Importance of Ekadashi
Ekadashi in Sanskrit means eleven. 'Eka' means "one" and 'dasi' is the feminine form of the word "dasa", which means "ten". Ekadashi 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.
Ekadashi is when one withdraws the ten indriyas and eleventh - the mind, from their worldly 'foods' and focus them on the god and devotional activities.
There is a beautiful story about the origin of Ekadashi fasting. Once, in the Satya-yuga (the golden age) Lord Narayana was resting, by drawing inward his ten Indriyas (senses) and the mind. However, Mura (demon) 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 Ekadashi (as she appeared on the eleventh day of the waning moon). He also granted her the boon that anyone who fasts on Ekadashi will become free from sin and attain His transcendental abode.
There are certain rules regarding fasting on this day. For e.g., one must strictly avoid eating grains and beans on Ekadashi. Fasting generally means completely abstaining from both food and drink. If this is difficult, one can eat a single non-grain meal once in the afternoon or in the evening.
According to scriptures, one who observes fasting on Ekadashi is freed from all kinds of reactions to sinful activities and advances in spiritual life. The Moon influences the tides, and also the moods of mankind. We have Energy centers in our body called 'chakras'. The moon's influences on the body has an influence on the chakras, which tells upon the mind ultimately. On Ekadashi the mind finds itself in its own abode which is the 'eye-brow' center (chakra) and the 'heart' center (chakra). So the mind gets concentrated and collected easily on these days. Seekers take advantage of these two days per month and try to practice deep meditation.
Here is the list of different Ekadashis during the year:
6. Jaya / Bhaimi
16. Sayana / Padma
19. Aja / Annada
20. Parvartini / Parsva
24. Haribhodini / Utthana
25. Adik maas – Padmini