• Nitika Mehra

What Is The Meaning And Significance of Ekadashi | Different Types And Related Stories

Updated: Jun 11

Ekadashi is the eleventh lunar day of each of the two lunar phases which occur in an vedic calendar month, the 'Shukla Paksha' (the period of the brightening moon) and the 'Krishna Paksha' (the period of the fading moon). Spiritually, Ekadashi also symbolises eleven senses constituting five sense organs, five action organs and one mind. The timing of each Ekadashi is according to the position of the moon. The Indian calendar marks progression from a full moon to a new moon as divided into fifteen equal arcs (each arc measures one lunar day). Each Ekadashi day is purported to have particular benefits that are attained by the performance of specific activities.



Ekadashi dedicated to Lord Vishnu, is a day of fasting (vrat) and prayers for all Hindus. Those who fast on this day are considered to get rid of malefic planetary influences, experience happiness, right peace of mind and higher consciousness. Ekadashi purifies the mind and keeps body fresh by detoxifying and refreshing the body fluids. High protein and carbohydrate-containing foods such as beans and grains are not consumed by observant people during the fast as it is a day to cleanse the body. Instead, only fruit, vegetables, and milk products are eaten. This period of abstinence starts from sunrise on the day of Ekadashito sunrise on the following day.


What Is The Meaning And Significance of Ekadashi | Different Types And Related Stories

Important thing to remember is not eat rice on Ekadashi. According to religious beliefs, a drop of sweat fell on the ground from Lord Brahma’s head and became a demon. When it asked for a place to live, Brahma told the demon to exist in the grains of rice consumed by people on Ekadashi and convert into worms in their stomach. According to scientific reason, rice grains hold a lot of water content, consuming it can lead to the aggravation of certain conditions. As eating food that retains too much water on Ekadashi can cause unsteadiness as the moon attracts water and the rays of the moon are said to have more cosmic energy on this day.


Each of the 24 Ekadashi Vrat (fasting) Katha was narrated to Pandava King Yudhishthira by Lord Krishna, the ninth avatar of Lord Vishnu.


SHUKLA PAKSHA EKADASHI NAMES, SIGNIFICIANCE AND RELIGIOUS STORIES


Putrada Ekadashi (giver of sons): Takes place in December-January on the eleventh day of the bright half of the lunar cycle. According to the legends, king of Bhadravati, Suketuman and his queen Shaibya were grieved by the absence of progeny. The couple as well as their dead ancestors were worried that without some one to offer shraddha, they will not be at peace and will become lost souls after death. Frustrated, the king left his kingdom and went to the forest unbeknownst to everyone. After wandering the forest for days, Suketuman reached the ashram of some sages on the bank of Lake Manasarovar on Putrada Ekadashi. They advised the king to observe the Putrada Ekadashi fast to attain a son. The king complied and returned to the kingdom. Soon, the king was blessed by a son, who grew up to become a heroic king.



Bhaimi Ekadashi / Jaya Ekadashi (one can liberate from effects of their wrongdoings): Takes place in January-February on the eleventh day of the bright half of the lunar cycle. The tale as told by the god Krishna to the king Yudhishthira: Indra Dev was once enjoying Gandharva music in the presence of Pushpadanta and Chitrasen. Pushpadanta's daughter Pushpavati and Chitrasen's wife Malini, son Pushpavan and grandson Malyavan were also present in the court. After laying her eyes on Malyavan, Pushupati lost her heart to him. And as they continued to admire each other, they distracted the musicians by singing the wrong notes. Enraged by their behaviour, Indra Dev punished Pushpavati and Malyavan for disrespecting him. As a result of the curse, Pushpavati and Malyavan lost their powers, and they landed on the earth to lead a life as human beings. The duo endured the agonies of life on earth for days. And to get riddance from the curse, they observed a fast on this Ekadashi Tithi. Pleased by their devotion, Lord Vishnu relieved them from the curse, and they soon regained their lost powers.


Amalaka Ekadashi / Amalaki Ekadashi: The amla tree is ritually worshiped on this day to get the grace of Lord Vishnu. Takes place in Febuary-March on the eleventh day of the bright half of the lunar cycle. According to the legend narrated for the occasion, King Chitrasena and his subjects observed the vrata of Amalaka Ekadashi. During one of his hunting trips, Chitrasena lost his way in the forest and was captured by the rakshasas (demons) who attacked him with weapons. Though he remained physically unharmed, the king fell unconscious as more demons surrounded him. A divine power in the form of a light emerged from his body and destroyed his attackers and then vanished. On regaining consciousness, Chitrasena was stunned to see all the attackers killed. A divine voice announced that this was due to the observance of the Ekadashi vrata.



Kamada Ekadasi (believed to grant all desires): Takes place in March-April on the eleventh day of the bright half of the lunar cycle. The tale as told by the god Krishna to the king Yudhishthira: Once, a young gandharva couple, Lalit and his wife Lalita, lived in the city of Ratnapura, ruled by the King Pundarika. Lalit was a famed singer, while Lalita was a renowned dancer at the royal court. One day when Lalit was singing in the royal court, his attention fluttered from the song to his wife, who was absent from the court. As a result, he missed some beats and incorrectly ended his performance. A serpent named Karkotaka complained to the king and said that Lalit considered his wife more important than his master, the king. Infuriated, the King Pundarika cursed Lalit to become a monstrous cannibal, who was sixty-four miles in height. His neck was like a mountain, arms eight miles long and mouth the size of huge cave.


This greatly distressed Lalita who wandered around the Vindhyachal Hills with her monstrous husband, came across the sage Shringi appealing to provide a solution to her problem. Sage Shringi told her to observe the vrata of Kamada Ekadasi with great devotion. With the blessings of Krishna, Lalit was restored to his original gandharva form. Thereafter, they were taken to heaven on a celestial flying chariot.


Mohini Ekadashi (relief from all sufferings): Takes place in April-May on the eleventh day of the bright half of the lunar cycle. The legend of Mohini Ekadashi Vrat was narrated to Lord Rama by Sage Vashishtha. Subsequently, in the Dwapar Yuga, Lord Krishna explained the significance of this vrat to Pandava king Yudhishthir. There lived a businessman named Dhanpal in a kingdom called Bhadravati on the banks of the Saraswati river. He was a nobleman and would often participate in philanthropic activities. He had five sons, but the eldest was the most irresponsible. And his son's behaviour, conduct and habits made the businessman worry about his future. After several failed attempts to convince his son to give up obnoxious ways of living, Dhanpal decided to disown him. But even this action didn't deter the son from giving up his undesirable habits. Therefore, he began stealing and looting people's homes. In the end, he was ostracised and sent to a jungle. In the forest, Dhanpal's son came across Sage Kaundinya and confessed to him about the crimes he had committed. The sage suggested he must observe the Mohini Ekadashi vrat if he wished to eliminate the consequences of his sins.



Nirjala Ekadashi (meaning water-less): Takes place in May-June on the eleventh day of the bright half of the lunar cycle. It is said to be the most rewarding and granting the virtue gained by the observance of all 24 ekadshis in the year. The Brahma Vaivarta Purana narrates the story behind the Nirjala Ekadashi vrata. Bhima, a lover of food, wanted to observe all ekadashi fasts, but could not control his hunger. He approached the sage Vyasa, author of the Mahabharata and grandfather of the Pandavas for a solution. The sage advised him to observe Nirjala Ekadashi, when for one day in the year, he should observe an absolute fast. Bhima attained the virtue of all 24 ekadashis, by observing Nirjala Ekadashi.


Shayani Ekadashi: Takes place in June-July on the eleventh day of the bright half of the lunar cycle. It is believed that Lord Vishnu falls asleep in Ksheersagar (cosmic ocean of milk) on Sheshanāga (the cosmic serpent). Lord finally awakens from his slumber four months later on Prabodhini Ekadashi. This period is known as Chaturmas and coincides with the rainy season. Thus, Shayani Ekadashi is the beginning of Chaturmas.


The tale as told by the god Krishna to the king Yudhishthira: The pious king's country had faced drought for three years, but the king was unable to find a solution to please the rain gods. Finally, sage Angiras advised the king to observe the vrata of Dev-shayani ekadashi. On doing so by the grace of Lord Vishnu, there was rain in the kingdom.



Parsva Ekadashi: Takes place in August-September on the eleventh day of the bright half of the lunar cycle. It falls on the period of Chaturmas which is again considered to be one of the most auspicious moments. According to the legend, Lord Vishnu turned from the left side to his right side while sleeping. Hence, it is also known as Parsva Parivartini Ekadashi, Parivartini meaning turning sides.


Pasankusa Ekadashi: Takes place in September-October on the eleventh day of the bright half of the lunar cycle. According to the legends, once, there was a cruel hunter on the Vidhyanchal mountain who had done only evil acts throughout his life. So, Yamraj sent his messenger to take him. It threatened the evil soul. He went to the Angara and asked him for help. He told him about Papankusha Ekadashi. If anyone observes Papankusha Ekadashi fast with true integrity and without anger, all his accumulated sins are destroyed and he gets salvation.


Prabodhini Ekadashi: Takes place in October-November on the eleventh day of the bright half of the lunar cycle, marking the end of the four-month period of Chaturmas. It is believed that Lord Vishnu sleeps on Shayani Ekadashi and wakes on Prabodhini Ekadashi, thus giving this day the name "Prabodhini Ekadashi" (awakening). The end of Chaturmas, when marriages are prohibited, signifies the beginning of the Hindu wedding season. It is also known as Kartiki Ekadashi, Kartik Shukla ekadashi and Kartiki. Prabodhini Ekadashi is followed by Kartik Poornima, which day is celebrated as Dev Diwali or Diwali of gods. It is also believed that Lord Vishnu married to goddess Tulsi on this Day.



Mokshada Ekadashi: Takes place in November-December on the eleventh day of the bright half of the lunar cycle. Highly auspicious day dedicated to worship of Lord Vishnu to get rid of all your sins and to achieve moksha or liberation after death. The ekadashi is celebrated on the same day as Gita Jayanti, the day when Krishna gave the holy sermon of the Bhagavad Gita to the Pandava prince Arjuna.


The tale as told by the god Krishna to the king Yudhishthira: Once, a saintly king called Vaikhanasa with total compassion treated the subjects as his own children. Once in the night, the king had a dream and saw his late father being tormented in Naraka (Hell), ruled by Yama, the god of death. The king was highly anguished and related this nightmare to his council the next day. The council advised the king to approach the omniscient saint, Parvata Muni ("sage of the mountain"). The sage meditated and found the reason for the hellish torture of the king's father. He mentioned that his father had committed the sin of quarrelling with his wife and having coitus with her in her menstrual cycle, in spite of her strong protests. As a solution to rectify the situation, the sage suggested to the king to observe vrata of the Mokshada Ekadashi day. With full faith and devotion, the king's religious merit (obtained from the vrata) pleased the gods of heaven, who carried the king's father to heaven.


Vaikunta Ekadashi: This special Ekadashi coincides with Mokshada and Putrada Ekadashi, but seldomly none for that year, mostly once a year, but sometimes twice a year (one in January and the other in December). The legend says that the Devas, unable to bear the tyranny of 'Muran' - a demon, approached Lord Shiva, who directed them to Lord Vishnu. A battle ensued between Vishnu and the demon and Vishnu realized that a new weapon was needed to slay Muran. In order to take rest and create a new weapon, Vishnu retired to a cave for the goddess named Haimavati in Badarikashrama. When Muran tried to slay Vishnu, who was sleeping, the female power that emerged from Vishnu burned Muran to ashes with her glance. Vishnu, who was pleased, named the goddess 'Ekadashi' and asked her to claim a boon. Ekadashi, instead, beseeched Vishnu that people who observed a fast on that day should be redeemed of their sins. Vishnu thus declared that people who observed a fast on that day and worshipped Ekadashi, would attain Vaikuntha. Thus came into being the first Ekadashi, which was a Dhanurmasa Shukla Paksha Ekadashi.



KRISHNA PAKSHA EKADASHI NAMES, SIGNIFICIANCE AND RELIGIOUS STORIES


Saphala Ekadashi: Takes place in December-January on the eleventh day of the fading half of the lunar cycle. According to the legends, King Mahishmat, who ruled a kingdom called Champavati, had five sons. His eldest son was wild, irresponsible and ill-mannered. Hence the King and his other sons named the eldest son, Lumbhak. A few days later, when Lumbhak's atrocities crossed new limits, he was thrown out of the King's kingdom. As days went by, Lumbhak started living in the forest under a Banyan tree. One day, Lumbhak introspected and realised how his conduct/behaviour and habits ruined his life. He repented committing sins and felt ashamed. Incidentally, on this Ekadashi Tithi, Lumbhak kept a few fruits on the tree roots and offered them to Lord Vishnu. Moreover, since he had not consumed food during the whole day, he succeeded in observing the Ekadashi Vrat, albeit unknowingly.



Shat Tila Ekadashi: Takes place in January-February on the eleventh day of the fading half of the lunar cycle. According to the legends, an old Brahmin widow observed a vrat for a month to pay her obeisance to him. She was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu and would perform intense penance and austerities. Once, Lord Vishnu visited her in the disguise of a poor man and asked her for alms. The Brahmani chose to hand over a fistful of mud instead of food. A few days later, the Brahmani died and was blessed to visit Vaikuntha Dham (the heavenly abode of Lord Vishnu).

However, she found an empty house and a lone mango tree to fend for herself. The Brahmani wondered why the Lord punished her despite her being so devoted to him. The Lord answered by saying that she found an empty house because she did not do charity. Moreover, when she got a chance to serve him, she gave him a fistful of mud. Hence, the Lord asked her to wait for the Dev Kanyas and learn the vidhi of observing the Shattila Ekadashi Vrat. Eventually, the Brahmani observed the vrat as per the Vidhi and was showered with everything she needed.


Vijaya Ekadashi: Takes place in February-March on the eleventh day of the fading half of the lunar cycle. According to the legends, the significance of Vijaya Ekadashi has risen since the times of Shri Rama. The sages and the saints asked Shri Rama to observe this vrat when he wondered how he can cross the ocean to reach Lanka and free his consort, Sita.


Papavimocani Ekadashi: Takes place in March-April on the eleventh day of the fading half of the lunar cycle. According to the legends, there was a forest named Chaitrarath, where Sage Medhavi, Chyawan Rishi's son, would meditate, performing intense penance and maintain celibacy. However, one day Kama Deva decided to disrupt Medhavi's penance by sending an Apsara named Manju Ghosha to his hermitage. Manju Ghosha danced, sang and lured the Sage by her beauty and succeeded in disrupting his penance. The Sage lost control over his senses, forgot all about his Tapasya and spent years with Manju Ghosha in the forest.


When Manju Ghosha expressed her desire to return to her abode, the Sage realised his folly. He learnt that it was Kama Deva's attempt to ruin his penance. Therefore in rage, he cursed Manju Ghosha by stating that she would lose her beauty roam around like a ghost. She pleaded to the Sage to forgive her and appealed to him to revoke the curse. Hence, the Sage suggested that she observe the Papmochani Ekadashi Vrat to get riddance from it. After sharing the remedy with Manju Ghosha, the Sage visited his father, Chyawan. However, when Sage Chyawan learnt about his son's conduct, he condemned his action and asked him also to observe the Vrat.



Varuthini Ekadashi: Takes place in April-May on the eleventh day of the fading half of the lunar cycle. On this Ekadashi particularly his fifth avatar Vamana is worshipped. According to the legends, this ekadashi will turn a lame person to walk normally, an unfortunate woman into a lucky one, animal would be released from its cycle of birth and death. All human beings are assured of prosperity in this life and the next.


Apara Ekadashi (limitless blessings of the almighty): Takes place in May-June on the eleventh day of the fading half of the lunar cycle. According to the legends, a benevolent king named Mahidhwaj who was loved and respected by his subjects. However, his younger brother, Vajradhwaj, was cunning and greedy. He killed Mahidhwaj and dumped his mortal remains under a peepal tree in a jungle. And owing to the untimely and unnatural death, the king's ghost started wandering and troubling people who passed by the peepal tree. One day, a sage named Dhaumya spotted the king's ghost near the tree and asked it to reveal the reason behind its existence. And soon after learning about the ghost's story with his divine powers, the sage shared the knowledge of visiting heaven. Furthermore, the great sage also observed the Apara Ekadashi Vrat on behalf of the ghost to help it get rid of the Preta Yoni and get a new lease of life by sending it to heaven.


Yogini Ekadashi (to get rid of all past sins & assuring good health): Takes place in June-July on the eleventh day of the fading half of the lunar cycle. According to the legends, King Kuber would worship Lord Shiva daily by offering flowers. There was a gardener named Hem Mali, who would get Kuber flowers on a regular basis from the Mansarovar. However, once he did get the flowers but forgot to give it to Kuber as he was busy spending time with his beautiful wife. The king got to know about it, Kubera got extremely angry and cursed Hem to suffer from the deadly disease of leprosy and ordered him to stay separated from his wife. Hem was out of the palace and suffered immensely due to the disease.


After wandering for many years in the forest, Hem came across the ashram of Rishi Markandeya, who after listening to his story advised him to observe Yogini Ekadashi Vrat. As a result, the Lord accepted his prayers and Hem was cured of all his sins and was free from any disease.



Kamika Ekadashi: Takes place in July-August on the eleventh day of the fading half of the lunar cycle. According to the legends, this day is equal to taking a bath in the sacred waters of the Ganga. A person can reap the benefits of visiting Kashi by keeping a vrat on Kamika Ekadashi. Therefore, by following a vrat, maintaining celibacy and doing penance on this day, a person immersed in the world's trap can rid himself of all the wrongs he has committed in his life. Those people who devoutly offer Tulsi leaves to Lord Vishnu on this Ekadashi, stay away from all the sins of this world.


Annada Ekadashi: Takes place in August-September on the eleventh day of the fading half of the lunar cycle. According to the legends, a famous king named Harishchandra, a person of great truth and integrity. His wife’s name was Chandramati, and he had a son named Lohit Ashva. However, Harishchandra lost his great kingdom and sold his wife and son. The pious king himself became a menial servant of a dog-eater, who made him guard a crematorium. Yet even while doing such menial service, he did not for sake his truthfulness and good character. The king passed many years in this condition and drowned in an ocean of anxiety and sorrow. One day a great sage happened by, and king narrated his pitiful story. Gautama Muni instructed him to keep fast on this Ekadasi for purification.



Indira Ekadashi: Takes place in September-October on the eleventh day of the fading half of the lunar cycle. According to the legends, a king named Indrasena who ruled a kingdom called Mahishmati. He was a benevolent king, and his people were happy and content under his leadership. Once, Devarishi Narada Muni paid a visit to Indrasena's court and said that Indrasena's father is in the Yama Loka and hasn't been able to attain Moksha owing to a few sins committed by him during his lifetime. Therefore, Narada Muni suggested Indrasena must observe a vrat on this Ekadashi Tithi and pay obeisance to his dead ancestors in the afternoon. These prayers must be followed by a vrat on Ekadashi. After performing puja, one must read the sacred texts that hail the glory of Lord Vishnu. And then on Dwadashi, after taking a bath and worshipping Lord Vishnu, one must break the fast. Thus, by performing the Indira Ekadashi Vrat, one can help their dead ancestors attain Moksha.



Rama Ekadashi: Takes place in October-November on the eleventh day of the fading half of the lunar cycle. According to the legends, Lord Vishnu devotee named Muchukund had a daughter named Chandrabhaga married to a prince named Shobhan, the son of King Chandrasen. Months later, when Chandrabhaga and Shobhan visited the palace of King Muchukand, the latter instructed all his subjects to observe the Ekadashi Vrat religiously. But Chandrabhaga looked worried as she knew that her husband, Shobhan, was not physically fit to keep a fast. After thinking of an alternative, Shobhan decided that he would keep a fast to escape punishment. However, he succumbed to his illness on the morning of Dwadashi Tithi. His mortal remains were put in a river. But a while later, he bounced back to life and landed in a kingdom called Devapur on the Mandarachal mountain and went on to occupy the throne. But, since he had kept the vrat out of compulsion, he had to deal with a kingdom that was good but unstable.


Meanwhile, a Brahmin who lived in Muchukand's kingdom but was out on a pilgrimage landed in Devapur and was shocked to see Shobhan there. And after learning how Shobhan was blessed with Devapur, the Brahmin left for Muchuand's kingdom to narrate the story to Chandrabhaga.

Subsequently, Chandrabhaga visited Devapur to stay with her husband. And as soon as she joined her husband, his kingdom grew powerful and stable.


Utpanna Ekadashi (the emergence of a feminine power): Takes place in November-December on the eleventh day of the fading half of the lunar cycle. The legend story of this Ekadashi is same as Mokshada Ekadashi.



Paramaa Shuddha Ekadashi: The Ekadashi of the Krishna Paksha, Adhik Maas or Purushottam Maas is referred to as Parama Ekadashi, observed once in about three years. A devotee can rid of financial problems. As per a legend associated with Parama Ekadashi, there lived a humble and a poor Brahmin man named Sumedha in Kampilya. He and his wife, Pavitra, were known for their hospitality and generosity. Despite not having much to fend for themselves, Sumedha and Pavitra took great care of those who took shelter in their humble abode and served people whole-heartedly. Subsequently, Kaundinya Rishi visited their humble abode. The couple whole-heartedly served the sage and sought their blessings. And before leaving, the sage asked them to observe a vrat on the Ekadashi Tithi. He told Sumedha and Pavitra to pray to Lord Vishnu. And a few days later, things transformed for this couple. They became wealthy and were in a better position to serve those in need.



Padmini Visuddha Ekadashi: The Ekadashi of the Shukla Paksha, Adhik Maas or Purushottam Maas is referred to as Padmini Ekadashi, observed once in about three years. According to the legends, there lived a king named Krit Virya of Mahishmati in the Treta Yuga. He was a noble king who was much-loved by his people. Pained because of the absence of a child, the king along with his first queen, Padmini, headed to the forest to do intense penance. and performed austerities for years. One day, queen Padmini met Devi Anasuya, who asked her to keep a vrat on the day of Ekadashi, Shukla Paksha of the Mala Maas. Eventually, the queen and the king were blessed with a child. The prince was named Kartavirya, who went on to win name fame and adulation for his lineage.


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