Fasting is a form of tapas to destroy the effects of evil samskaras and purify oneself quickly. It is a kind of prayaschitta to nullify the effects of evil actions. It is a sort of self-punishment. Fasting is a sacred vrita amongst the Hindus. They take a complete fast on Sivaratri and Gokulasthami days. They do not take even a drop of water during theses days. Some religious –minded persons fast on every Ekadashi day. Fasting subdues passion. Even Christians observe Lent, for 40 days, (from Ash Wednesday to Easter Eve) are devoted to fasting and penitence in commemoration of the fast of their Saviour in the wilderness. Mohamedans fast during Ramzan. Fasting helps in controlling the mind and makes the mind sattwic. Manu has prescribed Krishcharata Vrita and Chandrayana Vrita for purification of mind and destroying the evil effects of great offences.
Fasting has in numberless cases restored health when everything else had failed.
If you fast as soon s a disease is manifested it will soon disappear and many serious complications will be avoided. If you feel feverish, if you suffer from dyspepsia fast for a day and you will be cured immediately. Now a days many have recognized and realized the value of fasting. They resort to fasting whenever any form of ill-health manifests itself and save big doctor’s bills. Medicine only helps nature. A doctor may ruin the health of a patient by his injudicious treatment. Nature is your reliable guide, doctor, friend and nurse. Seek her help always. She is ever ready to serve you with warm affection. Charaka Rishi recommends fasting for the cure of many chronic diseases. Fasting is nature’s greatest curative agent. The fast gives an opportunity to nature to cleanse the system and remove the materials that clog certain organs or parts. It is very efficacious therapeutic agent. Many kinds of poisonous materials and toxins are eliminated by fasting. Fasting reduces fat.
Fasting does not impair vitality. It does not produce weakness and loss of weight. Some people are unnecessarily alarmed when they hear the word ‘fasting’. Strength and vitality are usually increased by fasting. The mind becomes clear during fasting. The body becomes very light.
The practice of fasting may be disgusting in the beginning for some persons. But later on they themselves will take great delight in it. You will be troubled by hunger on the first day and on the second day. From the third day you will have no difficulty. You will have no appetite. Do not allow the mind to think of various articles of diet during fasting. Practise rigorous meditation during this period. The indriyas are calm now. You can do much meditation. Practise fasting for a day to start with and through force of habit you can gradually increase the period to a week. When you break the fast take some fruit juice, preferably orange juice. Do not load the stomach with solid food all at once. Gluttons are unfit for long fasts. If the mind does a wrong action, if it hurts others’ feelings seriously punish it by observing a fast. It will come under your control gradually.
If you find it difficult to observe complete fast even for a day at least observe partial fast. Do not take anything in the daytime. Take milk and fruits at night. Or take fruit juice only. Do not take any solid food but take only fruitjuice. Continue the fruit-juice fast for two or three days.
You should drink water copiously when you observe fast or 4 or 5 days to flush out the system. What do the municipal people do when the sewers are clogged ? Do they not flush it with plenty of water? You should do the same thing when your system is clogged. The water drunk may be flavoured slightly with a little of the juice of an orange, a morning to cleanse the bowels thoroughly. Just as a car after thorough overhauling looks like a new car and runs smoothly, so also our body which is clogged by over-eating and stuffing of all sorts of food, gets thoroughly overhauled by fasting and becomes like a new machine and works very efficiently.
Fasting develops will power. Mahatma Gandhiji had developed his will-power considerable through fasting. He was a great votary of fasting. If anything went wrong in the Ashram, if any one conducted himself in a wrong manner, he would fast for some days. He took the burden and sins of others on himself by fasting. He fasted for effecting Hindu- Muslim unity. He had a long fast of 45 days for the political and economical good or freedom of the country.
Fasting is the message of the heart. By fasting you can melt the heart of even a hard-hearted man. By fasting you can influence anybody. By fasting you can make the Indra and other Devatas to serve you. Fasting has magical influence indeed.
Fast and calm your emotions and passion. Fast and be healthy. Fast and control the tongue and other indriyas. Fast and destroy your sins. Fast and eliminate the poison from your system. Fast and control sleep. Fast and pray. Fast, purify and meditate, realize the self and be free. Fast and shine with divine splendour and glory.