Ekadasi

Ekadasi (literally, “the eleventh day”) refers to two days a month: the eleventh day after the new moon and the eleventh day after the full moon. Scriptures say that ekadasi is a most favorable time for increasing spiritual practices and minimizing bodily needs. Krishna devotees fast on these days in order to spend more time hearing and chanting about Krishna.


Ekadasi (literally, “the eleventh day”) refers to two days a month: the eleventh day after the new moon and the eleventh day after the full moon. Scriptures say that ekadasi is a most favorable time for increasing spiritual practices and minimizing bodily needs. Krishna devotees fast on these days in order to spend more time hearing and chanting about Krishna.

Traditionally, all Vaishnavas abstain from grains and beans on Ekadasi, taking only water, milk, or fruits. Many fast completely from all food and water. With the time saved by avoiding any elaborate cooking arrangements, some chant extra japa and/or spend more time reading Srimad-Bhagavatam or other scriptures. Some gather together and chant Krishna-kirtan all night or engage in extra Deity service.

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Srila Prabhupada introduced the observance of Ekadasi in the course of establishing the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. He himself fasted from grains and beans every Ekadasi and encouraged his disciples to follow his example. He suggested putting all other activities aside on Ekadasi— except most urgent business—in favor of extra chanting and hearing about Krishna. For practicality, he recommended light meals consisting of nuts, root vegetables, seeds and milk products.

Following Ekadasi is said to help us 1) get relief from negative karma, 2) advance in bhakti-yoga (spiritual consciousness), 3) increase our faith and love for the Supreme Person, and 4) develop a desire to gain admission into the spiritual world. It can also improve health by giving our digestive system a break every two weeks.