Ekadasi is included in the list of the
Sixty-Four Practices of Devotion and therefore takes an indispensible
part in the life of a sincere practitioner. At Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math,
Ekadasi is observed with affection and without fail according to the dates
given in the Calendar.
"We will take no grains and we will not take food many times unless it is necessary for someone for health reasons. Maintain your body and take some food, and if someone can do Ekadasi without food, that is the best. What does "best" mean? It is Krishna consciousness, and service to Krishna must not be hampered, this is first of all, and after that we can take some physical austerity to supply more enjoyment to Krishna. Ekadasi is a special day when Krishna's hankering for enjoyment increases, and devotees supply that enjoyment to Him ignoring their own happiness. This is Ekadasi.
"As for what is permissible,
অষ্টৈতান্যব্রতঘ্নানি আপো মূলং ফলং পয়ঃ ।
astaitany avrataghnani apo mulam phalam payah
(Hari-bhakti-vilasa, 12.40, originally from Mahabharata)
"Apo means water, mulam means what grows under ground, phalam means fruit, payah means milk and all products of milk, havir is also a product of milk, it means ghee, and there are three other things. 'Brahmana kamya ca' means if a brahman is in a dangerous position and he wants you to take some food, by which he will get relief, then you can take it. 'Guror vachanam': if your Gurudev says, "Take this and go!" then there is no question, you must take it. And ausudham, medicine: inside medicine there are many ingredients, but it is permissible to take it because it is necessary to maintain your health.
"So, we can see the point is there, and the point is to maintain your health and serve Krishna as must as possible. We can also add that you can take what grows under the ground, some potato, etc. As for carrots, I have seen in Hari-bhakti-vilas that carrots are restricted, but we take it and do not feel anything bad. In Uttar Pradesh, unlike Bengal, they follow Ekadasi, and on Ekadasi day you can see they sell carrot halwa in the shops—there you will get Ekadasi food on the streets and they follow Ekadasi properly, they do not give any imitation. You can also cook some tapioca with milk.
"I like very simple Ekadasi, but my fortune is very bad because when I go somewhere and see that it will be Ekadasi, I become fearful because every time Ekadasi disturbs me with food—they make so many things, but I do not like it. Guru Maharaj's plan for Ekadasi is one subji and tapioca, that is all, nothing else. Now, our friends promoted peanuts and they also make peanuts on Ekadasi. It is agreeable food on Ekadasi, they can take it, and also some fruit. Sago (tapioca) is good for stomach, if someone's stomach is not strong, they can take tapioca boiled in water and milk, it is very simple.
"It depends upon one's health. On Ekadasi, actually you should not take too much of anything, give some rest to your stomach. Medical science also says that if you can give a complete rest to your stomach on Ekadasi, it is good for your health.
"Then, everyone will choose for themselves what is necessary for them and what is not."
FASTING AND BREAKING FAST:
You may come across contradictory information as to whether certain vegetables can be taken on Ekadasi. If you doubt, do not take the vegetable. Ekadasi prasadam is very simple and does not have to contain all permissible items. For example, if cauliflower is allowed, it does not mean you have to take cauliflower. As far as possible, follow the standard of the Math: service, potato, sago, and maybe nuts and fruit.
Not taken or used:
Can be taken in moderation:
Note: Many products in the stores may also contain traces of wheat, gluten, etc., so the ingredients' list should be checked to avoid accidental offence to Ekadasi.
(Sri Sri Prema-vivarta: how Sri Chaitanya
Mahaprabhu observed Ekadasi)
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