Mother of Devotion – 4

Remembering Krsna is the most important part of observing Ekadasi.


For many devotees, Ekadasi simply means a change of diet. Many hardly even notice Ekadasi coming and going. But Ekadsi observance means more than refraining from eating grains. The traditional system of following the Ekadsi vrata is to fast and stay awake all night chanting the Lord’s glories. It is a three day austerity that entails taking only one simple meal before nightfall on Dasami (the day before Ekadasi), and a similar simple meal on Dvadasi (the day after Ekadasi). Although this strict observance may not be practicable for most devotees, everyone should try to take advantage of the auspicious time of Ekadasi to advance in Krsna consciousness. In the Brahma-vaivarta Purana it is said that one who observes fasting on Ekadasi day is freed from all kinds of reactions to sinful activities and advances in pious life. The basic principle is not just to fast, but to increase one’s faith and love for Govinda, or Krishna. The real reason for observing fasting on Ekadasi is to minimize the demands of the body and to engage our time in the service of the Lord by chanting or performing similar service. The best thing to do on fasting days is to remember the pastimes of Govinda and to hear His holy name constantly. ( NOD Ch.7 ) Srila Prabhupada recommended that devotees with sufficient time chant twenty five or more rounds of japa on Ekadasi. Why just twenty-five rounds? You should chant as many as possible. Real Ekadasi means fasting and chanting and no other business. When one observes fasting, the chanting becomes easier. So on Ekadasi other business can be suspended as far as possible, unless there is some urgent business. ( Letter to: Jadurani, 9 July, 1971 ) However, although Srila Prabhupada told a few devotees to chant twenty-five rounds on Ekadasi, he did not make it compulsory for all. He particularly exempted devotees busy in preaching from the necessity to chant extra rounds. Tamala Krishna: We should always chant twenty-five rounds on ekadasi if initiated. Prabhupada: Initiated? Everyone. Why initiated? Tamala Krishna: So that should be standard for our movement on ekadasi day? Prabhupada: Standard is sixteen, but if one can chant more, then he is welcome. Tamala Krishna: It’s not mandatory for ekadasi. Jayapataka : Recommended. Prabhupada: No. Ekadasi means that, fasting and chanting. Tamala Krishna: Sometimes I’m wondering, because our men have to go out on book distribution. Prabhupada: No, no. That is also preaching work. For that purpose you can stop this, but generally, one who has no preaching work, he can chant extra. And even preachers sometimes need to wind down and get recharged with an extra dose of hearing and chanting, for which enhanced Ekadasi performance provides the ideal opportunity.

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