(Extracts from the Ekadasi Mahatmya)
Ekadasi first appeared from the body of Lord Vishnu during the wanning moon in the month of November/December in order to kill the demon Mura.
Sri Ekadasi, which falls on the eleventh day of each waxing and waning moon is very dear to Lord Hari.
Observing the vow of Ekadasi is among the first ten principles of the sixty four items of devotional service described by Srila Rupa Gosvami. One should observe Ekadasi only to please the Supreme Lord. The meaning of the word upavasa (fasting) is to live nearby. On the day of Ekadasi one should remain aloof from all kinds of sinful activities, give up all kinds of household activities and sense gratification and live near the lord.
Quote by Srila Prabhupada fromSri Caitanya Caritamrta adi lila 15.09 purport:
“From the very beginning of His childhood life Sri Caitanya Mahäprabhu introduced the system of observing a fast on the Ekadasi day. In the Bhakti-sandarbha, by Srila Jiva Goswami, there is a quotation from the Skanda Puran admonishing that a person who eats grains on Ekadasi becomes a murderer of his mother, father, brother and spiritual master, and even if he is elevated to a Vaikuntha planet, he falls down. On Ekadasi, everything is cooked for Vishnu, including regular grains and dhal, but it is enjoined that a Vaisnava should not even take Vishnu-prasädam on Ekadasi. It is said that a Vaisnava does not accept anything eatable that is not offered to Lord Vishnu, but on Ekadasi a Vaisnava should not touch even mahä-prasädam offered to Vishnu, although such prasädam may be kept for being eaten the next day. It is strictly forbidden for one to accept any kind of grain on Ekadasi, even if it is offered to Lord Vishnu”.
Srila Prabhupada asked us to follow Ekadasi by fasting from grains and beans and to do more service, especially, chanting.
Quote by Srila Prabhupada from Srimad Bhägavatam 3.27.22 purport:
“Devotional service in Krsna consciousness cannot be performed blindly due to material emotion or mental concoction. It is specifically mentioned here that one has to perform devotional service in full knowledge by visualizing the Absolute Truth. We can understand about the Absolute Truth by evolving transcendental knowledge, and the result of such transcendental knowledge will be manifested by renunciation. That renunciation is not temporary or artificial, but is very strong. It is said that development of Krsna consciousness is exhibited by proportionate material detachment, or vairägya. If one does not separate himself from material enjoyment, it is to be understood that he is not advancing in Krsna consciousness. Renunciation in Krsna consciousness is so strong that it cannot be deviated by any attractive illusion. One has to perform devotional service in full tapasya, austerity. One should fast on the two Ekadasi days, which fall on the eleventh day of the waxing and waning moon, and on the birthdays of Lord Krsna, Lord Räma and Caitanya Mahäprabhu. There are many such fasting days. Yogena means “by controlling the senses and mind.” Yoga indriya-samyamah. Yogena implies that one is seriously absorbed in the self and is able, by development of knowledge, to understand his constitutional position in relationship with the Superself. In this way one becomes fixed in devotional service, and his faith cannot be shaken by any material allurement.”