Smartha Vs Vaishnava Traditions; And their Ekadasis


If you have been observing Ekadasi fast, you might have, quite like a multitude of other Hindus, come across consecutive days on your Hindu calendar marked as “Ekadasi”: the first day will usually be “Smartha Ekadasi” and the next “Vaishnava (or Bhagavat) Ekadasi.

What is the significant difference, if any, between the two?

SmarthasWhat and who is a Samrtha
Before we could see what is the difference between the two, let’s start with what “Smartha” (which sometimes spelt “Smarta”) is.

It is a Sanskrit word, which denotes the “smartha sampradayat”, a liberal or nonsectarian tradition or denomination of the Vedic Hindu religion, which accepts all the major Hindu deities as forms of the one Brahman, in contrast to Vaishnavism, Shaivism, and Shaktism, the other three major Hindu sects, which revere Vishnu, Shiva, and Shakti, respectively, as the Supreme Being.

The adherents who follow the Vedas and Shastras are, in this regard, called Smarta. Smartas are, therefore, followers and propagators of Smriti or religious texts derived from Vedic scriptures. Smarta religion is practiced by people who believed in the authority of the Vedas as well as the basic premise of puranas.

Smartas believe that the worshiper is free to choose a particular aspect of God to worship, to the extent that the worship practices do not contradict the Vedas and the Smritis. So, in that sense, an orthodox smarta is unlikely to view gods of non-vedic religions favorably, even though he may hold the religion acceptable to its own traditional followers.

Sri Adi Shankaracharya

Sri Adi Shankara fathered the Smartha sampradayat. He reintroduced a purer form of Vedic thought. His teachings and tradition form the basis of Smartism and have influenced Sant Mat lineages. He is the main figure in the tradition of Advaita Vedanta. He was the founder of the Dasanami Sampradaya of Hindu monasticism and Sanmata of Smarta tradition. He introduced the Pancayatana form of worship.Adi Shankara is believed to have propagated the tradition of Shanmata (Sanskrit, meaning Six Opinions). In this six major deities are worshipped.

This is based on the belief in the essential sameness of all deities, the unity of God, and their conceptualization of the myriad deities of India as various manifestations of the one divine power, Brahman.

Smartas accept and worship the six manifestations of God, (Ganesha, Shiva, Shakti, Vishnu, Surya and Skanda) and the choice of the nature of God is up to the individual worshiper since different manifestations of God are held to be equivalent.

Some of the prominent Smarta Teachers:

  • Mata Sri Amirtanandamayi
  • Appaya Dikshitar
  • Swami Sivananda
  • Swami Haridoss Giri
  • Swami Gnanananda
  • Paramahansa Yogananda
  • Swami Rama
  • Govinda Bhagavatpada
  • Sri Ramakrishna Paramhahamsa
  • Swami Vivekananda
  • Brahmananda Saraswati the Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math, the Guru of Transcendental Meditation.
  • Jagadguru Swami Sri Bharati Krishna Tirthaji Maharaja. Vedic Mathematics.
  • Madhusudana Saraswati
  • Jagadguru Sri Sacchidananda Shivabhinava Nrusimha Bharati, Sringeri Sharada Peetam
  • Jagadguru Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati III, Sringeri Sharada Peetam
  • Jagadguru Sri Abhinava Vidyatirtha, Sringeri Sharada Peetam
  • Jagadguru Sri Bharati Tirtha, Sringeri Sharada Peetam
  • Chandrashekarendra Saraswati, Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham
  • Srimad Raghaveshwara Bharathi Swamiji of Ramachandrapura Mutt, Hosanagara
  • Swami Chinmayananda
  • Dayananda Saraswati (Chinmaya Mission)

Why Hare Krsnas Say that There is the Only True Way?

Hare Krsnas
By contrast, the Vaishnavite regards Sri Krishna (or Krsna) or Vishnu as the only true God, who is worthy of worship, and that all other forms as his subordinates. Accordingly, the Vaishnavite, for example, believe that only Krishna or Vishnu can grant the ultimate salvation for mankind, “moksha”.

The Saivites

In the same manner, many Saivites (the worshipers of Lord Shiva) too hold similar beliefs about Lord Shiva. Notably, many Saivites believe that Shakti is worshiped to reach Shiva, whom for Saktas is the impersonal Absolute.

In Saktism, emphasis is given to the feminine manifest through which the male un-manifested, Lord Shiva, is realized.

The Different Schools of Thoughts — Their Unity and Diversity
The Smartas, like many Saivites and Vaishnavites, consider Surya an aspect of God. Many Saivites and Vaishnavites, for example, differ from Smartas, in that they regard Surya as an aspect of Shiva and Vishnu, respectively.

For example, the sun is called Surya Narayana by Vaishnavites. In Saivite theology, the sun is said to be one of eight forms of Shiva, the Astamurti. In addition, Ganesh and Skanda, for many Shaivites, would be aspects of Shakti and Shiva, respectively.

Most Hindus Today Are Smarthas

These differences and the understanding of these differences are now generally diminishing between the Hindus, and the current practitioners of Hinduism are converging towards the Smarta philosophy, where Shaivites accept and pray to forms of Vishnu and vice-versa. That Vishnu, Shiva and Shakti are all forms of the same principal divinity is slowly gaining understanding and acceptance.

Smarta EkadasiNow, having discussed at length what a “Smartha” is, we are now ready to see the difference between “Smarta and Vaishnava Ekadasis”.

Smarta Ekadasi is based on the calculation that when the sunrises if it is the Ekadasi day then it is Smarta Ekadasi.

Ekadasi has two rules: Smartha and Vaishnava. The Smarta rule is simple – ekadasi should be visible at the time of local sunrise. The vaishnava follows ekadasi that is not contaminated by Dashami thithi. In other words, to the Vaishnavaites, ekadasi should be prevailing two hours before sunrise.

Bhagavata, or Vaishnava, Ekadashi observance is based on the rule that Dasami or the tenth day during a lunar fortnight should have ended before Arunodaya (96 minutes period before sunrise on the Ekadasi or the 11th day in a lunar fortnight). Vaishnava fasting day might be one day after of Smartha fasting day.
Other Notes on Ekadasi: Ekadashi fasting spans for three days. Devotees take single meal in the afternoon a day before fasting day to make sure there is no residual food in the stomach on next day. Devotees keep strict fast on Ekadashi day and break the fast on next day only after sunrise. Eating of all type of grains and cereals is prohibited during Ekadashi fasting.
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Significance of All Ekadasis


1)  UTPANNA EKADASI

According to the Bhavisya Uttara Purana, Utpanna Ekadasi appeared from the transcendental body of the Lord while He was taking rest. The Lord had a fight with a powerful demon named Mura, who wanted to kill the Lord. After a long fight, the Lord tired and left to take rest in a cave. Mura followed the Lord to the cave to kill the Lord while at rest. At that time a female personality appeared from the transcendental body of the Lord and killed the demon. When Lord found that the demon was killed by the female, He offered her a boon. To this the female asked, “Anyone who fasts on my appearance day should receive liberation from this material world.” She had appeared from the Lord’s body on the eleventh day of the month, that is why her name became “Ekadasi.” The complete detail of this Ekadasi can be read in the book named “Ekadasi, The Day of Lord Hari,” written by the His Holiness Krsna Balaram Swami.

1a) IMPORTANT QUOTES

Another name of Ekadasi is Harivasara, meaning “The day of Lord Hari.” Actually fasting on the Ekadasi day means fasting from all categories of eatables and drinks. But in this jet age, people eat foods that are grown with chemicals. That is why sages have subsidized the fasting on Ekadasi with moderate acceptance of non-grain eatables on the Ekadasi day. As it is confirmed by Srila Vyasadeva in the Mahabharata Udyama Parva thus:

astaitani avrataghnani hy apo mulam payo dadhi
havir brahmana kamya ca guror vacanam ausadham

“The eight following exceptions do not break one’s fast: drinking water, eating potatoes, sweet potatoes, drinking milk, eating yogurt, eating butter, eating things by the request of a traditionally authentic Brahmana following the orders of a Vedicly authorized Guru, and consuming the prescribed medicines.”

According to the Padma Purana, sin personified (Papa-purusha) was told by the Lord to live in food grains on the Ekadasi day. Sin personified retracts himself from all other places and enters into grains on the Ekadasi day. When a person eats grains on the Ekadasi day, he solemnly consumes sins. There are twenty four (two extra for leap year) Ekadasis in a year and each has a specific name. Anyone who performs Ekadasi following the instructions of a scripturally authorized Guru enters into the spiritual kingdom of the Lord.

2) MOKSADA EKADASI

The history of Moksada Ekadasi is quoted from the Brahmanda Purana. Lord Krsna narrated the history about the discussion between King Vaikhanasa and Parvata Muni, that took place in the age of Satyayuga. King Vaikhanasa’s father had fallen to hell for having sex with his wife while she was passing through her menstrual period. As a remedy, Parvata Muni advised the king to perform the Moksada Ekadasi fast, so his father could be delivered from hell. The complete details of this Ekadasi can be read in the book named “Ekadasi, The Day of Lord Hari,” written His Holiness Krsna Balaram Swami.

2a) IMPORTANT QUOTES

Human beings have been given the responsibility of pleasing the Supreme Lord. When the Lord becomes pleased, He in turn rewards liberation to the soul. The formulas to please the Lord are stated in the Vedic scriptures. One of the remedies to please the Lord is performing the Ekadasi fast. According to the Padma Purana, the Lord says, “Ekadasi day is very dear to Me. In all circumstance eating normal food on Ekadasi is forbidden for all human beings.” The Agni Purana states, “Ekadasi day is very dear to the Supreme Lord Sri Hari, that is why eating food on this day is forbidden for all human beings, in order to receive the Lord’s blessings.” The Brhan Naradiya Purana states, “It does not matter what category of special birth one has, either born as a Brahmana, Ksyatriya, Vaisya, Sudra, Mleccha or Yavana, male or female, everyone must perform the Ekadasi fast.”

3) SAPHALA EKADASI

The history of Saphala Ekadasi is found in the Bhavisya-uttara Purana. Lord Krsna tells Yudhisthira the history of Prince Lumpaka who fell into material consciousness and preformed sinful deeds, but was elevated to the stage of pure consciousness by the observance of Saphala Ekadasi. The complete details of this Ekadasi can be read in the our book entitled, “Ekadasi, The Day of Lord Hari,” written by His Holiness Krsna Balaram Swamiji.

3a) IMPORTANT QUOTES

One may ask, up till what age one must follow the Ekadasi fast? The answer to this is found in the Agni Purana where it states, “As long as one is alive one must fast on Ekadasi.” One may then ask, “Why is eating normal food forbidden on Ekadasi?” The answer is found in the Naradiya Purana where it states, “All categories of sins live in food grains on the Ekadasi day, anyone who eats them becomes filled with sins.”

4) PUTRADA EKADASI

The history of Putrada Ekadasi is found in the Bhavisya Purana. Lord Krsna narrates the history where King Suketuman asks Visvedevas how to remedy his problems. Visvedevas replied that if he observed Putrada Ekadasi, his problems will be solved. The complete detail of this Ekadasi can be read in our book named “Ekadasi, The Day of Lord Hari,” written His Holiness Krsna Balaram Swami.

4a) IMPORTANT QUOTES

All material and spiritual problems can be solved if one seriously observes the Ekadasi fast. As long as one is filled with sin, no solutions to one’s real problems can be reached. Therefore one must first try to become free from sins.

The Padma Purana states, “Once Papapurusha (sin personified) reached the Lord and asked Him for a place where he could live.” To this the Lord replied, “O Sin Personified, You can live in food grains on the Ekadasi day, anyone who eats grains on Ekadasi will eat sin only.” One may ask, what about eating Mahaprasad (eatables offered to the Deity of the Lord) on the Ekadasi day? The answer to this question is found in the Narada Pancharatra where it states, “If Mahaprasad includes grains, it should be kept for the next day.”

5) SAT-TILA EKADASI

The history of Sat-tila Ekadasi is mentioned in the Bhavisya-uttara Purana where Pulastya Muni tells Dalabhya Muni how Lord Krsna took the form of a mendicant and went to ask for some eatables from an austere lady. It is mentioned how she dealt with the Mendicant and what result she received in her next life. The complete details of this Ekadasi can be read in our book entitled, “Ekadasi, The Day of Lord Hari,” written by Mahant Krsna Balaram Swami.

5a) IMPORTANT QUOTES

The Brahma Vaivarta Purana states, “Sins cannot be mitigated by more sinning. All categories of sins reside in food grains on the Ekadasi day. Therefore, any person, even if pious, who eats regular food on Ekadasi day becomes filled with sins.” The Visnu Dharmottara states, “In each morsel of regular food eaten by anyone on Ekadasi day, the person receives the equal amount of sin of eating cow’s meat. There is no atonement for those who eat regular food on Ekadasi.” The Gautamiya Tantra states, “Those who eat regular food on Ekadasi will fall to hell.”

One should be very careful how one deals with a traditional devotee. The consequences of offending a serious devotee offends the Supreme Lord. The scriptures state, “Just as one can tolerate scorching heat upon one’s head, but cannot tolerate scorching heat underneath one’s bare feet, similarly a devotee may forgive offenses committed to him, but the Lord does not forgive offenses committed against His serious devotee who worships His Lotus feet.”

6) JAYA EKADASI

The history of Jaya Ekadasi is found in the Bhavisya Purana where Lord Krsna tells Yudhisthira how Malyavan, the famous celestial singer, was cursed by Indra to become a hobgoblin. While singing in the assembly of Indra, Malyavan became lustfully attracted to Puspavati, which disturbed the assembly. Thus being cursed by Indra, both Malyavan and Puspavati fell from heaven and suffered on earth until they performed the Jaya Ekadasi fast. This history indicates if Jaya Ekadasi is followed properly, one can become free from all categories of curses. The complete details of this Ekadasi can be read in our book entitled, “Ekadasi, The Day of Lord Hari,” written by the His Holiness Krsna Balaram Swamiji.

6a) IMPORTANT QUOTES

The Visnu Dharmottra states that “anyone who suggests that normal food can be eaten on Ekadasi, or that nothing happens to a person by eating regular food on Ekadasi, become ghosts after their death.”

One must be very cautious for hypocrites while on the devotional path. Even if a person unknowingly guides one on the wrong path, his direction should be avoided as much as a hypocrite, as both will misrepresent the scriptures. They create the illusion that staunch followers of the Vedic Scriptures are zealots, thereby justifying their compromised adherence to the scriptures. Through cunning words, they attempt to make the true purport of the scriptures appear incorrect, and try to instill a meaning more convenient that meets their own lifestyle. In finality both reach the destination for misleading innocent people, hell. Therefore it cannot be stressed too often that to find a authentic Guru cannot be compromised. A guideline to find a bona-fide guru can be found in our book entitled, “The Guru Nirnaya Dipika, Who Can Become Guru and Who Cannot.”

7) VIJAYA EKADASI

The history of Vijaya Ekadasi is found in the Skanda Purana, where Lord Krsna reveals how His fasting on Vijaya Ekadasi, in His incarnation as Lord Rama, enabled Him to cross the Indian Ocean and defeat the undefeatable Ravana. This Ekadasi indicates that no matter how big a danger one has ahead him, it can be mitigated by observance of the Vijaya Ekadasi fast. The complete details of this Ekadasi can be read in our book entitled, “Ekadasi, The Day of Lord Hari,” written by His Holiness Krsna Balaram Swami.

7a) IMPORTANT QUOTES

The Narada Purana, the Padma Purana and the Agni Puranas state, “Everyone, including Gurus, Acharya, Sanyasis, Grahasthis, widows and the contaminated woman with her menstrual period, must not eat food grains on the Ekadasi day. Undoubtedly everyone must fast from food grains on the Ekadasi day.”

8) AMALAKI EKADASI

The history of Amalaki Ekadasi is mentioned in the Brahmanda Purana, where Vasistha Muni states to King Mandhata about how King Vasuratha observed the Ekadasi fast properly and was saved from his previous enemies. This history indicates that devotional life has to be free from disturbance from enemies. The complete details of this Ekadasi can be read in our book entitled,”Ekadasi, The Day of Lord Hari,” written by His Holiness Krsna Balaram Swami.

8a) IMPORTANT QUOTES

One may ask what is the minimum age and the maximum age for fasting on Ekadasi? The answer to this can be found in the Katyayana Smruti where it states, “Beginning from the age of eight till one completes the age of eighty, he or she must fast on Ekadasi.” The Naradiya Purana states, “The authority of observing Ekadasi is given to those who have entered their age of eight and continue till they reached the age of eighty. Everyone must perform Ekadasi.”

9) PAPAMOCHANI EKADASI

The history of Papamochani Ekadasi is mentioned in the Bhavisya Uttara Purana where Lomasa Rishi narrated the history to King Mandhata. In the history, a young sage named Medhavi became attracted to a beautiful celestial girl named Manjughosa,. and broke his spiritual vow of celibacy with her. After realizing his mistake, he observed Papamochani Ekadasi, and regained his pure state again. This Ekadasi indicates that every trouble can be solved on the spiritual path, provided one is serious in the following. The complete details of this Ekadasi can be read in the our book entitled “Ekadasi, The Day of Lord Hari,” written by His Holiness Mahant Krsna Balaram Swamiji.

9a) IMPORTANT QUOTES

One may question if the Ekadasi fast is only for Vaisnavas, or intended for others as well? In answer, the Vishnu Dharmottara states, “Those who claim to be devotees of Lord Vishnu, as well as those who worship Lord Siva, everyone must follow the Ekadasi fast.” The Skanda Purana states, “Either one is a devotee of Lord Krsna, Lord Vishnu, Lord Siva, Skanda, Ganesha, Durga or Surya, everyone must fast on the Ekadasi day.”

10) KAMADA EKADASI

The history of Kamada Ekadasi originates from the Varaha Purana, where Vasistha Muni narrates the history of a celestial singer named Lalita. He describes that Lalita was cursed by King Pundarika to become a cannibal and suffer on earth. But through the advice his wife received from the Sage

Sringi, he acquired the merits of Kamada Ekadasi and thus received liberation. This Ekadasi indicates that merits earned for following Ekadasi can be transferred to a loved one. The complete detail of this Ekadasi can be read in the book entitled, “Ekadasi, The Day of Lord Hari,” written by His Grace Krsna Balaram Swamiji.

10a) IMPORTANT QUOTES

One may ask, what if due to illness one is unable to observe the Ekadasi fast? To this the Vayu Purana states, “If, due to illness, one is genuinely unable to perform the Ekadasi fast, he or she should give charity to a traditional Brahmana with the request that he perform the Ekadasi fast on his/her behalf.”

11) VARUTHINI EKADASI

This history is taken from the Bhavisya Uttara Purana where Lord Krsna tells Yudhisthira how one should be cautious of whom he gives charity. Only a traditionally born pure Brahmana is Scriptually allowed to accept charity. If someone gives charity indiscriminately, the result is unrewarding. As it is stated:

danam grhnati yah sudro mahatyam api capadi
yasca tasmai sampradadyad tau ubhau narakau dhruvam

“If anyone born in a low class family, even if they have converted to a devotional life, cannot accept charity. If by chance he accepts charity, he falls to hell, and the donor must follow him there.”

This is scriptural evidence. The complete detail of this Ekadasi can be read in the book named “Ekadasi, The Day of Lord Hari,” written by Mahant Krsna Balaram Swamiji.

11a) IMPORTANT QUOTES

One may inquire, what if one needs medication on Ekadasi? To this the Tattvasagara states, “Medicine consumption does not break ones fast.”

12) MOHINI EKADASI

The history of Mohini Ekadasi is found in the Kurma Purana where Lord Krsna speaks about the conversation which took place between Lord Rama and Vasistha Muni. Vasistha Muni stated to Lord Rama how the sinful Dhrstabuddhi received liberation by observing this Ekadasi. This history indicates how even by inattentively observing Ekadasi one can receive merit. The complete details of this Ekadasi can be read in our book entitled, “Ekadasi, The Day of Lord Hari,” written by H.H. Krsna Balaram Swmaiji.

12a) IMPORTANT QUOTES

Now one may ask, what should one do on Ekadasi after one passes the age of eighty? To this the Bodhayana Smruti states, “After the age of eighty, if one is unable to fast on Ekadasi, eating one meal in the afternoon of Ekadasi day is allowed.”

13) APARA EKADASI

The narration of this Ekadasi is explained in the Brahmanda Purana where Lord Krsna speaks to King Yudhisthira in reference to the result one obtains by performing this Ekadasi. The rules one is to abide by while doing Ekadasi is stated in this chapter. The complete details of this Ekadasi can be read in our book entitled “Ekadasi, The Day of Lord Hari,” written by H.H. Krsna Balaram Swamiji.

13a) IMPORTANT QUOTES

It is stated in the Padma Purana, “If `Sraddha day’ of one’s parents falls on the Ekadasi day, it should be postponed to the next day (Dvadasi), because even the celestial beings (demigods) do not eat food grains on the Ekadasi day.”

It is stated in the Brahma Vaivarta Purana, “If someone performs `Sraddha’ on the Ekadasi Day, the giver of the charity, the taker of the charity, and the deceased person for whom the charity is being given, all three go to hell.”

14) NIRJALA EKADASI

This Ekadasi is narrated by Srila Vyasadeva to Bhimasena in the Brahma Vaivarta Purana. Among the Pandavas, Bhimasena was the veracious eater among them and could not follow the Ekadasi fast. When he learned that those who do not observe the Ekadasi go to hell, he wanted to know what he should do. Srila Vyasadeva explained Nirjala Ekadasi to him. The complete details of this Ekadasi can be read in our book entitled, “Ekadasi, The Day of Lord Hari,” written by the H.H.Krsna Balaram Swamiji.

14a) IMPORTANT QUOTES

It is stated in the Varaha Purana, “If someone becomes contaminated due to a death in the house, still one should perform the Ekadasi fast, after first taking a clean bath and paying homage to Lord Hari.”

It stated in the Visnu Rahasya, “Even if one’s home is contaminated by a new birth of a child, or a recent death of a relative, still the Ekadasi fast should be observed.”

One may wonder what the result of observing Ekadasi is? To this Vasistha Muni states in the Naradiya Purana, “If Ekadasi is observed correctly while worshipping the Supreme Lord Sri Hari, the acquired sins of the follower’s previous life get destroyed.”

15) YOGINI EKADASI

The history of Yogini Ekadasi is found in the Brahma Vaivarta Purana, where Lord Krsna tells Yudhisthira how Hemamali, a servant of Kuvera, became free from the curse of Kuvera. The complete details of this Ekadasi can be read in our book entitled, “Ekadasi, The Day of Lord Hari,” written by H.H. Krsna Balaram Swamiji.

15a) IMPORTANT QUOTES

The Brahma Vaivarta Purana states, “In this world there are only two concrete procedures for attaining liberation and atoning for one’s sins. These two things are– fasting on the Ekadasi days and chanting of the names of Supreme Lord Sri Hari.”

16) PADMA EKADASI

This chapter is quoted from the Bhavisya Uttara Purana where Lord Brahma explains to Narada how King Mandhata relieved his kingdom from trouble by fasting on Padma also known as Harishayani Ekadasi. It signifies that occurring troubles can be mitigated by properly fasting on Padma Ekadasi. The complete details of this Ekadasi can be read in our book entitled, “Ekadasi, The Day of Lord Hari,” written by the H.H.Krsna Balaram Swamiji.

16a) IMPORTANT QUOTES

The Supreme Lord is quoted in the Hari Bhakti Vilasa pertaining to the following Ekadasis, “What to speak of eating normal food containing grains, if someone eats fruits or vegetables on Padma, Parivartini or Haribodhini Ekadasis, I do not forgive, and send him/her down to hell.”

17) KAMIKA EKADASI

This chapter is quoted from the Brahma Vaivarta Purana where Lord Brahma explains to Narada the importance of performing devotional service and worshipping Tulasi while performing the Kamika Ekadasi fast. The result of performing this Ekadasi is unlimited. The complete details of this Ekadasi can be read in our book entitled, “Ekadasi, The Day of Lord Hari,” written by the Mahant Krsna Balaram Swamiji.

17a) IMPORTANT QUOTES

Lord Siva tells Parvati the following in the Padma Purana, “If someone ignores the Ekadasi fast and instead observes other fasting days, he/she is liked to a person who reaches for mud, bypassing diamonds.”

18) PUTRADA(2) EKADASI

This chapter is found in the Bhavisya Uttara Purana where Lord Krsna tells Yudhisthira how Lomasa Rishi told King Mahijit to fast on Putrada Ekadasi to mitigate the curse that had been put on him by a thirsty cow. The complete details of this Ekadasi can be read in our book entitled, “Ekadasi, The Day of Lord Hari,” written by the His Holiness Krsna Balaram Swamiji.

18a) IMPORTANT QUOTES

It is stated in the Skanda Purana, “If one puts the merits obtained from performing the Ekadasi fast on one side of a scale, and the merits obtained from performing other fasts on the other side of the scale, the merit obtained from performing the Ekadasi fast will definitely be heavier.”

The Visnu Purana states (also confirmed in the Hari Bhakti Vilasa), “Once the Supreme Lord Sri Hari placed the merits of all sacrifices on one side of a scale, and the merits obtained from performing the Ekadasi fast on the other side, the merit obtained from performing the Ekadasi fast were found to be heavier.”

19) AJA EKADASI

The narration of this Ekadasi is found in the Brahma Vaivarta Purana where Gautama Muni tells King Harischandra to fast on Aja Ekadasi in order solve his problem. Sometimes envious people create problems for others on the devotional path, as was the case of King Harischandra, but by properly fasting on this Ekadasi, such situations can be peacefully eradicated. The complete details of this Ekadasi can be read in our book entitled, “Ekadasi, The Day of Lord Hari,” written by the His Holiness Krsna Balaram Swamiji.

19a) IMPORTANT QUOTES

There are many calendars distributed including the Ekadasi fast dates, and everyone claims their calendar is calculated correctly. Discovering that there are different dates on different calendars, one may ask, what is the proper way to determine the correct day to follow the Ekadasi fast? In answer to this question, the Siva Purana states, “There are two categories of overlapping days which help to determine the proper fasting day–Ekadasi mixed with previous days (the Dasami tithi), and–Ekadasi mixed with the next day (the Dvadasi tithi). The later day (Ekadasi mixed with Dvadasi) must be accepted for fasting.”

Srila Sanatana Goswami states in the Digdarsini Tika (20.203), “Ekadasi mixed with the previous day destroys the merits earned by the observer.”

We calculate intricate tithi details by following the ancient Vedic scriptures and by using age old traditional Vedic astrology. We are systematically educated in this science since childhood.

20) PARIVARTINI EKADASI

This Ekadasi chapter is found in the Brahma Vaivarta Purana where Lord Krsna tells Yudhisthira how Lord Vishnu rests on the serpent, Sesha, in the Milk Ocean, and while asleep on this day that He turns over from sleeping on one side to His other. There is a history in this chapter referencing Lord Vamanadeva punishing King Bali Maharaja. The complete details of this Ekadasi can be read in our book entitled “Ekadasi, The Day of Lord Hari,” written by the H.H.Krsna Balaram Swami.

20a) IMPORTANT QUOTES

The Supreme Lord is quoted in the Hari Bhakti Vilasa, “What to speak of eating normal food consisting of grains, if someone eats even fruits or vegetables on Padma, Parivartini or Haribodhini Ekadasis, I do not forgive, and send him (her) deep down to hell.”

21) INDIRA EKADASI

This chapter is found in the Brahma Vaivarta Purana where Narada Muni tells King Indrasena to perform Indira Ekadasi so his suffering father can be released from hell. Fasting on Ekadasi does not only benefit the performer, it also helps one’s relatives who may be suffering in hell. The complete details of this Ekadasi can be read in our book entitled, “Ekadasi, The Day of Lord Hari,” written by the H.H.Krsna Balaram Swami.

21a) IMPORTANT QUOTES

The Visnu Dharmottar states, “One should fast on Ekadasi mixed with Dvadasi, but never fast on Ekadasi mixed with Dasami.” Following this rule we astrologically calculate the Ekadasi fasting days. Sometimes it is seen that many Vaisnava calendars differ with our dates because others do not measure their calculation with established Vedic scriptures. Because of the consequence of incurring sin rather than merit from performing Ekadasi on an incorrect day, we say that calculating the correct date is more important than the fasting itself.

22) PAPANKUSA EKADASI

This chapter is found in the Brahma Vaivarta Purana where Lord Krsna speaks very important points about how to observe Ekadasi and what merit one obtains by doing so. The main condition in performing the Ekadasi fast is following the correct date. The complete details of this Ekadasi can be read in our book entitled “Ekadasi, The Day of Lord Hari,” written by the H.H.Krsna Balaram Swami.

22a) IMPORTANT QUOTES

It is stated in the Naradiya Purana, “Due to illusion (or being proud), if someone fasts on an incorrect date, rather than gaining merits, one looses merits, looses health, and family members.”

The Brahma Purana states, Once Dhrtarastra asked Maitreya Muni why all his sons were dead, to which Maitreya Muni replied, “You, together with your wife, had observed an Ekadasi fast on an incorrect day, that is why not even one of your sons remained alive.”

The Brahma Purana states, “When Lord Rama vanished Goddess Sita, She lived in the Ashram of Valmiki Muni. While living there, She asked Valmiki, ‘O sage! I am completely pure and devoted to Lord Rama, Why am I suffering?’ To this Valmiki meditated deeply on the topic and said, ‘You had previously observed an Ekadasi fast on an incorrect day, that is why Your suffering has occurred.'”

In Satyayuga Queen Saivya, the wife of King Hariscandra, asked Vasistha Muni the cause of her suffering. To this Vasistha Muni replied, “Your suffering from separation from your son and husband is due to your observing an Ekadasi fast on an incorrect date.” He further said, “Anyone who fasts on Ekadasi mixed with Dasami will surely loose his family members and also suffer in hell.”

23) RAMA EKADASI

The history of this Ekadasi is found in the Brahma Vaivarta Purana where Lord Krsna tells King Yudhisthira about the history of Chandrabhaga and her deceased husband Shobhana. How Chandrabhaga could transfer the merits of her Ekadasi fast to her husband is stated in this chapter. The complete detail of this Ekadasi can be read in our book entitled, “Ekadasi, The Day of Lord Hari,” written by Mahant Krsna Balaram Swamiji.

23a) IMPORTANT QUOTES

The Brahma Vaivarta Purana states, “Just as a pot of Ganges water is rejected if a drop of wine falls in it, similarly an Ekadasi date should be rejected if it is tinged with Dasami.” It is stated in the Skanda Purana, “Anyone who indicates or suggests to follow the Ekadasi on an incorrect date is certainly bewildered by the illusion created by Sukracharya.” This is confirmed by Lord Siva, speaking to Parvati in the Skanda Purana thus, “O Devi, Whoever fasts on an incorrect date for Ekadasi (Ekadasi mixed with Dasami), he or she is asking to go to hell.”

When the Lord in His Varaha form was fighting with the Demon Hiranyaksa and found the demon undefeatable, the Lord told Brahma the following as stated in the Padma Purana, “O Brahma, being influenced by illusion created by Sukracharya, the Brahmanas have fasted on an incorrect date for Ekadasi. That is why the demon has become more powerful.” He further said, “Anyone who fasts on an incorrect date for Ekadasi increases demoniac influences. As long as one fasts on a wrong date of Ekadasi he undoubtedly gives his spiritual potency to demons and obtains their negative potency in return.” When, by the advice of Lord Brahma, all the sages and Brahmanas observed proper Ekadasi days, then only the demon Hiranyaksa was killed. The readers are advised to study our book, “The Vaisnava Kantha Hara” in which we have vividly described how to decide which is the correct fasting day.

24) HARIBODHINI EKADASI

This chapter is narrated by Lord Brahma to his son Narada in the Skanda Purana, where Lord Brahma tells how Lord Visnu and other demigods get up on this day. Kartika month ends on this day. The complete details of this Ekadasi can be read in our book entitled,”Ekadasi, The Day of Lord Hari,” written by Mahant Krsna Balaram Swamiji.

24a) IMPORTANT QUOTES

One may ask what rules to follow on Ekadasi day? In answer to this, the Hari Bhakti Vilasa states,”Beginning from the day before Ekadasi till one day after Ekadasi, one should avoid every category of sex, avoid bleeding inside the mouth, sleeping in the day time, and activities which are forbidden by the scriptures.” To this one may ask, what activities must be done on Ekadasi day? To this the Hari Bhakti Vilasa states, “Worshipping the Lord, chanting His names, studying those scriptures which glorify Lord Hari, and speaking the truth, are the main activities to be done on Ekadasi.”

One should avoid bleeding in the mouth the day before, the day of, and the day after a fasting day. Because brushing one’s teeth with a toothbrush may cause bleeding in the mouth, it is advised to clean one’s teeth by applying toothpaste with one’s finger on these days.

25) PADMINI EKADASI

In this chapter Lord Krsna describes the rules and regulations, as well as the benefits regarding the Ekadasi to Yudhisthira. Lord Krsna also narrates about the history of Kartaviryarjuna’s mother Padmini, which Pulastya muni recites to Narada. This Ekadasi appears on the extra month of every leap year, and hence very special. Whoever observes this Ekadasi will have all his desires fulfilled and surely attain to the spiritual abode of Krsna. The complete details of this Ekadasi can be read in our book entitled, “Ekadasi, The Day of Lord Hari,” written by His Holiness Krsna Balaram Swami.

25a) IMPORTANT QUOTES

According to the scriptures, “On fast days one should avoid sea salt because Agastya muni once drank the ocean and passed it out as urine.”

26) PARAMA EKADASI

Like padmini Ekadasi this Ekadasi also appears on the extra month of every leap year. fasting on this Ekadasi bestows the great benediction of an enjoyable life and ultimate liberation from birth and death, nullifies all kinds of sins and removes all miseries caused by poverty. The history of a brahmana Sumedha and his wife Pavitra is narrated by Lord Krsna to Yudhisthira.

(Source: Swami Krsna Balaram)

Gita Jayanti by Swami Sivananda


By the grace of Bhagavan Vyasa this unique Gospel of the Gita was revealed to the world by Sanjaya on the eleventh day (Ekadasi) of the bright half of the Margasirsha month (December) according to the Hindu almanac. This day is celebrated as the Gita Jayanti or the Birthday of the Srimad Bhagavad Gita, throughout India by all admirers and lovers of this wonderful treasure of wisdom.

Worship the Srimad Bhagavad Gita as a holy scripture. Study a chapter from it daily. But, stop not with that. Live in the spirit of the teachings of the Gita. Mere talk and lecture will not help you in any way. You may know the whole of the Gita by heart; you may deliver lectures on the Gita for hours together; and yet, you may not have a ray of the wisdom of the Gita. What is wanted is regular practice of the teachings of the Gita. Become intensely practical. Let the Gita guide your thoughts, prompt your speech, and rule your actions. Then your whole attitude towards life will be gradually changed. You will become a God-man with God-vision. You will no more be perturbed by success or failure, pleasure or pain, loss or gain. You will attain courage, strength, peace and bliss in this very life, right where you are. May the blessings of Lord Krishna be upon you all!
An excerpt from The Bhagavad Gita

Powers of Fasting


Fasting is a natural method of healing. When animals or savages are sick, they fast. The bodily machinery thus has an opportunity to cleanse itself and to obtain a much-needed rest. Most diseases can be cured by judicious fasting. Unless one has a weak heart, regular short fasts have been recommended by the yogis as an excellent health measure. Another good method of physical healing is through suitable herbs or herb extracts.

In using medicines, one often finds that they are not powerful enough to bring about a healing, or that they are so powerful that they irritate the bodily tissues instead of healing them. Similarly, exposure to certain types of “healing rays” will burn the tissues. There are so many limitations in physical methods of healing!

Better than medicines are the rays of the sun. In them is a wonderful healing power. One should take a ten-minute sunbath every day. Ten minutes a day is better than only occasional exposure for longer periods. A short sunbath daily, reinforced by good health habits, will keep the body supplied with sufficient life energy to destroy all harmful microbes.

Healthy persons possess a natural resistance to disease, and particularly to infections. Illness comes when the resisting power of the blood has been diminished by wrong eating or by overeating, or when overindulgence in sex has depleted the vital energy. To conserve the physical creative energy is to supply all the cells with vibrant life energy; the body then possesses a tremendous resistance to disease. Sexual overindulgence weakens the body and renders it vulnerable to illness.

(pgs. 86-89, Man’s Eternal Wisdom)

"Eleventh Spiritual Instruction" by Swami Chidananda


Fast on Ekadasi
Fast on Ekadasi or live on milk and fruits only.

Fast two days in a month or live on milk and fruits only. That of course is incumbent upon all sadhakas, fasting on Ekadasi. Some fast every Monday or every Thursday or every Friday or every Sunday.
Gurudev says in His book Hindu Fasts & Festivals, that in this Kali Yuga, even if just one Ekadasi is observed with dispassion, faith and devotion, and if the mind is wholly fixed on Hari, one is freed from the rounds of birth and death. There is no doubt about this. The scriptures give us their assurance on this point.

Devotees fast on this day, observe vigil the whole night and do japa, Hari kirtan and meditation. Some do not take even a drop of water. Those who are unable to fast completely can take some light fruit and milk.

No rice should be taken on Ekadasi days. This is very important. The sweat that fell from the head of Brahma assumed the form of a demon and said to the Lord, “O Lord now give me an abode to dwell.”
Brahma replied: “O demon! Go and dwell in the rice particles eaten by men on Ekadasi day and become worms in their stomach.”

For this reason rice is prohibited on Ekadasi. If one observes the Ekadasi fast regularly, Lord Hari is propitiated. All sins are destroyed. The mind is purified. Devotion gradually develops.

Love for God becomes intense. Orthodox people in South India observe complete fasting and vigil even on ordinary Ekadasi days. For the devotees of Lord Vishnu, every Ekadasi is very sacred day.

[TWENTY IMPORTANT SPIRITUAL INSTRUCTIONS, A Series of talks on Swami Sivananda’s Twenty Important Spiritual Instructions.] 

>"Fourth Spiritual Instruction" by Swami chidananda


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Dietetic Discipline 

Dietetic Discipline: Take Sattvic food, Suddha Ahara. Give up chillies, tamarind, garlic, onion, sour articles, oil, mustard, asafoetida. Observe moderation in diet (Mitahara). Do not overload the stomach. Give up those things which the mind likes best for a fortnight in a year. Eat simple food. Milk and fruits help concentration. Take food as medicine to keep the life going. Eating for enjoyment is sin. Give up salt and sugar for a month. You must be able to live on rice, Dhal and bread without any chutni. Do not ask for extra salt for Dhal and sugar for tea, coffee or milk.

The fourth instruction is a little lengthy. It concerns an important aspect of our daily life—the food we eat. You all know the well-known saying: “Eat to live. Do not live to eat.” Food is indispensable to life—it supports life, it sustains life. It gives the needed nourishment and supplies the body with necessary building blocks in the form of carbohydrates, fat, protein, minerals, amino acids, vitamins etc. It therefore contributes to health. But if you eat immoderately it can destroy your health and bring about various illnesses like dyspepsia, gastritis, colitis, dysentry, diarrhoea and other chronic diseases.

The same food which is indispensable, beneficial and necessary, can turn into your greatest enemy if you do not have control over your tongue, if you do not observe the rules of moderation, if you do not try to get a knowledge of nutrition, knowledge of food and correct eating, knowledge of the effect of food on the body and mind. You will not know how to eat wisely. You will be living to eat, not eating to live. Therefore, Gurudev gave this admonition: “In diet you must have discipline,” and He has devoted a fairly long paragraph for this particular instruction. He has also said: “Keep your diet simple, bland. Do not indulge in too much of tamarind and chillies, onions and garlic, sour articles, oil, mustard, asafoetida. Be very sparing in these. Keep your food simple.
Eating for enjoyment is a sin. Take sattvic (pure) food.” In Gurudev’s commentary on the Gunatraya Vibhaga Yoga in the Bhagavad Gita Jnanopadesh, in Practical Lessons in Yoga and in many other books He has given a complete list of sattvic and tamasic ahara (food). That also he has given because then we will know what to avoid. “Do not overload the stomach. Give up those things which the mind likes best for a fortnight in a year. Eat simple food. Milk and fruits help concentration. Take food as medicine to keep the body going. Give up salt and sugar for a month. You must be able to live on rice, vegetables and bread without any pickle. Do not ask for extra salt for vegetables or extra sugar for tea, coffee or milk.” So, if you want to be a self-controlled person you must be able to control the tongue.
There is a saying: Jitam sarvam jite rase “All the senses are controlled if the tongue is controlled.” Therefore moderation is the keynote and not indulging in articles that are likely to be tamasic and disturbing to your spiritual evolution. Avoid them and take in moderation even that which is good. There is a saying in Tamil: Adhikam aanaal amrutamum visham. “If you take beyond measure, even nectar may become poison.” This is an over-statement. Nevertheless it brings out the truth that if you exceed the correct dosage, if you become immoderate then even nectar can turn into poison.
However, it does not mean that you should become a fadist in food, your mind will then meditate more on food than on God. Draw up a certain dietetic regimen and adhere to it without deviation. To be obsessed with the thought of food is not good. When someone asked Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi in Tiruvannamalai: “What is Bhagavan’s advice about diet?” Very tersely, he said in Sanskrit: “hita-mita-bhukta”—be an eater who is moderate, be an eater who eats only that which is conducive to health and that which agrees with you. Experience will tell you what foodstuffs do not agree with you and upset you, then do not take that.

Fast on Ekadasi, food is the one thing that constantly goes into our body from birth until death. That which goes inside and becomes part of us is certainly likely to influence and affect our entire make-up, not only our physical health, but its quality affects the mind also. Its subtle vibration becomes our second nature (svabhava) and then it goes to form the mind-stuff (chitta). Food has therefore a threefold effect—it affects the body, the mind and the sub-conscious mind. Hence these general instructions. Moderation is the keynote, so fast once in a fortnight and try to discipline yourself.

The importance of these instructions are: whether you want it or not, whether you like it or not, all your life you have to be eating food. It is the one thing which goes into you constantly, without missing a single day, except on Ekadasi. Therefore it is of great importance to know how to eat, what to eat and what not to eat. This Physical body is called annamaya kosha (food sheath). This sheath is pervaded by food and naturally it is the one element which enters, and goes to form our brain cells and mind-stuff. Now you can understand the inevitable, inseparable, continuous and constant relationship of man and food—food and man. You will now understand how very important it is that your food should be of the right quality and in the right quantity.
So reflect upon this fourth instruction. Ponder its deeper meaning for you, especially with reference to ethical and spiritual life, with reference to self-mastery and self-control. Then you will understand its place is indispensable, necessary.
In this Kali Yuga, the body is sustained by food, and therefore food is inevitable.
Great research has been done in nutrition in Western countries, in the field of medicine and health. But then, it is from a different angle. It is from its composition so that it will form a balanced diet, but not from the angle of rajasic, tamasic and sattvic food. A knowledge of both, at least some knowledge of both, is essential. God bless you. May anna as Brahma bless you.

[TWENTY IMPORTANT SPIRITUAL INSTRUCTIONS, A Series of talks on Swami Sivananda’s Twenty Important Spiritual Instructions.] 
 

The Five That Can Save You Now!


“There are panca pravahana (five boats) for those who are drowning in samsara (the ocean of worldly existence): Lord Visnu, Bhagavad-gita, Tulasi, the cow, and Ekadasi.” Garuda Purana (2:29:23)

 

Significance of Ekadasi by Swami Sivananda


In this Kali Yuga, even if just one Ekadashi is observed with dispassion, faith and devotion, and if the mind is wholly fixed on Hari, one is freed from the rounds of birth and death. There is no doubt about this. The scriptures give us their assurance on this point.

Devotees fast on this day, observe vigil the whole night and do Japa, Hari Kirtan and meditation. Some do not take even a drop of water. Those who are unable to fast completely can take some light fruit and milk.

No rice should be taken on Ekadashi days. This is very important. The sweat that fell down from the head of Brahma assumed the form of a demon and said to the Lord, “O Lord! now give me an abode to dwell.”
Brahma replied, “O demon! go and dwell in the rice particles eaten by men on Ekadashi day and become worms in their stomach.”

For this reason rice is prohibited on Ekadashi. If one observes the Ekadashi fast regularly, Lord Hari is propitiated. All sins are destroyed. The mind is purified. Devotion gradually develops. Love for God becomes intense. Orthodox people in South India observe complete fasting and vigil even on ordinary Ekadashi days. For the devotees of Lord Vishnu, every Ekadashi is a very sacred day.

Benefits of Fasting

Nowadays, many educated people do not observe fasting on this sacred day. This is due to the impact of the dark, vicious, materialistic forces. When the intellect develops a little, people begin to enter into arguments and unnecessary discussions. Intellect is a hindrance on the spiritual path. They who have not developed the heart but who have developed their intellect begin to doubt and question at every step. They are led astray. They want a “why” and a “how” for everything. They want “scientific” explanations for all phenomena.

God is beyond proofs and presumptions. One has to approach religion and the scriptures with great faith, reverence and purity of heart. Then only are the secrets of religion revealed unto him like the apple in the palm of one’s hand. Does anybody ask his mother to prove who is his father?

Fasting controls passion. It checks the emotions. It controls the senses also. It is a great penance. It purifies the mind and the heart. It destroys a multitude of sins. Fasting controls the tongue in particular which is the deadliest enemy of man. Fasting overhauls the respiratory, circulatory, digestive and urinary systems. It destroys all the impurities of the body and all sorts of poisons. It eliminates uric acid deposits. Just as impure gold is rendered pure by melting it in the crucible again and again, so also this impure mind is rendered purer by repeated fasting.

Young and robust Brahmacharis (celibates) should observe fasting whenever passion troubles them. Only then will they have very good meditation, as the mind will be rendered calm. The chief object of fasting is to render the system calm so that one is able to practise meditation rigorously during that period.

Withdraw the senses and fix the mind on God. Pray to God to guide you and to throw a flood of light on your spiritual path. Say with feeling: “O God, guide me! Protect me, protect me! I am Thine, I am Thine! Forsake me not!” You will be blessed with purity, light and strength. Follow this Sadhana on the days that you fast, Ekadashi days in particular.

Fasting is one of the ten canons of Yoga. However, avoid excessive fasting. It will produce weakness. Use your common sense. If you cannot fast for the full twenty-four hours, at least fast for 10-12 hours and then take some milk and fruit. Gradually increase your fast to 15 hours and then up to 24 hours. Fasting makes a man strong, both spiritually and mentally.

In his code, the Manu Smriti, the great Hindu lawgiver, Manu, prescribes fasting for the removal of the five capital sins. Diseases that are pronounced incurable by doctors are cured by fasting. Occasionally, a complete fast is greatly desirable for all to keep up good health, to give adequate rest to the internal organs and maintain celibacy. All diseases have their origin in overeating and verily fasting is the only method to cure this.

Complete fasting helps to control sleep. Taking recourse to tea to control sleep is not desirable. You will not gain any spiritual strength if you depend on an external agent. During fasting avoid all company. Live alone. Utilise your time in Sadhana. When breaking a fast do not take a heavy meal or a heavy food that is hard to digest. Milk or some fruit juice is beneficial.

Moderation in eating and withdrawal of the senses in Yogic meditation are the obverse and the reverse of the same coin. Moderation consists in taking a little food or water just to keep the body in good working order.

In the Gita you will find: “Verily, Yoga is not for him who eats too much, nor who abstains to excess, nor who sleeps too much, nor to the excessively wakeful”.

The Yogi withdraws his senses from the particular sense objects. The senses are made to turn into or get involved into the mind. When one is fully established in these two practices, supreme control of the senses is achieved.

Once there was a demon, Mura, who oppressed the gods. The gods approached Lord Hari for protection. Hari sent Yoga Maya to kill the demon. Yoga Maya carried out the behests of the Lord successfully.

Then the Lord said to Yoga Maya, “Those who observe Ekadashi will be freed from all sins, and you will be called by the name Ekadashi.”

King Ambarisha was a great votary of Lord Hari. He practised the Ekadashi Vrata for a year. Ambarisha obtained His Grace. On one occasion he fasted for three consecutive days. He was about to break the fast when Rishi Durvasa appeared as his guest. The king received him with due respect and requested him to take his meals. The Rishi agreed and went to bathe in the river. The king waited patiently for a long time, but the Rishi did not return. Time was running out; if the king did not eat anything before the day ended his Vrata would not bear fruit. And if he ate, he would be showing disregard to the Rishi. As a compromise the king took a little water to serve both the conditions.

When Durvasa returned from his bath, he knew exactly what had happened, and was angry. He tore a hair from his tuft and charged it to kill Ambarisha. The king was unmoved. The discus of Lord Vishnu destroyed the power of the hair of Durvasa. It now followed the Rishi wherever he went and tried to destroy him.

Rishi Durvasa went to Brahma and Shiva for help, but to no avail. He went to Lord Hari who said to him, “I am dependent on My devotees. My heart is in the possession of My devotees. Go thou, therefore, to Ambarisha; beg his pardon and thou shalt be saved.”

Ambarisha thereupon prayed to the charged hair to desist from its course, and saved the Rishi. Durvasa thanked him from the bottom of his heart.

(The above is an excerpt from His book “Hindu Fasts and Festivals)

EKADASI: The Basic Dos and Don’ts


Breaking the fast: If you have observed a complete fast (without even water) you do not need to break it with grains, you can break it with caranamrta or fruit. But if you have observed Ekadasi by eating fruit and vegetables etc., then it should be broken the following day by taking grains at the times mentioned herein.

Mahadvadasi is observed like Ekadasi.

The essense is to eat simply, (one or two times) so one can spend as much time as possible in hearing and chanting and remembering Krishna.

Never eat onions, garlic, carrots and red dahl (and no meat, fish or eggs or products therein).

Foods that are restricted during Ekadasi:

-Tomatos, eggplants, cauliflower, broccoli, bellpepper.

 -Peas, chickpeas and all types of beans, including products made from beans (papadam, tofu, tempeh, brain beverages, etc.)

-Indian vegetables: karela (bitter lemon), loki, parmak, toroi, kunli, drumsticks, okra (lady fingers), banana flower.

-All leafy vegetables: spinach, salads, cabbages and leafy herbs like parsley, curry leaves, neem leaves etc.

-Grains: millet, barley, farina, pasta, rice, corn, all types of dahl and all types of flour made from grains and beans (like rice flour, chickpea flour, urad dahl flour etc.)

-Starches from corn or grains and products made from and mixed with these starches like: baking soda, baking powder, certain soft drinks, custard, certain yoghurts, puddings, cream cheese, sweets, candies and tapioca-balls.

-Oils made from grains: corn oil, mustard oil, sesame oil etc. and products fried in these oils: nuts, potato chips, certain snack foods.

-Honey.

Spices that are used on Ekadasi are: turmeric, black pepper, ginger and salt, taken from a new or clean package.

Other spices not used: sesame seeds, cumin seeds, hing, fenugreek, mustard seeds, tamarind, fennel, celery, poppy seeds, kalonji seeds, ajwain seeds, cardemon, nutmeg, cloves etc.

Foods that can be taken all days of the year, including Ekadasi and Caturmasya:

-All fruits (fresh and dried), all nuts and oils made from nuts.

-Potatoes, pumpkin, cucumber, radish, squash (but no loki), green papaya, lemon, jackfruit, avocado, olives, coconut, buckwheat, all sugars.

-All milk products except pure milk and yogurt during Caturmasya and sweets with starches on Ekadasi.

Q. Who are exempted from fasting on Ekadasi?

A. Hari-bhakti-vilasa only exempts from fasting on Ekadasi children under eight and adults over eighty, as well as those who are ill, and they are to eat only on the evening of Ekadasi. Permissible foods are limited to the five products derived from cows, fruits, sesame, and roots. Standards for observing Ekadasi found in Hari-bhakti-vilasa are very strict. Ekadasi: The Day Of God

Significance of Breaking Fast at the Correct Time


One must break one’s fast at the correct time. The following story from the scripture underline this:
 
“The King said: ‘To transgress the laws of respectful behavior toward the brahmanas is certainly a great offense. On the other hand, if one does not observe the breaking of the fast within the time of Dvadasi, there is a flaw in one’s observance of the vow. Therefore, O brahmanas, if you think that it will be auspicious and not irreligious, I shall break the fast by drinking water.’ In this way, after consulting with the brahmanas, the King reached this decision, for according to brahminical opinion, drinking water may be accepted as eating and also as not eating.” Srimad Bhagavatam 9:4:39-40

By not breaking the fast in time it creates a blemish on the fast; a blemish so serious that Maharaja Ambarish was put into a dilemma as to how to solve it. If it were something minor then why this whole drama which resulted in Durvasa wanting to kill him and so on? So it would seem that the blemish incurred was serious enough that Ambarisha asked his ministers what to do and risked the curse of Durvasa in order to break the fast on time. Just eating even one grain of rice is a blemish sufficient to ruin the whole Ekadasi vrata. Similarly not breaking the fast within the appointed time is a serious enough blemish that Ambarish risked death (brahma-sapa) in order to do so. Hence, it would be incumbent on us all to take this into consideration and breakfast at the correct time.
(3.7.2005)