About Ekadasi

ASK BVKS | July 16, 2011 |



How can one have pure Ekadasi? Also why parana time on next day is important?

Answer by HH Bhakti Vikāśa Swami:

I’m not sure what this question means. I presume that by pure ekādaśī is meant śuddha ekādaśī.

Śuddha ekādaśī is a term that is seen in our Vaiṣṇava calendar. Śuddha means pure. 
Here pure means that it’s not mixed with the proceeding tithi or lunar, solar day. The proceeding day is called daśamī, and is not mixed with the following tithi ekādaśī. And therefore it is suitable for fasting. 

If ekādaśī is mixed, in other words, if the time of daśamī overlaps with that of ekādaśī, or if the time of dvādaśī is overlapsed by ekādaśī, then the ekādaśī is not suitable for fasting, and then the fasting should be observed on the next day, dvādaśī.

That ekādaśī which is unmixed is called śuddha or pure. Pure in the sense that it is not mixed with other days.
Now, exactly the meaning of all this is quite complex because these days are tithis or days which are not calculated as the solar day is, by the rising of the Sun and the setting of the Sun, but by the movements of the Moon, which are much more irregular.

And then, another question connected with this is: Why is parāyaṇa on the next day important?

Actually parāyaṇa means something else. Parāyaṇa means attached to, as in Nārāyaṇa-parāyaṇa, a person who is attached to Nārāyaṇa.

Or another meaning is non stop recitation of a text from the beginning until the end, such as a Bhagavad-gītā parāyaṇa.

The actual word is pāraṇā, and this reffers to the time in which one should break the fast. That comes on dvādaśī.

Or one is to fast on Mahā-dvādaśī because the previous ekādaśī is not śuddha, then one is to break fast on trayodaśī.

The only information I could find about this is in Hari-bhakti-vilāsa, in which is stated that one should honor the dvādaśī by breaking the fast in the right time.

So, just as the ekādaśī should be honored by fasting, so dvādaśī should be honored by breaking the fast in the proper time.

Traditionally Vaiṣṇavas would stay up all night, fasting and hearing, and chanting about Viṣṇu, and would break the fast next day.

We find in Bhagavad-gītā that Kṛṣṇa recommends not too much austerity. One should have a balanced approach.

nāty-aśnatas tu yogo ’sti
na caikāntam anaśnataḥ
na cāti-svapna-śīlasya
jāgrato naiva cārjuna

There is no possibility of one’s becoming a yogī, O Arjuna, if one eats too much or eats too little, sleeps too much or does not sleep enough. (Bg 6.16)

yukta-ceṣṭasya karmasu
yogo bhavati duḥkha-hā

He who is regulated in his habits of eating, sleeping, recreation and work can mitigate all material pains by practicing the yoga system. (Bg 6.17)

So, that may be a reason why the time is given. That austerity is particularly meant for ekādaśī, and is not to be extended further. One honors Kṛṣṇa prasādam the next morning at the prescribed time.

Hare Kṛṣṇa!

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Since I got children it has been hard for me to follow a strict sadhana. Not only because of having children but also because my husband desires for me to take care of the household in the best possible way and keep a high standard (cleaning, cooking etc.). Around me I have some devotees telling me that I should not worry too much about strictly chanting 16 rounds, raising early and reading, that I will have more time for that in the future. In one way I am inclined to agree that it may be better not to brake my neck but at the same time I know that these are the things that keep us going as devotees and are part of the initiation promise. I pendle between the two ways of thinking and can't settle in my understanding. What is the right way of thought?

The second is in regards to my children. I always had a strong desire for my children to have a devotional education. To either attend gurukula or be homeschooled. Unfortunately neither is possible where we liveand my husband does not think it is a good thing to move anywhere else. I am very, very scared that our children will be too much influenced by the association in karmi-school and that it will bring them away from Krishna consciousness. What can I do to lessen the risks for this? 


ANSWER by HH Bhakti Vikasa Swami: 

"...Generally in response to such questions posed by grihasta devotees I suggest that they take advice from other grihastas who are in a similar situation and have been able to negotiate it well in Krishna consciousness. There is no doubt that having children is a major involvement. Especially in the nuclear family, whereas in the extended family there are many mothers looking after the many children. In one letter Srila Prabhupada wrote to a lady disciple who obviously had previously been involved in deity worship. Srila Prabhupada wrote to her that now that she had a child her main service was looking after her baby, not worshiping the Deities.

Traditionally in Bengal, ladies who wanted to be initiated as Vaishnavas would wait until their main child bearing period was over. Realizing that during that period they’re going to be very, very busy. Anyway, Srila Prabhupada never said to do that, but that traditional practice does recognize the difficulty of maintaining spiritual practice while having children. I am not much in favor of these counting machines for chanting, these “click, click, click… Hare Krishna…click, click”. But I’ve told lady disciples of mine that have have children, especially young children that they can use it. It’s not first class but it is better than nothing and that is really the spirit in which we all have to do devotional service. That we all have to do the best under the circumstances we are in. There’s no perfect situation anywhere. Although in general devotees who don’t have many children or no children they are freer to perform sadhana than those who do have children. And then again, raising children in Krishna consciousness is another kind of service. It can be seen like that. Even though it might not seem to be very obvious that it’s devotional service to clean up the stool after a baby or to separate two young children who are fighting. But it can be seen in that perspective that to raise them in consciousness of Krishna.

If you’re not able to chant all your rounds every day then you can keep a note. It might go up to a few thousand eventually, so later in life you can take up chanting more rounds if it comes to that. Then modern facilities give us the opportunity to listen to kirtan and lectures while cooking and doing everything else. In the absence of an extended family it would be good if all the ladies in that community got together. I don’t know if they do or not and help each other as much as possible.

The children should not be neglected, that’s the point. Even if one’s own sadhana is neglected the children needs to be looked after. They need lot of attention. One way to engage the kids so they don’t bother you so much is to have a T.V. But that’s not a good idea. Not at all. It’s a common solution but it’s really not a solution at all.
So be happy and think that Krishna has put me in this situation at this time and it’s my service to look after the children and look after the family. And everything else you do as well as you can as far as possible not pushing yourself to hard so that you don’t get a mental or physical break down.

And festivals are very important for householder devotees, especially the children. Engaging the children and when they are a little older, preparing for the festivals. Engage them as soon as possible in temple activities. Decorating the temple, picking flowers for Krishna, making dramas, that is a great way to engage the kids and all the parents love it.

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So she survived it, so it is not impossible. So it would be very advicable for this mataji to consult the parents who for what ever reason was constrained to send their children to karmi schools but whose children have never the less emerged as good devotees. No easy solutions that’s for sure.

It is a great struggle to establish Krishna consciousness in the modern world. But Krishna will be pleased by our service. We should try to do things as best as possible and also understand that we are also constrained by circumstances. It’s easy just to relax and say: “Okay…puh… Too much struggle. Okay, I’ll just chant Hare Krishna as much as I feel like it and watch TV as much as I feel like it. And what I feel, what I can do." But to be a disciple means to voluntary accept the struggle to become purified. To go up. So we try to make things as tight as possible. To keep us focused on the goal of becoming pure devotees. And to keep out maya. Sometimes we see devotees they are following strictly and all of a sudden “Prrrrr… Too much”. And then they collapse and flop into sense gratification. One day they have a flash or realization: “I don’t have to follow all these rules, I can just relax and be happy. And I can still chant Hare Krishna. When I like, how I like, as much or as little as I like. If I like. Oh, following all these rules…it is just too much, I can just relax”. But of course, maya does not relax. When we newly become a devotee we get a blast of bliss and then when we flop into maya we get a blast of maya’s bliss. But it is no bliss. And maya just goes on with her usual business of just squeezing out every drop of you.

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