The eleventh day from full moon / new moon is called as Ekadashi.
On that day, thinking about Lord Mahavishnu and fasting (typically without consuming a drop of water) is a common ritual.
There are many stories about Ekadashi – but one comes to mind specifically.
There once lived a man who used to love food. He wanted to always consume food in large quantities and multiple times a day. Once a group of saints were singing the praises of Lord Mahavishnu and passed by his village. He saw that all of them were quite healthy and thought to himself that if he joins their group, he will never go hungry! So, he joined the group and left with them.
When the saints reached their hermitage, they explained the processes to him, the work he needs to do. He asked them about the food timings. They said that he would he can consume food with them three times a day. He was happy. However, on the day of Ekadashi – no food will be cooked in the hermitage and he would need to go hungry. He was perplexed and requests the head of the saints to give him special permission to cook food as he cannot stay hungry any day.
The head saint told him that he would give him a small bag of rice and other items needed to cook a meal and he can take it far away into the jungle and cook for himself. He can eat it only after serving it to God.
Days pass and it is the day of Ekadashi. He carries all the items in a bag and goes into the jungle and starts cooking. When the food is ready, he serves it on two plates and calls God to come and eat. Sri Rama and his wife Sita come to eat. He is perplexed. He thought only one of them will come and he can eat the other plate of food. He serves the food to both of them, they eat and leave. He sleeps hungry & returns to the hermitage.
Next Ekadashi. He cooks meals for 3 people this time, planning to eat a meal with them. After serving it on 3 plates, he calls God and Sri Rama and Sita come with Lakshmana to eat. He realizes that he needs to go hungry that day as well, serves the food to them and they eat and leave. He returns to the hermitage hungry.
Subsequent Ekadashi. He decides not to give up and asks for extra items and carries them in a cart and comes and starts cooking a meal for 5 people. This time when he serves the food to God and invites them, Sri Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrughna come to eat. He realizes God is bringing more and more people to eat his food. He serves them all the food and they happily eat it and he goes hungry.
When it is time for the next Ekadashi, he goes to the head priest and asks for items for 10 people to eat. The head priest is surprised and asks him why he needs so much of food. He explains what happens and no one believes him. He asks them to give him the items and hide and watch what happens when he cooks. They agree and stand behind a far away tree and watch. He starts to prepare the meal and says to God, I know you are going to bring 10 people to eat today, so why don’t all of you come and help me cook? When all of you come and eat my meals, you can also help me cook. The entire Ram parivaar appear there and start helping him. The saints hiding behind the tree were spellbound to see Sita cut the vegetables, Lakshmana bring the branches, Hanuman helping to serve and the mothers deciding the menu. It was a festive environment out there.
The head saint propitiates to them and asks God – we have been praying to you for many years now. How is it that you appeared and are helping this guy, who does not even know how to pray properly? Is this fair to all the devotees who pray to you regularly and consistently?
Sri Rama smiles and answers, this person truly BELIEVED that when he serves the food and invites me to eat, I will come and eat it. That kind of innocence and pure-heartedness is what I expect in my devotees.
If you truly believe and call him, you might not realize how and in what form HE comes and does what you ask for, those who pray to HIM regularly will know and realize that a miracle is happening.
Ekadashi is one day, when he waits for us to think about Him and responds to us 🙏🏻
The lyrics of a song explain the concept very beautifully…
Achyutam Keshavam Krishna Damodaram, Rama Narayanam, Janaki Vallabham….
Who says God will not come, you call him like Meera – He will come (Meerabhai’s devotion is well known)
Who says God will not eat, you try feeding him like Shabari – He will eat (She tasted every fruit and picked out the best ones everyday for Him)
Who says God does not sleep, you try putting him to sleep like Yashoda – He will sleep (when a mother sings a lullaby, even God will fall asleep)
Who says God does not dance, you try dancing like the Gopikas of Vrindavan – He will dance with you
You just have His name on your lips and continue doing your work, Your thoughts will bring HIM closer to you!
Fasting and breaking the fast
Devotees fast without having even a drop of water during the Ekadashi time period and break their fast when Dwadashi begins. Those who are starting their Ekadashi fasting try these ways below to get to the state of not eating anything the whole day.
- Intending to fast on Ekadashi and committing to think about God
- Eat fruits 2-3 times during the day after offering to God
- Consume fluids (milk, fruit juices) 2-3 times a day
- Consume water only as needed
- Do not consume even water during Ekadashi day
Breaking the fast on Dwadashi (12th day of full moon / new moon) is important.
Start with an intention, the rest will follow naturally!
Thankful for the opportunity to have been able to write this short story on an Ekadashi day 🙏🏻