What is Ekadashi?
The literal meaning of Ekadashi is ‘the eleventh day’. There are two Ekadashis in a month: on the eleventh day after the new moon, and on the eleventh day after the full moon. Of all vratas (vows of austerity), Lord Vishnu is most pleased with those who observe the Ekadashi vrat.
Therefore, anyone who does not observe the vrata and eats grains on Ekadashi is said to eat sin.
Significance of Ekadashi
Observing a vrata (usually fasting) is meant to control our senses and mind because without which, it may be hard for us to focus our attention on the Supreme. Therefore, Ekadashis are days meant for purification of the mind and curtailing bodily demands.
Abstaining from food will control our urge for taste and appetite and if we observe the vrata regularly, we can bridle our senses by controlling the mind. The vrata is intended to control the tongue as well. During the Ekadashi-vrata, we should never even think of using foul language. Lord Krishna tells in Uddhava Gita (14.36):
“shamo man-nishthata buddher dama indriya samyamah
titiksha duhkha-sammarsho jihvopastha-jayo drdhih”
“Control of mind is engaging the intelligence in the love of Me and self-control is controlling the senses. Tolerance is subsiding mental distress and firm determination is conquering the tongue, genitals, and lusty desires.”
Among all the senses, the tongue is the most important. Anyone who can control the taste of tongue and speech can control the mind and such a person alone can become a perfect devotee of God. Therefore, Ekadashi vratas are very important for a devotee to perfect his love of God and a true lover of Krishna should not miss these opportunities.
What are the Ekadashi fasting rules?
His Divine Grace, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, has given quotes in books, lectures and especially in conversations with other devotees. The quotes below come from his Divine Grace:
“On Ekadashi, everything is cooked for Vishnu, including regular grains and dal, but it is enjoined that a Vaishnava should not even take vishnu-prasadam on Ekadashi. It is said that a Vaishnava does not accept anything edible that is not offered to Lord Vishnu, but on Ekadashi a Vaishnava should not touch even maha-prasadam offered to Vishnu, although such prasadam may be kept for being eaten the next day.”
Srila Prabhupada goes on to say, “Since the living entities of Kali yuga are short lived and lusty, they are unable to perform severe austerity. The living entities of Kali yuga subsist on food grains and cannot survive without eating these grains. People of Satya, Treta and Dvapara yugas were capable of undergoing severe austerity and could tolerate physical distress.”
He adds, “This is why a minimum austerity in the form of fasting twice a month on the days of Ekadashi has been prescribed for the people of Kali yuga. If they are able they should eat only once the day before Ekadashi, fast totally on the day of Ekadashi and eat only once the day after Ekadashi.”
If one is unable to follow even this, in other words if one is unable to eat only once on the day before and after Ekadashi, then he must observe complete fast on the day of Ekadashi.
If one is still unable to follow this, then he should give up eating five types of grains and observe the vow of Ekadashi simply by partaking some fruits and roots. The five types of grains to be avoided are:
- Rice or other products made from rice such as flat rice and puffed rice
- Wheat flour and white flour
- Pulses such as moong, chickpea, green peas, lentil etc.
- Mustard oil and sesame oil
The way Srila Prabhupada asked us to follow Ekadashi was to fast from grains and beans. Full Ekadashi fasting was never encouraged by His Divine Grace.
Rather than emphasizing various dry austerities, he put greater emphasis on service (which is sometimes hampered by fasting, and perhaps further hampered for many days by staying up all night).
Therefore, Srila Prabhupada only insisted on 4 full fast days a year for certain Appearance Days and eating very simply on Ekadashis.
Full fasting, and optionally for every Ekadashi, is an optional vrata and good if it inspires a deeper feeling of love for Krishna.
What is the ISKCON Ekadashi 2023 Calendar?
The ISKCON Ekadashi 2023 Calendar is a subset of the Mayapur Vaishnava Calendar or simply the Hare Krishna Calendar. It gives a list of all the Ekadashi in a particular year. Let us try to understand the calendar. There are two types of ancient vedic calendar systems, the Lunar (moon) calendar and the Solar (sun) calendar.
Most of the scholars who have studied these old vedic calendars are of the opinion that the lunar system is more ancient. The lunar phases may have an effect on agriculture, and according to scriptures like Manu-samhita (The Law of Manu) they also influence subtler aspects of human life.
Gaurabda is the name of the lunar calendar based on Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s appearance year. Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is Krishna’s incarnation in Kali-yuga. He appeared in 1486 at Sridhama Mayapura in the city of Navadvipa, West Bengal, India.
Lord Caitanya was also known as Gaura because of His beautiful golden complexion. So the calendar based on this Golden Incarnation of Krishna is called Gaurabda. It is used as the main calendar of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) and Gaudiya vaishnava followers.
The years in the Gaurabda calendar are counted from the appearance day of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. In the Gaurabda vaisnava calendar the times for various celebrations are determined by the tithi, sometimes with nakshatra and other elements of the calendar taken into account. Each month, or ‘masa’ is known by the name of Vishnu.
The ISKCON Ekadashi 2020 Calendar is as follows:
|Putrada Ekadashi –||January 6|
|Sat Tila Ekadashi –||January 20|
|Bhaimi Ekadashi –||February 5|
|Vijaya Ekadashi –||February 19|
|Amalaki Vrata Ekadashi –||March 6|
|Papamochani Ekadashi –||March 20|
|Kamada Ekadashi –||April 4|
|Varuthini Ekadashi –||April 18|
|Mohini Ekadashi –||May 4|
|Apara Ekadashi –||May 18|
|Pandava Nirjala Ekadashi –||June 2|
|Yogini Ekadashi –||June 17|
|Sayana Ekadashi –||July 1|
|Kamika Ekadashi –||July 16|
|Pavitropana Ekadashi –||July 30|
|Annada Ekadashi –||August 15|
|Parsva Ekadashi –||August 29|
|Indira Ekadasi –||September 13|
|Parama Ekadasi –||October 13|
|Pasankusa Ekadashi –||October 27|
|Rama Ekadashi –||November 11|
|Utthana Ekadashi –||November 26|
|Utpanna Ekadashi –||December 11|
|Moksada Ekadashi –||December 25|
What are the Vrat Timings of Ekadashi in 2023?
The Vrat timings are different from city to city within India as well as across the world. Please visit the ISKCON temple in your city to know the exact timing for the upcoming Ekadashi.
What is the Puja Vidhi of Ekadashi?
Devotees who observe the Puja Vidhi wake up before sunrise and take a bath. After that, they offer prayers to Lord Vishnu and Lord Krishna. They offer tulsi leaves, flowers and dhoop to the deity while worshipping. They also chant hare Krishna mantras and sing bhajans for the almighty.
Devotees fast on this day, observe vigil the whole night and do Japa, Hari Kirtan and meditation. Some do not take even a drop of water. Those who are unable to fast completely can take some light fruit and milk. If one observes the Ekadashi fast regularly, all sins are washed away and the mind is purified.
During Ekadashi, Srila Prabhupada advised to chant the Mahamantra as much as possible. The Mahamantra we follow in ISKCON is “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare / Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.” One should try as many rounds of the Mahamantra as possible on the Ekadashi days.
FAQs related to Ekadashi 2023
How many Ekadashi are there in 2020?
There are 25 Ekadashis in 2020 because July had an additional one. The following Ekadashis are yet to come in this year:
|27 Oct 2020 –||Pasankusa Ekadashi|
|11 Nov 2020 –||Rama Ekadashi|
|26 Nov 2020 –||Utthana Mahadvadashi|
|11 Dec 2020 –||Utpanna Ekadashi|
|25 Dec 2020 –||Moksada Ekadashi|
Can we wash hair on Ekadashi?
Men should refrain from shaving their beard and women should avoid washing their hair on Ekadashi.
How can I Break my Ekadashi fast?
The observers of vrata on Ekadashis sometimes prefer to fast, and/or fast without drinking water, and/or spend a sleepless night. Sometimes devotees chant and praise the Lord always and keep awake the whole night.
Such observers of vrata should break the fast methodically. It may be safe to drink one or more glasses of water with lemon juice and a little bit of salt and black pepper as an appetizer and eat food after a couple of hours.
When Should we Start Ekadashi Fast?
The Ekadashi fast starts from sunrise on the day of Ekadashi to sunrise on the following day.
Which is the Most Important Ekadashi?
The Pandava is the most important Ekadashi. It is observed on the eleventh day of the bright fortnight of Moon (shukla-paksha) in the month of Jyeshtha (May-June). It is called Nirjala Ekadashi because on that day the observer of the vrata should not drink even water.