Since time immemorial in Vedic Culture, Yogis and sages had been giving the importance for diverting sense actions from materialism to divinity. Ekadashi fasting is one of that spiritual practice.
As per hindu scripture, there are two words in Ekadashi Eka (1) and Dasha (10). Transforming actions of ten senses and mind from worldly objects to God is the true Ekadashi.
Ekadashi means we should control our 10 senses & 1 mind. One must not let vicious thoughts regarding lust, anger avarice, etc. enter in mind. Ekadashi is a penance that should be done only to realize & please God.
The History of Ekadashi
In Satyuga, there lived a demon called Murdanav. He terrorized all good people and devotees on the earth as well as he scared all the Devaas also. So Devaas left heaven and took refuge to Lord Vishnu. They prayed lord Vishnu to protect them. God’s mercy towards his devotees is limitless. So he took off immediately on His fastest vehicle “Garuda”. He fought continuously for 1000 years with Murdanav of unbelievable strength and still he was fighting with full energy and power. So Lord Vishnu decided to change his strategy.
lord, Vishnu acted as if He was exhausted by the battle and hid in a cave in Himalayas. He decided to take a nap in this huge cave. Lord Vishnu along with all his ten senses and the mind inside, was taking a rest.
Murdanav reached to the cave by chasing lord Vishnu. He saw him sleeping inside the cave and followed Him. He took his sword to kill lord Vishnu. As he was about to swing the sword, suddenly an extremely beautiful & luminous lady playing with a sword emerged from lord Vishnu’s body.
Murdanav lured to her beauty & asked her to marry him. She said, “I would marry who can defeat me in battle” Murdanav agreed to her proposal. He started fighting with that divine lady. Eventually during the fight that divine lady defeated & slayed Murdanav.
Hearing the noise of fight, lord Vishnu woke up and saw that lady who killed Murdanav. Lord Vishnu called that lady, who emerged from Himself, by the name Ekadashi. That was the eleventh day of the waxing moon. Lord Vishnu pleased by her deed & said to ask a boon. The Ekadashi asked to Lord Vishnu that ‘as I evolved from your Ekadash Indriyas (eleven senses of the body) I shall be known as Ekadashi. I am filled with penance so I desire that people should observe Ekadashi Vrat and control their Ekadash Indriyas (Senses) on this day. On the day of my Vrat, no one should consume grains such as rice, wheat, beans etc.
Lord Vishnu agreed and ever since all Hindus perform Ekadashi Vrat by fasting or eating Falahari foods on the 11th day of bright half of the moon & dark half of the moon. Also Lord Vishnu said that devotees who observe the Ekadashi day with fasting and prayers would have his choicest blessings! This story is based on Padama Puranam, a Hindu Scripture.
Meaning behind the story
If we disconnect the senses and mind from the materialistic world, spiritual power is being generated. The more we enjoy the sense objects, the more stupid, wicked and powerless we become.
It is not that we are relishing the sense objects. In fact, sense objects are relishing us and once it sucks us completely, it just throws us away.
Rushis and Munis like Vasishth Muni, Vishwamitra Muni were all householders, yet they were in complete control of themselves. They direct all the senses and mind towards God. Being in household, they controlled senses and mind. When they controlled senses and mind, power gets created for them that in turn makes them stronger towards God.
Why other Upavas (fastings) do not considered equal to Ekadashi?
The Vedic cosmology is deeper than other cosmologies. As per this, there is some period of time pious and some are not, it depends upon position of stars and zodiacs, Ekadashi day has positive effects on our body and brain, therefore fasting done on Ekadashi is more effective than day of regular.
Ekadashi fasting (Upavas) is Agna (command) of God, so it is best option for Devotee. Ekadashi fasting is considered equal to bath done crores of time in holy river Ganga. Ekadashi fasting is considered equal to cows donation done crores of time. Because purpose of cow donations and Ganga Snan (bath) is controlling senses and pleasing of God, that both happens herein Ekadashi fasting. Ekadashi is considered as a Maha-vrat (greatest of all). As per Vedic calendar, every vrat (fasting and rituals) has specific deities; The head of Ekadashi Vrat is Bhagavan Narayan Himself.
List of Vrat and its head deity
- Ekadashi Vrat (fasting) – Bhagwan Narayana.
- Jaya Parvati Vrat – Lord Shiva.
- Saturday fasting – Hanumanji.
- Navaratri – Durga Devi
Lord Shiva blesses the one who performs his fastings. Where does he get it from? From Narayana. The head of everyone is Lord Narayana. The head of Ekadashi fast is again Lord Narayana. He doesn’t need to get it from someone else. He offers it from His own home. That is why it is called ‘Mahā Vrat’.
If someone rich goes to a temple, he doesn’t need to search his pocket for a coin to offer. He offers whatever he could grab from his pocket. For someone who is not so rich has to think of how much he could offer in the temple.
Similarly, Lord Narayana is greatest of all, and there is no one greater than Him. Ekadashi is his fast. He Himself has said that it is His fast. That is why Ekadashi is the best of all fasts. There is no other fast that could offer blessings & benefits as much as Ekadasi fast.
That is why Maharaj had instructed us to perform Ekadasi in Shikshapatri.
“एकादशीनां सर्वासां कर्तव्यं व्रतमादरात् ।” (Shikshapatri – 79)
It is also mentioned in all the Puranas that Ekadashi is the best of all fasts.
3 Ways of following Ekadashi
- Nirjala Ekadashi: To pass the whole day without eating or drinking anything.
- Sajala Ekadashi: To pass the whole day on water and juice.
- Farali Ekadashi: To consume Only Fruits and Milk.
What should we eat & what should we not eat on the day of Ekadashi?
- Not to eat anything is best
- If not, one can drink water or fruit juice
- If not, one can eat fruits and vegetables
- If not, one can cook & eat one or two falahari items.
Here are the Food Recipes which we can eat on Ekadashi
- Badam Ke Ladoo
- Custard Apple Juice
- Mango Kheer
- Farali Idli
- Mix Fruit
- Farali Mohanthal
- Aloo Samba Ki Roti
- Dudhi Ka Halwa
- Farali biscuit
How to control the senses and divert to God?
- Do not see bad things and see God or Saints.
- Do not hear bad things instead hear discourses of God.
- Do not think bad instead try to think about God.
- Do not smell bad instead smell things related to God.
- Do not touch bad things instead touch things related to God.
- As per mentioned above, devotee should try to control five senses and divert them to objects related to God.
Benefits of Ekadashi Fasting
- It purifies one’s mind, body and soul.
- Fasting will clean the toxins out of the body especially in the digestive system.
- It destroys the 90% possibility of any kind of cancer.
- The body will feel light and energetic after fasting.