The eleventh day of each lunar month is called ekadashi and is observed by devotees as a day of fasting. This fasting does not refer just to food but also restrictions on the five senses, their organs and also the mind. These eleven are deprived of enjoyments to worldly afflictions and the senses are concentrated onto Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa.
The conception of ekadashi was through a boon acquired from the Lord. In the early days, during the era of Satuga (which is the first of four eras), Murdhanav, the son of Nadijang, was a demon of immense strength. Through undertaking penance Murdhanav pleased Bhramaji such that he was granted a very much desired blessing from Bhramaji that prevented other Devs from being able to destroy him. Murdhanav being of a wicked temperament exploited the benefits of this blessing. He fought with and defeated the Devs (deities) that guarded each of the senses. And replaced them with guardian Devs of his own nature.
Due to these actions, the displaced Devs, approached Bhramaji and told him of their pain. Bhramaji was unable to rid them of their pains so he accompanied them to Kshirsagar (Ocean of Milk). There, through fasting and controlling all his senses, he mentally contemplated the Lord and began to worship. Standing on one leg, keeping upright, arms straight and eyes staring forward, Bhramaji and the other Devs started to do continuous penance. Observing these intense penances the Lord manifested amongst them and gave them a fearless blessing with which to slaughter the demons. Following this the Lord and the Devs all went to Chandravati (the kingdom of the demons) to challenge the demons. The challenge resulted in a fierce battle outside the city. However the demons' weaponry was immensely powerful. The Devs were unable to withstand the force and fled in all directions. In this manner the battle lasted for 1000 years.
The Lord also demonstrated His divine leela, sports, and showed that He too was unable to endure the strength and power of the demons. After the battle, as if He had become totally exhausted, the Lord went to the forest of Badri and entered the cave called Sheevati. This cave is about 70 miles long, with only a small entrance. Keeping his ten senses and 'the eleventh', his mind in front of Him, the Lord fell asleep. Murdhanav had followed the Lord, and entered the cave. At this time the Lord saw that the angry demon had followed Him, and by His wish from His 'eleventh sense' a fast and fierce light emerged. From this lustre, a woman with divine weapons was born. At this time the demon Murdhanav became immensely attracted to the beautiful woman and said to her "Oh you of outstanding beauty, I'm also unparalleled in looks age and power. I wish to marry you!" The Devi in reply to this said, "I have a vow. He who defeats me in a fight becomes my husband. To have me, you need to conquer me in a duel." At this the pair commenced battle, fighting intensely using a vast array of divine weaponry. The angry Devi killed Mudhanav by decapitating him with a sword.
The other Devs were very pleased and began to praise the Devi. The Lord also woke up from His divine leela and showed that He knew nothing of what had occurred, and asked the Devi, 'Who are you?' To this the Devi said "Oh Swami, Oh my Lord, I am Ekadashi. You had placed your 'eleven senses' (ekadashi) in front of you and from these I was born, so my name is Ekadashi. I am thus an extension of your powers. Also because you were in taph, and it is from your light that I was born, I am also known as Tapasvini, hence I am the destroyer of all existing sins in the universe, be they large or small. Hearing this the Lord became very pleased with Ekadashi and said, 'Oh destroyer of sins, by your birth today in all three worlds there is great happiness, so ask for a wish from me.' Seeing the Lord extremely delighted, Ekadashi said to the Lord, "If you are truly pleased with me, then I pray for all humans whom observe my vow, that all their wishes, in this world and the world above this one, are fulfilled. And he who fasts on my special day will become free of all sins and will attain Attyantikh Moksha (ultimate salvation), and throughout their life in this world, will remain happy. Those who because of illness are unable to fast, observe the vow by doing Farahar, will also achieve the above. And oh my Lord, in all three worlds, all four Ugas, all twelve months of the years may my vows will be spread. Oh Lord in all 24 forms (in a year there are 24 Ekadashi) only you will remain my Swami and make me happy. This is my wish."
Hearing this prayer, pleased the Lord and He replied, "Devi, I shall grant you this very precious wish. From this day forward (from Magsar [month] shudh ekadashi) he who with my worship obeys your vow, shall also have their wishes fulfilled. If the observer of the vow is seeking salvation, then he shall achieve this. If he is seeking pleasures on this world and above this world, then these he will also achieve. You will be known in this world as Mukhtida and Bhukhtida. And I will attain 24 forms and will be your husband in these 24 forms."
Having acquired this boon, the Devi remerged into the Lord. Thereafter the Lord made all the other Devs and Munis of Bhadrikashram observe Ekadashi's vow. In this way, the Lord gave the blessing to Ekadashi and spread the vow in all the three worlds, and went back to his Dham. From that day onwards the Ekadashi vow has been observed.
Those that wish Attyantikh Moksha, ultimate salvation should observe the vow of ekadashi very carefully. The vow of ekadashi is a necessity, it is greater than any other vow because it is the vow of Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa Himself. By doing the vow of ekadashi one attains the Lord's immense pleasure.
Those who do not fast on ekadashi will fall into rowrav, the hellpit spread with darkness. The sins of brahmtya (killing brahims) and all similar higher level sins survive on the support of those eating grain on ekadashi. Therefore those that eat grain on ekadashi are also committing these sins. The respected munis (sages) have given the penance for killing brahimns in the scriptures, however the penance for those that eat grain on ekadashi has not been given in any scripture. Those that drink alcohol in this life effect only themselves and go to narak (hell), however those that eat grains on ekadashi take their forefathers and ancestors to narak with them.
There are no differences between the sud ekadashi and the vad ekadashi. Therefore both ekadashis are worthy of the vows. It is compulsory that all, bar the very young and old, observe the vows of ekadashi. This vow is the same for all ashrami (types: tyagi (sants), ghrust (householders)). Therefore all tyagi, ghrui, women, men, unwidowed, widowed women must observe the vows of ekadashi. The widows and women who eat grain on ekadashi, all their good deeds are destroyed, and they gain the sins of brahmtya (killing brahims).
Those that observe the vow of ekadashi and overcome their senses by worshipping to Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa through katha and kirtans, are cleansed of their impurities. Through the power of the vows of ekadashi, the sins of 100 lives are destroyed. Until the vows of ekadashi are undertaken the sins committed remain in the body, however once the vow has been undertaken the sins are destroyed. The vow of ekadashi is equivalent to the purna (good deeds) of feeding the 100 000 tapasvis everyday for 60 000 years. Even by doing the higher level yagnas, not even a fraction of the purnas of the vow of ekadashi are obtained. All the sins committed by the 11 senses are destroyed by fasting on ekadashi.
Whether one wishes for or not, by observing the vows of ekadashi in this world, one's intense wishes of family, health and wealth are attained. In the next world one attains, atantik mohksh - unparalleled happiness of god's murti in akshardham. The vow of ekadashi is greater than bathing in the Ganges or visiting the great pilgrimage sites, because the vows means that the individual is released from sansar chakkar (cycle of life and death), and attains the Lord's akshardham. The vows of ekadashi are capable of fulfilling the desires given by the kalpavrush (wishing tree) and chintarmari (wishing diamond).
Such is the capacity and splendour of the vow of Ekadashi.