Like every year, Nirjala Ekadashi is falling on 31 May 2023 during the peak of the summer season. Like each year, this year too there is a heat wave gripping north India with a dash of rains. A waterless dry fast and that too in peak summers will put in a spear of fear in the heart of most people. I have decided to go for a hard dry fast. That means I will ensure that water does not touch my skin or body in any way. What will you do?
What is the significance of Nirjala Ekadashi
Bhima was not happy with the idea of fasting twice a month. So he went to Ved Vyas to look for a solution. As expected, Vyasa who was the creators of all the four vedas found a way out. He told Bhim to observe one particular fast whose power equals to all the 24 ekadashi fasts put together. That is the Nirjala Ekadashi.
People finish off their meal before sunrise. Some even do not take rice but some light food. Then there is absolute absence from food and water till the next day sunrise. Some people follow it from sunrise to sunset.
There are certain religious rituals which include praying for God Vishnu and doing charity during the fasting period or while breaking the fast.
You are allowed to take one single drop of water. Nothing more than that, though I might not understand why does anyone need this one drop.
Try to avoid any kind of physical effort or hard work for the day. You need not stay totally indoors but try not to exert too much.
If you have never fasted earlier, DO NOT TRY NIRJALA FAST IN ONE GO. Your body will undergo tremendous amount of stress. If you still want to try, do a water fast this time and go for a dry fast in 2024 before some practise.
If you are addicted to food like most Indians, especially the ladies, try praying the whole day or engaging in some activity to keep your mind occupied.
As I keep telling this to everyone, if you feel any kind of discomfort, just break your fast and try fasting next year.
Last point, a waterless fast requires a lot of planning and preparation. Get ready and discuss about it.
I hate the part when people tell me that they have sinned so much that even fasting on Ekadashi will not save them from God’s wrath.
Whether God helps you or not, fasting is definitely a challenge for yourself. Can you do it on not. It is an opportunity to understand your body and how much can it be pushed to limits. It is a way to gain control back from your mind.
Even though your body is not adapted for fat burning, by the 12th hour of fasting your blood glucose will get low and all your food will get digested. So there is no option for the body but to start burning body fat. Now if you are fasting regularly each ekadashi, your body has already adapted to fat burning. So in case of nirjala, you might enter into fat burning much earlier, maybe even at 8th hour of fasting. For the next 12 hours of so, your body will be burning both fats as well as glucose reserves. This is the state of ketosis which is beneficial greatly for the brain. Ketones are considered to be a cleaner fuel and it starts reversing the oxidative damage cause by glucose burning in the brain.
Somewhere between 20th and 22nd hour, growth hormones get released within the body and autophagy begins. At around the same time, BDNF molecules are produced in the body. This starts repairing the neurons and neurotic connections. Finally when you begin breaking your fast, stem cells are produced by your bone marrow.
It is equally important to break the fast properly to get the maximum benefit. Begin with sipping water slowly and then take a break. Follow it up with some more water. Drinking coconut water is a good idea. So is any fruit juice but in limited quantities. The next food you should go for is something like butter and desi ghee. Cheese is also a good idea, so is curd or dahi. Finally when your body starts to adjust you should have the first solid meal.
Solid food should be fresh vegetables and home cooked. Refrain from using too much oil or fried foods. Salads should also be consumed. Finally a small piece of dark chocolate is a good option to finish off the meal. Do not overeat but plan for a second meals somewhere during lunch.
Will you go to heaven
The benefits of one day dry fast are so great that you will find heaven here on earth.