Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ekadasi fasting and its benefits

Meaning of Ekadasi:

Every month of the Hindu calendar has two auspicious days of Ekadasi. It falls on the eleventh day of the fortnight of the lunar cycle. The first Ekadasi occurs when the moon is closest to the earth and the second Ekadasi occurs when the moon is farthest from the earth. The Ekadasi days are also indicators of the high and low tides of the sea. There are 24 Ekadasis in a year and each Ekadasi has a unique name. Ekadasi is observed as a day of fasting and devotion.

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Benefits of Ekadasi fasting:

• It brings the blessings of Lord Vishnu.

• It liberates one from the cycle of birth and death.

• It gives one freedom from the sins of the past.

• It fulfills the wishes of health, wealth and happiness.

• It enhances the physiological functions of the body.

• It helps in flushing out the toxins from the body.

• It helps to strengthen one’s self-control.

• It improves one’s emotional stability.

Methods of Ekadasi Fasting:

• Complete fasting involves total abstinence from food and water for 24 hours.

• Partial fasting involves consumption of fruits and milk and the avoidance of rice and grains.

• People with health problems can opt for partial fasting after consulting with their doctors.

• Some people take only a single meal on the Dasami day, the day before Ekadasi.

The 24 different Ekadasis

Mythological Significance of Ekadasi:

It is believed that Ekadasi is the name of the Goddess that arose from Lord Vishnu to defeat Demon Mura. Happy with her divine act, Lord Vishnu blessed her that anyone who observes Ekadasi fast will be freed of their sins and will attain Moksha.

1. Putrada Ekadasi:

There is a popular belief that married couples without children will be blessed with children if they observe Putrada Ekadasi.

2. Shatilla Ekadasi:

On this day, Til (sesame) is used in six ways. It is used in Ubtan, bathing, performing Havans, Tarpan, meal and donations.

3. Jaya Ekadasi:

The greatness of this Ekadasi was narrated to Yudhishtira by Sri Krishna and is found in the Padma Purana and the Bhavisyothara Purana.

4. Vijaya Ekadasi:

The major belief behind practicing this ritual is the observance of a vrat by Lord Ram before he headed towards crossing the ocean to reach Lanka and defeating Ravana.

5. Amalki Ekadasi:

Dedicated to Amlaki or Gooseberry Tree, observance of this Ekadasi is believed to bring in great prosperity and benefits.

6. Papamochini Ekadasi:

Observing a vrat on this day is highly significant as a sincere devotee can get rid of all his sins committed so far.

7. Kamda Ekadasi:

A fast on this day will assist in getting rid of all sins and guilt that are a result of lust.

8. Varuthini Ekadasi:

The vrat is a step towards a fortunate phase of life.

9. Mohini Ekadasi:

Eliminates all sins and helps in leading a happy and prosperous life. Also, a person undergoing sadness is effectively able to overcome this sickness.

10. Apara Ekadasi:

This vrat would help in eliminating their sins and henceforth, would finally assist them in attaining Moksha, or salvation.

11. Nirjala Ekadasi:

It is the strictest fast among all the Ekadashis in the Hindu religion as one cannot even drink water while observing it.

12. Yogini Ekadasi:

It is the most significant Ekadashi fast in order to get rid of various ailments and diseases.

13. Devshayani Ekadasi:

It is believed that Lord Vishnu went into a deep sleep for the next four months beginning from this day.

14. Kamika Ekadasi:

This vrat is considered highly significant and auspicious for performing good deeds and seeking blessings of the Lord.

15. Aja Ekadasi: This vrat eradicates all sinful and evil activities.

16. Parivartan Ekadasi:

On this Ekadasi day Lord Vishnu who reclines on Aadishesha turns to another side and this turn is called as Parivarthan.

17. Indira Ekadasi:

It is believed that observing this Ekadasi will help in removing the sins committed by oneself and one’s forefathers.

18. Pasankusa Ekadasi:

One will be able to fulfill his dreams and observing it is equal to performing numerous yajnas and making several offerings.

19. Rama Ekadasi: Sins and evil deeds can be washed away by observing a vrat on this day.

20. Prabhodini Ekadasi: The Hindu devotees believe that Lord Vishnu woke up from his Yoga Nidra (cosmic sleep) on this day.

21. Utpanna Ekadasi: One can enjoy all kinds of comforts and gets the shelter of Lord Vishnu, after death.

22. Mokshada Ekadasi: helps in attaining Moksha, or liberation.

23. Saphala Ekadasi:

Sins of many generations of a person are removed by observing the fast of Saphala Ekadasi.

24. Haribobhini (Devotthani) Ekadasi.

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