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Solitude in Hinduism – Ekanta – Ekantin

Ekanta means solitude in Hinduism. A person is called ekantin if he has one-pointed devotion and is of great importance in spiritual life. Ekantin is a spiritual aspirant for whom God is the means as well as the end.

The aim of solitude by a Hindu devotee is to be one with god – personal deity – for contemplation.

An ekantin does not desire any identity mark which would only increase his ego; he simply would like himself to be referred to as servant of God.

For an ekantin God is the ultimate goal but the devotee has karma yoga, jnana, yoga etc as the means. All these means are in a sense temporary ends(avantara phala) till the attainment of the final goal.

Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga etc are called sadhana or sadhya upayas.

Parama Ekantin

A parama ekantin is the one who has only God as the Sadhana (means) to attain Him. He has no other means. God being the only means and the end as well and this form of approach is called Siddhopaya.

In the profound love and devotion towards God, the parama ekantin has only God as his ultimate goal and also the means to that goal.

Ekantin In Vishnu Devotion

The word ekantin is used in the Visishtadvaita texts to mean a person, who has Vishnu alone as the goal and not any other deity. Here the meaning of the word ‘antah’ is Vishnu, instead of the natural meaning ‘end’.

In this sense, Ekantins are those who aspire to other benefits from Lord Vishnu along with liberation, but parama ekantins expect only moksha or salvation and nothing else.

In Vishnu Purana (1.6.39) we come across the description of an ekantin as the one who aides in the Vaikunta and as one who always contemplates Supreme Brahman.

In Padma Samhita (4.2.88) it is said that those who follow the Pancharatra tradition are referred to as ekantin or by other terms such as Suri, Shurt, Bhagavata, Satvata, Panchakalavid and Tanmaya.

Source  - Encyclopedia of Hinduism Volume IV page 22 - IHRF
Hindus : Their Religious Beliefs And Practice (1998) Julius Lipner - Routledge London