Once Yudhister the eldest of the Pandavas asked Krishna, “ Oh Lord! What is the process that one should observe for performing a Vrat on Ratha Saptami and what is the benefit that one gets from doing the same?” Lord Krishna replied as follows
Once there was a king by the name of Yashovartha, who ruled the Kaambhoja kingdom. He was becoming old and had a son. The son was always suffering from illness and other diseases. The king was not able to understand why his son was suffering and so invited a Brahmin and asked the Brahmin to suggest a remedy for the same, as no doctor was able to cure his son.
The Brahmin then had a look at the prince and closed his eyes for few minutes. The Brahmin replied to the King that “ O King, your son was a trader in his previous birth. He was a miser and never donated anything. Hence in this birth even though he is born as a prince he is not able to do anything.” The Brahmin said that to overcome the illness, the prince should be shown the greatness of the RathaSaptami Vrat and the way it is observed. By the simple virtue of viewing the process of observing the Ratha Saptami Vrat the prince would be cured of his illness and diseases.
The Brahmin told the king that the Ratha Saptami Vrat is a great Vrat by virtue of which one will be free from illness and can also become an emperor. The Brahmin further stated the process of observing the Ratha Saptami Vrat as follows:
On the day before Ratha Saptami (on the Shashti day), one should get up early and take a bath in a river, lake , pond or draw water from a well. One should not apply oil to the head before taking the bath or after taking the bath. Should visit the temple of Sun God and return home. Should have lunch with all his family and in the night should invite Brahmins to the home. Should perform the Puja to the idol of Lord Surya and just before eating lunch should leave water while saying the following words “ Oh lord please see that the Vrat that I intend to do tomorrow is completed without any obstacles.” The devotee should then prepare a new idol of Lord Surya along with the chariot, horses and the charioteer. He should sleep on the floor and should maintain celibacy.The chariot, horses and charioteer can be made from Gold or Silver.
The next day the Devotee should get up early in the morning and take a head bath without applying oil. Should install the Lord along with the chariot and horses that was prepared yesterday on the Mandap. Should perform the Puja while the Brahmins recite the Surya Suktam. Should perform the Abhishekam in the afternoon. Should perform the Shodasopachara Puja to the Lord. Then pray to the Lord to show mercy on him and grant him with health and prosperity. Should worship with Jilledu flowers( Arka flowers). Should then pay the Brahmins with lot of money and feed the Brahmins.
One should not eat on the day of Ratha Saptami and should not sleep in the night of the Ratha Saptami. The next day should finish his bath early and worship the Lord Surya. Should feed the Brahmins and then only eat.
If one follows the above procedure he would be free from all his worries and by virtue of the Ratha Saptami Vrat would become an emperor.
The king followed the advice of the Brahmin and performed the Ratha Saptami Vrat. The prince by merely seeing the Vrat got rid of all the illness and became an emperor.