Ekadasi: Devotional Practice
His Divine Grace Om Vishnupad
মূকং করোতি বাচালং পঙ্গুং লঙ্ঘয়তে গিরিম্ ।
mukam karoti vachalam pangum langhayate girim
"The dumb can speak, the lame can climb a hill—all it takes is mercy from Gurudev."
First, I am offering my full obeisance at the lotus feet of my Divine Master Om Vishnupad Jagad-guru Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj begging him for his causeless mercy, aspiring to serve him; after that, I am offering my full obeisance to all assembled guru-varga, godbrothers, to all the listeners, to all the motherly lady devotees, and all the devotees. I am offering my obeisance at your holy feet and praying for your mercy to this low soul.
Today is an ekadasi-tithi. It is not necessary to know what the glories of each ekadasi is because if you read about it, you will have a desire to get some result. There is much written about ekadasi days—if you fast on a certain ekadasi, you will get this pious credit, that pious credit, etc. When you read the glorification of Srimad Bhagavad-gita also, it is written there that if you read Gita, you will get this result, that result, etc. It is not necessary to do all this. It is sufficient to know that we must fast on ekadasi. Yesterday's day was viddha, so we are fasting today, on dvadasi. There was no fast yesterday. Outside people fasted yesterday, but those who practise in a pure way follow Gaudiya Calendar, and they fast today according to the calendar.
Mahaprabhu Himself once said to His mother,
"Mother, will you promise Me something? There is just one thing I want from you in this life. Will you give it to Me?"
"All right," answered Mother Sachi.
"Say you will three time."
"I will, I will, I will."
"Do not take grains on ekadasi."
That is why we do not take grains on ekadasi. Mahaprabhu observed ekadasi, and our guru-varga observed ekadasi. Prabhupad Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur made the rules a little easier. Our Param Guru Maharaj, Om Vishnupad Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj, wrote this sloka about him:
"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."
Srila Prabhupad eased the rules and regulations. Before, people followed ekadasi during three days: one day before, on the day of ekadasi itself, and the next day. The rules were very strict, but Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur allowed to take anukalpa (non-grain items). Bengali people cannot live without rice, so you can fast just one day instead of three. One time in His childhood, Mahaprabhu went to the house of Hiranya and Jagadish on ekadasi day. He had been crying very much and could not stop—they had tried everything, called a doctor, etc. but nothing helped. However, when they somehow brought Nimai to the house of Hiranya and Jagadish, where a full offering of all items had been made, Nimai took that non-ekadasi prasad and calmed down.
Ekadasi is prescribed in the scriptures, and all of us must fast on this day. Apart from that, fasting on ekadasi is also one of the sixty-four limbs of devotion, so we must observe ekadasi. I have told the gist of ekadasi, and we must observe it following this conception. It is necessary to practise Krishna consciousness taking shelter at the lotus feet of a bona fide guru. Do you understand? It is necessary to follow all rules and regulations properly and strictly, and it is necessary to become a genuine disciple. Practise sravanam, kirtanam, smaranam, vandanam, etc.
ব্রহ্মাণ্ড ভ্রমিতে কোন ভাগ্যবান্ জীব ।
brahmanda bhramite kona bhagyavan jiva
"Having travelled throughout the universe and got the mercy of Guru, Krishna, a fortunate soul receives a seed of the devotional creeper."
মালী হঞা করে সেই বীজ আরোপণ ।
mali hana kare sei bija aropana
"As a gardener, they must plant that seed and water it with practising: hearing and chanting."
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Madhya-lila, 19.151-152)
Sravan and kirtan are water that you must water your devotion with. We must listen to the glories of the Lord (sravan) and practise (chant the Holy Name of the Lord; kirtan). It is not enough to only plant a flower tree—you must water it. Therefore, practise sravan and kirtan. Wake up early in the morning every day. We have small kirtan books—take those books and chant five kirtans in the morning and five kirtans in the evening. You can see there what arati kirtans to sing, what to sing during Tulasi parikrama, what kirtans are sung in the afternoon, what the bhoga arati kirtan is, what the evening arati kirtans are. You must learn these kirtans by heart. Chant and chant them and learn them by heart. Practise every day, this is smaran. Take karatals and chant yourself every day. We sing, "Sri Guru-charana-padma kevala bhakati-sadma vando muni savadhana mate. I am carefully offering obeisance at the holy lotus feet of Gurudev, which are an abode of exclusive devotion." We must offer obeisances and pray to Gurudev. "Ami sakti-buddhi-hina, ami ati dina, kore more atmasatha. O Gurudev, I have no strength, I have no intelligence, please hijack me! Please take me from this material illusory world and use me for the service of the Lord, for the service of Radha-Govinda." That is why if Gurudev gives you service, you must do it. Those who have service have mercy; and those who have no service have no mercy.
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