Ressurection of Vedic culture
A large number of the ancient vedic spiritual symbols,
practices and obsevances have lost their original meaning.
some of those are: Mandir, Brahmin, Murrtipuja, Tirth-yatra,
yagna and Ekadasi.
Revered Pandurang Aathavale Shashtri (Dada) has himself studied
these in detail and he has explained them to us a number of
time. When we understand them in a correct manner, they will
contribute greatly to our spirirtual development as well as
robust resurrection of the ancient vedic culture.
In the article that follows, we take a brief look at some of
the aspects of the Ekadashi observence and its revival.
The ancient Indian calendar is a lunar calendar with twele months.
per year and usually 30 days per month. The dates of the month
go from one to fifteen for waxing (growing) moon, and again from
one to fifteen for the waning monn. Thus each month has two days
with the same numerical date. In the word "Ekadashi", "Ek" means
one and "dash" means ten. The word "Ekadashi" or "Agiyarash"
refers to the two days of the month numerically dated the eleventh.
Many people in and some people of Indian origin outside India follow
a religious observence of Ekadashi. On this day, they do what is
known as Upavas, a word that is generally interpreted to mean fasting.
This so called fasting varies greatly in application - some people
do not eat anything at all, some eat a restricted diet, simple diet
consisting of item such as milk and fruits that do not involve
cooking, while some others eat elaborately cooked meals that are
prepared out of selected restricted ingredients. Each of this
persons believes that his own versionof fasting contributes to his/her
The number of people observing Ekadashi in this manner has been
decreasing because the younger people, as well as intelligent ones,
who would rather understand the significance and benefit of following
a custom instead of observing it blindly., are unable to see any
philosophical significance and only marginal physiological value of
such fasting. Thus, Ekadashi has lost its meaning.
It is obvious to the thinking individual that as is the case with a
number of religious institutions, symbols, festivals and observences,
the real meaning of Ekadashi ha s been forgotten and its being
followed mechanically and blindly. Just as it is not prudent to
discard a car when a part of it needs repair, it is not prudent to
ignore Ekadashi just because we fail to grasp its significance.
We need to remove the layer of dust covering its important observence.
Dada has explained that there is, in fact, a lot more to Ekadashi
than mere fasting. He explains this in three parts. First, what is
so special about the eleventh day of the lunar cycle? Why wasn't
ninth day or first day chosen? The number eleven is sumof our five
sense organs (eyes, ears, nose, tounge and skin), our five motor
organs (hands, feet, mouth, reproductive and excretory organs), and
the mind. These are elements with which we function. Ekadashi serves
to remind us that the mind is the key element. The mind makes
decisions, directs the motor organs to perform certain deeds and
utilizes the sense organs to enjoy the fruits of the deeds. The
focus of Ekadashi is this crucial elenevth element - the mind.
Our conscince, not our desires, should control our mind. Ekadashi
is one day of each fortnight (two weeks) that is reserved for
focusing on the mind to make it pure ans pious. The decisions made
by a pure mind are not governed by "needs" of the senses, but by
divinity. A pure and pious mind leads the senses in right
We must worship God this day. Devotion is a way to make the mind
pure and pious. Dada explains that the sanskrit word Upavas
actually means , "to be near, to make closer". Thus the association
of Upavas with Ekadashi is that this is the day each individual
spends in purifying his mind as a means of bringing himself closer
to God. The concept of fasting does have a relationship in this
regard. In order to bring ourselves closer to God and spend more
more time with Him and His work, we should spend less time in
sensual pleasures. In this respect fasting gives us chance to
reduce our desires for foof. We make our minds stronger by
imposing this self-discipline. Unfortunately, over a number of
generations, the real meaning of Upavas got lost. and its loose
association with fasting remained as the only living remnant of
Dada explains yet one another, even more logical meaning of Ekadashi.
This is the day we offer our energy, wealth and time in the service
of God. God loves and protects us 24 hours a day, so we have more than
enough reasons to be greatful to him. Threrfore we must express
our gratitude to Him, and thank Him for His bounty at least once
every firtnight. Ekadashi is the designated day to do this. Besides
offering Him our mind, we should engage ourselves in the task of
spreading His wisdom from door to door. Every man and woman must
be acquainted with the teachings of God. We should attempt to
build a realtionshio with as many of His children as we can do on
In order to be able to dedicate the entire day to God, we must stay
away from our routine jobs and household work. The practice of
no cooking on Ekadashi and only eating fruits came about so that
instead of staying home and cooking, women could go out and do God's
work also. We eat simple food on Ekadashi so that we have more time
to show our gratitude to God on that day. When we understand the
philosophical significance in logical manner, we appreciate the
sognificance of fasting associated with it.
Dada, with eternally appreciative nature, reminds us to be thankful
to those who maintained even the remanants of Ekadashi through
generations. He says that because they maintained the aspects of
Ekadashi that they understood, we are now able to appreciate
Ekadashi as originally conceived. The observence of Ekadashi as
originally was multipurpose. Individual spiritual development
was of course an objective. When large number of people utilized
the day to spread the wisdom of God door to door for a long period
of time, they contributed to instilling the vedic thoughts in to
the masses of India. Thus Ekadashi contributed to individual
spiritual development as well as to the upliftment of the masses.
Having understood the concept of Ekadashi, we too would like
to observe it in its true sense. However, in today's society,
it may not be possible to take a day off of work or school every
eleventh day of the lunar month. The essense of Ekadashi still
can be maintained by observing it on saturday or sunday or
by observing one weekend per month to perform God's work. If
its not possible to do this, a person can still maintain the
spirit of Ekadashi by taking 24 days off at one time each year
and going out of town or out of country to do God's work
and to uplift himself as well as others.
Dada has inspired thousands of people to go to various Indian
villages and cities inn this manner and engage themselves in
God's work for 24 days every year. On these days, they live
with the villagers, acquaint these people with teachings of
God, and go on religious pilgrimages with them. Observence
of Ekadashi in this manner regularly and consistently for
almost 25 years has contributed greatly to the blooming of
swadhyay parivar (family) all over the world.
There is one additional way of observing Ekadashi. If it is
not possible for a person to take any time off from daily
routine, he can offer his Ekadashi day's earnings in God's
service. Ekadashi does not only mean fasting once every two
weeks. Ekadashi means controlling one's senses and mind through
self-descipline. Ekadashi gives us that opportunity to thank
God for all that He does that by offering one day out of
fifteen for His work. When we understand this meaning of
Ekadashi, our respect for our ancient Indian Vedic culture
increases. When we decide to put this observence of Ekadashi
in regular practice ourselves, we greatly enhance our spiritual
This article is part of book "The systems" form discourses of
Shri Pandurang Athavale Shashtri known as Pujya DADA. If you like
this article and want me to continue to post on other vedic
symbols like murtipuja, mandir etc. let me know.
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