EkAdashi is the eleventh lunar day (tithi) of either shukla (bright) or krishna (dark) paksha (fortnight) of every lunar month in the Hindu almanac (panchAnga).
EkAdashi is called “hari dina”, meaning a day to be dedicated entirely for worshipping Hari, meditating upon Hari, listening to His glory & studying the scriptures.
EkAdashi upavAsa does not mean mere fasting, it means sAmIpya vAsa (dwelling in proximity to the Lord) with archana, japa, katha shravaNa, nirAhAra & jAgarNa. So, after setting apart sometime to basic necessities, the whole day & night is to be spent in thinking about His glories. Even if shrAddha falls on this day, it has to be performed on the next day only.
Observance of EkAdashi cleanses the mind and paves the way for jnAna (right knowledge). It is an established fact that when one does not take food even though there is a desire for it, there will be an increase in self-control and it develops a strong will power. One who controls hunger will be away from sin because hunger is the root cause of many a sins. Sri Madhvacharya says in kriShNAmRuta mahArNava that the fire of merit of observing Ekadhasi converts the sins of hundreds of births into ashes.
EkAdashi is a fasting day to get rid of for our sins of indulging in undesirable acts through our dasha indriyAs. It is a vaiShNava vrata which is greater than all yAgAs and its power to destroy sins is unmatched if we follow the dos & don'ts of it strictly.
Make a sankalpa for three day (dashami, EkAdashi, dvAdashi)
Worship, meditate & think about Hari
On EkAdashi day, take tiirtha only once and have only angAra mark (black vertical line) on the forehead. (no akShate)
Even while in their periods, women have to observe EkAdashi
Even during sUtaka, EkAdashi has to be observed
Do not consume ANY food, water, juice, etc
Do not sleep during day-time
varAha purANa specifies the pregnant women, mothers of infants and people who are very weak are given concession. Only they can take fruits like banana, dates, grapes, milk, curd, coconut milk and uncooked grains.
EkAdashi vrata begins with the sankalpa on the dashami (tenth) day. The sankalpa mantra to be chanted after performing sandhyavandane is:
dashami divasE prApte vratastOham janArdana tridinam dEvadEvEsha nirvighnam kuru kEshava (sharaNam bhave achyuta)
Janardana! Today being Dashami, I am ready for the three day vow. Oh, Lord! Deva Deva! Keshava! please see that no obstacles come in the way of my vow.
EkAdashyAm nirAhAraha stitvahani parEhyaham bhukShyAmi punDarIkAkSha sharaNam me bhavAchyuta
After fasting on EkAdashi, I will eat on dvAdashi, Please be my refuge, Oh, Achyutha!
adya shvashEha nirAhAro bhUtvAham dwAdashI dine vidhAsye pAraNam dEva prIto bhava ma mAnisham
I will be on fast tonight and tomorrow, and break the fast on dwAdashi. Lord! may you be pleased.
The evening meals on the dashami day, both the meals on the EkAdashi and evening meal on dvAdashi day (total FOUR MEALS) are forbidden on these 3 days.
dvAdashi pAraNe sankalpa mantra:
ajnAna timirAndhasya vratEnAnEna kEshava prasannah sumukhO nAthA jnAnadRuShTi pradO bhava
O Keshava, I have become blind due to ajnAna, give me jnAna drishti
bhArateeramaNa mukhyaprANAntargata shree krishnArpaNamastu