For the past few months I’ve been skipping breakfast and lunch on ekadashi and I think now I can say with confidence that it makes a lot of difference to my japa. Some ekadashis were better and some worse but, statistically speaking, there’s a marked improvement overall.
I don’t know the exact reason, skipping meals in itself is not a service, and if I happen to skip a meal on any other day it has no effect on chanting but ekadashis have been a blessing. Why?
I tend to think that it’s the cosmic arrangement where any sacrifice for the sake of pleasing Lord Vishnu magnifies the result on ekadashi. Now I’m going to abuse that opportunity to the fullest.
Last ekadashi, on Wednesday, I had a blast chanting my rounds and at one point I even felt the Lord was personally guiding me in my efforts. Usually I stroll around the house and look out of the windows but there was a moment when I was compelled to sit in front of the picture of Panca Tattva and chant. It felt like the responsible and required thing to do, that if I got up and went to chant somewhere else I would feel myself like a traitor.
I dutifully complied and it was indeed a blessing to the quality of my rounds. Eventually the effect wore off but I’m curious whether I will observe it again.
This case led me to rethink the connection between my materialistic mind and my chanting. Normally I feel like there’s none and just ignore whatever thoughts are dwelling in my head, the mind quietens down pretty fast if I don’t indulge it. This time, however, it felt like the mind was fully engaged in chanting, too, attentively listening to the Names, and it felt not only good, it felt like the right thing to do.
Perhaps the best part of ekadashi improvement in japa was the feeling that someone actually cares about my performance and someone wants to see me succeed. Comparing to that internal urge to chant better and chant only in one particular spot my usual japa seems to be totally unappreciated.
Maybe it’s true, maybe it isn’t. Essential quality of devotional service is that it’s done without any desire for rewards so it’s okay to persevere even if no one is apparently paying any attention (I’m talking about Krishna, of course, not people around me).
On the other hand, if I don’t feel appreciated it could also be a sign that all my chanting is going to waste and it doesn’t please the Lord in the least. The primary cause for this is committing offenses against the Holy Name and it might go untreated for many many lifetimes. That would be very depressing but the fact that someone listens at least on ekadashi leaves me with a ray of hope.
Let me not spoil the moment, talking too much and over-thinking things is a sure way to end the lucky streak, so I better shut up now.