How to Fast on Ekadasi

Ekadasi (sometimes spelt Ekadashi) is a fast observed by both Hare Krishna devotees and Hindus on the eleventh day of the waxing moon. There are many rules regarding foods that can be consumed and differ depending on the strictness of the fast. A Vaishnava calendar should be consulted so individuals can fast on the correct day.

Rules for Observing Ekadasi Fast

Full fasting on Ekadasi is good practice in restraining the senses, though the main reason for observing the fast is to remember Krishna. The needs of the body are simplified on this day and it is advised to sleep less to concentrate on devotional service, read scriptures and chant.

The fast begins at sunrise and lasts until the next sunrise so if one eats grains during this period the fast is broken. It is not advised to eat in the pre-dawn hours in Vedic teachings, and especially not on ekadasi. Fasting should be followed from the time of waking on the ekadasi day. If the fast is accidentally broken, it should be followed for the rest of the day and the following day too.

Individuals whom are participating in a strict fast may not eat anything after sunset on the previous night to ensure there is no undigested food left in the stomach on Ekadasi. Many avoid eating any prasadam from an offering that includes grains. Vedic literature teaches that sin (papa-purusha) takes shelter in grains on Ekadasi, and therefore should be avoided in all forms (even if offered to Krishna). Ekadasi grain prasadam should be stored until the next day or can be distributed to persons not strictly following these regulations or to animals.

How to Break Ekadasi Fast

If a nirjala (complete fast without water) is observed then the fast does not have to be broken with grains on the following day. The fast can be broken with caranamrita (water from bathing Krishna’s feet), milk or fruit at the prescribed time outlined on the vaishnava calendar. This time will vary according to your location. If a partial Ekadasi fast is observed with fruit, vegetables, nuts etc. then it is necessary to break it with grains.

Foods That can be Eaten When Fasting on Ekadasi

Srila Prabhupada never imposed complete fasts for devotees and advised to eat simply on Ekadasi and concentrating on chanting and devotional service. The following foods and spices can be eaten when observing this fast:

  • All fruits (fresh and dried);
  • All nuts and nut oils;
  • All types of sugar;
  • Buckwheat;
  • Potatoes, cassava and sweet potatoes;
  • Coconut;
  • Olives;
  • Milk;
  • Fresh ginger;
  • Black pepper; and
  • Rock salt.
  • Restricted foods on Ekadasi

If even one grain is ingested, even accidentally, the Ekadasi fast is considered to be broken. Therefore great care is taken when cooking and spices are taken from a brand new package untouched by grains. The following foods must not be consumed on ekadasi:

  • All grains (e.g. millet, barley, farina, rice and urad dahl flour) and products derived from these ingredients;
  • Peas, chickpeas, dahl and all types of beans, including derived products such as tofu;
  • Salt, baking soda, baking powder, custard and many sweets are avoided as they are often mixed with rice powder;
  • Sesame seeds (except on Sat-tila Ekadasi, when sesame seeds may be offered as well as eaten);
  • Spices such as asafetida, cloves, fenugreek, mustard, tamarind, fennel, cardamom and nutmeg.

Fasting on ekadasi is an important austerity followed by devotees of Krishna and is undertaken to increase spiritual development. It is better to eat a little of the allowed foods rather than fast completely and become too weak to fulfill your duties and devotional service.

– by Priya Chauhan

Known Words: Ekadasi in 2014, dawn hours, ekadashi, ekadasi, hare krishna, krishna devotees, prasadam, vaishnava calendar, vedic teachings, waxing moon

33 replies
    • Anonymous
      Anonymous says:

      U told one should be pure from heart it is impossible in kaliyuga v should never be pure so this fasting xam may improve purity and help us how to control our senses and increase the enthu to know about the supreme lord

  1. Nathu Ram
    Nathu Ram says:


    Here, somebody tried to explain scientific reason too, Increase in gravity pull on earth from moon and aided by sun effect earth’s pressure and causes tidal waves on earth’s oceans because of the water bodies’ inertia. Since, our human body is 70% water and food takes 3-4 days to convert into fluid and reach our brains. Eating grains etc., causes the same pressure change and inertial effect to easily effect our mind and therefore our actions can become uncontrolled and sinful on the days of full moon and new moon. And these actions leads to chain of other uncontrolled actions on consecutive coming days.

  2. naganathachar
    naganathachar says:

    Ekadashi has to be observed as prescribed by sree Madhwa Muni,
    in Sarvamoola for the sake of Narayana Preethi only
    this is one of the Sadhana for Hari Anugraha

  3. naganathachar
    naganathachar says:

    If one has to be observe, Ekadashi,
    the Ekadashi thithi should be free from Dashami.
    this may be obtained from vaishnava panchanga.
    It is stated that Gaandhari
    did fasting on Ekadashi where kalaa dashami thithi was there before Sunrise and this is known as viddhi ekadashi.
    In view of fasting on this day, she lost all her 100 children in the war. therefore identifying the correct Ekadashi thithi is very Important.
    All Ekadashis should be free from any intake whether liquid or solid.
    only once theertha has to be taken. dwadashi parane is also equally important.
    for details Sri Madhwa’s krishnaamrutha maharnava grantha may be referred.
    this vratha has to be done only for Sri Hari Preethi and nothing else.
    hence,one must always bear in mind by grace of Sri Hari and Vayudevaru this vratha has been done.
    and it should be done saying Krishnaaranamasthu after dwadashi parane.
    this is not restricted to any caste or religion nor male or female.
    exception only to sick, aged, and ladies who have just delivered baby or for a pregnant lady, if unavoidable.
    As long as people are healthy and if they do Ekadashi, one can say he or she is blessed by Sri Hari, Vayu, Devathegalu and Gurugalu. and their children will prosper in the present existing life because of sathkarma by elderly people, and subsequently.
    the children will also learn from elders and this continues towards prosperity,
    in terms of both materialistic as well as spiritual.


  4. naganathachar
    naganathachar says:

    Ekadasi Vratha has to be observed only for the anugraha of of Sri Hari , Vayu Devaru and thathwa Abhimanidevathegalu .
    While observing the vratha one should have anusandhana that this is being done with the prerane of Gurugalu , Devathegalu , Sri Mukhya Prana Devaru, and Sri Hari,
    If it is done without any anusandhana of vishnu preraneya, and vishnu preethyartham,then this upavasa karma becomes a kamya karma,
    and does not help for banda nivruthi.
    hence while fasting anusandhana gets more importance and doing mechanicaly without hari smruthi may not be of much use.

  5. Hariharan Neelakantan
    Hariharan Neelakantan says:

    My mother use to say that at least once in a year – on Guruvayur ekadasi day, one should fast. On dasami day, dinner should be over by 18 hours latest, brush and if any medicines to be taken, take it. Then, the fast should be broken on Dwadasi day by 7 or 7.30 AM after pooja depending upon school or office hours. If you are not able to do fast it is ok, but give one or two bananas or little fruits or nuts to those who observe fast, it will give prosperity to the givers also. On behalf of expectant mothers or expecting to be mothers, provide simple food to those who have observed fast. Santhanagopalan will bless them all.

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