Category Archives: Ekadashi

Rituals vs Spiritual

Q.  Stories abound on the origin of the Ekadasi day. Even more stories are told on the benefits and warnings given for breaking this fast. My question is why we break fast on the Dwadasi at a particular time and what might be the ‘result’ of breaking ones fast after the allotted time has passed, say if you are traveling or something like that or have just simply forgotten to break fast at the appropriate time.

A. In the stage of regulative sadhana bhakti, several do’s and do not’s are prescribed. One such set of rules applies to the Ekadasi Vrata and it is said that to get the full benefit of observing the fast, the fast has to broken within the prescribed time; if not, the benefit of fasting would be minimized.

While it is certainly important for us to follow these rules as meticulously as possible, we have to keep in mind that the rules are not the be-all and end-all. The higher prerogative is the mood of devotion in pleasing the Supreme Lord. We endeavor to follow the rules meticulously to please the Lord. All rules are servants of this one rule.

Q. Is fasting on Ekasdashi one kind of Karma Kanda activity? Recently i have heard from one senior devotee narrating that by eating grains on Ekadashi, one will be getting sins. Hence, in order to avoid sins we are fasting and since it is not related to the Supreme Lord, Ekadashi can be one kind of karma kanda activity. Please clarify. Please give me quotes from the scriptures where it is mentioned that one has to fast from grains and beans on Ekadashi.

A.The reason why devotees fast on Ekadasi is because Lord Caitanya wanted it. Lord Caitanya is pleased when devotees follow Ekadasi fast.

In Caitanya-caritamrita, there is a section dealing with this topic. See Adi Adi-lila 15.8-11. Here Lord Caitanya instructs His mother Sacidevi to follow this fast.
If we do not follow this fast, we will get sins. That does not make this a karma-kanda ritual. By following karma-kanda rituals, one expects material rewards but devotees follow Ekadasi in order to obtain pure devotional service.

Ekadashi food

Q. Could you please let me know if we can eat bhindi/ okra/ ladysfinger on Ekdasi? Also, if you have time, could you please expilicitly list the items that are in the category of beans and grains?

A. Bhindi or lady’s finger, is one of the prohibited vegetables for Ekadasi. You cannot take it on this day.

Beans include: Papadams, tofu, tempeh

Grains include: Millet, barley, farina, pasta, rice, corn and all types of flour made from grains and beans (e.g., rice flour, chickpea flour, urad dahl flour)

For a more comprehensive list of prohibited items on Ekadasi, you may visit the following website: http://www.goloka.com/docs/calendar/ekadasi.html

What Srila Prabhupada said about Ekadasi: When asked by Pradyumna what we could eat, Srila Prabhupada said, “Fruits, Roots, Nuts and Milk. If you stick to these types of foods, you should be fine. Of course, the sure way is to fast completely. Of course, water can be taken except if you wish to do nirjala.”

Observing Ekadashi

Q. I am new to Krishna Consciousness & now I want to do Ekadashi Vrat. Is there any special day to start it & What we have to do for successful Ekadashi vrat. Please guide me.

A. It is very nice to know that you want to do Ekadashi Vrat. On the day of
Ekadashi, the mood is to strive to deepen our attitude of loving service to
Krishna by using more of our time to chant Hare Krishna, read spiritual
books like Bhagavad-gita and Shrimad Bhagavatam and discuss topics of
devotional service. Towards achieving this end, devotees also simplify their
diet by fasting from grains and beans. (Since Krishna’s devotees don’t eat
meat, fish or eggs. On Ekadashi, they eat only fruits, nuts, milk products,
non-bean vegetables and so on.) The basic principle is not just to fast,
but to increase one’s faith and love for Lord Krishna. The real reason for
observing fasting on Ekadashi is to minimize the demands of the body and to
engage our time in the service of the Lord by chanting or performing similar
service.
If you don’t get a chance to visit the Hare Krishna temple frequently,
Ekadashi is an excellent day to come to the temple, see the beautiful form
of Krishna, and to associate with His devotees. Or, you can easily observe
Ekadashi vrat to advance in Krishna consciousness even at home.

Glories of Ekadashi

Q. Why can we not eat grains on Ekadashi? Krishna never mentioned this in Bhagavad Gita.

A. Ekadashi is a special day, which appears twice a month once on the waxing moon and the next on the waning moon. And according to the Puranas, fasting from grains and beans is mandatory on this day. It is cleansing, both materially and spiritually. Fasting from grains and beans on Ekadashi has pragmatic explanations as well. According to Ayurveda, the ancient Vedic science of medicine, and according to complex astrological calculations, this is an auspicious time for such fasting.

Lord Krishna explains in Bhagavad-gita that someone offers a leaf, a flower, a fruit or water with love and devotion, He accepts them. All these items can be offered on Ekadashi days. He has not specifically mentioned about what food items can be consumed on Ekadashi day, since He did not have sufficient time to give all details at that time. When Lord Krishna came as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu five hundred years ago He asked His mother for one boon—out of the many things He could have asked her—and that was to follow the Ekadashi brata (“the vow of Ekadashi”).

Extra chanting of God’s names is recommended on this day. The mind should be off food—off the body, actually—and one should use this time for spiritual pursuits, especially. Fasting is good for the body, and, when properly directed, it is good for the soul. It is recommended in all of the world’s religions. And so the particular day, in one sense, is not as important as the principle although, in another sense, the days that are recommended are important as well. They have special meaning. One of our predecessor teachers, Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, has said that if one even accidentally follows Ekadashi, he makes great spiritual advancement.