.
So be like that, humble,
with a strong faith in devotional service to Krsna. We can give
our head, life and soul to observe Ekadasi. Ekadasi is the
mother of prema-bhakti and she will protect us.
Bhaktivinoda Thakura has written: madhava tithi bhakti janani
jatane palana kori. Ekadasi is madhava-tithi. Holy days like
Ekadasi are bhakti janani, the mother of prema-bhakti. We should
try to follow it as purely as possible, not eating and drinking
many times throughout the day. If possible, observe it without
even drinking water (nirjala), or take a little prasada once in
the day if this is not possible. Many old people, who are lean
and thin, can observe nirjala Ekadasi; so why not those of you
who are young and strong? You should try to observe it like
this. However, if by such fasting your head spins and you go to
sleep, then what is the use? Try to remember Krsna, associate
with Vaisnavas, read sastra and offer prayers day and night,
such as: he krsna karuna sindhu dina bandho jagat pate gopesa
gopika kanta radha kanta namo 'stu te. Observing Ekadasi gives
even more spiritual power than brahma-jnana and
1 "Taking his legs on his head" is a Hindi
expression to illustrate one who flees at lightning
Nectar Sprinkles on Australia
Madhav-tithi: Mother of Prema Bhakti