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Sometimes when trying to follow practices like partial fasts on Ekadashi or meditating every day during certain periods, something happens that disrupts the practice, and I would like to know the best course of action when this happens.

For example, on one Ekadashi while trying to fast grains I ate a Pringle thinking it was like a potato chip, then realised there's flour in it. Recently I promised myself I'd meditate every day through Chaturmasya, but one evening I fell asleep while trying. This week I'd considered lighting a lamp each night of Adhik Maas and resuming the meditation, although hadn't decided completely. In the end I didn't last night but now wish I had, and am thinking about starting tonight but am worried that even genuine devotional practice for the rest of the month wouldn't count.

My question isn't so much about any of these individual situations as the theme running through them. What should be done when we stumble? Is it worse to try and fail than not to try at all? And if we do, what should we do about it?

(Am particularly interested if there are any Gita references that address this but would be grateful to hear if it is addressed in any Hindu texts, or just people's thoughts based on their knowledge and experience.)

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    Firstly, I'm confused as to how it's taken 23 days after this question was asked and answered to decide it is inappropriate. Secondly, I specifically didn't ask for advice for any of the situations I gave (as examples). I said "My question isn't so much about any of these individual situations as the theme running through them", and asked for references to the Gita or other texts. My question was about what Hindu references say about the dilemma described. It is no more subjective than any of the other questions on this site that ask about interpretation of those references.
    – velw
    Aug 12, 2023 at 1:25
  • After more reading, it seems the personal advice rule comes down to whether examples are given that relate a question to everyday life link. I gave the examples in to make clear what it was I was asking. This question hasn't attracted any problem answers or contentious debate. The purpose of religion is to inform how we live. But since that doesn't seem to be the view of this forum I will delete the question myself after the remaining query is resolved.
    – velw
    Aug 12, 2023 at 1:51
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    One more point: I hope questions like these, explicitly requesting personal advice, will be closed as well: "How shall a foreigner develop their practice of Sanātana Dharma?" "How can one know their dharma?"
    – velw
    Aug 12, 2023 at 2:07
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    @RubelliteYakṣī , the question is asking for scriptural reference and not any personal opinion.
    – Athrey
    Aug 13, 2023 at 10:27
  • @RubelliteYakṣī The question change history shows it was edited July 19, within a few minutes of it being posted, and not since. Your comment about it being closed was posted August 11.
    – velw
    Aug 21, 2023 at 1:06

1 Answer 1

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If it has to be seen in the light of Gita , the intent of piety counts... If the intent is Bhagavad Arpanam devoid of personal claims then following reference holds true.

nehābhikrama-nāśho ’sti pratyavāyo na vidyate svalpam apyasya dharmasya trāyate mahato bhayāt(2.40)

It says there is no Abikrama Nasha (ie. no loss of efforts, unlike the eg.of crossing a well ). Also there is no pratyavāya(no adverse/side effect) Even a little effort towards the virtue ,saves one from great danger.

nayam loko ’styayajnasya kuto ’nyah kuru-sattama(4.31) For those who do not offer any sacrifice, this world is not for them , how then other worlds ?

So the attitude of holding on to a spiritual discipline (depending on one's disposition) is truly of some value.

So it is worse , not to try all , than to try and fail


What should be done when we stumble?

chañchalaṁ hi manaḥ kṛiṣhṇa...(6.34) The nature of the mind is restless, Its more difficult to control it than to control the wind.(6.34) (The context is dhyana yoga , where the mind should restrained by subduing (its dharma) vacillation) In 6.35 , Lord says, mind should restrained by the means of Abyaasa(by practice) and Vairagya(detachment)

Gita reference https://www.gitasupersite.iitk.ac.in

PS :

However, if ‘Vrata bhanga’ or major shortcomings on the part of persons observing the Vrata occur, the concerned persons should shave their heads, observe upavaas for three days; alternatively offer Brahmana bhojana or its Value or at least perform Sahasra Gayatri Japa and / or twelve Praanaayaamas by way of Prayaschitta or atonement.
Dharmasindu - Tithi Prakara Vratas

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  • Thank you very much for your detailed response to my question. It was very much appreciated at the time, and there is a follow up question I have been meaning to ask - since a note has been added saying this question will be closed, it seems I need to ask it very quickly. That is: You write "If it has to be seen in the light of Gita". If I hadn't specifically mentioned the Gita, are there other sources you would have mentioned - that you believe would address this issue better, or differently?
    – velw
    Aug 12, 2023 at 1:38
  • Apologies if this ends up sending a duplicate notification: my intention with the previous comment was to respond to @Athrey (posting this to make sure they are notified)
    – velw
    Aug 12, 2023 at 3:15
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    @velw, (No doubt), scriptural injunctions, sampradhaya/ ancestory are the valid sources one can get to know of the procedures( to follow). Scriptures don't advise to quit case of vaigunya(shortcoming) otherwise concepts such a prayaschitta would lose its relevance However, Gita 17.1- 17.3 emphasizes, ..the conviction that presides over the sankalpa (of vrat/ sacrifice) matters . If done as matter of duty without egotism, it is satvik, If hypocritical it is rajasic (although rules are strictly followed), etc.
    – Athrey
    Aug 13, 2023 at 10:14
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    As an individual is the true arbiter of one's own conviction, one may choose to progress in gradation overtime , by striving to perform with right conviction,rather than quitting it altogether,bcos by quitting there's no possibility of fine-tuning oneself to adhere to injunctions complete ly one day.Also Gita 6.40 says na hi kalyana-krit kashchid durgatim tata gachchhati (any attempt towards virtuous task may not reap a durgathi) .( To my knowledge)
    – Athrey
    Aug 13, 2023 at 10:14
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    Close voters must either state reasons or undo . The question conforms to the forum rules , as only scriptural reference s are asked for..It would be benificial, if this Q. elicits more replies.
    – Athrey
    Aug 13, 2023 at 10:19

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