Dr. M. Giridhar
giridhar at CHEMENG.IISC.ERNET.IN
Wed Jul 8 22:04:19 CDT 1998
We can earn (i.e., perceive) the grace of Ishvara only if we have deep
devotion for Him, a devotion that is greater than the devotion to anything
else (family, friends, material objects). This comes to people only with
chitta shuddhi and by the performance of karma without the thought of
fruits. If I may indulge in saying so, it is emphasized that only the
practice of such vratas can our other activites towards devotion bear
> are very prominently observed. Thousands of devotees, called Varkaris
> assemble and conduct nonstop bhajans in praise of ViTThala.
The fast is observed in great vigour in Udipi also.
> One may, I presume, add different variations of dietary restrictions
> to this list, depending on the region one comes from.
One of the variation is that one can not eat anything that
grows above the ground. Thus, eating potatoes etc. is okay but not
> Personally, I have been able to do 1) only twice in my life and
> that too with "devastating consequences" later. So I was strongly
> advised to not do 1) again. 2) is also quite difficult but I was
> able to do it many times. I find 3) and 4) are not exactly easy if
Due to the grace of Lord Vishnu, I have been able to follow 1)
(but with drinking water) for the last four years (excluding this year). I
think it works out better for the whole body and mind if we are able to
fast completely. Of course, if one has body ailments, it should not be
However, we should not think of food while fasting, it is better
to think of the Lord and eat rather than fast and not think of Him ! The
day of Ekadashi (atleast the free time on that day) is to be spent in
meditation, japa etc. of Lord Vishnu. One person told me that a recitation
of Vishnu sahasranama is mandatory on this day (though this rule may not
have a puranic basis).
> The Puranas, for example the Padma purana, are replete with stories
> that glorify the ekAdashii vrata. Children, the aged, and those who
All the various sins that are performed by our eleven
sense organs will get destroyed by the merit that comes to one
who fasts on Ekadashi. This is said in Padma purana. Many such things
are said about the glory of ekadashi.
The significance of Ekadashi and Dvadashi vrat are
covered in Srimad Bhagavatha in Canto 9 and also found
in Narayaneeyam (a condensed form of bhagavatam).
> Among VAiShNavas, some people say that the fast commences
> on the night of the dashamii (the 10th day) itself and ends on the
> dvAdashii (the 12th day), but before the end of the dvAdashii. In
> this case, it is mandatory to break the fast before the dvAdashii
> ends. Otherwise, the ekAdashii fast is not deemed fruitful.
What you have stated above is the dvadashi vrat. Ekadashi vrat
does not require the breaking of fast before the conclusion of the
When one is breaking the fast on dvadashi, it has to be
done by feeding a guest or a brahmaNa. I think, if neither can be
found, one can feed a cow instead.
Since we are discussing this subject, Lord KrishNa answers
why He did not eat at the palace and instead ate at Vidura's
house . The Lord tells Duryodhana:
The food partaken at a BhakthA's house is superior
and pure and os the same holy level of the intake of Ganga
water, Vishnu meditation and observance of ekadashi vrat.
There is a story behind the significance of ekadashi vrat.
[The following is a very condensed version from srimad bhagavad]
Once there lived the king named ambarisha who observed dvaadashi
vrat on the banks of yamuna. During his fasting, Durvasa came
to visit him. Now, durvasa was an observer of ekadashi vrat but
not dvadashi vrat.
An hour was left for the completion of the tithi, and
the king had to eat before that. But durvasa went to the river
to take a bath after extracting a promise from the king that he
would fed as a guest. Time passed and there was no sign of Durvasa.
The king was in a dilemma and consulted what he could do so as to
break the fast before the end of dvadashi tithi. It was agreed that
he can drink some water which was used to worship a saligrama.
A few minutes later, Durvasa returned and found that the king
had drunk water without feeding him first. He flew in to a rage and
cursed the king. To complicate matters, he drew down a strand of
hair and from there arose a demon who wanted to kill the king.
But, Vishnu was pleased with the devotion of the king sent his
sudarsana chakra to behead both the demon and durvasa. Durvasa ran
all over, went to various gods and pleaded to be saved but all that
was futile. He then went to Lord Narayana Himself. Lord Narayana,
the all merciful one, replied,
'O sage, I am controlled by my bhaktas. I am incapable of doing anything
which have happened due to the sinful acts committed against my devotees.'
Therefore, Durvasa went and begged the forgiveness of ambarisha, who
prayed to Lord Vishnu and asked the sudarsana chakra not to kill Durvasa.
Thus one who observes the ekadashi and dvadashi vrat properly will not be
touched by Yama.
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