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Yudhisthira Maharaja asked Lord Shri Krishna, "What is the name of the Ekadashi, that occurs during the light part of the month of Bhadrapada [August-September]? Who is the worshipable Deity for this Ekadashi, and what merit does one attain by observing it? Kindly reveal all this to me.
The Supreme Lord, Shri Krishna, replied, "This Ekadashi, 0 Yudhisthira, is called Vamana Ekadashi, and it bestows both great merit and ultimate liberation from material bondage. Therefore, because it removes all one's sinful reactions, it is also called Jayanti Ekadashi, Just hearing of its glories frees one from all his past misdeeds. So auspicious is this fast that observing it bestows the same merit as that earned by performing a horse sacrifice. There is no better Ekadashi, than this, because it awards liberation so easily. Thus if one truly desires freedom from the material world, one should fast on Vamana Ekadashi,
"While observing this holy fast, a Vaishnava should lovingly worship the Supreme Lord in His form as Vamanadeva, the dwarf incarnation, whose eyes are like lotus petals. By doing so, he worships all other deities as well, including Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva, and at death he undoubtedly goes to the abode of Lord Hari. In all the three worlds there is no fast that is more important to observe. The reason this Ekadashi is so auspicious is that it celebrates the day when the sleeping Lord turns over on His other side; thus it is also known as Parivartini Ekadashi,
Maharaja Yudhisthira then asked the Lord, "0 Janardana, please clear up a question I have. How is it that the Supreme Lord sleeps and then turns over on His side? 0 Lord, when You are asleep, what happens to all the other living entities? Please also tell me how You bound the king of demons, Bali Maharaja, as well as how one may please the brdhmanas. How does one observe Caturmasya? Kindly be merciful to me and answer these questions."
The Supreme Personality of Godhead replied, "0 Yudhisthira, lion among kings, I will gladly narrate to you a historical event that, simply by being heard, eradicates all one's sinful reactions.
"In the Treta-yuga there once lived a king named Bali. Though born in a demonic dynasty, he was very devoted to Me. He sang many Vedic hymns to Me and performed the homy ritual just to satisfy Me. He respected the twice-born brdhmanas and engaged them in performing sacrifices daily. This great soul had a quarrel with Indra, however, and eventually defeated him in battle. Bali took over his entire celestial kingdom, which I Myself had given to Indra. Therefore Indra and all the other demigods, along with many great sages, approached Me and complained about Bali Maharaja. Bowing their heads to the ground and offering many sacred prayers from the Vedas, they worshiped Me along with their spiritual master, Brhaspati. Thus I agreed to appear on their behalf as the dwarf Vamanadeva, My fifth incarnation."
King Yudhisthira asked, "0 Lord, how was it possible for You to conquer such a powerful demon in a dwarf's body? Please explain this clearly, for I am Your faithful devotee."
The Supreme Lord, Shri Krishna, replied, "Though a dwarf, I was a brahmana, and I approached Bali Maharaja to ask him for alms in the form of land. I said, '0 Bali, please give Me just three steps of land in charity. Such a small piece of land will be as good as all the three worlds for Me.' Bali agreed to grant My request without lengthy consideration. But as soon as he vowed to give Me the land, My body began to expand into a gigantic transcendental form. I covered the entire earth with My feet, all of Bhuvarloka with My thighs, the Svarga heavens with My waist, Maharloka with My stomach, Janaloka with My chest, Tapoloka with My neck, and Satyaloka with My head and face. I covered the entire material creation. Indeed, all the planets of the universe, including the sun and the moon, were encompassed by My gigantic form.
"Seeing this astonishing pastime of Mine, all the demigods, including Indra and Sesa the king of snakes, began to sing Vedic hymns and offer prayers to Me. Then I took Bali by the hand and said to him, '0 sinless one, I have covered the whole earth with one step and all the heavenly planets with the second. Now where shall I place My foot to measure the third step of land you promised Me?'
"Upon hearing this, Bali Maharaja bowed down and offered Me his head. 0 Yudhisthira, I placed My foot on his head and sent him all the way to Patalaloka. Seeing him thus humbled, I became very pleased and told Bali that henceforth I would permanently reside in his palace. Thereafter, on Parivartini Ekadashi, which occurs during the light part of the month of Bhadra, Bali, the son of Virocana, installed a Deity form of Me in his residence.
"0 king, until Haribodhini Ekadashi, which occurs during the light part of the month of Kartika, I continue to sleep in the ocean of milk. The merit one accumulates during this period is particularly powerful. One should therefore observe Parivartini Ekadashi carefully. Indeed, it is especially purifying and thus cleanses one of all sinful reactions. On this day the faithful devotee should worship Lord Trivikrama, Vamanadeva, who is the supreme father, because on this day I turn over to sleep on My other side.
"If possible, on this day one should give a qualified person some yogurt mixed with rice, as well as some silver, and then remain awake throughout the night. This simple observance will free one of material conditioning. One who observes this sacred Parivartini Ekadashi in the way I have described will surely attain all kinds of happiness in this world and the kingdom of God in the hereafter. One who simply hears this narration with devotion will go to the abode of the demigods and shine there like the moon itself, so powerful is observance of this Ekadashi, Indeed, this observance is as powerful as the performance of a thousand horse sacrifices."