Learn what is Ekadashi, history and significance of observing a Vrat / fast, religious, scientific and spiritual benefits of fasting and some famous Ekadashi Vrat recipes.
Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, Ekadashi is observed by millions of Hindus on 11th day of the two lunar phases – Shukla Paksh, the waxing phase of the moon, and Krishna Paksh, the waning phase of the moon. Observing Vrat (fasting) purifies the soul and grants Moksha (release from the cycle of rebirth).
Ekadashi – Meaning
Ekadashi in Sanskrit means eleven. ‘Eka’ means 1/One and Dasi means 10/Ten. We have 10/Ten senses comprising 5 Gyan Indriya and 5/Five Karma Indriya and the 11th/Eleventh one is Mind.
Gyan Indriyas include:
- Shrotra – ears
- Tvak – skin
- Chakshu – eyes
- Rasna – tongue
- Ghran – nose
Karma Indriyas include:
- Vak – voice
- Pani – hands
- Pad – feet
- Payu – anus
- Upastha – genitals
Story Behind Ekadashi
In Satyuga (Golden Age), there was a powerful demon called Murdhanav. He received a blessing from Lord Brahma that no Devta were to defeat him. This made Devtas vulnerable. They were repeatedly defeated in battles against Murdhanav. Terrorized, the Devtas took refuge of Lord Vishnu. To protect the Devtas, the almighty fought with this immensely powerful demon for 1000 years.
Finally, Lord played his leela to trick the demon into believing that the Lord was exhausted of the battle and had taken a refuge in a remote cave. The demon followed the lord, only to find him asleep. As Murdhanav approached the lord’s sword for a kill, a bright aura emerged from the lord’s 11 senses. This aura transformed into a beautiful lady. The demon was instantly mesmerized.
He asked the lady to marry him. However, the lady told the demon that if he could defeat her in a battle, she should marry him. Agreed the demon, without wasting time. Eventually, the lady slayed the demon with the lord’s sword. Lord woke up with the noise and saw the end of Murdhanav by this lady. He asked this lady to ask for a boon.
The lady replied “Since I am born out of your 11 senses, I shall be named Ekadashi. In all Yugas and Lokas, those who will observe Vrat (fast) on Ekadashi and will be able to control their Indriyas (11 senses), will be bestowed with happiness, peace, prosperity, freedom from illnesses, and will eventually find Moksha”. Lord Vishnu granted the wish and since that day, the auspicious day of Ekadashi and Ekadashi Vrat is observed around the world.
Moral of the Story – You can elevate yourself spiritually, if you are able to control your senses, detach yourself from materialism, lust, anger and greed. It is then you will achieve alignment with the universe and the creator.
How to Fast on Ekadashi
- There are three types of Ekadashis:
- Nirjala – Do not consume any sort of food or liquids throughout the day.
- Sajal – Consume only liquids like water and juices throughout the day.
- Farali – Consume only milk and fruits through the day.
- Children below 8 years of age, people with medical conditions and pregnant women must not observe the fast.
- Devotees must observe fast from sunrise until sunset. However, it is best to avoid Tamsik food until next sunrise.
- In the morning, after bath, one must chant Vishnu mantras / jap or read Vishnu Purana or Bhagvata Geeta.
- Abstain from all impure activities – starting with thought, vision, speech, actions.
- Eat only Satwik foods and AVOID rice, beans, onion, garlic and grains (Paapa-Purusha, made of sins). These are considered impure. Non-vegetarian food and alcohol is strictly prohibited.
Benefits of Fasting on Ekadashi
- Receive blessings of Lord Vishnu – forgiveness for known or unknown sins, cure from ailments, prosperity and salvation.
- Spiritual Growth – Increased awareness, inclination towards Satvik Gunas and alignment with the creator. Ekadashi is one of the best days for meditation.
- Detoxification of the Body – gives rest to the body, reduce blood sugar levels, reduces cholesterol, results in better functioning kidneys and lever and, improved metabolism.
- Lowest atmospheric pressure on Ekadashi makes it perfect to fast and cleanse; putting less strain on the system.
Famous Recipes for Ekadashi Vrat / Fast
Sabudana Khichdi – Soak 1 cup sabudana into 1 cup of water overnight. Rinse and drain in the morning. Take a pan, 1-2 teaspoon oil and add cumin seeds and few curry leaves until stutter. Next, add crushed green chilies, chopped potatoes, rock salt (sendha namak) to taste and turmeric powder. Cook just for few minutes until sabudana turns translucent and softens.
Barnyard Millet or Samo Khichdi – Soak the desired quantity or 1 cup of Barnyard millet for 10-15 mins. Rise and drain the water. In a heated pan, add oil, cumin seeds, chopped green chillies, some peanuts, ginger (optional), rock salt to taste and chopped potatoes. Cook for a minute on medium flame. Next, add 2-3 cups of water (depending on consistency desired). Cover with a lid, lower the flame to minimum and let it took for 20 minutes. Finally, add lemon juice as per taste or 1/4 teaspoon and fresh coriander to finish.
Amaranth or Rajgira Paratha – Take 1 cup rajgiri flour and mix 1 small boiled potato (mashed), chopped chillies (optional), 1 teaspoon rock salt and 1/2 teaspoon jeera or cumin powder. Add warm water to make a medium dough (not too soft). Once done, roll and make 2 equal balls/ roll for the paratha. Slowly make the paratha by flattening the ball from the centre using a roller pin (belan). Do not make it very thin else it will break. On a heated tava/pan, cook the paratha using ghee until it cooks evenly and golden brown. Serve with yoghurt.
Orange & Carrot Juice – Take 2 fresh oranges and 1 small carrot. Remove the outer layer and cut into chunks. Next, in a blender, add 1 small cup of water, 1 teaspoon of ginger juice, few ice cubes and blend.
Ashgourd (Petha) Juice – Cut and peal off the outer skin of a ripe ashgourd. Take 3-4 slices of 2 inches for the juice. Add 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon of ginger juice and a small pinch of black pepper powder. Blend in the mixer for a few seconds. Do not filter away the fiber.