Indira Ekadashi Katha
Today is Indira Ekadashi. I have previously explained that sastra and the Guru-varga have revealed the names of each Ekadashi as well as Her special qualities and activities. All Ekadashi are unique.
How can the devotee receive Ekadashi-devi’s mercy and blessings? How to follow Ekadashi? She has many followers. There are many karmi, jnanis, mayavadis, yogis, and others who follow Ekadashi. Apart from them, suddha-bhaktas and maha-bhagavatas also follow. Even the Vrajavasis follow Ekadashi.
Does this mean that you should pray to karmis and jnanis, saying, “You follow Ekadashi, the mother of Krsna-bhakti. Please give me blessings that I may follow like you.”
This is not Krsna-bhakti-rasa-bhavita matih, (intelligence infused with taste for Krsna-bhakti). You will also become a karmi, jnani, or yogi, if you do this. The Vrajavasis, Nanda Baba, Yasoda Mata and all the Vraja-devis follow Ekadashi. We must practice how they follow.
Ordinary people may follow Ekadashi but if you follow their way of doing so, you will never progress or receive realization. You will not understand the svarupa of Ekadashi.
Bhaktivinoda Thakura has explained—
bhakata-seva, parama-siddhi, prema-latikara-mula
[Dust from the lotus feet of pure devotees is very favorable for bhajana, and service to the Vaisnavas is the highest perfection and the very root of the tender creeper of divine love.]
Brahmaji understood all this, and therefore prayed, “May I receive just one particle of dust from the Vraja-devi’s feet.”
tad bhuri-bhagyam iha janma kim apy atavyam
yad gokule ‘pi katamanghri-rajo-‘bhinekam
yaj-jivitam tu nikhilam bhagavan mukundas
tv adyapi yat-pada-rajah sruti-mrgyam eva
[(Lord Brahma said:) My greatest possible good fortune would be to take any birth whatever in this forest of Gokula and have my head bathed by the dust falling from the lotus feet of any of its residents. Their entire life and soul is the Supreme Lord, Mukunda, the dust of whose lotus feet is still being searched for in the Vedic mantras.]
In his kirtana, Bhaktivinoda Thakura glorifies the footdust of suddha-bhaktas. It is bhajana anukula, most favorable for bhajana. Where is this footdust available? Why is this written in relation to Ekadashi-devi?
One must take the shelter of the suddha-bhaktas and follow Ekadashi the way that they follow. One can learn how to ideally observe Ekadashi and offer one’s self to Ekadashi-devi from the suddha-bhaktas. If one has relationship with the suddha-bhaktas then he will never lose his heart to cheaters in this world.
Bhakti comes from the suddha-bhaktas. Who are the suddha-bhaktas? The followers of the Vrajavasis and Vraja-devis’ are suddha-bhaktas. Their only engagement is to satisfy Madhava with their love.
On this Madhava-tithi, we may follow, but we must have proper understanding of what is the proper process and who is Madhava. This is possible under the guidance of the suddha-bhaktas.
Some people observe nirjala-vrata, do parikrama, perform nama-kirtana, and stay up the whole night, but are not actually after suddha-bhakta-carana-renu—the footdust of the pure devotees. They are not greedy for vraja-bhakti. They desire name, fame, popularity, and luxury. Material happiness is insignificant. It does not remain with us for long.
How can we develop relationship with Madhava? How can we follow the Vraja-devis? Madhava will never reject a person that has the favor of the residents of Vraja. That person will never leave Vraja-mandala.
Today’s Ekadashi is named Indira Ekadashi. Ordinarily, the word indira is known as a name of Laksmi-devi. However, we know that Maha Laksmi has no entrance in Vraja-mandala. She stays on the outskirts of Vraja in the grove known as Baelvana. Vrnda-devi does not give her permission to enter Vraja. Brahma received permission to stay in Vraja because he took the footdust of the Vraja-devis and smeared it on his head and body. Therefore, Mahaprabhu accepted him, and said, “Brahma is our adi-guru. He understands the value and glory of the Vraja-devis’ footdust.” In Sri Govinda-lilamrta, Sri Krsna-karanamrta, Sri Madhava-mahotsava, Sri Ananda-vrndavana-campu, and other books, our Gosvamis describe the glories of the Vraja-devis and how they serve Krsna.
The specialty of Indira Ekadashi is illuminated by the Guru-varga. The material body has eleven senses and the spiritual body also has eleven senses. When the material senses are engaged in nonsensical, selfish pursuits, then we are bound in samsara. The material senses are created by Brahma and the spiritual senses come from sandhini-sakti, the presiding deity of which is Sri Baladeva Prabhu. The spiritual senses are prepared for service by Bhagavati Paurnamasi and Vrnda-devi gives us qualification to serve Sri Sri Radha-Krsna.
What does Ekadashi-devi do? She helps prepare our spiritual forms and endows us with good qualities. How can everything we have be flavorful for Krsna’s pleasure? If a flower that is newly blossomed has a bright color but no fragrance, what is the use? If a flower has no fragrance it means there is no nectar inside it. In the West, many artificial flowers like this can be found. They have no sweetness or softness, just a nice color and shape. Gold has a nice color and is considered valuable, but it is not soft, fragrant, and full of nectar. This is useless in regards to rasa.
In Vraja-mandala, the lotuses, jasmine, roses and all flowers are complete in their pleasurable qualities. They are all fragrant, beautiful to the sight, and very soft. Even when they are dried, they keep their sweet smell. Nectar is within those flowers. This is the charm of Vraja.
Brahma created demons, demigods, humans, etc., all these are mundane designations with harsh qualities. Ekadashi-devi makes everyone like jasmine, roses, and lotuses—very delicate, colorful, fragrant and full of all nectar-like qualities. Within these flowers is the power to attract. They are helpful for everyone. The spiritual forms of sakhas, gopis, manjaris, servants, parents and everyone in Vraja-mandala are all given special qualities by Ekadashi-devi.
Ordinary people act to relieve what afflicts them in this world. For the sake of gaining wealth, winning court cases, acquiring temples and disciples, and receiving prestige, people pray to Ekadashi-devi and follow Ekadashi-vrata. This is improper.
Ekadashi-devi appeared from the body of the Supreme Lord Himself. As Brahma appeared from the navel of the Lord, Ekadashi-devi appeared from the Lord’s eleven senses. For this reason, she is called Ekadashi. She manifested to help the jivas and especially the sadhakas. She makes them strong and gives willpower, patience and the required dedication for bhakti and bhajana.
By following Ekadashi, the devotees become very strong. They receive spiritual health and faith. They are given entrance into the spiritual realm. Before this, they have no visa. They may have a passport, but no visa. Ekadashi-devi gives this visa. She also gives the ticket to enter the needed classes. She brings you personally to these classes of the Gosvamis and the Guru-varga.
Indira Ekadashi arranges that we receive relationship with the Guru-varga—the suddha-bhaktas. A person may be near the Guru and the Vaisnavas but have no relationship with them. One may even have some love for the Vaisnavas but it is often tainted with selfishness and the desire for personal pleasure. People like this perform their actions for their own self-interest and not for the pleasure of the Guru-varga. Indira Ekadashi helps us be truly related with the Guru-varga and makes us qualified to serve them.
Indira Ekadashi helps us become detached from our bodies and senses, so we can engage in bhajana without disturbance. Many crazy people are moving in the streets. Are they not hungry and thirsty? Do they have no disturbance from winter and summer? You have a room, a roof and many blankets, yet still you are sick. You are weak and tired. You always complain about your aches and pains. Why do the homeless people in the streets almost never need to go the hospital? They have no attachment to their mind and body. They have lost their mind. This is why they have no sickness. Because we are attached to the body, the body always cheats us and the mind makes us feel sick. Once you cross beyond the body and mind and reach the spiritual platform, there is no weakness, sickness or any disturbance. At this stage on is known as a Gosvami. A Gosvami is not the servant of his senses. He is the controller of his senses and is above them. How con we reach this state? This is arranged by Indira Ekadashi. She helps us go beyond the material senses and lose attachment for them. By her mercy, we will become like Jada Bharata.
But that is not enough. We should desire direct service and connection to Bhagavan, as described in the example of the baby bird, calf, and lover—
ajata-pakna iva mataram khagah
stanyam yatha vatsatarah knudhartah
priyam priyeva vyunitam vinanna
mano ’ravindakna didrknate tvam
[O lotus-eyed one, as baby birds that have not yet developed their wings always look for their mother to return and feed them, as small calves tied with ropes anxiously await the time of milking when they will be allowed to drink the milk of their mothers, or as a morose lover whose beloved is away from home always longs for him to return and satisfy her in all respects, I always yearn for the opportunity to render direct service unto You.]
Srila Gurudeva said that even this kind of bhakti is not enough. The baby bird cries for its mother. It is blind and simply holds open its beak for its mother to put food in. The young calf does not eat grass or drink water. She only takes the milk from her mother’s udders. When bound away from her mother she weeps profusely. The calf has so much love for her mother, but it is still based on selfishness and is not pure bhakti. When a lover meets her beloved after a long time, so much affection and bliss is felt. When separated, both parties are restless and long to be reunited. This is still based on selfish enjoyment.
Indira Ekadashi administers an operation on the sadhakas. She cleans their senses and gives them energy to follow pure bhakti. When this energy comes to us, we can understand the meaning of bhakti and vraja-rasa. Without this, millions of lives will pass, as millions of lives have passed already, but we will not understand or be able to follow pure bhakti. Bhakti can be understood and followed when we understand and follow Ekadashi.
Mahaprabhu taught this. He prayed to everyone to follow Ekadashi, including His mother. He said to Saci-mata, “Dear mother, I beg from you one thing. Please follow Ekadashi. Do not take grains on this day.”
In kali-yuga, Ekadashi and Tulasi-devi are very prominent and helpful. They are both very near and dear to the Lord. Without Tulasi, Bhagavan will not accept anything, and without following Ekadashi, one cannot become Bhagavan’s beloved devotee. One will remain the follower of maya, not Bhagavan.
One who does not know the meaning of Ekadashi and follow properly may think he is a great bhakta. However, he is only like a choka, spicy mashed potatoes. Knowledge comes when one properly takes shelter of the Guru-varga and follows Ekadashi in their guidance.
A fortunate person always drinks nectar from the river of hari-katha emanating from the anuraga-bhaktas. This must be our sadhana. Hearing and speaking hari-katha are both sadhana.
In Vraja-bhumi, Krsna woke in the morning and called Sarika, the she-parrot. She came and perched nearby Him. Krsna said to her, “Did you learn what I taught you yesterday?”
“Yes,” said Sarika.
“Today, I will teach you the 108 names of Radharani.”
Srila Rupa Gosvami has revealed in his stava-mala these 108 names of Srimatiji.
One by one Sarika heard and then recited the names of Srimati Radhika.
Sarika said, “You have taught me, but I do not know the meanings. I will go to the assembly of the sakhis and manjaris and sing these names there. They can explain the meanings to me.”
Meanwhile, Srimati Radharani had just taught Suka the glories of Krsna. Today, there is a great competition between Suka and Sari. On Ekadashi in Vraja, the gopas and gopis go to the kirtana hall and engage in a festival of kirtana-gana-nartana, singing and dancing.
Both Suka and Sarika now sat in the assembly hall. They are both very clever. It was announced that winner of the competition would receive a very special presentation.
Indira-devi is a very dear sakhi of Srimati Radharani and is the group leader of very expert manjaris. She brought many types of paraphernalia for the celebration.
Suka sat and was ready to speak first, but Krsna said, “No, no. Sarika will speak first today.”
Sarika came in Krsna’s hand. When Krsna carried Giriraja Govardhana, He used his left hand. Now, He used His right hand to carry Sarika. Sarika sat very happily. How lucky she is!
Sarika began to sing the glories of Radhika—
Manasa—everyone’s mind should be engaged in service and remembrance of Radharani. Bring Radharani into your mind. Let Her sit and play there. She will catch your mind and never leave. This utkantha, this eagerness—one who has it is qualified. One who does not have Srimati Radharani in his mind, possesses a mind that is no better than a cremation place, full of ghosts. How many people remember the lotus feet of Srimati Radharani day and night?
Today, Sarika taught, “Absorb the mind in Srimati Radharani. Give up all other thoughts. Only pray to Her.
Sari then began singing Srimati’s 108 names—
[1. Radha is the empress of Krsna’s forest, 2. the madhavi flower blossoming in the Krsna-springtime, 3. the first of Govinda’s beloveds, 4. the queen of Vrndavana.]
Hearing this, everyone in the assembly clapped. The demigods showered flowers from the heavens and the Gandharvas danced, playing dundubi drums and other musical instruments. Everyone chanted, “Radhe, Radhe!”
Krsna forgot that Sarika was in His hand and began to dance with the sakhas. All the Vrajavasis danced and chanted the names of Radharani. Even to this day, we can see that in Vraja-mandala, everyone chants, “Radhe, Radhe,” day and night. When they address or greet each other, the say, “Radhe, Radhe.” Anywhere you go in Vraja, you will hear this.
Krsna was very happy with Sarika. Everyone was absorbed in Radha-nama and prayed for Her mercy.
Rupa-manjari said, “Sarika, what is next?”
Krsna sat quietly to listen, and Sarika sang next—
[5. She whose fame is the crown of the universes, 6. the presiding deity of the month of Karttika, 7. the dear friend of Lord Damodara, 8. His greatest worshiper, 9. the daughter of King Vrnabhanu.]
Sarika continued to sing Radha’s names, while Suka sat in silence, thinking about Radharani.
“Today, I am defeated,” he thought. “This means that Srimati Radharani will also be defeated.”
Srimati Radharani was the one who taught Krsna’s glories to Suka.
As Sarika glorified Radharani, she thought, “My Radharani is not so happy. I spoke about Her, but she is not pleased.” Sarika then stopped her glorification.
Taking this chance, Suka jumped up. He perched on a veranda of the stadium and spoke many verses about Krsna from the Bhagavatam that the gopis themselves sang, as in Venu-gita.
gopyah kim acarad ayam kusalam sma venur
damodaradhara-sudham api gopikanam
bhunkte svayam yad avasinta-rasam hradinyo
hrnyat-tvaco ‘sru mumucus taravo yatharyah
[“O dear sakhi,” one of the gopis said to her friend, “this flute is merely a piece of dry wood. We cannot imagine what sort of pious activities he must have performed in his previous births that in our very presence he is directly and fully tasting the nectar of Damodara’s lips, which rightfully belongs to us alone. He is not sparing even one drop of that rasa for us. Seeing the good fortune of this venu, Manasi Ganga and the other ponds exhibit ecstatic symptoms—the blossoming lotuses are actually their hairs standing on end. Seeing themselves as the family elders of the flute, who is mad for Bhagavan, all the trees rejoice. Under the guise of pouring forth streams of honey, they are actually shedding tears of bliss from their eyes.”]
vrndavanam sakhi bhuvo vitanoti kirtim
govinda-venum anu matta-mayura-nrtyam
[“The fame of the Earth, O sakhi, is enhanced due to being splendidly decorated with the marks of the lotus feet of Sri Krsna, the son of Yasoda. Upon hearing the venu-nada, the peacocks take it as the thunder of the clouds, and, becoming intoxicated, begin to dance. Also feeling pleasure, the other animals in the meadows of Govardhana become stunned. Because of this, the presence of Sri Vrndavana makes the Earth planet even more glorious than Vaikuntha.]
Srimatiji had said, “Krsna’s flute is poisonous and gives pain to everyone. We must stop the flute-song of Krsna.”
Often, Srimati Radharani would explain to Suka that Krsna’s flute is a great hunter in Vraja-mandala and its message disturbs the gopis’ hearts. When a person hears the flute-song, he falls senseless. “Why is this cruelty going on?” She had said. Now, Suka spoke about the charms of Krsna and His flute.
Krsna thought, “What message does My flute give?” He decided to ask His flute. He has many flutes and they all have names. He asked His Mohini, “What message do you give that causes such havoc? Is everyone really disturbed by you?”
What can the flute say in response?
Krsna announced, “From today I shall no longer play the flute.”
The gopis reconciled, “You may use the flute, but only a little. Do not play it too much or too often.”
Good things should only be given in a small amount. Too much of a good thing cannot always be digested.
“If You don’t play Your flute we will die, and if You play it too much we will die,” said the Vraja-devis. “So give us the message of Your flute in the proper measurement.”
Suka then sang more about Krsna, pleasing Srimati Radhika and the Vraja-devis. Afterwards, Sarika further spoke Srimati’s glories. When the competition ended, Indira-devi gave respect to Sarika and Suka by offering them gifts in the presence of all assembled.
When you receive the mercy of Indira Ekadashi, hari-katha will go on every day very nicely. You will be related with Krsna-bhakti-rasa-bhavita-matih. Vraja-katha will come in your heart and you will always be greedy to drink the nectar of hari-katha.
Worldly people follow Ekadashi to receive longevity, health, wealth, property, and good descendants. This is all temporary. Hari-katha is life-giving nectar for our soul. Always be near the Guru-varga. The nectar of hari-katha is always resounding in their association. Today, on this Indira Ekadashi, we pray that we can engage in pure bhakti-yoga.