|Significance of Ekadashi fast|
It is a common practice in most hindu households to observe fast on ekadashi. What is special about this day?
Ekadasi in Sanskrit means eleven. Eka means one and dasi is the feminine form of the word dasa, which means ten. Ekadasi is thus the eleventh day of both the dark and light fortnight of each month. On these special days, devotees fast from grains and beans and make an extra effort to be in service to the Divine.
There is a beautiful story about the origin of Ekadasi fasting. Once, in the Satya-yuga (the golden age) Lord Narayana was enagaged in battle with a demon called Mura. Feeling tired, the Lord decided to rest from the long battle. However, mura wanted to kill the Lord while he was sleeping. Suddenly from the body of the Lord manifested a young girl, who slayed the demon, Mura. This girl was the Mahasakti. Pleased, Narayana gave her the name Ekadasi( as she appeared on the eleventh day of the waning moon). He also granted her the boon that anyone who fasts on Ekadasi will become free from sin and attain His transcendental abode.
There are certain rules regarding fasting on this day. For eg., one must strictly avoid eating grains and beans on Ekadasi. Fasting generally means completely abstaining from both food and drink. If this is difficult, one may eat a single nongrain meal once in the afternoon or in the evening.
According to scriptures, one who observes fasting on Ekadasi is freed from all kinds of reactions to sinful activities and advances in spiritual life. These sacred fasting days greatly help any sincere soul achieve, even within this present lifetime, liberation from the cycle of birth and death, it is said therefore, Ekadasi gives one a real taste of renunciation, thus helping one give up trying to enjoy illusory sense gratification of this material world.
Both western and ayurvedic medicine recommend fasting to maintain and improve health. Indeed modern medial experts and ancient sages agree that fasting benefits one, both physically and mentally. Even from the economic point of view, two such fasting days in a month will save tons of food.
The basic principle is not just to fast, but to increase one's faith and love for the Divine. The real reason for observing fasting on ekadasi is to minimize the demands of the body and to engage our time in the service of the Divine.
Reference(s) - Midas Babu (Mr. & Mrs), geocities.yahoo. com