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Observing Ekadasi

His Divine Grace Om Vishnupad
Srila Bhakti Nirmal Acharya Maharaj
Speaking to the devotees in San Jose
18 August 2013


"ভক্ত-সঙ্গেতে মন আনন্দিত অনুক্ষণ, bhakta-sangete mana anandita anuksana": the association of the devotees always gives pleasure to our hearts.

Many obstacles come in our service life, in our spiritual life—we are on a battlefield and we must fight Maya. How will you fight Maya? You can easily defeat her, but you must be trained by a great soul, by a good trainer.

Actually, today is a very nice day, today is Ekadasi.

When Sriman Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was in Puri, He would first start a parikrama to the Gundicha temple, then He would go Jagannath Vallabha, the garden of Jagannath, and the whole day and night He would sing and chant. The devotees would do many kinds of services and always chanted—somebody chanted on the beads, somebody chanted without beads, somebody played the mridanga, karatals, and so on. The next day was the paran day, and in the morning Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya and Gopinath Acharya would bring prasadam and offer it to Mahaprabhu. Mahaprabhu then distributed it to everybody.

This is how Mahaprabhu and the devotees spent Ekadasi in Puri. Jagadananda Pandit writes about this in his Prema-vivarta, this is how we know about it.

We must understand how to follow the Ekadasi day. We must follow Ekadasi through service—the Ekadasi day means service. Why do you leave your food? Not to please yourself, but to please the Lord. This is how we must follow the Ekadasi day.

You know also that Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu first taught His mother, "Mother, do not take rice on Ekadasi." He explained to her that those who took rice and other grains on Ekadasi were great sinners. Then Mahaprabhu told everybody how to observe Ekadasi, and our Guru-varga follow it. Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur also allowed to take some anukalpa (non-grain prasadam) on the Ekadasi day.

Srila Sridhar Maharaj said also very nicely: you must take food not for your hunger—you must take food for your service. Do you think, "I am hungry, so I need to take some food"? No, you take food for your service. It is said very nicely, but how should we follow it? Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj explained: your mind is a naughty manager—on behalf of the jiva soul, the mind controls everything, "I want this, I do not want that." He gave an analogy:

Suppose, a managing director runs a big factory very nicely, but suddenly he dies. After him, a young boy, perhaps about twelve years old, inherits the post and becomes the managing director. He is very young and there are many workers at the factory, so kama, krodha, lobha, moha, mada, matsarya (lust, anger, greed, illusion, madness, envy) take charge of the minor manager and control him. They steal everything from the factory, then there is a lockout, and the factory closes down...

Similarly, our devotion is very young, very small, so if do not take proper and timely care, if we do not give it proper nourishment, we can lose our devotion. Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur also said that we have kamala sraddha—our faith is very weak and meagre—and if you mix with naughty people, mix with bad association, they can change your faith and destroy your devotion within a second. We must be careful about our association.


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Service and Karma
'Sometimes some service comes to you, and you are not satisfied with it, you want to do something else, but here is an example from Gurudev's times..'


Namo namah tulasi maharani
'O Tulasi Maharani, O Vrnda Devi, I offer my obeisance unto you again and again. O Narayani, I offer my obeisance unto you again and again.'
নমো নমঃ তুলসী মহারাণি

You have to think that Krishna exists within every jiva soul, and you have to
give respect to everybody, to every jiva soul just as when driving a car you
try to avoid running over some street animals.