I have heard we should not have Tulsi leaves on Ekādaśī. If this is true, what is the reason for this?
It is said that on the day of Ekādaśī if you are fasting and eat Tulsi leaves then your fast breaks. Many times, in Kathas, I have explained what faith is as explained by our great saints. Faith is the belief that the teachings of our scriptures and saints are the ultimate truth. On the path of spiritual practice, the first and the most important thing is faith. Therefore, we should have faith in these teachings and practice them while believing in it.
Now, why should we not eat the Tulsi leaves on that day? Ordinarily, other plants consume carbon dioxide and release oxygen during the day whilst the opposite takes place at night. However, Tulsi is a plant whose amount and ability to release oxygen is much higher. So, as a sign of showing respect we should avoid eating Tulsi leaves.
There can be many other reasons as well which we may not know but the important thing is practicing what we have been advised with faith. In addition, offering Tulsi leaf to God on the days of Ekadashi is of great significance.
Understanding this from a broad perspective, without food, the body will lose strength. Therefore, on the day of Ekādaśī we need to have some food like fruits, or the dishes accepted to be eaten during a fast or even just milk. Our body needs some food so we should consume little on Ekādaśī and avoid foods like grains. Any type of fasting develops our self-control. Therefore, somethings should be eaten today and some not, these rituals are generally to build up control. Secondly fasting helps us remain alert. We are alert for example that on Ekādaśī we should not eat Tulsi Patra today or anything that may break our fast.
Fasting helps us practice self-control and be alert. It is a good question and it can have many other scientific reasons which don’t know at this point but as I said earlier, we should have faith in our scriptures and accept the advice provided to us.