[Advaita-l] Ekadashi Questions (Long)

Anand Hudli anandhudli at hotmail.com
Mon Mar 8 22:51:56 CST 2010

The nirNayasindhu (निर्णयसिन्धु) mentions eighteen types of ekAdashIs. One way to 
understand why there are eighteen types is to first recognize that there are two 
broad categories of ekAdashIs - shuddhA and viddhA. A shuddhA ekAdashI is one 
which does not have vedha or mixing with dashamI (the tenth lunar day).  
A viddhA ekAdashI is one which is mixed with dashamI. A shuddhA ekAdashI
could again a) end before the next sunrise, in which case it is called nyUnA, b) end at 
the next sunrise, in which case it is called samA, or c) extend beyond the next sunrise,
in which case it is called adhikA. A dvAdashI could also be nyUnA, samA, or adhikA. 
Counting the number of combinations of the ekAdashI-dvAdashI pair, given each can
be of three kinds, gives us nine combinations. So there are nine varieties of shuddhA 
ekAdashI. Carrying out the same calculation for the viddhA case, we come up with 
nine varieties of viddhA ekAdashI. Therefore, there are eighteen kinds of ekAdashIs 
in all - nine shuddhA ekAdashIs and nine viddhA ekAdashIs. 
These eighteen ekAdashIs are listed  below. As an example, the shuddhanyUnA - 
nyUnadvAdashikA means that the ekAdashI, although unmixed with the dashamI, 
ends before sunrise on the next day *and* the dvAdashI, which prevails during the 
next day, ends before sunrise on the third day.
१. शुद्धन्यूनान्यूनद्वादशिका २. शुद्धन्यूनासमद्वादशिका ३. शुद्धन्यूनाऽधिकद्वादशिका 
४. शुद्धसमान्यूनद्वादशिका ५. शुद्धसमासमद्वादशिका ६. शुद्धसमाऽधिकद्वादशिका 
७. शुद्धाधिकान्यूनद्वादशिका ८.शुद्धाधिकासमद्वादशिका ९. शुद्धाधिकाऽधिकद्वादशिका 
१०. विद्धन्यूनान्यूनद्वादशिका ११. विद्धन्यूनासमद्वादशिका १२. विद्धन्यूनाऽधिकद्वादशिका 
१३. विद्धसमान्यूनद्वादशिका १४. विद्धसमासमद्वादशिका १५. विद्धसमाऽधिकद्वादशिका 
१६. विद्धाधिकान्यूनद्वादशिका १७. विद्धाधिकासमद्वादशिका १८. विद्धाधिकाऽधिकद्वादशिका 

The foregoing determination of ekAdashIs depends on the crucial definition of the 
term "vedha". This is defined in two ways - one for vaiShNavas and one for smArtas.
The VaiShNavas hold that there is dashamI-vedha for the ekAdashI, if the dashamI 
prevails at any time up to 4 ghaTikAs before sunrise on the day when ekAdashI occurs. 
The smArtas on the other hand consider dashamI vedha to be the prevalence of 
the dashamI tithi at sunrise on the day ekAdashI occurs. The VaiShNava definition 
is called aruNodaya-vedha and the smArta sUryodaya-vedha. It is clear that, based
on the definition of vedha, there are eighteen varieties of ekAdashIs for VaiShNavas, 
and eighteen varieties of ekAdashIs for smArtas. 
Coming to the original question regarding Feb. 24 (2010), as per the sUryasiddhAnta 
panchAnga, we have the following tithi ending times:
Feb 24 - dashamI ends at 9:45 AM, Feb 25 - ekAdashI ends at 7:46 AM, *and*
the dvAdashI ends at 5:32 AM on Feb 26. But note that sunrise on Feb 26, in Bangalore,
does not happen until 6:37 AM. Therefore, the dvAdashI becomes a kShaya tithi, ie. 
a tithi that does not prevail at sunrise on any day. Feb 26 has a trayodashI which ends
at 3:11 AM on Feb 27. We now seek the date of the smArta ekAdashI. 
Regarding this the nirNayasindhu quotes a vyAsavachana:
दशमीमिश्रिता पूर्वा द्वादशी यदि लुप्यते ।
शुद्धैव द्वादशी राजन्नुपोष्य मोक्षकांक्षिभिः ॥ मोक्षकांक्षिग्रहणादन्येषां पूर्वैव ...

When ekAdashI is mixed with dashamI and if dvAdashI is a kShaya tithi, ( ie. does not 
prevail at sunrise on any day), then those who desire mokSha should fast on the 
dvAdashI day. Since the phrase "those who desire mokSha" occurs, (it follows that)
for others, (the fast is on) the previous day (ie. ekAdashI)  alone. 
From this, it follows that fasting for smArta grihasthas is on Feb 24, not Feb 25, 
even though Feb 24 happens to be a viddhA ekAdashI, as per the smArta definition.
SannyAsins (and VaiShNavas) should fast on Feb 25. Please see below for more 

explanation based on the dharmasindhu.

There is also a Rishyashringa vachana, quoted by the nirNayasindhu:
पारणाहे न लभ्येत द्वादशी कलयापि चेत् ।
तदानीं दशमीविद्धाप्युपोष्यैकादशी तिथिः ॥

On the day of pAraNA (breaking the ekAdashI fast on the next day), if the dvAdashI
does not prevail for even a kalA (1/30th of a ghaTikA) (after sunrise), then one should
fast on the viddhA ekAdashI tithi.  

Also, another quote from the padma-purANa that occurs in HemAdri's work (chaturvarga 
chintAmaNi) makes it clear that a viddhA ekAdashI is not treated as viddhA if the 
dvAdashI tithi is a Kshaya tithi. 
विद्धाप्यविद्धा विज्ञेया परतो द्वादशी न चेत् ।
अविद्धापि च विद्धा स्यात् परतो द्वादशी यदि ॥
Even a viddhA ekAdashI is not considered viddhA if the dvAdashI does not prevail on 
the second day. Even an ekAdashI that is not viddhA is considered viddhA if the 
dvAdashI prevails on the second day, ie. is adhikA. 
And there is a verse from the skanda purANa, quoted by the nirNayasindhu.
त्रयोदश्यां न लभ्येत द्वादशी यदि किंचन।
उपोष्यैकादशी तत्र दशमीमिश्रितापि च । 
If the dvAdashI does not prevail at all on the trayodashI, then one should fast on 
the ekAdashI even if it is mixed with the dashamI. 
The dharma sindhu (धर्मसिन्धु) makes it clear by means of two examples:
दशमी ५८/० एकादशी ६०/१ द्वादश्याः क्षयः ५८/० इयं शुद्धा एकादशीमात्राधिक्यवती ॥ १ ॥
दशमी ४/० एकादशी २/० द्वादश्याः क्षयः ५८/० एवं विद्धा एकादशीमात्राधिक्यवती ॥ २ ॥
अत्रोभयत्रापि स्मार्तानां गृहिणां पूर्वोपोष्या ॥ यतिभिर्निष्कामिगृहिभिर्वनस्थैर्विधवाभिर्वैष्णवैश्च परैवोपोष्या ॥

In the first example, which is a shuddhA ekAdashI which is also adhikA but the dvAdashI
is a kShaya tithi, the dashamI ends at 58 ghaTikAs (two ghaTikAs before sunrise and 
hence the ekAdashI is shuddhA as per the smArta definition) on day 1, the ekAdashI 
ends at 60/1 ghaTikAs on day 2, and the dvAdashI ends at 58 ghaTikAs on day 2 .
 In the second example, which  is a viddhA ekAdashI but the dvAdashI is again a 
Kshaya tithi, the dashamI ends at 4 ghaTikAs after sunrise on the day 1, ekAdashI 
ends at 2 ghaTikAs after sunrise on day 2, and the dvAdashI ends at 58 ghaTikAs on
 day 2. In both cases, smArta householders should fast on the day 1, while 
sannyAsins, householders who do not have any desire, ie. those who have given up

desires, those in vAnaprastha, widows, and VaiShNavas should all fast on day 2. 
Regarding the Feb 24 case, it falls into the viddhAdhikA-nyUnadvAdashikA category as
mentioned in the dharma sindhu above. General smArta householders should fast on 

Feb 24 and others, including VaiShNavas, on Feb 25. Please see below for more 

explanation based on the kAlamAdhava. 

The kAla-mAdhava (कालमाधव)  of mAdhavAchArya is another classical book on

 dharmashAstra, specifically on determination of the time (kAla) regarding the 

anuShThAna of dharma. As mAdhavAchArya makes it clear in the beginning of the work:
व्याख्याय माधवाचार्यो धर्मान् पाराशारानथ ।
तदनुष्ठानकालस्य निर्णयं कर्तुमुद्यतः ॥ 
(उपोद्घातः, ४)

Having described the dharma as dealt with in the parasharasmR^iti, mAdhavAchArya
(now) proceeds with the determination of the (proper) time relating to practice of 
The kAlamAdhava contains a topic devoted to ekAdashI for those who live practising 
shrauta and smArta karmas and who have not been initiated into VaiShnavism as per the
pAncharAtra or vaikhAnasa Agamas. 
अथ श्रौत-स्मार्त-पर्यवसितानां पञ्चरात्रादि-दीक्षारहितानमेकादशी निर्णीयते ।   
He mentions the significance of aruNodaya vedha for VaishNavas and sUryodaya vedha for
अरुणोदयवेधस्य वैष्णवविषयत्वे व्यवस्थिते सत्युदयवेधः स्मार्तानुष्ठायिविषयत्वेन परिशिष्यते ।
अत एव स्मर्यते - 
अतिवेधा महावेधा ये वेधास्तिथिषु स्मृताः ।
सर्वेऽप्यवेधा विज्ञेया वेधः सूर्योदये मतः ॥
Vedha at aruNodaya (ie. dashamI tithi prevailing during aruNodaya - the period of 4 
ghaTikAs before sunrise) has been established for VaiShnavas. What remains is the 
sUryodayavedha for smArta practitioners. Therefore, the smriti says:
(For smArtas), the vedhas mentioned based on aruNodaya, such as ativedha, 
mahAvedha, etc.,  (are for VaiShNavas) and are not to be considered as vedhas 
(for smArtas). Vedha (for smArtas) is at sunrise.  
एवं च सूर्योदयवेधमपेक्ष्यैकादशी द्विधा भिद्यते । शुद्धा विद्धा चेति । तत्र शुद्धायां पूर्ववच्चत्वारो भेदा भवन्ति 
एकादश्याधिक्यं द्वादशाधिक्यम् उभयाधिक्यम् अनुभयाधिक्यञ्चेति । एवं विद्धायामपि चत्वारो भेदा 
उन्नेयाः ।

Still, based on the vedha at sunrise, ekAdashI is of two types - shuddhA and viddhA. 
Again, there are four types of shuddhA ekAdashI, namely 1. ekAdashI alone is adhikA or
prevails after sunrise on the next day, 2. dvAdashI alone is adhikA or prevails after 
sunrise on the next day, 3. both ekAdashI and dvAdashI are adhikA, and 4. neither is
adhikA. In similar fashion, four types of viddhA ekAdashI are to be inferred. 
तत्राप्येकादश्याधिक्ये पूर्ववत् गृहियत्योर्व्यवस्था द्रष्टव्या । तत्राह प्रचेताः -
एकादशी विवृद्धा चेच्छुक्ले कृष्णे विशेषतः ।
उत्तरां तु यतिः कुर्यात् पूर्वामुपवसेद् गृही ॥

In the case where ekAdashI alone is adhikA (and dvAdashI is not), as before (in the 
case of shuddhA ekAdashI), the difference between grihasthas and sannyAsins is to be 
seen. Prachetas says "Specifically, if the ekAdashI is adhikA during the shukla or 
krishna paksha, the grihastha should fast on the previous day (first day) and the 
sannyAsin on the second day." 
दशमीविद्धाऽभ्यनुज्ञापकानि कानिचिद् वचनान्युपलभ्यन्ते । तद्यथा स्कन्दपुराणे :
त्रयोदश्यां न लभ्येत द्वादशी यदि किंचन।
उपोष्यैकादशी तत्र दशमीमिश्रितापि च । 
बृहद्वसिष्ठः - 
द्वादशी स्वल्पमल्पाऽपि यदि न स्यात्परेऽहनि ।
दशमीमिश्रिता कार्या महापातकनाशिनी ॥ इति 
स्मृत्यन्तरेऽपि - 
उपोष्यैकादशी तत्र द्वादशी न भवेद्यदि ।
दशम्या हि विमिश्रैव एकादश्येव धर्मकृत् ॥
हारीतोऽपि - 
त्रयोदश्यां यदा नष्टा द्वादशी घटिकाद्वयम् ।
दशम्यैकादशी विद्धा सैवोपोष्या सदा तिथिः ॥
एतादृशानि वाक्यानि सर्वाण्यनुभयाधिक्ये सर्वपुरुषविषयाणि, एकादश्याधिक्ये तु 
स्मार्तगृहस्थमात्रविषयाणि द्रष्टव्यानि न त्वेतानि वैष्णवविषयाणि। वैष्णवप्रकरणेषु विद्धा 
अभ्यनुज्ञाया अदर्शनात् ॥
There are some statements (from authoritative works) regarding acceptance of the 
dashami-mixed ekAdashI. As the skanda purANa says: 
If the dvAdashI does not prevail at all on the trayodashI, then one should fast on
the ekAdashI even if it is mixed with the dashamI. 
Another smriti says:
If, after the ekAdashI, the dvAdashI does not prevail (at sunrise), then the ekAdashI, 
even though it may be mixed with dashamI, should be observed as a fasting day. 
The bR^ihadvasiShTha says:
If, on the second day, the dvAdashI does not even prevail for a little while, one should
observe the (ekAdashI) that destroys grave sins on the day when it is mixed with 
dashamI. HArIta also says:
If, on the trayodashI, the dvAdashI does not prevail even for 2 ghaTikAs, the dashamI
mixed ekAdashI should be the fasting day always.  
Such statements regarding the case when  neither ekAdashI nor  dvAdashI is adhikA 
apply to all people. When ekAdashI is adhikA, the statements apply to smArta 
householders only, not to VaiShNavas. This is because the viddhA ekAdashI is not 
seen to be accepted in VaiShNava works.  Again, considering the Feb 24 example, 

smArtas should fast on the viddhA ekAdashI while VaiShNavas, due to their not 

accepting viddhA ekAdashI under any circumstances, should fast on Feb 25. 

The correct determination of ekAdashI is indeed complex. As discussed in the previous

post, the complexity further increases due to the prevalence of different methods of 

panchAnga calculation. These methods are primarily used for calculating the position

of the moon and sun, and the planets as well. Calculating the ending times of tithis 

requires an accurate calculation of the positions of the sun and moon. The traditional

panchAnga method, based on the sUrya siddhAnta, is still followed by many maThas

and temples. However, other maThas have adopted more modern methods, such as the

AryabhaTIya or the one based on driggaNita which is closer to the western method in 

terms of accuracy. The difference in ending times of tithis that one derives from the 

sUrya siddhAnta and modern methods could be as much as a few hours. Such a 

difference could result in different ekAdashI dates or dates for other festivals, at

the same place. The traditionalists argue that the sUrya siddhAnta has been followed

since ancient times and cannot be wrong, although they do admit that for purposes 

other than dhArmic, for example astrological calculations such as horoscope casting,

modern methods such as the driggaNita may be used. Those who follow more modern

methods argue that we should be following the method that  agrees with pratyakSha

(perception) or actual measurements of the positions of the sun, moon, and the planets.

And this method should be followed in matters relating to dharma also. There is,

therefore, no consensus among panchAnga makers on the method to be followed in 

matters relating to dharma. 


It needs to be clarified that following different methods of panchAnga calculation will

not always result in different dates for ekAdashI, and other festivals. However, there 

are many occasions when different dates are arrived at in the panchAngas and when

this happens, it creates vyAmoha or confusion in the minds of people. What is needed

is discussion among the various maThas and panchAnga makers, under the leadership 

of the maThAdhipatis, to arrive at a consensus, to remove this vyAmoha.



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