Daily Practice

— { Observing Ekadasi } —


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.


  • His Divine Grace Om Vishnupad Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj on observing Ekadasi:

    "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 ।
    হবির্ব্রাহ্মণকাম্যা চ গুরোর্ব্বচনমৌষধম্ ॥

    astaitany avrataghnani apo mulam phalam payah
    havir brahmana kamya cha gurorv vachanam ausadham

    (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."



  • In the Math, devotees do not take breakfast on Ekadasi days and take anukalpa (non-grain prasadam allowed to be taken on Ekadasi when complete fast is not possible) at midday and some Ekadasi prasadam in the evening, as required.

  • Wherever available, devotees are advised to follow the time of fasting and breaking the fast as calculated specifically for their location. If not available, Ekadasi should be observed at the time calculated for India.

  • Paran (breaking the fast) is an indispensable part of observing Ekadasi and should be honoured at the time given in the Calendar with as much care as the Ekadasi day itself.

  • In temples, rice and other non-Ekadasi preparations are offered to the Deities and Gurudev along with Ekadasi preparations but are not taken—they are kept separately and honoured the next day.

  • There are only three conditions under which Ekadasi may be broken (order of Guru, to save a brahman, and indispensable medicine). In all other cases we can take shelter of His Divine Grace Srila B.N. Acharya Maharaj's guidance:

      "One time, a devotee wrote to Gurudev asking, 'Gurudev, early in the morning I have to go to work, and my work is very heavy (I work for a ship company and have to work with a very big heavy hammer). How should I do Ekadasi?' Gurudev replied, 'Then early in the morning, before you go to work, you can take five kg of potato.'"

  • On Ekadasi days, devotees also sing two special songs—Sri Hari Vasare in the morning and Suddha-bhakata-charana-renu in the evening.



    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:
    • any kinds of grains or their by-products (rice, wheat, soya, maize, canola, cereals, oats, millet, barley, rye, bread, flax, etc.)
    • any kinds of pulses or their by-products (soyabeans, chickpeas, beans, peas, cocoa, lentil, any other dahl pulses)
    • any flour (except buckwheat)
    • corn, corn oil, corn starch
    • beetroot
    • tomato
    • bitter melon (korela)
    • spinach, lettuce
    • all spices except ginger, cumin, black pepper

    Can be taken in moderation:
    • potato
    • cauliflower
    • zucchini/squash/pumpkin
    • buckwheat
    • milk, curd, yoghurt (containing no corn starch or grain by-products)
    • cucumber, fruit, nuts
    • tapioca, sago, sweet potato
    • salt, sugar
    • ginger, cumin, black pepper (no other spices)

    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 Ekadasi" (Sri Sri Prema-vivarta: how Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu observed Ekadasi)
    "Observing Ekadasi" (by Srila B.N. Acharya Maharaj)
    "Ekadasi Vrata: Make Your Guru Happy" (by Srila B.N. Acharya Maharaj)
    "No Other Shelter" (by Srila B.N. Acharya Maharaj)
    "Mahadvadasi" (by Srila B.N. Acharya Maharaj)
    "Ekadasi and liberation" (by Srila B.N. Acharya Maharaj)
    "Ekadasi Tithi: One of the Practices" (by Srila B.N. Acharya Maharaj)







  • Introduction
    Setting up the altar
    Daily kirtans
    Bhog, cooking, offering
    Observing Ekadasi
    Tulasi Devi
    Four regulative principles
    Scriptural regulations


    Prema-vivarta: Sincerity, Renunciation
    'Serve Gaura's devotees with perfect sincerity, and then, brother, you will reach Sri Krishna's feet. Chant 'Gauranga' and associate with Gaura's devotees. Chant 'Hare Krishna' and dance.'

    When you jump somewhere, do not look behind—you know that maya is very strong;
    slowly, slowly, it gives more and more problems.