Fasting and its significance
Fasting in Sanskrit is called as upavaasa. Fasting means abstinence or reduction of certain food for a period of time. The Bhagavatgita says; eat appropriately with simple and sattwik food. Fasting is used as a treatment in Ayurveda and naturopathy. Good health is man’s inherent nature; a sound body is complement to a sound mind.
Fasting is a method of cleansing the system. It removes all the waste matter and impurities which has accumulated through the wrong eating and wrong living. Fasting is the strong and effective method to cure all diseases. It conserves energy. The energy that was previously directed towards digestion is now utilized for elimination, repairing and healing. Fasting will prevent further accumulation of waste matter and toxins in the system. In today’s life, we have made our body a junkyard. So fasting has to be done at least once in 15 days to clean the system.
On normal days, most of our energy is spent on eating and digesting the food. The heavy food makes our mind dull and agitated. It is scientifically proven that fasting makes the mind calm and serene. By eating less or totally avoiding, we can save and conserve this energy and our mind becomes pure. Also fasting helps the process of purification of blood. Reserves of vitamins and minerals accumulated from raw food stored in the body which comes useful in fasting. Fasting even for one day in 10-15 days is beneficial as the digestive organs become relaxed and nature hastens the action of detoxification of the body.
The scientific reason behind fasting and use of Mantras
When we eat sattwik food, our mind becomes sattwik and receptive. The scriptures say that worshiping certain dieties during fasting is very beneficial. It is said in Jyothisha Shastra that every week day is associated with one diety and the power of that god will be higher on that particular day. When we worship the diety, the positivity of that diety is awakened in our consciousness. When we chant mantra at this time, the receptive power of our mind is on a higher state. When fasting and chanting of mantras are done together, our sensual consciousness can be elevated to higher consciousness. And the other important factor to be considered are: we should control anger, lust, jealousy and other tamasic and negative thoughts.
Following are the days and deities associated with that particular day. Fast on that particular day is very beneficial. And if we chant the specific mantra, the effect will be more.
Manday – Lord Shiva
Tuesday – Devi or Ganesha
Thursaday – Lord Dattatreya (tri headed form of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva)
Friday – Devi
Saturday – Shanidev or Lord Hanuman
In India, it is very common to practice fasting on Ekadashi day, which is eleventh day of waxing and waning Moon (Shukla paksha edadashi and Krishna paksha Ekadashi). So Ekadashi occurs twice a month. According to Skanda Purana, fasting on Ekadashi serves as a preventive medicine. At this time, the weather is not conducive for digestion and as a result the quality of the food gets degenerated. As per scientific research, the atmospheric pressure on Ekadashi day is lowest compared to other days. So it will help in cleaning the digestive system.
Fasting can be done on other days as well. Fasting can be done on 4th day of every waxing and waning Moon called as Chathurthi. This is the best time to worship Lord Ganesha, the remover of obstacles and troubles.
How to fast
According to scriptures and Ayurveda, fasting once in a week is good or at least in one fortnight. There are different ways of fasting. One can fast with only drinking water for whole day. Or fasting can be done with eating only fruits and fruit juices. Juice is very healthy and beneficial. It throws out toxins in our body. They offer great quantities of nutrients that support the immune system. Even brahmi and amla leaves can be added to the juices. These juices have a cleaning quality.
If it is difficult to do fasting for whole day, one can do it by having only one meal a day, which is called as Eka Bhuktha.