At The Lotus Feet Of The Giver Of Liberation

Tomorrow is Kamada Ekdadasi.  Ekadasi is the special fast day observed by Vaishnavas on the 11th day of the waxing moon.  The best way to observe Ekadasi is to fast from food and water – nirjala.  This should be supplemented by hearing and chanting the glories of the Lord, preferably throughout the night.  One should also minimize routine activity on this day (like washing clothes, shaving, shopping, doing business etc.).  There is a simpler standard of fasting that is permitted in the Hare Krishna Movement – refraining from eating grains or legumes on this day.  The enjoying propensity should also be minimized on this day.  Ekadasi is a day of austerity.  Here is the story of how Ekadisi came about.

Krishna is aloof from His material creation.  This material realm has been created in such a way that it functions automatically according to guna (the modes of material nature) and karma (reactions to our activity in this world).  Those who defy God’s laws suffer under the Laws of Karma.  This is also called sin. The sum total of sin is represented by the Personality of Sin or Papa Purusa. Sin was getting stronger because of the general sinfulness of humankind.

One day the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Narayana, was visiting Yamaraja’s abode.  He could hear cries of agony.  ‘What is that?’ He asked.  Yamaraja explained, ‘These are the cries of the sinners being punished.’  Lord Narayana was concerned:  ‘These are my children.  I should do something to relieve their suffering’.  The Lord, therefore, created Ekadasi – in the form of a very beautiful woman. It is explained that even the greatest of sinners could become free from sin if they observed Ekadasi.  The Hari Bhakti Vilasa (manual for Vaishnava behaviour) explains that  on Ekadasi one should fast, absorb oneself in thoughts of the Lord, serve and glorify the Lord.

As a result of people observing Ekadasi, Sin was diminishing.  He approached Krishna in his emaciated condition.  Krishna said, ‘What is wrong?’  Sin replied, ‘You created me.  I am your son.  Ever since you created Ekadasi people are becoming free from sinful reaction.  Now I am dying.  Please do something so I can live.’  Krishna said, ‘Yes.  From now on all sins will enter into grains on that Ekadasi day.  Whoever eats grains on Ekadasi will accept the reactions for sins – even if he is sinless.’

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