Our body is a magnificent machine which has numerous activities going on every moment. It intelligently and efficiently does things on an automatic mode without even letting us realize its smooth running. But when we fall ill then we become aware that something in the body is not running correctly. When we feel exhausted physically we rest and sleep but the organs, circulatory system are continuously working. There are certain organs or systems which we do not have any control over at all, however we do have control over the digestive system. It is believed that mostly all diseases start from indigestion. And we all have experienced the fact that when we are not well, we don’t feel like eating anything. There are scientific reasons behind this.
The most effective way which has been observed and practiced to give rest to our digestive system is to fast or abstain from eating food of any kind and if the fasting is ‘dry fasting’ or Nirjala fasting then it benefits the body many folds. Nirjala fasting means abstaining from drinking water. ‘Nir’ means no and ‘Jala means water.
The Hindus have many religious occasions in which fasting and Nirjala fasting is required. We can say that the Sages of ancient India knew about the benefits of Nirjala fasting and so included that in the rituals. Nirjala Ekadashi is one such day which involves fasting and Nirjala fasting. If we keep the religious meanings aside the Nirjala fasting required on Nirjala Ekadashi is designed very scientifically. There are 24 Ekadashis in a year with every month having two Ekadashis, one each on the 11th day of the Shukla Paksha (waxing Moon) and the Krishna Paksha (waning Moon)respctively. On Ekadashi, Lord Vishnu is worshipped and it is believed that fasting for 24 hours on Ekadashi obliterates the most atrocious sins of the devotee and blesses with good health, wealth and happiness through life, ensuring a place in the abode of Lord Vishnu, at His Lotus feet when the soul transcends to the other world.
Health benefits of Nirjala Ekadashi:-
On Nirjala Ekadashi the devotee is required to keep a fast from Sunrise of Ekadashi to the Sunrise of the next day, Dwadashi. The Moon is known to have strong magnetic power which effects the mind and water. 70% of the human body is made of water and therefore the Moon effects it. The reason behind this is that the Moon trines with either the Sun or Earth from the 11th day which intensifies the effect of the Moon on water and mind. It is said that from the 11th. day of every fortnight till about 5 days after the Full Moon/ New Moon, the secretion of digestive juices in the body slows down. This makes it the apt time to cleanse the digestive system. Therefore observing fast on any Ekadashi is a very effective tool.
Since Nirjala Ekadashi is supposed to be observed by not drinking water, the health benefits are many:-
- It protects against diseases, slows the process of premature ageing, increases life span. It enhances focus and memory power.
- Each cell of the body burns the toxins by itself, within the cell. This is so because in Nirjala fasting or dry fasting water intake is not there and therefore the body cannot release the toxins through Urine, Bowel, by sweating through the skin, Kidneys, liver.
- The stem cells content in our body decreases drastically with age. When we observe Nirjala fast the body rejuvenates and regenerates by itself. This is so because during dry fasting the body automatically starts discarding old and sick cells which create space in the tissues to accommodate more stem cells. As the body releases more stem cells into the blood stream at the time of Nirjala fasting, so they go and settle in the vacant space created in the tissues. This results in the regeneration and rejuvenation of the body.
- There are numerous harmful micro organisms in the body and they need water to survive. While in Nirjala fasting the external water supply is not there so all the inflammations caused inside the body gets the chance to heal with no supply of water.
- Dry Fasting or Nirjala fasting helps in purifying the blood, the immune system is stimulated, the anti-inflammatory process is activated, the Gastrointestinal tract (GI tract) is cleansed along with renewal of the mucus lining of it and blood vessels are cleaned too.
- The intelligent body eliminates all the unwanted and harmful things from the body like damaged tissues e.g. tumours, fat deposits, inflamed tissues etc. Nirjala fasting makes the body access water from the cells of the body which promotes this process.
- Due to the absence of external supply of water cell multiplication is faster during Nirjala fasting as both nutrition and water is needed by the body.
- The body is saved from harmful influences in the environment, including radiation. In normal fasting where no food intake is there this process happens in about 2 weeks but with Nirjala fasting influences of radiation are removed in 5 to 7 days.
In short the health benefits of Nirjala or dry fasting are many. It forces the body to detoxify, regenerate cells, rejuvenate and prepare the body for the next 10 days.
Nirjala Ekadashi Vrat Vidhi:-
Nirjala Ekadashi falls in the Hindu month of Jyeshtha (May-June) in the Shukla Paksha or bright fortnight phase. The Summer is in full swing at this time in India and observing Nirjala fasting can be a challenge. But devotees observe dry fasting to garner the merits of this Ekadashi because it is said to be the most important Ekadashi of all.
The Vrat Vidhi and other rules of Nirjala Ekadashi should be followed meticulously for the successful completion of the fast.
1) After having an early morning bath on the day of Ekadashi, a ‘Sankalpa’ or intension should be made about keeping the Nirjala fast, from that time to the next morning of Dwadashi.
2) Devotee can visit Lord Vishnu’s temple and worship by offering of Sandalwood paste, incense, flowers, oil or Ghee lamp.
3) Lord Vishnu’s mantras like ‘Om namahBhagavateVasudevaya’, Vishnu Sahasranamam, Hare Krishna maha-mantra etc. can be chanted throughout the day.
4) Sleeping on Ekadashi night is prohibited. Devotee should be awake and be aware. Many devotees sing Bhajans or chant through the night.
5) Devotee should not indulge in speaking ill of others, gambling, drinking alcohol and abstain from sex.
6) On the morning of Dwadashi after taking bath, donation of Gold and drinking water should be made to a qualified Brahmin. If Gold is not affordable then a pot of drinking water is also sufficient.
7) Breaking of fast should be done by first offering fruit, sweets and food to Lord Vishnu and having the ‘prasadam’. First pray to Lord Vishnu-“O Pundarikaksha, O Lotus-eyed Lord, nowI will eat. Please shelter me”.
8) In Nirjala Ekadashi doing charity has great importance as it helps to get more merits. Charity of food, clothes and Gold are made. However Gold is not compulsory these days.
Fasting and Nirjala fasting is such a powerful tool to refresh the internal and external body. The Nirjala Ekadashi when done with a pure heart not only has many health benefits but it ensures blessings of Lord Vishnu.