five Pandabas (Yudhistira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula, Sahadeva)
the hottest season (northern hemisphere), if one can perform
upavasa without water one is performing a great feat. One
may take only charanamrta and achamana water. Bhima the mighty
warrior of the Pandava dynasty requested one vrata day by
which he could obtain the fruits of all the other days of
vrata that he was incapable of observing. Vyasadeva advised
him to follow this difficult vrata.
One should worship the Lord in the evening by bathing him
On the dvadasi one should give full pots of water to brahmanas
and feed them before breaking one's fast.
SAMVATSARASYA YA MADHYE EKADASYO BHAVANTI HI
TASAM PHALAM AVAPNOTI PUTRA ME NA ATRA SAMSAYAH
ITI MAM KESAVAH PRAHA SANKHA CAKRA GADADHARAH
(HARI BHAKTI VILASA 15/25 from PADMA Purana Vyasadeva speaks
Oh son, Lord Keshava, Who holds the club, disk, conch and
lotus flower in His hand, personally told me that all of the
merit achieved by fasting on whatever EkAdasis fall in one
year can be attained by fasting on this one Ekadasi (Nirjala
Ekadasi). Of this, there is no doubt.
ATMADROHAH KRTASTES TU YAIR ESA NA HY UPOSITA
PAPATMANO DURACARA DUSTAS TE NA ATRA SAMSAYAH
(HARI BHAKTI VILASA 15/33 from PADMA Purana Vyasadeva speaks
Anyone who does not fast on this particular Ekadasi (Nirjala
Ekadasi), they should be understood to be sinful, corrupted
and suicidal person without a doubt.
The Story of Pandava Nirjala Ekadasi:
- Jyeshtha-shukla Ekadasi -
from Brahma-vaivarta Puranam
description of Nirajala Ekadasi, which occurs during the month
of May/June, is found in the Brahma-vaivarta Purana in the
conversation between Vyasadeva and Bhimasena.
Once Bhimasena, the younger brother of Maharaja Yudhisthira,
asked the great sage Shrila Vyasadeva, the grandfather of
the Pandavas, if it is possible to return to the spiritual
world without having observed all the rules and regulations
of the Ekadasi fasts.
Bhimasena then spoke as follows, "Oh greatly intelligent
and learned grandfather, my brother Yudhisthira, my dear mother
Kunti, and my beloved wife Draupadi, as well as Arjuna, Nakula
and Sahadeva, fast completely on each Ekadasi and strictly
follow all the rules, guidelines and regulative injunctions
of that sacred day. Bring very religious, they always tell
me that I should also fast on that day too. But, Oh learned
grandfather, I tell them that I cannot live without eating,
because as the son of Vayudeva ' Samanaprana, (the digestive
air) hunger is unbearable to me. I can give widely in charity
and worship Lord Keshava properly with all manner of wonderful
upacharas (items), but I cannot be asked to fast on Ekadasi.
Please tell me how I can obtain the same merits result without
Hearing these words, the grandsire of Bhima, Srila Vyasadeva
said, "If you want to go to the heavenly planets and
avoid the hellish planets, you should indeed observe a fast
on both the light and dark Ekadasis."
Bhima replied, "Oh great saintly intelligent grandfather,
please listen to my plea. Oh greatest of munis, since I cannot
live if I eat only once in a day, how can I possibly live
if I fast completely? Within my stomach burns a special fire
named Vrika, the fire of digestion. Agni the fire-god, descends
from Lord Vishnu through Brahma, from Brahma to Angirasa,
from Angirasa to Brihaspathi, and from Brihaspathi to Samyu,
who was Agni'' father. He is the gatekeeper in charge of Nairritti,
the south-eastern direction. He is one of the eight material
elements, and Parikshit Maharaja, he is very expert at examining
things. He examined Maharaja Shibi once by turning into a
dove (for further information on this incident see Srila A.C.
Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada's Srimad Bhagavatam commentary
to 1:12:20. Purport.)
Agni is divided into three categories; Davagni, the fire in
wood, JatharAgni, the fire in the digestion in the stomach,
and Vadavagni, the fire that creates fog when hot and cold
streams mix in for example the ocean. Another name for the
fire of digestion is Vrika. It is this powerful fire that
resided in Bhima's stomach.
Only when I eat to my full satisfaction does the fire in my
stomach become satisfied. Oh great sage, I might possibly
be able to fast only once, so I beg that you tell me of an
Ekadasi that is worthy of my fasting and that includes all
other Ekadasis. I shall faithfully observe that fast and hopefully
still become eligible for liberation's release."
Shrila Vyasadeva replied, Oh king, you have heard from me
about the various kinds of occupational duties, such as elaborate
Vedik ceremonies and pujas. In the Kali-yuga, however, no
one will be able to observe all these occupational, functional
duties properly. I shall therefore tell you how, at practically
no expense, one can endure some small austerity and achieve
the greatest benefit and resultant happiness. The essence
of what is written in the Vedic literatures known as the Puranas
is that one should not eat on either the dark or light fortnight
Ekadasis." As stated in Srimad Bhagavatam (Mahabhagavat
Puranam) 12:13:12 and 15.) the Bhagavat Puranam is itself
the essence or cream of all Vedanta philosophy (sara-vedanta-saram),
and the Srimad Bhagavatam's unequivocal message is that of
full surrender to Lord Sri Krishna and the rendering of loving
devotional service to Him. Observing Ekadasi strictly is a
great aid in that process, and here Shrila Vyasadeva is simply
stressing to Bhima the importance of the Ekadasi vratam. "...
One who fasts on Ekadasis saved from going to the hellish
Hearing Shrila Vyasadeva's words, the son of Vayu, Bhimasena,
the strongest of all warriors, became frightened and began
to shake like a leaf on a banyan tree in a strong wind. The
frightened Bhimasena then said, "Oh grandfather, what
should I do? I am completely unable and ill equipped to fast
twice in a month throughout the year! Please tell me of the
one fasting day that will bestow the greatest benefit upon
Vyasadeva replied, "Without drinking even water, you
should fast on the Ekadasi that occurs during the light fortnight
of the month of Jyeshtha (May-June) when the sun travels in
the sign of Taurus (Vrishabh) and Gemini (Mithun), According
to learned personalities, on this day one may bathe and perform
Achamana for pratiprokshana purification. But while performing
Achamana one may drink only that amount of water equal to
a drop of gold, or that amount it takes to immerse a single
mustard seed. Only this amount of water should be placed in
the right palm for sipping, which one should form to resemble
a cow's ear. If one drinks more water than this, he might
as well have drunk wine ' despite the soaring heat of summer
(in the northern hemisphere and cold in the southern hemisphere).
"One must certainly not eat anything, for if he does
so he breaks his fast. This rigid fast is in effect from sunrise
on the Ekadasi day to sunrise on the Dwadashii day. If a person
endeavours to observe this great fast very strictly, he easily
achieves the result of observing all twenty-four other Ekadasi
fasts throughout the entire year.
"On Dwadashii the devotee should bathe early in the morning.
Then, according to the prescribed rules, guidelines and regulative
injunctions, and of course depending on his ability, he should
give some gold and water to worthy brahmanas. Finally, he
should cheerfully honour prasadam with a brahmana.
"Oh Bhimasena, one who can fast on this special Ekadasi
in this manner reaps the benefit of having fasted on every
Ekadasi during the year. There is no doubt of this, nor should
there be. Oh Bhima, now hear the specific merit one gets by
fasting on this Ekadasi. The Supreme Lord Keshava, who holds
a conch, discus, club and lotus, personally told me, 'Everyone
should take shelter of Me and follow My instructions.' Then
He told me that one who fasts on this Ekadasi, without taking
even drinking water or eating, becomes free of all sinful
reactions, and that one who observes the difficult nirjala
fast on Jyeshtha-shukla Ekadasi truly reaps the benefit of
all other Ekadasi fasts.
"Oh Bhimasena, in the Kali-yuga, the age of quarrel and
hypocrisy, when all the principles of the Vedas will have
been destroyed or greatly minimised, and when there will be
no proper charity or observance of the ancient Vedik principles
and ceremonies, how will there be any means of purifying the
self? But there is the opportunity to fast on Ekadasi and
become free of all one's past sins.
"Oh son of Vayu, what more can I say to you? You should
not eat during the Ekadasis that occur during the dark and
light fortnights, and you should even give up drinking water
(nir = no jalaa= water) on the particularly auspicious Ekadasi
day of Jyeshtha-shukla Ekadasi. Oh Vrikodara (veracious eater),
whoever fasts on this Ekadasi receives the merits of bathing
in all the places of pilgrimage, giving all kinds of charities
to worthy persons, and fasting on all the dark and light Ekadasis
throughout the year, in one go. Of this there is no doubt.
Oh tiger among men, whoever fasts on this Ekadasi truly becomes
a great person and achieves all manner of opulence and wealth,
grains, strength, and health. And at the fearful moment of
death, the terrible Yamadutas, whose complexions are yellow
and black and who brandish huge maces and twirl mystic pasha
ropes in the air for binding their victims, will refuse to
approach him. Rather, such a faithful soul will at once be
taken to the supreme abode of Lord Vishnu by the Vishnu-dutas,
whose transcendentally beautiful forms are clothed in gorgeous
yellowish garments and who each hold a disk, club, conch and
lotus in their four hands, resembling Lord Vishnu. It is to
gain all these benefits that one should certainly fast on
this very auspicious and important Ekadasi, even from water."
When the other Pandavas heard about the benefits to be gained
by following Jyeshtha-shukla Ekadasi, they resolved to observe
it exactly as their grandfather Srila Vyasadeva had explained
it to their brother, Bhimasena. All the Pandavas observed
it by refraining from eating or drinking anything, and thus
this day is also known as Pandava Nirjala Dvadashii (technically
it is a Maha-Dvadashii).From that day onward Bhimasena began
observing this Nirjala Ekadasi, which became famous as Pandava
Nirjala, or Bhimseni Ekadasi.
Shrila Vyasadeva continued, Oh Bhimasen, therefore you should
observe this important fast to remove all your past sinful
reactions. You should pray to the Supreme Personality of Godhead,
Lord Sri Krishna in this way making your sankalpa declaration,
'Oh Lord of all the devas (demigods), Oh Supreme Personality
of Godhead, today I shall observe Ekadasi without taking any
water. Oh unlimited Anantadev, I shall break fast on the next
day, Dwadashii.' Thereafter, to remove all his sins, the devotee
should honour this Ekadasi fast with full faith in the Lord
and with full control over his senses. Whether his sins are
equal in volume to Mount Sumeru or to Mandarachala Hill, if
he or she observes this Ekadasi, the sins that have been accumulated
all become nullified and are burned to ashes. Such is the
great power of this Ekadasi.
"Oh best of human beings, although a person should also
give water and cows in charity during this Ekadasi, if for
some reason or other he cannot, then he should give a qualified
brahmana some cloth or a pot filled with water. Indeed, the
merit achieved by giving water alone equals that gained by
giving gold ten million times a day.
"Oh Bhima, Lord Sri Krishna has said that whoever observes
this Ekadasi should take a Holy bath, give charity to a worthy
person, chant the Lord's Holy names on a japa-mala, and perform
some kind of recommended sacrifice, for by doing these things
on this day one receives imperishable benefits. There is no
need to perform any other kind of religious duty. Observance
of this Ekadasi fast alone promotes one to the supreme abode
of Sri Vishnu. Oh best of the Kurus, if one donates gold,
cloth, or anything else on this day, the merit one obtains
"Remember, whosoever eats any grains on Ekadasi becomes
contaminated by sin and verily eats only sin. In effect, he
has already become a dog-eater, and after death he suffers
a hellish existence. But he who observes this sacred Jyeshtha-shukla
Ekadasi and gives something in charity certainly achieves
liberation from the cycle of repeated birth and death and
attains to the supreme abode. Observing this Ekadasi, which
is merged with Dwadashii, frees one from the horrible sin
of killing a brahmana, drinking liquor and wine, becoming
envious of one's spiritual master and ignoring his instructions,
and continually telling lies.
"Furthermore, Oh best of beings (Jivottama), any man
or woman who observes this fast properly and worships the
Supreme Lord Jalshayi (He who sleeps on the water), and who
on the next day satisfies a qualified brahmana with nice sweets
and a donation of cows and money ' such a person certainly
pleases the Supreme Lord Vasudeva, so much so that one hundred
previous generations in his family undoubtedly go to the Supreme
Lord's abode, even though they may have been very sinful,
of bad character, and guilty of suicide, etc. Indeed, one
who observes this amazing Ekadasi rides on a glorious celestial
airplane (vimana) to the Lord's abode.
"One who on this day gives a brahmana a waterpot, an
umbrella, or shoes surely goes to the heavenly planets. Indeed,
he who simply hears these glories also attains to the transcendental
abode of the Supreme Lord, Shri Vishnu. Whoever performs the
Shraddha ceremony to the forefathers on the dark-moon day
called amavasya, particularly if it occurs at the time of
a solar eclipse undoubtedly achieves great merit, but this
same merit is achieved by him who simply hears this sacred
narration ' so powerful and so dear to the Lord is this Ekadasi.
"One should clean his teeth properly and, without eating
or drinking, observe this Ekadasi to please the Supreme Lord,
Keshava. On the day after Ekadasi one should worship the Supreme
Personality of Godhead in His form as Trivikrama by offering
Him water, flowers, incense, and a brightly burning lamp.
Then the devotee should pray from the heart, 'Oh God of gods,
Oh deliverer of everyone, Oh Hrishikesha, master of the senses,
kindly bestow upon me the gift of liberation, though I can
offer you nothing greater than this humble pot filled with
water.' Then the devotee should donate the waterpot to a brahmana.
"Oh Bhimasena, after this Ekadasi fast and donating the
recommended items according to his ability, the devotee should
feed brahmanas and thereafter honour prasadam silently."
Shrila Vyasadeva concluded, "I strongly urge you to fast
on this auspicious, purifying, sin-devouring Dwadashii in
just the way I have outlined. Thus you will be completely
freed of all sins and reach the supreme abode."
Thus ends the narration of the
glories of Jyeshtha-shukla Ekadasi,
or Bhimaseni-nirjala Ekadasi, from the Brahma-vaivarta Purana.
These stories have been summarised as they are found in the
celebrated book, "Ekadasi: The Day of Lord Hari"
1986. HH Krishna Balaram Swami. Bhaktivedanta Institute Press.
The Appearance and Purpose of This Special Day
article was written in 1956 by Sri Navinacandra Cakravarti,
a disciple of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. There
are many stories of Ekadasi in the Puranas, but most
explain the material benefits and blessings one gets from
observing Ekadasi. This article, based on the conversation
between Srila Vyasadeva and Jaimini Rishi, gives the real
spiritual reason for following the vow of Ekadasi as emphasized
by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in Sri Caitanya-caritamrita
and later by Srila Prabhupada.)
devotees are very inquisitive about the appearance of Sri
Ekadasi and about her special characteristics. Therefore I
am presenting this description from the 14th chapter
of the Padma Purana, from the section entitled "Kriya-sagara-sara".
the great sage Jaimini Rishi said to his spiritual master,
"O Gurudeva! Previously, by your mercy, you described to me
the history of the Ganga River, the benefits of worshiping
Vishnu, the giving of grains in charity, the giving of water
in charity, and the magnanimity of drinking water that has
been used to wash the feet of the brahmanas. O best of sages,
Sri Gurudeva, now, with great enthusiasm, I desire to hear
of the benefits of fasting on Ekadasi and of the appearance
Gurudeva! When did Ekadasi take birth and from whom did she
appear? What are the rules of fasting on the day of Ekadasi?
Please describe the benefits of following this vow and when
it should be followed. Who is the utmost worshipable presiding
deity of Sri Ekadasi? What are the faults in not observing
Ekadasi properly? Please bestow your mercy upon me and tell
about these subjects, as you are the only personality able
to do so."
Vyasadeva, upon hearing this inquiry from Jaimini Rishi, became
situated in transcendental bliss. "O brahmana sage Jaimini!
The results of following Ekadasi can be perfectly described
by the Supreme Lord, Narayana, because Sri Narayana is the
only personality capable of describing them in full. But I
will give a very brief description in answer to your question."
the beginning of the material creation, the Supreme Lord created
the moving and non-moving living entities within this world
made of five gross material elements. Simultaneously, for
the purpose of punishing the evil human beings, He created
a personality whose form was the embodiment of the worst kinds
of sin (Papa-purusha). The different limbs of this personality
were constructed of various sinful activities. His head was
made of the sin of murdering a brahmana, his two eyes were
the form of drinking intoxicants, his mouth was made from
the sin of stealing gold, his ears were the form of the sin
of having illicit connection with the spiritual master’s wife,
his nose was of the sin of killing one’s wife, his arms the
form of the sin of killing a cow, his neck was made of the
sin of stealing accumulated wealth, his chest of the sin of
abortion, his lower chest of the sin of having sex with another’s
wife, his stomach of the sin of killings one’s relatives,
his navel of the sin of killing those who are dependent on
him, his waist of the sin of egotistical self-appraisal, his
thighs of the sin of offending the guru, his genitals of the
sin of selling one’s daughter, his buttocks of the sin of
telling confidential matters, his feet of the sin of killing
one’s father, and his hair was the form of all sorts of less
severe sinful activities. In this way, a horrible personality
embodying all sinful activities and vices was created. His
bodily color is black, and his eyes are yellow. He inflicts
extreme misery upon sinful persons.
Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Vishnu, upon seeing this
personality of sin began to think to Himself as follows: ‘I
am the creator of the miseries and happiness for the living
entities. I am their master because I have created this personality
of sin, who gives distress to all dishonest, deceitful and
sinful persons. Now I must create someone who will control
this personality’. At this time Sri Bhagavan created the personality
of Yamaraja and the different hellish planetary systems. Those
living entities who are very sinful will be sent after death
to Yamaraja, who will in turn, according to their sins, send
them to an appropritate hellish region to suffer.
these adjustments had been made, the Supreme Lord, who is
the giver of distress and happiness to the living entities,
went to the house of Yamaraja, with the help of Garuda, the
king of birds. When Yamaraja saw that Lord Vishnu had arrived,
he immediately washed His feet and made an offering unto Him.
He then had Him sit upon a golden throne. The Supreme Lord
Vishnu became seated upon the throne, whereupon He heard very
loud crying sounds from the southern direction. He became
surprised by this and inquired of Yamaraja, ‘From where is
this loud crying coming?’
in reply said, ‘O Deva! The different living entities of the
earthly planetary systems have fallen to the hellish regions.
They are suffering extremely for their misdeeds. The horrible
crying is because of suffering from the inflictions of their
past bad actions.’
hearing this the Supreme Lord Vishnu went to the hellish region
to the south. When the inhabitants saw who had come they began
to cry even louder. The heart of the Supreme Lord Vishnu became
filled with compassion. Lord Vishnu thought to Himself, ‘I
have created all this progeny, and it is because of Me that
they are suffering.’"
continued: "O Jaimini, just listen to what the Supreme Lord
did next. After the merciful Supreme Lord thought over what
He had previously considered, He suddenly manifested from
His own form the deity of the lunar day Ekadasi. Afterward,
the different sinful living entities began to follow the vow
of Ekadasi and were then elevated quickly to the abode of
Vaikuntha. O my child Jaimini, therefore the lunar day of
Ekadasi is the selfsame form of the Supreme Lord, Vishnu,
and the Supersoul within the heart of the living entities.
Sri Ekadasi is the utmost pious activity and is situated as
the head among all vows.
the ascension of Sri Ekadasi, that personality who is the
form of sinful activity gradually saw the influence that she,
Ekadasi, had. Thus, he approached Lord Vishnu with doubts
in his heart and began offering many prayers, whereupon Lord
Vishnu became very pleased and said, ‘I have become very pleased
by your nice offerings. What boon is it that you want?’
Papa-purusha replied, "I am Your created progeny, and it is
through me that you wanted distress given to the living entities
who are very sinful. But now, by the influence of Sri Ekadasi,
I have become all but destroyed. O Prabhu! After I die all
of Your parts and parcels who have accepted material bodies
will become liberated and return to the abode of Vaikuntha
(the spiritual domain). If this liberation of all living entities
takes place, then who will carry on Your activities? There
will be no one to enact the pastimes in the earthly planetary
systems! O Keshava! If you want these eternal pastimes to
carry on, then You please save me from the fear of Ekadasi.
No type of pious activity can bind me. But Ekadasi only, being
Your own manifested form, can impede me. Out of fear of Sri
Ekadasi I have fled and taken shelter of men; animals; insects;
hills; trees; moving and non-moving living entities; rivers;
oceans; forests; heavenly, earthly and hellish planetary systems;
demigods; and the Gandharvas. I cannot find a place where
I can be free from the fear of Sri Ekadasi. O my Master! I
am a product of Your creation, so therefore very mercifully
direct me to a place where I can reside fearlessly.’"
then said to Jaimini, "After saying this, the embodiment of
all sinful activities (Papa-purusha) fell down at the feet
of the Supreme Lord Vishnu, who is the destroyer of all miseries
and began to cry.
this, Lord Vishnu, observing the condition of the Papa-purusha,
with laughter began to speak thus: ‘O Papa-purusha, rise up!
Don’t lament any longer. Just listen, and I’ll tell you where
you can stay on the lunar day of Ekadasi. On the date of Sri
Ekadasi, which is the benefactor of the three planetary systems,
you can take shelter of foodstuffs in the form of grains.
There is no reason to worry about this any more, because My
form as Sri Ekadasi will no longer impede you.’ After giving
direction to the Papa-purusha, the Supreme Lord Vishnu disappeared
and the Papa-purusha returned to the performance of his own
those persons who are serious about the ultimate benefit of
the soul will never eat grains on Ekadasi. According to the
instructions of Lord Vishnu, every kind of sinful activity
that can be found in the material world takes its residence
in this place of (grains) foodstuff. Whoever follows Ekadasi
is freed from all sins and never enters into the hellish regions.
If one doesn’t follow Ekadasi because of illusion, he is still
considered the utmost sinner. For every mouthful of grain
that is eaten by a resident of the earthly region (on Ekadasi),
one receives the effect of killing millions of brahmanas.
It is definitely necessary that one give up eating grains
on Ekadasi. I very strongly say again and again, ‘On Ekadasi,
do not eat grains, do not eat grains, do not eat grains!’
Whether one be a kshatriya, vaishya, shudra, or of any family,
he should follow the lunar day of Ekadasi. From this the perfection
of varna and ashrama will be attained. Especially since if
one (even) by trickery follows Ekadasi, all his sins become
destroyed and he very easily attains the supreme goal, the
abode of Vaikuntha."
the above article and story we can understand that Ekadasi
is a form of Lord Vishnu, and by observing the Ekadasi vow,
it not only decreases the amount of sin (bad karma) we imbibe,
but it also eats up sinful reactions to help pave our way
back to the abode of Lord Vishnu, Vaikuntha. This is also
why Ekadasi is called "The mother of devotion". It helps remove
the obstacles on our path of devotional service to the Lord.
generally falls on the 11th day after the new moon,
and the 11th day after the full moon. Eka means
one and dasi is the feminine form of dasa, which
means ten. Together it means eleven. Only occasionally may
it fall on a different day. So it is on these days that devotees
and devout Hindus will follow the vow of Ekadasi and not eat
any beans or grains, or products with such substances in them.
Thus, the diet is expected to be simple and plain as part
of the mood of renunciation, and preferably only once in the
day if possible. Other recommendations include that the food
should be made of vegetables, fruit, water, milk products,
nuts, sugar, and roots that are grown underground (except
beet roots). Restrictions include spinach, eggplant, asafetida,
and sea salt, but rock salt is alright.
there are 12 months in a year, with two Ekadasis in each month,
there are 24 Ekadasis in each year. Each Ekadasi has a name,
that are Utpanna, Mokshada, Saphala, Putrada, Shat-tila, Jaya,
Vijaya, Amalaki, Papamocani, Kamada, Varuthini, Mohini, Apara,
Nirjala, Yogini, Padma (Devashayani), Kamika, Putrada, Aja,
Parivartini, Indira, Papankusha, Rama, and Haribodhini (Devotthani).
Occasionally there are two extra Ekadasis that happen in a
lunar leap year, which are Padmini and Parama.
Ekadasi day has particular benefits and blessings that one
can attain by the performance of specific activities done
on that day. By engaging in the extra study to learn what
these are, one can derive even more benefit from each particular
Ekadasi. Books devoted to Ekadasi are available that contain
such information, so we will not include it here. However,
reading the glories of each Ekadasi day, along with all the
names of these days, will also achieve a similar goal of observing
the Ekadasi vow. This also means that we are encouraged to
increase our spiritual activities that day, which are centered
around the chanting of the holy names of the Lord. Charity,
especially to advanced devotees and preachers of the dharma,
or directly engaging in activities of Krishna consciousness,
Deity worship, chanting the purusha-sukta hymns, or
other spiritual activities on Ekadasi are also highly recommended
and brings great spiritual benefits to the performer.
is said that even if one mistakenly misses the observance
of an Ekadasi, he or she may make up for it by observing it
the very next day on Dvadasi, and then break one’s fast from
grain on the next day, Trayodasi. One may also observe the
special fast on Nirjala Ekadasi. This is also called Bhima
Ekadasi. This is because the Pandava brother known as Bhima
was so strong and had such a voracious appetite that he could
not observe Ekadasis twice a month. He could not fast because
he was too hungry. So Lord Krishna told him to merely observe
one Ekadasi a year, which is the Nirjala Ekadasi. Nir jala
means no water. So he had to observe at least one Ekadasi
a year, and on that day he had to abstain from not only beans
and grains, but from all foods, even water. So devotees who
miss an Ekadasi day often observe a complete fast from all
food and liquids on the Nirjala Ekadasi, which is usually
sometime in June, and thus make up for whatever was missed.
However, this is a very potent Ekadasi, so a complete fast
on this day gives one who observes this many pious credits.
there is a day called Mahadvadasi. This is when Ekadasi is
astronomically combined with Dvadasi, or the twelfth day of
the full moon or new moon lunar cycle. This is called a pure
Ekadasi and the observance is often started the evening before
Mahadvadasi and through the next day with the basic Ekadasi
the Ekadasi fast on the next day with some foodstuffs made
from grains is usually done two-and-a-half hours or shortly
thereafter from the time of the sunrise.
the Caitanya-caritamrita (Adi-lila, 15-9-10), Sri Caitanya
begs his mother to follow Ekadasi, as was expected of all
His followers. And in the purport to this verse Srila Prabhupada
explains that even though devotees eat food cooked for and
offered to Lord Vishnu, prasada, which is spiritually
potent and free from all karma, even on Ekadasi a devotee
does not eat even maha-prasada that has grains in it,
even though it can be saved for the next day.
this way, by the observance of the special Ekadasi day and
its special fast, a person can accelerate their spiritual
growth and awareness, and free themselves from negative karma
that will only further bind them to the continuous rounds
of birth and death.