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I've seen good questions on fasting here. I would like to know types of fasting like some do it half day, some full day, some previous day noon to next day noon, some takes only lime juice, some takes only fruit juices, some even without water.

  • Can all of them give same result?
  • What are the right procedures?
  • How one should choose among?
  • request community to post your responses also @ hinduism.stackexchange.com/q/3208/65 – pbvamsi Sep 26 '14 at 1:35
  • There may be several reasons for fasting. 1. Just as a son says 'if you don't give me this I will not eat today' one type of fasting is to extract certain 'boons' or 'results' from God. This type of fasting is one that requires strict adherence to the procedures that have been laid out in order to reap the benefits. 2. This type is a sacrifice or a renunciation. It is like saying, I like to eat, but I choose God to be more important than food, therefore I will control my desire. For this type there need not be any adherence because really no results are expected, except to always choose God. – Sai Sep 26 '14 at 19:39
  • There is a third type of fasting, which is part of sadhana. In order to overcome attachment to body, one of the key attachment is to food. Therefore by gradually removing our dependence on eating (by fasting and meditation) one is able to transcend the body consciousness. The fourth type is arguably not fasting at all, but rather when one becomes consumed by devotion/love for God, the devotee stops paying attention to the external world and its turmoils. He is constantly engaged in smaran that He is sustained by Him and his love for God. – Sai Sep 26 '14 at 19:46
  • @Sai thanks! can you put these comments together and make it an answer! – pbvamsi Sep 27 '14 at 1:09
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The fasts followed today are somewhat different from those mentioned in the earliest scriptures of Hinduism so I would share what the older scriptures mention about them. The Law Books such as the Manusmriti prescribe elaborate rules and procedures to practice fasting which may either be done to gain some spiritual merit or as a means for atonement.

For example, in The Sacred Laws of Vasishth & Baudhayan, PRASNA IV, ADHYÂYA 5 descriptions are given of the Krikkhra & Cândrâyana fasts:

  1. The Krikkhra revealed by Pragâpati lasts twelve days, (which are divided into four separate) periods of three days; (during the first period of three days he eats) in the day-time (only, during the second) at night (only, during the third he subsists on) food given without asking, (and during the fourth) finally (he lives on) air.
  2. (If one eats on) one (day in) the morning (only), and (on the following day) at night (only, on the next day food) given without asking, (and on the fourth day) subsists on air, and repeats this three times, that is called the Krikkhra of children.
  3. (If) one eats one mouthful only at each (meal), following, during (three) periods of three days, the rules given above, and subsists during another period of three days on air, that is called the Atikrikkhra penance.
  4. (If) during those (first) three periods of three days one partakes of water only, and subsists afterwards (during three days) on air, that third (variety) must be known to be the most efficacious Krikkhrâtikrikkhra penance.
  5. If one drinks hot milk, (hot) clarified butter, (and a hot) decoction of Kusa grass, each during three days, and fasts during another three days, that is called the Taptakrikkhra.

Similarly there are other types of fasts mentioned:

  1. If he daily adds to his food one mouthful during the bright (half of the month) and diminishes it daily by one mouthful during the dark (half of the month), and keeps two fasts in the two halves of the month, that is called a Kândrâyana.
  2. If, with concentrated mind, a Brâhmana eats four mouthfuls in the morning and four mouthfuls when the sun has set, he will perform the Kândrâyana of children.
  3. If, self-restrained, he daily eats, during a month, at midday eight mouthfuls of food, fit for a sacrifice, he will perform the Kândrâyana of ascetics.

Some alternatives are also mentioned:

  1. If one recites the whole Rig-veda, Yagur-veda, and Sâma-veda, or thrice reads one of these Vedas and fasts, (that is) a most efficient means of purification.
  2. Now if one is in haste to finish, one may live on air during a day, and pass the night standing in water, that is equal (in efficacy) to a Prâgâpatya

Manu Smriti Chapter 5 details certain punishments where the one repenting was asked to follow the above-mentioned fasts:

  1. A twice-born man who knowingly eats mushrooms, a village-pig, garlic, a village-cock, onions, or leeks, will become an outcast.

  2. He who unwittingly partakes of (any of) these six, shall perform a Samtapana (Krikkhra) or the lunar penance (Candrayana) of ascetics; in case (he who has eaten) any other (kind of forbidden food) he shall fast for one day (and a night).

In the Mahabharat(( Anushasan Parva Section CVI** Bhishma tells Yuddhishthir:

"Angiras said, 'As regards Brahmanas and Kshatriyas, fasts for three nights at a stretch are ordained for them, O delighter of the Kurus. Indeed, O chief of men, a fast for one night, for two nights, and for three nights, may be observed by them. (They should never go beyond three nights).

As regards Vaisyas and Sudras, the duration of fasts prescribed for them is a single night. If, from folly, they observe fasts for two or three nights, such fasts never lead to their advancement. Indeed, for Vaisyas and Sudras, fasts for two nights have been ordained (on certain special occasions). Fasts for three nights, however, have not been laid down for them by persons conversant with and observant of duties.

That man of wisdom who, with his senses and soul under control, O Bharata, fasts, by abstaining from one of the two meals, on the fifth and the sixth days of the moon as also on the day of the full moon, becomes endured with forgiveness and beauty of person and conversance with the scriptures. Such a person never becomes childless and poor.

He who observes fasts on the eighth and the fourteenth days of the dark fortnight, becomes freed from maladies of every kind and possessed of great energy.

The man who abstains from one meal every day throughout the month called Margasirsha, should, with reverence and devotion, feed a number of Brahmanas.

That man, O son of Kunti, who passes the whole month of Pausha, abstaining every day from one of two meals, becomes endued with good fortune and agreeable features and great fame.

He who passes the whole month of Magha, abstaining every day from one of the two meals, takes birth in a high family and attains to a position of eminence among his kinsmen.

He who passes the whole month of Bhagadaivata, confining himself every day to only one meal becomes a favourite with women who, indeed, readily own his sway.

He who passes the whole of the month of Chaitra, confining himself every day to one meal, takes birth in a high family and becomes rich in gold, gems, and pearls.

The person, whether male or female, who passes the month of Vaisakha, confining himself or herself every day to one meal, and keeping his or her senses under control, succeeds in attaining to a position of eminence among kinsmen.

The person who passes the month of Jyaishtha confining himself every day to one meal a day, succeeds in attaining to a position of eminence and great wealth. If a woman, she reaps the same reward.

He who passes the month of Ashadha confining himself to one meal a day and with senses steadily concentrated upon his duties, becomes possessed of much corn, great wealth, and a large progeny.

He who passes the month of Sravana, confining himself to one meal a day, receives the honours of Abhisheka wherever he may happen to reside, and attains to a position of eminence among kinsmen whom he supports.

That man who confines himself to only one meal a day for the whole month of Proshthapada, becomes endued with great wealth and attains, to swelling and durable affluence.

The man who passes the month of Aswin, confining himself to one meal a day, becomes pure in soul and body, possessed of animals and vehicles in abundance, and a large progeny.

He who passes the month of Kartika, confining himself to one meal every day, becomes possessed of heroism, many spouses, and great fame.

So to answer your questions different types of fasting give different types of benefits and one should choose them based on what he/she wants to obtain by performing the fast.

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