Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Spiritual Benefits of Fasting

Fasting controls passion, disciplines the senses and purifies the mind and heart. A multitude of sins are destroyed. Fasting controls the tongue , one of the deadliest enemies of Sadhana (spiritual practice). Fasting overhauls the respiratory, circulatory, digestive and urinary systems. It permits and hastens the elimination of impurities from the body, destroys all sorts of poisons and encourages the rapid expulsion of uric acid deposits.Just as gold is rendered pure by being melted in a crucible again and again, so also this impure mind may be rendered purer by repeated fasting. The system is rendered calm so that one is able to practise more rigorous meditation. Avoid excessive fasting which produces weakness.If you cannot fast for the full 24 hours, try 10-12 hours and then take some light food. Gradually increase to 15 hours and then up to 24 hours. Fasting makes a person strong, both spiritually and mentally.

The great Hindu lawgiver, Manu, prescribes fasting for the removal of the five capital sins. Diseases that are pronounced incurable by doctors may be cured by fasting. A complete fast gives a rest to the internal organs and helps in the maintenance of celibacy. Many diseases have their origin in overeating; fasting is an excellent cure.Fasting helps to control sleep, it works better than drinking tea or coffee. You will not gain spiritual strength by depending on external agents. During fasting try to keep solitude; avoid unnecessary company. Utilise your time in Sadhana. When breaking a fast do not take a big meal or heavy food that is difficult to digest.Moderation in eating and withdrawal of the senses in Yogic meditation are the obverse and the reverse of the same coin. Moderation means taking enough food and water to keep the body in good working order.In the Bhagavad Gita we find: “Verily, Yoga is not for him who eats too much, nor who abstains to excess, not who sleeps too much, nor to the excessively wakeful”.

In this Kali Yuga (Iron Age), even if just one Ekadashi is observed with dispassion, faith and devotion, with the mind wholly fixed on God, one is freed from Samsara (the rounds of birth and death). If the Ekadashi fast is observed regularly, sins are destroyed; the body and mind become purified. Devotion gradually develops and love for God becomes intense.

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