The day of Ekadasi is considered very auspicious. It is a day of fasting. It is meant for practicing austerities for a divine purpose.
The spell of material identity conditions us to a limited conception of life circumscribed by birth and death and replete with interminable problems. The wise humans recognise this constricted state and contemplate freedom. If such thoughtful persons encounter the teachings of Lord Chaitanya through a bonaifed Guru in His lineage, then a path of blissful austerity that leads to the highest dimension of blissful spiritual existence opens up before them.
“The specific significance of these incarnations is that to prosecute their ways of self-realization is simply joyful, ‘ānanda-kanda.’ They introduced chanting and dancing…Lord Caitanya, Nityānanda, introduced some process, which is simply joyful: simply chant and dance. Kevalaānanda-kanda.”
Purport to ‘ParamaKaruna’ a song written by HDG Srila Bhaktivinod Thakura by HDG A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
The path shown by Lord Chaitanya is the path of Bhakti or transcendental loving service to Lord Krishna. In his purport to Bhagavad-Gita chapter 9, verse 2, Srila Prabhupada writes,
“The process of devotional service, of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, is the king of all education and the king of all confidential knowledge. It is the purest form of religion, and it can be executed joyfully without difficulty. Therefore one should adopt it.”
Excerpt From: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. “Bhagavad-gita As It Is – Macmillan 1972 Edition –9.2
Ekadasi is one of the blissful austerities that Lord Chaitanya taught as the means to rekindle pure devotional service in the heart. HDG Srila Bhaktivinod Thakura has written in his song ‘Śuddha-bhakata’
“With great care I observe holy days like Ekādaśī and Janmāṣṭamī, for they are the mother of devotion.”
HDG Srila Bhaktivinod Thakura: ‘Śuddha-bhakata’ verse 2
Ekadasi is calculated by the lunar calendar. The 11th day of the waxing moon and the 11th day of the waning moon are called Ekadasi. From time immemorial these two days of the month are accepted as days of fasting and intensifying spiritual activities.
“One should observe fasting on Ekadasi day, the eleventh day after the full moon and the eleventh day after the new moon, when no grains, cereals or beans are eaten. Simple vegetables and milk are taken in moderate amounts, and chanting of Hare Krishna, reading Scripture, etc. is increased.”
Excerpt From: His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. “Teachings of Lord Chaitanya.” Part I, Chapter 12
“In the Brahma-vaivartaPurāṇa it is said that one who observes fasting on Ekādaśī day is freed from all kinds of reactions to sinful activities and advances in pious life.The basic principle is not just to fast, but to increase one’s faith and love for Govinda, or Kṛṣṇa.The real reason for observing fasting on Ekādaśī is to minimize the demands of the body and to engage our time in the service of the Lord by chanting or performing similar service. The best thing to do on fasting days is to remember the pastimes of Govinda and to hear His holy name constantly.”
Excerpt From: His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. “The Nectar of Devotions.” Part I, Chapter 7
“Ecstatic love for Kṛṣṇa is also aroused on the days of Ekādaśī, which are other festive days in connection with Kṛṣṇa.”
Excerpt From: His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. “The Nectar of Devotion.” Part II, Chapter 26
Thus, the true purpose of observing Ekadasi is to fast for transcending the bodily demands and performing devotional activities for the pleasure of Krishna. This works to powerfully eradicate the limited bodily concept of existence and awakens us to our eternal state of ecstatic love for Lord Krishna.