Once Narada Muni went to Kailasam for the divine darshanam of Lord Shiva and Parvathy. They were very pleased to see Bhaktha Narada and blessed him with any boon he desired. Then Narada Muni said:
“Lord, I do not want anything. But I would be delighted if you could tell me the story behind “Ekadashi vratha anushtaanam” or observing Ekadashi vratham.
Lord Shiva told Narada Muni that he would be very happy to tell the story because it would benefit not only Narada, but all the devotees of all time. Lord Shiva said that in the past, Dharma Raja (Yama) asked Bhagavaan Shree Krishna about the same story and He would narrate to Narada Muni the same story Bhagavaan told Yama. He added:
“Narada Muni, please listen carefully, I am exactly repeating the story Bhagavaan told Yama. It is very auspicious because it came straight from Bhagavaan. You travel through all 14 worlds so frequently and please share this story with all devotees of Bhagavaan.”
Lord Shiva started the narration:
In Kritha yuga, there lived an asura or demon called Mura. He terrorized all good people and devotees on the earth as well as he scared all the Devaas also. So Devaas left heaven and took refuge in Vaikundham, Maha Vishnu’s swadhaamam or permanent abode. They prayed Bhagavaan to protect them. Bhagavaan’s kaarunyam towards His devotees is limitless. So he took off immediately on His fastest vehicle “Garuda”. He fought continuously for 1000 years with Muraasura of unbelievable strength and still he was fighting with full energy and power. So Bhagavaan decided to change His strategy.
Bhagavaan acted as if He was exhausted by the battle and hid in a cave called Simhavathy in Himalyas near Badari. He decided to take a nap in this huge cave. Muraasura saw Him going inside the cave and followed Him. He took his sword to kill Bhagavaan who was sleeping and was about to swing the sword. Suddenly an extremely beautiful Devi equipped with all kinds of divine weapons, emerged from Bhagavaan’s body. She started fighting with Muraasura. When Muraasura was about to use the powerful Brahmaasthram, this Devi made a loud and sharp noise and Muraasura was turned into fine ashes by the power of Devi’s “Humkaara Shabdam”. ( This time Bhagavaan who is Sarvapraharanaayudha: used the weapon “shabdam” or sound through Devi to kill Muraasura!!)
Hearing this noise, Mahavishnu woke up and saw that Devi had killed Muraasura. Bhagavaan called that Devi, who emerged from Himself, by the name Ekadashi. That was the eleventh day of the waxing moon. Also Bhagavaan said that devotees who observe that Ekadshi day with fasting and prayers would have His choicest blessings! This comes in the “shuklapaksham” (waxing moon) of the Malyalam month of Dhanu. This ekadashi is also called Uthpatthi Ekadashi meaning, the beginning of Ekadshi vratham.
This story is based on Padama Puranam and the importance of Ekadashi is expressed in the following words:
“Vrathaanaamapi sarveshaam mukyam ekadashi vratham” – Of all the vrathaas Ekadashi is the most important or auspicious vratham to follow.