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Ekadasi: more than just fasting
April 7, 2015
From the very beginning of His childhood life Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu introduced the system of observing a fast on the Ekadasi day. Occuring twice every month, Ekadasi is observed by fasting at several different levels. Strict, full observance can mean ingesting nothing, not even water, and staying awake all night absorbed in the chanting of the Lord's names. However, Srila Prabhupada said, "if a devotee feels too weak to properly perform his standard services, it is better that he take a little non-grain prasada on Ekadasi and continue with his regular activities. ...
First consideration: service. (Morning Walk, Los Angeles, June 7, 1976)
"On Ekadasi, you don't take food grains.
Take a little fruit, milk."
With so much talk of what meals are "Ekadasi-safe" and lists of what foods to avoid, it is easy to think of Ekadasi only in terms of diet or as a restriction. For some, this is all it means: fasting because we are told to do so. But these days are so much more than that; they are actually an opportunity to "increase one's faith and love for Govinda, or Kṛṣṇa." (NOD Ch.7) Beyond this benefit, and though fasting is also good for the health, Ekadasi days should be observed primarily because it is pleasing to Lord Krishna. It is said, of all the vows of austerity, Visnu is most pleased with those who observe Ekadasi.
To observe Ekadasi vrata and Dvadasi
vrata means to please the Supreme
Personality of Godhead. Those interested
in advancing in Krsna consciousness must
observe Ekadasi regularly.
Ekadasi is a chance to focus on Krishna, and our role as servants of His happiness. With our bellies and minds lighter on these days, we are free from mundane distractions and can chant and focus on the Lord more fully, becoming more deeply immersed in love for Him.
Of course none of this means that we can't also observe Ekadasi with delicious prasadam as well as the company of fellow observant devotees. There are many recipes and simple foods that are Ekadasi-friendly.
"If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower,