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Importance of Ekadashi-Dwadashi

From: Vijay Srinivasan (Vijay_Srinivasan_at_praxair.com)
Date: Thu Feb 15 1996 - 08:34:32 PST

Dear Prapatti Group Members:

It is very interesting to note that many members of our group appreciate the 
importance of Ekadashi.  There was an incident in Swami Desikan's life that I 
would like to share.

Swami Desikan, who we all know lived a full veda prayam, in his old age was 
observing the Ekadashi Vratam (complete fasting). The head priest of the Sri 
Ranganathar temple seeing swami in a very weak condition offered him the koil 
prasadam and also told Swami that Lord Ranganatha himself ordered him to do 
so.  To this Swami replied that Lord Ranganatha would not have said that and he 
politely refused to partake the prasadam.  Such was the steadfastness of our 
acharya in observing sastraic codes.

It may also interest you to know that it is the Dwadashi day that is special 
for Lord Vishnu(just like Pradosha evenings are for Lord Siva - Vaishnavas 
observe silence during pradosham).  The Ekadahsi vratam with fasting, chanting 
etc.  is really in preparation for the bhaghvat aradhanam on dwadashi.  Through 
the process of fasting, one disciplines the will and the intellect, quitens the 
mind, and thus prepares for upasana. You might have also noticed that sravana 
vratam is observed one day prior to the sravana nakshatram day.

Sastras also tell us that the dwadashi paranai should be completed before the 
dwadashi thithi ends.  One should avoid using anything related to plaintains 
(vazhai kaay, ilai etc.), also avoid chillies and tamarind (substitute pepper 
for chillies and lemon or dry mango powder for tamarind).  Sastras also tell us 
to include sundaikaay and nellikaay (goose berry). All this might sound 
difficult to practice but after observing them for 3 or 4 times they become a 
routine.

The wisdom of our sastras can be appreciated only through experience.  I think 
patience will be required.  It seems one German visitor to India (visiting 
India in the good old days) commented that our kitchen is really a pharmacy.  
He was amazed at the variety of spices and the sense of proportion in the way 
they were used.  In spite of the empiricism involved, our sastraic way of 
living has helped earnest people (for several generations) in their spiritual 
progress.

Dharmo Vigrahavan Adharma Virathim Dhanveesa Dhanveethinaha. (Let Lord Rama, 
who is the embodiment of Dharma create in us an inclination to follow our 
dharma).


Vijayaraghavan Srinivasan