"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."
"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.'"
"Practising life is necessary, and actually Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur made it a little loose for us, as in the case of ekadasi for example.
"When people do ekadasi, they fast the whole day and do not even take water, but Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur said that we could fast at least from morning to noon and take some anukalpa [non-grain prasadam] at noon time. This was told by Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur and our temple also follows that. Sometimes, Gurudev also said that if somebody was sick (if they had acidity problem, could not fast, had to take medicine, or had diabetes, for example), then it was OK to take anukalpa in the morning also. Otherwise, for as many years you can tolerate it with your health, you must follow full ekadasi. I saw that Gurudev himself practised in this way—he followed full ekadasi. Anukalpa prasadam is allowed, but not for everybody—those who are not sick must follow proper fasting."
Ekadasi food is very simple and does not have to contain all permissible items. As far as possible, follow the standard of the Math: potato, sago, and maybe some nuts and fruit. 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 or fed to the cows.
Not taken or used on Ekadasi:
Can be taken on Ekadasi in moderation (if full fast
is detrimental to health and service):
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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