IMPORTANCE OF EKÄDAÇÉ
We all must be well acquainted with Ekädaçé Fasting..
Many of us must be observing this fast also…
Do we really know why are we observing this fast??
Is it a mere ritual or something more than that??
Ask Yourself !
Walk from the path of merely acquiring spiritual merits (sukåtis)
to the path of devotion (bhakti- practicing with knowledge).
Ekädaçé, observed on the 11th day of waning and waxing phase of moon in a traditional Hindu calendar, is one of the most popular fast/Vrata observed in Hinduism.
Päëòava Nirjalä Ekädaçé is observed on the bright fortnight of the moon (çukla-pakña) in the month of Jyeñöha (May-June). The Sanskrit word nirjalä means ‘no water’ (nir means ‘no’ and jalä means ‘water’). It is also called Jyeñöha-Çukla Ekädaçé.
Many people, all over the world observe fast on this day.
But with each passing year, different views/opinions of people come up, belittling this auspicious day to a mere ritual.
Common (Misleading) Beliefs
Some follow abstinence from grains especially rice on this Day while according to some, eating rice and grains, honey, meat and eating on a bell metal plate is to be strictly avoided. Some find this mercy-bestowing fasting unfit for children and unmarried girls, while others believe avoiding oiling and nail cutting is all that is required. The root of these variegated baseless beliefs lies either in one’s ancestral teaching/following or have been made as per one’s convenience.
But if we go by Scriptures, the significance of this particular observance is not merely constituted of a fast, physically, though it is also an essential element; it has other deeper aspects, which “can only be revealed by the Äcäryäs”. Fortunate are those, who are blessed with the teachings from the Real Äcärya.
Why to keep Ekädaçé?
Çrématé Rädhäräné tells about the Supremacy of Ekädaçé among all fasts.
- Of all the snakes, Çeñanäga is the chief.
- Of all the birds, Garuòa is the chief.
- Of all the demigods, Viñëu is the supreme.
- Of all the castes, Brähmaëa Caste is the supreme.
- Of all the tress, Banyan Tree is the supreme.
- Of all the leaves, Tulasé is the supreme.
Likewise, of all the Fasts, Ekädaçé is the Highest.
It is mentioned in Garga Saàhitä that at the time of yajïa (fire sacrifice), Lord Räma had kept a form (mürti) of Sétä Jé, called as Yajïa Sétä. Lord Räma blessed Her in future She will take birth in Vraja. Subsequently, Yajïa Sétä took birth as a gopé in Bhauma Våndävana. She went to Çrématé Rädhäräné and asked Her that, She being the most beautiful and the dearmost of Lord Kåñëa’s Consort, please guide Her on how to please Lord Çré Kåñëa.
Çré Rädhä replied-
Çré Rädhä Uväcaù-
çrékåñëasya prasädärtha, kurute ekädaçé vrataà
tena vaçyo haré säkñät, bhaviñyati na saàçayaù
In other words,
For the pleasure of Çré Kåñëa (çré kåñëasya prasädärtha) observe Ekädaçé Fast (kurute ekädaçé vrataà). What will happen then? Çré Kåñëa Himself will be subdued (tena vaçyo haré säkñät), there is no doubt about it (bhaviñyati na saàçayaù).
And after observing Ekädaçés properly, Yajïa Sétä attained the fortune of Räsa with Çré Kåñëa.
Thus, this is the power of Ekädaçé.. Lord Kåñëa gets subdued.
Is observing Ekädaçé Optional?
As mentioned above that Yajïa Sétä who is non-different from Sétä Devi, was to observe Ekädaçé, even after attaining birth in Bhauma Våndävana, how important it is for us, the conditioned souls to observe Ekädaçés.
Moreover, human life is meant for our purification. It is stated in Bhagavad Gétä-
i.e. we should dissociate with everything, be it friends, people or thoughts, which are not related to Çré Kåñëa for our purification.
And when we observe Ekädaçé properly, we dissociate with everything not related to Kåñëa and gradually we become purified.
Thus, observing Ekädaçé is not optional, is an ABSOLUTE NECESSITY for everyone.
Lord Keeps Ekädaçé : Teaches by His Example-
apne äcare prabhu jévera sékhäye
The Lord teaches by His own äcaraëa.
The importance of observing Ekädaçé can be known from the example of Lord Himself.
When Lord Çréman Mahäprabhu, the combined form of Rädhä-Kåñëa, descended in this world, He requested and begged His mother Sacémätä to observe Ekädaçé.
Also when Mahäprabhu used to stay with His devotees in Jagannätha Puré, He used to do Ekädaçé Jägaraëa with them.
Lord Çré Kåñëa also used to do Ekädaçé Jägaraëa.
Why? To teach us, the conditioned souls.
Basic Principle of Ekädaçé
Ekädaçé should not be observed as a mere ritual.. it should rather be followed for the Pleasure of Lord Kåñëa.
Scriptures tell the basic principle for Ekädaçé Fasting, “kåñëera prété bhoga tyäga”. (For the pleasure of Kåñëa, do not indulge in sense gratification especially on this day), while the common trend followed nowadays is contrary to Scriptural Teachings. It is common to find people refraining from food and water the whole day and simultaneously spending day, meant for performing devotional services, by watching cricket match, sleeping in air-conditioned room, watching movies etc.
Ekädaçé is not mere Refraining from grains.. one should rather try to refrain from all so-called sense gratification from eyes, ears, nose, tongue, skin. This is, in fact, to be done daily, but at this stage due to our conditioned state, we should at least do every fortnightly on Ekädaçés. This will empower us and we will be able to practice this throughout our life.
Is it difficult to keep Nirjalä Ekädaçé ?
Nirjalä means without water (nir-without, jalä- water). One may think it is difficult to observe Ekädaçé fasting without food and water whole day… but it is not so..! It is all in the mind. If we feed “difficult” in mind, it is “difficult”.. If we feed “easy” in mind, it is “easy.”
Do’s and Don’ts on Ekädaçé
- Should wear fresh clothes.
- Should stay, associate with devotees.
- Should not meet material people, liars, aparadhis.
- Should not speak wrong words, bad words.
- Should not get angry.
Though we must be well acquainted with Jägaraëa of Mä Durgä, have we ever come across the term – Ekädaçé Jägaraëa? The answer of most of us would be No.. !! Indeed, Ekädaçé Jägaraëa is the most important part in observing Ekädaçé. Çré Hari Bhakti Viläsa states the benefits of performing Ekädaçé Jägaraëa.
Now, the question arises, what to do while keeping awake on Ekädaçé Nights. Well, Çivajé tells Pärvaté Devé of what all to perform during Ekädaçé Jägaraëa..
- Reading Scriptures
- Light lamps.
- Offer lamps to the Lord.
- Decorate the Lord
- Invite Devotees.
By performing Ekädaçé Jägaraëa, all sins of past births, all pains and sufferings of home, bodily sufferings, mental sufferings get destroyed.
Skanda Puräëa further states the benefits of performing different services-
|1.||Offering lamp||Donating 100 cows|
|2.||Keeping awake at night on Ekädaçé (at any place/for any reason)||Sins of past 100 births are forgiven|
|3.||Offering Flowers||Performing Açvamedha Yajïa|
|4.||Offering Agarbatté (incense)||Donating 100 sacks of sesame seeds|
|5.||Offering food (specially rice)||Donating 10,000 brown cows|
|6.||Offering Ghee Lamp||Donating 10,000 calves|
|7.||Doing abhiñeka with milk, curd etc. of the Deities||Attaining Liberation|
|8.||Offering beautiful clothes to the Deities||Attainment of Spiritual world|
|9.||Performing Äraté with Camphor||Attainment of liberation of the self + of 10,000 ancestors|
|10.||Reciting Bhagavad Gétä or other Scriptures||Donating 100 brown cows with each word recited|
|11.||Singing and dancing for the pleasure of the Lord||Performing 100 Yajïas|
|12.||Telling others on Scriptures||Attainment of Spiritual Abode|
|13.||Hari Kathä Çravaëa||Attainment of heaven (for ordinary beings) / Spiritual Abode (for devotees) by the self + 10 million ancestors|
|14.||Hearing Glories of Ekädaçé||Benefit of observing 100 Ekädaçés|
For further understanding, watch https://youtu.be/AXRrNY5mgQo
Ekädaçés at KARM
As mentioned above that fortunate are those who are blessed with the teachings from Real Äcäryäs, KARM Devotees are those fortunate ones.. for ÇRÉ GURUDEVA, the Real Äcärya, BLESSES them with the real teachings in a very simplified way.
KARM Devotees observe Ekädaçé Fasts in full knowledge and with full enthusiasm. Not just devotees, Their kids also enthusiastically observe this fast. There are some devotees who observe all Ekädaçés Nirjalä. A group of Devotees meet at night and perform Bhajanas- Kértanas together for the pleasure of the Lord. Time and again, devotees gather to do Ekädaçé Jägaraëa. Times when Ekädaçé Jägaraëa can not be performed, many devotees do Ekädaçé Jägaraëas at Their respective Homes, hearing Hari Kathä, doing Bhajanas-Kértanas, Chanting And Offering Lamps, flowers to the Lord.. and doing discussions over phone at night.
Cooking and serving other Devotees for Dvädaçé Pälana is also a Culture at KARM, i.e., for the breaking of fast the next day on Dvädaçé, devotees seek permissions for serving other Devotees by cooking.
All this is for all Ekädaçés.
For Nirjalä Ekädaçé, every year the enthusiasm is at peak.. despite the fact that Nirjalä Ekädaçé falls on the hottest of days, it does not prevent devotees from celebrating this occasion.. everyone keeps Nirjalä (observing fasts without food and water), spend day in discussion, Chanting etc.. invite Devotees to their place, perform Ekädaçé Jägaraëas at night and do Offerings to the Deities together.. and cook and serve for Dvädaçé Pälana. Moreover, devotees make Offerings to all Devotees also for Nirjalä Ekädaçé.
Thus, this devotional limb of observing Ekädaçé Fasts is also rendered very blissfully, very lovingly and with full knowledge by KARM Devotees.