Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣak Śrīdhar Dev-Goswāmī Mahārāj explains how and why anukalpa is honoured on Śrī Ekādaśī.
Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāj: You’ll accept some anukalpa here?
Student: Well, today is Ekādaśī.
Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāj: You will not accept any anukalpa on Ekādaśī?
Student: I’ve been trying to fast.
Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāj: You will fast the whole day and not take any anukalpa? All right.
Student: I was thinking that because I am a sannyāsī I should try to be a little renounced.
Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāj: Oh. Because you are a sannyāsī.
Student: But you are always saying, “Beware of renunciation.” So, do you think this is good?
Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāj: “Between Scylla and Charybdis.” Do you know this expression? Near Italy in the Mediterranean, there is hidden rock named Scylla near a whirlpool named Charybdis. When a ship goes between them, if it is too near Scylla, it will strike against the rock and be ruined, and if it is too near Charybdis, it will come under the course of the whirlpool and go down.
So, this is like bhoga and tyāg. On one side is bhoga—exploitation, selfish enjoyment—and on the other side is renunciation. Both renunciation and exploitation are dangerous, but renunciation is more dangerous than exploitation. It is a more powerful enemy to devotion to Kṛṣṇa than the weak, though chief enemy of exploitation.
Student: So how can I know how strict I should be with myself?
Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāj: You should devote the maximum amount of your energy to Kṛṣṇa, and you should accept whatever is favourable to that. The service of Kṛṣṇa is more important that fasting, and you should do whatever is helpful for that.
Once on Janmāṣṭamī day, Prabhupād had to go to Mathurā, perhaps to observe the month of Puruṣottam or something, and he selected Mādhav Mahārāj to go one day earlier and hire a suitable house. He was Hayagrīva Brahmachārī at that time, and when he was to go, Prabhupād asked his own cook, “Feed him rice on Janmāṣṭamī day. He will have a tedious journey and his energy will be wasted, but he has to do the important duty to fixing that house there. So, prepare rice for him.” That was his order, but Hayagrīva hesitated, and his cook also hesitated. Anyhow, sagu [tapioca], plantain, and curd—he took on all these things together on Janmāṣṭamī day.
Student: And rice also?
Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāj: Not rice.
Student: He didn’t take. He wouldn’t take.
Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāj: If Professor Sānnyāl was in such a position, he must have taken rice. He was so much adherent—extremely submissive—to Prabhupād’s order. He would have said, “Oh, Prabhupād has asked me to take rice. Then I must take rice.” That was his contention, his line of thought. But Hayagrīva hesitated, “No, no. It is not necessary. I am strong enough, and I shall do the duty. If Prabhupād wants me to eat something on this fasting day, then let me have some anukalpa.” And he went on. So, for the purpose of kīrtan, he took something.
There was a devotee who came here by train from Vṛndāvan on the day of Ekādaśī, and when he reached here in the evening, he went to take bath in the Ganges and then participated in the kīrtan, dancing, and circumambulation, all these things. Then, I asked him whether he would take any anukalpa. He replied, “Generally, I don’t, but if you like, then of course I must take anukalpa. Your will is greater than fasting.” That was his decision.
Student: Yes. That is my decision also because I always want your mercy.
Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāj: Hare Kṛṣṇa.
Student: If you desire that I take some prasād, I’ll do that.
Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāj: My Guru Mahārāj’s maxim was: “Take good food and do good service.” He said, “Kṛṣṇa is not a liquidated party. Take full prasādam and do full service, maximum service. Whatever is necessary, you take it, and for the cause of Kṛṣṇa, you are to take, not for your own cause. You are Kṛṣṇa’s. So, if you grow weak, that will hamper your service. Then you will be the loser, and I will also be the loser. My soldiers will be well fed and well working.” That was his principle. Napoleon also said, “One fully fed soldier is equal to ten half fed soldiers.”
Spoken 2 March 1981.