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Çré Ekädaçé

(Extracts from the Ekädaçé Mähätmya)

Ekadasi first appeared from the body of Lord Vishnu during the wanning moon in the month of November/December in order to kill the demon Mura.

Sri Ekadasi, which falls on the eleventh day of each waxing and waning moon is very dear to Lord Hari.

Observing the vow of Ekadasi is among the first ten principles of the sixtyfour items of devotional service described by Srila Rupa Gosvami. One should observe Ekadasi only to please the Supreme Lord. The meaning of the word upavasa (fasting) is to live nearby. On the day of Ekadasi one should remain aloof from all kinds of sinful activities, give up all kinds of household activities and sense gratification and live near the lord.

Quote by Srila Prabhupada from Çré Caitanya Caritämåta adi lila 15.09 purport:
"From the very beginning of His childhood life Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu introduced the system of observing a fast on the Ekädaçé day. In the Bhakti-sandarbha, by Çréla Jéva Gosvämé, there is a quotation from the Skanda Puräëa admonishing that a person who eats grains on Ekädaçé becomes a murderer of his mother, father, brother and spiritual master, and even if he is elevated to a Vaikuëöha planet, he falls down. On Ekädaçé, everything is cooked for Viñëu, including regular grains and dhal, but it is enjoined that a Vaiñëava should not even take viñëu-prasädam on Ekädaçé. It is said that a Vaiñëava does not accept anything eatable that is not offered to Lord Viñëu, but on Ekädaçé a Vaiñëava should not touch even mahä-prasädam offered to Viñëu, although such prasädam may be kept for being eaten the next day. It is strictly forbidden for one to accept any kind of grain on Ekädaçé, even if it is offered to Lord Viñëu".

Since the living entities of Kali yuga are short lived and lusty, they are unable to perform severe austerity. The living entities of Kali yuga subsist on food grains and cannot survive without eating these grains. People of Satya, Treta and Dvapara yugas were capable of undergoing severe austerity and tolerate physical distresses. This is why a minimum austerity in the form of fasting twice a month on the days of Ekadasi has been prescribed for the people of Kali yuga. If they are able they should eat only once the day before Ekadasi, fast totally on the day of Ekadasi and eat only once the day after Ekadasi. If one is unable to follow even this, in other words if one is unable to eat only once on the day before and after Ekadasi, than he must observe complete fast on the day of Ekadasi. If one is still unable to follow this then he should give up eating five types of grains and observe the vow of Ekadasi simply by partaking some fruits and roots. The five types of grains are:

  1. rice or other products made from rice such as flat rice, puffed rice etc.;
  2. wheat flour and white flour etc.;
  3. barley etc.;
  4. pulses such as moong, chickpea, green peas, lentil, etc.;
  5. mustard oil and sesame oil.

(Comment: The way Srila Prabhupada asked us to follow Ekadasi was to fast from grains and beans. Full fasting was never encouraged by His Divine Grace. Rather than emphasize various dry austerities, he put greater emphasis on service (which is sometimes hampered by fasting, and perhaps further hampered for many days by staying up all night). Therefore Srila Prabhupada only insisted on 4 full fast days a year for certain Appearance Days and eating very simply on Ekadasis. Full fasting (and optionally for every Ekadasi) is an optional vrata and good if it inspires a deeper feeling of love for Krsna.)

Quote by Srila Prabhupada from Çrémad Bhägavatam 3.27.22 purport:

"Devotional service in Kåñëa consciousness cannot be performed blindly due to material emotion or mental concoction. It is specifically mentioned here that one has to perform devotional service in full knowledge by visualizing the Absolute Truth. We can understand about the Absolute Truth by evolving transcendental knowledge, and the result of such transcendental knowledge will be manifested by renunciation. That renunciation is not temporary or artificial, but is very strong. It is said that development of Kåñëa consciousness is exhibited by proportionate material detachment, or vairägya. If one does not separate himself from material enjoyment, it is to be understood that he is not advancing in Kåñëa consciousness. Renunciation in Kåñëa consciousness is so strong that it cannot be deviated by any attractive illusion. One has to perform devotional service in full tapasya, austerity. One should fast on the two Ekädaçé days, which fall on the eleventh day of the waxing and waning moon, and on the birthdays of Lord Kåñëa, Lord Räma and Caitanya Mahäprabhu. There are many such fasting days. Yogena means "by controlling the senses and mind." Yoga indriya-saàyamaù. Yogena implies that one is seriously absorbed in the self and is able, by development of knowledge, to understand his constitutional position in relationship with the Superself. In this way one becomes fixed in devotional service, and his faith cannot be shaken by any material allurement."

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Once in the great assembly of the sages Sri Suta Gosvami declared the twenty six Ekadasis. In that assembly the glories of all the Ekadasi’s were properly sung. There are two Ekadasis in each month, so there are twenty four Ekadasis in a year. There are also two more Ekadasis which occur in an extra month that comes after every two and half years. Those who are unable to observe Ekadasi can get the result of observing Ekadasi by hearing and singing their glories.

The names of the twenty four Ekadasi’s are as follows:

The names of the two extra 'leap-year' Ekadasi’s are:

It has been repeatedly declared in the Puranas that one should not eat on the day of Ekadasi. It is stated in Vishnu Smriti that all the sinful reaction such as killing a brahamin take shelter in the food grain, therefore if one eats grain on the day of Ekadasi he certainly eats sin. There is no arrangement of attonment for the deliverence of a person who eats grain on Ekadasi, in other words according to the gravity of a sinful activity various arrangement for attonment are prescribed by the twenty dharma sastras, but eating grain on Ekadasi is so grave sin that there is no atonment prescribed for this.

The day before the Ekadasi, on the Dashami, (the tenth phase of the Moon), the following should be observed:

  • one should sleep on the floor;
  • eat only once;
  • drink water only once;
  • remain neat and clean;
  • control the senses;
  • not participate in any sexual activity;
  • avoid eating:
    • on bell-metal plates;
    • any kind of urad-dahl;
    • red-lentils;
    • chick-peas;
    • kondo (a grain that is primarily eaten by poor people and that resembles poppy seeds or agarpanthas seeds);
    • preboiled rice;
    • spinach;
    • honey;
    • in another person's house/home.

On the day of Ekadasi the following should be observed:

  • one should rise early in the morning before Brahma muhurta and offer obeisances to Lord Hari;
  • take bath with well water is the lowest, to take bath in a pond is medium, to take bath in a large pool is the highest and to take bath in a river is the best of all. A pious person should take bath in this way and give up his anger and greed;
  • worship lord Keshava with devotion and offer Him palatable foodstuffs;
  • offer a lamp in the temple of the lord;
  • hear the glories of Ekadasi from the mouth of a brahmin and then give him sufficient dakshina;
  • hear and speak of the glories of lord Krsna;
  • remain awake on the night of Ekadasi while singing the transcendental glories of Krishna;
  • fast or not eat any of the five types of grains listed above;
  • do not particpate in:
    • gambling;
    • sports;
    • sleeping;
    • betal nuts and its leaf;
    • brushing one's teeth;
    • spreading rumours;
    • faultfinding;
    • talking to the spiritually fallen;
    • anger;
    • speaking lies;
    • cheating;
    • stealing;
    • any sexual activity;
  • avoid the association of low class, sinful and athistic people.

On the Dvadasi the day after Ekadasi (the twelfth phase of the Moon), the following should be observed:

  • worship Lord Hari with devotion by offering him Tulasi leaves;
  • give in charity to the brahmanas;
  • one should not eat:
    • more than once;
    • on bell-metal plates;
    • urad-dahl;
    • red-lentils;
    • honey;
    • in another's home;
    • contaminated food stuff.
  • one shuold not:
    • participate in any sexual activity;
    • shave the body, face or head;
    • smear oils on one's body;
    • lie;
    • partake of strenuous exercise or labour.

Note: The Vaisnava Calendar can be used to calculate the days of Ekadasi, Dvadasi (day following Ekadasi) and all other Vaisnava festivals for your area.


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