Hello Karyakars! Today is Devpodhi Ekadashi (દેવપ્ોઢી ઍકાદશી). The story goes that once King Bali perfomed a yagna so powerful that Bhagwan Vishnu Himself came to Earth, taking the form of Vaaman Avtar, resembling a dwarf Brahmin.
King Bali, full of devotion, upon seeing the Brahmin offers to help the Brahmin and requests him to ask for anything. So Vaman Devta asks for some land.
“How much land do you need?” asks King Bali.
“About 3 steps of land,” replies Vaman Devta. No sooner than King Bali granted this seemingly small wish, Bhagwan took his massive swarup as Virat Purush and took three steps.
In the first two steps, Bhagwan covered the entire earth and the heavens. For his third step, King Bali offered his own head. As the Lord stepped on King Bali’s head, the demon-king was pushed down to the deepest Patal Lokh, deep below the ocean. Seeing King Bali’s servitude, Bhagwan was very pleased and considered him a true devotee, asking him to request a boon.
King Bali requested, “Maharaj! Now you will have to come and give darshan to me.” Bhagwan granted his wish.
Each year, Bhagwan retires for a four-month deep sleep near the doorstep of King Bali to give darshan to the demon king. All of his other bhaktas became really sad and disappointed. Bhagwan, if you go there, we will do tapa; if we succeed in pleasing you, you must return back to us, they called.
Bhagwan, being benevolent, agreed to do so. As such, today we typically observe Nirjala Upvaas (નિરજળા ઉપવાસ) and today also marks the beginning of Chaturmas - four months of intense bhakti to please Maharaj even more.
In a few short days, we will also celebrate Guru Purnima in great pomp for our dear guru Param Pujya Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
But how do we share these insights with your colleagues, friends, and coworkers? Perhaps if we have time over the course of dinner or lunch, we can share the full story. However, we usually just offer a truncated insight into the deep currents behind our spiritual leanings...”I am fasting today”, we may say. Or perhaps we may say nothing. Sometimes, we may offer a bit more when probed by interested coworkers - “It’s our version of Christmas today”, on Shri Hari Jayanti. Or perhaps in the interest of time, we can say “I am observing a religious fast today.”
What are some ways that you share aspects of your vratas or insights about our cultural traditions with the people in your life?