Fasting from water while holding water in the mouth
On Balaram Jayanti, I was flying from Mumbai to Bangalore for the evening Balarama Jayanti class. As is standard on this sacred day, I was fasting from water till noon.
For my body type, fasting is not difficult. I fast every week, but I usually take water. On appearance days of the Lord and the saints, I try to fast from water, but I find it draining. And the parched throat makes speaking difficult too.
On Balaram Jayanti, I reached the security clearance at around 11.50 for the flight at 12.30. There, they found something suspicious in my laptop bag. When it turned out to be nothing but my water bottle, they asked me to drink that water to demonstrate that it didn’t contain anything toxic. As this is standard procedure that I have encountered earlier, I instinctively sipped some water. As soon as the water touched my tongue, my parched throat seemed to heave a sigh of relief. And I remembered that I was supposed to be fasting.
I was disappointed that I had unwittingly broken the fast. But then it struck me that the water had not yet gone down my throat; so, I still had a chance. As I tried to hold the water in my mouth without letting it go down the throat, I remembered the pastime of Shukadeva Goswami when he passed a similar, though far more excruciating, test set by Maharaja Janaka. He was told to hold a lump of sugar in his mouth for quite some time. And through it all, he didn’t even secrete any saliva to moisten the sugar. Such was his total sense control!
Taking inspiration from his example, I resolved to hold the water in my mouth for the next ten minutes. With my wheelchair wobbling while moving up and down some inclines, preventing even a drop from going down the throat was difficult. Some droplets might have trickled down below my conscious awareness, but I tried my best to prevent any drop from consciously going down.
Those few minutes gave me a profoundly enhanced appreciation for Shukadeva Goswami’s phenomenal self-restraint. Eventually, when I broke the fast after noon by drinking water, I felt grateful and blessed to have got a deeper appreciation for the guru who gave us the Bhagavatam on the appearance day of the adi-guru Balaramji.