Anyone ever done one? I'm planning on doing a small week-long one at the beginning of the (new calendar) Fast next week to help get me in the mood and shrink my stomach somewhat. My sustenance will consist mostly of vegetable broth with a some fruit smoothies to balance things out. I've been reading about them but most of the material is either from "spiritual not religious" people or just plain atheist.
Upavasa (Fasting) means forgetting food, when you are immersed in God. (Upa = Near God, Vasa = Immersed). But today people are fasting by force, suffering with hunger. This is not Upavasa. When you do such fasting, Yogi Vemana says ‘Kuudu Vidachi Malamu Kudchura Upavasai’. This means a little excretory matter is left over in the digestive system after motion. When you fast the digestive system assimilates this little excretory matter. So on that fasting day, one has eaten the excretory matter instead of food! Similarly if you do not get sleep due to thinking of God, that is ‘Jagaranam’ (Not sleeping in the night. But people are stopping their sleep by force.
There should not be force to stop eating or sleeping. If they are stopped without force, automatically due to immersion in God and then only ‘Upavasa’ and ‘Jagaranam’ are fruitful. Aspiring some benefit, people are doing Upavasa and Jagaranam by force. Such acts are waste and useless. The right knowledge is necessary in any religious deed.
Without devotion to God, the detachment from world is false and meaningless. The detachment from the world should be always with reference to the attachment to God. The Vairagya is always relative with reference to the devotion and is not an absolute concept. The absolute concept is only devotion. You should not give importance to people seeing their detachment but should give value for their attachment to God. Foolish people give value to the detachment even though the attachment to God is absent.
You are giving value to a person who is fasting and you are considering him as devotee. He may be fasting due to stomach ache. If he is fasting due to devotion on God, such fasting is valid. If the devotee forgets food in the memory of God, such fasting is real. But, people are fasting by taking alternative tiffins which are more qualitative and energetic having more taste than ordinary food! Therefore, Datta is not cutting your worldly bonds.