Shri Yudhisthira Maharaja said, “Oh Madhusudana, please describe to me the Ekadashi that occurs during the light fortnight of the month of Shravana (July-August).” The Supreme Lord, Sri Krishna, replied, “Yes, I shall happily narrate its glories to you, for just by hearing about this sacred Ekadashi one attains the merit of performing a horse sacrifice.
At the dawn of Dvarpara-yuga there lived a king by the name of Mahijita, who ruled the kingdom of Mahismati-puri. As he had no son, his kingdom seemed cheerless to him.
The Sanskrit word for ‘son’ is putra. Pu is the name of a particular hell, and tra means ‘to deliver.’ Thus the word putra means ‘a person who delivers one from the hell named Pu.’ Therefore every married man should produce at least one son and train him properly; then the father will be delivered from a hellish condition of life. But this injunction does not apply to the serious devotees of Lord Vishnu or Krishna, for the Lord becomes their son, father, and mother.
For a long time this king tried very hard to obtain an heir, but to no avail. The king’s advisers visited various great sages. At last they came upon a sage who was austere, pure, and self-satisfied, and who was strictly observing a vow of fasting. He was expert in all the conclusions of the Vedas, and he had extended his life span to that of Lord Brahma himself. His name was Lomasa Rishi, and he knew the past, present, and future.
King Mahijita’s advisers offered obeisances to him and said, ‘Only because of our great good fortune, have we been allowed to see you.’ Lomasa Rishi saw them bowing down to him and replied, ‘Kindly let me know why you have come here. I shall do all I can to solve your problems.’
The king’s representatives said, ‘Our king, Mahijita, is without a son, though he has sustained and protected us as if we were his sons. We request you to tell us how our king can obtain a son.’
Lomasa Rishi absorbed himself in deep meditation for a moment and at once understood the king’s previous life. Then he said, ‘Your ruler was a merchant in his past life, and feeling his wealth insufficient, he committed sinful deeds. He traveled to many villages to trade his goods. Once, at noon he became thirsty while traveling from place to place. He came upon a pond and just as he was about to drink, a cow arrived there with her new-born calf. When the cow and calf started to drink, the merchant rudely shoved them aside and selfishly slaked his own thirst. This offense against a cow and her calf has resulted in your king’s being without a son now. But the good deeds he performed in his previous life have given him rulership over an undisturbed kingdom.’
Hearing this, the king’s advisers replied, ‘Oh renowned rishi, please give us some instruction by which our king’s sins can be destroyed; so that a prince will take birth in his family.’
Lomasa Rishi said, ‘There is an Ekadashi called Putrada, which comes during the light fortnight of the month of Shravana. On this day all of you, including your king, should fast and stay awake all night, strictly following the rules and regulations. Then you should give the king whatever merit you gain by this fast, he will surely be blessed with a fine son.’
When the month of Shravana arrived, all the citizens of Mahismati-puri, as well as the king, fasted on Ekadashi. And on the next day, Dwadashi, the citizens dutifully offered their accrued merit to him. By the strength of all this merit, the queen became pregnant and eventually gave birth to a beautiful son.
“O Yudhisthira,” Lord Krishna concluded, “the Ekadashi that comes during the light fortnight of the month of Shravana has thus rightfully become famous as Putrada [“bestower of a son”]. Whoever desires happiness in this world and the next should certainly fast from all grains and legumes on this holy day. Indeed, whoever simply hears the glories of Putrada Ekadashi becomes completely free of all sins, is blessed with a good son, and surely ascends to heaven after death.”
Thus ends the narration of the glories of Shravana-shukla Ekadashi, or Putrada Ekadashi, from the Bhavishya Purana.
This year Pavitraropana Ekadashi falls on August 22, 2018.