Nirjala Ekadashi - Thursday 16th June
Nirjala Ekadashi – Jyestha Sud Ekadashi - AKA Bhim Ekadashi
Once Bhimsen asked Vyas Muni, "O sage! My four brothers, mother Kunti and Sati Draupadi never eat food on the day of Ekadashi. They do insist that I, too, undertake fast on Ekadashi. However, I am unable to stay hungry. Is there any way that I can earn the Punya of observing Ekadashi without fasting?"
Sage Vyas replied, "O Bhim! You should undertake a fast on each Ekadashi of both Sud and Vad fortnight, if you intend to go to heaven rather than hell."
Bhim pleaded, "O grandfather! I cannot control my hunger. Eating one meal is not enough to quench my hunger. How can I fast? How can I survive without food for the whole day? I am unable to remain hungry because my stomach has a fire called Vruk in it. Please tell me how can I earn the Punya of Ekadashi without actually fasting?"
Sage Vyas said, "O Bhim! You have listened to the edicts of Manu Smruti and the Vedas which may not be suitable for the present time. The Vrat of Ekadashi can easily be observed at present without any problem. Those who undertake fast on the day of Ekadashi do not have to endure the punishments of hell."
Bhim, frightened by the prospect of being consigned to hell, pleaded again, "O grandfather! Please tell me about the Vrat that does not entail fasting."
Sage Vyas replied, "One should observe the Vrat of Ekadashi that falls in the bright fortnight of Jyeshtha. One should have no contact with water except for bathing and Achman. Any person not drinking water from the sunrise of Ekadashi till the sunrise of the next day, i.e. Baras earns Punya equivalent of observing the Ekadashi Vrat for the whole year. He should eat on Baras only after a bath, worship and donating water and gold to deserving Brahmins. O Bhim! Whoever observes the Vrat of Jyeshtha Sus Ekadashi as described above, earns the Punya of fasting on each Ekadashi of the year. Bhagwan Narayan Himself has said this to me. Moreover, whoever goes without water on Jyeshtha Sud Ekadashi also earns the Punya equivalent to visiting all places of pilgrimage. Any person observing the Vrat of Nirjala (literally without water) Ekadashi does never have to see Yamdoots; rather he meets up with Parshads of Bhagwan Vishnu."
Upon hearing these wise words of Sage Vyas, Pandavas, including Bhim, observed the Vrat of Nirjala Ekadashi as prescribed by him. Since then, this Ekadashi has become known as Bhim Ekadashi. The sins, however big, of any person observing the Vrat of Nirjala Ekadashi are washed away. One should donate a water pot covered by fine cloth to a deserving Brahmin. Indeed, Punya of any donation given to a Brahmin, chanting of Bhagwan's name and Yagna performed on this Ekadashi multiply many fold. Contrarily, any one eating any food on this Ekadashi is considered Chandal for the rest of his life and goes to hell on his death. The major sins such as insulting a scholar Brahmin, killing a Brahmin, drinking alcohol or stealing from a Brahmin are washed away by sincerely observing the Vrat of Nirjala Ekadashi.
This Mahatmya of Nirjala Ekadashi is narrated in the Mahabharat and Padma Puran.