“In the three worlds, there is no kind of fasting which is even comparable to the ekadasi. Even if one performs this fast without a proper attitude, he achieves the supreme abode. If one fasts on ekadasi day with full devotion, what happens to him by the mercy of the supreme lord cannot be described.”
Lord Krishna to Arjuna in Bhagvad Gita, chapter 1"If a person fasts on ekadasi, I will burn up all his sins and bestow upon him My transcendental abode…..Indeed, ekadasi is the most meritorious day for destroying all kinds of sins, and it has appeared in order to benefit everyone.”
Ekadasi is a Sanskrit word meaning eleven. It falls every month twice on the waxing and waning phase of the moon. These days indicate the high and low tides of the sea. The first ekadasi occurs when the moon is closest to the earth and the next occurs when the moon is farthest from the earth. There are 24 ekadasis in a year.It is an important fasting day dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
Fasting is undertaken to purify the consciousness of its impurities at the gross and spiritual level. The day is extremely auspicious to render and involve oneself in spiritual activities. Full eating should be avoided and partial fasting on milk and fruits can be taken. The basic aim is just not to fast but to think of the divine and the pastimes of Krishna by reading his stories. The fast begins with the sunrise on the ekadasi day and ends with the next day`s sunrise. Foods that can be taken on the day of ekadasi are: fruits, nuts, potato, sweet potato, olives, milk, ghee, sugar, coconut, ginger and black pepper. Foods to avoid are: all types of grains, all types of lentils, hing, sesame, beans, and spices.
- In the Mahabharata, it is said, “Following eight things do not destroy the ekadasi: water, roots, fruits, milk, ghee, desire of a brahmana, the order of a spiritual master and medicine do not wane one`s fast.”
Greatness of Ekadasi
- Ekadasi fasting is greater in merit than staying and visiting places of pilgrimage, performing fire sacrifices or aswamedha sacrifice.
- This day was created as a supreme medicine to remove the miseries of material existence of body and mind. One will not suffer from mental problems.
- Single ekadasi fast earns the same merit as the one who feeds 1000 mendicants every day for 60,000 years.
- It prevents and cures illnesses and diseases as it helps in the detoxification of the body and cleansing of bowel system.
- It gives 10 times merit in comparison to a person giving away in charity 1000 cows to a learned brahmana.
- According to Brahma- Vaivarta Purana, it is believed that Lord Vishnu removes the sins of those who observe this fast. The obstacles to spiritual progress are removed and perfection in life is achieved.
- Sage Vasista in Narada Purana says, “Neither Ganga, Kasi, Kurukshetra, Yamuna, Reva, Vedika, Gaya, Pushkara and Chandrabhaga, none of them are equal to the day of Lord Hari, Ekadasi. Even if one fasts on ekadasi unknown to others, all his sins are burnt at once and he attains the spiritual world.”
- Ekadasi fasting is believed to liberate one from the cycle of births and deaths.
- It attracts the blessings of Lord Vishnu.
- Those who fast get the blessings of religious bent of mind, wealth and ultimate salvation.
- Fasting helps to improve the working of digestive, respiratory, circulatory, urinary system. It makes the person strong mentally and physically.
- It means: There is no mantra superior to the Gayathri mantra. There is no God superior to the mother, there is no water purifying or superior than River Ganges and there is no vrat or austerity or fast, holy or superior than the Ekadasi.