Ekādaśī Tithi, the eleventh lunar day (Tithi) between the New Moon and Full Moon is an important day in Hinduism and Vaishnavism tradition. Ekadashi, also spelled as Ekadasi, is a day of self purification, redemption and spiritual progress. It is also known as Hari Vasara because it is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, is a day of fasting and prayers for all Hindus.

Our current Calendar has the dates of these days listed for every month. It can be found here.

Those who fast on this day are considered to get rid of malefic planetary influences, experience happiness, and gain the right peace of mind to think of Ishvara and attain moksha. It is a day of Vishtikarana, a day of malefic influences. Vishtikarana coincides with the second half of Ekādaśī Tithi and is avoided for all functions associated with worldly prosperity.

Ekadasi occurs twice in a Lunar month, in the bright fortnight and the dark fortnight. It is recommended to do a strict fast which means not to eat and drink at all because food is filled with our sins and bad karma. On this day, taking food increases our bad fortune. but if we fast this day we “burn” bad karma and and increase good fortune.

Fasting gives the body a chance to give rest to the digest system, instead of regular heavy meals three times a day, more fruits and light food is consumed, by doing so person goes for more of a spiritual life. It also teaches better control over body and mind. One of the biggest gains is staying healthy.

It is also important to give the physiological system some rest once a while. It may be overworked due to overeating or indiscrimination in diet. These irregularities get rectified in one day. Thus the observance of Ekadasi has many advantages — physical, astral, spiritual — and because this day has connection with the relation of the mind and body together with the moon, it helps improve meditation and contemplation.

The reason is because the planet itself is in a certain state on that day, so if we keep our body light and available, our awareness will turn inward. The possibility of opening the door within is more on that day. If you have a full stomach, and you are unaware and dull, you will not notice it. So to stay alert and also to purify the body, you go without food on that day – you ate dinner the previous day and the next thing you eat is dinner on Ekadashi.

Hinduism puts forth the idea that spiritual ascesis during Ekadashi helps a person to “jump out” of life and death cycle. Ayurveda recommends fasting to improve one’s health. Follow your personal features:

  • If you have “dosha kapha” – keep dry fasting.
  • If you have “Vata” then drink lemon water.
  • If you have “Pita” drink milk or juice (use 40% of milk and 60% of water, pour some sugar)

Depending on your state of health, work load, and other factors you can choose your personal diet taking into account the recommended food for the day.

If you are unable to go without food – because your activity levels are such and you do not have the sadhana to support you – you can go on phalahara or fruit diet, which is light on the stomach so that your inner doors will open. Forceful denial of food is not the point. The point is to make everything into a conscious process. We do not want to compulsively eat like this, we choose.

How to abide by Ekadashi

In the Ekadashi morning you should take a shower, calm down and clear your mind and body. It is important to understand that fasting is not just rejection of food or any other stuff. If you give vent to anger or moral deficiency – you are not actually keeping a fast, you are just not eating. Avoid daytime sleep, oil massage and shaving.

If you are not fasting eat no more than one time per day (after midday) during Ekadashi.

If you happen to miss the Ekadashi – you can do the fast it the next day (Dvadashi) and stop fasting on the 3rd day (Triodashi). If the Ekadashi coincides with dashas (the 10th lunar days) there’s no need to fast, buf if it coincides with the Dvadasha (12th Lunar day) it calls “pure Ekadashi” (Mahadvadashi) and it can be kept strictly.

Stop fasting the next morning 2-3 hours after the sunrise. The first meal should consist of fresh fruits or juices. Be careful with your ration. Your stomach is not working during fasting so do not overload it with heavy food when your fast is over.

It is recommended to prepare yourself for the first time fasting during the Ekadashi. Calm your mind and body. Do not overeat the day before fasting, do not take animal food. Vegetables, fruits, porridge are advisable. You can perform cleaning procedures (clyster, etc.). When you stop fasting drink juices, eat vegetables, fruits, cereals, etc. but not too much.

The Mantra For Ekadashi

The Vishnu mantra chanted on this day is:

“Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya”

Hare Krishna maha-mantra to chant 108 times:

“Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare,
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare 

Or:

Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare,
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare

Sources:

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