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Jai Srila GurudevaJai Srila Gurudeva

[The Best ekādaśī Class Ever]

Houston, Texas

You know how delicious Jagannātha prasāda is. The paṇḍās (priests) of Jagannātha’s temple brought some prasāda to Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, who was performing kīrtana with His associates: Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Hare Hare, Hare Rāma Hare Rāma Rāma Rāma Hare Hare.

In general, the paṇḍās and others in Jagannātha Purī don’t observe ekādaśī. They think they have ‘tightened the legs of Ekādaśī-devī and tied her upside down on the branch of a tree’ so that no one would have to observe ekādaśī. They say, “This is the glory of mahā-prasāda, that even on ekādaśī, Janmāṣṭamī, and Rāma-navamī, you have no need of special fasting. You can take prasāda, and after that you can take betel-nut, and sometimes cigarettes; no harm. And just go on chanting, ‘Jagannātha, Jagannātha, Jaya Jagannātha’.”

The paṇḍās considered, “If the Gauḍīya bhaktas from Bengal, and Vaiṣṇavas from other parts of India, come here on ekādaśī, then our mahā-prasāda will not sell and our business will go down. Also, if all of them are observing ekādaśī and we
are not, they will laugh at us.”

For these reasons the paṇḍās offered Mahāprabhu Jagannātha’s mahā-prasāda on ekādaśī. They thought He would be in a dilemma, and would then take it.

What did Mahāprabhu do? He said, “We should not dishonor mahā-prasāda, nor should we dishonor ekādaśī.” Then, with all His devotees, He began to perform kīrtana again, offering prayers and daṇḍavat praṇāmas to the mahā-prasāda from so many Vedas, Upaniṣads, so many Purāṇas, and Śrīmad- Bhāgavatam for the entire night.

Mahā-prasāda is Himself Kṛṣṇa:

mahā-prasāde govinde, nāma-brahmaṇi vaiṣṇave,
svalpa-puṇya-vatāṁ rājan, viśvāso naiva jāyate

[“Those who have very few pious activities to their credit can never develop faith in mahā-prasāda, in Śrī Govinda, in the holy name of the Lord, or in the Vaiṣṇavas.” (Skanda Purāṇa)]

Those who are not fortunate cannot honor mahā-prasāda with the understanding that it is Govinda Himself, as they cannot understand that Kṛṣṇa has invested His all power, opulence, mercy, and everything in His name. The holy name of Kṛṣṇa is Kṛṣṇa Himself, and mahā-prasāda is Kṛṣṇa Himself, and the pure Vaiṣṇavas are also non-different from Kṛṣṇa. There is a special power in them. We should not neglect them.

Mahāprabhu spent His entire night in such glorification. Then, at 4 am He went to Svarga-dvāra, to the ocean. There He took bath, then returned to His place and performed ācamana, put on tilaka, and did āhnika. Even though He is Kṛṣṇa Himself, He was doing this. Why was He remembering Kṛṣṇa? His heart is that of Rādhikā, so He remembered, “Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa.”

After performing His morning duties, He offered praṇāma and took prasāda, and then He went for darśana of Jagannātha, Baladeva and Subhadrā. He did not see Jagannātha, Baladeva, and Subhadrā, however. He only saw Vrajendra-nandana. He was just about to faint, but He was caught by Candaneśvara, the son of Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya. Sārvabhauma had told his son, “Always go to the Jagannātha temple with Mahāprabhu, and when He is about to faint, you should protect Him from the fall.”

We should try to observe ekādaśī in this way—not taking so many times water, juice fruit, milk, and so on. If you are young and healthy, you can go the whole day and night without taking anything, even water. If you cannot do this, then you can take one time in the afternoon or evening. If you are sick or weak, then you can take something small, two times a day, to maintain your life so that you can chant, “Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa.”

More concessions have been given for Western devotees because they are weaker in body. Otherwise, they are very strong. I have seen so many Western devotees, especially lady devotees, who fast the entire day and night and not sleeping.

There are so many benefits from observing ekādaśī. In colleges, hospitals and all work places, we see that leave is given for students and workers once a week so they can take rest, and the next day they can work with full energy.

Otherwise, they would not be able to continue their activities over the years. They must take some rest.

This is also true regarding our stomach. In our stomach there are some bacteria that are helpful for our health. These bacteria are always working for our digestion, so if they become sick or tired, then you will become sick. We should try and give them rest for one day at least, so that the next day they will work again with great energy.

Secondly, you see that in the ocean, especially from ekādaśī to Pūrṇimā, there are very large waves. This is because the moon attracts all the waters of this planet. Wherever there is water, the moon attracts it. In our body there is much water, and especially on ekādaśī day the moon will attract it; if there is any disease, that disease will increase so much. It is best that we check these things, especially grains, corn, wheat, and things made by them.

It has been said that sometimes you can take water, and there is no harm in that. If you put water on a stone, the stone will at once become dry again; all the water will disappear. On the other hand, if you pour water on some cotton or blotting paper, they will soak up the water and take hours to dry.

Preparations made from grains, wheat, rice, corn, and dāla are like cotton in our stomach. The moon attracts that water in them and diseases increase. So many people die in hospitals from ekādaśī to the full moon and ekādaśī to the new moon. To check our diseases, it is very essential to follow ekādaśī.

[From Gurudeva’s June 5, 1998 lecture on ekādaśī: On ekādaśī, the moon comes closer to the Earth, and therefore it attracts water from everywhere—from the sea, from the river, from our bodies, and so on. If one takes any grains on this day, the grains become like blotting-paper. If you drink water, the water will very soon pass out from the body. However, if you take grains and water together, the grains become like blotting paper or cotton—grains hold the water.

Even if you squeeze the cotton, some water will remain. Similarly, if you eat any grain, it becomes like a sponge. It will hold a lot of water. The moon will attract that water, and all your diseases will increase. You can see this in the sea or ocean. At this time there are high tides and the waves become very high.]

These are external reasons, for the body. I have told this for those who are attached to their bodies. Even persons who do not believe in God should observe ekādaśī. In India, all kinds of devotees follow ekādaśī— Māyāvādīs (impersonalists), Śaivas (worshipers of Lord Śiva), Śāktas (worship of Durgā-devī), and Gaṇeśa worshipers. Both ladies and males, and children follow, but nowadays everything is finishing. Almost everyone is avoiding ekādaśī, as a very big storm from Western countries went to India and affected everywhere.

In ancient times there was a king named Ambarīṣa Mahārāja, and he was in a dilemma regarding whether or not ekādaśī should be observed fully.

There was a very high class of brahma-vādī named Durvāsā Muni who could fly in the air, and who could go to Brahmaloka and everywhere else. He could disappear; he could take any form, and whatever he would order would happen. He could curse someone by telling him, “Oh, you should die at once,” and that person would die. He was also a very angry person.

Durvāsā came to the palace of Ambarīṣa Mahārāja, and Ambarīṣa Mahārāja requested him, “Please take prasāda here today, because it is dvādaśī today, pāraṇa day.” [On dvādaśī day, the day following the ekādaśī fast, the fast is broken and the ekādaśī observance is completed, by taking ‘pāraṇa’ at a prescribed exact time. -editors]

Durvāsā said, “I will return very soon. I am going very near, to the Yamunā River. I will take bath and do some other things, and then I will return.”

He went, and then knowingly delayed and came back late. Before he returned, only a few minutes remained before pāraṇa time. Ambarīṣa Mahārāja was thinking, “What shall to do? On one side, if I take pāraṇa I will be dishonoring that mahā-mahā-brahma-vādī, and on the other side, if I honor that brahma-jñānī I will be dishonoring ekādaśī.”

If anyone observes ekādaśī without taking water, but does not take pāraṇa in time, then the fruits from ekādaśī go away. Ambarīṣa Mahārāja therefore wondered what to do. At last he decided, “Let the brahma-vādī be angry, no harm. He will come and curse me, saying, ‘You should die.' No harm. In my next birth I will again be okay. On the other hand, if I dishonor ekādaśī and do not take pāraṇa in the proper time, then my bhakti will go away. I will be dishonoring Kṛṣṇa Himself, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and I will be ruined forever. If my bhakti leaves, then what will be the use of honoring brahma-vādīs and doing other things? I should not dishonor bhakti.”

He then took caraṇāmṛta (the water that bathed his Deity) - without Tulasī, only water - because he had done nirjalā, a full fast, on the previous day. If he had not done nirjalā, then water would not have been sufficient to observe the pāraṇa. He would have had to take some grain or anything similar. Thus, he took only one drop of caraṇāmṛta to observe pāraṇa. That Ṛṣi then returned. Knowing (by his trance) that Ambarīṣa Mahārāja had taken the caraṇāmṛta, He gave a curse.

He took one hair from his dread-lock (matted locks) and told it, “You should become fire.” At once that hair became a big and powerful fire demon; Kṛtyā, a rākṣasī, or man-eating, demon. The fire demon asked Durvāsā, “What I should do?”

The Ṛṣi replied, “Oh you should at once burn Ambarīṣa Mahārāja to ashes!” He is inimical to brahma-jñānī ṛṣis! He doesn’t know how to honor me!" Kṛtyā attacked at once, but Kṛṣṇa’s Sudarśana Cakra (Kṛṣṇa’s ultimate disc-weapon) was there, always protecting devotees.

We have no faith in Kṛṣṇa’s protection—or perhaps just a little, a shadow. We do not really believe that Kṛṣṇa will come, and Cakra will come, and save us. Sudarśana is always here and there. He never destroys anyone; rather he gives sudarśana, a light by which you can see Kṛṣṇa. He is always saving devotees everywhere, because he can go everywhere.

He was watching and observing Durvāsā Ṛṣi and Ambarīṣa Mahārāja. He came at once. In a moment he burnt that very big fire-demoness and began to pursue Durvāsā Ṛṣi.

Why was he following Durvāsā? He can fly faster than Durvāsā, so why did he not catch and destroy him? Why did he only continue chasing him? This is because Durvāsā Muni was actually Śaṅkara, and Śaṅkara is a bhakta. The apparently demonic behavior of Durvāsā Muni was only to glorify Ambarīṣa Mahārāja. Durvāsā is actually a high class of devotee. He is Śaṅkara. Cakra was following only to make a show, to make a pastime in order to glorify Ambarīṣa Mahārāja and ekādaśī. Otherwise, even Śaṅkara cannot escape
Sudarśana cakra. He could have been burnt. But Śaṅkara is a manifestation of Kṛṣṇa; in Brahmaloka he is Sadāśiva, Viṣṇutattva.

Knowing this Sudarśana cakra only chased him. Durvāsā Ṛṣi went first to the planet of his father, Brahmā, who refused to help him. He then went to the planet of Lord Śiva, but Śiva (Śaṅkara) also refused. And finally he approached Lord Viṣṇu, who refused and told him, “I am not independent. I am dependent on My bhaktas.”

If someone gets a thorn in his foot, that thorn cannot be removed from his head; it must be removed from his foot. Viṣṇu told him, “Bhaktas are My feet; they are My heart. I cannot save you. Go back to Ambarīṣa Mahārāja, and if he accepts and forgives you, then okay.”

Durvāsā Ṛṣi immediately returned to Earth, to the palace of Ambarīṣa Mahārāja. He fell flat at the feet of Ambarīṣa Mahārāja and begin to pray “Oh, please forgive me.”

Ambarīṣa replied, “You should forgive me. It was because of me that Sudarśana cakra chased you everywhere and made you suffer. First, take prasāda; then we will discuss whatever you like.” Mahārāja Ambarīṣa then served delicious prasāda to Durvāsā Ṛṣi, who saw the glory of Ambarīṣa Mahārāja.

aho ananta-dāsānāṁ mahattvam dṛṣṭam adya me
kṛtāgaso 'pi yad rājan maṅgalāni samīhase

[“My dear king, today I have experienced the greatness of a Vaiṣṇava, for although I have committed a grievous offense by trying to kill you, you have prayed for my protection and well being.” (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, 9.4.68)]

Durvāsā Ṛṣi said, “Oh, today I have seen how glorious the Vaiṣṇavas are. So, today I must observe ekādaśī to become a devotee like you.”

If you want to become a devotee like Ambarīṣa Mahārāja, or like the parents of Kṛṣṇa, Nanda and Yaśodā, then you must follow ekādaśī. Nanda and Yaśodā followed ekādaśī in Vṛndāvana, and from Vṛndāvana they came to Ambikā-kānana near Mathurā and followed there. If they were doing this, why should we not? We must observe ekādaśī, and with care. Then, bhakti will come to us automatically.

We must follow ekādaśī under the guidance of pure Vaiṣṇavas, and also perform kīrtana under such guidance. If you are doing bhakti, that is okay. But if he is under the guidance of a devotee who has relation with Vraja, who has Vraja- bhakti, who is rasika, knowing all tattvas, that pure devotee can remove all doubts and can put Rādhā, Kṛṣṇa, and Mahāprabhu in your heart. Under the guidance of this caliber of Vaiṣṇava, be always in Vṛndāvana, and always chant and remember. Both at the same time, chant the holy name of
Kṛṣṇa and remember the pastimes related to that name.

For example, if you are singing, “Govinda Dāmodara Mādhaveti, Govinda Dāmodara Mādhaveti,” you can remember the pastimes of Govinda. When there was torrential rains sent by the demigod Indra, Kṛṣṇa held up Girirāja Mountain for seven days to protect the residents of Vṛndāvana. After seven days, Indra realized that he had committed a great offense at Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet. He came to
Kṛṣṇa with his elephant and Surabhi cow. He performed Kṛṣṇa's abhiṣeka (a sacred bathing ceremony), and then told Him, “O, You are the protector of go—the cows, gopas—the cowherd men and boys, gopīs—the cowherd women and girls, govatsa—the calves, the land, and all the other residents of Gokula So, Your name is appropriately ‘Govinda.'” You can remember this pastime, for example.

You can also remember the pastimes of Dāmodara. You can remember the pastime of Yaśodā binding Kṛṣṇa and Kṛṣṇa weeping, “Mother, Mother, don’t beat Me.”

Once, Śrīmatī Rādhikā and the gopīs were there sitting with Kṛṣṇa. Lalitā took the corner of Śrīmatī Rādhikā's veil and a corner of Kṛṣṇa’s pītāmbara, and tied the two corners together. Then, all the gopīs began to sing the kīrtanas of marriage, and Viśākhā became the priest. When Rādhikā realized what was happening She started to run away, but Kṛṣṇa was bound to Her. The gopīs bound Kṛṣṇa so He could not leave Śrīmatī Rādhikā, He would always be with Her. In this way, He is Rādhā-Dāmodara.

We remember Rādhā-Dāmodara. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī established the Deity of Rādhā-Dāmodara, not Yaśodā- Dāmodara. Yaśodā-Dāmodara is only a part of Rādhā- Dāmodara. We should remember and chant like this, and always being in Vṛndāvana, thinking, “We are in Vṛndāvana with Vrajavāsīs.”

Also, when you are chanting:

jayatāṁ suratau paṅgor mama manda-mater gati
mat-sarvasva-padāmbhojau rādhā-madana-mohanau

[“All glories to the all-merciful Śrī Rādhā-Madana- Mohana! Although I am lame, foolish and devoid of intelligence, Your lotus feet are my refuge and my everything!” (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā, 1.15)]

dīvyad-vṛndāraṇya-kalpa-drumādhaḥ
śrīmad ratnāgāra-siṁhāsana-sthau
śrī-śrī-rādha-śrīla-govinda-devau
preṣṭhālībhiḥ sevyamānau smarāmi

[“I meditate upon Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Govinda-deva, who are seated beneath a kalpa-vṛkṣa tree on an effulgent bejeweled siṁhāsana in the supremely beautiful land of Vṛndāvana,where They are always being served by Their beloved sakhīs,
headed by Lalitā and Viśākhā. This Govinda, this pastime surrounded by all the gopīs.” (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā, 1.16)]

You can remember the pastimes of Kṛṣṇa surrounded by all the gopīs. And when you chant this verse (below), you can remember
Kṛṣṇa as Gopīnātha under this shade of Vaṁśī-vaṭa.

śrīmān rāsa-rasārambhī vaṁśīvaṭa-taṭa-sthitaḥ
karṣan veṇu-svanair gopīr gopīnāthaḥ śriye'stu naḥ

["Śrī Gopīnātha, who originated the transcendental mellow of the rāsa dance, always stands beneath the Vaṁśī-vaṭa tree,
attracting all the kiśorī-gopīs with the sound of His flute, thereby showering me with auspiciousness." (Caitanya-caritāmṛta,
Ādi-līlā, 1.17)]

Thinking that we are in Sevā-kuñja, or that we are under the shade of Vaṁśī-vaṭa, especially under the guidance of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, and chanting and remembering, our ekādaśī will then be observed well.

Śyāmarāṇī dāsī: Gurudeva, we always hear that we should not take grains on ekādaśī because sins are stored in them on
that day, but why can we not take certain vegetables, like tomato and laukī?

Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja: It is not like with grains. They do not have the qualities of grain, corn, wheat, and dāla [in that they don’t act like a blotter paper of a ball of cotton]. Especially it has been told, by a special story, that on the very day of ekādaśī, all sins, including brahma-hatyā (the killing of a brāhmaṇa), mātṛ-hatyā (the killing of one’s mother), go-hatyā (the killing of a cow) take shelter in grains and the things prepared by grains. And in addition śāstra prohibits taking certain vegetables and other foodstuffs*.

(*Scriptures like Hari- bhakti-vilāsa state that such foodstuffs create changes in the body and consciousness that are detrimental to the observance of ekādaśī. Sinful reactions don’t take shelter in foodstuffs other than grains and beans. Scriptures like Manu-saṁhitā and Manusmṛti state that certain foodstuffs are prohibited on ekādaśī because they change their qualities on that day, and thus their ingestion createsdisturbances in the consciousness.)

 

A concession has been made for the Western devotees and in India for weak persons. If you are not observing the rules and prohibitions, then all kinds of sin will come to you; and if you have some bhakti, it will be destroyed.

Weak persons can take something, as they like, but it must be within the foodstuffs allowed for ekādaśī. Children can also take as they like, but their mother and father should take care that they only take fruits and other foods allotted for ekādaśī.

In evening class, we will discuss how we can develop our Kṛṣṇa consciousness; how we can follow Caitanya Mahāprabhu and the teachings of Rūpa and Raghunātha. We are only here for one day, so what can I tell? If we would be here for seven days, or ten days, as we are in other cities, then we could speak on one subject as a theme. No harm, though; I think that all are inspired by hearing this topic today.

My request is: don’t be weak, have great faith in your Guru, in your śikṣā-guru, in devotees, and in the pure Name. If you have no taste, then again and again continue to chant, because the Name is Kṛṣṇa Himself. It will give you darśana of Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa is coming to you in the shape of ekādaśī, in the shape of His Name, but you are thinking, "Oh, it is enough to chant in any way: ‘lahstom pahstum;' one round, two rounds; and without attention. Don’t be like this. Kṛṣṇa, His Name, and ekādaśī can fulfill all our desires, and can even give vrajaprema.


Wealth cannot save us or solve our problems. But this can fulfill all kinds of desires and solve all kinds of problems. Have a very strong belief in the Name, and observe ekādaśī, Janamāṣṭamī, Rāma-navamī, Nṛsiṁha-caturdaśī, Mahāprabhu’s Birthday; and especially try to honor devotees. Don’t neglect devotees by mind or by heart. Don’t have any enemies.
Gaura Premānande!

Ekādaśī is the mother of Kṛṣṇa- Bhakti, love and affection. If you do not follow ekādaśī, Kṛṣṇa- Bhakti will never come.