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dhutaṅga ekāsanika


Meaning of the ekāsanika dhutaṅga

The Pali word "ekāsanika" means "the one who has the habit to eat at only one sitting spot".

"ekā" = "alone, unique"; "ekāsana" = "fact to eat at only one sitting spot"

When this practice is conveniently done, with steadiness and diligence, with the determination of not breaking it, we say that there is "ekāsanikaṅga " (state of mind related to a daily meal at only one sitting spot).

As soon as the one who practises this dhutaṅga sits down to take his meal, as soon as he changes his spot, he no longer eats until the following day. In other parlance, he only takes one meal per day.

Adoption of the ekāsanika dhutaṅga

For adopting this dhutaṅga, it is convenient to utter the following phrase whether in Pali, where in the language of one's choice...

In Pali:

«nānāsanabhojanaṃ paṭikkhipāmi, ekāsanikaṅgaṃ samādhiyāmi.»

In English:

«I renounce to take several consecutive places for eating, I will train into taking a seat only once (per day) for eating.»

The three kinds of practitioners of the ekāsanika dhutaṅga

According to restrictions, there do exist three kinds of practitioners of the ekāsanika dhutaṅga:

  1. ukkaṭṭha ekāsanika, the noble practitioner of the ekāsanika dhutaṅga
  2. majjhima ekāsanika, the intermediate practitioner of the ekāsanika dhutaṅga
  3. mudu ekāsanika, the ordinary practitioner of the ekāsanika dhutaṅga

1. the noble practitioner

The individual who is a noble practitioner of the ekāsanika dhutaṅga does no longer accept any food that is extra to the one which he already has at disposal when he starts taking his meal, from the moment when he decides to start eating and he puts his hand into one of the recipients by means of which he eats (bowl, etc.), whether the quantity of food is small or large.

Any individual practising the ekāsanika dhutaṅga (of the three kinds) can accept, before or after having changed of spot at the end of the meal, some medicinal foodstuffs (such as butter, molasses...), in a medical purpose. If such foodstuffs are consumed in order to feed oneself after having changed one's spot at the end of the meal, the practitioner breaks this dhutaṅga while accepting one of these foodstuffs.

2. the intermediate practitioner

The individual who is an intermediate practitioner of the ekāsanika dhutaṅga can accept some extra food after having started his meal, provided there does remain some food in his recipient (bowl, plate, etc.)

Such a practitioner is called a "bhojanapariyantika", which means "the one who reaches the end (of his meal) once there is no more food left (in his recipient)".

3. the ordinary practitioner

The individual who is an ordinary practitioner of the ekāsanika dhutaṅga can accept some extra food after having completely consumed the food found in his recipient, provided he doesn't change his meal spot meanwhile.

Such a practitioner is called a "āsanapariyantika", which means "the one who reaches the end (of his meal) once he has stood up", or a "udakapariyantika", which means "the one who reaches the end (of his meal) when the bowl is taken for washing".

The advantages of the ekāsanika dhutaṅga

By practising the ekāsanika dhutaṅga, we can benefit with the following advantages...

  1. We are spared from illnesses (due to an excess of food consumption).
  2. We are spared from dissatisfaction (due to food).
  3. Agility, easiness while standing up.
  4. Energy (owing to a light digestion).
  5. We remain happy.
  6. We are spared from numerous faults committed against the vinaya regarding food consumption.
  7. We can get rid of feeling of attachment to food.
  8. We benefit with a convenient means to provide for what we need, while being able to be contented with little.

Remark: the practice of a dhutaṅga alone enables one to understand its advantages.

The way to break the ekāsanika dhutaṅga

As soon as an individual, who practises the ekāsanika dhutaṅga, consumes some other food at another spot after having finished his meal and made a move, he breaks this dhutaṅga. If an individual undergoing a bad state of health consumes a medicine (helping him/her to recover) part from his meal, at any time of the day, the ekāsanika dhutaṅga is not broken. Nevertheless, if an individual, be him/her sick or not, consumes some milk, coffee or any other feeding product at any time of the day, he breaks this dhutaṅga.

The vigilance of the practitioner of the ekāsanika dhutaṅga

In order not to break one's practice of the ekāsanika dhutaṅga, it is convenient to be vigilant on two points: the spot where the meal is taken and the food consumed.

The practitioner of the ekāsanika dhutaṅga should appropriately consider the spot where he will sit before taking a seat on it in order to take his meal. He must make sure that he won't take the risk to have to stand up during his meal, otherwise, he won't have the time to eat his fill or he will break his dhutaṅga while continuing to eat (after having stood up). For example, a bhikkhu is supposed to stand up in order to let an instructor or a mahāthera, who is a senior, get through. In some cases, he will have to give his seat to such a person. According to the spot that he occupies while eating, he may have to move aside a bit, and therefore to move from his spot, in order to give sufficient space to an extra bhikkhu so as to sit around the table.

The practitioner of the ekāsanika dhutaṅga should well consider the moment when he will start taking his meal. He must make sure that he won't take the risk too have to stand up after having started taking his meal, otherwise, he wouldn't have the time to eat his fill or he would break his dhutaṅga while keeping on eating (after having stood up). For example, if he knows the an instructor or a mahāthera who is his senior may arrive, he will have to wait for him. When this later might come, he would manage looking after him suitably, going to search for what he needs, etc., and starting to eat only when his duty has been fulfilled.

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Origin: Book in Burmese language

Author: Monk Devinda

Date: 2001

Translator: Monk Dhamma Sāmi

Date of translation: 2004, January

Update: 2005, June the 18th