By Jyotikar Pattni @ www.hanss.co.uk Copyrights © June 1st 2007
Sanatana Vedic Dharma, dedicates and allots each tithi for a specific rite and ritual. “Ekadashi” is a Sanskrit word, which means 'the eleventh'. It refers to the eleventh day of a fortnight belonging to a lunar month. There are two fortnights in a lunar month—the bright cycle of the shinning bright moon during the lunar month known as the shukla paksha and the dark cycle of the waning moon during the lunar month. So, ‘Ekadashi’ occurs twice in a month, in the bright fortnight and the dark fortnight. The special feature of Ekadashi, as most people know it, is a fast, or vratt or abstinence from normal diet. This is how it is usually understood. We do not eat tamasic or rajjasic foods on Ekadashi', is what people understand. Usually most people eat fruits and milk products during the whole of ekadashi whilst others include “farar” like samo, potato, and fruit salad comprising ice cream faludo (special mixture). Ekadashi vratt entails eating Sattvic foods that are sufficient enough to sustain survival like fruits and nuts, milk and ice creams. The significance of this particular observance is not merely constituted of a fast, from physically abstaining foods, though it is also an essential element; it has other deeper aspects and relevant detoxifications. In fact, the fast is only a practical expression and a symbol of something else that we are expected to do, which is of special significance to our personality. Those who know astronomy and astrology as something which tells about the inter-relation of the planetary system, the stellar world, would be aware that we form a part of this planetary or solar system. By a system we mean an organism or organisation which is methodically arranged. When we know that we belong to the system of planetary motions, we understand thereby that we are an inseparable part of the system. We are not unrelated bodies on the surface of the earth, like a cart on the road which has no organic link. We belong to the solar system—a huge family of which the sun is the head and the planets are the members. The sun guides the activities of this family and we, being contents of this system, cannot be out of the influence of the sun. We are involved in the laws operating in this huge karmic astrology system.
Astrology and Astronomy studies the movements of planets and stars, and in astrology the karmic effects they produce on the contents of the system are therefore contemplated. The Ekadashi observance is an astrological phenomenon and it is observed due to this relation we have with some of the planets in the system. The entire personality of ours is tremendously influenced by the movement of planets. There is no use imagining that the planets are above our heads. They are everywhere. There is a relative movement of planets among which the earth is one. The movement of one thing in relation to another is a relative movement. There is no planet which is static. Even the sun is not ultimately static. The whole solar system is moving and rushing towards some huge star, which is eighty million times larger and brighter than the sun, whose light has not yet reached us, as astronomers tell us. We have to understand that there is relative motion amongst planets and we are relatively influenced by the planets. Each planet tells upon our system and we cannot get rid of the influence of theirs as long as we are in this planet, of which we are a part. The gravitational pull of planets has an influence on us.
The sun is said to influence the centre of our personality; hence the sun is called Atmakaraka. He is the soul-influencer of the human body. In the Rig-Veda, the sun is identified with the soul of the universe as well as the soul of the individual. The different limbs of our body and different parts of our system are supposed to be influenced by different planets. The sun is capable of influencing the entire being. He is, thus, the Atmakaraka. Karaka is doer, manipulator, and director. If there is no sun, we know what difference it makes for us; our digestion becomes sluggish on days when there is no sun. So important is the sun.
The moon is supposed to influence the mind. The mind is also made up of material substance. The mind is not spiritual but material. How is mind matter? This can be known if we know how, in Homeopathy, the medicine is manufactured. In Allopathy, they give the crude base of a medicine, which Homeopathy calls mother tincture. In Homeopathy, one drop of mother tincture is mixed with hundred drops of rectified spirit and shaken with a tremendous force. That mixture is one potency of medicine. One drop of that is mixed in hundred drops of spirit again. It becomes 2 potency medicine. Likewise, they have larger potencies. So, you can imagine what happens to the medicine when it reaches the higher potency. There is no medicine at all. So, Homeopathy says, they give no medicine, but a vibration,—vibration of the original base-material. It is a subtle aromatic vibration; aromatic in the sense of the subtle residuum of the original medicine; and what will create a circumstance in Allopathic will remove that very circumstance in Homeopathy. Nevertheless this potency is material in the sense that it is formed of matter. So is the mind. It is the subtle portion of the material substance of our food. The subtle essence of the food, not only directly taken through the mouth but through all senses, contributes to the make up of the mind or the mind-stuff. Mind is material in a subtle sense, like a mirror which is made of earth-material only, though it shines. Only the mirror is able to reflect light, and not the brick, though it is also made of the earth material. Mind is material in this sense. It is very, very subtle and is made up of everything that we take. So, matter influences matter. Planets are not spiritual bodies, and yet they influence the mind. The mind's presiding deity is moon. Ekadashi is particularly relevant to this relation of moon and mind. You will find that, when you go deep into the study of astronomy, you have nothing in your body except some planetary influences! We are made up of planetary forces and there is nothing independent to call our own. One part belongs to one planet and another part to another planet. If each planet claims its part, you will disintegrate. The moon influences the mind in its orbital relative movement with reference to other planets and us.
How, is Ekadashi related to the movement of moon and mind? We have certain centres called Chakras in the body. The Chakras are nothing but energy-centres which whirl in some direction as water whirls in a river. Chakra is a wheel or circular motion. They move in a spiral shape. They are not physical; but psycho-physical and psychological. These Chakras are neither in the mind nor in the body; they are in the astral body. The moon's influence physically on the body has an influence on the Chakras, which tells upon the mind ultimately. The mind moves through these Chakras. The passage of the mind is through these Chakras, up and down. When this operation takes place consciously, it is called Yoga.
When done unconsciously by the mind, it is just influence. When the moon waxes or wanes, the mind is vehemently influenced.
So people whose Chandra or moon is in the debilitation or exaltation bhavas suffer more than those whose chandra is in the ‘mitra’ or friendly rashi/house/bhava. Also, others whose Chandra or moon are not normal and have afflictions of mercury planet and rahu-ketu axis, the mood swings in their minds become very bad on the full-moon and new-moon days. You cannot see the moon's influence on the earth because it is solid, but it can be seen on the ocean which is liquid. The moon influences the whole earth, but its influence is visible on the large body of waters in the sea. This happens due to the twofold pressure of the relation of the earth and moon. The sun influences the moon and the moon influences the earth. When the influence occurs automatically, we are instruments in the hands of Nature. When it is done consciously, we are said to practise Yoga. We can be involuntarily dragged from place to place, or we can walk voluntarily. The difference is obvious. The moon's movement tells upon the movement of the mind through the Chakras.
Another important aspect is the seat of the mind which is also twofold. We may be living in many houses, of which one or two are our own. Svasthana means 'One's own place.' The mind has several abodes or centres of energy called Chakras, of which two are its own. The seats of the mind in this personality of ours are: 1. the subtle spot in the astral body corresponding to the centre of the two eye-brows, in waking, and 2. the heart, in the state of deep sleep. If it is in the brain, it is active and you, then, do not get sleep, because it refuses to go down. If the mind is midway between the centre of the eye-brows and the heart, it is dream state. So, there is a twofold centre of the mind,—the Ajna-Chakra, or the centre between the eye-brows, and the Anahata Chakra, or the heart. In both these centres, the mind feels at home and is at ease, because it is nearer to itself. In other centres it is extrovert. In the Ajna and the Anahata Chakras it finds itself at home. In the two fortnights, in its movement, it finds itself at the Ajna Chakra and the Anahata Chakra on the eleventh day. Since these two Chakras are its own abode, the mind is at home here, i.e., it gets concentrated and collected easily.
This has been the experience given out by our ancients, and this has to be taken advantage of by Sadhakas. You are capable of concentration when the mind is naturally in its home. The mind cannot be concentrated when it is out of tune, but when it is in its location it is easy of contemplation. So, the Ekadasi day in both fortnights is the occasion when the mind finds itself in its place—in the bright fortnight in the Ajna Chakra, and in dark fortnight in the Anahata Chakra. Seekers and Yogis take advantage of these two days and try to practise deep meditation. Vaishnavas treat Ekadasi as a very holy day and also observe a fast on that day.
Fast or at least eat very light Sattvic foods like fruits and milk and nuts and meditation either in mantra-manjaree or jaaps or contemplation or sit in quietness to clear the clusters from the mind. What connections have they? There is really no intrinsic connection between fasting and contemplation or meditation, but there is some advantage in keeping the body light and the stomach free from excessive metabolic function. When the stomach is given the duty of digestion, doctors will tell you, the blood circulation is accelerated towards the digestive organs, on account of which blood circulation to the head gets decreased after food is taken and so you feel sleepy and the thinking faculty practically ceases to function. Hence, there is no advantage in giving the physical system work on days you want to do Yogic practice. Thus, Ekadashi has also a spiritual significance – to cleanse our ‘amma’ or toxins in the body accumulated over a fortnight by eating junk foods.
The energy of the whole system gets distributed equally if a particular limb is not given any inordinate work. If any part is given heavy work, there is a dislocation of the working of the body. So, in fasting the energy is equally distributed as the digestive function is not there. But, there should be no overdoing in fast. Fast is supposed to cause buoyancy of feeling and not fatigue. So people who are sick and cannot observe a total fast take milk and fruits, etc. On the other hand, People who are perfectly healthy and are confident, observe a complete fast on fluids. This helps in control of mind and will. Please note that during fluid fasts, avoid citric juices or acidic juices at all times and please note that taking coconut water is the best fluid intake during fasting of ekadashi or any other fasting for that matter.
Apart from all these, there is a
necessity to give the physiological system some rest once a while. It may be
over-worked due to a little over-eating or indiscrimination in diet. These
irregularities unconsciously done during the fourteen days get rectified in one
day. Thus the observance of Ekadashi has many advantages—physical,
astral, spiritual—and because this day has connection with the relation of the
mind with its abode together with the moon, you feel mysteriously helped in
your meditation and contemplation,—mysteriously because you cannot know this
consciously. But you can feel this for yourself by observing it. In Vedic
astrology, and in particular the sanatan dharma, everything is interpreted
spiritually. Every river is a deity. Every mountain is a god.
Everything is holy, dedicated to the Divine. Everything is presided over
by a particular god, Gramadevata,
etc. Everywhere is God. The idea behind all this is that we have
to feel the presence of God in everything and everywhere. In space and in
time, in everything, there is God. Time is God. Directions are God. Thus the
very objects become embodiments of God. This is
During Ekadashi vratt, we invoke basically our ishtha devata, our ishtha mantra, one’s ishtha celestial constellations nakshattara to rejuvenate and to cleanse our system – metabolic, psychological and emotional systems. So, in terms of observing the vratt, one can begin by lighting the deepam of cotton wick immersed in rose water container to Surya-Narayan before the dawn with some flowers, Tulsi, cane sugar water, coconut water, some fruits, and do a simple prayer mantra of one’s ishtha mantra and to perform small brief round of aarti. At the end of the day, one should bath and perform puja wearing preferably red and yellow cotton cloths. One must then eat sparingly to sustain the body from excessive gas and acid. One can drink fruit lassi and sit in trance to do one’s jaap.
During Ekadashi, one should commence by offering flowers to the feet of Lord Vishnu. Take one red flower and to dip in the ganga jaal and offer it to the Tulsi plant. Then, one must offer rice and flower petals to the entrance of one’s house to invoke positive energies. Then one must recite the KSHAMA PRARTHANA or the forgiveness prayer to the dusk suryanarayanaya.
From experience, the best jaap done during the Ekadashi vratt are as follows:
1. AUM HRIM SHRIM MAHA-GANESHAYA NAMAHA
one mala of 108 beads or 11 beads or 21 beads
2. “AUM NAMOH BHAGAVATEY VASUDEVAYA HARI AUM NAMOH NARAYANAYEH”
11 malas of 108 beads or one mala of 108 beads depending upon one’s capacity.
3. Gayatri mantra: AUM BHUR BHURVAH SVAH AUM TAT SAVITUR VARENYAM BHARGO DEVASYA DHIMAH DHIYO YO NAHA PRACHODAYYAATT. AUM. One mala of 108 beads
Aum Shantih Shantih Shantih
Many may prefer to even recite the Gita. Recital of Gita is highly rewarding; especially the Gita-Mahatmya. On the Ekadashi vratt, one must donate 11 coins to a charity of one’s choice preferably at a time when there is NO rahu kaal. On the Ekadashi vratt, one may listen to the hymns and prayers and shlokas and stutis and stotras of Bhagavan and any other devas. Also, some may observe silence if possible. What are the benefits of Ekadashi Vratt: COUNTLESS. Ekadashi vratt eliminates one’s vikarma (bad karma) and restores back in one’s life the domestic happiness. Ekadashi vratt is recommended most highly as a vratt for narayan. For those who did not observe the Purshottamm maasa adhik maasa in whole by abstaining from eating tamasic and rajjasic foods, it is suggested that one observes the ekadashi vratt. For those in whose families there has been a sudden tragic death, loss of someone dying in tragic death, it is recommended that Ekadashi vratt conveys solace and peace to the departed souls. Jaya SiyaRama.
I dedicate this article to all the departed souls resting in the spiritual world. Herewith a prayer to the spirit world: To every one of the souls, who left the human earthen clay suddenly or in tragic death: conclusion in prayers:
Life oh life, let it be a flight of delight, let it be a dream.
a dream, let me fly across the teeming blue ink heavens,
Through the air, passing vividly the hue red of the sun underneath as though Garuda crossing the
the shores of
the sun rose, and unsettled the grey mist on the Ganges
I sat in a boat, with rhythm creaking oars
To the slap thud of washing clothes on stony steps,
To the ringing bell of funeral pyres
Vultures flapping, rose petals following
In the wake of burning dead.
shall I capture; the beauty of the sun rise or the noise, haste and pollution
that sat in the air? And on into the fumed traffic,
Crimson-saried women flying in the air, Scooter taxis with alto horns,
Rushing through crowds and sacred cows.
Computers flashing, In canyons of glass and stone
White smoke curling, incense Floating like the women bathing,
Combing jet black hair While the Ganges ran down their shoulders, and in the dark of the fiery furnace Men and women slept where they worked making black iron for bread. Sweet smells of spices on one hand and misty grey cloud of pollution on the other hand the Mumbai streets filled with noise, haste and pollution all over.
In the temple The four-clap beat and the hum of the drum
Dusty men sleeping on stone And balancing women with baskets of rubble. Rolling camels in Rajasthan two-humped shadows in the slipping sand A thousand mirrored fragments
Held in the palm of my hand, Like infinity
`And eternity in an hour'
What shall I capture?
May the Great Divine Spirit bless you with the knowledge of your inner strength and wisdom to realise truth. May you have the strength of eagles' wings to fly to new heights, and the wisdom of the dolphin, the faith of the Human, and the courage of Lion, to journey the universe in the passage of time, to carry you there until your last breath. We can only be what we give ourselves the power to be. I am the wind that ushers past you, I am the sun that radiantly glows at the dawn and the dusk, I am the waters that reflect the moon, I am the earthen clay that echoes in the four quarters of the world, I am the spirit of life that you see in the nightingale stars. Oh precious spirit of life, I am gone not, I am gone not in spirit for I still keep a watch over you. Therefore, give best of all love to your Soul and let go of all that does not matter to live for now. To "let go" does not mean to stop caring. It means I can't do it beyond the grief of hurt for someone else anymore. To "let go" is not to cut off relationships. It's the realization that we can't control another. To "let go" is to admit powerlessness to the power, which means the outcome is not in our hands. To "let go" is not to try to change or blame another or to try and differentiate. It's to make the most of our life in the spiritual delight. To "let go" is not to care for, but to care about. To "let go" is not to fix, but to be supportive without getting too involved. To "let go" is not to judge, but to allow another to be a human being without the confines of creed, sex, caste, culture, religion, colour, nationality, religion, and status. To "let go" is not to be in the middle, arranging all the outcomes, but to allow others to affect their own destinies. To "let go" is not to deny, but to accept. To "let go" is not to nag, scold, or argue, but instead to search out my own shortcomings and correct them. To "let go" is not to adjust everything to my desires, but to take each day as it comes and cherish myself in it. To "let go" is not to regret the past, but to grow and live for the future. To "let go" is to fear less and to love more; to accept death as a transformation. We are journeying towards the same destiny each one of us. Let us be fair and truthful without the confines of sexual, racial or any discrimination therefore.
Jyotikar Pattni @ www.hanss.co.uk