HOW TO OBSERVE EKADASI FAST (VRAT) PROPERLY? PRACTICAL TIPS!
This is an important post on how to observe Ekadasi Fast (Vrat) properly. The tips that have been given in this post can be practically followed in today’s fast moving Kaliyuga.
DO’s AND DON’Ts ON EKADASI DAY
(1) NO NEED FOR FULL FAST:
How to observe ekadasi fast (Vrat) is a serious matter. Complete fast even without water is not compulsory during ekadasis as most os thempeople have to travel for working / studying. You can observe Parital Fast that will also be good. Only Nirjala Ekadasi that comes in June every year has such a rule of avoiding even water The devotees may observe Nirjala Fast ONLY IF THEY FEEL THAT THEY MIGHT NOT HAVE PROPERLY OBSERVED OTHER EKADASIS. If you are properly observing all ekadasis to your best, you need not observe Nirjala Ekadasi. Take permitted eatables even on Nirjala Ekadasi.
If you avoid everything, but are always thinking of them on ekadasi will make the Full fast meaningless. So, Don’t be over-emotional in making decisions. Be practical. Evaluate the nature of your body, works,etc and decide.
(2) I recommend taking the following eatables on ekadasi after offering to Krishna: Milk, milk products, fruits, boiled ground nut, vegetables, etc, without grains. If you prepare any recipe on ekadasi, use only those cooking materials given in our Ekadasi Recipe posts given HERE. Do not use any other spice or material.
(3) Avoid all Grains, Onion, Garlic, Meat, Nuts (except groundnut), mustard seeds, etc. You can use salt, sugar and only Sun flower oil in small quantities.
(4) You should not take the Grain though it is Krishna PRASADAM that had been offered to Krishna on Ekadasi. Gift that prasadam to any neighbour or poor who do not observe ekadasi fast.
(5) WHO ARE EXEMPTED FROM FASTING? Those aged above 75, bed ridden patients, persons with acidic/ ulcer bodies, B.P, Heart, Cancer, Sugar, kidney, some other serious diseases and those who are advised by doctor not to fast may avoid fasting.
(6) Offer worship to Krishna/ Vishnu/ Narayana, Tulasi devi and Vaishnava acharyas on ekadasi day and if possible, visit nearby Krishna/ Vishnu temples.
(7) Most importantly, talk less and avoid talking mundane topics, but chant as much as possible on Ekadasi day. It is more beneficial.
(8) Those who have to take regular tablets without fail need not observe fast, or, you can take more fruits and milk on ekadasi and also take the prescribed tablets on ekadasi. If you still prefer to observe partial fast and avoid tablets thinking that they may contain grain-made flour, it may lead to severe consequences. Medicines are not prohibited though you observe partial fast on ekadasi as we do not take tablets for taste. It is the duty for us to follow what a doctor has advised. Tablets are hence exempted from avoiding and you can take tablets prescribed by the doctor for you.
(I get headache if I fast on Ekadasi and I take tablets. Is fasting compulsory? READ HERE!)
OPTIMUM TIMINGS FOR EKADASI FAST
This is the next important aspect of How to observe ekadasi fast (Vrat). Actually, the fasting may be started just before the sun rise on Ekadasi, ie, from around 5 AM. It should be observed till the sunrise of Dvadasi (next day of ekadasi). No need for 40-45 hours of fasts though the ekadasi stories advise so.
Though some devotees overstate to observe ekadasi fast from the previous day afternoon itself, keep in mind that Ekadasi fasting is JUST 24 Hours, not 40-45 hours. And, there are many concepts about ekadasi fastings and there is no unity among different sects/ sampradhayas in selecting a single date and time for ekadasi. Hence my advice keeping the hard working/ studying people in mind is that you may follow fasting strictly from around 5 AM on the day of Ekadasi and end it after Sunrise on dvadasi (Next day of ekadasi). If you do not know the fast breaking time for your zone, safely break after the sun rise on dvadasi, or, simply after 6.30 am. You will get all the blessings of Lord even if you follow this 24 hrs of fasting. Krishna sees our sincere hearts only when we do penances like fasting for Krishna.
Even if we consider in physical angle, do not disturb your digestive system, nerves and blood circulation to brain and heart by prolonging fasting beyond 24 hours out of over excitement. It is not necessary because you are observing TWICE a month. Your body needs some nutrients to function normally. It needs atleast water, milk and fruits. Because, people have to work hard in their studies/ Job, etc. Just imagine a marketing professional or lathe operator who observe full fast on ekadasi for 36-48 hrs. CAn they do their works that needs more physical power? In ancient days, the people need not travel for long or do hard physical works. So, they could fast for more time. It will not be suitable now in this kaliyuga.
(Is it compulsory to donate (Giving dhaan) on Ekadasi? READ HERE!)
ARE TOUGH RULES MENTIONED IN EKADASI STORIES TO BE FOLLOWED AS THEY ARE?
The ekadasi stories must be read just as a knowledge because they speak about some material benefits also for observing ekadasi along with the details of How to observe ekadasi fast (Vrat). And, some details may seem exaggerated and RELATED TO OTHER YUGAS. These descriptions might have been given to encourage the people to observe ekadasi fast. So, it is to be taken as good catalyst to make a person to fast.
Those stories may help those who are in pains of diseases, childlessness, poverty, loans, etc, to start fasting because they need such material benefits also. So, let those suffering devotees get a consolation after reading those stories.
Except 18 Bonafide Puranas (Read the list of bonafide Puranas HERE), there are many newly written and fabricated puranas in India that were written during Moghul and English rule and modified to please the kings and rulers. Because, those days, there were no printing facilities and hence there were many chances for manipulation of facts in oral transmission.
Though I have some reservations about these stories because some of them encourage going to heavenly lives or getting some material benefits, etc, I have posted these stories just as a knowledge to gain as given in some ancient texts and to give consolation to the suffering devotees who wish to observe ekadasi fast to get rid of their problems.
(Ekadasi stories say that my karma will be cleared if I fast. But, I am still struggling even after fasting regularly. Why? READ HERE!)
But, my message is, observing ekadasi fast is TO BE CONSIDERED AS A PENANCE FOR KRISHNA WHO IS PROTECTING US. So, we have to observe ekadasi fast only with this mindset, ie, as a penance for Lord. Not for any material benefits though these stories describe some material benefits. However, the suffering devotees may observe ekadasi fasts for the purpose of getting relief. It is not wrong.
WHY EKADASI DATES AND TIMES ARE DIFFERENT ALL OVER THE WORLD?
We have seen How to observe ekadasi fast (Vrat). Now, about the timings of ekadasi fast.
(A) GEOGRAPHICAL REASON:
As every city/ place is situated in an unique longitude and lactitude in the globe, the ekadasi thithi timings are also different in every country. For example, America is situated exactly at the bottom side of earth, when India is situated at the top side. ie, India and America are about 180 degrees away from each other. That is why, it is night in America when it is day time in India. Similarly all countries are situated in different longitudes and lactitudes. Even the nearby countries like China differ in timings from India.
So, Ekadasi thithi may also fall on different days/ times in every zone of this globe.
(My parents object my ekadasi fasting. What to do? READ HERE!)
(B) ABSENCE OF UNITY AMONG SECTS/ SAMPRADHAYAS:
Additionally, there are different sects and sampradhayas who follow their own way of system of following ekadasi fasts. Even among ISKCON devotees, those who follow Mayapur calender observe Ekadasi on a day (For example, South India, including our Tamilnadu state), but, in Delhi/ Vrindavana etc, it is observed a day before or after, for a few ekadasis.
So, we do not have a single common practice. Those who follow advaita and SRI Sampradhaya follow ekadasi on a day in which ekadasi thithi exists most of the day. The Gaudiya Vaishnava sampradhaya observes ekadasi on the day in which ekadasi thithi is available at the time of sunrise. In fact, Actual fasting time must be from exactly the starting time of the ekadasi thithi and till the actual closing time of ekadasi thithi. That actual timings are not followed by any sect/ sampradhaya.
Some times, ekadasi is observed when there are just 1-3 hours of ekadasi thithi on a particular day before or during sunrise.
(What sin we acquire if we do not follow 4 regulative principles and Ekadasi fasts? READ HERE!)
The religious leaders should unite and decide on this date issue and take a clear cut decision on the dates on which Ekadasi fasts should be observed.
However, to avoid such confusion, it is better to to follow the practice of the sampradhaya that we follow. So, observe on any date recommended in the sampradhaya or sect or spiritual organization you are following.
We need to perform penances in the form of ekadasi fast on a certain date and time. Let us go with the current existing system. And let us hope the religious leaders will look in to this date issue anytime in future.
I request the devotees to check with their local ISKCON centres or any Vaishnava community they belong to, to know on which day Ekadasi is observed in their zone. You can also get Vaishnava Calender from your local temple that gives dates for every ekadasi for the whole year. In case, you are unable to find out the date for your local area, observe on the day I mention in my posts in social media. I am informing the ekadasi dates based on Mayapur calender that is followed in south India.
CAN WE FILL THE STOMACH WITH NON-GRAIN FOODS ON EKADASI DAY?
FASTING means DOING SOME SACRIFICE FROM THE REGULAR PRACTICE AS A PENANCE FOR KRISHNA. However, in kaliyuga, we have to work hard for earning for living. To observe full fast, you should not perform physical works and you should mostly remain indoor. So, for employees and students, observing full fast is difficult and it may affect the health, because they can not apply leave for all ekadasis. So,ALWAYS observe partial fast. Even in partial fast, some devotees avoid grains, but load the stomach with full load of other varieties except grains. This too should be avoided. So, if u observe partial fast, fill your stomach just to the half volume of your stomach and take only vegetables, fruits, milk, Boiled Groundnut and water.
I have seen the devotees who fill their stomach with full of kitchadi or any other recipe made from Moriya rice or Sago Rice. This makes the recipe of ekadasi like other days as they give the same FEEL of eating grains. So, it is better to stop with Fruits, Milk, water, Boiled groundnut on ekadasi. Do not make a list of grains or nuts that can be used on ekadasi as excuse. Do not go for varieties on ekadasi. It makes the fasts meaningless. Ekadasi fast is a penance. So, observe it atleast by taking some simple eatables mentioned above.
Hope this post has cleared your doubts about How to observe ekadasi fast (Vrat). If yes, please share the post using the SHARE buttons given below as it will be read by your friends and family and get benefitted.
(EKADASI RECEIPS – THE FOODS TO BE PREPARED ON EKADASI CAN BE READ HERE)
(THE LIST AND LINKS OF 26 EKADASIS IN SEQUENCE CAN BE READ HERE)
(How to offer worship and prayers on Ekadasi? Read HERE.)