Ekata was one of the sons of Sage Gautama. Dvita (Dwita) and Trita were his brothers. Trita was the greatest among the brothers. One day, Ekata and Dvita planned that along with Trita, they will collect the cattles from all their yajamānas (yajamana; those who get yajñas performed by the priest). When at night, Ekata and his two brothers were returning by the banks of the river Sarasvatī (Saraswati), leading the cattles, they saw a tiger at some distance, blocking their way. There was also a big well nearby. Seeing the tiger, Ekata and Dvita fled in fear. But Trita, retreating backwards in fear, fell into the well. He started yelling from that well. Even hearing his cries for help, Ekata and Dvita left the place, in fear of the tiger and out of their possessiveness for the cattles. Trita then started performing a yajña, imagining the water inside the well as ghee for yajña (yajna; Vedic ritual). Hearing his chant of Vedic mantra (hymn) gods came down from the heaven to claim their share of the yajña. Finally, they rescued Trita from the well. Returning home, Trita denounced the behaviour of his two brothers and cursed them — for the crime they committed by leaving him alone in danger, they will be transformed into tigers with sharp teeth. And their children will be born as bears and moneys.
In Śāntiparva (Santiparva), mentioning the name of Ekata, it is said that at the time of the Creation of the three worlds, he stayed in the west. He is one of the respected sages, whose name is to be taken at first, in early morning.
Ekata was also one of the sages who were present at the arrow-bed of Bhīṣma (Bhishma).
In Bhāgavatapurāṇa (Brahmandapurana) it is said that Sage Ekata was the son of God Brahmā (Brahma). He was also one of the sages who came to see Srī Kṛṣṇa (Sri Krishna) in Samantapañcaka (Samantapanchaka).