Aja Ekadashi - Thursday 21st August
Aja Ekadashi - Shravan Vad Ekadashi
King Yudhishthir asked Bhagwan, "O Shree Krishna! What is the name of Ekadashi that falls in Vad fortnight of Shravan. Please narrate its significance to me."
Bhagwan Shree Krishna replied, "O pious king! Shravan Vad Ekadashi is known as 'Aja Ekadashi'. Whoever embarks on Vrat of Aja Ekadashi after worshipping Bhagwan Narayan or listens to this Katha with love and devotion will have all his sins washed away. The Vrat of this Ekadashi leads one on the path of salvation.
Eons ago, King Harishchandra ruled the kingdom of Ayodhya. He was a staunch devotee and was steadfast on the path of morality, truth and religiosity. Once, Rishi Vishvamitra decided to test his resolve and asked him to abdicate his wealth and kingdom. King Harishchandra, his wife Taramati and son Rohit were banished from Ayodhya with just the clothes they had on their body. Due to penury, he sold his wife and son to work as domestic servants in a rich household and he took up the work as keeper of a cemetery on the banks of River Ganga at Kashi. His job was to collect a fee for funeral and was under the strict order never to allow a funeral to take place unless the fee is paid prior to cremation. He performed his duty diligently and without any rancour despite his status as he was firm on his path of truth and Dharma. Many years passed by in such detrimental circumstance, yet his ordeal did not end. He prayed regularly to Bhagwan to grant him strength and courage to pass this onerous test. At behest of Bhagwan, grate Sage Gautam met Harishchandra. The king asked Sage Gautam to guide and help him out of miserable situation. Gautam Rishi consoled the king, 'O truthful king! Observe the Vrat of Aja Ekadashi that falls on Vad fortnight of the month of Shravan. All your sufferings will come to an end. Fortune seems to shine on you, as Aja Ekadashi is only a week away from today. Undertake fast on the day of Ekadashi and Jagran at night whilst meditating upon Bhagwan Narayan."
Bhagwan Shree Krishna continued, "O Yudhishthir! Harishchandra observed the Vrat of Ekadashi as guided by Sage Gautam and as a result of accrued Punya, his ordeal came to an end. Sage Vishvamitra was pleased with him. He returned his wealth and kingdom and his wife and son were united with him. King Harishchandra attained Vaikunth Dhaam after reigning for a long time. His queen Taramati and son Rohit too, attained Vaikunth upon their death. Whoever observes the Vrat of Aja Ekadashi frees himself from all his sins and attains Moksha and a listener and narrator of this significance of Aja Ekadashi earns Punya equivalent of performing a Ashvamedh Yagna"
This Mahatmya of Aja Ekadashi is narrated in the Brahamand Puran.