Importance of Ekadashi

The Story of its course

The world, as we all know, according to Hindu time-scale is divided into four Yugas or epochs known as: Satya, Treta, Dwapara and Kali. The timescale is so large that people who lived during a particular yuga exhibited distinctive physical and mental features from those of the others. The presence of dinosaurs had been traced back to few centuries because it lies within the time-scale which science can measure, but our scriptures talk about unimaginable time-scales, that can only be measured metaphysically. 

The Story took place during the Satya yuga. A monster named Murdanav was being a menace to people in earth as well as to the devas and devatas in heaven. Unable to bear the tortures of Murdanav, devas took refuge under Lord Vishnu, the universal protector. The All-merciful Lord, Mahavishnu took off immediately on his vahana Garuda. He fought Murdanav continuously for thousand years with all his valor and strength but he couldn’t conquer him. So, He decided to change his strategy.

            Lord Vishnu acted as if he was exhausted in the battle and hid in a cave in Himalayas and pretended to be asleep. He was taking rest along with his senses and mind – as he was in his human form. Murdanav entered the cave and was about to kill Lord Vishnu. Suddenly to his surprise there appeared an extremely beautiful and luminous lady from Lord Vishnu’s body.

           Murdanav was lured by her beauty and requested her to marry him. She replied, “I will marry one who can defeat me in the battle.” Murdanav accepted her challenge and started to show off his abilities against the divine Lady. Eventually in the battle he was slayed by the divine lady who was an anga of Vishnu himself.

          Lord Vishnu saw the Lady slay Murdanav. It was on the eleventh day of the waxing moon. Lord Vishnu pleased by her action to protect the virtue, blessed her with a boon which said as she evolved out of his ‘Ekadasha Indriyas’ (eleven senses) she shall be known to the world as ‘Ekadashi’. It was also said that one who wants to do penance for any kind of sins can observe ‘Ekadashi vrat’ (fasting) and control one’s Ekadasha indriyas (senses) on this day. 

This story is based on a Hindu scripture, Padma Purana.

Essence of the Story

It is said that the spiritual energy overflows through us once we disconnect our senses and mind from the world and focus it on the Lord. Simply to put it, “Detach from the world and attach to the Lord”. The more we are obsessed with sense objects, the greater is our fall.

We may sometimes feel that we are given this body and the senses just to enjoy this world, but the reality is that chances of realizing the truth decreases the more we relish on sense objects. Rishis such as, Vasishta, Vishwamitra, and others were in control of themselves. They directed their complete attention towards God. Despite being householders, almost all the saints were able to control their senses and mind. When they withheld the senses from wandering, they developed enormous powers and that in turn made them stronger to focus on the Supreme Being.

Effectiveness of the vrat:

           Vedic cosmology is deeper and more comprehensive than all other cosmologies. It points out that some periods are auspicious and some are not, depending upon position of stars and planets. Ekadashi day has positive effects on our body and brain, therefore observing vrat on that day is more effective than on any other day.

A fast on ekadashi day is considered equal to bathing crores of time in holy river Ganga and also equals donating crores of cows (go-dhana). The purpose of Ganga snan (a bath in the Ganges) and cow donations are to help control our senses and in turn focus the mind on the Lord, that is the same purpose of ekadashi fasting. In fact, ekadashi vrat is considered as a maha-vrat, greatest of all. As per Vedic calendar, every vrat has specific deities; The presiding deity of ekadashi vrat is Bhagavan Narayana Himself.

There are three Types of vratas one could observe:

1. Nirjala Ekadashi vrat: To pass the whole day without eating or drinking anything.

2. Sajala Ekadashi vrat: To pass the whole day on water and juice.

3. Phalaahara (Farali) Ekadashi vrat: To consume Only Fruits and Milk, throughout out the day.

While the names may be somewhat different in different parts of India, the essence remains the same. Depending upon one’s health conditions and Shradda, one could observe the type of fasting which best suits them, with discipline and sincerity.

  Additionally, any form of parayanam (reciting Bhagawad Gita or other scriptures) or prayer done on ekadashi day is many times more effective than on other days.

Related Posts

Marghazhi Nombhu - A cultural experience

The Tamil month of Marghazhi (mid-December to mid-January) is very sacred. People would visit a temple almost every day. The day would start early. Me...