The glories of Mohini Ekadasi, which occurs during the waxing moon in the month of April/May, are described in the Surya Purana.
Once Maharaja Yudhisthira asked Lord Krishna, “O Janardana! What is the name of the Ekadasi that occurs during the waxing moon in the month of April/May, and what is the process for observing this Ekadasi? Please explain all these to me in detail.”
Lord Krishna replied, “O son of Dharma! Please hear Me attentively as I describe the story that sage Vashistha once told Lord Ramachandra.
“Once upon a time Lord Ramachandra said to the great sage Vashishtha, ‘O respected sage! I feel great distress due to my separation from Sita, the daughter of King Janaka. Kindly explain to Me the great vow to follow, which will mitigate all one’s sinful actions and distresses.’
“The great sage Vashishtha, who was the spiritual master of Ramachandra, said, ‘My dear Rama, Your intelligence is sharp and mixed with faith. Moreover, Your question is beneficial for all humanity. Just by chanting and remembering Your all auspicious holy names all living entities can become purified and eligible to achieve all auspiciousness. Still, for the benefit of the ordinary people, I will describe a great vow.
O Lord Rama! The Ekadasi that occurs during the waxing moon in the month of April/May is famous as Mohini Ekadasi
“There was a beautiful city named Bhadravati situated on the bank of the sacred river Sarasvati which was rules by a king named Dyutimana. O Lord Rama! This king was born in the dynasty of the moon, and he was tolerant and truthful. There was pious and prosperous devotee of Lord Vishnu named Dhanapala who also lived in that city. He was a businessman by profession. For the benefit of the ordinary people this devotee Dhanapala built many dharmashalas, or guesthouses, schools, temples of Lord Vishnu, charitable hospitals, wide roads and market places. He also made arrangements for distributing water and foodstuff, he dug wells and ponds for clear water, and he also planted gardens for flowers and fruit. In this way he properly utilized his wealth for the benefit of all and thus successfully demonstrated the true meaning of his name. This pious devotee of Lord Vishnu who was always peaceful, a benefactor of others and engaged in devotional service to Vishnu had five sons namely Saman, Dyutimnan, Medhavi, Sukriti and Dhristabuddhi. His son Dhristabuddhi was most sinful. He was extremely wicked, ill natured, had bad friends, and having illicit connection with unchaste women. He was also fond of gambling and drinking wine. He even took pleasure in killing and torturing other living beings. In this way he engaged in all kinds of sinful activities and was a disgrace to the family.
He never showed respect to the gods, guests, old forefather or brahmanas. He was constantly engaged in thinking of committing sins and thus lived a contemptible life. The sinful wretch Dhristabuddhi misused all his father’s wealth in many useless activities. He always ate tamasic foodstuff and remained always absorbed in drinking wine. One day on seeing his shameless son walking in the public place with his hand around the waist of a prostitute, he lost everyone’s affection including that of his father, mother, brothers, relatives, and friends. He was degraded from his position in caste society and the pious community and became an object of hatred for everyone.
“After being thrown out from his father’s house, Dhristabuddhi continued his sinful ways with the money he received by selling his personal clothes and ornaments. Soon that also came to an end. Gradually, due to lack of sufficient food, his body became weak and skinny. On realizing that he had become poor, his so-called friends left him, condemning him on various pretexts.
“Dhristabuddhi was now full of anxiety. He had no food or clothes and was extremely afflicted with hunger. So he began to contemplate, ‘What should I do now? Where should I go? By which means will I survive?’ After contemplating in this way, he decided that there was no other alternative than to start stealing for his survival. So with a desire to steal he began to wander throughout the city. Sometimes the King’s guard would arrest him a and only because of his father’s position he would release him.
After being caught and released in this way many times, he was once again formally arrested for committing a special kind of theft. He was taken to the King who awarded him severe punishment. The king said, ‘O sinful foolish creature, you cannot stay within this kingdom any more, leave this kingdom immediately and go where ever you wish.’
“Dhristabuddhi, afraid of being punished again, left the kingdom. He went far away and entered into a dense forest. Within the forest he became so afflicted with hunger and thirst that he began to kill beasts and birds indiscriminately and ate their raw flesh. For many years he wandered throughout the forest like a hunter, holding a bow and arrow in his hands and killing innocent animals and engaging in sinful activities.
“Dhristabuddhi was always miserable and anxious, but one day, due to some past pious deeds, he arrived at the sacred ashrama of the great sage and ascetic Kaundinya while wandering about the forest. It was the month of Vaisakha (April/May) and the great sage Kaundinya was just returning home after taking bath in the Ganges. By providence, Dhristabuddhi, who was very depressed, happened to touch a drop of water falling from the sage’s cloth. Dhristabuddhi, who was very aggrieved by distress and lamentation, happened to touch a drop of water falling from the sage’s cloth. Dhristabuddhi was immediately relieved of his sinful actions. With folded hands and great humility he said the sage Kaundinya, ‘O great Brahmana, I am the most sinful person. There is no sin that I have not committed. Please instruct in the best type of atonement that a most wretched person like me can easily perform. I have lost all as punishment for my evil ways and now I live in utmost depression.’
“After hearing Dhristabuddhis’s story the great sage Kaundinya said, ‘I am telling you a sublime method by which all your sinful actions can easily be nullified in a very short time; please hear me attentively. Mohini Ekadasi that occurs during the waxing moon in the month of April/May totally destroys a mountain of sinful actions as big as Mt. Sumeru accumulated for many many lifetimes. Therefore you should faithfully observe this Ekadasi.’
“Hearing these words from the great sage, Dhristabuddhi became joyful and properly observed that Ekadasi according to the rules and regulations instructed by the sage. O best of Kings! By observing this Mohini Ekadasi the most sinful Dhristabuddhi soon became devoid of all sinful actions, and after assuming a divine body he returned to the all-auspicious abode of Lord Vishnu by riding on the back of Garuda. O Ramachandra! This vow certainly removes all kinds of illusion and the darkness of ignorance. Any merit accumulated by taking bath in the holy waters, giving in charity and performance of sacrifice cannot be compared with the merit one attains by observing this Mohini Ekadasi.”