Yudhishthira Maharaj said, “O Krishna, please tell me for the benefit of all living entities, what is the name of the Ekadashi that occurs during the light fortnight of the month of Margashirsha (November-December) and removes all sins? How does one observe it?”
Lord Krishna replied, “Dear Yudhishthira, I shall tell you about this Ekadashi that is famous as Mokshada as it purifies the faithful devotee of all sinful reactions and bestows liberation. The worshipable Deity of this day is Lord Damodara. One should worship Him with incense, a ghee lamp, fragrant flowers, and Tulasi buds.
I shall narrate to you the auspicious history of this Ekadashi. Just by hearing it one can attain the merit earned by performing a horse sacrifice. By this merit, one’s ancestors who have gone to hell can go to the heavenly kingdom.
Once there was a beautiful city called Champakanagar, inhabited by devoted Vaishnavas. Maharaj Vaikhanasa, ruled over his subjects as if they were his own children. The brahmins were all expert in Vedic knowledge. The king had a dream one night in which his father was suffering torture in one of the hellish planets ruled over by Yamaraj. The next morning, Maharaj Vaikhanasa described what he had seen in his dream to his council of ministers.
He told them his father was crying out to him to deliver him from that hellish condition. He said that even his own wife and sons, have become a source of unhappiness since he saw his father suffering the tortures. He asked them to tell him what kind of charity, what mode of fasting, what austerity, or what else he may have to perform to deliver his father from that agony.
The ministers replied, ‘In the nearby mountainous forest is the ashram of Parvata Muni. He is trikala jnani (he knows the past, the present, and the future of everything) and can help you.’
On getting this advice, the suffering king immediately went to the ashram of Parvata Muni. The king saw Parvata Muni seated among the assembly of sages adorned with hundreds of tilaks (from all the authorised sampradayas) like another Brahma or Vyasa.
Maharaj Vaikhanasa offered his humble obeisances to the sage. After the king was seated, the sage asked him about the welfare of his kingdom. The king replied, ‘By your mercy O great sage, my kingdom is doing very well. But there is a problem that has arisen, and to solve it I have come to you, for help’.
Parvata Muni, then closed his eyes and meditated on the king’s past, present and future. After a few moments he said, ‘Your father is suffering the results of committing a great sin. In his previous life he quarreled with his wife and forcibly enjoyed her sexually during her menstrual period. It is on account of this sin that your father is now suffering.’
King Vaikhanasa then asked, ‘How may I liberate my father from such a condition?’
Parvata Muni replied, ‘During the light fortnight of the month of Margashirsha there occurs an Ekadashi called Mokshada. If you observe it with a full fast, and give directly to your suffering father the merit you will thus obtain, he will be freed of his torment’.
After thanking Parvata Muni, Maharaj Vaikhanasa returned to his palace. When the light part of the month of Margashirsha arrived, Maharaj Vaikhanasa waited for the Ekadashi tithi to arrive. With full faith he observed the Ekadashi fast with his wife, children, and other relatives. He gave the merit from this fast to his father. The king’s father was then praised by the messengers of the devas and escorted to the celestial region.
Finally, the king’s father reached the heavenly realm from where he could again with his newly acquired merit perform devotional service to Krishna and in due course return back home, back to Godhead.
O Yudhishthira, whosoever strictly observes the sacred Mokshada Ekadashi, achieves full and perfect liberation after death. There is no better fasting day than this Ekadashi of the light fortnight in the month of Margashirsha. Whoever faithfully observes this fast, obtains special merit that can elevate one from hellish life to the heavenly planets, and for one who observes Ekadashi for his own spiritual benefit, this elevates one to go back to Godhead, never to return to this material world.”
Thus ends the narration of the glories of Margashirsha-shukla Ekadashi or Mokshada Ekadashi, from the Brahmanda Purana.
This year, Mokshada Ekadashi falls on December 19, 2018.