''Ekadasi'' and the ritual of fasting

Ekadasi twitter.com

According to the Indian mythology, Vaikunth  or Vaikundam refers to the  abode of Lord Vishnu where everything is in abundance.  ''Kuntha'', a Hindi word   implies no shortage,  meaning  abundance of every thing available there,  a place as mentioned in the  Bhagawatam, where the soul  reaches the higher level and experiences the divinity in the shadow of the lord.  It is the place  where the  all-pervading God  Narayana appears as the most supreme. power.  In the Vaikundam the Supreme Consciousness  permeates all of ''Creation'', and  there is no discernable difference  between the Lord (Narayan) and the sevak (servant or devotee) who  reposes trust in the lord.  

Ekadashi (in Sanskrit, ekādaśī,  meaning  “Eleven”, “Eka” – one, “dashi” – ten) is the eleventh lunar day (Tithi) - moon cycle  between the New Moon and Full Moon;  both from the Purnima (full moon) and from the Amavasya (new moon). Referred to as  the day of Lord Hari, Vaikuntha  Ekadashi is  the most auspicious day  for fasting and prayer,  and the devotees, particularly, people above 40 years of age visit the near-by Hindu temple devoted to God Vishnu and  enter  the  ''Sorgavasal'' - the entrance to the sanctified abode of the lord. In some Vishnu temples the  entrance on the north side is kept open for this purpose on this day; rest of the year it is closed.   People undertake fast on that day  after regular  head bath and puja ritual and break the fast following morning.  

Ekadasi. wordpress.com

Above image: ''Sri Madhwacharyaru in his work ‘Krishnamrutha Maharnava’ established beyond doubt that only after the practice of such a Vratha that our other activities bear fruit. One needs tokeep in mind that no matter how many oppathu you do and all homa, pooja and parayana will be in vain, if one doesn’t follow Ekadasi anushtana as said by our Acharyaru''..............................(https://anandsp1.wordpress.com/2017/06/05/ekadashi-vratha)

From the science point of view on the Full Moon Day the ocean waves  will be aggressive,  stronger and higher  due to the influence of the moon on the ocean. Above  70% of the human body is made of  some sort of watery fluid,  obviously, the position of the Moon on  this day will have  an influence on the human body. Mind being part  of the human body, no doubt whatever impact is felt by the body is transferred to the human mind. This is the reason why our forefathers  made fasting an important religious ritual on the Ekadasi day  to nullify the bad  effects of the moon on the mind and body.

Hindus of all classes, age,  groups and gender are supposed to observe fasting.  Children below 8 years of age are not advised to go on a fast. The following items should be avoided  when preparing food:  mustard seeds, spices, ghee,  powdered asafetida (hing). garlic and onion, N.V. food and fried stuff. However, during the Ekadasi day, devotees are allowed to use certain green vegetables and pulses for cooking. When it comes to fasting, devotees normally fast for more than 24 hours, some people take one meal in the morning and skip the food  till following day.  Normally, fasting is observed by most people from the sun-rise till sun-down. Some people practice what is called Nirjala fasting  without even taking  a drop of water. However, people who are prone to dehydration are advised to consume the needed quantity of water during fasting to avoid health issues in the wake of this ritual undertaking.   Devotees are advised to avoid Vishnu-prasadam containing the above forbidden foods. Such offerings are not thrown away and will be used in the following day.  Fasting act without   taking water  is not advisable. The aim during fasting is utmost concentration on the almighty. 

On the day of fasting, besides visiting Sri Krishna or Sri Vishnu temples  close-by  many people spend time reading scriptures on  Sri Krishna  like Bhagavatam, Bhagavat Gita and also the stories related to incarnation of God Vishnu.  The benefits of Fasting are manifold mind-wise and health-wise. Padma Purana has mentioned that people who undertake Ekadashi  ''vratham'' and associated rituals will enhance their positive outlook on life and, most importantly, they will be free from sins done unwittingly in the past  and have taken a serious step in earnest  to attain salvation  in the abode of the  lord  - Vaikuntha; there they will experience eternal bliss in the proximity of the almighty.

There are  24 Ekādaśīs in a calendar year - two in a period of 30 days  presided by one of the avatars of God Vishnu. Example: Vaamana is the presiding deity of Yogini Ekadashi /Shayani Ekadashi in the Vedic calender month of Ashada (June-July).  In addition to 24, two extra Ekādaśīs can  happen in a leap year.  Bhagavata Purana (skandha IX, adhyaay 4) has stated the observation of Ekādaśī by Ambarisha, an ardent  devotee of Lord Vishnu. The Mokshada Ekadashi / Vaikunta Ekadashi (Suklapaksha) and Utpanna Ekadashi (Krishnapaksha)  fall in December-January (Vedic calendar:  Margashirsha) and the former gains foremost importance in all Vishnu and Sri Krishna temples across the land. The presiding deity is Sri Kesava, yet another name of Sri Vishnu..

The essence of  Ekadasi fast is to  meditate and feel a profound mystical experience in which the soul  experiences the blessed state in the nearness of God .