How to properly follow Ekadasi?
Full question: I was always told Ekadasi starts to be observed by midnight (00.00) of the day of Ekadasi, completely abstaining from grains, beans & all foods containing these ingredients. Recently I read somewhere that there are certain fruits/veggies that are forbidden (like tomatoes, spinach) and it should start to be observed the evening before Ekadasi. HUH?? Please set me straight, eh? Thank you! HARI
Hare Krishna! thanks for your question. Actually Srila Prabhupada didn't get too detailed about following Ekadasi according to tiny details. He told us that Ekadasi is foremost a day for increasing hearing and chanting. In order to do this we try to take less time for bodily maintenance, such as eating, sleeping, shaving, etc. It's best to just minimize bodily stuff on that day and spend as much time hearing and chanting about Krishna as possible. It's not an auspicious day for heavy material business of any kind. That's the primary principle.
As far as eating on Ekadasi is concerned, Srila Prabhupada told us to avoid beans and grains on this day. Eat simply, just to keep body and soul together. He never gave us hours to start or end; this information has come from other places, of varying degrees of validity. But the principle is wake up, avoid grains and beans, go to sleep, and the next day, when you eat breakfast, break your fast. It's not good to fast on the day after Ekadasi.
If you miss Ekadasi for some reason, wait until the next day to do it again. If you just eat simple fruits and veggies, you'll be fine. No need to worry about various veggies or spices or fruits...Srila Prabhupada never gave us any warnings about these things and he himself ate just as he asked us to. Sometimes it's nice to fast, or just fast until noon, but this is to allow more time for spiritual things, not just to be spaced out and hungry...do as you can and still maintain your Krishna consciousness.
Our austerity is really fixing our mind on Krishna! Always remember Him, and never forget Him; these are the two main principles of Krishna consciousness. Everything else is secondary.
I hope this is helpful.