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Sunday, July 8, 2018


Dear members:

Yogini Ekaadasi falls on July 9, 2018 this year; it is to be observed on the same day throughout the world.

Note: Yogini Ekaadasi is the krishna paksha ekaadashi falling in the lunar month of Aashaada (Pournimaadhi lunar month and not the amaavasyaadhi month pattern) . I am using the term Aashaada krishna ekaadashi based on the Pournimaadhi month reckoning because that is the system that has been used in the Brahma Vaivarta Puraana legend that I am going to give to explain the significance of this ekaadashi.

Significance of the Yogini Ekaadashi

Yogini Ekaadashi has the potential to nullify the effects of sinful karmas of the previous incarnations that might be manifesting as diseases or curses in our present incarnation.

In Brahma Vaivarta Puraana, there is the legend of a yaksha Hemamaali that was narrated by Lord Krishna to the King Yudhishtra to explain the glory of Yogini Ekaadashi. (I am giving a liberal translation of the original legend from the purana just to bring out the significance of the yoginii ekaadashi; those who are interested may refer the original text in Brahma Vaivarta Puraana).

Hemamaali was an attendant of the Yaksha-Raaja Kubera who failed to bring flowers to Shiva Pooja of the king at the right moment and instead was frolicking with his beautiful wife. Due to the curse of the Yaksha King Kuberaa for this sin, Hemamaali took birth as a human being and was afflicted with leprosy and suffered innumerable difficulties. But, he was constantly meditating or chanting Lord Shiva's names and due to that effect, he got memories of his previous birth and the sin he had committed then.

Once, he came across the ashram of Sage Maarkandeya in the course of his wanderings. On seeing the radiant and Meritorious sage, Hemamaali prostrated to him from a distance. The sage enquired kindly about his condition; Hemamaali explained the reason for his disease without hiding anything. Sage Maarkandeya appreciated the frankness of Hemamaali and suggested this wonderful fast. Hemamaali observed this fast with all devotion and got relief from his leprosy and also was reinstated back in to the Yaksha world. He went on to live happily as before with his beautiful wife again!

Apart from the above benefit,strict observance of Yogini Ekaadasi (I think strict observance must mean that the fast should be in the nirjalaa form - without drinking even water) will give merit that is equivalent to that accruing out of feeding eighty-eight thousand pious Brahmins!!!! -( end of the version from Brahma vaivarta puraanaa).

It must be noted that Ekaadashi can be even observed as Kaamya vrattam (fast with the aim of getting some punya or achievement) though it is a mandatory vrattam. So, those who wish to have the punya equivalent of feeding 88,000 brahmins can fast fully in the Nirjalaa form. Those who are observing it only as a pure religious duty in Honour of Our Lord have the option of fasting in a relaxed manner (it is another matter that most devotees - including this writer - observe all ekaadashis in the nirjalaa form as far as feasible). Those opting for the relaxed form of the fast can take milk, and fruits. Avoid grains and beans alone apart from the other prohibited food like onions, garlic, etc.

Observance of the Yogini Ekaadasi(even in its relaxed forms) can be a powerful remedy for overcoming all karmic ailments (if astrologers had suggested that your ailments are karmic in nature and if physicians have been unable to cure your ailments, observance of this ekaadasi fast religiously can help).

Elsewhere, it is mentioned that observance of Yogini Ekaadasi will be proper remedy to get freedom from the karma that arises out of cutting an Aswattha tree (Pipal tree). So, if you have had occasion to uproot an aswatta tree due to any reason (like government officials being required to supervise removal of a tree for widening roads) and are worried about the karmic implications of the act done in the course of secular duties/ practical necessities, you may observe this fast as karmic redemption.

As always, please let me reiterate that this fast is not mandatory for those who are ailing and cannot fast due to medical complications, lactating mothers, pregnant women, and those in the ages below 7 or above 70 years. So, those falling in these categories, please avoid straining your physical body - which is the Temple of God who resides in His amsa as your own soul - unnecessarily.  The real meaning of "Upa Vaasa" is to "live near God" - which is an allegorical way of saying "be in remembrance of God."  So, if your physical situation does not permit you to fast on ekaadasi day, just spend the day in Lord Hari's Remembrance and the Ocean of Mercy will credit you with punya phala due for an upavaasaa.  If mere abstinence from food is meritorious, hibernating animals and poor who go without food due to poverty must get liberation!  Obviously it is not so...the idea of "fasting" is to sacrifice our basic urge towards feeding ourselves in honour of Divine and living in Divine Contemplation (mentally near God/ Divine Concepts) on fasting days....only then, fasts are efficacious; the physical "fasting" has its own benefits of course - but the attitude behind the fast is equally important.  So, even those who are not physically in a position to observe the physical fast may derive benefit out of the vrata day by Divine Contemplation and by living with the right attitude on this day.

May our members benefit by observance of this wonderful vrat and be recipients of Lord Shri Hari's Grace.

Blessed be.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Nirjala Ekaadasi 2018

This post is regarding Nirjala Ekaadasi on June 23/ June 24, 2018.


a) Those living USA, Canada, and other countries of North and South American continents should observe this on June 23, 2018. (sarva ekaadasi for both Vaishnava and Smaartha traditions).

b) Those living in European countries, countries of African continent, those living in middle-East countries, India, Myanmar, Bangaladesh, countries of South-East Asian region (Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia, etc.) and observing smaartha traditions must observe this on June 23, 2018.  [Please note that due to ayanamsa differences, vaakya panchangas suggest observing sarva ekaadasi in many of these places on June 24, 2018; BUT, more accurate drig panchang calculations suggest that is it more correct for those following smaartha traditions to observe the ekaadasi on June 23, 2018, and we are going to observe the Nirjala fast on June 23, 2018 only at our place; we recommend the same (June 23, 2018)  for people who do not classify themselves as Vaishnavas or Smarthas and just wish to observe Ekaadasi fast for spiritual reasons].

Those living in the above mentioned places and following Shri Vaishnava traditions must observe the ekaadasi on June 24, 2018.

c) Those living in Japan, far East region of China, Mongolia, North/ South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and Fiji island must observe sarva ekaadasi (common to both Sri Vaishnava and Smaartha traditions) on June 24, 2018.

Significance of the Nirjala Ekaadasi:
Nirjala Ekaadasi is also known as Paandava Nirjalaa Ekaadasi. Sage Vyaasa was extolling the virtues of the Ekaadasi fast and also the sins associated with not keeping the ekaadasi fast. The other Paandava brothers and Draupadi who were observing Ekaadasi vrattam scrupulously were very happy to listen to the exposition on the glories of Ekaadasi; however, the Great Warrior Bheema who was known for his gluttony and who could not fast on Ekaadasis (fasting twice a month was almost unthinkable for him!!!) was worried on hearing the sins associated with not keeping ekaadasi vrattam. So, he requested Sage Vyaasa to tell an alternative instead of fasting on all ekaadasis.

Sage Vyaasa clarified that if the Nirjalaa Ekaadasi fast is observed scrupulously, it will give the result of having observed ekaadasi fast throughout the year, and so Bheema can observe that ekaadasi alone to get the results of all other ekaadasis thus escaping the sins associated with not observing other ekaadasis. This was at least tolerable to Bheemasena (he just needed to fast once a year which was at least okay rather than at least 24 days per year on each ekaadasi the very thought of which was intimidating to him!). Thus, this Nirjala Ekaadasi is also known as "Bheema Ekaadasi" or "Paandava Ekaadasi"

Procedure for observing Nirjalaa Ekaadasi

One should take bath early in the morning and declare that he/ she is undertaking the Ekaadasi fast for escaping all sins - known and unknown and for the Grace of Lord Hari. Meditation should be done upon Lord Naaraayana reclining on His Bed of Seshaa in the midst of the Milk Ocean (Jala Saayi Perumaal). We should also remember Sage Vyaasa's words that observing this single Ekaadasi will give the merits associated with the other ekaadasis of the year also.

Usually ekaadasi fast can be done as per one's wishes and convenience, like - fruit only fast, milk only fast, water-only fast, abstaining from grains but eating other ritual pure items/ vegetables, etc. However, Nirjala ekaadasi - as the name implies - should be a complete fast where the observer of the fast should abstain from even plain water!

Many scrupulous observers of Ekaadasi fast usually keep a complete fast (including abstaining from water) on all ekaadasis. Even those who are not so strict about abstaining from water on normal ekaadasis should abstain from water during the nirjala ekaadasi. Of course, there is exemption applicable for old-aged, the physically infirm, those who are in sick bed, pregnant women, lactating women with very young infants, etc. Others who are physically fit but fail to observe this ekaadasi are missing a very good karmic opportunity because, just observing this one ekaadasi can exempt you from all other ekaadasis (and also gives you the merit that could accrue from observing all other ekaadasis!!!!).

On dwaadasi day (the next day) while breaking the fast, it is auspicious to make some charitable donation to any deserving cause to get the full results of the observance. It is customary to offer umbrellas, sandals, or water pot to pious brahmins on this day. If you are not able to find suitable pious persons who deserve such dhaanaas, you may just contribute what little you can to any charitable cause of your choice or to any temple.

Merits associated with observing nirjala Ekaadasi:

1) The merit accruing out of performing shraadha during solar eclipse.
2) The merit accruing out of observing all other ekaadasis of the year (it does not mean that we should not maintain the other ekaadasi fasts if we observe this; just think....if you observe this in addition to all other ekaadasis, you will be getting twice the benefit is it not? For those who cannot fast on all ekaadasis due to practical considerations, this ekaadasi is a boon; they can observe just this ekaadasi with full devotion and perfection - without water!)

May our members observe this Holy Fast and gain the Grace of Lord Hari.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Parama Ekaadasi - June 9/ June 10, 2018

Dear Members:

The auspicious Parama Ekaadasi is the ekaadasi that is observed in the krishna paksha of the adhika maasa (lunar leap month) that comes once in 3 years.

Schedule for observance of Parama Ekaadasi for different places in the globe:

a) Those living in USA, Canada, and other nations of North and South American continents must observe this on June 9, 2018.

b) Those living in rest of the world - including those living in India - must observe this on June 10, 2018.

Significance of Parama Ekaadasi:

Observance of this Parama Ekaadasi helps in ensuring peace to deceased ancestors in the family, freedom from cycle of birth/ death and reaching Vaikunta (Divine Abode), and for neutralizing karmic energies that prevent one's prosperity in this life.

May our readers observe this fast to the best of their abilities and become recipients of Divine Grace.

Blessed be.

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