Ekadasi

Introduction
In Hindu lunar calendar there are many special days, which have spiritual significance. One of those auspicious days is Ekadasi. I’ve always wondered the significance of these auspicious days in our Hindu calendar. But once I came to know about the history, I started to realize its importance and its connection to us. I’ll try to cover some of the key points about this special day – Ekadasi, in this article.
What is Ekadasi?
Ekadasi in Sanskrit means “the eleventh”. Ekadasi is the eleventh day of a fortnight in Hindu lunar calendar. There are two fortnights in a lunar month, and hence there are two Ekadasi days in a month. One occurs during the waxing of the moon or Sukla Paksham & another during waning of the moon or Krishna Paksham. Ekadasi is specifically associated with Lord Vishnu. There are 24 different Ekadasi days in Hindu lunar calendar year.  Each of these 24 Ekadasi days are named and have significance and history of its own. Some of the famous ones I have heard from my childhood are – Vaikunta Ekadasi or Mukkoti Ekadasi (It is believed that this is the day the doors to Vaikuntam will open), Bheeshma Ekadasi (this is the day Bheeshma believed to have chanted the Vishnu Sahasranama to Pandavas upon their request). Two other important Ekadasi days are Shayana Ekadasi (the day on which Lord Vishnu goes to sleep) and Prabhodhini Ekadasi (the day on which Lord Vishnu wakes up).
What is the history of Ekadasi?
It has also been told in Padma Purana that, Ekadasi is the name of the female Shakti of Lord Shiva, which killed the demon “Muran” to save the Devas. Since this happened on the eleventh day of the Lunar month, Lord Vishnu gives the name Ekadasi to the female Shakti. Further Lord Vishnu was pleased with this act and gave a boon that whoever worships Her and observes fasting on this day, would reach Vaikunth.
What should we do on Ekadasi day?
Puranas and Vedic scriptures recommend us to fast or abstinence from diet during Ekadasi day. Many also fast on the day before (Dasami) and the day after (Dwadasi) Ekadasi day. We only know that it is advised to do fasting, but there is a deeper meaning to it. Fasting is just a practical expression of it. I still remember, that in my childhood days, Ekadasi day is considered very auspicious. I was taken to temple to attend special pooja being performed at our nearby Vishnu temple. Vedic scriptures strongly recommend fasting on this day because whoever wants to practice Yoga can do so with utmost concentration.
What are the other significances of Ekadasi?
We have talked about the spiritual significance of Ekadasi. Now, how many of us know the physical & scientific significance of this auspicious day? Our body needs cleansing as it absorbs various toxins from the environment and from the various foods we eat. Fasting helps cleanse the body physically by providing the necessary balance required across different parts of the body. In normal days if we eat food the whole blood circulation is diverted towards the digestive organs. But during fasting, since there is less to no activity, the blood circulation is evenly distributed across our body. It is also scientifically proven that the gravitational force of Moon on Earth is minimal or nil on Ekadasi day. That is why it is easier to do the fasting on Ekadasi day than any other day. Thus it has the scientific significance too.
- Venu

3 Responses to “Ekadasi”

  1. abs Says:

    Dear Venu,
    Thanks for sharing the significance of Ekadasi.Many time we follow practices without knowing the significance. This article explains many aspects of Ekadasi. Now we know why we are doing the fasting. Apparently Ekadasi day is very suitable for meditation since our Mind naturally is at its abode on this day. “Fasting + Meditation” – very significant indeed.

    Thanks,
    Sanjai

  2. Sriram Says:

    Dear Venu,
    It is very nice to know the scientific meaning for fasting on Ekadasi. Thinking about this, our ancestors have chosen a day in which we don’t feel tired by fasting and at the same time keeps our body clean. And a highly suitable day for meditation. We are so fortunate to have been carefully thought and given many ways to progress. Thanks for sharing this article on Ekadasi. I will try to follow.

  3. Shankar Says:

    Dear Venu, Thanks for educating us on the significance of Ekadasi from all perspective – Spiritual, Scientific & physical. It is interesting to note that days are referenced from the Moon (i.e. new or full moon).

    Inspiring blog – feeds knowledge in right amount but catering to all needs.

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