Ekadashi, or Ekadasi is a Sanskrit word, which means ‘the eleventh’. It refers to the 11th day of a fortnight in a lunar month, both from the full moon and the new moon. Thus, Ekadashi occurs twice a month, and is known as the bright and the dark fortnight respectively.
Significance of Ekadashi:
Jaimini Rishi, a renowned sage, once inquired from the great sage Vyaasa about the Ekadashi vow. Vyaasa explained that initially, when the world was manifested, Lord Vishnu created a demonic creature (Paapa-Purusha) that was the embodiment of all types of sins. This was done in order to punish the beings who chose the path of evil. Subsequently, He also created the Yamaloka – the cosmic penitentiary, so that anyone who sinned would be sent there.
Once upon a visit to Yamaloka, Lord Vishnu noticed the miserable state of the living entities there and had pity on them. So he created Ekadashi from his own being, and decided that anyone undertaking the Ekadashi vow would be cleansed of their sins.
Becoming aware of this, Paapa-Purusha immediately went to Lord Vishnu and pleaded that because of Ekadashi soon he may not have any sustenance. So Vishnu gave him a benediction that he may reside in the beans, grains and cereals and may affect anyone who consumes these on Ekadashi.
Fasting on Ekadashi:
According to modern science, it is known that the air pressure on our planet varies to extreme limits on both the new moon (Amavasya) and the full moon (Purnima) day.
Now, based on this fact, the significance of Ekadashi fasting can be explained as:
It takes about 3-4 days for the food that we eat today to reach our brain. Now, if we eat light/fast on Ekadashi days, that will reach the brain correspondingly on the New moon/full moon day. On both of these days, the earth pressure is at its maximum, thus leading to imbalance in everything, including ones thought process. So, if the input to the brain is at a minimum, the chances of the brain indulging in any wayward activity becomes minimum.
Another explanation for the Ekadashi fasting is the atmospheric pressure is the lowest on Ekadashi as compared to any other day of the moon cycle. Thus, this is the best time to fast and cleanse the bowel system. It is advisable that after fasting on the Ekadashi, we get up early and eat as soon as possible on the immediate next day (Dwadashi).
Ekadashi fasting accompanied with a healthy diet improves insulin responsiveness, lowers blood cholesterol and prolongs life span. It helps improve the mental stability of people suffering from anxiety and depression. It also detoxifies the body, cleanses the blood and improves the functioning of kidneys and liver. It is amazing how the ancient Vedic Indians devised this method to keep ourselves fit and free from any negative influences.
Get to know more about do’s and dont’s of Ekadashi on Hindu Calendar. Hare you can also find monthly fasting details along with all Hindu Festival dates and important timings.