Ekadashi is one of the most important days in a Madhwa household. This is the day when the kitchen in a orthodox Madhwa household completely shuts down and there is no preparation of any kind.
However, in some Madhwa households, rice is not cooked for the whole day (that is on an Ekadashi) but generally Avalakki, chappati, sabhudhani or any other food without rice is prepared. Of course, I know of many households, all my friends and relatives, where gallons of coffee are prepared on that day.
Even in our house, the elders observe Ekadashi strictly, while the children are allowed a lot of leeway. But did you now that there are strict rules regarding the observance of the Ekadashi and the following day called Dwadashi.
The Mahime of Ekadashi and its observance was very well brought about first by Madhwacharya and then by Vadiraja. Both of them have written books on the Ekadashi and how it should be observed.
The first book distinctly devoted to Ekadashi is the Krishnamrutha Mahaarnava written by Madhwcharya.
Apart from them, almost all Haridasas and Madhwa saints have dwelt at length about Ekadashi and its significance.
The Krishnanrutha Mahaarnava is an anthology of 242 verses with five of them praising Hari. The entire text is always almost in Anusthub meter. The Anustubh is found in both Vedic and classic Sanskrit poetry. It generally has four lines and each line is called a pada having eight syllables.
Apart from the Anusthub, other meters are also found in the text. The verses hail several Gods such as Narayana (Vedavyasa), Brahma, Shiva, Dharma, Markandaya, Rukmangada, Atreya, Kaushika, Agastya, Suta, Pulaha, Angirasa, Atri, Narada and Pulastya.
It also talks about Ekadashi, its importance and the manner in which it should be observed. More importantly, it also determines the manner win which a particular day should be celebrated as Ekadashi and the day when Dwadeshi falls.
It also gives us valuable information on the worship of Saligrama and the wearing of Urdhva Pundras or tilaka.
The book is divide into 29 parts and the first part starts with Hari. Wile part 6 deals with the essence of the shastras, part nine gives us details about the importance of pradakshina and namaskara. Details about saligrama are in part twelve and part 16 deals with the purpose of life and the rules of Ekadashi.
The 21st part is about the benefits of Ekadashi and the next part is what happens when a Madhwa violates the Ekadashi.
Thus, Madhwacharya has dealt extensively with the Ekadashi and all aspects related to it.
By the way, Madhwacharya advocates complete fasting on Ekadashi. In verse 10, he refers to the worship of Vishnu with Bilva leaves, which is generally not heard of. (Bilva is associated with Shiva and Tulasi with Vishnu)
When discussing about Ekadashi, Madhwacharya clarifies that a man’s good or bad deeds on earth are accounted for from the 14th year of life. He says that any sin committed or bad deed done after the fourteenth year will lead to ten births and, therefore, there will be no moksha for the soul.
If anyone wants to attain moksha, then bhakti is the only marga or way, Madhwa says. Therefore, it is essential that a human being remembers God every second and not on Ekadashi only.
Stressing the need to adhere to the strict rules of Ekadashi, he says a true Vaishnava does not even take a single morsel of food or a drop of water. The whole day and night for him are spent in devotion, prayer and religious study.
Another Madhwa saint, Vadhiraja, in his Ekaadasi Nimaya has given us a beautiful text on the Ekadashi. A host of Haridasas like Purandara Dasa, Vijaya Dasa and Gopala Dasa have also extolled the ekadasi vratha.
Vijaya Dasa in his “Ekadasi vrathada mahithya” says that the Vartha and its importance was first mentioned by Padmanabha to his consort Lakshmi and later to Brahma, who then handed over this knowledge to Narada.
Ekadashi is the eleventh lunar day (tithi) of either shukla (bright) or krishna (dark) paksha (fortnight) of every lunar month in the Hindu panchanga.