His Divine Grace Om Vishnupad
We fast on ekadasi, but do we do it because of the glories of ekadasi? They say if you do ekadasi, you will get this result, that result, etc., but do you do ekadasi with all this in mind? Why do we fast on ekadasi? We fast for the pleasure of the Lord—out of love for Krishna (Krsner priti hetu). Dharma (religion), artha (wealth), kama (material desires), moksa (liberation)? Throw it into the Ganges! If you do ekadasi, you will get some dharma, arta, kama, moksa, you will get some result, you will get some money, this, that—is this why we must do ekadasi? We do ekadasi out of love for Krishna, it is a kind of rite (vrata). When people observe rites (when they do Durga puja, Kali puja, Laksmi puja, Ganesh puja, etc.), they do not eat rice, so we too do not take grains on ekadasi days, it is our rite.
Yani kani cha papani—killing your parents, killing your brother, killing your guru, killing a brahman—these are all sins. If you take grains on ekadasi, it means you commit all these sins.
"On the day of the Lord, pure devotees are satisfied by drinking the rasa of Krishna's Name. They do not partake of any other rasa or speak about anything else. They avoid all forms of enjoyment.
prasada bhojana nitya suddha vaisnavera krtya
"Taking prasad is a daily activity of pure devotees; they do not eat anything that is not prasad. On pure Ekadasi, however, they fast and then take prasad to break their fast (the following day).
(Sri Sri Prema-vivarta, 18.10-11)
If somebody eats grains on ekadasi, they commit the sin of killing their own mother, father, brother, guru, etc. They get all sin for it. Such people not only never reach the Lord, they never get the association of Vaishnavs. Whatever sin there exists, it takes shelter in grains on the day of ekadasi, so whoever takes rice on ekadasi, commits all these sins.
Why do we observe ekadasi? First of all it is out of love for Krishna—to make Krishna happy. And secondary reason is because fasting on ekadasi is prescribed in the scriptures and if you do not observe this rite you have to take the fault that it entails. The scriptures write about both these reasons. Also, if a Vaishnav eats some grains on ekadasi by mistake, then his Vishnu-puja becomes futile and he will fall into a terrible hell...
There is also a section in the scriptures that tells about the glories of ekadasi—just as when you read Gita, you are aware of its glories. It is necessary to understand the meaning of the Gita. It is written there,
সর্ব্বধর্ম্মান্ পরিত্যজ্য মামেকং শরণং ব্রজ ।
sarva-dharman parityajya, mam ekam saranam vraja
"Give up all kinds of religion and surrender to Me alone. I will liberate you from all sins, do not despair."
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita, 18.66)
The Lord says, "Leave all religions and take shelter in Me. I have told you about Kali puja, Durga puja, Laksmi puja, Ganesh puja, Kartik puja, but when you do all these pujas, you are actually worshipping Me but using a wrong process. All these pujas are not the proper method, it is actually wrong and you will not get any result by that." You must worship Him by worshipping whom all worships are fulfilled. If you worship Krishna, 330 000 000 demigods' worship is automatically fulfilled. No one of you can even tell the names of all these 330 000 000 demigods, I cannot either. Do you know that after this human body you can easily become a demigod—somebody can become a god, somebody can become a goddess, somebody can become Indra, the king of heaven (but even Indra always thinks, "How can I serve the Lord? How can I get this human birth again and serve the Lord? If I get a human birth again and serve the Lord, then I can reach the Lord..." You can also become Kali or Durga after this human birth. In this human birth you can achieve anything. You can become a demigod, go to heaven and enjoy a happy life, and when your sukriti finishes you will have to again fall into hell—you will again have to live as a frog or a snake in some jungle. Then, wandering throughout the universe in different species, if you, by some fortune, get a human birth again and coming to a bona fide guru engage in the service to the Lord, then you can come to the Lord.
What ekadasi is it today?
Devotees: Yogini ekadasi.
There is a conversation between Yudhisthir Maharaj and Sri Krishna related in Brahma-vaivarta Purana. Yudhisthir Maharaj asked Krishna a question and Krishna said in reply, "O dear one, yogini ekadasi (i.e. the eleventh day during the dark fortnight in the month of Ashadha) destroys all kinds of sins."
You think you can just do ekadasi today and all sins will go away, and tomorrow you start sinning again. That is called "Nama bale papachar: sinning relying on the power of the Holy Name." You do whatever you want 364 days a year and one day you do a twenty-four hour kirtan and think that all your sins are removed through that. That is 'Nama bale papachar.' It is one of the ten offences against the Holy Name. Do wrong all day long and in the evening chant four rounds on the mala and all sins go away—if somebody chants with this idea, that is 'Nama bale papachar'.
[His Divine Grace reads about the glories of the yogini ekadasi:]
So, yogini ekadasi (i.e. eleventh day during the dark fortnight in the month of Ashadha) destroys all sins. Yogini ekadasi can take one across the ocean of the material existence.
There was once a king of Alokapuri called Kuvera who was a dear devotee of Lord Siva. He worshipped Lord Siva with bilva (bel) leaves and cow milk. He had a gardener (mali) called Hema, or Hemamali, who had a very beautiful wife called Visalakshi. He loved his wife very much. One of the daily duties of Hemamali was to go to a pond and pick flowers for the king's daily service of Lord Siva. One day, however, he did not go there—his attachment to his wife was so strong that on the way to the pond he forgot about the pond and flowers for Lord Siva and went to his wife instead. When the gardener did not come back with the flowers, Kuvara become annoyed and sent his man to the gardner's house to bring him back. When the man came to Hemamali's house, he saw the gardener was enjoying with his wife so much that he had become intoxicated with pleasure and forgotten about everything. The king was informed about this. Later, when the gardener came to the king and shamefully greeted him saying that both he and his wife deserved his punishment, the king was so angry that his eyes became blood-shot, he said, "You sinner! Out of lust you have neglected the worship of most worshippable Lord Siva! You have wasted time! I shall curse you today—you will become a leper!"
As a result of the curse, the whole body of the gardener became covered with sores. Hemamali suffered immensely. To avoid people he left his house and started living in a forest. He was so miserable that he could not sleep at night, neither did he get any relief during the day. But because he used to worship Lord Siva before, due to his past fortune, he once met Markandeya Rishi, a sage whose lifespan was seven days of Brahma. Feeling low and sinful, Hemamali paid obeisance to the sage from far.
Muni Thakur, who is para-duhkhi-duhkhi (feels pain seeing others suffer), seeing a leper in front of him, asked him, "How did you get leprosy all over your body? What sort of sinful works have you done that you have become afflicted with this terrible disease?" Hemamali explained, "I was a gardener at the garden of king Kuvera, my name is Hemamali. I used to bring flowers from the pond every day, but one day I did not bring the flowers, I instead became enamoured and got involved with my wife. The king became very angry and cursed me, and as a result I am suffering from this leprosy. For a long time now I have not been staying with my wife anymore. Today, however, by some sort of sukriti, I have got this chance to have the darshan of your holy feet. O worshippable sage, I am surrendering to you, please give me shelter." Then, Markandeya Muni said, "Let me tell you one thing for your supreme benefit. Fast on the ekadasi day on the dark fortnight of the month of Ashadha. By fasting on this day you will certainly get your previous beautiful form back and get relief from the leprosy."
Filled with hope, Hemamali bowed to the sage and following his order, being constantly absorbed in devotional practice, fasted on this yogini ekadasi. He got his beautiful form back and returned home. Such is the result of fasting on yogini ekadasi.
And yet, we do not think about all these results. We follow ekadasi because our Gurupadpadma told us to, Mahaprabhu Himself also ordered to fast on ekadasi. Prabhupad Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur eased the rules by allowing us to take anukalpa on this day. Mahaprabhu did not eat anything on ekadasi and spent the whole day and night chanting the Holy Names, but Prabhupad Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur is so merciful:
"With his first step, he vigorously cut asunder the whole plane of exploitation, and with his second, he put a stop to all the calculations of the different scholars with their different conceptions of liberation. With his third step, he eased the hard rules and regulations by a touch of the Divine Love: he gave us the worship of Sri Sri Radha and Govinda. The real existence of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur Prabhupad is in his divine teachings. May those teachings dance eternally within the core of your heart."
"Sithilita-vidhi-raga-radhya-radhesa-dhani: he eased the hard rules and regulations by a touch of the Divine Love." He made the rules less strict. For example, if somebody has gastritis, they cannot fast even till 12 o'clock as it is done at the temple (if they do not eat something in the morning they get gastric disorders)—in this case, they can take some boiled potato, some fruit, some vegetables. If somebody has diabetes, for example, and they do not eat in the morning, their blood sugar falls down, then they can also take some anukalpa prasad. In such cases, there is no fault in that. It is said that you can take whatever prasad your Guru gives you and if it is medicine. When we take medicine, we do not even know what is inside it, but because of some disease we take it for the upkeep of the body. The Lord has given us this body for His service. If you do not use this body for service, then it does not matter whether you take care of it or not, it does not matter whether you live or not. You must promise that as long as you are alive you will serve your Guru, you will serve Govinda, the Lord.
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